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We're Cruising to .... The Grand Canyon

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What's my motto? If I can't get there by cruise ship, then I don't want to go. That's not entirely true, though, because Grand Canyon has long been high on our trip bucket list. Obviously, land travel will have to be involved.

A trip to Vegas nearly brought us to the Canyon several years ago. As a side trip from the city glitter and hypnotic slots machines, we pondered over a day trip to either Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon's west rim. Since we felt that traveling all that way to catch just a brief glimpse of this powerful and inspiring landscape would be inadequate and totally unsatisfying, Hoover Dam won out. After all, who can forget Clark Griswold's family vacation from Chicago to Wally World, complete with an all-too-brief stop at the "biggest G-damn hole in the world", as so eloquently described by Griswold in National Lampoon's Family Vacation. I envisioned our view of the Canyon to last a bit longer than Clark and wife Ellen's hasty double-take at the rim before jumping back into their beat-up old station wagon and their crazy road trip.

We have chosen February school break for our Canyon crusade for a number of reasons. Our 2013 annual summer vacation block is occupied by our longed-for Alaska cruise. As my husband is an educator, that leaves school breaks. We felt February was the better choice over April, as the crowds would be thinner. We also hear that the natural light and sun position over Canyon in winter provides some of the most spectacular views. Oh, and yes, snow adds dramatic effect, as well. With any luck, there will be no blizzard or major weather event to impede our way. However, as fate would have it, at the time of this writing, the South Rim is expecting a storm to dump a foot of snow. With a week to go until our trip, we are now both a bit nervous about this trip and now wondering if we should develop a backup plan in case Mother Nature doesn't cooperate.

Inexpensive flights to Phoenix were a consideration, as well, in our decision to visit Grand Canyon. We had racked up enough Southwest points between the two of us to fly free and couldn't pass up the opportunity to scratch another item off the travel bucket list.

So it was decided. A five-day trip to the South Rim over winter break would give us the Grand Canyon experience we longed for. The flights were booked, and now we needed a place to stay. All the reviews suggested that a hotel in Flagstaff or Williams would be a convenient and affordable option. We were renting an SUV, after all, and had freedom to choose. Then I found it - the Grand Canyon hotel of my dreams - El Tovar Hotel, perched right there on the Canyon rim directly in in the national park. Can't get much closer than that! Grand, old-fashioned, a little rustic, and obscenely expensive, it was perfect. By flying free and doing one night at a cheap Priceline room for a night in Sedona at the end of the trip, we could definitely swing it!

So, in just a week's time, if the weather gods are kind, we will be on our way to Phoenix.

Stay tuned for my review when we return.

Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park

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Glad you had a great trip, Jan. It is a truly beautiful sight to see. Well worth going. I was there way back in the early '70s. We didn't have much time to spend...would love to go again someday.

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