They say that first impressions mean a lot. Whether it’s a person or a place or an experience, it sticks with you. For my first-ever trip to the Grand Canyon, I was expecting a big “AAAAAHHHHH…” moment with the sound of angels singing as I laid my eyes on that majesty for the first time. Alas, that moment would have to wait – just my luck!
Our trip to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim was a little semi-last-minute journey we decided to take since my husband’s birthday fell on a weekend – an excellent excuse to get away with what little vacation time we had available from our “regular” jobs. We were both unlucky and lucky in the timing and location we chose because we booked the trip before the US government shutdown happened (unlucky), but the state of Arizona bailed us out (lucky)!! (The state provided funding for basic services at Grand Canyon National Park because they recognize it’s so vital to their economy – even in winter.)
We weren’t sure what to expect because of all of the uncertainty caused by the political garbage going on. There was also weather to consider. Heading into the trip, there was a good chance we’d get caught in a storm on the 3-4 hour drive up from Phoenix. That’s where luck struck again and the storm hit 2 days before we got there, meaning the roads were clear, even if the skies continued to look threatening. We tried to stay positive, even though we were a little leery of how all of this was going to go.
Thankfully, travel went as planned and we got to the park about mid-afternoon… just as rain started to come down. The park rangers were working at the entrances to hand out maps & info. (They weren’t allowed to collect the entrance fees that help support the park.) As the ranger handed us our map, she said we should hustle if we wanted to see the Canyon because it was quickly filling in with fog and might not be visible within the next 15-20 minutes at the rate the weather was rolling in. Gah!
We took her advice and got our hustle on and bolted straight to the rim. While impressive and – photographically speaking – kinda cool with the mist & fog in the air, it certainly wasn’t what I pictured in my mind as a first impression.
Don’t get me wrong – I was thrilled to finally be there and recognized I had a few days’ stay for the weather to improve. But, that first impression of the Grand Canyon wasn’t exactly what I thought it’d be.
The weather was steadily getting worse as the cold rain picked up in intensity, but we were able to walk around a bit along the rim to see if anything else was visible. Unfortunately, the ranger was right – it didn’t take long for the Canyon to fill in with fog and ick to become a sea of soupy white blah.
Without the Canyon to distract us with its beauty, I kept my eye out for any little quick shots I could grab with my phone in the wintry rain. That’s when we came across this scenic locator. It looked old, and from the inscription on it, it was.
We couldn’t quite figure out how it worked until the next day when we ran into some simple devices on the trail that were metal tubes that locked into a notch to direct your eye towards a point of interest. It didn’t magnify it at all. It just got your eye pointed in the right direction when the tube rested on a preset notch. We suspect this locator once had one of those tubes and you’d rest it on those notches to see the sights each slot pointed you too. What a magnificently simple, clever solution!
So that was my lackluster first impression of the Grand Canyon. I wasn’t going to let it get me down as we would be in the park for a few days. It was bound to get better – I just had to wait a little bit longer and hang onto that optimism bubbling away in my mind.