Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

12 April 2017

Washington State to Florida - 2016: The Grand Canyon

The final installment, at last!

When we last met up with our intrepid travelers, Jacob and I had just hit Los Angeles, California. This was back in December of 2016.  Upon leaving Washington, my plan to go south and get quickly into warmer weather had worked. Southern California was as beautiful...and crowded...as we all know it is - I don't have to tell you that. It's nice, but you couldn't pay me to live there.

We made a mandatory stop for lunch at In-N-Out, the burger joint with which every other burger joint on the planet is compared, apparently. Meh- it was okay. I don't know why Californians rave so enthusiastically about In-N-Out. I guess I don't get all that excited about hamburgers anymore.

Jacob had never been to the Grand Canyon, and I've only been there once when I was very young. So there was no question that it, like the Pacific Coast Highway was on our itinerary.  Instead of taking I-10 eastbound, we took I-15 to Barstow and then hooked off onto I-40 east. Once past Williams, Arizona you take Highway 64 north a long way up into the Grand Canyon National Park.

You know how things get smaller as you get older...your childhood bedroom, for instance? Well I'm happy to report that it's not the case with the Grand Canyon. It remains impressively, impossibly huge.  If you haven't experienced it, you should.  It should be on everybody's bucket list. We took a bazillion pictures, of course.  But pictures on a blogpost simply don't do it justice. When it comes to some of the places in this country, you just have to go. The Grand Canyon is one of them.

Jacob and I started at the main visitor's center, taking the rim trail down to Grand Canyon Village. It's an easy hike with plenty of overlooks. And, just like on our canoe trips, we took our time and didn't rush. This is a place where you really need to slow down and drink in the majesty and grandeur of it all.

Obviously, a 2D picture just can't do the Grand Canyon justice

Here's a view looking across toward the north rim.  But wait...what's that little speck down on that outcropping of rock?

Yep, it's Mr. Jacob "I'll do anything for a good selfie" Speed.  I think he's peeing.

At Grand Canyon Village visited the historic El Tovar Hotel which opened in 1905.  I would have loved to stay there, but my last name ain't Trump.  We settled for a (pricey) lunch in their fancy restaurant.  Hey, anything with cloth tablecloths qualifies as "fancy" in my book. I'll say this: The food was better than at In-N-Out.  But then, the whole Grand Canyon experience was so incredible that they could've served us dog poop on a platter and I would've loved it.

As with everything on this trip, I wished we'd had more time at the Grand Canyon. But both Jacob and I needed to get back to our respective homes, and admittedly we'd been dawdling. The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful...ohhh, other than breaking down in Clinton, Oklahoma when the ignition switch in the Buick decided to fry itself at a gas stop...at night, of course. We actually had plenty of gas, but thank Jesus I decided to stop a little "early" at the Love's Truck Stop instead of waiting until we really needed it and would be out in the middle of nowhere between towns. Sometimes you have to trust your intuition.

Jacob and I tried everything we knew to get the car started, but it was hopeless.  And dark. However, good fortune smiled on us when I asked the manager of the truck stop if he could recommend a company that could tow our dead car to a shop. He said he knew a trustworthy local mechanic who lived nearby. Sure enough, two guys in a beat-up work truck soon arrived and set about diagnosing the problem.  A new ignition switch would have to be ordered, which would mean it wouldn't even arrive until around noon of the next day. With no other choice, Jacob and I punched up Hotels.com. Happily, I was eligible for a free night stay, so that was good.

I was skeptical that things would work out - it must be the helicopter pilot in me. But sure enough, the new switch came in and the mechanic worked feverishly to get us going. Three hundred dollars later, we were on the road by four p.m.

After dropping off some aircraft parts in Arkansas we drove through the night, and arrived in Pensacola early the next morning (Sunday). We'd spent six days on the road. I, for one, was happy to be "home." However that feeling was tempered somewhat by the knowledge that in just four months I'd be heading back up to Washington.


Ed said...

The next time you find yourself near the Grand Canyon with a few weeks of time on your hand I highly recommend you hire yourself a wooden dory boat and take a little trip down the river. I've been all over the world and done more things than most and the trip that still haunts me because it was so spectacular in every way and I haven't been able to align things to get back and do it again, was the three weeks I floated down the Grand Canyon in a wooden dory boat back in 2000.

In-N-Out = Meh in my opinion too.

Capt. Schmoe said...

Re In N Out: People not from California often say they are underwhelmed by In N Out and compare it to "gourmet" burger chains. The thing is, In N Out does not claim to be a gourmet burger. In fact, when compared to comparable burgers, In N Out is priced around the same point as McDonald's. It is cheaper than Five Guy's and other "gourmet" chains, and uses fresh ingredients. It is a great burger at a great price.

Most of us that like In N Out do so because we enjoy the food, but there is also an element of familiarity. You know you are back home when you see the In N Out sign.

By the way, In N Out is a privately held company, owned by a local family. Each store is a company store, no franchises. The reason they were only in So Cal for years, was so they could maintain control over locally supplied ingredients.

Obviously, a big fan.

Bob said...

Grand Canyon is a place to which I still have not traveled but it's high on my list. Even more so now! You must be a blast to travel with!

Bob Barbanes: said...

Ed - "a few weeks?" I'm hoping that as I ease into my 60's that life will slow down a little and I could take some time off to do such a trip. Sounds like great fun!

Capt. Schmoe, that's some interesting stuff about In-N-Out! Some Californians do brag about the chain's use of fresh ingredients...but hey, when you just want a goddamn burger and you're gonna eat it in the car or at a table right next to the drive-thru, "fresh ingredients" kind of fall down the list of requirements a little.

And finally... Bob, yes, you should go. Soon. As for your second comment...well...not many people would agree with you.