I have a friend who might be visiting the Grand Canyon soon. So this post is specially dedicated to her. You know who you are! ;-)
Day 17 (Dec 6th, Saturday)
Grand Canyon South Rim
We left Chandler under the cover of dusk, around 2a.m. It would be a four-hour journey on the road, just in time to catch the sunrise at Grand Canyon. Mom had cooked through the day, preparing lots of food for our picnic in the canyon.
Travelling on the freeway at such an hour felt surreal, it was so dark and quiet outside the car at high-speed, and it felt like there was nobody out there except us. Everyone except the driver fell asleep, and the next thing I knew, we had pulled up outside a convenience store outside the Grand Canyon National Park and Leo was calling for me to wake up to use the toilet before we entered the park. The time was 5a.m. I can't remember clearly, but I think sunrise was at 7 something. In order to not miss the sunrise, we decided to park at the first stop - Mather Point - to wait for the first rays to hit the canyon.
Late autumn/ early winter in Grand Canyon, no snow yet. It was TREMENDOUSLY cold before the sun came up; the sheer difference between the temperature outside and inside the heated car was enough to make my head burst. We kept on running in-and-out of the car to the viewpoint to see whether the sun was up. It was soooo cold I couldn't think, couldn't focus on the scenery, couldn't even imagine what time the sun was gonna be up. My teeth were chattering so hard I couldn't close my mouth properly and my bones felt like they were gonna break. It was the SINGLE, MOST COLDEST MOMENT of my life that I will remember forever. My three layers of blue Nike tee, brown long-sleeve sweater and Calvin Klein down jacket, one pair of thin jeans and that damn Cathay Pacific blanket were definately not enough to shield me from the cold. I should have invested in thermals!!
The magnificent sunrise is here! And immediately the coldness seemed to fade, chased away by the sun.
Rays of dawn
The Grand Canyon - one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Layers and layers of rock cut and formed by the Colorado River through the ages. And the great river is still cutting through. Plainly speaking, the canyon is young, but the rocks are not. This is the side facing the morning sun, and as the sun climbs higher and higher into the sky, more and more of the canyon is exposed by the light until an astounding view of the entire canyon leaves you in awe.
Finally, the morning sun is up in the sky.
The great scenic views that belong to the great continent that is America never cease to amaze us, again and again. Totally and utterly satisfied, but still grimacing from the chilly dawn air, we made our way to the Canyon Village Deli to hide from the cold and also have our mom-made-sandwiches.
Cozy cozy!! After breakfast, we gathered at the Verkamps lodge for the free nature walk. There was a park ranger to guide us on a short walk along the rim and explain to us about how the Grand Canyon was formed, about the trees and how the natives used them for food and clothing, about the animals and yes, there were people living in the very unhospitable conditions of the canyon a long time ago!
GC Park Ranger explaining about the tree to the cute kids! One very sad moment was when the park ranger led us to a point very very close to the edge of the rim and told us that last year a kid fell to his death at that point because his parents weren't supervising him. And also one of their nature scientists died of catching some weird parasite disease while trekking a mountain lion to insert a tracking device into the lion. :-(
Ok sad stories aside, this is a very nice hotel - El Tova Hotel - inside the Grand Canyon. If not mistaken it's about $300 USD per night.
I love the bus name. Cool!We visited a few more spots and just like in Sedona, the rocks started to take a toll on me and I felt that each of the viewpoints looked the same to me. @_@. Went to the farthest point for picnic lunch. Cold rice!
A greener side of the Grand Canyon. I would love to hike down to the Colorado River, sounds very fun and extreme, but I don't think I would ever be fit enough to do that in my lifetime.
Very scary edge... this was our very last viewpoint. I took some silly videos shouting "It's the End of the World!!"
And on the way back, the San Francisco peaks. ^__^