May 7, Monday
The drive from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon is short and easy, a straight shot up 64. When I arrive at the entrance booths there’s virtually no waiting to get in, but for it being before Memorial Day, it’s still a lot of people inside the park – only to be expected with a popular tourist destination I suppose. The entrance fee is $30 for a 7-day pass like most national parks, although with my $80 Annual Pass all I need to do is wave my driver’s license along with that and I’m in.
I’m not camping inside the park. I follow 64 east along the canyon rim, passing several view points that I’ll go back to visit without the Casita at a later date. My turnoff is unmarked and unassuming, a dirt road with a turnaround and solitary picnic table. On maps this is Fire Road 310, and it bounces along to the south for a short ways until it leaves the park boundaries and enters Kaibab National Forest, where boondocking is allowed.
I pass the first network of sites just past the cow grate boundary, to an open field where fire damage has claimed most of the trees. There’s a rough logging road here to the right with a single camp site along it. Privacy, good cell signal, ample sunlight for my panel, and only minutes away from the park. This’ll do! I park with an eye to the standing dead trees, having one fall on my rig would put a crimp in my day.
Later in the evening, I take a walk down the logging road. The clouds are breaking up which bodes well for tomorrow’s explorations.
May 8 & 9
The next morning I make a brief stop at the Visitor Center. Brief, because it’s busy and the energy of all the tourists in a rush grates on me. Sometimes I enjoy people watching in a place like this, but I’m not feeling it today.
I learn what I came to find out: there are shower facilities on site and I get directions to them. The showers at the “Camper Services” building are nothing to write home about, but I do get clean, which was the point.
Afterward I play tourist myself, taking my truck out to some of the less popular pullouts for photos. After a simple dinner back at the rig I drive out to Grandview Point, the closest point to camp for sunset. The Grand Canyon is best viewed during the golden hours, that is, the hour after sunrise and before sunset. The lighting conditions then really make the color in the canyon walls pop, and the longer shadows add depth to a view so vast it almost doesn’t look real.
It becomes a trend. I work at my computer during the day, and go out to the canyon for the golden hour. On the 9th I take my poi with me and do some dancing near sunset, what a great backdrop!
There’s this phenomenon I’ve heard described before, I like to call it ‘wonder fatigue’. In the RVing world it would be put like this: When you’ve been traveling for a while and see amazing things on a regular basis, they stop seeming so amazing.
The Grand Canyon is amazing, it’s listed as one of the seven wonders of the natural world after all. Many people say it’s their favorite national park. I love it, but it’s not my favorite… and I blame wonder fatigue. I see an amazing viewpoint and think that it’s fantastic. Then I hike or drive to the next viewpoint, which is also amazing, but it’s the same type of amazing as the last one, if you get what I mean. All the viewpoints are different, but they share a lot of similarities. They start blurring together. Someday I’ll have to take a backpacking trip below the rim, because I suspect seeing the canyon from a different angle will bring back the wonder.
If I shared a photo of every single viewpoint I visited during my eight day stay here, I bet a lot of people would look closely at the detail in the first one, and spend less time on each consecutive one, because of the similarity.
Or maybe not. Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, I’m not going to share every photo of every scenic overlook I visit on this trip. But here’s Moran Point, which I stayed at this evening for close to two hours watching night descend. It was a pretty special experience.
I think a lot about authenticity when I’m making content for IO. I want to present things in a way which is pleasing to readers and viewers – because that gets the most attention which increases my visibility which attracts new readers and viewers. But I personally hate it when bloggers/vloggers portray full-time travel as an continual effortless vacation. That kind of disinformation gets newbies into a lot of trouble when they start RVing and discover it’s not always a walk in the park. And it’s all too easy to make RVing look like a fairy tale at a place like the Grand Canyon.
Today I take the short hike out to Shoshone Point to get this photo, which ends up being a big hit on the IO Instagram and Facebook accounts:
It embodies what everyone wants to imagine the RV lifestyle to be: a carefree, joyful exploration of a beautiful place. What the picture does not portray is the amount of time I spent picking the exact perfect location and lining up the shot using my mini tripod and the timer feature on my phone, and how uncomfortable it was sitting on that rock ledge – not to mention the pine sap everywhere. The result looks whimsical and natural, but in reality it was anything but. I worked hard for this photo, it wasn’t just an accident.
RVing in general works much the same way. It may look like a carefree way to live on the surface, but there’s a lot of work that goes on to attain and then sustain the lifestyle (especially when you’re still working age), and it’s not always a comfortable way to live. So for you future RVers who are following my blog for inspiration and knowledge know this: You will have moments on the road that reflect the magic and serenity of these photos. But you will also have unsexy, daunting, frustrating moments on the road too.
Rim Trail time! The rim trail is a paved, easy trail that yes, follows the edge of the south rim offering gorgeous views pretty much the whole length. It runs for miles, and if you want to walk a large section you can leave your car at the visitor center, take a shuttle out to the west end, and then walk back to your vehicle.
I don’t want to bother with the shuttles, so after lunch I drive out and park at one of the pullouts along the rim where the trail runs past, and walk out and back.
While walking (I don’t really consider this a “hiking” trail), I spy a man with his hammock strung up right at the edge. “Wow, you have the right idea.” I tell him. He asks if I’d get a picture of him, which I do, and then I go back to grab my hammock which I always carry in the truck for just such an occasion.
I walk the trail until I find a suitable spot: two dead trees that are still intact enough to hold my weight. I like that I won’t be damaging sensitive bark on this well-traveled route where potentially lots of visitors hang hammocks in the trees. About an hour later, my new friend passes me on the trail, his hammock put away in his pack. “Want a picture?” He asks. Of course I do!
What a view, huh? Hammock rules vary from park to park because of differing vegetation types. Not all areas within the Grand Canyon allow hammocks, and the tree straps need to be at least 1” wide here. Always check the rules before you hang your hammock at a national park, and please be kind when you do: don’t use nails to hang your hammock, don’t leave it up unattended (wildlife can become snared in it), and don’t place it where you’ll block visitor access to anything.
- Start Here – With my webpage redesign comes a hub for new people to the site and RVing to learn more about what I do here, and more about this lifestyle. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should!
- Boondocking Answers – Everything you need to know to get started boondocking, including how I find beautiful free camping locations like the one in this post!
Other Articles You Might Enjoy
Wednesday, October 8 We sneak in through Yosemite’s back door. Actually, Yosemite has at least five and possibly six entrances, but the “front” side of the park is considered to be the western side, in particular Yosemite Valley which is lower in elevation and closer to the more populated parts of California. It’s probably also…Read More
Thursday, March 31 I said goodbye to my friends and their adorable kitties as they pulled out on Monday and hooked up and pointed Bertha’s nose into the coming windstorm. I don’t think the gusts got up to 65 mph like the weathermen were predicting, but the Casita was rocking. That night was only one…Read More
Wednesday April 30 (cont’d) While the roads and overlooks have had middling crowds at most, the Visitor’s center is packed. Julie and I are on a mission for trail maps, but get sidetracked by preserves and jellies being sold in the gift shop. Free samples are being offered and I have the Blackberry. It’s delicious,…Read More