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Zion/Bryce/Grand Canyon Trip

Day 6 of 7

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Thursday, May 21st
Grand Canyon mule ride

We got up early and made the drive to Rainbow Point at the southern end of the park. Unfortunately, it was so cloudy up there (it's also close to 1000 feet higher), we weren't able to see much. On our way back we got better views at other viewpoints: Agua Canyon, Natural Bridge, Bryce Point, and Inspiration Point.

Agua Canyon, I think

Natural Bridge

Bryce Amphitheater as seen from Inspiration Point

After checking out of the lodge, we made the 3-hour drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Yes, it's 3 hours. The last 30 miles or so is on a crummy road which had just opened up the week before. But it's a pretty drive. There are a few alpine lakes and there was still snow when we went. In fact, when we reached the entrance, we discovered that Cape Royal Road was closed (we later found out it would be open on Friday).

Ben had this great idea to take a mule ride down. The ride started at 12:30, and we got there around 12:20, so everyone jumped out of the car and it turns out the mule ride people were nice enough to wait for us to put our shoes on and stuff. I guess $160 will do that ($40 per person for a 3-hour ride).

After the mule ride, Ben and I strolled over to Bright Angel Point.

After visiting the visitor center, we drove over to the North Rim campground, where we had reservations. The rangers stay there 'til 5pm, at which point they just post your campground number. It was a bit after 5pm, so we found our number and drove to our site. After setting up camp, we drove to the nearby campground store. They have food and some gifts there. Firewood, too, if you want to make a campfire (which is allowed in the campground). There are even toilets nearby, and pay showers.

We drove back to the lodge to visit the gift shop; we also had dinner reservations. At the gift shop and lodge there was a nice painting by Fred Lucas on display. I considered buying a reprint, but it was $40 and I didn't know where to put it at home.

A lot of people gathered in the viewing area inside the lodge around sunset. It has a great view into the canyon, and seats lined up in amphitheater fashion. A couple of men were playing chess on this large wooden set (the king was about 5 inches tall). I couldn't help but chip in with some comments after the game. Unfortunately they were all played out (they'd been at it for 3 or 4

While we were waiting, someone was playing the upright piano near the dining area. I perked up as I noticed he was playing a Clementi piece -- the same piece I'd played for my piano final the previous quarter! I was tempted to play, but thought better of it. On top of the piano, I noticed a book of mormon hymns. We weren't in Utah anymore, but close enough.

After dinner we returned to the campground and prepared to settle in for bed. The stars were amazing as usual. The bugs didn't bother us as much, though. Ben suspected that was because it was too cold for them! While we were in the tent, I took off my hiking socks. A few seconds later, Ben got a whiff and, if this had been a Keystone commercial, he would have gotten bitter beer face. Mental note to myself: next time, bring more clean hiking socks. =)


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