Brighty the Mule and the Cocktail

Years ago Karl surprised me with one of our first trips together. He didn’t tell me where we were going, just that I would love it. At the time we lived in Costa Mesa, California, and started driving on Highway 15. Instead of heading off toward Las Vegas, which is where I thought we were going, we verged off to the right and drove into the night toward the Grand Canyon. Karl kept it a secret until he led me with my eyes closed to the edge of the South Rim. As I opened my eyes, the expanse was thrilling and surprising. If you’ve never experienced the awe of the Grand Canyon, you just think people are exaggerating about the feeling and the views. The overall spaciousness and beauty is breathtaking.

We’ve returned several times throughout the years, hiking the Bright Angel Trail on a nine mile round trip to Indian Gardens, camping with our small children, having breakfast with a view in the Arizona Room Restaurant at Bright Angel Lodge. But one thing we have always wanted to do was to drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and experience that perspective of the Canyon.

This past April, we were able to get away. We flew into Las Vegas, rented a car, and headed through Zion National Park toward the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The traffic was nonexistent, and the scenery was sublime. Along the way we encountered large herds of mule deer in an open meadow.  As the evening was approaching, we arrived at the North Rim. What a surprise to see a modest stone lodge built into the canyon ledge made with local Kaibab limestone rocks and Poderosa pine timbers. A limited number of cabins are available for lodging, so we quickly snapped one up.

We had some time before dinner and wandered around to take in the sights. We encountered a bronze statue of a local celebrity, Brighty the Mule. Originally named “Bright Angel” after a creek that flowed into the Grand Canyon, Brighty spent summers carrying water from a spring below the rim to accommodate tourists coming to the Canyon in the late 1890’s. He was gentle and quite popular with children, so popular that a children’s novel and movie was made about him!

So in honor of Brighty, we decided to have a cocktail before dinner, sit at the outdoor seating, and take in the views. The popular offering was their own version of the Moscow Mule, named the Brighty at the North Rim. So yummy! So from this point on, whenever I order a Moscow Mule, I always say, “I’ll have a Brighty, please!”


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