Day 27 – 10/20/14 Monday
Today I’m starting with the day’s end which since it is the last full day of this adventure before heading back to Phoenix, what better way to end it than by having dinner at the El Tovar Hotel in the Grand Canyon. My only wish is that instead of typing this alone in the dining room, I am chatting with my wife and we are both enjoying this meal together. After so many cans of tuna, freeze dried meals, trail mix and McDonald’s Happy Meals, I wanted the last memory of the trip to be something special, and I’m sure it will be.
The beginning of the day started out early of course, driving to the Visitor’s Center to catch a bus to Yaki Point for the sunrise. I immediately went off to the east leaving everyone else at the actual overlook, remembering a tree a bus driver had once brought me to and I think I found it except it had died and was only a shortened snag. But I had my solitude and found other spots as well except my solitude was interrupted by three cackling girls, laughing and fooling around and generally spoiling the spirit of the sunrise. Luckily they left after a while and peace was restored for a short time until others started wandering over.
The rest of the morning was spent getting the campsite paid for, a Much needed shower and a real breakfast of eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast and coffee at the food court. A little shopping for souvenirs and just hanging out at Mather Point near the Visitor Center watching everyone taking pictures of themselves, some with special wands to attach their cell phones to, some standing on rocks, and some having their picture taken at a tree so much so that there was a line to do it!! I took a few pictures of people since I was just hanging around and everyone seemed to need a picture of themselves there. One girl was posing like a model when I took her picture and had me take one over again because there was someone else in the picture which I couldn’t see because of the sunlight. It was just a spectacular day of low temperatures, low humidity and lots of sunshine. It was just great.
Finally it was time to get myself out to where I should be for the sunset and finding a spot for the car somewhere near where I pick up the bus. It was difficult to find a spot but finally managed and my first stop was Hopi Point for a kind of pre sunset just in case I liked it better than Maricopa Point, where I was yesterday. That’s where I went next and I managed some pictures there but the light for the north rim was best looking straight out, but you couldn’t really do that and get some side lit foreground. And that is where the only real clouds of any consequence were camped out. The rest were right where the sun was, so I couldn’t use them. The only alternative was to shoot away from the main canyon and go in the opposite direction and some things worked out OK. Then back to looking east of the canyon bathed in the afterglow of the sunset. Then the bus back with the remaining throng.
Since I had an 845pm reservation at the restaurant, I had almost two hours to kill and I wanted to do one last Milky Way shoot at an area where I noticed a lot of dead trees this morning on the way to Yaki Point. The bus driver told me that the area had been burned a few years back when a controlled burn got out of hand!! Well it left loads of standing snags and it also had a parking area. I found a good tree not 50 feet from the parking area and had a load of fun light painting the tree in both tungsten and daylight white balance. Sometimes a car would come by and completely blow out the tree with their headlights and sometimes there would be an airliner going by and I wouldn’t realize it and the shot would end up with a line or blinking line. But I think I ended up with some neat stuff; if not it sure is fun though.
After packing up it was off to the El Tovar for the ending meal with classical music, linen table cloths and wait staff. And then back into the sleeping bag for my dose of reality.
Tomorrow for the final sunrise, I plan a one mile hike to Shoshone Point that doesn’t have a bus going to it, no parking lot and few people even know about it. Hopefully my final sunrise will be as secluded as it was when I was at Cape Royal and hopefully with the requisite clouds for icing on the cake. We’ll find out in about nine hours. But after pumpkin cheesecake and coffee!!