Thursday, May 15, 2014

It’s Grand

In the morning, camp was torn down and repacked. It would be another hot day and the water coolers were quickly filled just before we left Mesa Verde. It had been a day to relax without rushing. As we left the mesa, a huge bus was climbing up the twisting roadway, belching huge clouds of black smoke. It was narrow and we felt glad we weren’t out by the berm, because there wasn’t much room to spare as we drove by each other.
About ten a.m., we pulled into a dusty parking lot at Four Corners. It is the only place in the United States where four states’ borders meet; Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. There was a large concrete pad with a round metal disc at the center, listing each state’s border. It was a spot where a person could stand on one foot and be in four states at the same time.
Lining the borders of the parking lots were booths filled with Native Americans and souvenirs. It was a relief to step under the tents and into the shade.
Heat devils danced in the parking lot and shimmered off the vehicles. We knew we’d start to cook when we climbed inside of the vans. Winding down the windows to allow the worst of the heat to escape was a torture. The handles were scorching. Everyone found places to sit and squirmed to alleviate the burning heat from the seats.
Our destination was the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the Kaiabab Plateau. We stopped at the Navajo Bridge and ate lunch in the parking lot. Some of the guys dropped a few flat stones into the water below with resounding “CRACKS.”
The road to the canyon ran south was heavily wooded except for one area that had recently burned. The camping area was thick with pine and the ground soft, covered with a thick carpet of needles. Our sleeping bag beds were comfortable that night.
The canyon was massive, deep, and colorful. The hues changed as clouds and sunlight moved across the sky. The North Rim was over eight thousand feet above sea level. The view was magnificent and impressive.
We returned to the campsite, set up tents, and made the evening meal. While we made the site ready, we watched the Kaiabab squirrels with their white tails running as they searched for pine cones. The silence and a hot meal were most welcome after a long day of travel.
Dusk fell, the air cooled, and the tents and sleeping bags on the bed of pine needles were a blessed relief.

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