Wait a second. This is Northern Arizona? How come it looks like eastern Nevada? I'm confused. Growing up in Wisconsin I've seen pictures of Arizona and Nevada. Every one of them was dirt, mountains, and sage brush. Throw some cacti in for good measure and you've got yourself the typical southwest. How come nobody ever shows pictures of the tree lined hillsides? Admittedly there aren't a lot of trees we have seen in either state so far. One thing they have in common is that they all seem to be high up in the sub-alpine elevation. Stay low.. sand and sage. Go up high and life burst from the soil in acts of defiance.
Moving on to the visitor center at North Rim gives us what we came to see. A giant crack in the earth. I thought for sure that I wouldn't be impressed after all the things we have seen on our travels. I was wrong. The views are astonishing but still a bit limited. The north side of the park is only seen by approximately 10% of all visitors to the Grand Canyon. It's more intimate than the south rim. The crowds are smaller and the visitor village is quaint. The price for the small crowds is a limited view of the canyon. It's in kind of a U shape and we are at the wrong side of the U to see it all.
It's here that Katie and I mend our broken fences when we both realize that our fight was over something stupid. It's time to move on and make up in our own special way.
Some local suds on tap is an indulgence on the trip. Our budget is tight, so these beers at $7 a piece are the first time we have spent money on anything not from a grocery store. We are both a little snobbish when it comes to our hops and enjoy the craft brews much more than cheap swill you can buy by the case.
From here we travel back to home and take a side trip up to imperial point. It' a 20 minute drive up a steep twisting road to catch another view of the park. It's nothing special, so we head home. On the way home Shirley is using up her brakes and I spot a Park Ranger coming at us head on. Just out of instinct (it's a long story) I watch his truck in my mirrors as he passes. Shit. I saw his brake lights come on just before disappearing around the corner. You never use your brakes going uphill. Sure enough smoky the bear turned around and was barreling towards us. Katie realizes that she saw one of Shirley's brake lights out just before we left. I crack a smile and wait for the inevitable.
After smoky tailgates us so close I can't see his license plate for 3 miles he finally pulls us over. I've got all the windows down in the jeep and turn it off to hopefully put him at ease. My hands come up and I put both of them on top of the steering wheel (again... it's a long story) He comes up to the rear driver window and sticks his head in just a little. While asking us normal questions about why we are being pulled over he is looking pretty hard inside the jeep. He runs our plates, and then returns to ask us more questions. Where are we coming from? Where are you going? Where are you staying? What brings you guys here? Now this whole time I'm playing nice because an hour ago I had a single beer. Unfortunately for me a single beer means my breath smells like alcohol for the next 4 hours. I know I'm not intoxicated but I just don't want to go through the hassle if the question comes up. This guy didn't pull me over for a brake light. We were profiled for driving an old vehicle and he is looking for more. We are, in essence, being harassed.
Nearly five minutes of questioning and chit chat disguised as more questioning passes until he is satisfied enough to let us go on our merry way. It's the first time I've dealt with a police officer on duty since April of 2008, and it does not bring back fond memories. We finally get home for the night and settle in for the next day's adventure. My buddy is on his way and he needs a little help.