We woke up at a luxurious 5:30am (compared to yesterday’s 5am, 5:30am is pretty luxurious) for a breakfast buffet between 6:30am and 7:45am. Breakfast at the Canyon Star Restaurant was pretty nasty – powdered eggs, fried potatoes, dry pancakes, greasy sausage, French toast, biscuits and gravy, hot and cold cereal, doughnuts, English muffins, toast, fresh fruit and hard bagels.

Outside the hotel

Front lobby of our hotel

Looking towards the restaurant

Robin our guide today works for Xanterra, which is the management company for the National Parks Association. He’s been working at the Grand Canyon for over 20 years and gave us a lot of information about the canyon itself and the trees, plants, animals and birds in the area. He had an awesome sense of humor.

Shot of Robin. He cut himself shaving this morning

We left the hotel at 8am and our first stop was at Yaki Point, about 20 or 30 minutes to the east. We spent about 45 minutes taking pictures from this beautiful lookout area.

Me at Yaki Point

Beautiful scenery

Joe at Yaki Point

You just can’t take a bad picture here!

Help! Help!

WOW

Our second stop was at Lipin Point, about 15 minutes down the road. Again, the views were just breathtaking and we spent about 45 minutes here.

Joe at Lipin Point

Lovely view

Awesome

One of our Adventure Guides, Chris

Just gets better and better

Me at Lipin Point

Incredible!

Our third stop of the say was the Watchtower at Desert View. Built in 1932, it was designed by artist Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter and acts as an observation station and rest stop for Grand Canyon visitors but also brings about a better understanding of the American Indian and his life in the past and present times. We spent about an hour there, enjoying the tower and the views from it. On yeah, we enjoyed its gift shop too…but I probably liked that more than Joe did (grin). The top of the tower is 70 feet above the ground and is the highest point on the South Rim, 7,522 feet above sea level.

Watchtower at a distance

A closer view, with Joe

View from the Watchtower

Another view

And yet another view

An interesting way to view the canyon

Inside the Watchtower

Taking a picture of Chris taking a group picture

Sharon & Joe being Sharonesque at Watchtower

After dropping Robin off, Tom drove us to the Angel Bright Hotel at noon. We had 3 hours to ourselves, which included lunch and, with lots and lots of reminders about safety, hiking into the canyon for a while.

We decided to have lunch at the El Tovar Hotel, which was built in 1905. It was a very rustic-looking building. We enjoyed lunch with Ed and Diane, who are from Bucks County PA. I had a vegetarian sandwich on 12 grain bread while Joe had a Navajo Taco, which was ground meat, lettuce, tomato and beans on frybread. Mine was pretty good and Joe said his was OK.

The El Tovar

After lunch, the four of us decided to go hiking down the Bright Angel trail. The rule of thumb for hiking in the canyon is to allow twice as much time to go up as it takes to come down, so we started walking at 1:30pm and turned around at 2pm. The views were just amazing.

The Colorado River can be seen in this shot

Pteroglyphs on he side of Bright Angel Trail.

People on the same trail as us

Yup…amazing views

I love this…we caught up with a little boy on the trail who was playing with his Game Boy!

The beauty just never ends!

You can ride a mule down to the bottom too. Here is mule poop.

Holes in the rock formation

It didn’t take the expected 60 minutes to walk back up so we were able to catch some time for ice cream and shopping.

Tom, Mike and Chris picked us up at the Bright Angel Hotel at 3pm to get back to the Grand. At 3:20pm, a representative from the Grand Canyon Helicopter tour picked 10 of us up and drove us to the local airport. After briefing us about helicopter safety and procedures, we boarded our ‘copters around 4pm (Each ‘copter held 7 people, including the pilot. Our copter was us, Janet and H.(enry) and a couple from Germany). Out copter followed a path along the North Rim and lasted about 50 min.

The helicopters

View from the helicopter

Just great!

Joe took pictures while I took video

Some of the leaves on the trees were already changing

Not bad, huh?

I love this place

Gorgeous!

We were driven back to our hotel around 5pm and the Tom picked us up at 5:15 so we could see the 6:13pm sunset at the rim, just behind the El Tovar.

Looking east as the sun was setting

Roughly the same shot, not long afterwards. The colors are ever-changing

The actual sunset

Joe and I during the sunset

We all loaded back on the bus at 6:30pm and, since dinner was on our own, we made a group decision to eat at We Cook Pizza and Pasta, a local place in town. We shared a large cheese pie with Ed and Diane. The pizza was OK…no better or worse than Florida pizza.

After dinner, we broke up into several groups. Some went to the local Imax theater to see the Grand Canyon movie they offered (Chris and Mike had complimentary tickets for all of us) but Joe and I went back to the hotel and called it an early night, going to sleep by 9:30pm.

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