"No where on the earth's surface are the secrets of its structure so revealed as here"
John Strong Newberry
State 25: Arizona - December 31, 2017
We woke at a Love’s Truck Stop exhausted and groggy. Yesterday we spent the day in the Prescott library catching up on computer work, and then drove to a Love’s Truck Stop in Williams, AZ to spend the night. Although we dislike sleeping at truck stops, we did so for geographical convenience, since it was the closest free overnight parking we could find to our next stop!
Typically, I do not wake up until 8:00 am, but today the rooster crowed bright and early at 6:00am. I am so not a morning person! To hell with the worm I always say! Today we drive 53 miles North to Tusayan, AZ to visit the national park depicted on the reverse of the Arizona quarter: Grand Canyon National Park. Today, I had a very good reason to rise at the crack of dawn! We would see a sunrise over the Grand Canyon. Before hitting the road, I am going to head inside of the truck stop to grab a tea to wake up. While I am gone, here is a brief overview of the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon is a steep sided canyon carved by the Colorado River 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and over a mile in depth. As a result of the rivers erosion over the past 5-6 million years, over 2 billion years of earth's geological history are revealed in the exposed canyon walls. Inspired by his 1903 visit to the Grand Canyon, President Theodore Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate Grand Canyon National Monuments on January 11, 1908. For the next 11 years, land owners and mining companies in and around the Grand Canyon fought its designation as a national monument in court. On February 26, 1919, the US Congress established Grand Canyon as America's 17th national park, which was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. Today, Grand Canyon National Park is the world's most frequented natural attractions attracting over five million visitors per year, and the Cross Country Couple was ecstatic to finally be among them! See if you can find me hiding in the picture below.
Our research revealed Mather Point near the visitor center as one of the best places to view the sunrise, and we arrived just in time for mother nature's grandest show! It is impossible to describe the experience of seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time! Its vastness overwhelms the senses! Its beauty touches the human soul! It was a spiritual experience! For a brief moment in time, the world around me ceased to exist as I remained hopelessly fixated on the scene unfolding before my eyes! Second only to my marriage to Lori, watching the sunrise over the Grand Canyon was the most amazing experience of my entire life! Please enjoy the pictures below!
Since the North Rim is closed during the winter months, our exploration was limited to the South Rim! There are 2 main parts to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Hermit Road extending 9.4 miles West, and Desert View Drive extending 23 miles East. We chose to begin with our exploration on Hermit Road and below are the viewpoints we visited.
Yavapai Point & Geology Museum
This viewpoint overlooks the famous Bright Angel Trail; a strenuous 8-mile out and back trail with a 10% grade. The trail begins at the Grand Canyon Village along the South Rim, and descends 4,380 feet to the Colorado River. You have no idea how badly I wish I had the time to hike this trail!!! In addition, the Bright Angel Trail is also the path of the world famous mule rides down the Grand Canyon. Since the cost of the mule rides were $838.31 per person, Lori and I decided to pass! I could buy my own mule for that price! Please see the pictures below!
Monument Creek Vista
After doubling back down Hermit Road, we passed the corrals where the mules were held in Grand Canyon Village. I may not have been able to ride a mule down the Grand Canyon, but at least I was able to snap a few pictures as I drove by. Please see the pictures below.
After departing The Grand Canyon Village we headed 25 miles East down Desert View Drive, and below are the viewpoints we visited!
Pipe Creek Vista
Duck on a Rock Overlook
President Eisenhower once visited this viewpoint.
Desert View Watchtower
Built in 1932 by American architect and designer Mary Colter, Desert View Watchtower is a 4 floor, 70-foot-tall structure composed of circular stones rising from a rubble base. The tower was constructed as an open shaft with circular balconies overlooking the central space. Small windows in the tower's shaft shine beams of light illuminating the interior, and offers visitors a variety of vantage points of the canyon. The tower was designed to mimic an ancient Pueblo watchtower, and the interior is decorated by bold petroglyph murals by artists Fred Kabotie, and Fred Greer. The top of the tower is 7,522 feet above sea level making it the highest point on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The towers apex offers unprecedented views to the very depths of the canyon. The Desert View Watchtower was not only my favorite viewpoint at Grand Canyon, it is the most magnificent structure I have ever entered! The entire building inside, and out is a work of art! Please enjoy the pictures below.
After departing the Grand Canyon, we drove 82 miles South to the nearest Walmart allowing overnight parking in Flagstaff, AZ. Tonight is New Year’s Eve, and the Cross Country Couple was looking for a place to ring in the New Year! After a quick google search, I discovered Flagstaff’s Great Pine Cone Drop! Located at the corner of Aspen Avenue and Leroux Street, The Weatherford Hotel has been in been a fixture in the heart of downtown Flagstaff for over 100 years. In celebration of the hotels centennial, the first great pine cone drops occurred on New Year’s Eve in 1999. Every year since, the hand-crafted, 70 pound, 6-foot aluminum pine cone consisting of over 200 petals illuminated with LED lights is hoisted 3 stories high above the historic hotel, while a digital display beneath counts down to the New Year!
New York City has a giant ball drop, and Flagstaff has a giant pine cone drop. This is absolutely hilarious!!! Arizona's landscape primarily consists of desert, and I have yet to see a see a single pine tree in the state! Why not drop a glowing cactus? I guess tonight we are bringing in the New Year watching a giant lighted pine cone drop in the middle of the desert! Welcome to life of the road! Some days are good! Some days are bad! Every day is an adventure! Please see the pictures below of the pine cone drop in downtown Flagstaff, AZ!
After departing downtown Flagstaff, we carefully drove back across town where we found a Walmart to spend the night.