GCT Day 9: This morning we decided to head toward home. We'd planned to go northwest and visit the national parks in Utah, but scenic vistas, plateaus, deserts, cliffs, canyons, etc were losing their appeal. Utah would wait. We drove east and north toward the Monument Valley and Colorado.
The Grand Canyon is vast, picturesque, and colorful beyond description. It is a dynamic landscape that varies with the time of day, the cloud cover, and the interplay of shadows on the canyon walls. It is also an international place, with many visitors from every part of the world. Many, many visitors; the polished walkways testify to that. I would like to return one day, to spend some time absorbing the vistas, and to walk some of the trails.
Kathy would add that the Grand Canyon is a dangerous place. Her fear of heights kept her (and sometimes me) away from the edge and the trails. At one of the gift shops, she discovered a book about deaths in the park, Over the Edge. Later, at the Kiabab Plateau ranger station, she learned that the death count for this year was five. One fell as his picture was taken. I wonder if that photo is on the Internet. Two were a murder-suicide and another person drove his car over the edge. The ranger said the car was still in the canyon, painted the same color as the rock to lessen the danger of someone falling in while looking at it. Later, when fewer people are around and they have a crane or helicopter in the area, they'll pull it out
From the Jacob Lake Inn, the road took us to Page, UT and Lake Powell. In Page, I snapped a photograph of a huge houseboat that seemed out of place considering all the miles of desert we'd driven through. In addition to recreation, Lake Powell likely provides the cooling water for the electric generation plant we saw along the road. The plant is powered by Navajo Nation coal mined near Kayenta, AZ and delivered to the plant by an electric train. In this seemingly vacant land, I was curious who used the electricity. The Navajo Nation? Flagstaff? Surely, Las Vegas is too far away? In our travels thus far, I was disappointed at the lack of solar installations. With all the sunshine in AZ, one would expect solar panels to be as ubiquitous as tv antennas and satellite dishes or ... Mexican restaurants.
After the sandstone buttes and mesas of Monument Valley, we passed through a corner of Utah and saw more desert and more canyons. We turned at Mexican Hat, UT to follow the San Juan river to Colorado and the town of Cortez where we spent the night.
GCT Day 10: I had planned to go up to Rico, CO to visit my brother. He and his wife volunteer each summer at a National Forest ranger station near there. But we were unable to contact them and I wasn't sure the station was still open. Winter comes early at those altitudes. We learned later that they were traveling too, after making a tour of the Utah National Parks, they were about a half a day ahead of us on their way to Oklahoma.
We left Cortez, went through Durango, crossed the Continental Divide at Wolf Creek Pass, and ate lunch in South Park. From there, it was a quick downhill drive to Trinidad. Hey, when we start home, it's like releasing a rubber band! Besides, we'd already seen this part of Colorado. We stopped near Del Norte at an Elk farm to buy jerky for a young nephew. It's funny, after we purchased the package of elk jerky, one of the farmhands said they only had one elk, a bull. The farm had been quarantined for eleven years after buying a diseased elk from another farm. The place was now a processing and shipping facility for other elk raisers.
We spent the night in Trinidad. We ate dinner at a good Chinese restaurant, Wonderful House. It was a welcome change from our usual diet of Mexican Food.