the grand canyon

Way Out There // The Grand Canyon


Let’s talk about that big hole in the ground, shall we…

The Grand Canyon, well, it left me numb – almost like I never actually absorbed it. I wouldn’t say I was overwhelmed because that would indicate a maelstrom of emotions swirling around – no, not that. Not unamused, because that would mean I didn’t like it – and I liked it – I liked it a lot. But, yeah, while standing there on the South Rim on a freakin’ gorgeous day, all I could muster was a slow head nod. Perhaps it was unbelievable? Maybe? 

I mean, the whole reason Mitch and I decided to drive an RV across the American Southwest (read: northern Arizona and the southern tip of Nevada) was to see The Grand Canyon for the first time. It was the reason for the season, the main attraction on our tour, and totally worth it; but in a lot of ways it was the cliche “it’s not the destination it’s the journey.” Which is totally a thing, by the way, and was a thing.

At the end of Day 2 of our RV trip we found our way to Flagstaff (“The Gateway to The Grand Canyon”) via Route 66 from Kingman. More on that leg of our journey HERE. We arrived late afternoon in Flagstaff (the cutest little college town), and walked around downtown for a bit. Of course this was after we drove around the block 5+ times to find a parking spot that made us both comfortable with our sketchy big-rig parking abilities.

Obviously, we managed to find the one hipster/hippy/man bun-centric coffee house in town where we got lattes and a bowl of chili AND THE BEST DAMN COOKIE EVER: chocolate chip, pecan, and orange zest amazingness. I mean, I milked (no pun intended) that cookie for DAYS after I bought it – even Mitch was surprised by my restraint. Would it be lame to say I remember that cookie more than The Grand Canyon? Asking for a friend…

Macy's in Flagstaff, AZ
Macy’s in Flagstaff – get the cookies, I hear they’re good!

Anyways, Macy’s, downtown Flagstaff, good stuff. Put it on your list.

Our KOA campground/RV park in Flagstaff wasn’t nearly as magical as our KOA in Kingman (although they had a sweet little “breakfast trailer” right next to our site serving up breakfast sammiches and such), but, you can’t win ’em all, right? The whole bathroom situation was less than optimal, so we opted to try out the shower in our RV for the first time.

Big development here in our RV life. Big.

Both of us were quite surprised with how delightful our showers were in the RV. You turn on the water heater, wait 20 minutes, and BAM, you’ve got yourself a pretty decent experience free of unknown foot fungus variables. Note: level parking is suggested when you shower in an RV. I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain why. #LifeLessons

The next morning, Day 3, we headed north towards The Grand Canyon. It’s a good 2+ hour drive to the South Rim from Flagstaff in an RV, but, it’s an amazingly stunning trip. The aspen and birch and other tree like items were just starting to change colors with the season, and the high desert terrain, with the clouds dispersing from a storm the previous evening made the morning light bounce and shine off of the trees and desert landscape in all the right ways. More magic in the desert.

roadside near the grand canyon

Then we found ourselves overlooking at The Grand Canyon. After, of course, the ubiquitous “how hard will it be to park here” and subsequent parking adventure.

the grand canyon the grand canyon the grand canyon

…and then we wanted french fries. Because, duh, french fries.

Wonders of the World and french fries go hand in hand – little know fact. I knew I wanted to check out the historical hotel on the South Rim (El Tovar), and the concession places near the area we parked the RV were seriously not french fry equipped. Nope, Lays potato chips won’t cut it. Such a shame – and FOR REALZ they could use food trucks there. Moving on…

So we drove the mile or so from the viewpoint to the El Tovar Hotel. Again, we had to get a little creative with parking, especially near the hotel where gigantic spaces were limited to zero. Lets be honest, shed all the veils: there absolutely IS a point where the walk to get to the french fries is too great. Sometimes, french fries just aren’t worth it. I know, who knew, right?!  This time though, that was not the case – we did it! We found an appropriately located parking spot (pretty sure it was reserved Ranger Station parking only, but, eh) within appropriate walking distance to the desired french fries. We were kind of on fire that day with our whole parking juju.

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Inside the El Tovar is old-school-rugged-high-desert-lodge goodness. It smells like what you’d imagine the lodge in White Christmas to smell like. Both enchanting and “no, let’s not stay here.”

There’s also plenty of well placed taxidermy inside. Observe the moose above ↑

train station at the grand canyon
The train station near El Tovar is kiiiiinnnnnnddddaaa the cutest.

After waiting 20 minutes amongst the stuffed moose and elks in the lobby, we dined on sub-par french fries and a wildly sub-par “Navajo taco” in the historic El Tovar dining room. That dining room is huge, by the way. And if you luck out you might get the one table that overlooks the canyon. Otherwise prepare yourself to be slightly underwhelmed by the inside of the restaurant.

After lunch we left. Headed south towards Williams.

So yeah, The Grand Canyon, Day 3, was one for the books. Not because The Grand Canyon was overwhelming – because it was and wasn’t (it’s weird like that), and not because the food was amazing at El Tovar – because it really wasn’t, but, because the hours and the minutes in-between spent discovering, finding parking spots, and taking pictures of ground squirrels next to Asian tourists that were putting their hands WAY too close to said squirrels; those minutes and hours were damn fun. And more often than not, damn fun is as good as it can get. I’ll take all the damn fun.

Randomly placed quote:

One of my favorites from one of the worst movies last year: “In any of its many forms, I have found that nothing beats fun.”

…and with that I leave you in hot anticipation for Day 4!

Oh yeah, on the way out these had to happen…

doughnuts in the car


My travel essentials:


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