After a couple days hanging around North Ranch, Congress, and Wickenburg, we headed off for the Grand Canyon. The drive covered all sorts of terrain (mountain, desert, chaparral, grassland…, so it flew by. Upon entering the Grand Canyon National Park we went directly to the rim and blew, or rather expanded, our minds. It is absolutely ridiculous but for a while all I could muster was Wow. Repeatedly.
There was a fair amount of snow at the top, so we didn’t trek below since that required crampons, stamina, and balance. But there was plenty to see at the rim. After we got our breath back, we checked into our room at the Yavapai Lodge and then drove west toward Hermit’s rest to catch the sunset at Pima Point.
Ted was not really pleased to hear the alarm go off the next morning (first alarm in three weeks!), but I wanted to catch the sunrise. We dashed out to Mather Point in 12-degree weather to learn that not only were we early, but the slanty light effects of the sunrise occur quite awhile after actual sunrise. So we bounced and shivered for about half an hour before the big payoff. We returned to our room to warm up and then headed to the National Geographic Visitor Center to see a pretty amazing IMAX film about the history of the canyon and its early explorers. Lots of footage of running the river, so we got to imagine my parents on their dory trips and Roy guiding rafts down the river.
In the winter there’s about 35 miles of driveable roads along the rim (the North Rim is closed in winter). We drove east toward Desert View, stopping at Grandview Point and other overlooks, the Tusayan Museum and Puebloan ruins, and ending up at the Watchtower where we were rewarded with a 360-degree view from the highest point on the South Rim. We visited the Geology Museum and stopped in at El Tovar Hotel for a drink and then watched the sun set and the full moon rise.
In the morning we drove out east toward Cameron stopping to say goodbye to the canyon, until we visit the North Rim. We drove through Indian reservation land and stopped at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument on our way to Flagstaff. Never having been there, I had long thought that Flagstaff might be a retirement possibility, but it’s too cold (high elevation) for Ted. We did enjoy exploring the historic downtown and had a nice lunch before setting off for Sedona.
We by chance decided to drive the somewhat further route through the Oak Creek Canyon and were handsomely rewarded with beautiful views on a mountain drive and along the creek. We’d been to Sedona before (Ted a few times), but it’s still exciting driving into town and marveling at all the rock formations in every shade of red. We checked into our Sedona Village Inn suite and then took off on a nearby hike to Cathedral Rock. We had a fantastic dinner (birthday dinner for me, a month late) at Cucina Rustica. Great cocktails, seafood, dessert, and music. Highly recommend. The next day we met Ted’s brother Rick and his wife Carol for lunch at the Creekside Cafe and then hiked the Chuckwagon Trail near Thunder Mountain — and somehow found ourselves at a brewery. Then we four drove through Cottonwood, Jerome, and over Mingus Mountain and back to Prescott. The next morning Ted and Rick golfed and Carol and I drove around Prescott looking at neighborhoods that would be nice to live in. I picked up some real estate brochures in Prescott and in Sedona/Village of Oak Creek. Possibilities.
Now we’re back in Congress for our last week. Yesterday we went to Phoenix to visit the Desert Botanical Garden, which furthered our education about desert flora and was a lovely place to spend the afternoon. Now we’re dorking with bikes, taking dog walks, doing some housekeeping and bookkeeping and preparing ourselves for RV Boot Camp, which is this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Then off for Tucson!