Two months ago, I was here:
Yep, I was in Grand Canyon National Park with my friend SP. It wasn’t my first time; I had been to the Grand Canyon 12 years ago with my mom and a bus filled with Chinese tourists. We awoke at the butt crack of dawn in our Flagstaff hotel and got to the Canyon first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, it was so early that a thick layer of fog obscured our view. Our tour group was on a tight schedule, so we left the Park before the fog cleared. Our consolation prize? A trip to the IMAX theater at the strip mall outside of the park, which was showing a movie about the Grand Canyon. FAIL.
Needless to say, that experience left much to be desired and I vowed to return. So when I found out that I would be going to a conference in Albuquerque in August, I immediately started scheming for a post-conference trip to the Grand Canyon. Luckily, SP was game. We stopped at the Petrified National Forest on the way, which was really amazing and highly recommended.
Even though we were car camping, we had a few challenges when it came to food. Mostly, we were limited in what we could bring from home, since we were both traveling by plane to the Southwest. We bought a janky styrofoam cooler at the store and had to strategize about what had to be chilled. It helped that, since SP is a vegetarian, there were no meat products to worry about. It was also the first time I was using my camp stove (Figure 1).
For lunch, we made avocado and tomato sandwiches, supplemented with fruit and granola bars. The first day, we hiked the Bright Angel Trail — 6 miles round trip, 2400 feet elevation change. We were exhausted, especially since we hiked in the midday heat — pretty much when the rangers advise you NOT to hike. To celebrate that we didn’t die from heat stroke or dehydration, we enjoyed a refreshing beer (a little counter-intuitive, I know).
Dinner the first night: couscous with peppers and onions, supplemented with drained lentils from a canned soup. It was really delicious! But then again, I really love couscous.
The next day, we took it easy, mixing walking and shuttle riding on the west end of the South Rim. Then we got into our car to explore the east side, and ended up watching the sunset from a spot near the South Kaibab trailhead. SP packed a surprise carton of wine for us to enjoy during the sunset — genius!
For dinner, we experimented with the backpacking “just add boiling water” chana masala. It was pretty good and very filling, though I wish I stirred it better since I got a few undercooked pieces of rice.
Before heading back to Albuquerque, we went to Sedona, AZ to do a short hike in the Red Rocks. I was there 5 years ago, on my way out to California, and it was another place to which I vowed to return. Again, we made the mistake of hiking midday but it was really worth it.
After the hike, we were famished and thirsty. We ended up at the Hideaway Restaurant, where we refreshed ourselves with water and beer. SP got a ginormous Greek salad. I was so hungry I went for the endless angel hair pasta with meat sauce that also came with endless cheesy garlic bread (Figure 2). Our server was annoyed that I was giving my cheesy bread to SP, but we thought her annoyance was completely unwarranted. It’s not like I was asking for just the bread — I ate the pasta too! Anyway, at $10 for the pasta, it was a great deal. I rolled out of there, rubbing my belly full of noodles.
We got back to Albuquerque quite late. I was given a tip by some good friends that Frontier Restaurant was the place to go for late night dining. Indeed, it did not disappoint. I had breakfast for dinner and it was just what I needed.
During the conference, we went to Sadie’s for authentic New Mexican cuisine, also on a friend’s recommendation. Sadie’s is famous for their salsa. The food was very good, if a bit heavy (no photos, unfortunately). I had a sopaipilla stuffed with shredded beef. I ate, like, 1/3 of it. I shudder to think that there’s actually a 6-pound version of the same dish.
I leave you with this lovely photo: