and since we've talked about it for years and had the chance, we stopped by Coral Pink Sand Dunes, got a little disappointed with the park, and then played in the mud to make up for it
(I did tell Jon it would make him crazy to be there without an ATV of some kind)
the drive in northern Arizona began as a barren wasteland but turned into an astonishing scenic route through the Kaibab National Forest: sections of the road showcased nature's fury and the leftovers of wildfire; elsewhere, the view opened up to vast meadows amongst the thick trees
please forgive those who don't know how to operate our camera-we wanted a family photo
possibly one of the greatest moments was when Jon thought a much smaller side canyon was our final destination; it made his first view of the real thing even better
we loved how rustic and forested the north rim is (I visited the south rim probably 17 years ago)
and Jon loved the lighting at sunset, while Emory loved on Riley the fox, though we maybe should have gotten him the stuffed Kaibab squirrel they sold in the gift shop (at least we saw one in the wild on our drive into the park)
And then that was it. No hiking, no plans to return the next day, we just needed to see it, you know? Plus the next day was 10/10/10 and a huge group of bright-yellow-shirt-wearing folks of all ages were scheduled to hike from rim to rim. It was a zoo.