So this was supposed to be the big one. After leaving Monument Valley I’d driven along virtually deserted country roads to Page, Arizona where I spent the night, and in the morning headed off to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, about 2 hours away. I stopped on the way at a service station where the attendant was having enormous problems trying to understand a 50-something French lady who obviously spoke very little English. I asked the lady (in French) if I could help and without drawing breath she launched into a rant about how she’d been travelling with friends who turned out to be a bunch of arseholes and how she was now travelling alone and wanted to buy some coffee and she was from Clermont Ferrand and it’s not like France here is it?
She continued in this vein for the next 5 minutes, seemingly unaware of the fact that French is not the native tongue in Arizona, seeing nothing unusual in the fact I could understand her. Before too long, I paid for my own coffee and muffin and away I went, her chattering still in the background. She’s probably still there.
About 20 miles after leaving Page (top photo) you are faced with a choice, Grand Canyon North Rim or South Rim. This is the last chance you have to decide – as the crow flies the two are something like 10 miles apart (and visible to each other), by road it’s over 200 miles. So choose carefully young one. I went to the North Rim – to be honest I can’t remember why now, but there was a good reason at the time.
Before too long the scenery began to change dramatically and the rocks and desert began giving way to hills and trees as the road entered the Kaibab National Forest and after an hour or so of this you came to the North Rim itself. I set my tent up (I was getting pretty slick at it by this point) and headed down to the Canyon itself.
Everybody knows that pictures and words cannot do justice to a natural wonder such as the Grand Canyon, so I won’t try. I will say however that it’s breathtaking, there’s no doubt about it, but it doesn’t do much if you know what I mean.
You turn up, you ooh and ahh (and let’s face it, you’ve never seen anything like it before, it is incredible), then you move to another spot to get a slightly different perspective where you ooh and ahh some more. You stay for sunset, you come back for sunrise. Then you leave.
I think maybe I was suffering a little bit from not being able to share this with anyone. I’d spent an hour or so with some very nice people at Old Faithful in Yellowstone, but apart from that I’d barely spoken to a soul (eccentric Frenchies aside) for a week and it was starting to tell.
Slight lonely grumpiness aside however, you’re never going to regret going to the Grand Canyon and it certainly is one of those things you should try to see at least once in your life. My advice – take someone special with you!