On our final full day at the South Rim, when we woke up and realized we didn't have to hike, Mr. Helen and I high-fived! As athletic as he is, even he had tired legs at this point. It was Little Helen's first birthday gift to him as this day was his birthday.
We started our day by having a nice breakfast and once again, enjoying that gorgeous view. It still feels dreamlike that this is what we saw when we walked outside of the lodge.
After breakfast, we wanted to visit the Hopi House, Bucky O'Neill Cabin, Lookout Studio, and Kolb Studio, all within walking distance of the lodge.
The Hopi House was one of eight projects designed by architect Mary Coulter, whose passion was to make sure that the buildings she designed fit into the surrounding landscape. It was built as a concession so that Native Americans would have a place to sell their wares. So, SHOPPING! I bought the cutest handmade Elk ornament for our Christmas tree, but the building itself is very cool too.
The Buckey O'Neill Cabin was built on the South Rim before the Grand Canyon was a National Park. It is the oldest surviving historic structure. At one point it was used as a tourist office, but eventually was incorporated into the Bright Angel Lodge facilities and yes, you can actually stay there if you'd like. I'm not sure I would based on how many people I saw stopping to take photos (guilty!).
Lookout Studio almost hangs over the edge of the Canyon. It is also used as a gift shop and there is a terrace with telescopes. The views are amazing and it was really fun to look back and see our lodge!
Emery and Ellsworth Kolb were some of the first people to video and photograph the Grand Canyon and Colorado River. They were complete daredevils and the exhibit inside Kolb Studio tells their story. It is also a book store and has other revolving exhibits. I'm glad we saw this after all of our hikes because it really made me appreciate what they did and went through to document the Canyon.
Even after seeing all that, we couldn't resist going on one of the two trails that are accessible via the shuttle bus system or by driving, and cover the South Rim from west to east. Today, we decided to sight see on the South Rim Trail. It runs from the South Kaibib Trailhead to Hermit's Rest, is approximately 13 miles long, has 13 overlook points, and most important, is mostly flat! The only way to get to the beginning of this trail is to take the shuttle bus or ride a bike. Once you're at the beginning, you can choose to either walk the entire trail - most of it is paved with one small stretch of packed dirt - or hop on and off the shuttle buses. Each stop offers a slightly different view of the canyon and there are historic plaques and markers that describe what you are seeing and what to look for. We did a combination of shuttling and walking between the lookout points. We figured between our morning visits and this trail we probably walked another 5 miles this day, but again, mostly flat! I am not going to describe each point, I am just going to show some photos that shout Grand Canyon.
Up next: Celebrating and Saying Goodbye.