ReWind – A Grand Canyon Faux Hike

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 | Posted under Arizona, ReWind

Another installment of ReWind and the second half of my running around the Grand Canyon.
Faux hiking? Oh yeah! I’m not really into outdoorsy stuff. Perhaps you’ve noticed that. I mean I guess I’m not really destined for it. Having grown up in a Black working class neighborhood in New York City in the 80’s and 90’s, sleeping in a tent in the cold with no bathroom wasn’t exactly what many considered a vacation. Just sayin’. Even Oprah noticed the lack o’ folks o’ color during her recent trip to Yosemite. (By the way, I love the name of that blog link, Outdoor Afro.) While Husband J grew up doing more outdoor related things than me, even he likes the comfort of a warm bed (hence, our stay at the El Tovar).
One of the most popular and challenging ways to see the Grand Canyon is to hike to the bottom of the canyon itself. It’s recommend that you do a two day hike with an overnight camp. If you do try to hike to the bottom in one day, make sure to carry more than enough food, water and plan accordingly for the day’s weather conditions. The temperature at the canyon bottom can easily reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
During our full day in the Grand Canyon, we decided to see the western portion of the South Rim and make an attempt at a faux hike. Husband J and I walked to one of the bus shuttle stations for access to the western portion of the South Rim. You can’t drive to this area of the park. Only shuttle buses, walking and bikes are allowed. The bus shuttle stops off at scenic points along a prescribed route going west towards Hermit’s Rest, a rest area.
I say that this was a faux hike because we really didn’t go to far off the beaten path. Even though we were on a walking trail, it was right next to the main road. You could always see the buses passing by through the trees. It’s not like we went off somewhere by ourselves. 🙂


Even if it wasn’t that far into the wilderness, there was a portion of the walking trail that did get a little rough and required some work.
There were several crazy steps along this portion of the walk. It kinda got a little hairy.

Here are some of the beautiful vistas that we saw along the way:

I actually got Husband J to take a picture of me. How about that?


Can you see the Colorado River?


After quite a bit of walking (and another hop onto the shuttle bus), we finally made it to Hermit’s Rest!

It’s really just a cute little rustic souvenir shop but still worth the effort. It was designed by Grand Canyon architect diva, Mary Colter.

By the way, you don’t have to do our faux hike. You can take the shuttle bus the entire way to Hermit’s Rest.
If you have a chance while you’re in the South Rim, take a trip to its western edge. It’s totally worth it!

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ReWind – A Grand Canyon Walk, Pt. 1

Monday, April 9th, 2012 | Posted under Arizona, ReWind

Another ReWind post for those of you who missed it the first time! Here’s Part 1 of our trip to the Grand Canyon.
Husband J and I decided to enjoy the Grand Canyon like most people do, by walking its rim. Now I should let you know that we spent time in the South Rim, which is the most popular area of the park to visit. The North Rim area is also available to visitors, but has a little less going on and is closed during the winter months beginning in November.

When we first got to our hotel, it was pouring down hurricane rain, so I couldn’t see the canyon at all. At first I refused to look until we got right up to the canyon’s edge. I even closed my eyes when we left our hotel so that I could have my own special “first look”. Pictures just don’t give you the impact of what the Grand Canyon is really like in person. I joked with Husband J that all that we were seeing just couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be. It’s that spectacular.

We set out from our hotel, the El Tovar, and literally walk less than 50 feet to the rim. I’ll talk more about the El Tovar and the great advantages to staying there in another post. Since we weren’t ready for a far-flung walk that day, we stayed pretty close to the hotel. I will say that the National Park Service has made walking the Grand Canyon Rim pretty easy for almost any visitor. There is a main paved walkway that provides great views, and you can take it almost the length of the South Rim.

For the adventurer, you can move off of the main walkway for an even closer look at edge.

That’s about as close to the edge as I was going to go!

The Trail of Time is also a part of the main walkway in this part of the park. Ever so often there were rock markers with their scientific names and geological ages. Science buffs take note!


I was still in my initial awe of the canyon and busy taking waaay too many pictures like this.


This portion of the South Rim happened to have a few shops that are their own historic structures. Verkamp’s Visitor Center has been around since the early 20th century (1905 to be exact) and is one of the oldest buildings surrounding the canyon. It started out as a curio (craft) shop and has become an integral part of the South Rim experience.

Verkamp’s floor actually has a nice time line showing major points in the history and development of the canyon as a park and tourist site. I learned quite a bit myself including the fact that our hotel was over a 100 years old.

Less than a hundred feet from our hotel is Hopi House, a wonderful example of Hopi architecture as interpreted by architect, Mary Colter. What’s most impressive about Ms. Colter is that she was one of the few female architects actively working in the West in the early 20th century. She designed six buildings within the Grand Canyon National Park. I’m going to give her a post-humous “You go, girl!” The purpose of Hopi House was to provide a place for the Hopi Tribe to sell their crafts and celebrate their culture within the park.
Hopi House

I wish I was more of a shopper and that we had more room in our apartment for these gorgeous pieces. Check the prices, though.

I will say that I am sad that we did not learn more about Native American culture on this trip. Arizona is home to over 250,000 Native Americans from 21 recognized tribes. At the same time, I’m going to cut myself some slack since this was really only a long weekend. 🙁

I’m not done with walking the canyon yet. Stay tuned for my pseudo-hiking!

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Best of 2010 – Travel

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 | Posted under Arizona, Bali, Las Vegas, Top Ten

Hi, everyone!!

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday. For those of you on the U.S. East Coast (or traveling towards or from there), I wish you safe travels. Getting home yesterday was not as harrowing as I thought it would be, but I am still amazed at how businesses choose NOT to shovel their sidewalks. I was climbing over some major snow just to get our building’s front door. Yikes! Rant over…
I’m still pretty shocked that 2011 is really staring us in the face. One of the fun things (to me anyway) about this week are the year end reviews of the past year, so I thought I would do the same for this blog. I was lucky to be able to go to a few new places this year: Las Vegas, Bali and Arizona. I thought I would show you some of my Top Ten favorite pictures from these trips…in no particular order.
The fountain show at the Bellagio

I was glad to finally see this in person after way too many viewings of “Ocean’s 11.” There was no DeBussy playing in the background though.


The mock Statue of Liberty outside of the New York, New York casino, Las Vegas

I’m still not sure how I feel about Las Vegas as a whole. Going there as a married 30-something that doesn’t really stay out late anymore is probably a lot different than going when I was in my single, hard core partying 20’s. The most fun part of being there for me was meeting many of my blogger friends from Weddingbee, but I enjoyed the over-the-top architecture and scale of the casinos.


Bale Kambung (Floating Pavilion) of Taman Gili in Semarapura, Bali


Lake Batur, Bali


Goa Lawah (aka the Bat Cave), Padang Bai, Bali

While this is not the greatest picture, looking at this and remembering the low hum of all of those bats clustered together and the smell (OH, the SMELL) has to be one of the more memorable moments of our trip to Bali.


Seminyak Beach, Bali

Religious celebrations are a part of everyday life in Bali. From the small offerings at the doorsteps of homes and businesses to the temple celebrations lasting well into the night, religious observances are everywhere and inescapable. I enjoyed learning more about Balinese Hinduism and often being able to experience it first hand.
Sedona, Arizona

My first trip to the Southwest was so worth it. Seeing these majestic red rock formations was definitely one of the highlights. I’d love to explore this part of the country again.

Sunrise over the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon


More of the Grand Canyon (Can you tell that I loved it?)

There were lots of pictures to choose from, and I am sure that I am missing something in this list. I am glad to have been fortunate enough to have these experiences this year. Here’s hoping for an even more adventurous 2011!
What were some of your favorite moments travel or otherwise of 2010? If you like any of these pictures, I’d love to know your favorite.
Next up: My Top Ten Food Shots of 2o10.

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Zoning Out in Arizona – A Slow Day at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 | Posted under Arizona, Hotels, On the Road

Phoenix seems like it is a nice place. I say “seem” because I didn’t really get to see much of it outside of what I caught driving through the city to our hotel and a few other places.

For some reason, I had brought all of the rain and cool weather to the desert from New York. I couldn’t believe the thunderstorms and downpours we experienced in Phoenix for our one day there. Added to the fact that Phoenix didn’t strike me as a place to wander around on foot, we ended up spending much of our day in Husband J’s hotel room (I was leaving the next day). Well actually, I watched TV and read, whileHusband J worked remotely. I did wander some around the hotel though.
For his conference, Husband J got to stay at the Arizona Biltmore. It is a beautiful hotel that takes you back in time with its architecture. The grounds are meticulously maintained; and, in addition to the hotel, there is a planned community of gorgeous homes and a world-class golf course.
The pool area. Very Art Deco 1920’s looking, isn’t it? I picture old Hollywood actresses wearing classic bathing suits and sunning themselves here.
I got a kick out of this life-size chess set. There were checkers there too in case that’s your preferred game.


So, can you tell that I like these?

Of course after exploring the hotel, I did not take a picture of our room. It was a pretty standard one but most definitely spacious. If anything, it was freezing in there from the air conditioning and cool temperatures from outside and therefore not particularly comfortable. I spent a good part of the afternoon under the covers in bed.

Regardless of your day, you have to eat some time. We stayed onsite and ate at Frank & Albert’s for lunch. We were a part of a group of people that sat outside even with ominous rain clouds slowly moving towards us. I wanted to sit outside because I knew that this could possibly be my last meal outside for 2010.
For lunch we had:
Smashed avocados (not guacamole mind you!) made with cilantro + jalepeno with perfectly warmed tortilla chips


Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with cracked crab and smashed avocado for me.

I loved this dish. I was not upset by all of the avocado I was eating for lunch as I can eat them ALL day long. The gazpacho need a bit more seasoning, but I loved the texture and its refreshing flavor.

Rotisserie Chicken Salad (pulled chicken, cabbage, crispy corn noodles, candied cashews, carrots and creamy Pineapple-Ginger dressing) for Husband J

In between bites of salad, a conference call and several furtive glances and sighs directed towards his Blackberry, Husband J said it was good. That’s all I got out of him. I tasted a few bites, and it was definitely a standard healthy chicken salad (maybe minus the creamy dressing). Again, some seasoning would have been helpful.

After an afternoon of watching lots of ESPN (a girl has got to keep up with her Fantasy Football team), we headed over to The Phoenician resort and hotel for a tasting event and dinner at J & G Steakhouse. The Phoenician is FANCY and was actually the site of Husband J.’s conference. I’ll talk about J & G Steakhouse in another post.

The Phoenician’s absolutely fabulous pool area. No more rain!

One thing I will tell you is that I normally won’t eat at hotel restaurants in a new city unless they are relatively known. I’d rather just go to restaurant in a fun part of town and get a sense for the area. Why did we not do this in Phoenix? Well, traditionally most restaurants are CLOSED on MONDAY nights. I have to admit that I had not really experienced that before. When I kept researching places for us to eat that night, I kept seeing a pattern all over again: Closed on Monday, Closed on Monday, Closed on Monday…I figured if we ate at a hotel, we’d be able to find some food somewhere. 🙂

I hope I’ll get another chance someday to hang out in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Maybe not on a Monday? Just kidding! 🙂
Do restaurants in your city collectively close on Monday (or any other days for that matter?)? Have you ever traveled with a significant other, family member or friend and work got in the way?

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Zoning Out In Arizona – My Faux Hike in the Grand Canyon Western South Rim (Part 2)

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 | Posted under Arizona


Faux hiking? Oh yeah! I’m not really into outdoorsy stuff. Perhaps you’ve noticed that. I mean I guess I’m not really destined for it. Having grown up in a Black working class neighborhood in New York City in the 80’s and 90’s, sleeping in a tent in the cold with no bathroom wasn’t exactly what many considered a vacation. Just sayin’. Even Oprah noticed the lack o’ folks o’ color during her recent trip to Yosemite. (By the way, I love the name of that blog link, Outdoor Afro.) While Husband J grew up doing more outdoor related things than me, even he likes the comfort of a warm bed (hence, our stay at the El Tovar).

One of the most popular and challenging ways to see the Grand Canyon is to hike to the bottom of the canyon itself. It’s recommend that you do a two day hike with an overnight camp. If you do try to hike to the bottom in one day, make sure to carry more than enough food, water and plan accordingly for the day’s weather conditions. The temperature at the canyon bottom can easily reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
During our full day in the Grand Canyon, we decided to see the western portion of the South Rim and make an attempt at a faux hike. Husband J and I walked to one of the bus shuttle stations for access to the western portion of the South Rim. You can’t drive to this area of the park. Only shuttle buses, walking and bikes are allowed. The bus shuttle stops off at scenic points along a prescribed route going west towards Hermit’s Rest, a rest area.
I say that this was a faux hike because we really didn’t go to far off the beaten path. Even though we were on a walking trail, it was right next to the main road. You could always see the buses passing by through the trees. It’s not like we went off somewhere by ourselves. 🙂


Even if it wasn’t that far into the wilderness, there was a portion of the walking trail that did get a little rough and required some work.
There were several crazy steps along this portion of the walk. It kinda got a little hairy.

Here are some of the beautiful vistas that we saw along the way:

I actually got Husband J to take a picture of me. How about that?


Can you see the Colorado River?


After quite a bit of walking (and another hop onto the shuttle bus), we finally made it to Hermit’s Rest!

It’s really just a cute little rustic souvenir shop but still worth the effort. It was designed by Grand Canyon architect diva, Mary Colter.

By the way, you don’t have to do our faux hike. You can take the shuttle bus the entire way to Hermit’s Rest.
If you have a chance while you’re in the South Rim, take a trip to its western edge. It’s totally worth it!

4 Comments »

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