We left Texas at 5 in the morning on a slightly chilly Saturday.
Or well, me and the boyfriend left our house in North Texas at 5 in the morning and about 6 hours later we finally passed into The Land of Enchantment (also know more casually as New Mexico) because it takes what feels like an age and a day to just get out of Texas. Our goal was to make the 15+ hour drive in one day and arrive at the Grand Canyon by nightfall, ready to wake up bright and early and go trekking about.
We’d done more arduous drives before (aka that one time I convinced the boyfriend to do a roadtrip through 7 states in 3 days, something that to this day I don’t think he’s quite forgiven me for) and as long I had caffeine, I could drive for as long as needed. I was also pretty excited just to be away from work and the stress building there, plus i’d been sorely neglecting my podcasts listening habits and was eager to have hours of uninterrupted time to really delve into some new shows people had been raving about. There were 3 shows I especially wanted to listen to, Wolf 395, Limetown and The Black Tapes . I had already gotten hooked on Limetown and convinced the bf to listen to the first two episodes with me again, after which he was reeled in too, and we listened to it well into our drive through New Mexico. Wolf 395 proved to be a major thumbs down for us after just the first episode, but then came the Black Tapes , which we started listening to as the sun began it’s downward decent in Arizona. It’s a very freaky and at time deeply disturbing show (though somehow still lightly humorous and engaging?) and perhaps it wasn’t the best pick for driving into the night but it kept us awake for that last leg of the drive and when the bright lights and suburban sprawl of Flagstaff came into sight, we knew we were almost there.
We arrived in the small not-actual-town of Tusayan, just outside of the South Rim entrance to the Grand Canyon just around 9:30 pm, about 16 hours after we’d left home and checked into our hotel to pass out for the night. I wish I could say we went with the previous plan to wake up bright and early, but instead we slept in like kings and I ate Corn Nuts for breakfast while lazily planning out our next few days nestled in my beds quite comfy comforter. Finally, plans settled, maps purchased and ill-advised shoes laced up (more on that later), we headed out. The visitors center was packed, and we learned we had missed the cutoff dates for private cars in the park by only 2 days. If we had arrived later as we had originally been planning, only shuttle service would have been available on Hermit Road (the drive you take for almost all the scenic views on the South Rim) as road closure dates are March 1 through November 30. So, poor planning somehow worked in our favor and we got to drive around to our hearts content for the 2 days we were there. The North Rim however, which I had wanted to see and was planning on using most of the second day for, was closed, and is closed every year until May 15th. I would have liked to see a less developed part of the Grand Canyon, but more on that later.
The views were amazing all over Hermit Road on the south rim, but we headed to the east rim to check out the Watchtower and wait for the sun to start heading down so I could get better light. I’ve read the best place to watch the sunset over the Grand Canyon is over on almost any overlook on Hermits road, but I am a contrary kind of person and besides, I think I got a rather spectacular view of the way the light fades into the stones and rocky foundations on the canyon, even if I was on the East Rim. To tell you the truth, both me and the bf agree that while the drive is longer on the east rim, the views (and the crowds) are much better than on the south rim. And if your head is going in circles with all this talk of “rims” basically:
South Rim– Hermits Road, huge visitors center, Grand Canyon Village, loads of crowds and cars
East Rim– Watchtower and desert views, less crowds
North Rim– Underdeveloped compared to the above, closed half the year, a real pain in the butt to get to
After we watched most of the light fade, we headed back into town for pizza and an early night in,with solid plans this time to wake up early this time, so we could catch the sunrise on Hermits Road.