April 3, 2014 -- post delayed due to no wireless internet or time for it while at the Grand Canyon for 2 nights! But now, here it is, as I wrote it down Thursday night.
West of Albuquerque as we drove onward this morning, the mountains were unimaginably beautiful. We came over a pass and I saw spectacular deep red cliffs, deep blue-green trees, and areas of vivid white snow, all illuminated by the rising sun. For a moment, I couldn’t grasp what I was seeing. Then: breathless.
On the highest pass we saw police and tow trucks working to clear a number of vehicles that had obviously slipped off the road earlier in the morning. Luckily, the pavement was quite safe by the time we drove by.
Just past the New Mexico-Arizona border we stopped at a landscaped rest area where all the flowering trees had pink blossoms drooping under deep snow. Bushes and yucca plants were outlined in snow. We definitely regressed from spring back to winter today.
Along the road in the mountains we saw four or five extremely long container trains with containers stacked two high on most of the cars. We also saw a couple of conventional freight trains. Sometimes you can’t see to the end of the train, they are so long.
The tracks parallel highway 40 – old route 66, as one is reminded repeatedly by tourist attractions memorializing the old highway. I don’t miss it at all: four lanes are much better than two!
Thanks to another time change, we arrived at the Grand Canyon by 2 PM and spent the afternoon looking into the canyon and birdwatching in the Kaibab National Forest (without much luck). The area near the visitor center is amazingly crowded despite being off season, though turnoffs along the road east were quite open. Quite a bit of the park is off-limits to private cars – you have to take a shuttle bus.
We’re staying in the Yavapai Lodge, which consists of a number of single-story buildings like an old motel. The room is quite nice and we’re glad to be right in the park.
On April 4, we spent the entire day in the park, and now we have made it to Ontario, California. I'll be adding more posts about each of these days and what we have seen, eaten, and done. We've definitely seen winter and spring alternating: our highest temperature on the trip was 80 degrees registered on the car thermometer and 22 degrees reported overnight at Grand Canyon.