There are few things in this world I dislike more than polyester. Being cold and early mornings are two that are on par with my disdain for polyester. If you combine those two things then the result is catastrophic. An early morning IN THE COLD is high up on my list of most unpleasant things that one can ever experience in day to day life. It is a testament to the stunning, unparalleled beauty of the Canyon that I willingly dragged myself out of bed at 5am in what I’m sure was minus 284 degrees Fahrenheit to take pictures of the sunrise. Pictures, that are quite simply gorgeous (for a novice photographer like myself), but do not do justice to the beauty that lays before your eyes.
We arrived at the Canyon at around 5pm on Easter Saturday after a long days driving. At 5pm the weather was already dropping quickly and I was extremely tempted to just go to my room and hop in to bed. We had booked to stay inside the national park at Yavapai Point. We booked approximately 6 months ago and I think we secured the last rooms available inside the national park. There are fancier accomodation options just outside of the national park but this means that in order to get anywhere, you have to contend with all the traffic trying to enter and exit the park every time you want to come and go. Easter Saturday happened to be some kind of special day in America where National Parks don’t charge you to visit. We were ecstatic!! $$$ saved!!
Our rooms were lovely. They were clean, spacious and right near all the trails you could take to many viewing points. By the time we checked in though most of us did not feel like hiking anywhere. Nonetheless we put on what warm clothes we had (which for the Davis clan was not many – we erroneously thought warm clothes were not necessary after NYC and my mum had neatly folded and packed them in a suitcase then zip tied it so I wouldn’t be tempted to rifle through all her hard work) and headed out. To our surprise and delight, we stumbled upon a free shuttle bus, which would save us having to walk to view the sunset. There were cheers all around!!
The bus driver informed us that the best place to view the sunset was at Hopi Point, which was definitely not walking distance from our lodge in the period of time we had before sunset. We made it to Hopi point, squished on a bus with 6 million other tourists and were all blown away upon arrival.
The Grand Canyon far exceeded my expectations (which if you remember from the last post was not much). To say it is big is an understatement. It is humongous and so full of different coloured rocks and strata. The opposite side of the canyon is so far away it looks like a painted backdrop. Standing there, marvelling at the awe-inspiring beauty laid out before me, I resolved to drag my arse out of bed to watch the sunrise, which Jenny (a multiple time visitor to the Canyon) had told me was even more spectacular!
As soon as the sun dropped below the Canyon the crowds of people started queuing for the bus in the freezing weather. It was nose-dripping coldness. My fingers were numb and I could feel hyperthermia beginning to set in. This may or may not be a slight exaggeration but at the time, was totally how I felt. My misery was only surpassed by Isabelle, whose refusal to wear sneakers and instead opting for socks and thongs, was losing feeling in her feet. Unfortunately her vocal cords were not affected by the weather because anyone within a 1 mile radius knew just how cold and miserable she was.
We eventually made it on to a bus and cheered as it pulled in to the Yavapai lodge restaurant. Yavapai lodge is categorised as low budget accomodation but to be honest, it made the Hilton at Universal City look like a backpackers resort. I could not have been happier. The food was reasonably priced and it wasn’t a restaurant in the typical sense (sit down service) but more like what you would expect in an Australian surf club. You know, order at the counter and wait for your number to be called out. The entire meal for the kids and myself was less than the cost of 1 meal for myself at the Universal Hilton and was far nicer!!
After dinner kids all hit the hay after being told that they WOULD be dragged out of bed at 5am for Canyon viewing. If I was doing it, then they were too.
Amazingly we were all up and ready at 5am. The kids were excited to find that the Easter Bunny had left a few eggs for them in America so a chocolate breakfast was had before we left. Rather than try to queue up with the hoards of people to catch the shuttle, we decided to drive to a viewing point.
Not all viewing points are accessible by car but the friendly staff at Yavapai had told me that there was a viewing spot at Yavapai Point and it was just as good as any other spot for sunrise and that it conveniently had a car park located nearby. I was sold.
The way the colours changed as the sun slowly rose was amazing. I have a billion photos to add to the bottom of this post and I promise I haven’t done anything funky with them to make them appear nicer. It is just simply that beautiful. Even though I was tired and cold I was so excited to be there that I clambered over rocks, ledges, bushes to try to view the glory from every single angle. In fact, it made me want to return to the Grand Canyon and HIKE!!!
There is something so cathartic and peaceful being so small amongst something so huge. The power of the Colorado River in carving this monstrosity over the millenia is mind blowing.
Kids were well and truly over the cold and the view long before I was and demanded to go and sit back in the car while I continued to risk my life for the perfect shot.
Breakfast at the lodge was cheap and delicious. I bought a piece of toast for a dollar and BYO-ed my own jar of Vegemite. I could totally tell that there was a mixture of jealousy and repulsion amongst the other patrons viewing the paste I was proudly carting around.
Before we left the Grand Canyon we made a mid-morning visit to another viewing point, Mather Point, and visited the Grand Canyon Visitor Centre. By this stage the weather was warming up so the kids enjoyed the view a lot more and even did some split leaps, yoga and ballet moves in front of the glorious backdrop.
We left the Grand Canyon mid morning for our long drive to Las Vegas via Bearizona, which I will detail in my next post, that I plan to write this afternoon while the kids swim at the pool in our Vegas Resort.
Ben has six weeks off later this year and I’m totally going to start pestering him to bring us back to Joshua Tree, Oatman and the Grand Canyon. I feel like I hardly scratched the surface on amazing experiences to be had here.
Thanks for reading!!
Sunset at Hopi Point
Sunrise at Yavapai Point
Mid morning at Mather Point