|We are en route between the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and Santa Fe. Our campground tonight sits between I-40 and the historic Route 66. It is a bit noisy so we are quite happy to have opted for a cabin.
Montana may be "big sky country" but I would have to say that the vistas in Arizona are even wider. Today we watched rain fall 10, 20, perhaps 50 miles away from us. At times we saw spectacular lightening and even came through a bit of rain ourselves. Once again the temperatures varied widely from 100 degrees down to about 70, again always depending on elevation.
Our visit to the North Rim was, as expected, spectacular. We couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather. Because the air quality was exceptionally good, the vistas were expansive. We could see at least 150 miles, all the way to Flagstaff. We arrived a week earlier than planned and were unable to get into the campground. Fortunately we were able to book a room into one of the many little log cabins at the lodge.
The lodge itself is not as imposing as those we've seen elsewhere, but it was every bit as charming. The large sitting room had huge windows overlooking the canyon and the views were breathtaking. The dining room, too, had enormous windows and we sat right on the edge of the world.
While the views from the South Rim may be more intriguing - the deep cuts into the canyon are on the north side and thus make for a more complex topography - the North Rim has now won me over. The elevation is higher which results in both lower temperatures (a real plus in my book) and a forested land (lots of nice shade). The other plus is that because it is more remote and substantially more difficult to reach there are fewer people around. The whole pace is much slower and more intimate. We kept running into the same people throughout our visit which was nice.
I do need to remark on our trip from Las Vegas - a long and slow one. We tripped over state lines, moving from Nevada to Arizona to Utah and back again to Arizona. Each time we crossed a state line the terrain changed. Nevada is by far the most desolate placed we've passed through. It is hot, dry, sparsely populated, and sporting little or no vegetation. As soon as we slipped into Arizona we moved higher and passed interesting rockscapes. With our brief foray into Utah came a taste of canyon country. As we moved higher the land greened up and there were definitely more people living in the area. Back into Arizona and more climbing. At first there were grasslands then shrubs and finally trees. The last 40 to 50 miles of our drive were through thriving forests and meadows. What a difference just a few hundred miles can make.
Today as we left the Grand Canyon we followed the road that would take us to the South Rim. Just 20 miles across, to drive to the other rim requires 205 miles of driving, averaging 5 hours to get there. Unbelievable.