And while we were watching, a Steller's Jay was looking on, too.
We took so many photos of the canyon, it's difficult to choose which ones to post without boring my readers. Here are a couple taken near sunset.
I especially love this little stone "lookout" studio built right into the cliff so you can hardly tell where the cliff ends and the house begins. It was designed by an early female architect, Mary Colter, and is now used as a gift shop and photography look out point.
The next morning, we walked partway down Bright Angel trail (the famous one used by the mules and recently used by the mules as we had to constantly watch where we stepped while also looking at the view).
Doug and I then walked the rim trail for three to four miles from Bright Angel Lodge to the Visitor Center and made a number of stops along the way.
Here's a photo of Doug taking a photo from below the Lookout Studio...
And the Hopi Indian House...
The Geology Museum...
And along the way we walked through this geology timeline and looked at examples of rocks from each of the layers.
This is a pinyon pine cone and looks like a perfect rose. If you pull the "petals" apart, you can get to the pine nuts, which are so expensive to buy in the grocery store.
I hope I'm not boring you with a couple more shots of the canyon..
The park is still very crowded with tourists, even though we're now well past the high season and are here on weekdays. We were amazed by the number of foreign tourists--many French, German, Italian, and Japanese. I'm always trying to figure out which languages I'm hearing all around me. Everyone is very friendly and patient with long lines for the shuttle buses, etc.
We had our third campfire of the trip and enjoyed the warmth. Nights are cold (down to the 30s), but days warm up quickly. And at this particular campground, there were only pit toilets and a cold water spigot at least 100 yards from our campsite. Boy, do we need warm showers!
On our second full day at the Grand Canyon, we booked a mule ride along the rim. The trip down into the canyon with a night at Phantom Ranch and then the ride back up would cost over $1000 for both us--way out of our price range! The 2 1/2 hour ride along the rim was affordable, and once I was in the saddle I realized I could not have endured a 5 hour ride down and another 5 hours back up. Here the mules are awaiting their riders.
Doug rode Reba, and mine was Dubby, who turned out to be very frisky and did not give me much camera time.
Whenever we stopped for a rest, Dubby tried to eat anything in sight, including pinyon pines and even bare branches.
I have to say that the canyon looked a little deeper, a little wider, and a little more precarious from the top of a mule--but every bit as grand! Here our guide, Simon, is pointing out something. I couldn't always listen, as I was trying to keep Dubby away from her snacks.
We did learn a few facts about mules. They are bred from a male donkey and a female horse, but cannot produce offspring of their own. Males are called Jacks and females are called Jennies. Mules are better suited for these treks down into the canyon because they are stronger and more sure-footed than horses. Plus their hooves are higher and not as bothered by stones as horses would be.
Doug and I may be smiling in this photo near the end of our ride, but I can assure you I was in pain and not at all sure I could stand when I dismounted. These bones are no longer made for mule riding. And my insides took a long time to settle after 2 1/2 hours of bouncing around.
Afterwards, we did manage to walk (with several rest stops along the way) to El Tovar Hotel...
for a last night dinner. Here Doug is resting on the spacious front porch...
before we went inside for a delicious dinner...
(My butternut squash soup)
Next is our trip through Flagstaff, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, and south to Tucson...