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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Canyon Magic

~Thursday, March 31, 2022~

Day 655

An overcast day, which lent to the chilly air. Of course that doesn’t stop the kiddos from being outside, enjoying their campfire, hammocks and forts. And then of course there’s the dogs chasing after who knows what and possibly digging up even more archaeological finds (elk and deer bones).

It was nice to catch up on my writing where it doesn’t take long to fall behind from having packed sightseeing days preventing me from doing so (I’m really not complaining). It’s nice getting to know the Alonzi’s and the Bacher’s so much more. Special families for sure! I really enjoyed chatting with Derek about the work he’s doing with his church, their mission and their various fundraising efforts.

This would be our first outing with both families which both Jeff and I have been looking forward to. But coordinating 13 people to get out the door simultaneously is no easy task. Jeff and I took the lead in driving to our spot since we’ve been labeled the experts apparently. They had planned originally to take the shuttle to avoid the always challenging parking situation. But since we were offering guidance, they decided on taking their cars instead.

First stop….the overlook.

We’re always blown away with its grandeur each and every time. Nothing can describe it enough nor pictures do it justice. For Jeff and I, it brings a flood of memories from the time he proposed to me at the bottom over 30 years ago (yes we were insane to hike down and back up in 1 day), to when we had the amazing experience of coming here with our children. We were happy to see that the clouds were high enough for us to see clear across to the North Rim which is about 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim (where we are). You just never know what weather you’re going to get at the rim. The shadows were much more dramatic than last time we were here and the crowds seemed far fewer as well…..always a welcome thing.

The Grand Canyon in and of itself is why we come. But the other main attraction is the picturesque Grand Canyon Village. Architect Mary Colter, one of the first American architects to appreciate the natural beauty of Native American art, designed almost half of the buildings in this area including the Hopi House, Bright Angel Lodge and the Lookout Studio, which we had planned to see. Though we don’t really like the crowds, it’s nice to see the village running back to normal after COVID. Mandatory mask wearing and closed establishments are now a thing of the past. The only mandatory mask wearing is on the shuttle. I’d say maybe 20% of visitors are wearing masks out in public.

The first building we entered was the Yavapai Museum of Geology, expanded and more elaborate since the last time we came. They have a small bookstore/museum gift shop, wonderful exhibits and 3-dimensional models explaining the geology of the Grand Canyon (I tried to expand my knowledge of the various rock layers), and a large picture window to take in those amazing views. Well worth our stop.

Next, the Hopi House-designed by Mary Colter (aforementioned) who drew inspiration from the beauty and grandeur of the canyon. Established in 1905, this special “work of art” was modeled after the 1,000 year-old pueblo dwellings in the area, taking you back in time. In fact, in its early years, it was an actual dwelling for some of the Hopis who worked in the building. Most of the rooms have the typical ceiling of the Hopi style….saplings, grasses and twigs adhered together with a mud coating resting on peeled log beams. Inside was a variety of Native American wares…..hand woven rugs, jewelry, pottery and books.

Never having been to the second floor, we were thrilled that it was open this time around. Not forgetting to duck with its low entryway, the old staircase is decorated with murals drawn by the Hopi, protected by plexiglass. The second floor was an extension of more crafts and Hopi religious artifacts. We even saw an original painting for $22,000 called Hotevilla Powamuya by Ahkima Honyumptewa.

It depicts one of the many beautiful Hopi ceremonies, celebrating growth by all living beings. But honestly, seeing the canvas painting displayed as it was…..set on an easel, unprotected, in the flow of traffic begging to be touched, sitting next to $70 reprints, only devalued its price tag in my opinion. I would think at that price, that it would be prominently hung on a wall, behind glass, alongside other expensive originals. The strangest thing. Since Kristen and Amy have inspired me to be more adventurous with my earring selection (I usually wear studded pearls), I was on a mission to find a pair of unique handmade dangling earrings (casual). No luck today, but there’s time.

The Lookout Studio, also designed by Mary Colter, opened in 1914. Perched on the very edge of the rim with exceptional views, we were privy to witness a partial

rainbow over the canyon between rain showers. Here they sell stunning photography, books, rocks, fossils and souvenirs.

Next to the Lookout Studio is the Kolb Studio, once the home of the Kolb brothers who were early photographers at The Grand Canyon. The building was built right on the edge of the canyon between 1904 to 1926 by brothers Ellsworth and Emery where, over the years, the building continued to expand with 4 different additions. Their intent was to create a tourist destination, taking photographs of the mule riders from a small toll shack on the Bright Angel Trail. Inside, we saw many of their photos documenting the trips of past visitors and the beautiful landscape of the canyon. The building also served as their home and theater for over 70 years.

After taking in all this history, it was time to settle down with some sunset time.

With the many lookout points to choose from, we settled on Yavapai Point where we started today’s adventures. With the mix of clouds, mist and sun, it was the perfect display of color, though cold and windy. Hoping for better weather as we continue our stay.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about a few facts of the canyon…….

1️⃣ The canyon is 277 miles long

2️⃣ It is believed that the Colorado River has been at work for 5 to 6 million years, carving out the canyon

3️⃣ The Grand Canyon officially became a national park in 1919

4️⃣ It is the 6th most visited park in the U.S. with 3 million visitors per year.

5️⃣ The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World as well as a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site.

What an awesome day, though the weather could have been better. Since we noticed that the 10X Campground was closed (not yet open for the season), we were on the hunt for alternatives to resupply our water. So we checked out our old stomping ground of Mather Campground where it appears they not only have potable water but a dump station as well. Nice to have that portion of our boondocking resupply figured out.

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