The Grand Canyon would be our last stop on the Grand Circle Tour before heading back to Las Vegas. We both were a bit melancholy at the thought of the trip coming to an end and spent much of the ride quiet. And, like every day since we left, we drove in and out of a few passing rain clouds that just spit a little and didn’t warrant a stop to put on the rain gear. This day, however, would prove to be different. As we got closer and about 10 or so miles outside of the park entrance, the sky turned about as black as night. Then the wind picked up and the lightning started and there really was nowhere to take cover. So Scott rode the bike fast and hard but as luck would have it, right before we got there, the rain came down in sheets and we had to pull over and put the rain gear on for the second time of the whole trip. We managed to just get to the Grand Canyon entrance gate when the hail started. Much to our surprise and horror, the guard at the gate would not let us take temporary refuge there from the dime size balls of ice falling from the sky. He told us it was far too dangerous for us to be parked there and that a car/truck/camper could come along and hit us even though we didn’t see any coming for miles. And I don’t know about you, but I thought two people on a motorcycle being pelted by hail on a slippery road was far more dangerous than the slight possibility of being hit by nonexistent vehicles. There were also three other lanes at the entrance gate for incoming traffic to stop at. In any event, he instructed us that the visitor center was just about two miles up the road and there we would find a cafeteria and gift shop where we could wait the storm out. So on we went. Probably one of the worst storms I’ve seen went through the canyon while we were waiting it out and I was so glad to be inside. However my happiness was short lived when the gift shop attendant told us that the Kachina Lodge we were staying at on the rim was still about a 45 minute drive. By this time, the temps had dropped down to about 40 and we were still wet. We had a cup of hot coffee to warm us from the inside and reluctantly hopped on the bike. And true to his word, 45 minutes later we pulled into the parking lot of the El Tovar. We checked into our room at the Kachina Lodge half frozen, immediately changed and made dinner reservations. The earliest we could get in was 8:30 so we decided to head to the El Tovar lounge for some pre-dinner cocktails. After about an hour, we heard quite a commotion going on and people quickly making their way outside. So I followed to see what all the fuss was and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the most beautiful double rainbow over the canyon. What an amazing prize after such a hellish afternoon. I guess every cloud does have a silver lining.  The next highlight was waking up at 5:00 a.m. to catch the sunrise over the canyon.  It was almost a spiritual experience sitting there with my fellow travelers and their coffee as the sun rose in the sky casting the most amazing colors and shadows on the canyon.  After taking about 100 photos, I headed back to the room to shower, change and get back on the road for our trip back to Las Vegas – another long day on the bike.  Again, disappointed that our time here was limited as you could very easily spend a week or more here hiking, exploring, rafting, etc.  And even though I’ve been to the Grand Canyon twice, hiking to the bottom and spending the night at Phantom Ranch remains a bucket list item.

 

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