Alternate title: how my in-laws proved that they are the raddest in all the lands.
I had pretty much resigned myself to the thought that the Grand Canyon was not going to be crossed off my 30 by 30 list. It could spawn a ‘1 by 31’ list, and I was okay with that.
Then my in-laws, who are the most wonderful people imaginable, surprised me with an early birthday trip to the canyon that is grand! Just like that – I was Cinderella and they were the fairy godmother and the pumpkin coach was a BMW. Complete with my Prince Charming of a husband, we road tripped it to the South Rim on the weekend following Thanksgiving.
On first sight, I had two simultaneous thoughts: it looks exactly like it does in pictures and there’s an intangible quality here that pictures cannot possibly capture. The colors, the texture, the shadows, the width and depth and breadth of it – it is truly awe-inspiring.
We stayed at Maswik Lodge and it was perfectly located – a five minute walk to the canyon, yet nestled back in the trees, quiet and peaceful. We had dinner at El Tovar the first night and I cannot say enough good things about the food, the service, the atmosphere…. What a treat!
Saturday morning we grabbed breakfast at Maswik Lodge food court and talked to Joy in the concierge area. A self-proclaimed lifetime educator, Joy gave us some must-do recommendations, including a short drive to the Desert View watchtower. I’m so glad we followed her guidance! The watchtower, one of many structures designed by Mary Colter, was a marvel. Gorgeous stonework, lovely art, and 360-degree, breathtaking views.
Lunch was taken at the Pizza Pub back at Maswik and then we took a hiatus for a little rest. At 3:30 we reconvened to catch a bus for the sunset tour. The guide, Roger, was great. He shared details about the canyon, the trees, the Native American influence in the area, fossils, the Colorado River…. We went to three lookout points on the tour and each was more beautiful than the previous.
Sunday morning brought the sunrise tour, where Terry the guide took us to two lookout points and shared a few things about the area. There were many clouds on the horizon so the colors just before the sunrise were magnificent. Good job, God, indeed.
After the sunrise tour, we packed up our hotel rooms and hit the road. Breakfast was taken in Williams, Arizona. I felt like I’d stepped right into Luke’s diner in Stars Hollow. It was a small town place where the servers hugged and called the regulars by first name. The food was so, so good! Then it was time to hit the road again and the drive home passed quickly.
Regarding the weather – it was mostly nice. The mornings and evenings/nights were chilly, as expected in November at 6900 elevation. We were prepared though, and the biggest nuisance was the whipping wind at those lookouts!
Regarding the tourists – I was surprised at how busy it was, even during a cooler month! Craig said that all of the hotels right on the rim were booked when he called to make reservations (which worked out perfectly because the location of our hotel was ideal). I would NOT want to go in the summer/early fall because I imagine that the crowds make it difficult to enjoy the view and the amenities. If I went back, I’d probably choose late November again. There was a melting pot of cultures! I heard more foreign languages from groups around us than I did English. It was really nice to think about how people travel from all around the world to see the Grand Canyon. It was also nice to see so many families – prioritizing a trip to a national park and learning about the formation and history of the canyon with their children.
I am blessed to call Craig and Sue family. They welcomed me warmly into their lives when Kevin and I began dating and I am so attached to them. Truly it is such an honor to spend time with them and I am so flattered that they arranged this trip as a gift to me. It was fantastic. Thank you, Craig and Sue – for this and everything you do to make me feel so loved!
Have you traveled to the Grand Canyon or any national parks?