Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grand Canyon Bicycle Tour, Day 14

On the last day of my Grand Canyon Bicycle Tour, I woke early, had breakfast, and headed back to the rim to see the Canyon in the morning light.  There was a wildfire near the town of Williams to the south, so the air was somewhat hazy; and some clouds would have made for a better photographic opportunity.  It was still beautiful.

Grand Canyon at sunrise

I returned to my campsite to begin tearing things down and prepare to head to Grand Canyon Village.  While packing up my belongings, a man in his twenties from Zurich, Switzerland, stopped by to talk for a little bit.  Shortly thereafter, a slightly older man from Stuttgart, Germany, came by to chat.  The latter is a 30-km/day bicycle commuter and had flown into Tennessee before driving to Arizona.  They were both very nice, and I wondered if Europeans are generally interested in bicycle touring.  I did find it strange that I didn't see any other bike travelers at the park while I was there.

The 25 or so miles to Grand Canyon Village were pleasant, with many scenic overlooks and some Tusayan Indian ruins to serve as diversions.  The museum at the ruins opens at 9:00, so I wasn't able to go in there yet.  The road wasn't as flat as I had imagined it to be, but none of it posed any great difficulty.

A series of small walls at the Tusayan ruins

In time, I made it to the lodge where we had reservations for the next two nights.  Check-in time wasn't until 16:00, so I arranged to store my bicycle there until later.  During my ride through western New Mexico and Arizona, I'd had a couple of people ask if I was part of of some Ride or Cruise, variously, Across America.  I wasn't sure exactly what it was, but I had failed to cross its paths with the group, whatever it was.  The bellman at the lodge confirmed that it was the Race Across America, and I rather wish that I had been able to see them.

I had an early lunch at the lodge's cafeteria, and then set out for the Bright Angel trailhead, just a short walk away.  I wasn't prepared for a major hike, but I really wanted to get below the rim a little bit, and it was a great way to spend the time waiting for my family to arrive.  I only went as far as the first rest area, 1.5 miles in.  I then hiked back up the trail, maintaining a quick pace so that I'd at least feel like I'd had a decent workout.

Grand Canyon from 1.5 miles down Bright Angel trail

Looking back at Bright Angel Trail

After the hike, I wanted to see what else Grand Canyon Village had to offer, so I got on one of the free shuttles and rode to Market Plaza (ate more food) and the Visitors' Center.  I was still in my cycling clothes, and after the hike, I'm sure I was not the most pleasant neighbor to have on the bus.

By the time I made it back to the lodge, I only had to wait a few minutes before I was able to check in.  I dropped my bike off in the room, quickly changed clothes, and waited outside until my wife and kids drove up.  It was great to see them, and though I had talked to them pretty regularly over the course of the past two weeks, I felt like I had so much to tell them that I would never shut up.

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