Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Grand Canyon, Part 3

El Tovar is the hotel that was built in 1905 to host visitors to the Grand Canyon arriving by train. The Grand Canyon Railway is the modern replacement for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway which operated from 1901 until 1968 linking Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon. Recognizing the amount of automobile traffic that is clogging the National Park, one might consider taking the train for a day trip or even a stay of several days.

I found a photo of El Tovar on Wikipedia taken soon after the hotel was built — if you are interested click here. Not much has changed except the mode of transportion.

The one thing I recall from my previous visit to the Grand Canyon is the Dining Room which is open to the public (not just for guests in the hotel). The reason for this vivid memory is it was my introduction to Indian Fry Bread which is a delightful flat dough which is fried or deep fried. If you find it at a fair, it might be sprinkled with powdered sugar or splashed with honey. Delicious!

On their menu, the fry bread is used like a tortilla to create their Traditional Navajo Taco incorporating Ground Beef, Shredded Cheddar, Red Onion, Fresh Tomato, Lettuce Guacamole, Sour Cream & El Tovar Roja Salsa. It is absolutely delicious and so big that I could not finish it. Same as last time.

I find it interesting that El Tovar does not maintain their grounds with manicured lawns but keeps the natural look of wild grasses and other plants. I like that look.

On this porch overlooking the canyon, kids have started to gather for a talk by the park rangers. Because of the threatening weather, a talk on the porch is much more inviting than a hike with a threat of a potential downpour.

Here is a view of the back of the hotel. I find it appealing that the hotel was designed with covered porches where guests could relax and enjoy the view. It reminds me of my childhood, especially my grandmother's house and my great-grandfather's house next door with huge screened-in porches where my extended family would tell jokes and play verbal games. I was old enough to enjoy their banter even if not old enough to participate.

Across from the hotel is the Hopi House. It was built at the same time as the hotel as a market for Native American crafts. The Hopi were the original inhabitants of this area and were chosen as the featured artists. The building was designed to resemble a traditional Hopi pueblo.

I was not in the market for any of the items on sale although I did take a quick tour of the building and the crafts. Actually, I was looking for a spot where I might be able to take a photo of El Tovar from a higher perspective. Unfortunately, I could not find one — and the porches you see in these photos were not accessible to customers.

Walking along the rim I could see a building almost built into the cliff. I discovered that it is called the Lookout Studio.

From a closer, zoomed in perspective, you can see that it provides a convenient spot to view and photograph the canyon. Not surprisingly, they also have several telescopes for visitors to get an even better view of the canyon. Inside is another gift shop.

Along the pathway I encountered a permanent resident of the park. I noticed he seemed to have an open wound on his right shoulder — obviously he had some kind of encounter either with a rival squirrel or a predator. Regardless, he did not pay much attention to the visitors.

The dark spots on the pavement are raindrops — the rain was finally starting to fall.

A bit further down the pathway was the Kolb Studio. It was the home and photographic studio of pioneers Emery and Ellsworth Kolb. Begun in 1904, the building has evolved through two major additions and countless minor changes during its century of existence at Grand Canyon.

Currently, there is an art gallery, bookstore and information inside the building. The bookstore's proceeds go to support the building, and the store features a tribute to the Kolbs’ photographs of mule riders at Grand Canyon.

As the rain became a steady drizzle, it was time to pack up and head back to the car for our return to Flagstaff. I could not help but catch this one last photo of El Tovar from the Lookout Studio, noticing how the rain was further obscuring the more distance cliffs. Lovely end to a most pleasant visit to the Grand Canyon.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com