Day 4: Tucson to the Grand Canyon
Today was a much anticipated leg of our trip. We visited the Grand Canyon! When we mapped the distance, it was only 5 hours from Tucson but all of the switchbacks through the mountains made the trip feel so much longer! The car has GPS built in and puts a checkered flag at the destination. When I’m driving, I like to zoom out so I can see the flag on the screen – it makes me feel like the destination is closer. September, however, likes to zoom in to see the individual street names. I’m convinced this is the reason why it felt like it took FOREVER to get to the Grand Canyon. (Sep was behind the wheel the whole time.)
Sometime last night we crossed our third time zone and gained yet another hour. The drive from El Paso to Tucson was fine until it got dark. Once the sun finally set, both of us were exhausted and the darkness just made us want to go to sleep. We attempted to see a 25-ton tiki head and a 30-foot neon cactus in Tucson but the entire city seemed to be under construction, so we gave up after our 3rd detour. We arrived late to our hotel (2am Florida time) and went right to bed.
This morning when we hit the road, we enjoyed the desert backdrop of Tucson. Our late arrival made it hard to see just how beautiful this city is. Which brings me back to how hard it was to imagine southwest having never been here before. One of the things I had hoped to see was the saguaro càctus. You know the one, it’s always pictured in cartoons: tall with two raised arms. Well, mission accomplished – TONS of cactuses everywhere! I was so excited!
We drove through some canyons with very steep cliffs and saw lots of mountains and red rocks. Even the rest stop had a scenic view!
The temperature fluctuated like crazy all day today depending on our elevation. At the hrest stop it was 98 then as we made our way to the canyons, it dropped to 75. We originally planned to see the Grand Canyon Skywalk (the glass platform that juts 70-feet out from the canyon rim) but we read horrible reviews about the cost and how cameras are prohibited. So, a little disappointed, we drove to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, about 2 hours north of Flagstaff, and visited that part of the park instead.
Any disappointment quickly vanished when we approached the canyon, though. And as hard as I tried to capture its size, depth, and detail, now that I’m in the hotel taking a look at the pictures it’s clear that nothing does this place justice. September and I had to keep reminding ourselves that what we could see was real – not a green screen like they use in the movies to project images of vast scenery.