West Rim of the Grand Canyon with Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

Heading for the Hualapai Indian Nation at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, we stop to see the Joshua trees.

Joshua trees

These unusual trees are relatively fast growing, for the desert.   During the first 10 years, they may grow 3 inches per year.   Joshua trees are found in the southwestern desert of the United States.   We reach the Hualapai Indian Nation land.   Our car must stay in the parking lot.   Entering the building, part restaurant, part gift shop and where we decide which package to purchase.   We want to fly into the Grand Canyon.   Really moms?   Yes they mean it.   We are inside the helicopter.

We’re inside helicopter

Humans have ridden in helicopters before, but this is a first for Zeb and Soapy.   We are flying!

Flying low and approaching Grand Canyon

Flying low and approaching the canyon.   Wow!   We are in the Grand Canyon.

Colorado River in Grand Canyon

We are below the canyon rim.   The Colorado River continues flowing and adding more depth to the Grand Canyon.   Isn’t this beautiful?

Colorado River cutting the Grand Canyon

We love flying here, seeing the Colorado River and the canyon wall.   But, all things must end.

Soapy’s mom and a park employee.  With Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

Soapy’s mom and an employee are holding us by our helicopter.   Next we visit the Skywalk.   As we approach, we see this employee trying to prevent humans from falling into the Grand Canyon.

This employee try to prevent humans from falling into the Grand Canyon. No guardrails here

You will notice there are no guard rails here.    OK moms.   What is the Skywalk?   Oh.   We are going on that walkway that has nothing under it?

The Skywalk

We will be able to look down, through our feet, and see the canyon bottom 4,000 feet below us.   OK.  Let’s enter the building, which is also a museum with gift shop.   But now we are going on the Skywalk.

This is the way

We cannot take purses, cameras, phones or any personal items.   Our stuff goes into the lockers.   Mom did get one photo looking out before we put all our things in the locker.

On the Skywalk

We walk on the glass type floor.   The Skywalk is horseshoe shaped, and 20 feet from the side of the canyon.   Nothing but air between us and the floor of the canyon, 4,000 feet down.   Soapy’s mom saw something red on the ground.   The employee said it was a red umbrella.   Sure looked small.   The floor is slightly opaque on each side and clear in the middle.   Some humans are a little frightened, but we loved the Skywalk.   Professional photographers take our photos.   They suggest poses that relax the humans.   If you are near the West Rim, visit the Skywalk and maybe take a helicopter ride.   It is great.   Remember, this is the Hualapai Nation land, so National Park passes are not accepted here.   This portion of the Grand Canyon is managed and controlled by the Hualapai Nation, not US National Park Service.   Just pay for it and enjoy the experience.   We did.   Next we rode the shuttle bus to Guano Point.   Yes that is an usual name.   Guano does mean poop.   At one time bat poop, or bat guano was mined here.   The guano, rich in nitrogen, is used for fertilizer.   However, it was too expensive to mine and produce fertilizer.   This seating area was convenient if you wanted o purchase a snack or beverage.

Seating while having a snack at Guano Point

A large crow is also enjoying the area.   Humans and ducks can walk around on the rocks here.

Guano Point

You can see more humans on the rocks.   As always, we are in awe of the Grand Canyon.

Guano Point

The size and beauty are incredible.   We hope you visit the Grand Canyon soon.   We loved the South Rim and now we love the West Rim.

Grand Canyon Caverns of Peach Springs, AZ with Zeb and Soapy

Let’s see the largest dry cavern in North America.   Here it is, Grand Canyon Caverns in Peach Springs, Arizona.

Let’s go in the caverns

What is this?

We like petrified logs

A petrified log, a place for us to rest and look at the desert scenery.   We are not very far from the Petrified Forest National Park, also in northern Arizona.   Remember, this was once a tropical rain forest, now a desert climate.   Inside, our moms purchased tickets for the one hour tour.   When is time, we get inside an elevator and descend 210 feet (64 meters) below the earth’s surface to enter the caves.   We are the only tourists on this tour.  This cavern has been dry for thousands of years, so nothing new has formed.   This is called the Cathedral Dome, which is really an ancient waterfall, 90 feet above our heads.

Cathedral Dome

On either side of the walkway we observed ancient waterways, or floor drains, descending 35 feet (10 meters).  Really ancient, as this is a dry cave–no water enters this cave now.  So, there are no stalactites and no stalagmites in this cavern.

Dry cave. No stalactites, no stalagmites

Here we viewed a rare form of Selenite, called Helecite, meaning “hollow inside”.

Helecite, a rare form of selenite

It is very fragile, and sitting on Redial Limestone with Calcite Crystals.   Traveling here, in the southwestern United States, we are learning a lot about geology and learning lots of new words.   We learned that only 3% of all caves are dry.   Some of you may remember in the early 1960’s the United States had a Cuban Missile Crises.   The United States and Cuba appeared close to going to war.  Both countries, and the entire world, were scared.  Bomb shelters were built, but this cave was declared a natural bomb shelter and in October, 1962 civil defense supplies (food, water, medical, etc) were brought here, to the largest room in the caverns.

Civil Defense Emergency Rations

There is still enough supplies to support 2,000 people for 2 weeks.  Due to the dry conditions in the cave, no rodents or other animals live here, and supplies do not deteriorate easily.   Food is nutritionally complete, but may not taste real good.   Next we entered the Snowball Palace which nature worked on for 6 million years.

Our guide explaining the Snowball Palace

Humans and ducks are not to touch the walls or any formations, as the dryness makes everything fragile.   Now, the Mystery Room.

Mystery Room

And an explanation for the name, Grand Canyon Caverns.   Previously called Dinosaur Caverns as they expected to find dinosaur fossils, but no indication of dinosaurs here.   In 1958 smoke bombs were set off in the Mystery Room, and scientists discovered the air enters and leaves the cavern from this room.   The air comes from 40 miles (64 km) away, near Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon.   This is really clean air, being filtered through limestone and various rocks for 40 miles!   These caverns are now known as Grand Canyon Caverns.   A natural opening to the caverns once existed.   This is how, in 1927 Walter Peck discovered them.   When he sadly realized there was neither gold nor silver here, he lowered tourists, attached to a rope, into the hole in the ground and into the caverns.  We now know, unfortunately, not only tourists entered the cavernous through that hole.   This is a mummified bobcat.

Mummified Bobcat

Bob, as he is called, fell into the natural entrance about 1850.  Due to the dryness of the cavern, as he died he became mummified.   Another victim fell through the natural opening.   This is a life size replica of a giant ground sloth, or glossotherium.

Giant Ground Sloth

This sloth has been extinct for at least 11,000 years.   When she fell in, she tried to climb back out.   Her claw marks are visible on the wall of the cavern.   She lost a claw, embedded in the rock, in the process.   Discovered in the late 1950’s, her bones were sent to the University of Arizona for identification.   They, in trade for the bones, built this life size replica for the caverns.  She was 15 feet 4 inches (3.1 meters) tall and weighed 1 ton (1,000 kg).   She entered the cavern between 11,000 and 20,000 years ago.   There are many formations here. These are called grape clusters formed from mixtures of Calcium Carbonate and Lime.

Grape clusters of Calcium Carbonate and Lime

We, Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck liked this in the caverns.  Now we see Winter Crystal, the rarest form of Selenite in the caverns and the only spot it is found down here.   Looking like a wall of snow is why it is called Winter Crystal.   We, ducks and humans, really enjoyed our underground tour.  And we are going underground again tonight.

Black poker chips. Our tickets for tonight’s ghost tour.

These are our poker chips, our tickets for tonight’s ghost tour.   There is a cavern suite which can be rented for about $850 US dollars per night.   The room, 220 feet below ground, is 200 feet wide, 400 feet long and has a 70 foot ceiling.   It was rented last night, again tonight and also reserved for tomorrow night.   All by different people.   Several weddings have been performed here in the caverns.   The first was April 15, 1977.  Some brides left their bouquets and the dry, cool air keeps them preserved underground.   These Grand Canyon Caverns are located in Peach Springs, Arizona, on historic Route 66.   We just had to include this photo of a chair, reminding us of the iconic Route 66 connection.

Route 66 chair

And, in case you are wondering, we did enjoy our ghost tour, but no ghosts appeared that night.   But this was another interesting hour underground.   The electric lights were not turned on and we were all given small flashlights.   For more information visit http://www.gccaverns.com   When in northern Arizona, we believe you would enjoy visiting the world’s third largest, and North America’s largest dry cavern.

Happy National Hammock Day, July 22

Now this is a national day that humans and ducks can enjoy!   National Hammock Day!   Who knew there was such a day.   We will remember July 22 as National Hammock Day.    On vacations we often see humans in hammocks.   We ducks have tried them also.  They are really comfortable.

National Hammock Day

Lounging in the hammock in Malawi, Africa

This is me, Zeb the Duck, admiring Lake Malawi in July 2016.

Grand Canyon Hiking with Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

Let’s do some hiking today.   At Grand Canyon National Park there are so many opportunities to hike.   And so many great trails for our enjoyment.   Before we start down Bright Angel Trail, we visit two historical buildings in the immediate area.   First we enter Kolb Studio, built in 1904.

Kolb Studio built in 1904

This was the Victorian home and photography studio of the Kolb brothers, Emery and Ellsworth.  They were pioneer photographers and filmmakers.   Inside the studio today, you will find part gift shop, part museum and part movie theater (where you can watch their film that played continuously for 61 years).   Be sure to walk on the decks and balconies for fabulous views of the Grand Canyon.  Nearby is Lookout Studio.

Lookout Studio

For many years there was rivalry and mean competition between the two studios.   Lookout Studio was designed by famous architect, Mary Colter.   Lookout Studio was meant to blend into the walls of the canyon.   The studio does appear like part of the canon wall.   She also designed the building at Hermit’s Rest that we showed you last time.   Be sure to visit both studios.   Please take time to fully appreciate the views of the Grand Canyon from each studio.

View from Lookout Studio

We loved to sit and look for a long time.   After an ice cream snack, we are ready to hike Bright Angel Trail.   This trail descends 4,500 feet (1360 meters) in 7.8 miles (12.6 km) to the Colorado River.  Bright Angel is the most traveled trail in Grand Canyon National Park.     This is where we are going.

Bright Angel Trail from studio

We are not going to hike the entire distance, but we will hike part of the trail.   We soon go through this arch.

Archway on Bright Angel Trail

You can see, the canyon walls are steep.

Steep wall of Grand Canyon

Further down the trail, we look up to see Kolb Studio.

Kolb Studio from the trail

We were there, and moms, we have to hike back up out of the canyon and reach Kolb Studio again.   Of course we did it.   We are not still in the canyon.   We enjoyed the hike and the views looking into the canyon and the views looking up, out of the canyon, are beautiful.   We would love to see your Grand Canyon photos also.   Back to the top of the canyon, we take the shuttle bus to Pima Point.   Leaving the shuttle bus, we again hike a section of the South Rim.   We will hike 1 mile or 1.6 km to Hermit’s Rest.   Hermit’s Rest is the end of the South Rim trail.   There are many stops for us to gaze at and admire the beauty of the Grand Canyon.   Five or six million years ago, the Colorado River cut through the rock and carved the Grand Canyon.   Here is the Colorado River, still changing the landscape of this canyon.

Colorado River cutting the canyon even deeper

However the geology of this canyon tells of a time when the tectonic plates moved slowly across the earth’s surface.   Some rock at the bottom of the canyon is almost two billion years old.   Each time we stop we are in awe of the grandeur of the Grand Canyon.

Every view is magnificent

Continuing along the South Rim Trail, we reach Hermit’s Rest.

Hiked to the end of Rim Trail. Arriving at Hermit’s Rest

And one of the official greeters is here enjoying a snack.

Elk, Official Greeter at Hermit’s Rest

Tonight we ride the shuttle bus back to Maswik Lodge for dinner.   The humans had Navajo tacos and spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread.   We ducks also liked the dinner.   While visiting The Grand Canyon, sampling food at the various lodges and shops is also fun.   There are many things to see and do here.   You can come for a few hours and see the canyon or you can stay for weeks and never be bored.   This is a great place.

Exploring the Grand Canyon’s South Rim with Zeb and Soapy Smith

Leaving Williams, Arizona.

Williams, Arizona

Driving north on Route 64, through beautiful tall pine forests, we reach Grand Canyon National Park.   We are entering the park through the South Rim entrance.   This is the most developed area of the park, and provides the most amenities for visitors.

Grand Canyon National Park

First stop is always the Visitor’s Center, then a short walk to Mather Point.

Mather Point, Grand Canyon

This canyon is huge!

Panorama can’t begin to cover it all

It is rather crowded here, so we begin following the Rim Trail.   A very short distance, and we found a new friend.

Our new friend, the elk

This park is full of elk.   It is spring, and the male elk are just sprouting new antlers.   Hard to know if we are seeing male or female elk, but they don’t seem to have any fear of humans, or ducks.   Of course, they are protected in the National Park.   Continuing along the Rim Trail, we must stop for many photos.

Like the red here

Soapy’s mom is holding us.

Every view is breathtaking.

If we fall, we are gone forever.

If we fall, we are gone

This canyon averages 10 miles wide (up to 18 miles across, or wide, at places) and 277 miles long.  And it averages one mile deep, but deeper in places.   We reach Yavapal Point and Geology Museum.   Geologists decided this was the best location for the museum.   This is a great view from the Geology Museum.

Beautiful canyon

They appreciated the view, showing several layers of rock.   Private cars are not allowed on these roads during main tourist season, so we ride the free and frequent park shuttles.   Cars are only allowed to lodges and camp grounds.  We leave our shuttle at The Abyss and hike more of the Rim Trail.   There are very few humans on our trail.   Although there are over 5 million visitors each year, the park contains 1,217,403 acres.   Avoiding the crowds is really not that difficult.  The Grand Canyon was carved by the Colorado River over several million years.   As you notice, the erosion process in still happening.

Watch for falling rocks

When will these huge rocks fall?   And these pretty wildflowers can grow in this rocky desert climate.

Cheerful wildflowers

Aren’t they beautiful?   This is Hermit’s Rest.

Hermit’s Rest

The shuttle buses end here and Hermit Trailhead will guide climbers to the bottom of the canyon.   We hiked a short distance on this steep trail.

Rather steep trail

This trail is recommended for experienced desert hikers only.  We didn’t go very far.   Only about 15 minutes down the trail.   The inside of the lodge is beautiful and huge.

At Hermit’s Rest

This photo should give you an idea.  Hermit’s Rest is a National Historic Landmark.   The gift shop was nice.   We purchased ice cream from an outside window.   So good!  On the way back to Mather Point and our car, we stopped at Yavapal Lodge for dinner and these delicious pies.

We loved these pies

Hiking and admiring the Grand Canyon makes humans and ducks hungry.   We will show you more of our Grand Canyon experience next time.

Bearizona with Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

Williams, Arizona, often referred to as “the gateway to the Grand Canyon”, also houses wild bears and other wild animals.   We visited Bearizona, a drive-thru wildlife park in Williams, Arizona.

Bearizona at Williams, AZ

The brochure promises Spin It, which is the drive-thru portion.   You drive your own vehicle and view North American animals in their natural forested environment.   Also, Stroll It, the walk through area for a close up look at many animals.   This resembles a zoo.   And, Soar It, where visitors witness the High Country Raptors show. Our moms wanted to see bears walking and playing in the woods, so we started the drive-thru portion.  Our first animals, Rocky Mountain Goats, were eating.

Rocky Mountain Goats. Fine dining.

We liked them.   They are losing heavy winter coats, preparing for summer.   The mule deer wanted to meet us.

Mule deer wants to say hi. Or looking for a free snack?

We were told not to feed the animals.   So we didn’t.  These crows, or ravens, appear to be grooming each other.

Crows grooming

Next, we saw burros.

Burro

Of different colors.

Burros are different colors

Tundra wolves are next.

Tundra wolves

Definitely keep windows up around the wolves.   The white bison were new to us.

White bison

Brown bison are also losing winter coats.

Brown bison also losing winter coat

These baby Big Horn Sheep were so cute.

Young big horn sheep. One practicing climbing and other practicing walking

Seemed like it was just learning to walk.

Very new Big Horn Sheep

This is what our moms love.   They are fascinated by bears.

I am watching you humans and ducks

Is he watching us?   Yes, we live in Colorado and bears live in Colorado also, but they still love those furry, adorable bears.    This is a younger bear.

Looking for fun. Or trouble?

He is still playful  and unpredictable.   He must be hungry.

Snack time

Time to pick his own tree branches.   The preserve is about to close and this handsome guy is ready for a nap.

Time for a nap

Parking the car, we head to the Stroll It section.

Entering Stroll It section

Look at this beautiful pure white peacock.

White peacock

This beauty had no fear of us.   We had to walk around him.   Moms just thought this bird was fabulous.   Hey moms, remember we are birds, also.   After a quick walk through the gift shop, and a few purchases, we left Bearizona.   The wildlife park was closed and the employees were ready to go home.   When you are near Williams, Arizona, stop at Bearizona.   There is so much more than we saw and showed you.   You will find something to love.   For more information visit http://www.bearizona.com     Tell the animals we still remember them.

Happy National Tapioca Pudding Day

We ducks and humans love tapioca.   But sometimes we forget to buy it at the grocery store.   But we will be enjoying some tapioca today!   Today, July 15, is National Tapioca Pudding Day.  According to http://www.NationalDayCalendar.com tapioca is a starch made from the cassava root.   Wow!   Last summer when we were in Malawi the people ate cassava almost every day.    But to make tapioca, the edible root is ground into a powder or a pearly extract.   The resulting pearls are called tapioca.

National Tapioca Pudding Day

We hope you also enjoy some tapioca pudding today.