Thursday, April 21, 2011

Phoenix Day Six and Seven

This young elk seemed to be guarding the path to and from the residence to the village, as well as watching over a gaggle of female mule deer, which he had no species rights to.
We haven't been able to sleep as well as we hoped all week, so we were a might tired when the bell rang at 7:00 a.m. We picked up a fellow Canadian and headed to El-Tavar for breakfast. This is the best place in the state for breakfast and it lived up to its reputation. We had to wait for a while to get seated and then another while before we were served. At this point, we realized we would miss the start of our morning tour so Steve ran out to tell them we would catch up because relaxing over a meal is also an important thing to do. Then we couldn't find our group. We thought we spied one of them but followed the wrong man to a shuttle bus. We doubled back on ourselves, and gave up the search. Steve with Elsa headed down the Bright Angel Trail. I made it to the first switch back and then the rock face I was looking at so I couldn't see down into the hole changed to the far side and I had nothing left to cling to. Elsa and Steve kept on going for a bit, while I crept back up the trail.
A mule train, carrying supplies passed me by. When this happens, you stand against the wall (notice the family attempting this) and don't touch the mules. I found this easy to do.I can cling to any kind of wall when faced with a choice between a mule and a precipice.

Back up the trail to the top and there was our group! We joined in and had a nice tour guide explain the human condition of the Canyon. He had been a tour guide and his wife had been a “Harvey Girl” (a high end waitress for the expensive hotel that is there) in the 50's/ 60's. They had some interesting insights to that history. We were plumb tuckered and grabbed a pretzel and water. Then back to the room for a nap. We missed the 4:00 talk by a Naturalist who is tremendously knowledgeable. I gather it was pretty good, but I don't think I could have lasted the rest of the day without that nap. There was still the group dinner to get through and then an evening talk by Steve Pyn about what makes the Canyon Grand.

Again back to the room and crash.

Day Seven

This morning we had to get ourselves and our luggage in the van and be driving back to Phoenix by 7:30 a.m.

We did manage to get a quick “Trail ride” in before we arrived at the airport. Everyone was still in really good spirits considering how hard we had been shoving tours and information and lectures at ourselves. We were all a bit stressed for coffee, the available coffee being below everyone's standards. I haven't had a good cup of hot tea for 7 days. And given how much we have been traveling, I also haven't had a really good glass of something cold, because the stress of where the next bathroom stop will be was too great. The tour was organized by two great people (men) who didn't understand aging bladders. Luckily, general outcry disrupted the schedule but allowed us weaker beings some relief.

We made the airport before the 1:30 deadline for two people flying home today. So close, and yet so far. We had to grab a cab to the university where Steve is in meetings with the folks here about Sustainability thingys. Then we head back to the lovely environment of the airport and will take about 12 hours to get home. I am very much looking forward to our cool air and shade trees.

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