Michele, Reuben and I left Albuquerque, New Mexico before 8 AM. On the way out of town, we saw a hot air balloon in the sky. Given that I missed the city’s famous Balloon Fiesta, in which hundreds of differently shaped and colored hot air balloons fill the sky, only by a few days, this was a very fun treat.
The ride to the Grand Canyon was supposed to take 8 hours, so we stopped in several rest stops / gas stations / etc along the way. One of the places we stopped at was a rest stop for truck drivers, meaning – are you sitting down? – that you can take showers inside the store. As we walked through the store, seeing a Subway restaurant, Mickey Mouse dolls, guitars and other types of merchandise, a voice went through the store: Calling Shower Customers, shower 2 is ready! I guess that shower customers listened, because later on, that same woman announced that there are no more showers available. If you want a shower, ya better hurry up….
We ended up arriving at the Grand Canyon sooner than expected, and visited some view points along its south rim. My first reaction was amazement, that almost got me standing still in my place. Yet I also wanted to get closer, to rush through these slow-walking people. My pace has slowed down big time since the beginning of the trip, and I can certainly understand how people would take their time and move slowly on a vacation, yet at that moment, all I wanted was to see more, discover more, and be as amazed as I can get.
It was incredible! The magnitude, the shapes, the layers, the colors! It was absolutely wonderful. Plus, there was a little squirrel that kept running to people, standing on her/his back two feet and asking for food. Canyon rules prohibit feeding the animals, as that could get them dependent on humans, and therefore might end up attacking human beings in order to get their food. In any case, it was a very cute squirrel, that simply added to the excitement.
After getting something to eat, we went to see the sunset. There are free shuttle busses all over and in constant frequency, and, besides a few view points that are close to the parking lot, that’s how you get around in the park. You get off at view points, see the canyon from different angles, and in some view points you can hike.
We got off at the spot that was recommended by the hotel trainee, yet it turned out that the best sunset viewing point was elsewhere, where there’s a wider view of the canyon. Perhaps it was called Hopi. We were on one of the two Hermit points of the red route shuttles, I think, yet got a recommendation to go to Pima/Puma point. It would take a long time to reach the best point by sunset, and this was the best we could reach on time. So we did.
And it was incredible! The sunset wasn’t 12 minute quick like in Argentina’s Bariloche. It was slow, coloring the Grand Canyon with shadows and lights, and each moment the impressive view looked different. Meanwhile, a bit of sunset colors colored the sky. Loved it!
When the sun set, we went back on the shuttle, where I met a group of people from Chicago. They’re co-workers and they’re single, so they take trips together all over the country. How amazing is that? Not only that, but they are incredibly friendly and funny. It was a great shuttle ride.
The shuttle ride ends near Michele and Reuben’s place, so we checked them in and then continued to the lodge where I was staying. We all stayed at the Grand Canyon Village, so that we’ll be able to see the sunset and sunrise over the Grand Canyon. I was so grateful that they came with me – it turned out that “my” lodge was huge, and the multiple buildings got us completely lost. To be accurate, we were on the right way, yet people whose advice we asked on the way knew only that there was an office in the direction we were headed, nothing else, so we turned away. Other people helped us to find our way, saying they had stayed here before and had a really challenging time finding their room in the dark as well. I stayed at Maswik Lodge, the most expensive lodging of the trip thus far, yet the cheapest I could find. As we got lost, I kept feeling so grateful I wasn’t alone there, with the heavy luggage and hardly any light, and I was grateful for the stars above, as they were shining, so many of them, as I have only seen until then in Colorado. It was beautiful.
I was also grateful that we found my lodge. It was luxurious for me. I got two beds because it was the cheapest room available in the “village”. I booked a room with a shower that was shared with other rooms, yet received a room with a private shower. The room was large for me, the bathroom/shower was clean and in general, it was really great. I was counting in WiFi connection to catch up on e-mails, yet there was no WiFi connection. Therefore, I enjoyed another luxury: reading a book at night with all the possible lights on. This trip was my first hostel experience, and I was certain I would find countless people who partied into the night and returned at 4 or 6 in the morning. In reality, many times, if I went to sleep at 10-12 at night, people would already be sleeping, and then the question of light became a conflict: some times I left the light on for very little bit to read, most times I just let go, or used my iPhone to read stuff online. Of course, many other times, I was so tired reading was no option because reading with closed eyes is a bit too challenging when I’m really tired.