By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 11/13/2019
Posted: 7/19/2013
Topics/Keywords: #GrandCanyon #Arizona #Photography Page Views: 2972
All about the time I took Zach and his cousins to see Grand Canyon from the bottom up.
Our uninvited guest: A scorpion.

We woke up, Zach, his cousins Brianna and Patricia, and myself, a bit on the late side—not a surprise, considering after all the whitewater rafting we had done yesterday. If there was a surprise, it was that we had unknowingly shared our room with a local resident. A dead resident, to be sure; but no one wants to find a scorpion in their motel room, not even a dead one. (Although, as we used to say in the pest control business, a dead bug is the best kind.)

Just to be sure it was dead, Zach smashed it with his shoe. But it didn't move or express any dismay, so we ignored it while getting ready to go.

Breakfast was, like yesterday, taken in the Hualapai Lodge's cafe, and was delicious. As in, the eggs were cooked in real butter. Not even IHOP does that!

So, once again, we packed Zach's dad's Denali and headed east on Route 66 towards Kingman. North on Williams let us pass the tourist hamlet of Tusayan, consisting of motels, fast food, and an IMAX theatre that only shows Grand Canyon: Hidden Secrets (which is excellent, by the way; but we didn't stop due to time constraints…better to see the real Grand Canyon than a movie of it).

So, and again because of the time constraint, we parked in Parking Lot A and took the free shuttle to the cluster of hotels and restaurants on the rim. We then walked up the hill…and the kids came to their first view of Grand Canyon from the rim.

Brianna, Patricia, and Zach were quick to photograph the Canyon.

Instantly, all three cell phones came out. Even Zach, who'd been there several times before, was ready to take a picture. And, darned if the pictures didn't come out pretty well!

Grand Canyon from South Rim. Grand Canyon from South Rim.
Grand Canyon from South Rim.

We entered the ice cream/snack bar, which had an impressive line, as it always does; but the line moved quickly. We got enough hot dogs and sandwiches to hold us, along with some ice cream. The girls sat on the stone wall that keeps people from falling into the Canyon to enjoy their lunch.

Patricia and Brianna eating on the ledge.

A very aggressive ground squirrel appeared, trying to filch whatever lunch materials he could find.

Grand Canyon ground squirrel.

Although you can't tell from these photos, there were actually quite a few people around, mostly also having lunches. One was a very sunburned man who began lecturing the girls on how the ground squirrels in Grand Canyon are perfectly safe to play with, and would never bite.

I found it a little creepy that a grown man was talking to the girls without any regard for where their Designated Adult might be. And, of course, I was also incensed that he was giving them incorrect information.

"Actually," I said, raising my voice to serve as an aural barrier between him and Patricia, "The Park Service warns against touching the animals. It's actually illegal. Some can have rabies, and, in any case, it's deadly to have them get used to human food. Just a few years ago, they had to euthanize a bunch of deer whose stomachs were so filled with wrappers and foil, that smelled like human food, that they were starving to death."

"Well, I'm from Sedona, and the squirrels are completely tame. I play with them all the time, and they do not bite."

Just then, a kid sitting a few feet from Brianna, who was petting the squirrel, squealed, "He bit me!"

The sunburned man vanished pretty quickly. But I had to wonder, what kind of person could live in Sedona, and get that badly sunburned? In Arizona, you get a tan walking through the parking lot to your car. You get heat stroke if you then can't find your keys.

Anyway, after eating, I led the way to the top of Bright Angel Trail, which descends 9 miles into the canyon, right down to the river. Of course, we couldn't hike any significant portion. But I just wanted the girls to see what it looks like just below the rim.

Zach, Patricia and Brianna on Bright Angel Trail.

Zach wanted to revisit a formation just off the trail, to which I had taken him when he was an infant. He didn't remember it first hand, of course; but had seen a photo and been told how horrified everyone was that I had put the little guy in danger.

Of course, I would never do any such thing. The formation in question juts away from the trail, and looks scary as hell in a photo, but in reality it's easy and safe to get to. The Park Service posts No Trespassing signs where actual danger exists, but there's none here.

So Zach got to have his picture taken on the terrifying ledge. Yes, there's a hole clear through it, and the sunlight passing through adds an unearthly glow…but no danger.

Zach in Grand Canyon.

On the other side of the same formation, I suggested the girls have their photos taken as well. Patricia jumped right up, but Brianna was more timid. "I won't ask you to do anything you're uncomfortable with," I assured her. "But I can tell you that this is a photo you will treasure the rest of your life."

"That's true," Patricia piped up. "You will!"

And so, the picture was taken.

Brianna and Patricia in Grand Canyon.

That was actually all I wanted to show them, and all we had time for, anyway, as we were supposed to return to Chandler, over 4 hours away, by bedtime. I asked a visitor to take a group photo, then we caught the return shuttle to the Denali and headed toward home.

Your gentle blogger, Zach, Patricia and Brianna on Bright Angel Trail.

I took the shortcut, US 180, to Flagstaff, then headed directly south on I-17. Along the way, monsoon clouds began gathering; Zach took a photo of them.

Monsoon rains in Arizona.

After dark, we found ourselves driving through a heavy rain; but it was no problem. The kids watched Annie and then The Sound of Music during the drive. They had never seen The Sound of Music and it was fun to hear them discussing the movie as it played: "Do you think the Captain and the nun will get together?" (I'll provide no spoilers here, friends; if you haven't yet seen The Sound of Music then what are you waiting for?)

Anyway, we got back to Zach's house without incident and not too late. Another Grand Canyon tour completed!

Who's next?