Grand Canyon South Rim

Grand Canyon S Rim OverviewGrand Canyon South Rim Overview with Colorado River Below

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

We arrived at the park at 7:00 a.m. to beat the heat and crowd today.  The crowd was present but using bus transportation was easier compared to Yosemite NP.  This bus system and signs, along with a good clear to understand map were easier to maneuver and we used it more than we’d expected.  We were able to see as much of the rim views as we wanted.  To experience the park any further though, you need more than one day so you can hike some of the trails to go down into the canyon.  That would be the ultimate if you are able.

I’ve heard of the Grand Canyon most of my life so to finally see it was very special.  There was a haze in the air most of the day so the views we experienced were more for our enjoyment and not capable of being reproduced in photo.  As at most national parks, seeing the film at the Visitor’s Center about the park always adds so much to your visit.  We then were able to go to the iMax just outside the South Entrance and see their movie as well.  I marvel that people actually made it from the east coast to the west traveling these terrains.  Discouragement must have frequently shown its ugly head.

Grand Canyon is a geologist dream to explore.  Its story tells of geologic processes played out over unimaginable time spans as a unique combination of size, color and dazzling erosional forms: 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep.

Note:  Temperature near 110°

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Sunset Crater Volcano & Wupatki National Monuments

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

These two parks are close in location and the Sunset Crater story is the opener to how it effected the Wupatki people.

Sunset Crater is one of the more recent active volcanos in the United States having taken place approximately 1,000 years ago.  At the time of its eruption, the Hopi Indians occupied the surrounding land.  After the eruption their homes and all plant life were ruined for a 3-mile radius.  Farther away, plants were suffocated or stripped by ash fall and damaged by acids and gases.

To revive this land requires moisture so cinders can become soil.  Weathering is so slow that cinders on the rim of the cone are barely altered to date. Volcanic eruptions change soil conditions, sometimes impacting recovery for centuries.  Today, the trees are probably not the first generation to return.  Still, after approximately 1,000 years, only the lower half of the north slope has soil and an established forest.

The Hopi people moved far enough away from the lava runs to find new land they could farm.  To accomplish making this land useable, they would dig through the lava crust a good 3-4” to plant seeds.  One benefit from the lava crust was its ability to hold moisture in the soil making this drought desert land produce better crops.  At the Wupatki National Monument you can enjoy viewing some of the remains of former stucco houses still standing some 700 years from when they were built.  

Upon emerging into this world, Hopi ancestors accepted the gift of corn as a way of life.  They then embarked upon long and complex migrations with a preordained purpose.  When the people stayed too long in certain areas and failed to lead moral and responsible lives, social and environmental catastrophes reminded them of their destiny.  In other instances, astronomical events were signals to complete migration.

According to traditional Hopi beliefs, ancestral villages were purposely settled and left for a reason.  It was the destiny of Hopi people to value spiritual life over material possessions, to survive as farmers in a harsh land, and to travel to the four corners of the Earth before finding and settling in the Center of the Universe where the Hopi live to this day.

World history has shown when people commit to agriculture certain things happen.  They grow more food and raise more children.  They become sedentary and build substantial homes.  Groups come together into communities.  Trade networks and complex relationships form.  This patterned behavior can be seen in the Southwest but a great deal of behavioral experimentation also took place.

Many cultural changes occurred when environmental conditions were favorable for agriculture.  But many happened during stressful times as well.  Faced with changing natural and cultural conditions, people attempted new behaviors, new social arrangements.* 

One Landscape Many Lives – A challenging environment, but full of opportunities; many people have valued what Wupatki has to offer.  From hunter-gathers to farmers, herders, ranchers, and caretakers, a variety of cultures have invested their lives in this land we now call Wupatki National Monument.

For Hopi people, Wupatki recalls a specific event and the importance of this place in the histories of Hopi clans.  The anglicized name was mistakenly applied to the largest village here, then used as the name of the monument.

* Two Points of View (taken from a national monument publication)

Monday, June 19, 2017

After such a full day on Sunday with the heat and driving, we decided to rest a little today and head to Grand Canyon on Tuesday.  The advantage of having a flexible schedule.

The forest fire in the distance from our campground is known as the Highline forest fire in Tonto National Forest.  As of Sunday night it was 60% contained. One hundred homes had to be evacuated north of Payson, AZ.

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Williams, Arizona

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

We drove from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon KOA today.  Upon our arrival we learned that a town nearby had a rodeo going this weekend with lots of extra events.  So we headed to town.  Since it was going on 5:00 p.m. and there were an extra 500 cowboys and families in town for the celebration, we found a restaurant the KOA had recommended, the Red Raven.  We were told it was pricy but we hoped it would mean the line would be shorter.  Dinner was delicious.  When we left the hostess was taking cellphone numbers for people who still wanted to eat there and she’d call them when a table opened up.  I thought that was very creative!

While in town we visited a few cowboy shops, a Route 66 shop, watched an artist do sketching of individual people, saw a Conestoga wagon with a donkey following behind as though the family was moving west, witnessed an old-time bank robber shoot out which was funny.  A thoroughly nice evening.  It’s been a long day!

Deane received the families Father’s Day present upon arrival here which was a surprise.  Thanks for your thoughtfulness everybody.  What a special treat to have a homemade card from the grandkids too.

Note:  A mountain outside our living room window and a considerable distance from us is dealing with a forest fire caused by careless campers.  It is so hot.  My heart goes out to the fire fighters.

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Lake Mead National Recreation Area

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Boulder Basin at Lake Mead NRA

Monday – June 12, 2017

This was the first “National Recreation Area” the park service developed.  It was hard to get a good photo of the blue water with it’s contrast to the desert mountainsides.  There are few recreational lakes in this part of the country so it is a pleasant place to escape city life and enjoy the peace and tranquility of boating, hiking and swimming.  Today there were no clouds in the sky as it rarely rains here.

We returned and sat by the pool until early evening.  Deane had rented the movie “A Dog’s Purpose” which was a real treat to end our day.  Amy is calling this our week of vacation from our vacation as we are here to renew and replenish for our remaining five weeks of this national parks trip.

Note:  This lake is the combination of the Mead River and the Mahavo Rivers flowing together into Hoover Dam.  Lake Mead is one of the largest manmade lakes in the world.

Photo: Andrew Cattoir

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The Grandview at Las Vegas

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

We arrived back at the Grandview for a week.  Our check-in went much smoother and Deane was able to get a suite that was much closer to the parking as well as the swimming pool so I won’t have as far to walk.  We slept in late this morning, then read by the pool, visited the grocery and had dinner at Carrabbas, then did laundry in our condo and relaxed.  Life is good!

Vacation from Our Vacation

Tuesday – Friday, June 13 – 16, 2017

We spent the week rejuvenating by renting dvd movies, sleeping late, sitting by the pool and reading, and even did a little sight-seeing around Las Vegas.  It was glorious!  Now on to the last half of our trip.

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We’re Half Way

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Sandy, Jerry, Linda and Deane sharing an afternoon

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Today is a turning point as we turn from going west to driving east.  We traveled from San Diego to Las Vegas on I-15 this morning.  Then east of Los Angeles off I-15 is where Deane’s cousin Jerry now lives and he and Sandy invited us to stop along the way for lunch.  We also got to meet part of Sandy’s extended family.  A fun gathering and good food!  Thanks for having us.  It’s been nice to get acquainted again with Deane’s Mom’s side of the family.

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The Town of Chula Vista, California

Friday, June 9, 2017

We found a back way to other areas in Chula Vista that made getting around not feel like a battle ground of vehicles.  We even managed to have dinner at Olive Garden.

Now it’s time to fill the car up for tomorrow’s trip.  Something interesting always seems to happen.  We went to one gas station that didn’t do credit cards and wanted you to get a car wash as well.  NOT!  Second station once again didn’t do credit cards, okay with us.  So on to gas station three where we finally were able to fill the gas tank and charge the purchase.  Something to always keep you on your toes.

Note:  California has banned using plastic bags.  Consequently you either buy a bag at the grocery or provide your own.  Good we had our recyclable grocery bags with us.

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