I began planning this trip to the Grand  Canyon around the beginning of 2011. I learned a lot in the process. I had originally planned on doing this Rim to Rim hike in two days and camping in Phantom Ranch at the bottom. That plan did not work out as you must book your stay in Phantom Ranch thirteen months in advance and there are only realistically ten available spots for women and another ten available spots for men, all dormitory  style, since priority for all of the best rooms are given to those riding mules down and for those folks staying overnight on a rafting trip.

Grand Canyon 2012

Once I realized that Phantom Ranch was not a realistic option I made the decision that our group would make the South Rim to North Rim hike in three days instead of two, camping two nights in the Canyon Backcountry. The upside is that we were able to choose one of the best weeks of the year for backpacking. The downside is that a fully loaded backpack can weight twenty or more pounds than a reasonably loaded day pack. (I’ll provide details on the gear I used in a later post.)

Grand Canyon 2012

We ended up driving out to the South Rim from Phoenix on Monday, September 24 and camping in Mather Campground. We woke up Tuesday and took a van ride to the North Rim and camped. On Wednesday we woke up and hiked our way to the North Rim Trailhead which is about one mile from the campground. We then hiked our way down about eight miles the North Rim to the Cottonwood campground. On Thursday morning we hiked our way about another eight to the Bright Angel Campground. On Friday morning we woke up and hiked our way back up about nine miles to the South Rim. We camped in Mather Campground again on Friday night, woke up on Saturday morning, had a very nice breakfast at the El Tovar restaurant, and started our trek back to Phoenix.

Grand Canyon 2012

All in all it was a really great week. The group was very laid back and fantastically helpful to each other in so many ways. It is true that the journey is, and in this case certainly was its own reward, but the sense of accomplishment at the end, well, that will linger a very long time.

A lot of the people I know have, or do still, travel as a part of their work. I have been a member of that club; traveling constantly to the point where it was more out of the ordinary to not be a member of a frequent flyer, rental car, or hotel club. I am still one of those guys who have a list of my top airports. Yes, both domestic and international.

Having settled down and pursued a career path allowing me to spend more glorious time at home, there are things that, on even a short haul like Phoenix to Chicago (next stop Copenhagen), that come rushing back.

(1) When I’m at home I don’t have to ask strangers to move so I can go to the bathroom.

(2) When I’m at home a glass of wine doesn’t cost me eight dollars; a bottle does.

(3) When I’m at home an extra four inches of leg room doesn’t cost me $60 (worth every penny nontheless).

So, to all the road warriors burning up the skies, much love and respect. May your skies be blue, your flights be on time, airport barmaids friendly, and turbulace non-existent.

I brought my first iPod home six years ago. It is third generation, classic white, holds 4,000 songs, and predates the color screen. We have been through a lot together. It was with me on countless trips between California and Arizona, moved with me to Arizona when those trips became too much, saw Linda and I buy our first house, and our marriage. Unlike our marriage, the iPod is a little worse for wear. The battery no longer holds a charge, and after I left it outside to suffer a few days worth of Arizona summer, the wheel no longer works.

You are more likely to either hand-me-down, or lose an iPod, before throwing it away. A little uncertain exactly what I should do, I decided the old iPod would get a permanent home in the bathroom. I bought a JVC charger / speaker deck for it to sit in, loaded it with a lot of my favorite music, and there it has sat for the last two years. The bad news is that it continues to show signs of aging, including no longer syncing to my iTunes.

I have a nice new model that will reportedly hold 40,000 songs. It’s black. The wheel works. It plays video. I also have my iPhone (that really holds more music than I need). With the introduction of the iPhone, I realize that I will likely never buy another iPod. That isn’t the point though, is it. When the old iPod completely gives out, I will likely put it on my bookshelf along with my old 35mm camera, and gaze upon them from time to time, in thanks, and remembrance.