THE State of Utah came up with the money to open the National Parks in Utah just after we left Moab. It happened on the day we were camping in Bluff. Kirk and Marcy had set a goal to make a decision about their anniversary party one week from their party date so people could adjust their plans, considering the Grand Canyon was still CLOSED! When that time arrived, we all got the news by email. A Restaurant had been selected in Sedona and the entire party was moved to Sedona. Within hours of receiving Marcy’s email, Bill and I were notified by the National Parks Reservation Service that Arizona was funding the opening of the Grand canyon for ONE week. We communicated with Kirk and Marcy that if they still wanted to do the hike to the Grand Canyon, we would go to the North Rim as planned to see them off. I think it might have been at this point that Marcy was at her wits end. Of course, all of us were yelling at the news broadcasts, venting our frustration with each new pronouncement from our Government.
Kirk told me the plans had been made to go to Sedona and they were sticking with them. Fine! I got on the computer before leaving Monument Valley, cancelled our remaining reservations for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and reserved instead for the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and reserved three nights at Sedona RV Park. At the Bashas grocery store in Kayenta on our way to the South Rim, my head buried in the produce stand, my cell phone rang. Kirk: “Hello Connie! You won’t believe what we’ve been through. We ARE going to hike the Grand Canyon after all. Can you drive our car to the South Rim as originally planned”. Long pause. Hmmm. This was going to be a challenge.
We DID manage to figure out a plan to pick up Kirk and Marcy’s car from the North Rim. From their home in New Mexico, Kirk and Marcy drove to Flagstaff joining Dylan and Alice. Wednesday morning Kirk and Marcy pulled into our camp on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon with Kathryn Hayes and Dylan in Dylan’s car. The cars were repacked, Dylan’s car was parked at the South Rim, and Kirk, Marcy, Dylan and Kathryn drove off in the Subaru for the North Rim.
Temperatures were dropping to 18 degrees that night on the North Rim and a full moon would rise over the canyon. Kirk was excited and eager to get going after the on again, off again, on again drama planning for their hike. I worried they would freeze that night sleeping in their tent on the North Rim. As it turned out, everyone slept warm and the hike commenced Thursday morning, hiking down 14 miles to Phantom Ranch where they camped Thursday night. Temperatures at the bottom of the canyon were warmer and enabled the hikers to sleep under the light of the moon. Dylan and Joel (a buddy of Marcy’s from college days) even found there were parties and beer to be had at the bottom of the canyon.
Back at Connie and Bills camp, Bill rose early Thursday morning, hopped on his bicycle and rode to Bright Angel Lodge to catch a shuttle to the North Rim. The bus left at 8 a.m. and arrived at the North Rim at 12:15 pm. Kirk and Marcy had the Subaru parked where the shuttle dropped its passengers so within minutes, Bill was driving off in the Subaru, back to the South Rim. By 4:30 pm that afternoon, Bill arrived back at the South Rim. Connie used the day to catch up on computer tasks at the South Rim Library.
Our original plan was to hike down the Bright Angel Trail Friday morning to meet the hikers as they came up. We bundled up in our trailer Thursday night, snuggled to keep warm as temperatures dropped to 23 degrees. Brrrr — these Sun City seniors not used to cold expended all our energy just staying warm. We nixed our hike, packed up the trailer and headed to Sedona, leaving Kirk and Marcy’s Subaru parked by Dylans car. A group of Kirks friends met Kirk and Marcy as they came out of the canyon, looking none the worse for wear, and took them off to have a beer. They were sore, blistered, exhilarated — but happy and im sure proud they made it down to the canyon floor and back out. It was a highlight of the trip and launched the celebration of their anniversary.
Our stay in the Grand Canyon was only marred by the vacillation of the Federal Government and the cold temperatures. On one of the warmer days, we rode our bikes all day exploring the South Kaibab Trailhead, the Visitors Center Complex, the train depot, Bright Angel Lodge and Bright Angel Trailhead.
A thrill was observing two condors from the Studio below Bright Angel Lodge. These huge birds were riding the air right above our heads effortlessly, covering miles in minutes, and just seemed to float in air from one side of the canyon to the other. We were absorbed for an hour watching the condors.
The menu sounded so good at the Bright Angel Restaurant (prime rib) we stayed for dinner. Fortunately there was a full moon to light our way so we could ride our bikes the several miles to our trailer, but in the dark we DID have a hard time finding Trailer Village. Nevertheless, we bundled up, turned the heater up, and hoped the hikers weren’t freezing to death.
On another warm day, we rode our bikes to the Hermits Rest Transfer Station. From there, we took the shuttle to Hopi Point. The parks have everything taken care of to transport bikers and bikes. On the front of each shuttle bus is a contraption that folds down and two bikes can be stored easily. At Hopi Point, we disembarked and rode mostly downhill about 5 1/2 miles to Hermits Rest.
The sun was out and the canyon was lit in all its glory as we rode along the rim. We could not have asked for a more beautiful ride. To our surprise, at the end of the trail at Hermits Rest, what did we find but a gift shop and coffee shop. Here I thought we were way out away from the congestion near the Lodges and much less populated area so was quite surprised at all the amenities.
We were disappointed we didn’t do more hiking, but Friday morning was too cold for us so we headed for warmer places — Sedona — let’s go celebrate!!