Day 4:    A Grand Time at the Grand Canyon

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The Boys arose without being abducted by either the sinister Alien Space Cloud or giddy Mormon Co-eds. Smiling upon their good fortune, Mike and Bone grabbed some very bad free hotel coffee, and were on the road by 7:00 AM, intent on making it to the Grand Canyon that day.


"On to "Zona !"


A Cloudy, Early Morning on Lake Powell

The Morning turned to a gray,  breezy, overcast sky, as the Boys traced along Lake Powell, looking for the bridge that would take them South into Arizona. Fortunate again smiled on the boys as they soon found a Gas Station  with directions to the Bridge, as well as the needed supplies which allowed them to replenish both Gas and Beer, the essential supplies needed for the arduous hours ahead.


Looking 5000 feet down from Utah into Arizona's Valley of the Gods


Tryin' to stay on track, slidin' around  one wicked switchback !!!

To Mike and Bone, the whole trip to date seemed to be an education on Geology, with all the discussions of erosion and geologic plates, Mike and Bone had observed one plate system (Capital Reef), and were now about to "experience, real-time" another. The State Line for Arizona and Utah just so happens to rest on one of these plate lines. So to enter Arizona from Utah, you have the descend a 5,000 foot cliff on a VERY narrow and steep, one lane, gravel switchback !!  The sign on the entrance of the Switchback is "No commercial vehicles, twin axles, and any vehicle larger that a VW Bug" (ok, that one wasn't  there, but it should have been !) It also stated that the stated speed limit was 15 miles an hour.

As Mike and Bone started down the switchback, they noticed that there were NO guard rails, and it was a very sheer 5,000 foot drop to the Desert floor! Mike's driving approach was to drop the rental car into first gear, and ride the brake, as the car literally slid down the very steep grades at 20 miles an hour, which was as slow as they could go considering the grade. Mike was white-knuckled, clutching the steering wheel, while Bone was white-knuckled, clutching the Hall of Shame, vowing to save the beer in the event the Boys slid to their probable deaths off the cliff.

Fortunately, after a tense 15 minute ride or "slide", the boys were safely into Arizona and celebrated with an icy-cold Corona from the Hall of Shame.

"Whoa, who turned up the Heat !?!" What a difference 5,000 feet can make, on The Utah side, on top of the Cliff it was a very comfortable 85 degrees, however down on the valley floor in Arizona, it felt like a blast furnace with the temperature souring to 120 degrees. The Boys gratefully rolled up their windows,  blasted the AC, and popped open another "Rona, as they continued the quest for the Grand Canyon through the sacred Navajo country, the Valley of the Gods, also known as Monument Valley.


Re-Entering the Navajo Nation: The Valley of the Gods


A Classic Monument Valley Scene

More Geology 101. The awesome spires, mesas, and plateaus found in Monument Valley are not the result of dry Desert heat, but of ocean erosion! Remember much of the Southwest was a fresh-water ocean after the Ice Age melted away. The Mesas and Spires of Monument Valley were very  porous red sandstone islands, whose bases were rapidly eroding (geologically speaking) by tidal action.  When the waters receded, the debris of the waves settled around the bases of the islands, forming what we see today, and what the Navajos worship in the now very dry, dusty, and hot Southwest.

The boys did snap a few very cool pictures (as shown above) of the Valley, but the blast-furnace heat, and the challenge of time of making it to the Grand Canyon before dark, dissuaded any serious hiking opportunities.

Anazazi Indian Ruins at Horsecollar

Even though the boys were on a tight time schedule, they did stop at an historic and geologic site. Horsecollar Ruins, is an amazing site where the ancestors of the Navajo, Pueblo, and Apache Indian Tribes, the Anazazi, first made their homes in the sheer cliffs of the Horsecollar Rim.


The Mike and Bone walked around the site and marveled how a people could live in such conditions; having to climb up and down the cliff walls carrying their food and supplies, in the oppressive heat, and with out ice-cold beer !!


Driving like the Devil thru the Desert !

After Horsecollar Ruin, the boys picked up the pace since it was pushing 1:00 PM, the window of opportunity was closing rapidly for the Boys to see the Grand Canyon. Since the next day HAD to be devoted to getting back to Las Vegas, that made this Day the now or never opportunity for the boys to see the Grand Canyon and prove that Heber Jones was right !!


"Yep, we CAN go even faster !!!"

One of the great things about being in the middle of nowhere is that the speed limit is usually more of a suggestion, than an enforced policy. Mike and Bone took full advantage of the lack of company on the road to move into warp speed in order to make it to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon before dark.


Arizona at its Finest

Even though they were pressing along with tremendous focus on getting to the Grand Canyon, as the Boys drove along, they couldn't help but be totally impressed by the arid beauty of the Arizona Desert.


Glen Canyon Part 1


Glen Canyon Part 2

Glen Canyon is simply the Colorado River before it completely explodes into the Grand Canyon. However. Glen Canyon is a cool sight all in its own right. When Mike and Bone saw it at 3:00 PM, they knew by the Heber Jones Map that they were within two hours of the Grand Canyon and would make it that day except for a growing problem, where to spend the night?

After all it WAS Labor day weekend, stopping in a little town just out side of Glen Canyon, the boys started to call hotels motels and B&Bs, unfortunately everything within a 100 miles of the Canyon was booked solid. Luckily Glen Canyon had two cheapo Motels that had availability, never looking a gift horse in the mouth, the boys drabbed one of the last available rooms, ditched their stuff, and booked full speed to the Grand Canyon !!


First Glimpses of the GRAND Canyon !!!


The Indescribable Greens and Reds of the Grand Canyon

Now Zion is breathtaking, Bryce is visually stunning, however they are both simply small potatoes when compared to the absolute grandeur of the Grand Canyon!! First, the absolute enormity of the place takes your breath away. The colors cannot really be captured in picture or film. Oh you may see pictures of the place, but until you experience the place, it is simply beyond words. Mike and Bone observed the scene in quiet reference, jaws agape, while spilling their beers on their shoes.


The View from the North Rim, a Bright Angels Point, Part 1


The View from the North Rim, a Bright Angels Point, Part 2

Of the hundreds, and hundreds of miles of areas to visit in the Grand Canyon, Mike and Bone only had time to visit the Jacobs Lake Area on the North Rim, and hike a little bit of the Bright Angel Point Area.

It was only a small taste of the Canyon, but it was a sweet taste, because they HAD completed the Heber Jones Memorial Tour and met all Tour Objectives !!!


A North Rim Shot for Three !!!

With the day waning Mike and Bones options for hiking were dimming with the light. It was too late to hike down to the Canyon's Floor or even take the famous donkey rides down. Plus, it is 7 hours down, 8 hours back up, something you don't want to try in the dark when you are already tired from the long drive to the Canyon. So Mike and Bone were contented to hike the 3 or 4 miles they could along the very crowded trails on the Canyon's North Rim.


More North Rim Shots in the Bright Angel Point Area


The Waning Daylight on the Walls of the Grand Canyon


Bone, Pre-Vertigo !!

The end was not in sight. Since the Boys were on the North Rim, they asked a Park Ranger were the South Rim was, he pointed in a General southerly direction, and stated "Oh, about a 100 miles southeast of here." This helped give Mike and Bone some perspective on the size of this canyon system. He also stated that it was a SOLID mile down to the Canyon floor. During the discussion the Boys mentioned how it was cooling down in the evening, which was already down in the low 70's. The ranger stated that the differences from the Rim to the floor could be 40 degrees difference, and could still at 8:00 at night be in the high 90's. Further adding perspective on the Grand Canyon's grandness !


Little did Bone realize that staring down to the canyon floor, at the edge of the Canyon would soon have very, very strange ramifications.


Oh No !!! Vertigo !!!

"Damned Japanese Tourist". Standing on the very edge of the North Rim, looking a whole mile down can be down right daunting. I mean you are looking at least 10 miles to the other side of the Canyon, there are simply NO guard rails, it is a vertical fall ("geeze, my hands are sweating just thinking about it !!") of ONE Mile straight down, no way if you fall you will you have a remote chance of survival. I mean you are just standing at the edge of GRANDEST of ALL canyons,, just looking down one mile, with your toes hanging over the edge, JUST inches from certain death. These are the thoughts roiling through Bones little brain when a  4 or 5 year-old Japanese tourist kid running full speed tried to jump around Bones feet ON THE CLIFF SIDE !!! For a horrible split second Bone could see this kid just hanging in open space over the Canyon, WITH NOTHING between him and the one mile drop to the Canyon Bottom. Bone instinctively shot his arm out caught the kid, whirled him back onto the path and into the arms of his parents, who began to scold the kid. Meanwhile it was dawning on Bone what had almost occurred, as he looked over the scene to see thousands of tourists with young kids (remember this is Labor Day Weekend) that were all RUNNING AROUND and  PLAYING by the Canyon Rim !!!

At that very moment Bone became sick to his stomach, the path began to "wave" and spin, he started to sweat, stagger, and shake. Bone was painfully experiencing what Alfred Hitchcock filmed with James Stewart, VERTIGO !!!

Bone staggered back from the Rim, down the path, and fell to a sitting position against the ground, thoroughly convinced that he was about to slide off of the Rim to his certain death on the Canyon floor. At first Mike thought Bone was joking around, but after five minutes of Bone shaking like a Jello mold, Mike realized Bone was really having a problem. Ten minutes later, Bone was able to stagger back from the Rim, but was in no shape to stare down the edge again.


"The Canyon is much safer to see from at least 1/2 mile back from the Rim", Bone


The Grandest of Canyon


Wrapping up the Day: Grabbing a Quick Burger in the Jacobs Lake Bar

After the Vertigo Episode, the  Boys started back to Jacobs Lake National Park Center. On route, Mike had noticed that there were these extremely quaint Cottages right next to the Rim. Asking a Park Ranger about how much was it to rent one of these cottages, The Ranger stated, "Not much, only 8 dollars a day (!?!), but there is a three year waiting list." Flabbergasted at the cost (lack of), and the wait for the cottages, the boys retired for a quick burger and beer in the Jacobs Lake National Park Restaurant.


Twilight in Eden


The Loooong Boogie Back

As the Boys savored their burgers, beers, and the victory of achieving ALL of the objectives of the Heber Jones Memorial Tour, a dawning ugliness was also upon them. That horror was that at 10:00 PM, they still had a 2 1/2 hour drive back to their Glen Canyon Motel, and in the Morning, they would have to drive the 2 1/2 hours back this way !!

With a final heartfelt nod to the Grand Canyon, the boys again hit the road down deep into Arizona to catch at least a  few hours sleep, before embarking on the long drive back to Vegas. With very little surprise, it was a long and tiresome drive, with the long day on the road, the Hall of Shame, the heat, the excitement of the Grand Canyon, the Vertigo, and the fresh air all conspired to have the Boys heads noddin' the whole way back. Fortunately at 1:00 AM, Mike and Bone arrived, no worse for wear, but beat and ready a few hours of some serious ZZZ's.