We’d booked rooms at El Tovar, the hotel on the south rim of the canyon and judging from the reaction of the chap in the Sedona Visitors Centre, we were in for a treat.
Our stay here has provided many stories for the journal, anyway, from the multi-faceted confusion over the table we booked for dinner (for three? I have a table booked for seven…) to the reaction of her colleagues to the delightful Mary-Ellen’s chatter with us about England, The Other Boleyn Girl and how to pronounce Wriothseley (or whatever). We’ll leave all the other details to Trip Advisor and the rest!
It’s hard to know which of the many, many photographs I took today to upload here. Of course, none of them do the canyon justice – it’s just too big, too overwhelming and the colours and light are changing all the time.
The reality is so different from the numerous publicity shots which are printed in all the leaflets and on the posters, which have been photoshopped and colour managed. For a short while, we feared a Taj Mahal moment (we were a little underwhelmed, sad to say, having seen so many perfect images over the years, the reality was not quite as we’d hoped…) But fortunately, as we stopped at the various viewpoints and spent time standing and staring, the magnitude of what lay in front of us overcame any other thoughts.
Putting it into perspective, we stood at the viewpoint right outside our hotel, looking down on that trail. Only after gazing for a few minutes did we see the people walking on it…this picture is taken with no zoom or anything, so way, way down there, those little dots gave me cause to think…oh my. It goes quite a long way further down than that, too.
Much of our day was affected by the people who were there too. For the most part, they were charming; very friendly and curious about where we came from and where we were going next. They too had their stories, and so we traded thoughts and ideas, opinions and experiences. We heard a huge variety of languages (English, naturally, but also a lot of German was spoken) and when we were standing on the viewpoints – very secure, well maintained, no fear of falling! – it was noticeable how respectful people were of each other, because after all, we were mostly after the same pictures!
Mind you, there was always the odd surprise. People standing in places where I wouldn’t have dreamed of going.
Of course, there was always a show off catching the attention of others around him, too. Crazy. It’s noticeable how most of the warning signs are aimed at young men, the “invincible”, who seem to be the most likely to find themselves in need of assistance.
The whole experience was superbly managed. Once again, the National Parks have done a great job in ensuring that everyone is able to get the most out of their visit. The park is very well maintained, there are clear tracks and viewpoints and yet the experience doesn’t feel too packaged.
We called into the Visitor Centre to stamp my sketchbook, of course.
Returning to El Tovar, we found ourselves a quiet spot with rocking chairs and a swing on the verandah, to do a great bit of people watching as the world and his wife walked right by us.
Meanwhile, the Hopi tribespeople were putting on a great performance just along the way.
And with a margarita (blended, with salt please), we sat and watched the sun go down.
What a great day. What a grand place!