04 May 2006 Thursday

We got up early, broke camp and were on the trail by 6am.  We wanted to hike up to the rim before it got too hot.  It’s getting up in the 90’s already at the bottom of the canyon.  The north rim is still closed for the winter, were on the south rim.  We passed several people on the way.  We stopped and talked with some folks from England, who thought it was a shame that America has all these amazing places to go and never enough vacation time to enjoy them.  We agreed completely!

We got to the rim, dropped our packs at the truck and went to find lunch.  We ended up at the Arizona Room Restaurant near the Bright Angel Lodge.  They offered a dinner entree with soup or salad and two side items with bread.  And we were hungry enough to eat ALL of it (and we did!).  Along with lots of iced tea and a 20 oz beer each.  So afterwards, we waddled around some of the historic buildings.  Most of these buildings were done by a woman architect Mary Jane Colter for the Fred Harvey Company.  Women architects were not taken seriously in those days (early 1900’s), so she was quite a maverick.  Fred Harvey made his fortune creating fine dining on railroad cars and at hotels along the rail line at a time when the west was opening up to travelers.  He was also involved in establishing dining in the newly established National Parks, such as the Grand Canyon.  The Fred Harvey name is still used on many of the parks we’ve visited.

While at lunch, we saw this guy feeding the squirrels, even though there are lots of signs stating “Please Don’t Feed the Wildlife!” and treats of fines.   I could just imagine what he and his wife were saying, “Isn’t he cute?  Here have another peanut.  Here, climb into my pocket for the peanut…”  IDIOT!  No wonder they have 15-20 squirrel bites reported EVERY DAY at the Grand Canyon.  Idiots like this train the squirrels that people will feed them, and when the next person doesn’t, they bite and are destroyed.  

We saw some California Condors flying in the canyon.  These birds have a wingspan of 9 feet.  That’s 9 FEET!  They’re huge!  The condors are an endangered species and were on the verge of extinction by 1970’s, with a population of only 22 birds.  They’ve been working for decades to increase the population and reintroduce them into the wild.  I believe they now number about 300 birds.  It was amazing to see 5 of them sunning on the rocks of the canyon.   We were exhausted, but continued walking around for a little while longer.  We got some ice cream and headed out.  And now for our local forest service campsite.

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