In 2009, we spent my birthday at the Rough Rider Saloon on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. I was looking forward to going back – we had a fun night back in the day – but when we rolled into the supposedly quiet side of the canyon, things were jumping. The campground was full. The trailheads were packed. People were everywhere thanks to the damn moon lining up in front of the sun. The moon in front of the sun! Can you believe it?
Anyway, we camped outside the park and made the best of things. After the eclipse, we had a rushed dinner as the temperature dropped into the 40s and I hustled to heat some soup before it froze in the can.
The next day, we ventured back into the park to poach the resort’s WiFi. As we passed by the saloon looking for WiFi that morning, a couple patrons tried to get a beer – at about 9:30AM. The place only serves coffee in the AM, gents, but way to rock it. The Rough Rider Saloon is a great bar.
After WiFi-ing for a bit, we learned that no campsites had opened up over night, so we’d be back on the road. But first, a beer.
I’m not sure what I like so much about it, but it’s both a hotel bar and a remote, boondock bar. These are my favorite kinds of bars. Hotel bars are great because everybody’s transient in them. Same with boondock bars, I guess, maybe that’s why I like them both. But it’s not entirely like that, there are regulars at boondock bars. There are regulars at the Rough Rider – the staff and its support staff and the guides and all those that make a living off the Grand Canyon. So it’s got this great, welcoming backbone of boondock with the wonderful transientness of a hotel bar.
As I was saying, it’s a great bar. It’s a great retreat from the masses. For whatever reason, it seems to be the dream of every overweight tourist to waddle up to the side of the Grand Canyon, snap a few pics, then go in search of another meal to digest the view over. Don’t want to dally too long. Might miss second-supper. Or elevensies. They were everywhere! The north rim secret is out – it’s just as bad as the south rim now, packed with those who think they’re outsmarting the crowds.
Retreat into the saloon. Everything is alright after a beer. We order a round, happy at our WiFi-induced productivity that morning, now looking forward to the next leg of the trip. We’d head towards Zion, we decided. Right away.
We smile at everybody as we leave. We smile-and-nod to the tourists shuffling towards their first view of the canyon. We wave at the pedestrians that jay-walk in front of us as we drive away from the resort. All’s right with the world. Merry Christmas, everyone.