Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day Nine at the Grand Canyon

This report is posted by William Ernest and Susanne Waites, dealers and collectors of Native American and othre tribal art, and operators of web sites at,, and

We arose and sauntered to the El Tovar Lodge for breakfast, pausing to watch the sunrise. Along the path, we saw some deposits of scat, which we assumed to be droppings from elk that ventured along the path overnight
For breakfast, Susanne and Bill ordered the usual eggs and stuff. Melissa ordered a cinnamon bun. To our surprise, it was humungous, filling the entire plate. (That is not a saucer or salad plate; that is a dinner plate.) We laughed about it all day.

We commented yesterday about the Fred Harvey Company.
One of their additions to the Grand Canyon experience, was the Hopi House. It was built and operated as a gift shop.

The saga of the hat.

Speaking of gift shops, I have been searching for ball cap with American flag motif and had all but given up.
Every gift shop I looked through had hats with park logos.

I even had purchased a Grand Tetons hat with graphics that I liked.

But I was not able to find one with a flag and, more troubling, every hat
I picked up said "Made in China".

Now, I have nothing against Chinese people. But I am troubled that so much of our trade deficit is going to China. So, I have generally decided to avoid buying goods made in China.

Finally, on our last day at the Grand Canyon, there was a single hat sitting alone on a shelf amidst stacks of other, non-flag, hats. It was sporting the words "Grand Canyon" and an American flag design.

I thought this lonely hat with the flag was placed
there for me by some invisible force. Would it too be China-made?

With trembling hand, I picked up the hat to
check for the country of origin. It said, "Made in Bangladesh".

That works for me. I take the cap, the only one in the store, the only one I have seen in any store since the start of our trip. I wanted to share my elation at my successful quest. At the check-out counter, I looked up to see the clerk's name tag said he was from China. I quietly put my money on the counter, deciding discretion was the better part of a "good" story,

After breakfast, we rode the shuttle tram again with stops at various vantage points.
Among them, a stop at the general store to pick up wine for the evening at the cabin.

In the morning, we attended a Park Ranger presentation about fossils at the Grand Canyon. These were found, not in the canyon strata, but at the South Rim. Geologists believe this is evidence of a one-time inland sea existing before the Colorado River began to cut the canyon through the plateau. (After looking at the photo below, we saw imagery that looks like a rabbit holding a boomerang. But the "boomerang" is the tube fossil.)
For dinner, We chose the Arizona Room, a special dining room adjacent to the Bright Angel Lodge. I had ribs, some the best I have ever had. Susanne had quesadilla, her selection of choice many times. Mel had pasta, one of her favorites.
It is easy to pass time at the Grand Canyon, doing nothing but sitting and watching nature. Among our finds were two condors resting separately on rock ledges below the rim, waiting for the evening cool to create updrafts. We watched and watched as they sat and sat. (See the bird sitting on the ledge in the highlighted area below.)Finally as the sun was going down, they were gone, disappearing into the purple haze of the canyon's fading light.

We recalled what we had learned about condors during the Park Ranger's
presentation on the North Rim. Fossils establish that condors have inhabited the area since the Ice Age.

Condors, which feed on carrion (dead animals) scavenged for the carcasses of various pre-historic creatures. As non-native explorers moved through
North America, California condors, the formal name for the birds, diminished in numbers. This has been attributed to the shrinking number of animals in the condor's diet, hunting, egg collecting and the pressure from modern developments such as chemicals and power lines.

In 1980, the California condor population in the wild, concentrated in California, was only 22.

In order to preserve the specie, naturalists and environmentalists captured the
California population and began a breeding in captivity program. Increases in the population allowed officials to release breeding couples back into the wild, primarily in California and Arizona.

These are birds visitors see at the Grand Canyon.

This was our last night at the canyon and as part of our previously planned trip. We placed the original reservations in January for a July trip. We were told that the limited number of accommodations required that we get our dibs in early or there would be nothing left for us.

were particularly adamant about reserving at the North Rim because there is only one lodge there. In fact, when discussing the trip with a travel agent who also was a personal friend, she was surprised that we got into the North Rim Lodge, even with January reservations.

From a personal standpoint, however, as impressive as the North Rim was, I found the South rim more hospitable. I will return to the South Rim some day. I think I may not take the trouble to go to the North Rim again.

Tomorrow, we say goodbye to the Grand Canyon and begin the ad hoc part of our trip.

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