Day 18:

The Backdoor Grand Canyon

I woke up at 3am and found bugs in my bed. I jumped out of the covers and tore off my clothes and threw them away. Then I scrubbed myself in the shower for 30 minutes before running down to the front desk and loudly proclaiming to the concierge that the motel was infested with bugs. There was really nothing else I could do except write a bad review on or something.

Something I have learned about motels is that there’s a cutoff between a fleabag motel and a halfway decent motel. If I go lower than $50 a night, I never know what I’m going to get. I’m getting tempted to just sleep in my car.

It was still dark and starting to snow, so I couldn’t leave immediately. It was only October 9, but Flagstaff is 7000 feet above sea level. I didn’t have snow tires and wasn’t sure how well my car could handle the roads. I’d never driven in the snow, so I just had to give it a shot and see what happened. I left at 6am and started towards I-40 West. It was still snowing. I was more fascinated by it than scared of crashing. I drove slowly, and had a few tire slips, but was able to handle them. The worst part was when semi trucks stationed themselves in the lane in front of me and continuously sprayed water on my windshield, causing temporarily blindness. Eventually the snow finally stopped, the sun came out and the clouds parted, and it was a beautiful experience. As I drove down into the valley, the snow crept away and it became warmer and warmer.

My goal today was to reach Grand Canyon West, since the easier accessible Grand Canyon was closed. I needed to drive 200 miles west, then another 200 miles northeast, going back the way I came. Grand Canyon West is on private land owned by the Havasupai tribe, which meant the area was still open, although it was over four hours from Flagstaff rather than one.

As I got closer, the road gave way into muddy dirt trail for about 15 miles. I thought I was lost, but then a tour bus and another car passed me on the same road. I don’t think anybody was expecting the road to be in that condition. There were brand new cars caked in mud. I was a little scared my car would get stuck on the side of the road, but I got to the entrance and headed to the check-in point.

A worker there asked if another guy had checked me.

I asked, “Checked me for what?”

“Booze and guns,” he said.

I told him I didn’t have either and he let me through. Although I did have a big bag of fireworks I purchased in Mississippi. I failed to mention that.

I was a bit disappointed with the experience. I was hoping I could camp there, which they didn’t allow, and go hiking, but they didn’t have hiking trails. They forced me onto a tour bus which first stopped at the Havasupai ranch, which was a fake cowboy town with poor actors playing cowboys, and which was nowhere near the canyon. The last stop was Guano Point, at which they allowed everyone to walk around an alcove that overlooked the canyon. I felt like a 12 year old forced on a weird guided tour that my parents forced me to go on, and I got all grumbly about it. I drove four hours to get there and stayed for about two, one of which was on a tour bus.


Fake cowboy at a fake dude ranch


Not camping gave me an extra day, so I drove out to Las Vegas to see my cousin Michael. The drive there went around the Hoover Dam, through hills and valleys, and then through crazy Vegas traffic. My cousin and his family welcomed me with open arms, and I had a great time sipping his home-brewed beer, eating a home-cooked meal and hanging out with them. I was glad to have the company.