Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Grand Canyon Musalleen?

Sorry for not writing in so long--it took us almost a week to get north and after leaving Sedona we had some pretty long days and by nighttime I was too tired to write much. So let me begin now where I left off.

We did have to buy new coats, and that was a really good decision--we would have frozen at the grand canyon with what we had. It had been really cold when we visited Petrified Forest National Park, and that was difficult with the coats we had. But we didn't suffer too much when actually visiting the Grand Canyon since we were bundled up pretty good.

As we traveled further north on Wednesday morning, and into higher elevations, we encountered more and more snow. First it was pretty, when the roads weren't too bad. We were driving through Coconino National Forest, which looked really pretty with the fresh snow. Closer to the canyon, roads weren't in such good condition. We had checked with the visitor's center in Sedona before leaving town and were told that all roads were open except for 180, which we could easily avoid. And alhamdulillah we didn't have any road problems on the way.

We did stop at Sunset Crater but found the roads along the route to visit there to be very bad (they hadn't been cleared at all, so the only clear sections were where the sun had melted the roadways.) It would've been nearly impossible to go see the crater anyway, so we went back to 89, the road we were taking northward to the canyon.

Around the Little Colorado River Gorge, there were a few Native American ladies who had set up their stands to sell jewelery and pottery. The piece on the right (the black one, glazed outside and inside) is one that we purchased, for about $50. The lady we bought it from also explained the meanings of all the different symbols on the pottery. My tip for anyone traveling to the grand canyon area and wanting to by some native-made (or "indian") pottery, is to buy it from stands like this one, off the side of the road.
We got a much better price from her (and from everyone there) than at any other shops we visited. We also bought a bracelet at a nearby stand. We did buy a few more pieces of pottery, but I'm really glad we stopped there and bought that particular piece. You can find basically the same kinds of stuff in tourist shops, trading posts, and these road-side stands, and you can still get the cards explaining the etchings, or how the pot was made, but I really think I had the best experience at the road-side stand. (And conveniently, the best price.)

Inside Grand Canyon National Park, the roads between those two extremes. Sections of the road which were in shade were still covered in snow, so it was at times a scary drive. When we arrived, we found about 2 feet of snow on the ground. While much of the parking areas at the scenic viewpoints had been cleared, the walkways hadn't. So if you wanted to get close enough to take pictures, you had to brave the snow. I tried that once, while my husband waited in the car, and after crossing the pile of cleared snow from the parking lot, I fell face first into that 2+ feet of snow on the sidewalk, camera and everything.

Fortunately it dried/evaporated pretty quickly, and I didn't get soaked or have to deal with freezing cold water melting on me. We stayed at that viewpoint for a while, as I tried to take pictures and then we prayed there as well. The Grand Canyon is probably the nicest of places where we prayed--on a road trip like this one, many different places can become a masjid. We took tons of pictures of the snowy Grand Canyon, but from the distance it looks like only a dusting of snow--seriously, there were feet of snow at the highest elevations.

Walking around at Desert View, it was especially nice to have the new coats, as the wind was intense. Seriously, every woman walking around there was a hijabi--the cold was nearly intolerable without wrapping up your head as well. But the view truly was beautiful. It's still my favorite place that we visited.

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