Monday, September 26, 2011

thoughtful images

My Dad was so proud of the Blue Spruce tree he planted many years ago.
He always pointed it out when showing us his beautifully landscaped acreage next to the farm in Wisconsin. Well, much to my surprise and delight, there was a forest full of naturally growing Blue Spruce at the North Rim! And of course I thought of my Dad.

I love texture... in decorating, in fashion... in nature.

We had no sooner heated up a can of chicken noodle soup on our Coleman stove...
when the rains came and we had a front row seat to the best views in camp.

Mmm, one of those apples doesn't seem to fit quite right :)

We got little sneak peeks of the fall colors yet to come.

I was reminded that the best part of a road trip,
is that the trip back gives you a totally different slant, a whole new perspective...
than what you had already observed.

Friday, September 23, 2011

North Rim ~ Day 3

Well, the storm arrived in full-force... and the thunder did not disappoint.
We sat out on the porch of the General Store at the North Rim campgrounds,
enjoying the thunder, rain and our usual coffee & almond crunch Haagen Dazs bars, 
and meeting new friends from all over the world ~
London, Australia, France, Germany, Holland, Connecticut, Virginia and New Orleans.

When there was a break in the storm, we would make our way back to the edge of the Rim. 

Watching the clouds ebb and flow became almost hypnotic. 
I couldn't take my eyes off any given peak for a second without it changing dramatically.
Clic each pic for a bigger, better view.

The North Rim Lodge is such a beautiful building with spectacular views.

We are so thankful we spent every moment we could enjoying the canyon,
because on our last morning we awoke to a cloud covered canyon.
But who's complaining when you've had rain pelting on your van most of the night ~
the ultimate white noise!

Till next time ~ so long North Rim Canyon! (I know you're out there)
And sure enough, by the time we made our way through the National Park entrance ~
blue clear skies.

And just as we were leaving the North Rim National Park, we remembered that our friends Terry & Nancy told us to be sure and stop at Jacob Lake Inn (40 miles from the park entrance) for the best homemade cookies.
What a scrumptious ending to a stupendous adventure!
(I've always wanted to use that word :)
Thanks for coming along!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Angel's Window ~ Cape Royal

Next stop ~ Angel's Window 
I think the thing I could not get over was how remote and untouched the North Rim is.
And you have to want to be there. You're never just passing through so you can take a quick look. And it has not been commercialized in the least.

This was our first glimpse of Angel's Window from a roadside stop.
We kept meeting up with two gals from Holland every time we'd stop for photo ops.
We'd wonder how the views could get any better... and they would!

How cool is it that you can see the Colorado River through the arch window!

In minutes we'll be walking along the top of the Arch! 
And the views would be out of this world!

As we hiked along the edge of the canyon to the top of Arch Window, 
we could actually see the raging rapids of the Colorado River below.

We are now on top of Angel Arch! Breathtaking views.

And then we hiked another half a mile to Cape Royal Point ~
where the views far exceeded our expectations!

We were told earlier in the day to be sure and climb out from under the protective fences at Cape Royal and walk out on to even more dramatic view points. (at our own risk of course)

So we did, when we saw our new friend Michelle from Connecticut do just that.
Michelle has not only been to the North Rim 65 times over many years, but she has hiked hundreds of miles through every nook 'n cranny of the canyon. She knows every thing there is to know about the Grand Canyon. We felt like we had our own personal tour guide. She could point out the names of every peak and where the South Rim Village was and the weather conditions that were headed our way. She was not only a wealth of knowledge but quite the story-teller. And you know how I love a good story.

I was able to capture her at the very stick out we had just been to,
and I'm thinking, I must be crazy to have just walked out on to that very vista!

What we didn't know at this point in time is that a tornado warning had been issued in the area, and also a severe thunderstorm was headed our way. We could see the storm clouds building all around us... and well, come on folks, the thought of experiencing a thunderstorm at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was a super exciting added blessing to an already awesome day. So BRING IT ON!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

North Rim ~ Day 2

So our plan was to wake up at the crack of dawn that first morning at the North Rim, so we could watch the sun rise over the canyon. No problem when you've been awake most of the night. I never sleep well the first night anywhere. And it didn't help that we kept the side vents open all night and it got down to freezing. And then we discovered around 4am that we both thought the other had brought matches for the Coleman stove, but we hadn't. So we had no way of boiling water for hot tea. Again no problem. We'll just buy matches when the General Store opens after the sunrise.

Oh my gosh, what a thrill watching the sun light up the canyon peaks and mesas... and the great granite walls... and then to watch the definition in the deep crevices appear. Every single second was a spiritual moment marveling at the wonder of God's intricate creation. I was a total mess.

And what are the chances I would capture this bird in focus... magical.

I was overcome with such a deep sense of peace, joy and contentment that I have not felt in quite some time. Randy & I were right where we needed to be in this season of our lives... encompassed in the goodness of God.

And I can safely say that I repeated these phrases at least 100 times ~ 
oh my gosh...  thank you God... no way... I am blown away... thank you Lord... wow... 
I can't believe I'm here... honey, why did we wait so long to come here!

And let me remind you, it is totally and completely quiet. So I was actually whispering those phrases over and over. I think everyone is so aware of what the other is experiencing... that out of respect, there are no loud outbursts or yelling or sudden disturbances. And by enlarging the above pic, you can see one of the many lookouts that allow you to experience the canyon... not just look out on the canyon (like the South Rim)... but you are immersed in the canyon. It was truly unlike anything I had ever experienced before ~ and I hiked down in the Grand Canyon 8 years ago! I really should blog about that amazing adventure too.

We eventually made our way back to camp (with matches), to enjoy a nice cup of hot tea... and the cranberry scones I had bought the morning we left our home in Tempe, at Wildflower Bread Company. Mmm, they tasted even better in the woods at 8000 ft.!

 By 8:30 am we were on the road for the 15 mile scenic drive up to Cape Royal (9000 ft.). 

Oh my, truly the most stunning views of the Canyon. I was weepy and shaking and praising God when I took these images. And because there was no one around... I believe I repeated those said phrases rather loudly, with occasional shouts of praises to God. I may have even heard my husband yell at me for running around like crazy taking pictures, and then excitedly setting the camera timer, running back to Randy and coming dangerously close to falling off the edge.

But as you can see... I didn't.

What you can't know is that the clouds are moving so fast & furious, that dramatic cloud formations are changing with every clic of the camera. That peak would be engulfed in clouds one second... and crystal clear the next.

Every look-out point proved to be more dramatic than the last.
We couldn't imagine how Point Cape Royal could top any of these...
But we would soon find out...

Monday, September 19, 2011

North Rim ~ Day 1

We did it!!! 
Our trip-of-a-lifetime ~ the North Rim of the Grand Canyon! 
I'm telling you, the most amazing trip EVER!
The 6 hour drive was gorgeous ~
unlike the South Rim, where the drive is rather ugly, brown and boring.

Occasional stops at roadside stands selling Native American jewelry is always a must-see.

I was simply in awe of Glen Canyon... and walking over the Navaho Bridge... 
and looking down on the Colorado River. Truly awe-inspiring. 

Randy always lets me stop for various photo ops along the way.
And come on, who could pass up this one near Lee's Ferry.

I fell in love with the ginormous Vermilion Cliffs ~ miles of dramatic red rocky cliffs.
And then the Vermilion Cliff Highway starts climbing and before you know it...

... RAIN! LOTS of RAIN... and then... SNOW everywhere!!!

Ok, so what appeared to be snow was actually a ton of hail.
But who cares... still quite a thrill for this former Wisconsinite!

And seriously, within minutes... this is what awaited us!
Beautiful, lush forests ~ aspens, pine trees and my favorite ~ blue spruce trees!

Oh my gosh ~ our very first glimpse of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon! 
Even now, remembering this moment... takes my breath away.
No one told us trees and forests surrounded the North Rim.
No one told us there are very few people here... unlike the South Rim.
No one told us that it's strangely and utterly quiet everywhere we went.
No one told us it would be grander than anything we could have ever imagined.

Just so you know, I will only be posting a fraction of the pictures we took 
over a two day period. (we took 775!)
But wait till you see the images I shot the next day! 
This was our camp site at the North Rim Campgrounds. 
Get this ~ we could see the edge of the canyon from our camp site. Unbelievable.
Because there are limited accommodations, you have to book way in advance.
We slept in our van and stayed snuggle warm in spite of temps down in the 30's both nights.
And I'm not kidding, the campground is so totally quiet by 8pm ~
that you could hear a pine needle drop.