Monday, June 19, 2017

The Hole & the Record Heat

With the 'luxury' of being staying at a hotel, I took advantage of sleeping in a little longer and a shower.  Not anything crazy, mind you, but I don't think I checked out until 9 or 9:30 that morning... which is certainly sleeping in compared to my previous normal of anywhere between 5:30-7:00am when I camped in the Jeep.  It was already gearing up to be a toasty day in Page, so I thought I'd better be on my way.

I continued on US 89 to the south, and as planned, turned to the west once arriving at highway 64... to take me to the south rim area of the Grand Canyon.  It was a pleasant morning, and the rim temperatures were in the low-mid 80's - nice compared to what I came into the evening prior.  At first, the scenic lookout areas were mellow... not too many people to be of much concern.  I got out and was able to take unobstructed photos with the big camera, and explore the edge of the canyon (close, but not too close).  However, the closer I came to the Visitor Center area, the more crazy and congested it became... and the less I got out to explore.  I'd had this crazy idea that maybe it wouldn't be stupid-busy because it was a non-holiday Monday, and mass amounts of people wouldn't be here. Boy, was I ever wrong!  I stopped at the Visitor Center for a bio-break and to refill my water bottles.  I was going to check into one of the rim trails, or one of the short into-the-canyon trails... but decided against that due to the sheer amount of people and my general lack of time - I hadn't planned to stick around more than a handful of hours, and I'd already been there almost that long.  I completed the park loop, and headed out south, towards the town of Williams.

On the way to Williams, I drove through a bit of rain.  I also saw the beginnings of some of the wildfires in the area between Flagstaff and Phoenix - mostly smoke.  I'd been warned by a couple of friends of interstate highway closures along my route in previous days due to fire activity.  But they said (and I'd also found online) that all was clear so far that day.  I took I-40 east into Flagstaff, and then headed south on I-17 to Phoenix.  For the next couple of hours, I saw evidence of fire activity - emergency vehicles and crews along the highway, and some areas that had obviously been burned.  But my route remained clear.  I also watched the external thermometer in my Jeep climb and climb the farther south I drove.  The 84-degrees in the Grand Canyon area topped out at 121-degrees just north of the Phoenix area... and settled in at about 116-degrees when I'd arrived at the facility where my grandparents live.

I'd arrived at the Lodge at dinnertime, and my mom met me at the door.  I went in, greeted grandma, and was introduced to 2 of Grandpa John's kids who were already there.  A third would be coming in later that week, as well as my cousin from San Antonio, Texas... whom I hadn't seen since I was 8 (she was 19).  Given the situation, my grandmother seemed to be in good spirits.  After dinner, I went back to the 1 bedroom apartment that she had shared with grandpa... and which she would be moving out of hopefully that week.  There was plenty of room for me to stay, and so my mom arranged for a roll-away cot to be brought in... there was NO WAY I would be vehicle camping here in that kind of heat.  I'd already warned Aaron that I may have to look into a hotel or AirBnB for lodging while I was there... so being able to stay with my family in the apartment was wonderful!

Mobile images from the day: