Day 5: The Grand Canyon

There's a story one of my friends has about looking at photos of rocks. After a while, it's just rock, rock, rock. So let me preface this post by saying there really is no photo of the Grand Canyon that will allow you to experience how truly awe-inspiring this 277-mile long, 18-mile wide, 6,000-foot deep gorge is in the earth. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

Yes, we felt like mega-tourists wanting to stop and see it with our own eyes. And even worse when we took photos in front of entrance signs. But now that we've seen just a small part of it, we want to go back. Only next time, without the dogs and on a rafting trip. 

We started our day leaving Flagstaff for the hour and a half drive north to the park. We never would have guessed we were in Arizona. It looked like Colorado. Or Montana. We had just driven the day before through the dessert and now we were surrounded by mountains. Some with snow. 

We were greeted by a Ranger with massive furry chops. 

I almost couldn't believe my eyes when we parked at the Visitor's Center next to this woody wagon. Clark W. Griswold, are you here, too? But Clark's not from Virginia. 

After I figured out how to open the trash can (I'm as smart as a bear), and after I picked up all of my toiletries Matt SPILLED OUT ALL OVER THE PARKING LOT, we were off. 

Note the fifth point: If you're attacked by a mountain lion, fight back aggressively.  

All it took was one look at the Grand Canyon for me to do this:

And then pretend to do this:

Now that I've got that out of my system, here's where I'll just be quiet and show you photos of the rock, rock, rock. 

We took our obligitory family shot:

And then we headed on the 25-mile scenic drive around one edge of the rim to a lookout point with a watchtower. 

I wanted to see the other side of the Canyon, but it would have taken us 5 hours to get there. And we didn't have 5 hours. We still had over 8 hours to drive before getting to our hotel for the night. 

So we got back in the car and half of our family passed out. Hard. 

The drive from the Grand Canyon towards California was the prettiest drive we've done since leaving Charlotte. The Tennessee drive runs a very close second.  

When we got to the Arizona/California border, we were surprised to see an inspection station for all cars entering the state. 

Official-looking man: Do you have any fruit?

Us: No, sir. 

Official-looking man: Do you have any plants?

Us: No, sir.

Official-looking man: Carry on.

About a minute later I realized we had an orange in the car from our hotel in New Mexico. Oops. 

We needed gas, so Matt pulled up GasBuddy.com and we saw that gas was .10 to .15 more expensive on the CA side of where we were. So we turned around and drove 1 mile back across the AZ border and filled up. (My point of including this extremely boring point is that you should use GasBuddy.com. I'm amazed how different prices can be in a 1-mile radius.)

Then it hit me: we are in California. 

Since November 2011 I knew we were moving here. Many months of preparing and thinking and worrying and planning – and we are finally here. All together. I literally realized it the moment I took this photo. 

It was time to celebrate. So I did some google searching:

Dammit. Not legal. 

So then I decided it was time to change out the CDs. 

And that's when our 6-disc CD changer on our 12-year old SUV decided to stop working. Bummer. 

We got to our hotel around 12:45 am and this is the last photo I took before falling asleep:

Total miles driven today: 600