Trip Start Sep 26, 2011
Trip End Dec 05, 2011

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Where I stayed
Grand Canyon Campground
What I did
Bryce National Park, Grand Canyon National Park

Flag of United States  , Arizona
Saturday, October 1, 2011

Early that morning we unplugged, packed up and drove away from Mt. Carmel Junction, heading 60 miles north to Bryce Canyon National Park.  The morning weather was perfect, beautiful blue sky and moderate temperatures.  The drive was relaxed, hardly any traffic and the road was smooth, not always the case...

Bryce Canyon National Park is a wonderland of carved sandstone.  "Hoodoos" mark the landscape, looking like red stalagmites escaped from some troll's cave.  A wonderful place to hike with numerous trails leading down into the maze of formations.  Down being the discouraging word, because, as we all know, whatever or whoever goes down, must come back up.  Barb and I showed the common sense necessary for people of our age and condition and did the driving tour bagging all of the scenic overlooks with a few mild jaunts out to overlooks.  We had photo opportunities at every turn, even shooting photos for three couples traveling on "baggers", road motorcycles with lots of storage.  They were very appreciative of getting a group photo on the rim of the precipice.

From Bryce we backtracked down through Mt. Carmel Junction heading towards the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  This is all beautiful country with red sandstone, junipers, ponderosa and bristlecone pine, with golden aspens providing a spectacular vista.

Leaving the 7,000 foot elevation we climbed to nearly 9,000 feet on the Kaibab plateau.  The weather changed quickly and we were driving through sudden downpours that would drift by and the sun would then re-emerge to light up the landscape.  Some hapless "easy riders" were on the roadside stuck in a driving rain digging frantically in their bags for foul weather gear.  Made us happy for our "land yacht".  We stopped at a vista that looked back from the Kaibab plateau over the country we had just driven and Barb was struck by the smell of the juniper forest after the rain....can't describe it, but those who have been there know it is unique.

Entering the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the ranger at the entrance gave us dour news.  The single campground was reportedly full up.  We would have to make the seventeen mile journey, enjoy the views and return back to a national forest campground six miles outside the park.  Oh well, we could watch the sunset and return early in the morning for sunrise.  Our purchase of a yearly pass for all of the National Parks, Monuments and fee areas make multiple entries painless.  We drove into the park and visited the campground straight away to see if, perhaps, there were cancellations, no such luck.  Well, at least the sun had returned and we were guaranteed "grand" views.

We drove to the Bright Angel Lodge and wandered out to the rimside trail.  I personally believe that the North Rim is even more spectacular than the South Rim of the Canyon.  The canyon walls seem steeper, redder and are dotted with conifers.  We ended up walking out (and down) to the Bright Angel Overlook.  It was a congested path with lots of sightseers of a multitude of nationalities, even Americans!  The Grand Canyon was lit up by late afternoon sun and the humidity from the rain left it a little hazy.  But it was still awe inspiring....

We trekked back up the trail, out of breath at 8,500 foot elevation, but still grateful for our walking regimen of the past few months at sea level in Waikiki.  Several rest stops and lots of water helped us to make it back to the rv without the embarrasment of calling the emergency medical team.

Driving out of the Bright Angel area, we made one last stop at the campground.  Barb ran to the office and asked if there by chance had been any change in availability.  After a brief hesitation, the very nice, pleasant and kind lady in the Park Service uniform said, "Well.....I have just one space available."  Eureka!!!  We were rewarded with a pull through site just a hundred yards from the west facing edge of the canyon.  After leveling the rv on our 2" by 6' wood shims, we made adult libations and walked out to the rim for sunset.  Are we lucky or what???

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