Check out time at the campground was 11am; we didn't want to leave til 2pm. No problem. This national park is good at handling large volumes of people. We hitched up the car, pulled in the slide outs, and drove to parking lot E, a specially designated parking area for behemoths such as we. As we drove there we passed huge elk, strolling through the underbrush as if they owned the place. Perhaps they really do. Then we boarded a shuttle bus to see the western end of the canyon. You used to be able to drive the whole rim, but this end had small parking lots and the shuttle enables large groups to enjoy the views without a traffic jam.
Just like every day since we arrived in Arizona, the day dawned with crisp air and bright blue skies, but by 10am those anvil shaped clouds started gathering and we knew we were in for another downpour. The shuttle bus made nine stops; we made it to six. Each view was better than the next. We especially enjoyed looking down on the mule riders below us, making the same epic journey we had yesterday. The switchbacks were dramatic and the cliffs looming above them as well. While we started out feeling aggravated with the weather, it became obvious that each wonderful glimpse of the canyon wasn't all that different than the one before. And between us we've taken about 900 photos here thus far. Enough already!
We beat the rain drops back to our motor home and headed west toward Peach Springs, a tiny town on an Indian reservation. We are attending an Elderhostel for the next five days, that will allow us to raft, helicopter and hike into the western end of the canyon. In addition we will learn about the local Indian culture and ranching life. We chose this Elderhostel specifically with Hartmut in mind. While we have been to this area before, we are no experts on the West and this will provide us all with a better understanding of where we are and how it got to be this way. Besides, Hartmut needs to meet some other Americans and should not confine himself to our point of view, perfect as it may be.