In the foothills of the Mazatzal Mountains in Arizona, the cool night time air has a moderating effect on the heat that climbs up from the desert in the valley. But as spring progresses, the heat becomes more intense earlier and earlier in the day. When we start to think it would be a good time to check out how the air conditioner is working, we know it is time to leave the desert and head north to Alberta.
So we packed up our Jeep and began a long and scenic journey home. The Car Guy was confident that the Jeep GPS System would guide us, but he packed a paper map book just in case. He had a number of maps to choose from, but selected the one put out by Harley Davidson because it highlighted the most scenic routes… for motorcycles.
Early in the trip, the Jeep GPS declared a distaste for conventional routes, as if to say, “I am a Jeep – I want to feel the rocks and mud beneath my feet- I reject these surfaces you call pavement…” We were not keen on traveling from Arizona to Alberta by dirt roads, so I consulted the map book that The Car Guy had packed and chose another route.
Jeep was not enthusiastic about this twisty, winding motorcycle friendly road, and didn’t hesitate to tell us: “Make a u-turn if possible. Make a u-turn if possible. MAKE A U-TURN IF POSSIBLE!” When Jeep eventually accepted we weren’t turning around, it’s digital read out erased the road as we progressed, as if to say, “I do not approve of your choice. I will hide this road.”
By the end of the first day we had arrived at the rim of the Grand Canyon. The main viewing lookout was packed with tourists from all over the world. Most of them had their cell phones mounted on sticks so that they could document their ‘trip of a lifetime’ with selfies. We noticed, however, that our shadows were clinging to a rock face a short distance beyond the safety of the guard rail – so I took a shadow selfie.
There are no words to describe the Grand Canyon. If you have never been there, go. If you have been there before, go again. If you are there during tourist season, go early in the morning, or near sunset – there are fewer people.
… Nothing prepares you for the Grand Canyon. No matter how many times you read about it or see it pictured, it still takes your breath away. Your mind, unable to deal with anything on this scale, just shuts down and for many long moments you are a human vacuum, without speech or breath, but just a deep, inexpressible awe that anything on this earth could be so vast, so beautiful, so silent.
– Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent –
Side Note on the Trip from Arizona to Alberta:
The Google estimate for driving time between our Arizona home and our Canada home is about 23 hours. Factoring in several stops on the Canadian side of the border for Tim’s Iced Capps; one border crossing; refueling for us and our vehicle; offloading of waste; sleeping; sight seeing, etc – the trip takes us 3 days.
And two nights. In the hotel breakfast room on the second morning, I should be able to remember what room number we are staying in. 211? No that was the exit for lunch. 225? No that was the exit for Dairy Queen, wasn’t it? 205? No, that was the mileage from Idaho Falls to Butte…
I miss the days when you got a key with a number on it…
Do you trust your GPS, or do you still depend on your paper maps?