Grand slam

Somewhere on some road in August, the cranial voice spoke up: “So when was the last time we were at the Grand Canyon?” I was mildly embarrassed to admit—a pretty long time ago. “Yeah, I thought so,” the voice said.

So a few weeks later, your correspondent, in truck and trailer, pulled into the G.C. Visitor Center (South Rim), ready to take in some of the most wondrously spectacular scenery available to us Earthlings. I had taken a super leisurely 200-mile-a-day approach in getting from Reno to The Great Gash, which resulted in me going to Tonopah, then Tecopa Hot Springs, then Temple Bar Marina (Lake Mead), and finally Tusayan, the bustling gas lodging food burg just south of The Park. (Yes, these four “T” towns do indeed work pretty good in the context of Little Feat’s “Willin.”) And like most pleasant journeys, this one reminded me that the ride itself can be as important as the arrival. So don’t get too sideways on the wild coffee, but just kinda cruise on down and get some kicks, because after all, part of this trip would be on good ole Route 66 (from Kingman to Williams).

If it’s been a few years since you last visited The Crown Jewel of America’s National Parks, I’m happy to report that, yes, there are still lots and lots and lots of people there, even in late September, and you know what? That’s just fine. Because it’s also still true that the three-mile walk from Pipe Creek Vista to the El Tovar Lodge along the astounding rim of this eyeball-buckling Wonderland is one of the most spectacular strolls you will ever enjoy as a mobile, upright biped. There’s nothing subtle or understated about it. You’re walking in Wow City. Constantly stupendous.

After three nights of very nice trailer camping in the park, I decided to celebrate my excellent G.C. experience with a room in Tusayan. Everything about the park had seemed to be under control and running nicely—the shuttles, the stores, the cafes, the rentals. There was a grand competency on display, resulting in an overall feelgood about this fantastic place. America as it used to be—functional, friendly, fabulous.

So I’m lying in bed, nodding off to a barrage of NFL highlights, and feeling all nice and swell about my country, which was refreshing. And wouldn’t ya know it, just as I was zoning out, 200 miles to the north a madman was busting out the window of his Vegas hotel suite, all set to blow my nice nostalgic little Pollyanna moment to smithereens.