Genesis 28:17 “…..How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” NIV
On our drive up to the canyon, we go through the San Francisco Peaks which is kind of a strange name since we are not in California. But hey! Who am I to complain about details. Over 12,000 feet high, their snow covered peaks reach towards the heavens. We stopped to play in the snow where I made a snow angel. I hadn’t done that since childhood. It was still as cold as it was then. Note to self….make sure your top is down over your pants before you lie down in the snow. Otherwise you get a shocking reminder of just how cold snow really can be! Our drive took us over 8000 feet up. I have to say that some of it was mindlessly boring, brown tumbleweed covered ground after we came down the mountain. I was thinking that it better get a whole lot more interesting or I was seriously going to start whining. When we reached the National Geographic visitor center, the reaching for the wallet began. Geez, they sure think everything is worth more in a national park. But, because I had prayed that morning to help us be mindful of our budget, the Lord sent an absolutely cool ranger our way who told us that because Mark has a military disability, we get a lifetime pass to all national parks….FOR FREE!!! How cool was that. They don’t advertise it though which is sad because the cost to get in the park is quite steep. A lot of veterans would definitely benefit from knowing about this little perk.
You drive up to the parking lot and it just looks like any old national park. There are cars everywhere, gift shops on every corner, shuttle buses, and a million tourists. You can’t see the canyon from the parking lots. You walk past what they call a visitor center but is actually just a room where the rangers sit and hand out maps and answer inane tourist questions like what time does the grand canyon close or where are the Indians. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to stand behind someone who asks those things. Really????? Then you walk down the path, round a corner, past some rocks and WHAM!!! It’s right there. Stretching hundreds of miles in either direction. You really can’t move for a few moments. Your mind can’t fathom what your eyes are seeing. I don’t know how you could look at it and not see the hand of God.
We stayed for the sunset which was worth the wait. It was freezing cold, around 15 degrees by the end of the evening. A snowstorm was rolling in and the clouds were all pink and purple. The light and shadows of the canyon walls at sunset are something you shouldn’t miss. We had dinner at El Tovar Lodge which was built to resemble a hunting lodge and is full of stuffed animal heads and huge beams from Oregon. It sits at the edge of the canyon. We were seated next to a window, beside the fireplace. We could watch the end of the sunset from our table, the light making the trees outside look like they were on fire as the light faded to darkness and the canyon became just a shadow in the night. The food was fantastic. Sweethearts was better than mine, a pork loin covered in smoked gouda cream sauce. I had Salmon with pistachio rice. Obviously we are not losing any pounds on this trip. We figure the hiking made up for it. Closed the whole evening out with chocolate covered strawberries. mmmmmmm. The walk to the car was dark with the sky full of a million diamonds above us. The milky way was so bright and each star seemed to twinkle in a magical dance across the sky.
|sunset from the restaurant window|