Touring the Majestic Grand Canyon, Part 2
I got to watch the sunrise over the Grand Canyon this morning. Well, kind of. I wanted to do the Desert Drive and head East this morning and I’d read Yaki Point was one of the best places to view the sunrise; it also happened to be one of the first stops on the drive. Well, my attention to detail was lacking this morning and I failed to read the part that said Yaki Point could only be accessed by bus. I pulled onto the road for Yaki Point and half the road was closed off with a sign saying buses only. I knew if I backtracked I would miss the sunrise since I opted to not wake up with my alarm clock, even though it was persistent in reminding me it was time. I found a parking lot just off the entrance road to Yaki Point, ditched my car, and started walking. I noticed an Asian girl that was at the parking lot, but seemed timid, so I ignored her and headed on my way. About 2 minutes later she was calling out to me, wanting to know where the best place was to take pictures. I shared my inside scoop on Yaki Point and informed her I was walking there now. She asked to join me and I agreed. (It would really be rude to not.) She was super sweet and I learned her name was Jong, she was from Shanghai, 36, had a 12 year old son that was also at Yaki Point (apparently I wasn’t the only one aware if the inside scoop), her son wanted to move to LA, and she wanted to move to San Francisco. Her English was broken, which was still better than my Chinese. She kept asking how far it was and I kept telling her it was coming up, even though I didn’t have a clue; it could have been 5 more miles. Approximately a quarter mile in we saw a sign saying Yaki Point was .75 of a mile. I relayed to Jong that it would be about another 15 minutes of walking, but I think that might have gotten lost in translation. Jong was doing her best to keep up with my quick steps (she was maybe 5′). At one point in time she asked if we could run, I’m guessing half to warm her up and half because she really thought we were almost there as I kept promising her. I laughed to myself, knowing I could run that far, but wasn’t sure she could, and agreed. About 30 seconds later she asked if we could walk again.
We finally made it to Yaki Point. The sun had already risen, but wasn’t much over the horizon. I started taking pictures and Jong started taking loads of pictures…of me. Yep. I became a celebrity as she wanted me to move to different angles so the sun was just right on my face. I think some of the other Chinese people were worried they’d miss out on taking pictures of a possible celebrity and would join in at different times. I’m sure I should be flattered, but I was super uncomfortable. Jong and I exchanged email addresses before we parted ways and promised to write. As I left to walk back I was worried she would be leaving shortly afterwards and we’d have to do the second awkward goodbye, so I decided to run back. Apparently that’s not normal. A couple cowboys at the mule ranch I ran past yelled out at me to make sure I was ok. I told them I was, without slowing down to answer them. Shortly after that I spooked about a half a dozen elk from my running. I’m not sure who was more scared – them or me. I successfully made it to my car without an awkward encounter, but definitely sweating.
My last stop was at the Desert Canyon stop, which also had a watch tower. I took my time climbing the watch tower, taking pictures, and then buying post cards at the little shop in the bottom. As I was walking out of the Desert Canyon I realized Jong was up ahead of me on the path. She was fumbling with her camera, so for a split second I thought maybe we could pass each other and not notice. As quickly as the thought flew into my head Jong noticed me and excitedly called out to me. We greeted in an awkward hug as I remembered after I’d reached out to her that Chinese people don’t really hug. We had a brief interaction, again talking about my trip to the Antelope Canyon when one of her friends informed us that they were going there too. Shit. After some exchanges back and forth her friend informed me they were going tomorrow. We did our final goodbye and parted ways, as I rushed out of the park, happy to get on the road heading out of the Grand Canyon.
Shortly after I got out of the Grand Canyon I decided to stop at one of the Native American stands that was set up to scope out the goods. I ended up buying a turquoise necklace charm that was hand crafted to look like a horse and was supposed to bring good travels. Apparently since I wasn’t wearing it on my neck it didn’t work.
The tour was supposed to be an hour, but it ended up taking an hour and a half. Since I hadn’t eaten lunch it felt like it was 4 hours. The other people on the tour felt it was necessary to stop and take multiple pictures of every angle of the canyon. Thankfully it’s only 1/4 mile in length, but it still took rather long. The longer it took the more claustrophobic I started to feel and felt it necessary to get out of there.