Glad I'd already decided not to get back up to the Grand Canyon for sunrise. I didn't feel motivated to get up and checked out of the motel in the dark. I got to the park in time for the 9AM ranger talk on fossils.
Ranger Paul, who works summers at the Grand Canyon, is a PhD student who is passionate about fossils. He told us how he got turned on to paleontology at the age of 9 when he found a trilobite fossil -- and pulled his treasured fossil out of his pocket and let us examine it. Then he took us on a walk to an area of the rim where fossils are at the surface, which was the bottom of a sea 270 million years ago.
He identified brachiopods, bivalves, horn corals, bryozoans, crinoids, and sponges. Then we strolled around looking for other examples. I found several, including a sponge fossil in the center of a concretion that had cracked open. Finally I find some fossils on my own and I can't take them home. Oh, well. At least I know I found them. And now maybe I'll be able to find some more at a place where I can keep them. It's not enough to know what a fossil looks like, you have to know where to look. Now I guess I'll have to study geology.
After the ranger talk, which lasted over an hour, I walked a bit along the rim and took more pictures. Looking down you could see little tiny people way down below on the trails. And little tiny people on little tiny mules. It looked like fun going down there -- but not so much fun hiking back up to the rim.
By about 12:30 I was leaving the park. An hour on US64 south to Williams and then west. I started out on I40, but when I stopped to get gas, I asked someone how much longer it would take to get to Kingman, AZ, if I got off the interstate and took historic route 66. The answer, just about 30 minutes more. I would be able to get there by around 5PM. So that's what I did.
Most of the way was rural. Scenic, but after the Grand Canyon any roadside landscape is going to be anticlimactic. One town looked like what you would expect, with lots of 1950s-looking motels and stores and vintage cars, but mostly it was just a pleasant drive. The only thing that really distinguished Route 66 from any other secondary road was the Burma-Shave signs. I arrived in Kingman just a few minutes after 5PM and quickly found a room that is both economical and more than adequate.
BTW, the weather is more comfortable. At the Grand Canyon the wind was down and the temperatures were up a little. Here in Kingman I may even need to turn on the air conditioning. In just a few days I went from sweaty and gritty to parched and chapped. My lips feel like crepe paper. What's next? Not smokey and ashen, I hope. As I plot the drive to Laguna Hills I'm keeping an eye on the state of the fires in California.