Sarah came up a great idea for us to do over the long, long weekend after New Years. She wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, and hike in it. I, also enjoying hiking trips, went along.
We organized the trip rather late, I think on the 27th of Dec from my parents house (I think my mom enjoys being around for trip planning since it reminds her of the trips she should plan
). Given our late planning we could only get a reservation at Phantom Ranch
for the night of the 1st. So the trip plan was get back to SF on 30 Dec 2008. Take bart from the airport, sleep/pack (in either order), then drive to Williams, AZ on the 31st. Take a bus the to Grand Canyon on the 1st, hike down to Phantom Ranch, sleep, hike back up to the top, see the Grand Canyon from the top. Take a bus back to Williams and drive somewhere near the Hoover Dam. Sleep. Drive, see the Hoover Dam, get to Las Vegas, and see the Cirque du Soleil show Ka. Sleep. Drive home.
So that was the plan, now for the execution. We got back to SF on time and picked up our bags from the baggage claim without any issue. The next morning we got up and moving. The optimistic hope was that we would be on the road by 8am to Williams, then stop in Fresno for gear and food. It turns out we weren't ready to go until 10, so we got hiking poles and fake crampons at the REI in SF. We also did our grocery shopping in SF. We were on the road to Williams by noon. We shared the driving Sarah took the parts with traffic, I took the 4 and two lane highways. The fortunate part about this is that I drove through the San Joaquin. One the way there, it was basically IFR conditions (I had no instruments), so I was driving through a cloud (some call it fog) and I couldn't see anything that wasn't on the road. It was really pretty but not the best for a road with lots of ups, downs and turns. I felt like a race car driver. The other interesting part (at least while I was driving) was going through the Mojave desert at sundown. I don't think Sarah has any pictures, but it was very pretty.
Finally we arrived in Williams, AZ and got to the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, at 2345hrs, (for those counting that means we were on the road for 10h 45m). We checked in by 2358hrs on 31 Dec 2008. So we stood by the fire for two minutes, counted down, and kissed for New Years.
In the morning, things went as expected, we backed our bags to hike 10 miles, and put the rest of the stuff in the car. We got in a van that took us to the Grand Canyon. Our driver up to the Grand Canyon was very nice and showed us the sites along the way. We also met two Japanese exchange students on their way to see the Grand Canyon.
On the way was slow since we took a lot of pictures (Sarah has them all since I lots my 1GB SD card before it made its way into my camera). Unfortunatly, Sarah got tired on the way down, and also hurt her ankle. So we stumbled our way to Phantom Ranch around 1600. From the time we got to the ranch until supper at 1830, we laid back and relaxed, we needed it, our feed were sore and Sarah iced her ankle. The food at Phantom Ranch was good, not great, and there was enough of it after being on our feet all day. At end end of the day, we slept, as planned. In the morning we got up for the early breakfast. Again, it was decently, but not great, but there was enough food. Unfortunatly, Sarah was sick (She'd figured out how to deal with her ankle though) (Oh, and she isn't pregnant). So we harrassed the rangers, got some imodium, and started on our way back up the Bright Angel Trail, we took the Bright Angel Trail down and were planning on the South Kaibab trail up but the Bright Angel Trail has places to stop the South kaibab trail doesn't. Again were were planning on an early 630hrs start, but started a little later at 745hrs. We used our poles with gusto on the way back up and made it up by 1345, 6hrs on the way back up, the same time it took us to get down. The rest of the daylight hours was spent taking the village bus around the Grand Canyon village and seeing the sights from the top.
After the Grand Canyon, we drove to Kingman, stayed there, then continued on, saw the Hoover Dam, it is like Itaipu, but less political and taller, then went on to vegas. In Vegas we saw the inside of a couple hotels, I spent $1 on a slot machine, then we say Ka. Ka is an amazing show, I don't think it really suck in until after the show was over all the things the performers pulled off. That said, the stage itself was an engineering marvel that I watched almost as much as the performers.
After Vegas, the drive back was mostly uneventful, the fog in San Joaquin was a little lighter, but still heavy, Mojave is prettier at sunset and it is still good to sleep in my own bed.