Monday, 7 November 2016

Driving to the Grand Canyon

Thursday 3rd November
The weather is lovely again, clear skies and quite cool. We drove the fifty miles north to the Grand Canyon National Park, where we checked in to the Mather Campground and parked the RV in its allocated spot, surrounded by Ponderosa Pine trees. Although there are over 300 spaces in this campground, there is lots of room, with the spaces spread about amongst the trees. Very quiet and peaceful. No hookups here, so we have to conserve both power and water for the two nights we will be here.
We walked up to the Rim, about 20 minutes away, via the Plaza - a large and well stocked general store as well as a coffee shop, post office and bank. There is some wifi there , although it didn't seem to work very well - so, we will be out of communication for a couple of days.
The canyon, from the Rim, was as breathtaking as yesterday, at least we knew what to expect today! 
We did the remainder of the walk along the geological trail, from one billion years ago (which is where we stopped yesterday) down to the present. 
On the way, we passed a water point that was being used by two Elk. They seemed quite unconcerned by the group of tourists watching them.
Once the geological trial counted down to a million years ago, it changed to shorter times, until eventually for the last hundred years, each yard was a year and the markers were at ten year intervals. We stopped and photographed the marker at 70 years, with R astride it...
But M still just before it.
At the end of the geology trail, is the Yavapai Point Geology Museum, the site chosen in 1905 by a group of geologists, who thought that it was the best view of the Canyon. In the museum, there was a lovely quote from Ken Bowerson, Mission Commander on the International Space Station saying "The Grand Canyon is something that all astronauts look for from space, and everyone is as excited as a child when they spot it for the first time." 
We waited a there a while to hear an excellent talk by Dave, a retired Ranger volunteer who works each year from September to November. He brought the geology to life in a very personal way and made it a bit easier to understand the circumstances and sequence of events that lead to the creation of the Canyon.
As he was talking, we could see a wave of rain coming in from the east through the canyon. Luckily, other than a brief shower, it missed us so that, by the time we left the museum, it was dry again.
On the way back to the Village, the Elk had left but we encountered a family of Mountain Goats. The females and youngsters seemed interested in the tourists but the ram was much more nervous. It was incredible how agile they were running over rocks right next to precipitous cliffs. We watched almost in disbelief as they disappeared over the Rim and down the steep side. This one kept a wary eye on R.
We paused for a last look over the Rim (for today) before we walked back through the woods to the campsite.
Soon after we got back to the RV, it began to rain very hard. Good thing that we hadn't stayed out any longer. This area is only supposed to get about 12 inches of rain a year, most of which falls in the "monsoon season" of July and August. Tonight, a good half inch of rain must have fallen but the dry ground just soaked it up.
31,987 miles - 51 miles today from Willaims to the Grand Canyon. A total of 817 miles so far.

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