Monday, December 31, 2007

After we enjoyed our visit to Zion National Park, we headed to the Grand Canyon's south rim.

Our plan was to stay at Lake Powell but as we got closer and closer to the Lake we quickly had to change plans. The closer we got to Powell, the more aware we became of how much the area has changed since our last visit. What was once a lightly populated small town has boomed due to the rapid rise of prices in the Las Vegas and Phoenix areas and the continuing retirement of the Baby Boomers.

In addition to a pox of franchise-type development and sub-division fever, the air quality has deteriorated due to the emissions from the power plant, the increase in population and, what appeared to us, as a total disregard for maintaining the pristine high desert surrounding the Lake. In sort, the entire valley was filled with lung burning, air choking smog.

Our change of plans required pushing through to Cameron, AZ at the junction of 89 and 64. Once in Cameron we faced the issue of finding a "pet friendly" hotel; what we found instead was 1) overpriced, 2) so gross you wanted to sleep in your jeans, 3) so close to the highway intersection that you could hear the roar all night long, 4) had slabs instead of beds, 5) rooms coated in so much Febreeze that the wall paper had started to run. Mark and I couldn't bring ourselves to pay "that much money" for such a bad room. After an unsuccessful search, we elected to push on to the South Rim of the Canyon.

Here is where the excitement started. We made the turnoff onto the Grand Canyon highway around dusk. In the last hour of our drive, we began going through patches of thick fog; as we started up a hill we came very, very (VERY, VERY) close to hitting a full size bull Roosevelt Elk.

This beast was absolutely gorgeous and in his full winter glory, standing 6+ feet tall, weighing over 1000 pounds and having a 5-6 foot antler spread. The difficulty came in because of where he was the middle of the road, in the dark, in the fog, on a 2 -lane partially ice covered highway. We weren't speeding and Mark avoided hitting him, plus avoided jack-knifing the travel trailer (all 33 feet of it). The only negative outcomes were that Mark strained his wrist and we both had some heart palpitations from the close call. We were very lucky that there wasn't anyone coming toward us in the other lane, that we weren't speeding and that Mark was driving since my reflexes are much slower.

The next morning, I had a short conversation with an Arizona Highway Patrol Officer while in the line for breakfast. I told him what happened and he followed my story by asking a very interesting question, specifically, "Did you pull over?" I replied that we didn't and he then told me that it was a good thing since he has responded to several calls where someone had a near-miss with an elk, pulled over and then the elk attacked their vehicle. He said that they are very territorial during breeding season and will attack parked cars to defend their territory. Glad we missed out on that one.

The Canyon was amazingly beautiful and remains as gorgeous as it was on my first visit. Hope you enjoy the photos!

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