We didn't know we were going to the Grand Canyon until Tuesday morning. We all slept pretty late and went to breakfast at the Denny's across the street from the hotel. What better place to get a southwest omelet... than in the southwest! We were essentially 3 days ahead of schedule, due to our earlier than expected arrival in Santa Fe. We had the decision to make, of going to the mile wide crater, or to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon it was. We went back to the hotel, loaded up the beast, checked on the Ed and the Hippo. All seemed well and I wanted to hit the road. Santa Fe seemed nice enough, but I didn't want to give it a chance to prove me wrong.
I have to learn to trust the GPS...
We had about 6 hours to go, to reach the south end of the Grand Canyon Visitors Center. Pulling that trailer across the desert was not too bad, what with the seemingly endless ribbon of highway. We hit our exit off highway 40 at Williams, Arizona, onto highway 64 for about 60 miles. It was a pretty quick run to the park and that is where the fun and hijinks ensued....
Being the first time I ever visited, I had no idea, the last 10 miles were going to take almost as long as the last 30. We entered the park, get to what most would probably believe, was the entrance... well... sort of. The ranger was cordial and very friendly. It was 30 bucks to pass through the gate. Now, it was late afternoon and the sun was scarce in most of the park. We had a few miles to get to the Canyon. It took forever or so it seemed on narrow roads, pulling that parade float of a trailer. We finally get to the parking area, of the visitor’s center, tons of people there. We had to park with the RVs and wasted no time hopping out and hauling butt up the walk path to the Canyon. We had maybe 20 minutes of light left and were showing the Japanese tourists how to really take pictures. It is truly one of the wonders of nature, a real national treasure and quite breathtaking. We walked along the path with railing that I suppose is there to keep the wayward from strolling out on the edge. Within a few feet, I was to the area where there wasn't any railing and I was standing on the edge of the cliffs. One wrong move and it was adios. By this time... it was just plain dark. We decided to find the visitors center and the plush restrooms. It mattered little dusk had fallen. People were still arriving and exploring. We, on the other hand were ready to go. It was dark, cold and a hot meal, shower and warm bed were our next mission.
If you've ever been to the Grand Canyon, you will no doubt know, the park is a sprawling network of roads, bungalows and resort like accommodations. They REALLY need to address the signage situation. Simply put, we were lost. We drove around that place for almost an hour. We finally found a couple landmarks that were recognizable on the map provided by the friendly ranger at the gate. We maneuvered our way through some really tight spots with the Ed. We came upon a lane, where we met with a ranger. I flagged her down, asked how to get out and she politely tells us where, what and how. But... We couldn't back up, we had to drive into this area where.... Let me just say this; Boxcar Willie would have been proud. It only took me about 3 acres to turn that truck and trailer around. I know I pissed off about a dozen people.. but dammit... I made it. We followed her directions and still couldn't find our way out of the parking lot. One more try and a turn in the opposite direction and we found our way! It was tedious for the next 45 minutes... the amount of time it took to get out of the Grand Canyon Hell we had found ourselves in. We pass through the entrance, make our way back to the highway and aim it towards Williams. Only one problem, we couldn't go over 25 miles an hour due to deer and other critters. I have a masters degree in hitting deer. Well over two dozen, in fact, one night I got 3 at once! By the time we hit highway 40, we drove through Williams and chose to continue on to Kingman.
This may have been a mistake, although I wanted to put as many miles behind us as I could. We pulled into a motel in Kingman, about 10:30 that night. After negotiating about the room, we get our keys and unload the bags as close as we could to the stairway, as our room was on the second floor. I jumped back in the truck, cruised the lot, only to find one parking spot, far enough from the room that it couldn't be seen. I wrestle with locks chains and improvise a weak lock down of the goods for the night. By this time I was too tired to care and figured, if they were going to steal the damned mess... they could have it! I was parked next to a horse trailer, which had provided me enough cover to answer nature's call. As I stood there, the silence was broken by a horse making the noise only a horse can make. I think I levitated and the way spun around, it probably looked like I was imitating a lawn sprinkler. Once my heart rate was closer to a coronary incident versus the nuclear meltdown rate... I headed to the room, climbing the stairs past Smokey Stover who seemed to be chain smoking the nastiest cigarettes known to man. There was about a pack and a half of spent butts crushed out on the concrete landing. I stuck the key in the slot of room 201, believing my journey for the day was over and sleep was moments away. The little green light came on I hit the door handle and bam... chain was on the door, lights were out and I was ready to start cussing, when through the crack I saw a body wrapped in a towel coming out of the bathroom... Crap... I looked at the key and it had 202 clearly written on it. Pulled the door closed and haled ass to 202, setting the land speed record getting to and in the room and peering out the curtain. No one was hungry and it was okay with me. Sleep... come to papa.
Next episode... Las Vegas Nevada, da da dadada, all lit up in neon. Do you wanna gamble? Come on and get some da da dadada...
Tune in next week for Part 4 of the journey
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - By Eddie Buck