Thursday, March 25, 2021

Wall Calendar Triggers Grand Canyon Of COVID Torments


That which you see here is on the wall of my computer room.

Which would make that which you see here a wall calendar.

It has now been over a year since I have travelled further than 40 miles from my abode. 

I have not even been to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metromess for over a year. 

And this National Park themed wall calendar regularly torments me with reminders of scenic places I have been. 

For March it is Grand Canyon National Park.

I first saw Grand Canyon when I was 19. I had been to Yellowstone, and seeing the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and thinking it quite impressive, I suggested heading south a few hundred miles to see the more famous Grand Canyon.

Before getting to Grand Canyon we visited Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon, vowing to return, soon, with proper hiking gear.

After Bryce and Zion it was on to Grand Canyon. The North Rim. This truly was one of the more overwhelming shockingly scenic things I had ever seen. I was already in scenic wonder overload due to Bryce and Zion.

Ironically, it was just a brief visit to several of the North Rim overlooks, and then on to Las Vegas, then Los Angeles and Disneyland, vowing to return, soon, to Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon.

It was just a few years later, in, I think, 1979, that I drove the longest roadtrip I ever drove, visiting places like Colorado and New Mexico and Texas for the first time. Just a little bit of Texas, after caving at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Eventually made it to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and hiked the Bright Angel Trail all the way to the Colorado. Going down was easy, going back to the top was brutal, and did not make it there til an hour after dark.

I don't remember for sure what came after Grand Canyon, that time. Probably Vegas and then on to Los Angeles. I think this was the time I stayed in San Diego for a few days and went to both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park, or whatever it was called. I recollect going to a Sir George's buffet in a suburb of San Diego and driving around in Tijuana for a few miles. 

I did not make it back to Zion National Park til 1992, also visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, before heading to Vegas. I never have managed to hike the Angel's Landing trail in Zion which I vowed to hike some day, after seeing a Ranger presentation in the Zion campground on that first visit to Zion.

I was back at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon the last day of 1993, staying overnight in Flagstaff. There was snow at the top of the canyon and the trails were ice covered at that elevation, so no hiking.

But, that same trip had me seeing this cool looking location on the San Juan River, north of Monument Valley. The San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat, Utah.

That following year I organized a group roadtrip, from which my Internet nickname came. As I made various reservations I would mail out itinerary info to my fellow roadtrippers, calling the mailing "Durango Dean's Wild West Adventure Tour" or something like that.

This trip began with four days of houseboating on Lake Powell, cruising all the way to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, then off the houseboat to the treacherous descent down the Moki Dugway, to the aforementioned town of Mexican Hat to stay at the San Juan Inn. Which had a wonderful restaurant, owned and operated by Navajo, where I learned I like Indian fry bread.

After Mexican Hat it was on to Monument Valley and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, where I had booked us log cabins. This was in mid October of that year. During the night a blizzard blew in. By morning we were trapped, awaiting snow plows to clear the road. It was wonderful, one of my favorite experiences ever.

When we were able to leave it was on to Zion where we had rooms booked in the National Park lodge. We did a lot of hiking at Zion, but still no hike to Angel's Landing. After Zion it was on to Vegas for four days, then an overnight stay in cabins at Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley. That was also one special night. Best swimming pool ever.

I got a flat tire in Death Valley. That turned out to be added fun. After Death Valley it was time to head north, towards home, with a night in Mammoth Lakes, a quick detour into Yosemite, an overnight in Redding, and then home.

That was one fun roadtrip, slightly repeated five years later with a different cast of characters, though some were the same. Did not enjoy the houseboat so much that time. But the Moki Dugway and Mexican Hat were again fun. As was staying several days in Moab, mountain biking. After Moab part of the group headed back to Washington, whilst two vehicles, including mine, headed to Durango, then overnighting in the Imperial Hotel ( I think that was the name ) in Silverton. The high elevation was taxing. Enjoyed it immensely, particularly imbibing in the hotel's saloon. The next day the other vehicle, after heading north on the Million Dollar Highway, began its return to Washington, while I continued on through Colorado, eventually coming to the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

Overnighted that night in Taos. I want to go back to Taos. And would have by now if it were not for the COVID intervention which mucked up a Taos visit plan. After Taos it was south to Alamogordo, overnight. An event there at the National Space Museum turned highly entertaining. 

After Alamogordo is was on to White Sands National Monument, eventually overnighting in a scary border town called Douglas, across the border from Agua Preita in Mexico. Next day discovered Bisbee. Loved it. Then happened upon Tombstone when they were having their annual Hellorado Days Celebration. Weirdest parade I have ever seen. Loved it.

After Tombstone it was on to Yuma, a couple years before my mom and dad moved there. Had a mighty fine time crossing the border to Algadones, Mexico. And then it was time to head north, to Vegas, again, then Tonopah, then Reno, then back to Washington.

I miss taking a good long roadtrip. Some days I get feeling doing such things will never happen again.

I probably should take that wall calendar off the wall, what with its reminders of places seen and in need of being seen. So far, though only in March, I've been to the National Parks on the calendar. those being January was Grand Tetons National Park, February was Sequoia National Park.

Let me sneak a peak at April.

Yosemite National Park

I've only been to Yosemite three times. And have only overnighted there once, staying three days in a cabin at Camp Curry. Would love to do that again. Maybe not Camp Curry, but the National Park lodge instead. I forget its name, but it's a famous one, Ahwahnee, that's it...

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