I left my hotel, checked the tyre pressures (all correct except one, which I adjusted) and set off to the National Park gate. The sun was shining, it was a balmy 90℉ and my first pleasant chat of the day was with the enthusiastic young ranger manning the pay booth. As soon as I had checked my route with another Ranger in the visitor centre - it was on my way so would cost time, but not miles - I put the roof down and set off.
I had a far better time than I expected. My previous visit to the Canyon had been great, but I doubt anyone has ever really seen enough of it. I had several attempts at the photographic impossibility of capturing an impression. I failed. It's impressive, trust me. Just go!
I chatted to other visitors from Connecticut, France, Ireland and the Netherlands. The Netherlanders told me they had seen a German registration plate in the park today - on an RV, of all things - and were curious about how I had shipped Speranza. They were touring the States themselves; two nice young couples in rented muscle cars. We traded our travellers' tales for a few moments, I took their photo and promised to post it here.
I had been out of sorts yesterday. I was not glorying in the tour as I had been. I was, to be honest, a bit homesick. I think that may have been because I'd had three rather lonely days. This morning, however, the various pleasant chats cheered me up. By the time I finished my Canyon run, I was in spirits again - not least because I couldn't make Speranza rattle, no matter how hard I tried. I abandoned my plan to stop at some roadside "auto repair" shop and contacted the Ferrari dealer in San Antonio - the next one on my route - to schedule a visit. From today's journey, both through the Grand Canyon National Park and along roughly-surfaced US 160 to Monument Valley, I may be wasting their time. I hope so!
A cheery ranger at the park, with whom I had my second pleasant chat of the day had told me I must not pass the Cameron Trading Post, thirty miles or so past the park's East exit, without stopping to try the Navajo tacos. "You won't get anything like them in Europe" he said. He was a man of substance, like myself. He had clearly appraised me as someone who would appreciate such a treat. I did, but in my feeble European way could not finish it. It was nothing like the Mexican variety (hard or soft) but more like the way they serve Yorkshire pudding in Yorkshire, as a plate-sized base with meat on top. But it was not batter-ey but bread-ey like a strangely sweet pizza base. I am not explaining it well, but it was delicious.
The Trading Post itself was impressive and seemed to be doing great business.I was proud of myself for resisting the temptation to buy another cowboy hat that I would have worn in the next few days here and then consigned to the back of my wardrobe with my existing examples. Perhaps, I thought, I was finally growing up.
Then, driving along Route 160 in Arizona (in air-conditioned comfort with the roof up again as by now as it was 111℉) I discovered that am not. I swear to you I saw a man on a horse, with a lariat looped around his saddle, roping some creature I was moving too fast to identify. I was in traffic and couldn’t stop but I yeee-ha'd, gentle reader. I am not ashamed to admit it. I don't know if he was for real or just practising for a rodeo, but I saw a cowboy. If I were finally grown up, that would not have made my day.
I am now in an indestructibly good mood and looking forward to Monument Valley tomorrow as much as anything on this trip to date.