We spent ten days at Grand Canyon National Park, from June 8 -18. Three days we camped at Mather Campground, in an area where generator use was prohibited and we had no water or electric hook ups. We did, however, have a fire ring, countless stars, and visiting elk and mule deer. It was quiet, peaceful, restful and relaxing. We also learned that we aren't really enamored with the boon docking lifestyle. After Mather, we stayed in Grand Canyon Trailer Village for the maximum of seven days. It was expensive, since the campground is not federal, but run by Xanterra, a concession company which manages several of the larger National Parks, including Yellowstone and Bryce.
One area that you can drive along the South Rim is the area along Desert View Drive, toward the east. We drove there a couple of times and stopped at each of the look out areas. The stretch that you are able to drive is approximately 25 miles.
In spite of the fact that it was early to mid May when we stayed, the afternoons were hot. The mornings and evenings were comfortably cool.
I feared that I had given the whole Canyon experience too much of a buildup, in the time before we arrived. Having been to the Grand Canyon twice before, and knowing the effect in had on me, spiritually and emotionally, I worried that Raymond would be let down when he finally saw the canyon for the first time. He wasn't, I'm happy to report. Though he did mention that he didn't think he was quite as overwhelmed as I was.
One surprising thing was how much Raymond wanted to hike the canyon. During my last visit, when I was in my middle 20s, my companion and I hiked Bright Angel Trail down and up, in one day. The Park service discourages that nowadays. A couple of things prohibited us from any long distance hikes on this visit. One was how much the altitude affected our breathing. This was something new for me. Another was the fact that we are traveling with our 13 year old dog and dogs are not allowed on the trails. There are kennel services available, but since Greyla has never been in a kennel in her 13 years, we didn't feel this was the time to start. In addition, neither of us had prepared for such a hike, nor did we have appropriate shoes. On our next visit to Grand Canyon National Park, we will be better prepared.
Another surprising thing (to me) was how much Raymond wanted to see the North Rim. One of my dreams has always been to hike from the North Rim, through the canyon, and out the South Rim. Raymond kept talking about how much he'd like to see the North Rim, but there were no campground availabilities at the time, as the North Rim only opened for the season on May 15. Who knows, maybe the north to south dream may yet come true!
When the time came for us to leave, I actually cried. There have been a couple of places that have had that kind of impact on me. The area north of Santa Fe, NM, along route 82 was one. The Grand Canyon is another. I don't know if other people are as "place sensitive" as I am. Occasionally a place, town, or city will have a deep impact on me emotionally, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. I reacted deeply positively to New Mexico and to The Grand Canyon. My major negatives? New York City, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
It seems funny to me that even though I have spent the majority of my life as an urbanite, the place that disturb me most are urban areas. While the most comforting places, the places I am saddened to leave, the places where I can visualize living, are small towns and wilderness areas.
This nomadic vision and lifestyle are teaching me not only about this country we call home, but about myself.