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Archive for October, 2010

Sunday involved a 6-mile hike down Boynton Canyon, a vortex power-place outside Sedona. The weather started out intermittently sunny and cloudy; later the high clouds took over and the light dimmed. We didn’t expect the trail to be so tiring. The 3 miles to the end of the canyon seemed very long, though it doesn’t rise a whole lot. Half of it skirts the Enchantment Resort, going right by beautiful homes, with iron fences, cameras and barbed wire protecting them from the evil hikers. After skirting past red rock walls, cacti and man-sized Manzanita, the canyon narrows, the number of pines dwindle and maples and oaks become predominant. Some of them had turned but the primary color was green. Occasionally, it felt like we were traveling through a glowing emerald cathedral. At the end of the trail, we began scrambling up a steep, rock-filled section that dead ends on a narrow, steep, red rock shelf, set above the trees, high enough to see a portion of the 1,000-foot walls and the back end of the canyon. There were quite a few people there, enjoying the view. However, if you’re willing to trust your hiking boots and aren’t too afraid of heights, you can cross this area and follow a little trail that crosses another slope with a steep drop-off. Suddenly, you’re on a broad shelf that overlooks almost the entire canyon. Nobody was willing to follow us, and this shelf is around the corner from the other resting spot, so we were alone to enjoy lunch and the broad view. It was a long trek back, but we made it okay. A couple of Advil made the stiffness go away. (Some wine with dinner didn’t hurt either.)

We were planning to leave Sedona and dry camp up at Cave Springs, but Monday was so overcast and gloomy, we stayed hooked up in our Sedona campground. When the afternoon was still gray, we went to another movie, Matt Damon in “Afterlife”. It was a quiet, thoughtful film, directed by Clint Eastwood. It’s worth seeing. When we came out, it looked like we missed a dramatic sunset, but oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.

Tuesday dawned bright and sunny, so we moved to our new campground quickly and drove down to Call of the Canyon and the Westfork Trail of Oak Creek. Alas, at 10:30 the small parking area was full and there were about 5 cars in front of us, waiting for someone to leave. Luckily, we were able to park on the roadside about 300 yards away and walk to the trail. And we hit it right. There were oaks with brown, tan, green and yellow leaves. And farther into the canyon, there were maples, some still green, but many in shades of lemon yellow, amber, soft coral and red. It was wonderful, just what we had been hoping for. So we meandered, ate lunch and meandered some more. The walls of the canyon are at least 800 feet high, and the afternoon light was contrasty on the white and pink rock. Additionally, there are so many trees that it is hard to focus on a particular subject. But the fun is in the trying.

The trail includes about 10 stream crossings, which means hopping over on stones or logs. The crossings were a breeze for me because I now have hiking sticks (that resemble ski poles). They provide 2 more balance supports. What really surprised me about both the Boynton Trail and this one is the number of aged people walking the walk (though slowly) and crossing the streams. There were a few that looked like they were in their late 70’s at least. It’s encouraging to see this, though I don’t expect to be rock-hopping streams in my late 70’s. (Maybe they’ll have air flotation wheel chairs by then.) I got tired after 2 miles or so, so Dave continued on and I wended my back, stopping to enjoy the leaves, the stream, the canyon walls. What a stellar outing. I came back with 198 pictures. Thank heavens for digital imaging.

The next morning we took a walk around our campground because it was covered with falling and fallen leaves. It’s so much fun for a San Franciscan to scuff through leaves on the ground.

Finally, we took off, heading west and home. We gave up on going into the Sierra foothills, looking for more fall foliage. A combination of finding campgrounds (some are closed by now, some are full for Halloween weekend and some don’t have cable hookups so we can watch the World Series) and the lack of websites that give current conditions led us to deciding to just go home. We found cable hookups in Kingman, Arizona and watched the Giants win their first game with the Texas Rangers. Sweet!! (Sorry, Marcia)

The Shady Lane RV Park in Barstow, California provided respite from the road and good cable reception. It was right next to a Drive-in movie theater, but we had another agenda. So we finished off the potato chips and watched Game 2 of the World Series. Wow! It was a rout, 9 to 0. Then more driving, across the pretty Tehachapi Mountains, down into smoggy Bakersfield and north to the Almond Tree Resort, off of Interstate 5, next to a grove of almond trees. This was our final night out. After being greeted by the office Dalmatian, we set up for our final night on the road for this trip.

Saturday, we got up early and sped towards home. We crossed over Pacheco Pass (beautiful) and stopped at the Casa de Fruita for lunch. We were greeted by a couple of peacocks. Got home in time to rehook up the satellite receiver, order a pizza, pop open a bottle of wine and watch Game 3 in Texas. Too bad – the Giants lost. Next game – today.

 

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We finally moved to Sedona last Wednesday. After we got all hooked up and settled, the thunderstorms started in earnest. We got a few rainstorms, but nothing serious. And the Giants won again! What a game. They were ahead, they were behind, they were tied, they won!!! They are up 3 to 1 on the Phillies.

Thursday we did a repeat of a previous visit hike to Devil’s Natural Bridge. We figured that all the clouds left from the storms would make for dramatic views of the bridge and we were right.

Later we went up to Airport Mesa, which is where small planes land in Sedona. The views from the mesa are stellar. And I got to hear a young, good-looking Indian man expounding about “Mother Earth” to three ladies. Returning to the parking lot, I spotted a van that advertised “Mystic tours”. I guess it visits the various vortex spots reputed to be around Sedona. Our power spot didn’t help the Giants – they lost. So now we wait for Saturday for the next game.

On Friday, skies were supposed to clear up, but that didn’t happen. We returned to V-Bar-V Ranch, a place we had visited before. It has a large wall that contains more than 1,300 petroglyphs, including images of cranes, herons, turtles, bear paws, and many more. Some of them have been invaded by lichen that roots itself in the crevices. By the time we left there, it was sprinkling.

We then visited the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a striking building in Sedona. It was raining pretty good by then. Since it was the end of our photographic day, we went to the movies. We saw “RED” with Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman. It was a pleasant entertainment for a rainy afternoon.

Our plan for today was to enjoy art in Sedona. We stopped by a local crafts fair and became entranced with rustic birdhouses. We picked up some housing for California birds, and didn’t have to take out a mortgage to do it. Then we traipsed up and down the main drag in Sedona. Plein air artists were sprinkled along the street, painting Sedona scenes. It was fun to watch them working so quickly. When I try to draw, it takes so long to produce anything.

Later in the afternoon, we went to Crescent Moon Park, which has spectacular sunset views of Cathedral Rock. The light was great, with clouds and sun changing the look of the land. People must spend a lot of time here – several areas were covered with balanced pile of stones. It was so wonderful there, we delayed getting back to watch the game. And then: The Giants won the pennant!! The Giants won the pennant!!! Wow, they are going to the World Series. Unbelievable!

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Because the weather was supposed to deteriorate, we decided to go for a ride to Jerome and Prescott last Friday. Jerome is a wonderful old mining town that clings to the side of a mountain. The light wasn’t great when we reached it; lack of rain has allowed haze and smog to mar long-distance clarity. The town has changed, not for the better, in our view. It isn’t very rundown; many storefronts have been “improved” which detracts from the authenticity of an old Western town. The gift shops hadn’t changed much, though. We walked up and down the town (literally), the streets are so steep that they are stacked on top of each other. We found the Mile High Diner where, years ago, we shared the Mile High Cake, a 7- or 8-layer chocolate cake that was the biggest piece of cake we ever saw. Hooray!! It was still on the menu. We decided to return to Jerome in the afternoon to indulge ourselves.

The remainder of the road was mundane. We drove over Mingus Mountain, but there were few aspen and nothing much that was turning color. Prescott was a pretty town, but presented nothing that caused us to stop. We were going to Jerome for coffee and cake! We pranced into the Mile High Diner with camera in hand, to record the record-breaking cake. But nay! Though the cake was still listed on the menu, they no longer made the cake. False advertising!!!! Disappointed, we ate a couple of their homemade desserts, which were okay, but only had one or two layers. So Jerome had dropped considerably in our affections.

The weather did not deteriorate, but the disappointment of Jerome and the lack of fall foliage caused us to decide we need a vacation from our trip. We would just sit on our asses, read, and watch the Giants battle the Phillies. (Yes, the Giants won the Division and are now going for the National League Title. Who would have guessed?) We are camped in Quail Loop of Dead Horse Ranch State Park and it is living up to its name: the camp is full of quail. They run around in the mornings and evenings, with their little topknots bobbing madly. This morning I witnessed a quail bird-fight, short but intense. Yesterday, we immediately broke our vow of laziness, by going on a walk first thing in the morning. We looked for the Greenway Trail that runs by the Verde River, but never found it. There are a lot of trails running through the park and they are not well-marked. We may try again – or not.

Saturday night the underdog Giants won!!! Yaaaayyy!! Sunday was a sit around day, very cloudy but still warm. We did absolutely nothing. It was good, until the Giants lost to the Phillies. We are seeing so many birds and critters in this campground. In our campground so far, we’ve seen loads of Quail, a couple of Roadrunners (or the same one twice), a woodpecker, a Harrier Hawk (we think) and a javelina (a wild pig). On another walk around the state park, we saw a river otter in the lagoon. That was cool.

On Monday, we went on a hike to Doe Mesa, a rise of 400 feet to the Mesa top up a series of switchbacks. The view from the top is spectacular to the west, but as we wound our way to the north side of the Mesa, we began to hear the loud droning of a generator and looked down upon a McMansion being built near the foot of the Mesa. Too bad. After wandering around for a while, we descended and headed to Starbucks for mocha frappacinos and free WiFi. What we got was not-very-good mocha frappacinos and no WiFi. Luckily, the Safeway in Cottonwood has free WiFi, so we picked up our email and headed back to camp.

 

 

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We returned to J&H Resort in Flagstaff because of its excellent WiFi coverage, allowing us to actually access the internet from anywhere in the RV. (I should take pictures of what we have to do the access the internet at various campgrounds. It’s like yoga sometimes.)

On Tuesday, we went out to Walnut Canyon, another location of many Anasazi cliff dwellings. We trekked down the 240 stairs that led onto a small mesa, halfway down the depth of the canyon. It’s lucky the Anasazi didn’t have queen-size beds or dining room sets because they would have had a time getting them down to the house. Apparently the routine was to go up to the top level to plant and down to the river level for water. They got lots of exercise in those days. Just about every limestone overhang was inhabited. Looking out to the other side of the narrow canyon, you could see that those ledges with overhangs also had been used as living quarters. I heard one man say to his son: “How would you like to have to go all the way over there for a play date?” It was a hot day, and for lunch, we chose a shady spot right by the stairs we were going to have to ascend. A group of teenage girls passed us, one staring at my peanut butter sandwich and sighing “Food!” as she began the trudge up.

I was somewhat obsessed with finding the darn Prairie Hart Road that we had missed before, so we drove once again through Flagstaff to Highway 180, looking for Forest Road 151 another road identifier I had unearthed. Sure enough, we found it. Why had the Garmin led us astray the week before when we looked for Prairie Heart Road? We discovered that the road we were on was spelled “Prairie Heart” in the Garmin. This is an dirt road, but it is one of main roads to see fall foliage in the Flagstaff area. Where the heck does Garmin get their map info from? I am very frustrated with the Garmin on this trip. It’s really doing crazy stuff. Anyway, the road did have some aspens that had turned gold, but nothing too spectacular. We eventually came to a large meadow that had swathes of aspens along the edge and then we came to a grove of young aspens by the road. I wandered through the grove and passed a family with a young boy and girl. The father was telling the children “If you ever get lost in the woods, an aspen grove is a good place for cover.” (Cover from what? A bear? A rutting elk?) Then he was showing the children how to drag back a branch and then let it go, hurting whatever was following you. Interesting field lessons.

Wednesday was reserved for the Sunset Crater – Wupatki Pueblo loop, a little north of our campground. We went through Flagstaff many times on our vacations, but had never done these primary tourist locations. Sunset Crater is a 1,000-foot volcano that erupted sometime between 1040 and 1100. Most of the volcano is covered with black lava and cinders, but red and yellow oxidized cinders on the rim give Sunset Crater its name. Nobody is allowed on the crater, but a path leads to the foot of it and provides good perspectives.

Another 20 miles or so brought us to Wupatki, a series of sizeable masonry villages that dot the landscape. By 1180, thousands of people were farming on the Wupatki landscape. By 1250, when the volcano had quieted, pueblos stood empty. No one really knows why. Some of these sites seem very small, maybe housing one or two families. They seem to like to build on a big boulder, and did it so well that it is sometimes hard to tell where the boulder ends and the masonry begins. A couple of sites are built on the edge of a wash. Wupatki is the tallest (three stories high in places), largest pueblo in the area, with 100 rooms, a tower, a community room and a ceremonial ballcourt. Located near the crossroads of east-west and north-south travel routes, it was heavily engaged in trade. The ball court is the only one in the Southwest with masonry walls. Balls have been found, made from rocks covered with pine pitch. Some archeologists think that trade valuables changed hands through ritual events such as ball games.

 

Right next to the ball court is a blowhole, a small opening in the ground through which air will blow out or suck in. these hole connect with an extensive underground fracture system. Fractures open to the surface are locally known as “earth cracks” which are sometime hundreds of feet deep. Researchers estimate the underground air space connected to this blowhole to be the equivalent of a tunnel 165-feet by 165-feet square and 50 miles long. Related to air temperature and pressure, the air is either rushing into the hole or rushing out. When we held our arms into the hole, we could feel the hair being sucked down. It was a very strange feeling, along with the windy, sighing noise being emitted from below. We had never experienced anything quite like this. I don’t think I want to be here if there is ever a big earthquake!

After checking the weather and the status of fall foliage in various places in central Arizona, we decamped to Dead Horse Ranch State Park (as opposed to Dead Horse State Park in Utah). It’s a verdant location next to the Verde River.

 

 

 

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Flagstaff was a welcome haven when the big storm hit. Tornados in Arizona – who would guess that? We were enjoying the rain, then woke up to news that tornados had turned semis over on Interstate 40 and destroyed a Camping World business in Bellemont, a town 15 miles west of Flagstaff. There were pictures of hail as big as golf balls – amazing. There were downed trees blocking AZ-180, the highway we were planning to take to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. That scotched our plans for the day. Then the RV park manager knocked on our door, said that high winds and the possibility of tornados were imminent for Flagstaff, and said if the winds got bad, come up to the office, a safer place than our rig. So we hunkered down and waited. We got one bout of pea-sized hail, but no winds – I mean none. I went up to the office to extend our stay another day, and found the recreation room full of people with dogs, watching weather reports on the big-screen television. The dogs seemed calm, as did their owners. So it wasn’t much of an event for us, but was pretty hard on the town of Bellemont.

We got off to the Grand Canyon on Thursday. It was a nice, 80-mile drive north and we got a good, sunny campsite, right next to some grazing elk. It’s fun to hear the strange, screamy bellows of rutting elk again. After setting up, we took the shuttle bus to the central area of the Canyon Village and the rim walk. Parking is so inadequate to the number of cars that there are three shuttle loops to get people from one place to another. The shuttle was crammed, but we were only going a couple of stops. A few steps away, we gazed into the Grand Canyon. The view was sparkling clear, no smoke, no smog; a benefit of the big storm. There were loads of people strolling along, and the first place we entered, the Kolb photo studio was jam-packed. The nearby El Tovar Lodge was also full of people so decided to stay outside. We continued up the Rim Trail and then Dave picked out his “sunset spot” at Yavapai Point, a location with a wide view. We waited a while, as people gathered around us. As the sun dropped below the clouds, the light got better and better. After returning home, we watched the first playoff game between the Giants and Atlanta Braves. The Giants won!!! Pitcher Timmy Lincecum held the Braves at bay and we won 1-to-0.

The next day was set for hiking. Hermits Rest was 8 miles west of our starting point, with a mostly paved trail all along the rim. There were almost no cars allowed; you could catch a shuttle bus at 6 or 7 different spots along the way if you got tired. We had a great time for a while: the crowds quickly dropped away and it was a pleasant day. One spot had large areas covered with black plastic. The Orphan Mine, mined for uranium, operated only 13 years until the early 1960’s, and has been a toxic site ever since. Even the Grand Canyon wasn’t fully protected from development. As we walked on, both us got very tired, even though the trail was mostly flat. We finally caught the shuttle to skip 3 miles, watched people snacking at Hermits Rest, the endpoint of the Rim Trail and the beginning of the Hermits Rest Trail into the canyon, and walked back one mile to the last viewpoint. How nice to able to hop on a bus when you get tired. That night the Giants lost, but I clung to the fact that they had won Game 1.

Saturday was devoted to touring the Desert View section of the Grand Canyon. Yaki Point is one of the first stops, but because only shuttles can drive up the mile-long (they say .75, I say a mile) we began the trudge up the road. Yaki Point was nice; we went back on Monday morning to photograph it in better light. We continued the drive to Desert View, stopping at various overlooks, trying to find the ruins of the old Grandview Hotel (and failing) and enjoying the beautiful weather. The outstanding viewpoint was the Thomas Moran overlook. It was a broad view and we hit it at a time when there were few heavy shadows. It was pastel and spectacular. Dave went early on Sunday to photograph it.

Navajo Point was the next to last stop. There was a ranger there, keeping people back from a girl with a large, hooded bird on her gloved arm. Not getting a good look at the bird, I asked the ranger what type of bird it was. His joking response: “What, are you Canadian? Don’t you recognize our national bird?” (I should have replied “Not with his hat on.”) It turned out a film crew was going to film the bald eagle in flight from a spot on top of a car to a barrel (about 3 seconds) at the edge of the Grand Canyon. The bird had a tether attached to one leg and the tether was attached to a 3-foot chain, ending in a large metal loop, through which a metal line was strung from the car to the barrel. This would force the bird to fly low and prevent him from making an escape. They eventually pulled the hood off and began attaching a camera to his shoulder! They then set him on a half barrel placed on the roof of a car and the man at the far end started to call and yell to get the eagle to fly towards him. No dice. The eagle sat on top of the car, looking at the film crew, looking at the people looking at him, and enjoying the beautiful weather. After about 8 or 9 minutes, he finally performed his duty, and the scene was over.

Desert View was the easternmost point of our 25-mile drive. There is a tall stone Watchtower overlooking the canyon, built by Mary Colter, who designed and built several buildings for the National Park. The outside is impressive, but we entered directly into a crowded gift shop and thought that this was going to be a disappointment. Not so. As we ascended up a winding stone staircase and reached the second floor, we could look up two more stories to the painted roof. As we gazed upwards, people on the upper floors were gazing down at us. There were little windows here and there, some large and some small. There were Hopi-style paintings all over the walls. It was pretty crowded, but a magical place.

After that, we chose Navajo Point as our designated lunch point. The ranger and the bald eagle were still there. The film crew was setting up for another shot. We settled on a short wall to eat our sandwiches, but were chased farther off by the film director. “The eagle might decide your lunch is for him and he could hurt you trying to grab it.” Protecting my peanut butter sandwich from predators, I hustled away to a safe spot.

Although we didn’t do much hiking that day, we were tired when we got home and decided to cancel our El Tovar dinner reservation at 8:45. We wouldn’t enjoy dinner as much that late (we’re not too cosmopolitan) and the difficulty of parking might leave us walking a third of a mile back to our car in total darkness at 10:30 at night. Taking the shuttle bus would force us to eat quickly because the buses stop running at 10 p.m. Dave did manage to make new reservations on Sunday night at 5 p.m.

Sunday was a quiet day – we didn’t do much, which was nice. At 4:30 we dolled ourselves up (I wore a skirt and Dave wore khakis!) and drove to the El Tovar Lodge. This was to be Dave’s belated birthday celebration. Our parking kharma was in good shape and we snagged a space right next to the Lodge. The lodge is rustic – the lobby is built out of huge logs and is encircled by mounted mountain goats, moose, elk etc. It has lots of worn comfy leather couches where people catch up on a nap or their internet needs. The high points of the dining room  (aside from the dessert display) are the Indian murals on the walls and the spectacular view of the canyon from the windows. Checking in early for our reservation paid off – we were seated next to the window and could watch the light fade as sunset progressed. We split an order of wonderful crab cakes, then Dave ordered the pork chop with gorgonzola sauce and cornbread stuffing. I had duck with a citrus glaze. It was all good. (Sorry my food descriptions are so mundane, Michael.) After another evaluation of the dessert display, I chose the chocolate flourless cake and Dave had the Chef’s special, a cake layered with almond and chocolate. His was better (I love almond); mine was good and rich, but didn’t have an intense chocolate flavor. It was a lovely meal and we got home to find out that the Giants had won their second game over Atlanta.

Monday was departure day, but since checkout time wasn’t till 11 a.m., we rose early and went back to Yaki Point to photograph. We got back around 9 a.m. and were getting ready to shower when a knock came on the door. A German lady was outside, telling us that she had reservations for our site and why were we still here? Dave explained that we didn’t have to leave until 11 and she eventually departed to tell the reservation people that they shouldn’t assign spots that still have campers in them. A little unclear on the concept of checkout times.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

We’re now in Flagstaff, Arizona. We stopped two days in Page in order to visit Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon from which amazing images emerge. The light filters down into the narrow passage, illuminating the fantastic swirls and forms of the rock. The tours are run by Navajo Indians, so 10 of us piled into a truck with Paul, our guide, and bumped along for 15 minutes down a wide wash. The entrance to the canyon is unprepossessing, just a narrow entrance in the wash. We entered and the passage quickly narrows down to anywhere from 2 feet to 8 feet wide. Being on the “Photographic tour” (and having paid more for the privilege), we had a longer time (2 hours) to click away. Of course, while the 10 of us were in there, groups of 20 people were also winding their way through the passage and past us and our tripods. As our guide led us along past the other groups, we left Dave behind. He didn’t realize we had moved on. Paul was very helpful, showing us good spots to set up and giving us a few moments to photograph before letting the other groups file past us. We were mostly shooting straight up, so the other people didn’t get in the image, but they did use flash, which affects a long exposure and, in the close quarters, jostled our tripods. Of course, I jostled my own tripod and about one fifth of my pictures were shaky. Dave’s calves hurt the next day because he was crouching a lot in trying to get his shots. Paul did one session of “light painting” where he ran a flashlight all over one area of rock and we did a long exposure that smooths out the bright light. We were very tired after 2 hours and ready to leave. We didn’t know what our results would look like, but we both got some nice shots.

Horseshoe Bend is a famous kink in the Colorado River, near Page. We went out there and slogged down a half mile of sand to the edge of the canyon. What a view! There were quite a few people strung out along the edge. It’s somewhat disconcerting to look down more than 1000 feet, but we managed to sidle our way close enough to the edge to get the entire curve of the river. It was cloudy and the light wasn’t optimal, but we got up early the next morning and went back out there. There were more clouds, but after a photographic workshop had left and we were the only one’s out there, the sun started to light up the rocks in a more interesting way. After all that exercise, we had breakfast out at the local steakhouse (apparently the Denny’s went out of business in Page) and drank quarts of coffee. There was a group of French-speakers on one side of our booth and a Spanish-speaking couple on the other side – an international clientele in this small town.

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We’re in a nice campsite at Jacob Lake, Arizona. We’re 43 miles north of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon because we couldn’t get a campsite there. On our way here from Boulder, we spent a night in Hatch, Utah, where the manager told us that the aspens and red birch were in color in the mountains nearby. So we went for a ride and saw some aspen, but nothing outstanding, although there was a pretty little duck pond with nice trees around it. After the sun went down, the hot weather quickly chilled, but we walked to a nearby diner for some ice cream.

Tuesday we “stocked our larder” at Kanab, Utah. I must be old because when I told the campground manager we needed to  “stock our larder” in Kanab, she replied “Huh?” We got to Jacob Lake (where we haven’t seen a lake), settled in the small, but nice campsite and had some spaghetti for Dave’s birthday dinner. It was a quiet dinner, but we’ll go out to celebrate somewhere with more dining choices.

We rose with the sun on Wednesday, and headed down to the North Rim. We could see the smoky air right away, and drove 8 or 9 miles through a patch of burned trees, though it was obvious they hadn’t burned recently. There are a lot of colorful aspens along the road, and we stopped often, reveling in the golden morning light. I had forgotten the enormous meadows on the plateau, some running several miles in length. And, just like in 1983, I saw a dead cow by the side of the road. I didn’t stop to photograph it and it seemed to have disappeared on the way back. Maybe it was just taking a nap on its back with its legs sticking up in the air.

We reached the North Rim Lodge and looked into the Grand Canyon, only to be disappointed again. Smoky air obscured the view; anything more than a few miles away was a murky smudge. This was why, years ago, we stopped coming to the Grand Canyon in fall; I had forgotten. Too bad. We drove out a very pretty road to Point Imperial, photographed some more smoggy landscapes, ate lunch and drove along a dirt road, looking for the place we dry-camped 27 years ago. We think we found it, but our memories diverge. My high point of the day was spotting a Kaibab squirrel, an odd-looking creature with a brown-tan hunched body, a bushy white tail and furry ears that stand straight up like a Doberman’s.

We ventured out on some back roads yesterday. Clouds had come in and they were dampening the light to a dull even-ness. Instead of glowing like amethysts, the aspens were just light yellow. We finally found a good spot and got some breaks in the clouds.

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