I suppose the title for this post could be viewed literally (actual life in an ACTUAL desert) or metaphorically (some period of time where you feel like you’re alone in a dry, desolate place) but in this case: I mean it QUITE LITERALLY.
One of the perks to being ‘on the road’ for a living is that you get to see and experience many different places. My travels have been limited to the US and Canada but that’s still a lot of ground to cover! Currently, I’ve been to most of Western Canada (Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary twice each, Saskatoon and Winnipeg once each), a fair amount of Eastern Canada (Toronto once, Montreal and Ottawa twice each) and 31 of the 50 states.
This is not my first time in the desert, though it may turn out to be the hottest if the weather trend keeps up. Today’s unexpectedly high temp is 109 where I’m at. It was supposed to be 104. Thankfully, and I say this every time I’ve visited the desert, it’s
dry heat. So at least we’re skipping the sticky, moist, always-too-gross-for-comfort
kind of heat that just makes you want to sit inside a freezer and never come out again!
Temperatures aside, this time in the desert proved to be extra spectacular. Why, you might ask? Because I got to visit the Grand Canyon!
I’d never been to the canyon before, but I can absolutely attest that if you are anywhere nearby: Go. My friend and I drove just under four hours to get there and it was worth every single second/minute/hour/mile.
There genuinely aren’t words to accurately describe how breathtaking it is at the Grand Canyon. The formation of the rocks, beat down over millions of years by the river and it’s tributaries; the color of the different layers of rock; the sparse but yet very present plant life…it all comes together and will literally knock all sense of speech right out of your body.
See what I mean? Incredible. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here are some things I learned that I didn’t know about before beginning this trip:
1) Just because it’s the desert doesn’t mean it will be hot. It was a LOVELY 58 degrees for the high on the day we went to the canyon. Fortunately, I checked the weather before leaving or I would’ve been in shorts….
2) When they say the desert gets cold at night, they mean BEFORE the sun even sets. The temperature began dropping before sunset and by the time we left (at which point the sun still hadn’t totally disappeared from the sky) it was already in the low 40s with a wind chill that likely put it closer to the 30s. So yeah. Make sure you know that and bring a heavier coat than I did, LOL.
3. The Grand Canyon is actually in the middle of a national park. This sounds like a “Duh” moment but think about it: when you think Grand Canyon, usually you picture rock, sand and very little else. In point of fact, there are trees and greenery all over the place until you get to the edge of the canyon. Now, if you’re one of those crazy hikers who wants to hike THROUGH the canyon? Obviously less greenery there. But I was personally shocked because the trip into the park was a lot less ‘desert’ than I had anticipated.
4) Like most other places in our country, entry to the park isn’t free. I should have expected that. However, I hadn’t expected the $30 price tag. That fee is good for 1-7 days, if my memory serves correctly. That’s not bad if you’re staying more than one day. Me and my friend? We were only there about 4 hrs. Was it still work the price? HELL. YES. I’m just saying…I probably should’ve looked that up first so as to avoid the “It costs HOW much for a day?” moment I had in my brain.
5) There’s an amazing little Village inside the park that has a couple of hotels, a few gift shops and one very handy food court that serves a variety of awesome food (and no, none of it is from ‘chain’ restaurants). It was a lovely place to sit, eat dinner and take a break from the every dropping temps before finding a spot to watch the sunset.
There are a number of view points at the canyon and I think my friend and I saw three or four of them. Each offers a different perspective of the canyon and I personally found that, even though some weren’t that far from each other, the slightest change in vantage point offered dramatically different views. Most of the view points had railing around them so as to ensure people don’t go tumbling over the edge. Others didn’t have any railing at all….
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not really the adventuring type. That is to say, I enjoy adventures but only to a point. In this case, the primary factor is a fear of heights I’ve had since I can’t remember when. I get too close to realizing how high I am, especially when I’m near the edge of a cliff let’s say, and the cold sweat begins. It’s not pleasant and I do not recommend it. So I tended to stay behind the rails or be cautious about how close I came to the edge (usually no closer than 5-6 ft from AT MOST).
My friend, however, is a crazy person [<— according to me, that is] and ventured out to places I would never be able to go. It was one part exciting, one hundred parts terrifying to watch as he ventured closer to the edge. But it made for some excellent pictures and my heart rate did calm down….eventually.
Sunset at the canyon. I cannot really think how to describe the experience.
Mine was probably different than most because there were some clouds that obstructed part of it. The result? The Grand Canyon took on a hazy, blue/purple color that you typically would only expect to see in film…or perhaps a dream.
It was astounding how, every 30 seconds or so, the colors would shift and change as the sun dipped lower into the horizon (and the clouds). The light change would bring out different hues in the rock so at first they appeared more red, then the red faded into a brownish-tan, and so and so forth. At one point, most of the canyon looked blue from where my friend and I stood.
There was actually a fair crowd of people gathered at the viewpoint to watch the sunset. A couple of families, many pairs of friends, some older couples and a number of photographers. It was awesome to see all these people from different walks of life gathered to watch something that wasn’t media based, something on a screen, etc. We all stood or sat, watching this unbelievable moment in one of the most stunning places in the world. It really did, for a brief period, seem magical.
As I stood, basically numb from the cold that I hadn’t really anticipated (lessoned learned, LOL), I couldn’t resist one more shot in front of probably the most stunning background I could conceive of that wasn’t achieved by some sort of computerized magic.
As the sun finally dipped low into the horizon, my friend and I took our frozen selves back to the car and began the nearly 4 hour journey back to where we’re staying.
It was a long day, to be sure, but easily one of the highlights of my life on the road. And one that I wouldn’t trade anything for. Again I say: if you have the chance to visit the Grand Canyon…do it. You won’t be sorry.
Cheers for now,