Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: USA Road Trip 2011

Grand Canyon revisited

It was the Labor Day public holiday in the Unites States, although I didn't expect it to affect me much. Having said that, the Holiday Inn Express breakfast area was much quieter than a couple of days before. I was in no great hurry this morning, but eventually set off towards the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, after ensuring that the car was filled up.

I had only made one previous visit to this wonder of the natural world, as long ago as 1987, and I was eager to see it again after nearly a quarter of a century.

Not long after turning off Highway 89 and onto 64, I encountered a message displayed on one of those large dot-matrix displays, which managed to be both worrying and reassuring at the same time. It read simply: "Fire. National Park open." Sure enough, I could see smoke billowing skywards up ahead, with at least one helicopter in attendance.
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Thankfully the fire seemed to be quite localised and was no impediment at all to sightseeing. I stopped several times along the route to the Mather viewpoint and didn't recognise a single thing from 1987! My various stops were at Desert View (lunch stop), Navajo Point, Lipan Point, Moran Point and Grandview Point. The pictures give a representative sample of the views.

When I had seen enough for this first day at the canyon, I drove south out of the National Park to Tusayan Village, where I easily found the Holiday Inn Express. I was surprised and pleased to find that the suites were located in a completely separate building which was much more tastefully decorated than the main accommodation block. The furniture was also much nicer than in the HIX that I'd just left in Page. After taking a few minutes to get settled in, I drove round to the airport and reserved a place on the 10am scenic flight the next day. I decided to go for a fixed-wing aircraft as I had already experienced a helicopter tour, albeit back in the eighties.

I had dinner across the main road at the Canyon Star restaurant of the Grand Hotel, where I was served black bean soup followed by pork tenderloin with blueberry salsa, assorted vegetables and mashed potatoes. It was absolutely delicious - the best food I'd eaten since arriving in the USA and unlike the canyon, not at all overwhelming!

Monday 05 Sep

Miles driven: 151

Trip to date: 1609

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