When your day starts at five in the morning, you have a lot of hours in your day!
We were back at the lodge by seven, where there is already a crowd lining up for breakfast. We had such a great dinner the night before, we decide to have breakfast and then take the shuttles along the western rim of the canyon.
The El Tovar Dining room is as beautiful by day as it is by night:
We are on the south west side of the dining room, near a large fireplace and far away from the view, but it hardly matters – the view is there, 24/7, for anyone who wants to visit. We see fabulous plates arriving at all the tables, and we watch a new wait-person being trained in the El Tovar way of doing things. It was great entertainment. Our breakfasts were divine.
I had Eggs Benedict, with smoked salmon instead of the traditional Canadian bacon:
We run upstairs to brush our teeth, and then head out to explore the western rim before the train arrives, at 1100, bringing in many more people, even in these early spring months.
The shuttle system is a marvel. Different colored lines have different routes, and there are maps that show what color the bus is that goes where you want to go. We walked to the red bus stops, hopped on, hopped off, hopped on, hopped off, hiked a little, hopped back on, hopped off, hiked a little more, met some great people and had a lot of fun taking photos.
The sun has burned off the clouds, it is still a little hazy but a great, sunny day.
We hit Hermit’s Rest, at the end of the shuttle line, around 11:30, and head back to Grand Canyon village.
Today is a very short drive, 136 miles, and we arrive in the Grand Canyon easily before noon, taking off to take the East Rim Drive to Desert View while waiting for our hotel room in the El Tovar Hotel.
We’ve heard of El Tovar for years. You’ll overhear the following conversation. There may be some variations, but it’s pretty much the same every time.
“Oh! Grand Canyon! Are you staying at El Tovar?”
“Oh! It’s the most wonderful hotel! We loved staying there!”
“No, we tried, but we couldn’t get reservations at El Tovar, they were already booked.”
“Oh. That’s too bad.”
We didn’t want to be on the ‘that’s too bad’ list, so when we decided to make the trip, the first thing I did was to find out when rooms were available at El Tovar. We had planned the trip for October. We postponed the trip until April, to be able to stay at El Tovar. We had a great room, even had a view, but for grins, we asked how far in advance you have to reserve to get one of the rooms with a balcony view – 13 months in advance. Who even knows 13 months in advance that they will still be alive 13 months later?? I guess it’s worth the risk – and if we go again, we will reserve 13 months in advance.
My sister Sparkle has stayed at El Tovar and warned us that the rooms were not luxurious. “They’re sort of spartan for your tastes,” she warned us “Don’t expect too much. You’re paying to be staying in the Canyon and in this revered old lodge.”
We didn’t expect much, and our room was at the top of the stairs. We were concerned about noise, but it turned out to be a non-issue. There weren’t a lot of children traveling at this time of the year, and very few staying at El Tovar. Because we weren’t expecting much, we were delighted. Our room was sunny and bright, the beds were very comfortable, the linens were lovely, the old fashioned bathroom delighted my heart, and there was a funny room – a closet? That had a safe, windows that opened so we could see the view, and if we had had a baby with us, his little crib could have fit into the alcove. There was also a coffee machine, yes, it doesn’t take much to make me happy. Although we had been told that wi-fi was only available in public areas, our room must have been close enough, and the wi-fi strong enough, that we had access without leaving our room once we had settled in for the night.
“Be sure to make your dinner reservations six months out,” Sparkle warned, so I marked my calendar and on the day that was six months out, the earliest that the El Tovar restaurant accepts reservations, we called in a dinner reservation, and oh, we are so glad we did.
When we showed up, the first night, for our 6:30 reservation, there was a long line, and people were being turned away, so disappointed. We had a lovely table, with a view, and a waiter, Thomas, who was attentive without being intrusive, knowledgeable about the menu, and took great care of us. It was a lovely evening, and I had another of the best meals of the trip – a Mediterranean Salad with smoked salmon, and the salmon was the smoked chunky Alaskan kind, not the thin strips of Scottish salmon. Oh, YUMMM.
AdventureMan had the Penne, which he said was also very very good:
We had planned to have dessert, but we couldn’t, we were just so full. The salmon in my salad was so rich and so tasty. We couldn’t eat another bite! And we also wanted to get to bed early, so we could get out by five to catch the sun rising over the Grand Canyon first thing in the morning. Before going up to our room, we tried to make reservations to eat dinner again in the El Tovar dining room, but they only had seatings at 5:15 and 9:30. Oh aargh.
Next morning, we are up and eager to get going, but we have to skirt around the lawn on the way to the car, as there is a herd of elk munching. We don’t want to disturb them and also . . . elk are very large animals. We really don’t want to disturb them.
We hurry to Desert View, at the end of the East Rim trail, only to find that the day has dawned with a heavy cloud cover, and there is no sunrise to speak of. LLOOOLLL! It is also 40 something degrees and windy, really, really cold!