The North Rim, The Narrows, Mesa Verde & Durango

Written by Logan Chazen

I took a flight into flagstaff to join my grandma and grandpa. As soon as I saw them, I realized I was taller than I though I was! Grandma was very good by not blubbering when I got off the plane.

Day 1, Saturday
We drove to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon where we ate lunch at Bright Angle Lodge, looked at the amazing views, had a great ice cream cone, and went to Desert View a few minutes before they closed. But, my absolute favorite was when we drove up to the entrance booth. Grandma and Grandpa realized that they knew the attendant/Park Ranger as they pulled up to her station. When Iva (the Ranger) recognized them, she pulled out pictures of her great grandbaby and was talking to Grandma for a whole 20 minutes while the line behind us of PAYING customers where waiting impatiently. After the South Rim, we took a 2 hour drive to Cameron, Arizona. We ate at the restaurant and stayed in the lodging the place provided. At the restaurant, they had a mega gift shop where my ever long love for souvenirs began. I had the Navajo Taco that even I couldn’t finish.

Day 2, Sunday
We ate at the restaurant again and headed out towards Page, Arizona, another 2 hour drive. Once we arrived, Lake Powell was first on the to-do list. The damn was very big and kind of uneventful. After that, Wal-Mart was next. We had a cart full of groceries and everyday items and guess to had the push it… I did. An hour and a half later, we finally rolled out for a 2 and a half hour drive to the awed upon, North Rim. If you have been paying attention, you will see nothing is close. Anyway, we arrived to find amazing views and lots of seclusion. I knew at that moment that I would love it. Overall, day 2 was pretty dull other than arriving at North Rim.

Day 3, Monday

This day was rather interesting. Grandma and Grandpa scheduled mule rides to this place called Supai Tunnel about 2850 ft down into the canyon. We got to the benches to be picked up my the shuttle bus to go to the mules. The bus arrived and a full on cowboy walks out. I mean cowboy hat, boots, flannel shirt, jeans with those dangly things, and to top it all off, spurs. The cowboy assigned me to ride Bill, a brown mule that liked to go slow. Grandma was given Leslie, a female brown mule just like mine but with an attitude. Grandpa was given Tom, another brown mule. We were lined up in this sequence, Me, Grandma then Grandpa. We get maybe 50 yards and Leslie starts trying to bite Bill’s tail. So, the guide moves Grandma’s mule in front of mine and everything went smoothly from there. When we started, I was told even before we went to check-in, that the mules tend to walk close to the rim… Well they weren’t lying. A few times, I thought my mule was going to go off the edge. Supai Tunnel was pretty cool with amazing views. After the exhausting mule ride (3 hours) down into the Canyon and back, we decided to go back to the RV, eat lunch, and get ready for Grandma’s favorite trail, Cape Final. It had beautiful views of the Canyon. By the time we finished hiking 4.2 miles, we were all worn out and we went back to the RV and relaxed. After dinner we played Gin Rummy. I beat Grandma with a shutout score of 140-0.

Day 4, Tuesday

Finally, we got to wake up at a normal time. We hiked the Transept Trail to the North Rim Lodge where we saw Bright Angel Point. Bright Angel was definitely a highlight due to the AMAZING view of the Northern most part of the Canyon and the hike was very interesting. There were many people climbing on the rocks, which was stupid. I was wondering the whole time, what can they see from up there that I can’t see from down here? Anyway, after Bright Angel, we hiked back using a slightly longer, less interesting trail called Bridle Path. Once we got back to the RV, we packed up what we needed and drove 3 hours to Zion National Park. The first thing we noticed was deer and turkeys on the lawn at the Lodge chewing down on grass with people taking pictures within 6 feet of them! We stared at them for a while and finally decided to check into our cabin and set up our cozy room. It had a rustic log cabin look and feel to it. After the drive and the check-in process we were hungry. Grandma and Grandpa heard of a place called Oscar’s Burgers. We ended up going to that restaurant. It was very good and had a great atmosphere. After dinner, we drove back to our cabin at Zion and got ready for bed.

Day 5, Wednesday

Wednesday was pretty awesome. We stayed at the Zion lodge for the night on Tuesday so we could get an early start on hiking The Narrows at 7:00 am… Well that did not work. By the time we got up, took showers, ate at the breakfast buffet, and got dressed in our gear it was already 8:00! So, we just went on the 8:15 shuttle and took the mile walk to the water front. By the time we got into the water it was 9:15. We started hiking in the river and found this older couple hiking back to the start. We asked them how far they went and they said that they made it around 2 miles in and the woman had fallen in, so they turned around. Keep in mind, the water is 60 degrees. That scared all of us. Luckily, none of us fell in. We hiked about 3 miles up river to this place called “Wall Street”, so the whole trip was about 8 miles. We made it back just in time for a 3 o’clock lunch at the Lodge. After we ate, we left the park. We drove to a town in Utah called Hurricane and stopped at a Wal-Mart to get a few things for the rest of the week. After that, we drive 111 miles back to the North Rim.

Days 6 & 7, Thursday and Friday

Both days, I helped Grandma and Grandpa with their Camp Host duties around Grand Canyon National Park. It was fun mostly because I got to drive the Polaris around. We would get up early, take a shower, and go out to see who was packing up and who was staying another day. Then we would go back out around 11 to collect tags for the campsites. Next, we would make trips around the campsite to check for any violations of the rules and clean fire pits. Cleaning fire pits was dreaded by all of us. At 7 pm, we would go out and put out reserved signs. Both days were pretty much the same.

Day 8, Saturday

Saturday started out like a normal day of being a Camp Host (described above), but instead of relaxing in our free time, we worked on packing up the RV. Grandpa and I were outside, getting the things outside put away, and Grandma was doing the opposite, inside putting away and cleaning the inside of the RV.

Day 9, Sunday

We woke up at 4:45 and took showers and disconnected the RV from the utilities. The RV was rolling out around 6:15 am and heading to Durango, CO for Mesa Verde. Leaving was a bitter-sweet moment. I wanted to stay longer because I really enjoyed my time there, however, I wanted to go to new and exciting places. The hills on the ride back were pretty gnarly with 6% grades and going downhill was just the beginning, but because of our expert chauffeur, Grandpa, we are driving on flat pavement and alive. We were driving into New Mexico and I asked where we were going. They surprised me by telling me that we were going to Four Corners, a place I have wanted to go to for a long time. For those who don’t know what that is (pun intended), it is where New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona all meet at one point. After that, we drove to Durango, CO and got to the RV park. We set up and went to Applebee’s for dinner. Once we were done, we went to get ice cream at Coldstone. We went back to the RV and got something Grandma and Grandpa have not had in at least 3 months, TV.

Day 10, Monday

On Monday, we went to Mesa Verde National park to tour the Long House Cliff Dwelling. We chose the longer tour, both length and time, because it was the easiest because it didn’t have as many long ladders to climb or tunnels to crawl through. Mesa Verde took a large chunk out of the day because of the tour and the hour drive each way from/to the entrance. After the tour we went to dinner at Carver’s  Brewing Co., which was very good. We needed some lunch and dinner supplies for the drive back to Missouri (home), so we stopped by Wal-Mart to get those.

Day 11, Tuesday

Tuesday was another surprise day! Grandma and Grandpa both told me that we were going to Mesa Verde for a second time. Instead, we stayed in Durango and went to do the train ride from Durango to Silverton and back. The train ride was 3.5 hours each way and very full of passengers going to Silverton. Once we got there, we ate, shopped, and got ice cream. We got back on the train and waited for the conductor to yell “All aboard!”, just like in Polar Express. We started on our way and saw a person panning for gold in the river bed. Never would have guessed to see that! So, we made it back to Durango and went back to the RV to eat dinner and Grandma did a load of laundry to get us ready for the trip.

Days 12 & 13, Wednesday and Thursday

On Wednesday, we started our journey back to STL. Not very exciting stuff happened that day… except for a few select things. The night before, we were all arguing which was the best route home and why. Of course, Grandpa went his way because he was the driver. Once we got on the road, we had frequent gas (fuel, that is) stops. We stopped a some very small town in New Mexico to get gas. We all had a “Job”. Grandpa pulled to the pump, Grandma pumped the gas, and I helped where I was needed, but most of the time, I cleaned the windshield or I helped Grandma at the pump. On this stop, at the pump we lifted the handle and pressed the grade. THE GAS WOULD NOT PUMP. A local guy pulled up on the other side and said, “That’s why I go to this pump, not that one. That pump is messed up.” He went to try to help us. We told him we wanted unleaded, but he pressed premium. Lol. Grandma ended up paying $2.55 instead of $2.29 for the gas. This angered Grandpa. It was very funny to see them battle it out. 😜Anyway, we drive on. We had predetermined the rest stop we were going to stop at and spend the night. When we approached it, it was closed. We kept driving until we reached a gas station/truck stop/Denny’s/Phillip 66 where we ate dinner and spent the night there in the RV. We got up the next morning early to get a good start on a long day. We drove from Tucumcari, NM to Bristow, OK. We stopped at a Walmart to eat dinner (Grandma makes a mean Chicken Cacciatore) and supposedly were to stay the night in the parking lot. Well, that’s not what happened. We finished dinner and Grandpa said, “Let’s see how far I can go without getting tired.” He ended up getting within 300 miles of STL so he just kept driving even though it was 12:30 am. We ended up rolling up in front of my house at 4:30 am. We had to unhook the car from the RV in the rain to be able to park in front. We got inside and found Jordan awake and happy/surprised to see us two days early!!

So here I am now, finishing my last “entry” of this blog, sitting on my couch. I am reflecting on the trip and multiple things come to mind like the trip felt like is was 3 days, all the scenery, the new places, and not to forget the great experiences I learned throughout the journey. I really am thankful to have Grandparents that care enough to travel thousands of miles with their Grandson. So on a final note, thanks for reading.

5 Comments

    1. Thanks! He has already said that that maybe he can go back to the North Rim and be a volunteer one day!

      We need to call you and Tom in a couple of weeks when things settle down a bit. Hope all is well with you both.

      Like

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