Well, guys...we made it. We went, we conquered, we came back home.
AMAZING. VACATION. Top three, at least. Maybe top one...still deciding.
39 - total miles hiked
8 - total miles ridden on horseback
675 - total miles driven
? - total miles flown (I didn't do the math)
1 - right knee still in pain
1 - left foot still in pain
I am going to recommend that you all visit Zion at some point. Doesn't have to be today...just sometime, okay? The first artists that went there to capture the canyon's beauty on canvas were met with skepticism because people thought they were making it up. Nothing could be that beautiful, right. WRONG. It really doesn't look like a real place, but it is. It really is that incredible. It looks like something from a fantasy movie. There should seriously be unicorns running around in that place. Unicorns and little elves or something. No, super cool elves with bows...unless they're in trees making cookies...okay, getting off-topic here.
Together, we took about 3,000 pictures. Uh, yep. I knew that new memory card I got would be an issue for me...especially when it said I could take 5,700 pictures at full-size. I realize I have a problem. The first step to recovery is admitting it...so, I'm on my way. I'm going to break down the posts into days. Today is Day 1...see how it works.
The only frustrating thing about this trip was the contrast in the scenery. Huge, bright blue skies (never saw a cloud–we got super sunburnt), neon orange cliff faces, and dark shadows cast by the rock walls over the vegetation in the canyon floor. In other words, I could never get my settings just right. It was either over-exposed or under-exposed. So, forgive me that.
We left the Ham at 6:20 Saturday morning, had a layover in Houston and ended up in Las Vegas about 10:30 a.m. They're two hours behind us. We rented a car, Agatha, and headed north and then south to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
We saw about two seconds of Las Vegas.
The pyramid is the Luxor Hotel. That's where Bryan and Sara stayed this past weekend.
Getting out of the city, the mountains start rising...bordered by flat desert.
It's a 5-hour drive to the North Rim. The majority of the trip takes you through the vast, arid desert lands of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and back down to Arizona again. A few species of small shrubbery dot the landscape, sitting atop red rocks and sand. We pulled over at one point to take some pictures because it reminded me of two movie scenes...that one kind of silly movie with Paul Walker and Leelee Sobiewhatever. It was called Joyride, I think. It was a random horror movie about a truck driver chasing down these three kids. And this looked like where he would murder them. Also, you know that scene in Dumb and Dumber when they get lost ("I thought the Rockies would be a lot rockier.") and Harry is sitting on the side of the road pouting. And I wanted to get out of the car for a sec.
Eventually, you start gaining some altitude and drive out of the desert to a fairly lush forest called Kaibab National Forest. I just called it "Kabob" because I wasn't sure how to pronounce it.
The scenery changed every few minutes. It was really neat. In some areas, the trees were so thick, you couldn't see more than a few feet into the forest. In other places, it looked like the trees were afflicted with some kind of disease.
Let me tell y'all about these yellow trees. They were so beautiful. They looked like paper lanterns, lit up from the inside, when the sun shown on them. Such a strong contrast between them and the dark evergreens. They had stark white trunks and branches and these golden yellow hued leaves. I want a whole field of them in my back yard. Come to find out, they're aspen trees. And they were everywhere.
Finally, we made it to the North Rim, right at sunset. Snapped a few pictures before dinner.
I took this picture of this guy. And I told him I took it, so he was okay with it. But, look! It's Arizona Eric Chapman! AND he's a photographer!
In case you don't know him, this is the real Eric Chapman (the one with the beard).
Dinner that night was in the Lodge. It's so pretty inside. That rug hanging in the bottom of the picture is the world's largest Navajo Indian rug ever handmade. There's a certificate on the wall telling about it. The original owner wrote the lodge YEARS ago when it was first opened asking if they wanted to buy it. I can't remember how much he sold it for, but in today's prices, it would have been a bazillion dollars. That's super informative, I know.
Dinner was pretty good. The appetizer was amazing...chipotle crab and artichoke dip with homemade lime pita chips. I had some sort of mushroom pasta with fire-roasted tomatoes. And it was good...it just wasn't like ohmygosh. And it was my fault, because the pasta noodles were whole wheat and I didn't read that part on the menu. I'm all for eating healthy, but not when it comes to pasta. I want the kind that sticks to my insides. But, David's salmon was delicious. We didn't have desert because I literally had no tummy compartments left to fit anything in there. David had to roll me back to our room.
It was the last night the lodge was open for the rest of the year until April, I believe. They close it because snow was a-coming and the roads are impassible. And you might slip off the edge and die.
Tomorrow, the Grand Canyon in the daytime and the first glimpse of Zion.