rv adventures part 3 : The Grand Canyon
By Laurel Watts
The thing about kids is that they are little, and have little legs. When they get tired, you have to carry them.
The thing about me is that I am kind of lazy.
The thing about Torrance is that he likes to climb things. Difficult things. Big things. For years, he had wanted to climb down into the Grand Canyon and back up again.
For years, I said – look at how little their legs are. (I did not say, look how lazy your wife is – that went without saying).
But after the Sierra Nevadas, and Zion and Bryce, their legs got big enough.
So, on Saturday June 1st at 9am (7am Denver time) Torrance and I began calling (each of us dialing 2 phones – land line and mobile) to try to snag a coveted reservation at Phantom Ranch, the cabins at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. After 15 minutes of holds and machines and texting each other (Are you in? Did you get it? Are they picking up?) a nice lady came on the line and took our reservation for two cabins for two nights in June the following year. (OMG I GOT IT I GOT IT!)
Yippee! (I think).
A year later, we were headed out of Las Vegas in our beloved rental FS31 RV with Skye (11) and Charlie (9). We were joined by our intrepid friends, C and G, and their two daughters (10 and 12).
We drove from Vegas and spent the night on the South Rim at Mather Campground within the park. Up at dawn, with our daypacks full of a change of clothes and LOTS of salty snacks and water.
And then we hiked the Kaibab Trail. Down.
Until, legs shaking, and too hot for words, we finally reached the bottom.
Skye and C plunged into the icy cold Colorado.
Charlie and I made for the main lodge (which was cool and dark). We arrived at around 11am, and were able to check into our cabins at 12am. We ate a tasty lunch in the lodge. The kids learned that if they studied up, they could get a special Junior Ranger badge. Charlie buckled down immediately. We all retreated to our cabins and collapsed on our bunks. (The adults shared one cabin and the kids another). The kids spent most of the afternoon in a top bunk playing cards. True to form, I slept.
Dinner was served family style and was terrific. We were signed up for the steak dinner (as a reward!), and it was all tasty and plentiful. They passed big salads and we ordered cold beers. We lay in our bunks after dinner -- tired, full and pleased with ourselves -- and told stories.
The next morning, we had a big breakfast of pancakes and bacon and eggs and headed out on a FLAT walk (my requirement) to a small waterfall. It was powerful hot, down there at the bottom of the Canyon, but the water was cold and we had nowhere to be, so we played around for a couple of hours.
In the afternoon, Charlie and C romped in the river that runs through the grounds of Phantom Ranch. I slept. Skye and K plotted their futures as mule drivers.
Charlie was given the job of ringing the bell to announce dinner.
For dinner we had stew and the vegetarian chili, both of which were again, wonderfully tasty. After dinner, we attended the ranger talk. Charlie was sworn in as a Junior Ranger.
Before dawn, we breakfasted and, with lunches packed by Phantom Ranch and plenty of SALTY SNACKS, we hiked Bright Angel Trail up.
(Though we did stop to cool off. . . )
At one point it looked like Charlie (littlest legs) and I (laziest) would be the last to the top, but Torrance (albeit carrying several packs) brought up the rear! Charlie and Skye taunted us from the top as we trudged the last hundred meters.
I have never been so happy to see our RV, full of clean soft clothes, a hot shower and margarita makings.
Details: I have now saved this trip to my account in trovvit and can share details of our itinerary and our daily log with friends and family. If you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Flight: RT JFK to Vegas on Delta, ($324) leaving June 10th and returning June 18th.
Hotel: Las Vegas: Because our flight landed at 6pm, we spent the night at the Westin Las Vegas, using American Express Starwood points for the rooms.
RV: We rented the FS31 from El Monte RV rentals in Las Vegas. We paid $1800 for 7 nights (June 11-June 17), an estimated 600 miles, kitchen kit and linen kit. You can check out the floorplans as well at http://www.elmonterv.com/rent-an-rv-search-results/
Park: Admission to the park is $30 per vehicle.
Camping: We reserved a site a Mather Campground ($18/night) for the first night (June 11th) and then parked the RV at the visitor center at the top of the Bright Angel trail head. (We had called ahead and confirmed that this was kosher). We then took a shuttle to the South Kaibab trail head. When we emerged two days later at the top of Bright Angel - there was our trusty RV! We had reservations again in Mather for the night of June 14th. www.recreation.gov
Phantom Ranch: We reserved two H4 cabins ($146/night) at Phantom Ranch for June 12th and 13th. At the same time that we made the reservations, we were asked to choose our dinner options as well (they need to know in advance what to bring down on those mules!). This website is detailed and has a comprehensive price list www.grandcanyonlodges.com/lodging/phantom-ranch/. The folks on the phone are super nice, as well.
Coda: Our friends left us on June 14th to return to jobs and schools, but we continued on to Monument Valley, the Canyons de Chelly and Winslow Arizona.