For spring break of 2013, The Stocks Tribe headed to the American southwest, to see up close the “Big Three” National Parks---Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, and Grand Canyon. We weren’t going to do some drive-by, wimpy tour. No siree Bob---we were going to hike up, down, and all around! And that’s pretty much what we did.
This was not a vacation for the faint-of-heart. We were sore and tired afterwards (spending eight nights in eight different locations will do that), but have wonderful memories of the good times (and a few bad) to last a lifetime.
Flying from Richmond through Atlanta, we arrived in Las Vegas around dinner time, and after schlepping our two huge cardboard boxes full of camping gear around the slot machines which populate the airport, we picked up our rental SUV and headed to Boulder City, about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas and just minutes from from the Hoover Dam.
After a refreshing night’s rest at the Boulder City (lack of) Quality Inn, the next morning, we zipped across the the new 900-foot high arch Bridge just down the Colorado River from the Hoover dam (the walls are high, and you don’t realize you’re on a bridge, much less see Hoover Dam), and then stopped briefly in Jerome, AZ. Jerome is an old ghost town, once a mining hotbed, and now a artsy tourist destination. I had gone through Jerome two years ago on my cross-country bike ride.
Shortly after Jerome, we stopped for an afternoon in Sedona. I had made reservations earlier for the Pink Jeep Tour of the surrounding red rocks outside of Sedona. Grace had been very apprehensive beforehand, after watching the video on the Pink Jeep website, but once strapped into the Jeep, and with the funny commentary of driver/guide Tony, she had a blast. The whole tour was like a Jeep commercial brought to life, as the specially-modified Jeep climbed and descended extremely steep and rugged trails to everyone’s amazement.
In Sedona, Grace picked up a Mexican serape blanket (more later), and a few t-shirts. We then turned the SUV (affectionately named the Family Truckster, from the Family Vacation movie) northward, past Flagstaff, and to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We arrived around dinner time, but still made time to take in a few views of the Canyon before retiring to the Thunderbird Lodge, a few paces from the Rim itself.
The next morning (Easter), I got up early to take a number of sunrise photos (listening to Ferde Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite on the iPod..pretty cool) then joined Grace and Debbie for breakfast at the Bright Angel Lodge. Debbie, doubting her ability to carry a heavy pack down and up the Canyon, stopped by the desk in the Lodge for the Phantom Ranch, and luckily scored two cancellations for her and Grace at the Phantom Ranch women’s bunkhouse. Since there were no male spots available (plus I preferred to camp anyway), we dropped off Debbie’s tent and sleeping bags in the car, while I kept my camping gear, and we made our way to the trailhead via bus, and started down the 7-mile South Kaibab trail just after 8 AM.
It was a beautiful sunny day, and we thoroughly enjoyed the trip down. The sights were magnificent, but our knees and quads were pretty sore when we got to the bottom in about four hours. Lee having to carry Grace’s serape blanket didn’t help.