July 21, 2009

Raining Cats and Dogs

Liz and I left the 114 degree climes of Las Vegas on Monday morning about 10 a.m. on our way to the Grand Canyon. It was already hot and we weren't sorry to see the neon behind us. We were tooling around in our PT Cruiser and heading southeast (?). Driving past Hoover Dam was cool; I've never been. Lake Mead looked a bit weird. Not quite clean, although it may have been the way the sky was reflecting on the water.

We had heard the forecast of scattered thunderstorms, but didn't think much about it. About 50 miles into Arizona, the Emergency Broadcast System broke into our Classics radio station to warn about flash flooding at mile 28 and back to the Nevada border. We took note, and were glad we were clear of it.

Then we took a closer look at what was ahead: Huge thunderclouds in the middle, obvious rain coming down in shadow from the clouds in that weird Charlton Heston way; a major duststorm to our right and beautiful clear skies to our left. We weren't sure what awaited us. Liz oohed and aahed at the lightning and I, who don't like it, just hoped it stayed on the horizon. I'm a flincher and that's all I need at 75 mph, thunder claps.

But we drove right into an incredible storm. I can't believe how hard it rained. It was one of those summer downpours that comes down so hard, it usually lasts only about 20 minutes. But not this one. We drove through a horrendous storm for 100 miles. Fortunately there wasn't a lot of traffic, and I was able to drive slowly and hydroplaned once. At one point, though, I had to pull over. I absolutely couldn't see a thing -- and Liz had to guide me to the shoulder because I wasn't sure there was one. It was kind of hairy, actually.

When we finally got to the Grand Canyon, six-plus hours after we left Vegas, it was clear again. Temps had dropped to the 60s and we got to walk around the Canyon, which is just stunning. Liz had the foresight to sign us up for a Sunset tour and so we got on a bus that stopped at some amazing vistas and we had a knowledgeable tour guide giving us the scoop on all the stuff. He knew that sunset was at 7:43 and said he was certain of only one thing: Not that we would be able to see it with all the clouds, but that it would, indeed, set.

We got a pretty nice sunset, but not the spectacular canyon colors we had hoped for. But we weren't terribly disappointed.

Liz booked us a room at the Bright Angel Lodge, a series of cabins along the rim of the canyon. We're about 15 yards from the edge, I'd guess (although at this point, if I were telling the story to Paul, he'd say: "You have no idea how far 15 yards is, do you?") *It's actually more like 100 feet. She got up at 5:30 a.m. to go on three-hour hike. I had the idea of sleeping a bit later and still enjoying the morning light in the Canyon, but apparently people who stay here don't sleep. They talk loudly and are out (and in and out and in) the door between 5 and 6:30. I finally got up, cleaned up our stuff and was outside and it was still just 7:45 a.m.

It's pretty here; it's peaceful; it's nice nature for a city girl. Next stop: Bryce Canyon.

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