South Rim Day 2, Day 4 of Trip

I am getting through this very slowly. Having some other things going on. Caregiving–I am no longer working part-time as a caregiver for Senior Helpers. I am now focusing solely on my parents. Going from caregiving to caregiving was tiring and something I had really thought about while I was on my trip. I knew that I at least wanted to adjust my hours, but my mom has said she can pay me for helping them out. I’d do it for free if I could afford it, but I need to supplement my disability. Sucks. Once I get into the lower rental apartments, I can afford it, but that may be awhile. Anyway, that is what is happening. Now I have more flexibility and I can spend more time with them and some more time taking care of me.

Okay, Day 2 at the South Rim was really, really busy. After an early 6am breakfast, a lot of our tour had signed up to take a flight over the canyon. I did not pay the extra money for it, so I knew I had to do something with the 3 hours of my free time. It was basically a whole free day where we were not going to have to get on our tour bus at all. I had bought some postcards (at the gift shop!) and had to mail them at the post office but that did not open until 9. As soon as everyone left for their flight at 8:30, I got on the shuttle that headed to the touristy Visitor Center (that would be the Blue Line Shuttle). At the Visitor Center, I had to change buses to the Orange Shuttle and it took me out to Yaki Point. It was only myself and 2 others there. The view was beautiful and it was peaceful and I just sat there for awhile and looked around and thought. It was cool, breezy, sunny and perfect weather. Finally got up and got back on the Shuttle to the Visitor Center (visited the gift shop!) then caught the Blue Shuttle back to our lodge. I grabbed my postcards and Carolyn had asked me to mail her postcard also, and I trotted over to the post office. There, while waiting to buy some stamps, there was a man from McKinney, Texas who attends Round Rock Express games a lot in line. So we started talking about that, of course. I can’t even remember how we got into that discussion! I think he told the post master that he was from a small town in Texas and I asked him where. So I mailed the postcards, then I…visited the gift shop!!! I could not resist! I knew “my crew” was expected back by 11am, and it was getting to be about 10:30, so I trotted back to the lodge. I sat on a seat in front of my door and closed my eyes…and heard our tour bus when it was about a minute away. I opened my eyes and thought that had to be our bus. Sure enough, it was. I was so happy to see them. I ran over, saw Carolyn, and the first thing she says to me is, “I made a new friend!”

“What!!!???!!!” I didn’t say this out loud. But my heart dropped. She and I had really clicked and we were having a blast. My worst fear had just come true. She was gone a full 3 hours and I had lost who I thought was a going to be a really good friend! Well, it turns out she was talking about the pilot of the aircraft who flew them over the Grand Canyon and she was all excited that he had put his arm around her when they all had their picture taken. She even spent the money to buy a copy of the picture. LOL We started one of our laughing, giggling fits right there in front of the bus and our tour leader, Mike and our bus driver, Dave, just stared at us. They had just gotten back. What could possibly had set us off already? We had found something, of course! We were good at that.

After lunch, Carolyn and I decided to venture up the opposite direction from Yaki Point to Hermit’s Rest. The park was having a very rare controlled burn, so the shuttles were having to go different routes than normal. We took the Blue Shuttle to the Bright Angel Trailhead and transfer to the Red Shuttle. The Red Shuttle has many stops on the way up to Hermit’s Rest where you can overlook the canyon. Before we started, we decided we would get off at 2 stops to take pictures: Maricopa Point (because we liked the name) and The Abyss (how could we not check this one out??!!) We stopped at every single stop. It was so beautiful. Took a million pictures. I knew I wouldn’t be able to tell which picture went to which stop though. We did witness a helicopter picking up water from the Colorado River to dump on the controlled burn. Cool. And rare! We got to Hermit’s Rest and guess what they had?? A gift shop!! We were happy. So we shopped. Then we caught the Red Shuttle back down to the Bright Angel Trailhead. We weren’t done yet. I told you it was a busy day!

After we got off the Red Shuttle, we hit all the tourists. But we had to have “the ice cream”. We had witnessed people walking all around the park since the day before with these huge waffle cones with huge scoops of ice cream. So we knew that was on our agenda. But we needed lunch. Now this had been a topic of discussion all during our shuttle rides to and back from Hermit’s Rest. We had finally decided to eat at the Arizona Room, supposedly a wonderful place, a steakhouse, hard to get into, but easier at lunchtime. It was starting to get late. It was around 2pm by this time. We were amazed we were not as hungry as we should be. We got to the restaurant and they said they could seat us in just one moment. I mentioned to Carolyn, that is strange it isn’t very busy–wouldn’t it be funny if this wasn’t the Arizona Room? The guy came back to seat us and she asked him if this was the Arizona Room and he said no, that was around the corner! Another laughing fit moment. We made it to the Arizona Room. This time, we are in line. Two younger men, maybe in their early 30s, came in behind us and were waiting. The woman comes up and says “table for four?” We are like, “uh, no…two…” One of the guys says, “yeah, we are not dating yet!” Another laughing fit moment. So we get seated. We look at the menu. The lunch menu was disappointing. I was hoping for a steak. Not on the menu at lunch evidently. So I got a burger, which as really good though. So we ate. This was the one meal we had to pay ourselves. All of our other meals were covered on our tour.

After lunch, we were still planning on that ice cream, but decided to visit Kolb Studio, Lookout Studio and the Bright Angel Lodge gift shop (!!) first. Then we had ice cream! It was good! Then we decided it was time to head back to our lodge to rest for a little. Because of a late lunch, we knew it would be a late dinner. Dinner was going to be at Maswik Lodge instead of our lodge. So we trotted over to catch the Blue Shuttle. The line was super long. Yuk. We waited. Finally got on the shuttle and got to our lodge. I was exhausted. Got to rest for a little bit. Carolyn and I met at 6pm to catch the Blue Shuttle over to Maswik Lodge for dinner. Their cafeteria was better than the one at our lodge. It was like an eatery with different stations. It was good. We found another lady who was on our tour and invited her to sit with us. She lives in Maryland, so got to talk with her for awhile. Guess what Maswik Lodge had? They had a gift shop! So we went in there afterwards and perused for awhile. By this time it was dark out, so the shuttles run less frequently. We waited for one and were lucky to get on one pretty quickly. It was crowded, but we did not have to go far. Got back to our lodge and we decided we were exhausted. We had to be up at 6am for breakfast the next morning for an 8:15 departure to the North Rim for 2 nights. Less touristy, less busy. So Carolyn and I parted company after we oohed and aahed over some more elk nearby. This would be my last night with television until we leave the Grand Canyon, so I fell asleep with it on.

Next day: Off to the North Rim!



South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Day Three (continued): We arrived at the South Rim with mixed emotions. I was pretty beaten up as the bus had taken a very windy, upward climb with little land to the side of the road and a very long drop beside it. Our group leader, Mike, saw me looking downwards out the window, most likely turning somewhat green, and after making a comment about not understanding how people who have a fear of heights would want to visit the Grand Canyon, he said, “Yes, it would roll a few times.” I made a few comments out loud, making my displeasure known. I do not have a fear of heights so much, but I do not like to be unprotected and not have control. In the bus, I had no control. At the Grand Canyon, a good portion of the trails were without railings and just one misstep, that would be it. One girl while we were there (who was not in our group) did fall off a trail and was only saved because a tree just happened to stop her descent. I have to applaud the paramedics who had to RUN down the unprotected trails (I would almost crawl!) in order to save her. Anyway, after many ear pops, road winds, and wanting to say, “Are we there yet?” we finally got to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. We arrived at the most touristy part of the park. I thought, “this is it???” Yes, the view was spectacular! We took pictures, oohed and aahed, watched crazy people go out to points with no protection, then sat down to eat a sack lunch. It was very crowded. I was hoping that this was not how it was going to be for the entire trip. After lunch we hopped back on the bus and headed towards the Visitor Center (and the Gift Shop!) and we got the rundown on the Shuttle System in the park. Were we tired? Evidently not, because it was time for a “nature walk” (aka a hike) from the Shrine of the Ages (after getting back on the bus for a quick ride there) along the Rim Trail to the Bright Angel Trailhead. Wasn’t there a shuttle that could have taken us there? No, it was a beautiful walk. Some of us were tired and the elevation adjustment was a little harsh. But it was all making it funny. The bus met us at the Trailhead and took us to the Yavapai Lodge where we would be staying for the next two nights. I was off the grid now. You could get basic internet in the Lodge but there was always so many people trying to get on, that people were having trouble getting their emails. I did not even try. I didn’t mind not getting telephone calls (my service didn’t work there) and I didn’t mind not checking my emails. The lodge had a cafeteria and a gift shop (!!) and there was a post office and there was a market which had a huge gift shop (!) and you could buy food and snacks. We were hitting all the gift shops. The cafeteria was okay, the rooms were nice, not as modern as the other hotels that we had been staying at, but they were nice. We had about a quarter mile walk between our rooms and the lodge. It was a really beautiful area. We started seeing elk and deer all over, who were not afraid of us at all. We checked into our rooms, rested for an hour, then headed to dinner. After we ate, Carolyn and I headed to the gift shop (of course) and then to the market. Got some snacks there and walked around their huge gift shop. Luckily Carolyn had thought of bringing her flashlight as it was dark when walking back to the lodge. Exhausted but still had to do some hand laundry when I got back to the room. Then I crawled into bed and fell asleep watching Fresh Prince of Bel Air! The next day was going to be a very busy one!DSCF1780