Our Honeymoon Journal
     Entry 20 - 9 September 2000
Quite dry turning to some forest areas and grasslands near the Grand Canyon. The 9th was warm and mostly sunny.  Click here to see what the weather is like today.
  Bryce Canyon to Mt Carmel Junction via Grand Canyon North Rim

Vanessa There was a heavy frost on the rooftops this morning. At breakfast, I heard a waitress telling someone that it had snowed here two nights ago. Again, this is summer?
  Breakfast was at the same restaurant we had dinner last night. Chris indulged himself with a buffet meal, while I only had dry toast. I was still not feeling very well.
  We checked out of the hotel quite early as our timing for the day's destinations was to be a little awkward. Today we planned to see more of the sights of Bryce Canyon as well as those of the north rim of the Grand Canyon, many miles to the south. Having so much driving ahead of us, Chris made certain that we filled the tank at the petrol, sorry, make that "gas" station at Ruby's Inn.
  Our first stop within the park this morning was at Bryce Point. It was a good place to begin. The play of light and shadow and the colours of the various rock formations were amazing. Both of us, once again, suffered vertigo as we walked out on the narrow spur of land to the lookout. I found the airy voids on both sides a bit of a challenge, but I was soon happily clicking away with my camera just like everybody else.
  Our second stop was at Natural Bridge. This was definitely worth a second look and, again, the rock formations appeared to be much more spectacular in the morning light than they had at sunset. The rock and earth were still a bit damp from yesterday's storm showers and they glowed with fresh bright colours. The scene, to me, was almost unreal - the clear blue sky; the red, pink, orange and yellow rocks; and the deep green trees with snow white trunks growing near the cliff edge.
  Doh! A deer! A female deer... On the way to Sunrise Point we saw a deer with two spotted fawns by the roadside. Chris tried to get some photos of them from the car, but they were very shy and hid amongst the trees. Sunrise Point was not as impressive as the other places we had been to. The hoodoos were sparser and not as well defined. Perhaps the full effect was only visible at actual sunrise, as its name suggests. There was a cluster of buildings, including a shop, on the cliff behind the viewing area. We paid them a brief visit and bought a couple of souvenirs.
  Time was getting on and we had to leave. On the way out, we stopped briefly at the Visitor Centre and bought some postcards and some more souvenirs.
  I made Chris stop the car a couple more times before we left the park. I just had to get a photo of a "Smokey the Bear" fire hazard sign that was by the roadside (I used to watch the "Smokey the Bear" cartoon on TV when I was little), a "deer warning" sign (a change from our familiar "kangaroo warning" signs), and finally, typical of me doing things back-to-front, a photo of the entrance to the park!
  Fairyland Point is a part of Bryce Canyon that actually isn't inside the park proper. We had noticed it marked on the maps and thought it worth a quick look. I am so very glad that we did! It is one of the best parts of Bryce Canyon. The many hoodoos are quite delicate and weathered into some very interesting shapes.
  Still in the mood for buying souvenirs, we stopped again at Ruby's Inn and purchased a couple more items. (Carved sandstone is very popular with the tourists here. It is a bit like how burl is popular along the coast.) It was now about lunch time and we were running a bit behind schedule. Instead of eating at the restaurant again, we chose to have our meal at the diner which had faster service. I had a steak sandwich, which was more like a long sub than a typical sandwich. The steak was finely diced and served with onion, mushroom and cheese. I forget what Chris had to eat.
Chris It wasn't anything amazing. Just a burger and chips, er, "fries".
Vanessa On the road again, we stopped at Red Canyon for some more photos. The rocks seemed to be a lighter orange-red now they were dry. Once again, the grey-green plants and yellow flowers really set off the colours of the earth and rocks.
  We retraced our route back to Highway 89 and started going south. I'll note here that ever since we were in Oregon, we had been driving in the countryside with the car's headlights on - even in broad daylight. Chris said that it made cars easier to see from a distance. Most other drivers seemed to be doing it as well.
  The land here was very dry looking and the road took us through some rugged valleys. In one place I saw some cave entrances in a hillside. We passed through a place called Mt Carmel Junction. Chris told me that this was where we were going to spend the night and pointed out the Thunderbird Resort. This was about 2 pm. We still had a lot of driving to do if we were to see the Grand Canyon and return to the motel before dinnertime.
  The landscape, by now, was looking very arid. It was a bit like outback Australia, with stunted conifers instead of mulga. The soil beside the road was becoming sandy in appearance. It was quite pink and orange in colour. We drove past a tourist spot called the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, but unfortunately we didn't have time to stop and look at them.
  We drove past some cliffs of layered white, orange and pink stone, but Kanab Canyon, a bit further south, had red rocky walls. The town of Kanab had a sign announcing "The Greatest Earth on Show!"
  At 2.16pm we entered Arizona and were 3,964 miles into our trip. There were a lot of "don't drink and drive" signs along this part of the highway.
  Great place to camp or picnic!We entered Kaibab National Forest. It was so good to see trees again after the barren landscape we had been driving through. We stopped at a place called Jacob Lake Inn for a rest break. Here there seemed to be a large camping ground, some shops and a petrol station in the middle of the open pine forest. Chris and I walked around for a few minutes to stretch our legs and to take the opportunity to look at the souvenirs. Most of the souvenirs for sale were made by local native Americans and the items included a vast array of painted ceramic pots, sand paintings, wood and stone carvings. Chris was most interested in the sand paintings while I admired the pottery.
Chris I remember reading about Navajo sand paintings in a book a few years ago. It was in a piece of fiction, so there wasn't much information, but the concept described was fascinating. Until I actually saw real sand paintings on framed boards, I had thought the paintings were temporary creations, destroyed a short time later, usually that night. It seems the book I had read was describing the sand painting used by the Navajo in healing. There had been no mention of Navajo sand painting as an actual art form. Of course, I couldn't possibly tell if the sand paintings in this shop were authentic Navajo creations. They were still great anyway!
Vanessa Although we would have liked to, we couldn't loiter for long, so it was back into the car and we were off again. We reached the magic 4,000 miles mark of our trip and soon after, at about 4pm, we entered the Grand Canyon Park.
  Fires are a big problem in these forests.Before we had left Brisbane on our honeymoon, our local TV news had been showing stories about the terrible fires that many of the western states of the USA had been suffering. During our trip so far, we have witnessed for ourselves the tragic destruction these fires had caused in Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks. Much of the Grand Canyon Park is pine forest or large open grassy spaces. We noticed that parts of the forest here, too, had been burned out by fires. I saw a fire tower and a number of roadside signs about not throwing cigarette butts out of the car.
  The road wound through the forest and took us to a place called Bright Angel Point. This is a very tall spur of land that sticks out at a place in the canyon where it joins with some other canyons. On the canyon rim, just behind Bright Angel Point, is a cluster of buildings - the Grand Canyon North Rim Resort - which includes log cabins, a visitor's centre, and a restaurant which is perched right on the very edge of the rim!
  My first look over the edge of the cliff into the canyon's depths was an experience I will never forget. Bryce Point has nothing on this place for size and depth! I was nearly overwhelmed by vertigo and felt so dizzy and nauseous I had to go sit down for a while on a nearby garden bench to recover.
Chris I was also not feeling very well, but not to the extent Vanessa was affected. It wasn't just vertigo we were suffering from, it was the altitude, for even though the land seemed rather flat where we were standing, it was close to 8,000 feet above sea level in elevation. Because of the large distances we were covering and the range of heights we were visiting each day, our bodies weren't adjusting quickly enough to the changes.
Vanessa Chris went further down the narrow path towards the point, but then the vertigo got to him too. He took some photos before returning to me. I suppose if we both hadn't been suffering from the altitude we would have been able For people who don't mind heights, the cliffside  paths are great for hiking!to overcome our fears, but in our weakened state and in the limited time we had to adjust, it was just not possible. As it was, after resting for a few minutes, I was able to walk around and take a few photos of the view. And it was a view well worth seeing. However, the lack of guard rails along the top of the cliff and along the narrow walking path to the lookout on Bright Angel Point disturbed me, so I kept well away from the edge and only ventured a short way down the path.
  As a friend of mine had once said, the Grand Canyon is just a very big hole in the ground. She hadn't been very impressed by it at all. I, however, was greatly impressed by the depth and vastness of this "hole in the ground". But Chris was a little disappointed, too!
Chris In 1992, I had visited the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was amazing. I spent most of a day there moving around the various vantage points taking lots of photos. I also took a small plane flight around the canyon near the end of the day. The sun brought out amazing colours in the canyon walls. Although the North Rim still provides spectacular views, I suspect it's best seen in the early morning as we were starting to see deep shadows obscuring the cliffs.
  One advantage the North Rim has, though, is that it isn't as commercialised as the South Rim. I suspect that in the 8 years since I've been to the South Rim, it's probably become worse.
Vanessa Once again, the clock ruled our lives and we had to go back to the car and begin our return trip to Mt Carmel Junction. We did take the time to stop at a lookout we had passed on the way in. It was on a hill overlooking a fairly treeless area with a view of what was called "The Grand Staircase". The view was of a series of cliff walls marching across the distant landscape, rising one above the other like a series of steps.
  Near the path from the car park up to the lookout was a large sign saying "Selling of Merchandise is Prohibited". The two girls selling necklaces and bracelets in the lookout's shelter must have either not seen it or couldn't read. They were brazenly hawking their wares to any and every tourist who came along. There were a couple of other tourists purchasing some jewellery from them, but Chris and I weren't interested.
Chris I saw another sign that mentioned the air quality and the brown haze that could be seen across the landscape. This haze was air pollution, mostly blown in from California. It wasn't pleasant to think that we were heading towards the source.
  We got a bit sunburnt today. The sun was hot but the air itself was cool. This was a pleasant change from the freezing weather we had been experiencing.
Vanessa We left Arizona at 6.45pm and were soon back at the Thunderbird Resort. We checked in to discover that our room was on the second floor. Chris had strained his knee during the day and there was no way he could have carried our heavy bags up the stairs. I certainly couldn't have managed them by myself and there wasn't a lift. Fortunately, there were some spare rooms available and we were able to swap ours for one on the ground floor.
  The birds were very small and fast! Dinner was at the attached Thunderbird Restaurant. Chris had a "spicy chicken" meal that was actually pleasantly spicy for him and I had "breaded country steak" that was really crumbed veal schnitzel by another name. We had a window seat and while we were waiting for our meals I noticed two bird feeders hanging just outside the restaurant's large windows. There were literally over a dozen hummingbirds feeding at them! The tiny birds were a delight to watch.
  Later this evening, after dinner, I wrote a postcard (the final for the trip) and Chris checked our route for tomorrow. He announced that we would be driving through a place called Zion Canyon and there would be another $20 entrance fee!