Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Grand Canyon's North Rim

About 10 years ago, Mr. UR and I took our kids on an epic road trip from the east coast to the Grand Canyon. We stopped many places along the way - Elvis' birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi, the Oklahoma City Memorial, The Big Texan Steak Ranch ( a western themed steakhouse where you can get a free meal if you eat so much food in so much time - we didn't take the challenge) in Amarillo, Texas and visited a cousin in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We got to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on a gorgeous 70 degree, blue sky day. The next day snow covered the canyon and you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. C'est la vie.

Last spring we visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for the first time. The North Rim closes from approximately October through mid-May each year and we visited on the third day it was open for the new year last May. We were driving from southwestern Utah - and the drive took about 2 1/2 hours each way. So it was a long day trip but doable. 

We drove through some diverse scenery - from desolate desert to forest and meadow - and I found all of it to be so interesting. The scenery is so different from where I live on the East Coast! We passed only a few gas stations and a campground before we arrived at the Canyon.

I was surprised at the long line of cars waiting to get through the gate as we had hardly passed any on our way there. Once inside the gate it was about 15 more miles to arrive at the North Rim. We had brought a picnic lunch - as we do - so we ate our lunch in a picnic area and then headed to the rim for our first view. My son's girlfriend had never been -and it had been a long time for us - so we were all excited to see the Canyon.

I don't think it matters how many times you've been - that view never disappoints! Once again, we had a beautiful day - sunny with a little chill in the air. Almost perfect. 

Dining room in thelodge

A statue honoring the mules of the Canyon

The rim is just to the left of this cabin!
After our first view we headed to The Grand Canyon Lodge. The lodge and it's cabins are the only lodging inside the North Rim area of the park. The lodge includes a dining room which serves 3 meals per day, a bar and a gift shop. After seeing the cabins, I had a new item to add to my travel wish list. I would love to stay in one of those - especially the ones close to the rim. Me and everybody else, right?  We wandered around and then took in the view from the lodge.

Can you see the people on the edge of the light colored rock?

The lodge from a viewpoint
We walked the Bright Angel Point Trail which is a 1/2 mile walk on a paved trail which ends at a point sitting out in the canyon. It's an easy walk though there are some points which may make those who are uncomfortable around heights well, ...uncomfortable. I clung to the wall a bit - and my son's girlfriend helped me out by taking my arm and helping me through some of the higher spots. Thanks Alyshia! 

We decided to make a stop for another view on our way back to Utah. Point Imperial was on our way out of the park - and also has incredible views. At 8,800 feet, Point Imperial is the highest of the North Rim overlooks. It's about 2 1/2 miles from the lodge by way of the bendy, twisty Cape Royal highway.

Our last stop was at In-n-Out Burger. It was our first time - and yes, we got animal fries and yes, it really was that good!

For those of you who haven't been to the Grand Canyon, and wonder which Rim to visit, I don't think it matters. If you don't like crowds, then the North Rim is for you. If you have a specific time of year you need to visit, then maybe the South Rim is for you as it's open year-round. If you've been to one or the other and think you need to go to both, I would suggest that you don't have to. Unless you really, really feel the need to see both, then by all means, do so. But they both offer excellent views! (We did  both so my son's girlfriend could see the Canyon and the North Rim was closer for us)

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner! Please visit them for some travel inspiration!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Watch Hill, Rhode Island

Sometimes you just happen upon a place. You really do. On our long weekend trip to New England a fellow traveler suggested we visit Watch Hill, Rhode Island on our way back to Boston. We had nothing planned for the day so we drove about an hour to the small village of Watch Hill. Small and charming. I love the classic shingle-style architecture with the window boxes of geraniums.

Main Street

The day was drizzly and humid - very humid - but we managed to eat some homemade ice cream and do a little window shopping. I fell in love with this cottage resort - would love to stay here sometime!

Chocolate cookies n cream - sooo good!

One of Watch Hill's claim to fame is it's National Historic Landmark Flying Horse Carousel. It is the oldest operating carousel in which the horses are suspended from chains. We watched kids riding it and grabbing for the brass ring (which is actually silver!) - and one little girl who cried because she couldn't do it.

Hand out to grab the ring

real hair

                         got it!
There was a woman manning the gate for a private beach and we asked her where the public beach was. She gave us directions - just a short walk up the hill - and we were at East Beach. And that's when we saw Watch Hill's other claim to fame - Taylor Swift's house. Amazingly, it is located right next to the public beach access. So that means her adoring public can see her house - and backyard. In fact, there were some teenage girls - and their moms - climbing the rocks to see more of the house when a security guard came over and scolded them to get down.

Taylor's house

In fact, I knew so little about Watch Hill when we stumbled upon it, that I didn't know that the yellow building below is the famed Ocean House - a Relais and Chateau resort dating back to 1868. It's one of only eight Forbes triple-star resorts in the world and rated in the top three resorts in the United States! I bet it would've been fun to see - even if only from the beach!

It had started to sprinkle, the ocean was churning and the waves were breaking hard at East Beach by now. We made a detour on the way back to the car though as we saw a path out to the lighthouse. We passed classic, multi-million dollar New England style homes on the walk. There were beautiful gardens and another view of Taylor's house. 

Now it was time. Time to head back to Boston for some dinner before our flight. So we waved good-bye to Taylor's house and the Flying Horse Carousel. I hope to be back someday when the sun is shining - and to try another flavor of that homemade ice cream - and who knows? Maybe we'll even stay at one of those cottages.

Watch Hill is a village located within the town of Westerly, Rhode Island about 2 hours south of Boston on I-95.

This post is a part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner!