Out the door of the Rodeway Motel at 7:00 a.m. It's an hour's drive through high pine plateau to the Grand Canyon. It's cooler today, here -- only 80 degrees at 8:00.
I expect throngs and teeming crowds, I expect loud Americans and crying kids, but instead... French people. Many, many French people. Makes sense, they can afford the gas and the exchange rate, but the last time I heard this much parlez vous was in Paris. Yes, we hear German, too, and Russian, and English with a British slant, and some Oklahoman accents. But for a U.S. National Park? Not a lot of Americans seeing America these days, but the French are here in droves.
We hike partway down the Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point. It's easy going down. It's stunning, of course -- one thing to see the canyon in postcards, another to actually be there. The air is fresh, the cliff drops off to our left, the trail is pink with dust, hot and steep. We reach Ooh Aah Point. "Ooh la la," the French tourists say. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) It's less easy going up -- the temperature rises with the altitude. We pace ourselves, drink water, admire the views. We reach the top an hour and a half after we begin our descent -- red-faced, sweaty, awed, grinning ear to ear.
A bad meal, a wonderful walk along the canyon, a browse through the gift shop, a few more snapshots on the rim, and back we go to Williams for the night.
Tomorrow, Sedona, land of crystals, and then Jerome, a mile-high copper-mining town where we'll spend the night in a haunted hotel.