Friday, July 23, 2010

Holiday Road Part 5 - the Conclusion

Sunrise over the Canyon
Photo by Jessica
click to embiggen
Jessica wanted to wake up early and see the sunrise over the Grand Canyon.  I did too, but I also knew that I would need more sleep to make the final part of the drive...I was still exhausted from staying up all night packing and then driving to Colorado 5 days ago.  I was torn at first, get up and experience the Grand Canyon or sleep...the deciding factor happened to be Sam.  If we both got up to see the sunrise, we would also have to wake up Sam and take him too.  I was not in the mood to deal with him yet, so I decided that I would go back to sleep after waking Jessica.  I woke Jessica at 5:30am giving her plenty of time to find a spot to take sunrise pictures at 6:30am...or so I thought.  Did you know that Arizona doesn't believe in daylight savings time?  I didn't, so it was actually 4:30am local time.  It was surprisingly bright for 4:30am, but it all worked out since the sunrise actually takes place around 5:30am.  You would think I would notice the difference between 4:30 and 5:30am but with the full moon, it was still plenty bright out for early morning.  Anyhow, it wasn't until we went to checkout of the campground that we noticed our clocks did not match that we realized that there was no Daylight Savings Time in AZ.  The nice thing was that for once, we were up and about earlier than the time we had to leave.

Hanging Out off the Grand View Trail
Photo by Jessica
click to embiggen
We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon going to various viewing spots on the Grand Canyon and taking pictures and just enjoying the beauty of the place.  Sam and I decided to do a little hiking on the Grandview Trail.  Although I would have loved to hike to the Horseshoe Mesa...we were not properly equipped.  No packs, no water besides the single small bottle that I brought along.  We went about a mile (it is about 8 miles to the mesa) before turning around, it was getting much steeper and the temperature was rising.  It was supposed to get 120 degrees in the canyon today.  My favorite quote was from the little park guide about hiking and said something like this "Remember that temperatures of 110+ degrees in the shade are common inside the Canyon...and you will not be hiking in the shade."  Jessica didn't join us as she was even less equipped...she was wearing flip-flops.  She did meet us a small way down the trail as we were climbing up, but I made her turn around because it was about to get pretty rocky...but I was proud that she at least tried it.

Toward the Horseshoe Mesa
Photo by Jessica
click to embiggen

We then headed back to the Watchtower because although Jessica and Sam had spent 40+ minutes there the day before when it was raining, somehow they didn't make it out of the gift shop and up into the tower itself.  While they checked out another gift shop, I decided to climb up to the tower's patio and enjoy the view and wait for them.  While waiting (much longer than I thought I would have to), I noticed this large bug flying around...and he also noticed me.  It was about the size of my thumb, black & white and had huge antennae.  Sort of like the Asian Longhorn Beetle pictured here but with more I didn't think the Asian Longhorn had made it this far West.  Maybe it was a Giant Mesquite Bug or a Leaf-Footed Beetle...I am not sure even though I got a pretty close look at it.  You see this bug was not happy with me, actually I am pretty sure that he was not happy with my Speed McQueen t-shirt.  This particular t-shirt was black with a with a white Speed McQueen logo.  I think the beetle saw it as a rival or a threat.  He flew and landed in the middle of my chest looking up at the logo.  I tried to gently brush him off...he gripped tighter, he reared up on his back legs, and basically started hissing or buzzing.  I tried to grab his antennae and pull him off, but he was gripping really well and now bobbing up and down.  Finally, I decided that I good solid flick was probably in order.  It sent him on his way but he flew around and landed close by...still glaring at me menacingly.  I decided it was time to go find my fellow travelers.

So peaceful
Photo by Jessica
click to embiggen
After looking at crap in the gift shop for way too long, Jessica and Sam finally headed to the Watchtower.  I decided to wander a little ways off the beaten path and just relax.  I went and sat of the edge of the Canyon and watched the ravens and swallows dive for flying bugs in the canyon and the geckos scamper around the rocks.  It was late afternoon, the sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and it was was so peaceful and the ravens were so graceful in flight that it ended up being my favorite part of the Grand Canyon.  Surrounded by beauty and nature.

Eventually it was time to leave and head South to our final destination.  I was sad to leave the Grand Canyon as there was still so much that I wanted to do, but I was also excited to get this trip over with...this move had taken up way too much of my life the past couple months.  I may have reminisced how it was lucky we didn't arrive at the Grand Canyon 4 days earlier because there probably would have been two more 'accidents' to be added to Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon.
If we'd arrived a few days earlier, this would need updated.

Most of the drive from the Grand Canyon was uneventful and Jessica and Sam slept 90% of the time.  It was an easy but fun drive...mostly downhill with lots of twists and turns and good speed limit....there was one point where the road straightened out and the speed limit dropped (which made no sense) and I was getting pretty drowsy during that stretch but it turned curvy and picked up pace again.

We finally made it to Phoenix (and no armadillo sightings...sadness) and my god is it a jumbled mess or interstates and highways.  Luckily, Shelia was there to pull us through.  When we first arrived at Jessica's new house I thought Shelia had made a mistake.  It felt like Boyz N the Hood (or maybe Friday?) - little stucco style houses, metal security gates on the front doors, and not so much upkeep going on, everything looked a little ragged.  I was expecting see Doughboy and some low-riders and hear AKs in the background.  It did not look like a house that five people would all now be living.  Once we got inside, I (and almost certainly Jessica) was pleasantly surprised.  The house was twice as big as it looked from outside and everything was pretty nice.  It could be a nice home.  We arrived on Saturday night but I didn't fly out till Monday morning...I honestly didn't think the family truckster would make it without any problems, so I built in an extra day into the schedule.  The family truckster performed admirably (despite the first day and the blown fuse).  It was nice to actually have a day that we didn't have to do anything or be anywhere.  I took Jessica out to eat one last time.  We went to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and had a great meal.  Hopefully that helped make up for me having her take me to Mortons Steakhouse in St Louis for my birthday a few years ago (the original holiday road).

Jessica I wish you the best of luck in life.

Day 5: ~250 miles, ~4 hours drive time, 
0 armadillos seen (mission failure), 
0 people killed on the trip (mission success) 

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