Saturday, June 8, 2013

One Last Night

Bryce Canyon
My morning to move on we hugged, kissed, and thanked just before I slid into Cheeky. I didn't have a real destination in mind to have my last camp out of this trip but I knew it had to be near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Everything between that was a flexible option. I'd been to Zion, Grand Staircase, and Bryce National Parks a few times before but I decided to stop at Bryce to play around with making some panorama fotos yet have time get to the North Rim before the sun set.

Perfect time of day at the Grand Canyon
Along the way on my entire trip I would occasionally stop at thrift stores to escape from the driving doldrums and strike up conversion with the local colorful clerks. A couple hours on the road I came upon a small town (can't remember the name it was so small) and stepped into the store noticing the huge amount of books. I thought maybe they might have some books on tape to freshen up my drive and sure enough the selection was great. I brought six audio books up to the counter when the nice young clerk said that everything was 75% off today. I asked why they had so many books. She regrettably told me their town's bookmobile no longer had funding and they were instructed to destroy everything. "The first day I began throwing away books it made me so sad so I had them brought here in hopes the community would buy them." She continued writing up my sale and announced my total would be 78 cents. "Your kidding I exclaimed". I told her I couldn't pay her that for such a trove of entertainment and asked if this shop supported a charity. "Our hospital gets all the proceeds to pay for care of those who can't afford it". I gave her five dollars and said it was a donation and left still feeling a bit guilty.

A panorama from the Lodge
Late afternoon the shadows began to lengthen as I turned at Jacobs Lake towards the Grand Canyon National Park. I gave Cheeky a bit more of the gas pedal so as to arrive in time to catch light at the canyon's edge. Within a few miles the thick forest turned into a stark graveyard of trees ravaged by a huge fire a few years ago. I remembered when Sharon and I spent the night at the entrance to the canyon while it burned. Smoke laid low everywhere. Now I was seeing the destruction years later. It's natures way and that's all one can say about such devastation.  A couple further miles I was engulfed by thick growth again and came upon the ranger station for the park. I asked the ranger about camping in the park and he said everything is filled but if I go back a couple miles onto forest road 610 there is some good camping with a possible view of the canyon. I thanked him, paid my $25.00 entry fee and within 20 minutes pulled up to the parking area. I shot some fotos and sat back to take in the grandeur and boldness of the canyon walls. It brought back memories of my hiking trips and river rafting through this natural cut.
Devastation of a forest fire years earlier
Back to Cheeky, she whisked me back past the ranger station and soon we were bouncing along the raunchy rutted road until a small bit of flat within a stand of aspens looked like home for the evening.With the tent perfectly pitched,  I didn't feel like cooking dinner so I prepared a nice bowl of Shredded Wheat with fresh fruit, cleaned up and slid into my sleeping bag to get rest for the last day of my sojourn.

It was still dark when I broke camp and by the time I reached the paved park road the warm dim light stretched over the herds of deer in the long meadows tasted better than any breakfast.  Speaking of breakfast I decided to drive the forty miles to the Vermillion Cliffs to catch the long shadows before my first feed of the day.

Marble Canyon with the Colorado River below
I wasn't disappointed drifting down from the high plateau onto the rolling hills at the base of the bright red walls of the Vermillion Cliffs. This long stretch of mountains to my left kept revealing itself like the pages of a book. I was able to stop on the two lane road at will because no one was up and about. A drove slowly along savoring pace and the beauty before me. I've driven this road many times at every interval of the day but usually under a time constrain and always wishing I could be here at this moment and at this pace....I've now arrived and it feels great. Soon an unmarked dirt road leading off to the right towards where Marble Canyon plays host to the first set of rapids for the rafters putting in at Lee's Ferry. I steer Cheeky along the deep rutted road though fairly flat. We come to the end...a cul de sac affair with signs telling you to venture no further by vehicle. I grab my camera and Ipad to hike out to the edge of the canyon. At the end of the precipice the sun reflected off the Colorado River and the Marble Canyon rapids below. Again I have to smile knowing I'm the only person at this point in time enjoying this view and as I turn 360 degrees, I fill my lungs with the fresh surroundings.

The Vermillion Cliffs panorama
Returning to Cheeky, I retreated towards the highway and pulled into the Marble Canyon restaurant for a breakfast burrito smothered in home made green chile. This recommendation by the waitress sparked many of my delight triggers. Soon I was walking out across the Navajo Bridge spanning the Colorado River when I saw two large wing spanned birds begin to fly under the bridge. I walked to the other side and saw two eagles slowly catching the wind drafts gliding parallel to the river. They too were enjoying this beautiful morning.
Navajo Bridge spanning the Colorado River

I knew once I returned to Cheeky it would be most likely the last time on this journey I'd open her door for adventure. Now it was all business to return, wind down, and soak in all that we'd scene and experienced. Soon I will be en route to some where else but for now I will kick back, listen to some music and sneak back to Bisbee.     

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