We watched the Canyon again today.
We did so by driving out to Desert View, on the eastern end of the park, and then stopping at nearly every viewpoint on the way back.
The main attraction at Desert View, other than the Canyon, is the Watchtower, designed by Mary Colter back in the 1930s. Like the Canyon itself, it is endlessly fascinating to watch: Colter’s vision of an organic structure resulted in stonework that at first appears random, but upon closer examination is intricately designed.
The whole area is being redeveloped in concert with the Eleven Associated Tribes to feature an Inter-Tribal Cultural Heritage Site, hopefully to be open next year.
The view from the Watchtower is, of course, spectacular.
It’s the point at which the Colorado River does a hard right and heads west, dropping some 300 feet almost immediately.
We found a shaded spot, popped out our camp chairs, and settled in for some Canyon watching.
There, unbelievably, trails down there.
We have questions for Park Rangers. For example, in this next photo, if you find the rapids on the left side, right above them is a little white spot on the cliff. Even with binoculars we could not tell what it was, since it’s surrounded by completely black rock.
I will not insist that you participate in our stop-by-stop Canyon watching, but I’ll share some things.
Another view of the mighty Colorado River. As a fellow watcher commented, “It doesn’t look that big to have done all this.” Of course, it’s a matter of scale — the river is about 300 feet across.
At one of the stops, thistles:
The junipers are laden with berries…
…which got me to thinking. Some enterprising entity, perhaps the Eleven Associated Tribes, could ethically harvest juniper berries and package them for people who are interested in distillations and infusions, i.e., teas, essential oils, gin.
One would not offer just the juniper, of course. There’s desert sage…
… piñon trees, germander, all kinds of herbs and plants that could be harvested and sold to the likes of me.
At one of the stops, a trio of ravens greeted us, and after they hung around a bit, I shared my water with them. Always — always — make friends with the ravens.
I’m not sure what this shrub is, but its blooms are nice. Is it juniper? All the other junipers were in full berry.
Even the dead trees are picturesque.
My Lovely First Wife adventuring out onto a promontory. A bit.
One last panoramic view:
Back at the Village, we decided on a multi-phase plan. First, we’d check out the Hopi House for a couple of items we’re still looking for. Then we’d slip into El Tovar’s cocktail lounge and have a drink and a charcuterie to tide us over. Then we’d sit out and watch the sunset, which is always the main event. After that, we’d retreat to the Bright Angel Tavern for a light supper.
The gang was back.
Including this goober. How the hell did he get into a fenced-in garden?
Not only that, but when we came back around from Hopi House, he was gone. Over charcuterie, we asked the waitress if she knew how he did it. Yep, all of them know just to push their way under the fence. Later there was another one in there.
After we finished our cocktails, my Lovely First Wife suggested that I run back to the cabin to get the chairs while she paid the bill. (It is not a short distance back to the cabin.)
That’s okay. I got to see the fawn suckling.
It’s eating grass, but it’s still dappled and still wants its milk.
We settled in to watch the sunset, and now I will walk you through how the Canyon is one of the most watchable places ever.
Your establishing shot:
(We were joined by this little bug, who trundled back and forth in front of us the whole time.)
As the sun sets, the Canyon goes darker…
…while the sky above remains brilliant.
This sunset had an extra bit; since the sun was behind clouds while it was setting…
…when it finally sank to the horizon, its light escaped the clouds and…
… the Canyon was lit again, for a moment.
…and then, behind us…
So, just your typical sunset over your typical Canyon with your typical rainbow with your typical elk grazing all around you.
Finally, the sun set.
We headed back down to Bright Angel Lodge, where we greeted our bartender Christine and had a light supper of fish and chips. We told her of our sunset experience and she commented that camp chairs are on her list to acquire, so we immediately offered her ours. We can’t take them back with us and we were wondering how best to gift them to someone else. (Apparently there’s a gear swap kind of thing, but we can just give ours to Christine.)
One more day!