The Colors In The Rocks- The Grand Canyon,East Rim, Arizona

east rim, Grand Canyon view East Rim, afternoon light deep in the valley of stone, Grand Canyon East Rim the sky above the stone, east rim M watches the sunlight fade at the east rim, Grand Canyon

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.

~m

The Watchtower- The Grand Canyon, East Rim, Arizona

from a distance, the Watchtower, east rim , Arizona grandcanyond

A more comprehensive post will follow on how exactly I got to the Grand Canyon from Texas, tips on where to stay and how to get here as well as how to get around, the best places to see and what you can probably skip but, for now…. I will just post these. 

the watchtower, grand canyon the watchtower, Grand Canyon East Rim

Eastrim, Grand Canyon at midday
looking towards the desert flats, East Rim Grand Canyon
The Watchtower at the EastRim
from the look outs, The Watchtower

This was the first magnificent (though not the first overall) view I got of the Grand Canyon and I sat on a bench near the edge for what felt like ages but was probably closer to 20 minutes, just gazing into the immensity. It felt like I could have sat there and looked for years and still have had some detail to observe, some shifting of the light that would illuminate a surface or ravine previously unseen. It was grand, in all the sense of the word. 

~m

NYC Outtakes- Random Photos and Advice for Visiting NYC

View from Hotel BPM in my drawer Out In Brooklyn messy hotel roomthe bed at hotel BPM

Pick a good place as your home base. Know the area you’re staying in and most importantly, don’t be afraid to stay outside of Manhattan. Me and Kat stayed at Hotel BPM, which is in Brooklyn. We got a fantastic room at a really great price through a flash sale they were doing, and with a bit of quick googling I saw there was a subway station a block away, perfect for getting into Manhattan in less than 15 minuets. There’s plenty of overpriced and seriously tiny hotels in Manhattan, as well as everywhere else, find the right one for you, and make it your insta-home. As long as you know how to get to where you want to go from where you’re at, and you can at least blend a little with the locals, you’ll be fine. Eyes open and easy smiles go a long way.

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Visit Bryant Park. Just do it, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. You’ll end up in the middle of almost everything you could want to visit and surrounded by mostly native New Yorkers reading the paper, chatting with friends and you’ll realize that this is a place millions of people call home and to treat it accordingly. Understand that “NYC” encompasses the boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island (as much as they might want to deny that) besides just the glitter of Manhattan, and get an idea of the immensity bred here. There is so much history, pride and love here, you’ll enjoy your time better once you feel that.
Kat looking out over Central ParkCentral park outtakes Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset near Columbus Circle, outside of Central Park

Take your time in Central Park, if thats the kind of thing you like. Probably it is the kind of thing you’ll like, if you’re even a little alive inside. This place is HUGE, seriously, just ever so huge and you probably won’t have enough time to spend exploring it all, but just enjoy the time you spend there and relish the beauty and calmness that is cultivated here. Also, take a photo of that damn Balto statue that took you and your friend over an hour to find even though you were pretty much on top of it half the time. Watch out for joggers and skateborders, smile to the beverage cart vendors.

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Know how to use the subway system. Seriously gods, this is so useful. Even if you can afford to take a cab everywhere, just don’t. You’ll be stuck in traffic more often than not, and apart from taking one to and from the airport, they really won’t get you there faster or more efficiently than using the subway. Get an app, use the handy maps at pretty much every station, get one from a station worker. Get comfy with getting on and off trains, listening for your stop (or counting the stops if you can’t hear or see ’cause the car you’re in is insanely packed). Put more money on your MetroCard than you think you’ll need, chances are you’ll miss a stop or get on an express train or the stars will align just right and you’ll end up halfway to the Bronx when you were aiming for the Met. And just consider it a given that you’re going to eventually come across a slightly mentally disturbed person on at least one of your rides, and basically, just be polite if you’re pushed into a conversation and consider it a rite of passage here.

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Go where you want to go. Seriously, visiting NYC can be so expensive, if you don’t make the most of the time you have here, you’re going to regret it like nothing else. So. Go to the museum you want to visit, and take terrible photos to send to friends! Go to the Disney store that smack dab right in the middle of  Times Square to get your boyfriend that Star Wars t-shirt you’ll know they’ll love, even though there seems to be thousands of people already in there. Just, if it’s what you want to do, do it. Wander around Chinatown, a little lost and out of place, enjoy the disorientation.  Explore, walk around and just enjoy the time you have here, if you’re not a native, you don’t have an excuse for not making the most of everyday here.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset egg rolls, NYC pizza with peppers wtf pizza on the upper west side Chinatown dinner

Eat at that dingy corner fast Chinese food place with the oddly dirty floor, I promise the egg rolls there will be delicious, they’re friend to an inch within their life so you’ll be fine, plus the elderly couple most likely working there will be really nice, probably, and give you two free ones.  Pop into that really fancy and slightly loud restaurant that smells so good walking past it when you’re on the Upper West Side, as long as the menu isn’t dusted in gold, you can probably afford it, just check the menu posted outside if you want to make sure. The service won’t be the best, they’re rushed and it’s a busy night, but the food, no matter what you get, will be excellent, and you’ll enjoy the time you spend there. When you go to China town, because you heard they have great food there, you probably won’t know where to eat, everywhere will look good. So just pick one. Pick the one that shines the brightest and has happy looking people inside. Pick the one that goes down narrow stairs and you can smell something delicious wafting up. Just pick and sit down, smile and laugh with your server and let them give you a fork and spoon with your chopsticks, it doesn’t matter if you DO know how to eat with them. Whatever, really. Order a lot and stuff your face, it’ll be worth it.

Duane Reede in manhattan

Duane Reade will have what you need, they are everywhere, and from that emergency umbrella that you drop in to buy when the skies open up to drown you a little, to the sunscreen moisturizer you come to see as miraculous on overly sunny days, they really will most likely have what you need. If not, there are an insane amount of random specialty shops all over Manhattan, just a simple walk down any street will have you finding that thing you really needed but forgot to bring. Also, buy souvenirs. Yes, for at least 15 minutes of your trip, be a total and unabashed tourist. Buy tons more postcards than you think you really need, and at least a couple of nice keychains. Don’t be the person who visits NYC and doesn’t bring back nifty souvenirs for their friends and family, even if they didn’t ask, they’re expecting it and really, postcards are so inexpensive compared to the slight guilt trip you’ll avoid with them. Also come on, you want a fridge magnet, just admit it.

battery park quiet

Enjoy the time you have here. I know I said that already but, it needs repeating. I was born, grew up here, and yet I cherish the days I get to visit this grand city. It is unlike any other, and from the crowded streets to the places that are almost deserted, you can find yourself both overwhelmed and slightly disappointed when things don’t click like you thought they would, when places you’ve seen so many times on film seem less bright then they were on screen, when you realize you can’t make it to everywhere you want to see in the time you have. NYC is not a perfect place, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There is so much imperfection here, so many flaws and scars and quietly groaning mistakes…..but that is what makes NYC as a whole, beautiful and amazing and worth the attention. It is most definitely a life changing experience, it’s going to be magnificent and fantastic and worth every minute, and basically you’re going to love it here.

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And finally, before you leave, on the day you leave, take a selfie. Artistically shot, terrible lighting, doesn’t matter. Send it to a friend, share it with everyone on facebook, or just keep it for yourself. You’ll understand after you’re back home, going through your photos of the trip and you finish with the one of your face, bright eyed and slightly exhausted, ready to go home and never wanting to leave this fantastic place.

~m