Thursday, October 20, 2011

Grand Canyon & Bright Angel Lodge

It is really difficult traveling outside the range of any Edible magazines. I've been trying to use Yelp but some of the posts aren't really all that helpful. At this point we are traveling somewhere between Edible Phoenix and Edible Salt Lake.

Our bakery breakfast this morning was disappointing. Although the bread pudding was pretty good, the breakfast burrito wasn't, and the service was impatient.

Good feelings were restored as we drove though Oak Creek Canyon.

The fall colors are beginning to emerge. We also figured out how to hook my iPhone up to the AUX so I could play a little California Transit Authority on our car speakers. That was after we decided that even the BBC news wasn't making us feel better.

At Williams, we stopped to get gas. Several Navajo jewelry makers had set up tables. I asked one of them about his juniper berry bracelets. The berries are dried after the chipmunks pierce an end to drink the juice. The jeweler uses an awl on the dried berry to extend the hole that the chipmunk made. These bracelets are believed to protect the wearer from bad dreams and evil spirits. Seems like an inexpensive alternative to a sleep study. The one I chose includes Blue Lace Agate for intelligence, warmth, and friendship. All worthy goals.

In addition to the bracelet, we got some good advice about what to see when we go into the Navajo lands.

We were too early to check into our room so the hotel clerk suggested we go see the IMAX movie of the Grand Canyon, buy our passes to the park, and go to the park for lunch. We thought the movie would be a cheap substitute for a helicopter flight. Unfortunately it didn't eliminate the airsickness part. And rather than focusing on the rock formation and erosion geology, it was more like a wild ride on the rapids posing as historical narrative.

Afterwards we bought a lifetime senior pass for all National Parks (maybe it isn't so bad being a senior) for $10.

When we got to the Visitor's Center we saw there was a ranger-guided geology walk starting at the Yavapai Geology Museum scheduled in an hour. So we went to the restaurant at the Yavapai Lodge for a quick lunch. The cafeteria-style format should have been our first hint that we would have been happier eating the stale olive bread and warm cheese in the car.

We still hadn't seen the Canyon. It's strange, you really have no warning that it's there until you are suddenly at the rim.

This was our first view.

This is just before 2 pm. Note the shadows.

We walked with the ranger to several viewing spots where he pointed out the types of rock and explained how the canyon formed over 5 million years. The hardest rock, igneous and metamorphic, is at the bottom. Sedimentary rock forms the upper layers. One of the unique things about the canyon is that the layers are mostly horizontal. An unusual type of collision of two tectonic plates (one slipping under the other) raised the Colorado River plateau rather than tilting it. Erosion continues to widen the canyon. I would have remembered more of what he said, but I was worried about how close he was to the edge.

He told us that there are two ways to view the sunset. One is to watch the lengthening of the shadows and the other is to watch the sun move down below the horizon. Note that the shadows have begun to lengthen in the canyon.

These red slopes are especially pretty and apparently somewhat puzzling to geologists.

He asked us to think about how much dirt eroded away in the creation of the canyon and where it went as it washed away (about 4 trillion cubic meters or enough to enlarge the Great Wall of China all the way to Venus). That's 650 miles of sediment, or new land. He mentioned that the Imperial Valley in California is one of the resting places for the dirt that left the canyon via the Colorado River.

Dave took this photo from a very precarious looking viewing place. Look at the shadows now.

We drove down to Bright Angel Lodge for another view. Since sunset was imminent, there weren't a lot of people in the restaurant. After looking at the menu, we had hopes that this might be the meal that saved the day (foodwise), so we skipped the sunset in favor of getting a table.

We shared a lettuce wrap stuffed with chili and pistachio seasoned chicken strips, served with a lime sour cream dip. Then we shared a rosemary prime rib with baked potatoes and fresh green beans. It came with a roasted red pepper soup. Delicious!

The hotel and restaurant were originally part Fred Harvey'a empire of Santa Fe Railroad Hotels and Dining Stations, worthy of an Edible article for sure.

We couldn't eat all our food so we've turned the ice bucket in our room into a mini ice chest. We can have the leftover meat for lunch tomorrow on car-warmed olive bread.

The evening temperature has dropped dramatically so tonight the car will act as a second refrigerator.

Good night Grand Canyon!

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