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Colorado River; Grand Canyon; Trains and Elevators; Three Flats?

Wednesday was a hard travel day, only 225 miles but 5 long hours on narrow, rough, two lane roads with periodic construction, and a 4,000- foot climb from the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry to the high Kaibab Plateau and our campground. This was the view crossing the Colorado River, where rafting trips set out on their long, bumpy, wet voyages through the Grand Canyon. It looks serene from here, at least on this stretch of the river…  

This craggy peak looks like something out of a Hollywood fantasy movie. 

And this roadside arch, outside the national park, is a great place for a picnic lunch. Plus, there is no entrance fee.

Okay, train enthusiasts, here is a question (for which I don’t have the answer, because we don’t have Internet here – we actually have to drive 20 miles round trip just to send email!). We passed these electric locomotives (painted with BM & LP markings) hauling empty cars. The strange thing was the electric power. These are the first electric locomotives I’ve seen out west, other than on the passenger lines in California. Can anyone tell me if this is a private line, and what they are hauling? 

I am still trying to figure out what rides the conveyor belt up to the top of this elevator; it surely isn’t grain, because this is the high desert, not the Great Plains of Kansas or Nebraska. 

We are always looking for potential good deals in real estate; this fixer upper needs a little work, and the hundred ton boulder it is attached to isn’t going to be easy to adapt to a Cape Cod-style cottage… 

We are now nestled among stands of tall Ponderosa pines, a welcome change from the bare desert scenery we’ve experienced for the past few days.  There is still plenty of dirt around, and the pups become little dust mops every time we take them outside.

We toured the Grand Canyon’s North Rim yesterday, and it was even more impressive than the South Rim, mainly because here we are 1,700 feet higher than where 90% of the tourists go. You look out over the 10 miles separating the North Rim from the South, and a mile below to the bottom of the canyon, and you feel insignificant, maybe like an ant, when you think that the sedimentary rock at the bottom of the canyon is hundreds of millions of years old, while mankind has only been around for 75,000 years. 

As you can see, the Ponderosa pine trees make it much greener here on the Kaibab Plateau, whose highest point on the North Rim, Imperial Point, reaches 8,800 feet.  

“Okay, Sweetheart, let’s move about six feet to your left and look down…” 

“Now it’s your turn, Ty, lean back a bit…” 

The strong, gusty winds along the rim tend to twist the pines into bizarre shapes, and many are ripped out of their precarious holds on the cliff edges. (Fortunately, that didn’t happen when this gorgeous gal was sitting there posing…)  

The Jacob Lake Inn, near our campground, has been in the same family for 90 years, and started as a trading post dealing with the local Navajo Tribe. The current owner, John Rich, gave a presentation on Navajo culture and weaving last night, and it was very informative and interesting. Rugs are woven on hand-operated looms by women from 5-92 years of age, and it is a dying craft/art form, since the patterns are not written down and are based on Navajo legends that have been passed down verbally through the generations. Since many young Navajo are not learning their native language, it may be a matter of only a few generations before the best weavers are only a memory. 

Our PT today was a mountain bike ride – but before we departed, I had to fix Suzanne’s rear tire, which had gone flat. I had three spare tubes, so no sweat. Tube 1: failed to inflate for more than a few minutes. Okay, Tube 2: held pressure for about 2 minutes. Tube 3: finally held pressure for 30 mins, then I had to pump it up again. I am not sure, but I think I may have uttered a “sailor word” or three during my travails.  These three tubes were all purchased at the same time, so it might have been a bad lot from (where else?) China. Finally we got underway and had a tough ride up and down jeep trails and fire roads along a nearby ridge that tops 9,000 feet.  The real sailor words came from Suzanne when the tire went flat again in the middle of a 300 yard climb.  She chugged away, not realizing why the hill seemed harder than ever. (And believe me, it wasn’t “It’s Popeye the Sailor Man…” that I heard…)

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