Friday, May 20, 2016

Travel Tales: Grand Canyon National Park

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I had a beautiful set of days for my trip to California in November. Only one day would present a problem and that was the day I wanted to see the Grand Canyon National Park. The weather forecast for that day was snow and high winds. I have a National Park Pass so I decided I would visit that day and then come back on the next day which was forecast to be sunny. I had seen the North Rim many years ago and had no desire to see the South Rim because I heard the area was always so crowded. I had some free time, so I decided this would be the year to visit. I was lucky to get a great hotel room in Tusayan which was seven miles from the rim. A storm was coming in that night and I arrived just as the snow was starting. The forecast for the next day was a high of 29 degrees with snow and high winds. It was perfect!!

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The next morning I arrived early and went to the rim. What canyon? The area was completely covered by fog. I went to the visitors center to talk to a ranger. She informed me that the snow would clear out of the canyon by 3:00. I told her I would visit the exhibits and shops and come back the next day to take photos. She said if I did that, my pictures would look like millions of other photos, but if I took as many photos as I could in the bad weather and then waited until later that afternoon for more opportunities, I would have pictures that were unique.

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I decided to walk around and every once in a while the wind would blow and a gust would clear all the clouds out of the canyon. Swirling clouds and rainbows added to the amazing scenery. The ranger was correct. No one would ever have the same exact photos. Not many visitors were at the park that day, but a group of us bonded together and had a great time in the adverse conditions. Only a few dozen of us were hardy enough to stay for sunset. The rangers had warned us that clouds might obscure the view, but we were willing to chance it. The gusts of wind at that time were so intense that we would scream in pain because we were so cold. I used my Big Canon camera for most of the photos because I was afraid my iPhone would be blown right out of my hands. I got beside a tree which protected me from the wind to take some photos with the phone. Later I could not tell which pictures had been taken with the camera and which had been taken with the phone.

As soon as the sun set all of us ran for the shuttle bus. I was happy to get a seat on the first one so I could finally get warm. Even though the weather was challenging that day, I will always remember it as one of the best days I have ever spent in a National Park. I learned a lesson that a park visit does not need perfect conditions. Each type of weather presents unique opportunities to showcase the amazing aspects of the park.

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