Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

Warmer, colder, canyoner

I was the warmest I've felt in several weeks yesterday, standing in the sun waiting for the rental car shuttle at Las Vegas. We flew on new year's eve and the flight was late, which meant more time for breakfast. And the plane was full, but even with the usual stop-start luggage we were out and enjoying the sunshine quickly. We did a little urgent shopping: wasabi tempura seaweed crackers from Trader Joes (my favourite), a down jacket in the REI sale (my christmas present) and pork tip and fried chicken from Whole Paycheck for dinner (muy tasty). This year the road across the Hoover dam wasn't clogged with tourists so we made good time and got a closer look at the new bridge they're building over the dam: we saw it from the plane, and we flew over Bryce and Zion too, so lots of views. The bridge is an amazing feat: huge pillars and a stunning arch going in.

Arizona is thickly dusted with snow: we drove as far as Williams the first night, where the Days Inn is warm and quiet and has a Dennys that's open for breakfast new year's day. We almost took the grand canyon train but breakfast won and it's a lovely drive into the canyon over high plains desert. Mather point was crowded so we went straight down to Hermit's Rest and worked back. The Hermit's Rest building is another Mary Ann Colter with a huge arched fire niche complete with a red hot fire. If you need to poke the fire, there are six foot fire irons with the heads of fanciful mediaeval beasts...

Like Hermit's Rest, Hopi house is a gift shop with a mix of t shirts and mugs and magnets on one hand and stunning navajo rugs and jewellry on the other, but we were looking at the architecture. Colter painted rugs on the boards and used the different rooms and levels of hopi buildings to give you lots of corners to explore. El Tovah hotel is far grander and has a huge christmas tree draped with lights that make it look ethereal.

We stopped at about half of the viewpoints including Grandview, which has a grand view. The paths were icy enough to have us clambering and slithering, especially when we caught the sunset on the watchtower at Desert View. The stones flame copper and honey in the light and the desert turns pink. I hung on to telescopes and trees and hung over the edge to get shots when I'd usually be hanging back worried about slipping on the ice. Maybe I have the soul of a snapper after all.

Desert View was both too crowded and too cold to hang on for the last of the light so we saw the Arizona alpenglow over the desert and the little Colorado canyon instead - mem to self, go back in daylight and get past the little shopping stands that fringe the edge and get in the way of the view. We got to Tuba City as darkness fell and sacked out with surprisingly good sandwiches from Sonic. Bed!

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