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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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The West’s natural beauty helps us remain calm

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK — We peered over the edge of this magnificent hole in the ground and marveled. Somehow, being in this special place calmed us, made it seem like everything is going to be all right.

Of course, the global pandemic is unfolding at dramatic speed, but the mood among fellow visitors to this national treasure seemed downright carefree. That was last weekend and there’s been a lot of developments since then. Check this link for the latest updates.

Still, we’re going to ask for your indulgence in reflecting on our four days in Grand Canyon National Park, one of the best spots to visit in an RV, period. We arrived in Grand Canyon after touring Petrified Forest National Park, another stellar destination about five hours to the east. Then we drove north from Flagstaff and toured Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki national monuments, two striking examples of the resilience of human beings.

When a volcano displaced a tribe around 1085, they moved north and found greener pastures created by that cataclysmic event. The pueblos where they lived have been beautifully preserved and the story of survival against considerable odds is inspiring.

Driving into the park from the east is a beautiful trip, the Little Colorado River Gorge. The roadside is dotted with Native Americans selling handcrafted jewelry and art.

Once inside the park, the first essential stop is the Desert View Watchtower, a rock structure open in 1932 by the Santa Fe railroad. The expanse of the canyon is so dramatic at this spot, the stratified rock vistas going for miles and miles. It’s also one of the few places where there’s an excellent view of the Colorado River. If only a camera could truly capture the beauty, but it cannot. That’s why you must go.

We spent the first night at Trailer Village, a commercial RV park that has full hookups. It’s a perfect place to start a state license plate checklist. We spotted plates from everywhere, including a VW van from Argentina. That’s a mighty long drive.

It snowed that first night and we spent the next morning walking the incredible Rim Trail, the white stuff adding another layer of beauty to this natural wonder. We moved our rig to nearby Mather Campground for a couple of days, where we were dry camping. That means we’ve got to watch the cabin’s battery and run the generator. Along the way, we’ve learned that it’s best to run it for at least an hour to most efficiently recharge because it takes a certain amount of energy to start the thing in the first place. Most campgrounds have two-hour windows in the morning and evening for running generators.

Our site was beautiful, far from any neighbor and deep in the Ponderosa pines. We set up a fat camp, using our shelter to cover the picnic table and even though there had been snow showers throughout the day, we had a roaring fire and ate dinner while sitting in its warm glow.

We don’t know what’s going to happen down the road, but we’re going to take it one step at a time and celebrate the good days we’re fortunate to enjoy.


Comfort food coming right up

Meals are a big part of the pleasure of each day and Leslie has a slate of homestyle dishes planned for this stretch of the trip. Yes, you can make a pretty good meatloaf in the tiny kitchen’s excellent micowave-slash-convection oven. Here are a few recent posts from the blog at featuring easy recipes and pantry stocking suggestions at:

● Frying chicken was a challenge and so worth it

● Giving salmon a spicy kick

● Pantry staples help us through a rough patch

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.