Positively Grand! My Recent Adventures in the West, Part I

I laughed. A-HA! He spoke in Mandarin and I didn’t understand a word. Then he spoke in Cantonese and I still didn’t understand a word. Apart from the now familiar A-HA. It indicates a pause, and doesn’t translate to much else than a simple “so”.

Mr. Li was a captivating guide, he made me laugh at jokes told in two dialects of a language I did not speak. And when he finally spoke in English he made me laugh again. The sky outside the tour bus window started to turn red. It was almost 6:30 a.m. and we were traveling through the Nevada desert. Las Vegas was far behind us.

I was on my way to the canyons in Arizona and Utah. After almost five hours, countless A-HAs, more laughter and a couple of convenience breaks in small towns along the way, I could finally step out of the bus and walk out to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The canyon is truly Grand. And it is impressive: 227 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and 6000 feet (1800 meters) deep. It is breathtaking when you admire it from one of the lookout points. And no pictures can do it justice.

I decided to hike along the rim from the Mather Point to the Yavapai Point and back.

I enjoyed every minute of it and took pictures of the majestic canyon and the wide landscapes opening right in front of my eyes. I observed that many other visitors took selfies. The famous last Instagram picture at the edge of the ledge is no joke. Or the video of the cartwheels on the narrow ledge (see below) to be posted on social media.

Mr. Li had warned us not to go too far out on the ledges. A-HA … safety first. And we didn’t lose anyone. Unfortunately three people fell from the rims during the week I was there.The focus on self in the midst of the most magnificent nature is a mystery to me. I just don’t get it.

I loved it there. I felt one with nature. And I heard the wing beats of times gone by.

Later in the afternoon we reached a third lookout point, near the Desert Watch Tower. The current structure is a replica of an ancient native watch tower.

Needless to say the views from there are magnificent. This became my favorite spot to observe the canyon. And I hiked again along the rim enjoying being a really tiny human in the vast embrace of Mother Nature.

After returning to the watch tower late in the afternoon, I rewarded myself with a generous scoop of ice cream. I enjoyed it sitting on a big boulder looking out over the canyon. And no, my feet were not dangling over the ledge.

That ice cream proved to be a good investment because dinner would be very little and very late that night. We said goodbye to Grand Canyon and started an hour and a half journey towards the Horseshoe Bend, a horseshoe-shaped incised meander of the Colorado River located in Arizona, not far from Utah border. We arrived at the parking lot just before sunset.

After climbing up the first steep hill in deep sand (phew!), the view downhill towards the river (darker area in the middle of the picture)was great. But I also realized it was a long sandy trail. Many people decided that the climb back up from the river would be too much and sat down on the benches at the top of the hill to watch the sunset. Not this girl.

I made the journey all the way down to the river and was rewarded with a glorious sight. I walked around the ledges and lookout points and managed to capture a view of the river bending like a horseshoe around the rock formation. Beautiful. Looking down to the river basin I noticed some people had kayaked there and now sat around a fire enjoying the peace. They would camp there overnight.

But this girl would need to climb up the long hill. Think hiking on the beach but uphill. Luckily it was not very steep and the sand was not too deep. At the end of a day that listed over 20,000 steps, it felt like a workout. But the experience was well worth it. I was secretly grateful to my personal trainer, Mr. Dylan, for keeping me somewhat in shape. I stopped only once to catch my breath – with the excuse of taking pictures of some stones that people had collected on the side of the trail.

We arrived to the little town of Page late in the evening and I was happy to get my key card… a hot shower and a nice bed were calling. This ‘night owl’ had an apple for dinner and slept early that evening. She would need to be up before sunrise the next morning. Mr. Li had promised more adventures. A-HA!

To be continued shortly. Thanks for coming along.


For those of you who wonder how the Osprey Family here at home is doing, I can tell you that it is now obvious that they have at least one hatchling in the nest. I have been hanging out on my terrace ever since I returned from my trip and finally spotted a tiny head yesterday afternoon. My typical grainy first picture of the hatchling from almost 300 yards is below.

Now this paparazza has her work cut out for her… better baby pictures. Wish me luck.

62 thoughts on “Positively Grand! My Recent Adventures in the West, Part I”

  1. Wonderful shots from your trip out west. Thanks so much for sharing the beautiful colors and landscape. So different from Florida!!

  2. What stunning views! I imagine it must have been even more so to be there, and experience it with all 5 senses. Hubby and I have always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon. There are so many places in the US we would like to see – such a vast country with amazing nature.

    I too, cannot understand this “selfie” culture. Maybe I’m too old πŸ˜‰
    And it looks to be exciting times for the Osprey family too. Thank you for sharing this journey, and have a lovely weekend ahead. Big hug to Dylan ❀

    Takami πŸ™‚

    1. I am happy you came along, dear Takami ❀ I had not visited these states before and decided to see many places once I traveled there…wonderful experiences…and a couple more posts to come. I hope you will get a chance to visit these natural wonders.

      I am still hoping the osprey family has more than one chick, but have not seen another one…as yet. Dylan and I will keep watch πŸ™‚

  3. Magnificent photos that you have posted here! Even though I have been to some of those places more than once, I can’t get over how they look from your point of view and your camera. It made my day.

  4. I see the wonderful photos of the Grand Canyon. That place is magical, have been there twice, It’s magnificent and breathtakingly beautiful. I’ll never forget that natural wonder. Congratulations on the new nestling Osprey! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks H.J – I agree that place is magical. And I hope to go again at some point. I’m watching Mama Sandy fussing around the nestling, but it will probably take some more time before I can get any pictures of the little one(s) from the ground. I wish you all a wonderful weekend.

  5. Wonderful shots from Grand Canyon. Your photos brought back great memories of our visit there many years ago. I also don’t understand the obsession with taking selfies in dangerous places. So lovely to see that you have a new hatchling in the Osprey nest. Very exciting indeed. 😍

    1. Great that you have beautiful memories from your visit, Sylvia. I feel there is still so much more to see and hope I can go back one day – it was so grand and beautiful.
      Yes, we’re excited about the osprey baby. This weekend, I’ll see if I can get a picture from the ground, but it may require one more week. Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. Welcome back! Nice job on your shots of a magical place and a cool kayaking campground.

    Taking selfies is like spray-painting graffiti to prove “Leroy was here” πŸ™„

    1. Thanks Nancy! It was all magical… The selfie mania is probably related to the desire to be liked on social media…even old people (my age) were taking selfies. Crazy.

  7. A-HA sums it up nicely, Helen. What spectacular shots! &
    Well done to you; it sounds like you set yourself a cracking pace. You must be ever so proud. After all that trekking about you certainly deserve a ‘few’ scoops of ice cream… hahah..
    And good news on the osprey homefront.
    Give a hug to Dylan – he must have missed you.
    Hugs to you, too.

    1. Thanks Carolyn! It was a spectacular place, so magnificent and magical. I was quite happy to note that I was able to hike those trails and the uphill “beach” at the end of the day…I think it was the ‘ice cream power’ πŸ˜€ Dylan was very happy to see me when I came back, and I have to confess I missed him too.
      We are both determined to get some baby pictures soon…and I still hope that Sandy and Stanley have more than one chick in the nest…so difficult to see into the well made nest cup! Have a wonderful weekend. many hugs XoXo

  8. What a Grand post Helen ☺️ You have captured the immensity and beauty so well. Thank you πŸ’›
    Mr Li made me smile too. Dylan must be proud of you, and happy you are home!

    1. Thank you, Val. Sometimes I wish I could capture the feeling of the place as well as what it looks…the Grand Canyon was one of those places! Mr. Li was very knowledgeable, funny and caring. He always talked to me at the stops we made and commended my “fluency” in listening to the stories he told in Chinese πŸ™‚

  9. Amazing photos Tiny, and the colors are more amazing! You did so well to do all that up and down walking, as you said, you were ready for bed at the end of the day, I know I would be. You certainly showcased this place better than the many I have seen. Ho exciting you have a new baby to report on. Looking forward to that. What a magnificent tour. Have a wonderful weekend my friend!

    1. Thank you, Ashley! It was a wonderful trip and more beautiful places are to come in the next post πŸ™‚ Here at home I’ve now found out that there are two chicks in the osprey nest. Now I’m just praying that both of them survive, grow up and fledge happily. Have a wonderful week!

  10. Beautiful photographs dear Helen and what a fabulous place to visit and explore. I can imagine how special it will be to travel by kayak to Horseshoe Bend and camp out there. So lovely there’s an osprey chick on the nest too and we look forward to seeing more! Wishing you and Dylan a wonderful weekend with much love from all of us here πŸ€—πŸ’–πŸ• xxx

    1. That was a great place to visit…and my adventures included more of these natural wonders that left a lasting impression on me.
      Here at home, I have now confirmed two chicks in the osprey nest…now hoping both of them survive. Much love from all of us to all of you ❀ πŸ™‚

  11. What fabulous photos of all that beauty sweet Tiny. I cannot imagine what it would be like to see such breath taking beauty in person. I am glad you got to enjoy a scoop of ice cream to hold you over until the late dinner. Thank you so much for sharing these amazing photos…and the update on Stanley and Sandy. Hugs and give your sweet trainer nose kisses for us. Mags and Chancy

    1. Thank you dear Mags for joining the first ‘leg’ of my western journey! Mr. D. is certainly happy to have me at home now…and we went to inspect the osprey nest yesterday…and found out there are two chicks! Now we are just hoping that both survive. Much love from both of us to you and Chancy ❀

  12. I have seen many pictures of the Grand canyon but I can’t remember enjoying any as much as I enjoyed yours. What an experience. As i can’t stand heights, I am really glad that you took the vertigo for me.

    1. Thank you Tom. Glad you didn’t need to feel the vertigo standing on those mountains and looking down into the canyon. The next adventure will offer an opportunity to look up πŸ™‚

  13. Wonderful photos and loved your stories from the Canyon. We did a seven day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon which will forever be one of the most amazing trips of our lives. We absolutely loved it.

    1. Wow! That drafting trip must have been amazing!! I can imagine how it would feel to be on the river through these canyons. Thanks for stopping by Sue.

  14. Breathtaking photos, Helen. You make me wish to visit this area even more than I already do. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, and since I grew up in the Western part of the USA, it would not be a difficult visit πŸ™‚ I like the photo showing the kayakers beached at the shore, it brings harmony between humans and the beauty of nature. Wishing you a great springtime, Helen. Take care.

    1. Thanks Randall. I know you would love it in the canyons of Arizona and Utah. My favorite spot of all was the amazing Antelope Canyon (next post), but all the places I visited offered unique and memorable nature experiences. Have a beautiful spring wherever your adventures take you ~

      1. Look forward to seeing your post on Antelope Canyon ~ I’ve been to Arches and Canyonlands in Utah, but none of the others. So much to see πŸ™‚ Cheers and happy trails ~

  15. We visited the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend on our summer roadtrip out West, so I know how you felt on seeing the beauty and wonder they bestowed! I hope you got to see Lake Powell, we took a boat trip on it and was blown away with the beauty there too. Actually the whole West was one stunning wonder after another, I’m anxious to see what else you visited!

    Glad to know there’s a little one for Sandy and Stanley. Wishing you luck on getting us some shots! 😊

  16. The Grand Canyon never fails to impress, with its magnitude and ever changing moods. I’ve visited 3 times and am hoping to go back again. I even got up before daybreak to capture a sunrise over the canyon walls – truly magical. Lovely photos….

  17. Yes, I saw three more amazing places there in the mountains…to be revealed shortly πŸ˜€
    Yesterday I managed to get grainy shots of not one, but two osprey chicks! Now I am rooting for both of them to survive and hope to get some shots from the ground soon.

  18. Fabulous photos, Helen. Your photo make me want to re-visit Grand Canyon! Looking forward to see Sandy and Stanley’s little one. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Amy! I loved my trip to the canyons! And like you, I want to return πŸ™‚ I’m just back from an unplanned work trip to the West coast, almost no time for taking pics but got a few in San Francisco on Easter Sunday.

  19. Thank you very much for amazing pictures! You are great!❀❀🐩 Hugs from Anja and Hertta 🌻🌻🌻

    1. Thank you Otto. I loved the nature there at the western desert mountains. And had to go back west for work this past week, completely unplanned and unfortunately not much time for photos in San Francisco.

  20. I’ve seen the Grand Canyon once but I was 21, hungover, and did not appreciate it enough. I love your pictures they are incredible. I will definitely be making me way back out there!

  21. What a wonderful trip you’ve had so far. I saw the Grand Canyon from the south side but never saw anything so spectacular. Or maybe it was my frame of mind at the time. You have some spectacular photos there. So happy to hear about the Osprey chicks.

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