Sent: Monday, January 07, 2002 2:04 AM
Subject: Travelog Days 1 & 2: Arizona
Marriott's comments are upper and lower case, and my comments are all upper case.
Hello! Day Two and all's well (just call me the town crier).
Haley arrived late on Friday night and we were up and ready to go by 8 a.m. the next day. And actually, Haley was up at 5:30 a.m. CORRECTION: AWAKE AT 5 AND UP AT 6. But there was no way I was getting out of bed then. Although now that we've been to Sedona (our first stop), I almost wish I had gotten up so we could have had even more time there. But I'll get to that in a minute. And Haley's going to interject along the way.
The drive from San Diego to Sedona was pretty cool overall. Beautiful scenery ranging from rocky mountains that looked like a huge pile of boulders to actual sand dune desert. But there were also some long stretches of scrubby desert that got a bit old after awhile. Plus Haley and I were tired from not sleeping terribly well the night before and both trying to de-stress. Me from running around trying to get ready to go all week and Haley from coordinating the move and leaving her home of the past year and a half.
But once we got to Sedona road, all that was forgotten and we were quickly reminded why the road trip seemed like a good idea in the first place. Sedona is incredible. We are going to post pictures and you should have either already gotten, or will shortly get, a link to the Ofoto album. I think the pictures are gorgeous (I'm biased as the photographer, of course) but they still don't do it justice. THEY ARE GORGEOUS PHOTOS, NO BIAS AT ALL, BUT SHE'S RIGHT -- NO PHOTO COULD DO THIS LANDSCAPE JUSTICE. YOU JUST HAVE TO COME HERE AND SEE IT FOR YOURSELVES!
We got there just in time for sunset. BARELY IN TIME. WE FORGOT TO ACCOUNT FOR THE TIME CHANGE WHEN WE HIT ARIZONA, AND THOUGHT WE HAD PLENTY OF TIME TO ARRIVE. WE WERE RACING THE WHOLE LAST FEW MINUTES, SCOLDING THE SLOW CARS IN FRONT OF US, GETTING PESKY WITH THE TOURISTS MEANDERING ACROSS THE ROAD AND KEEPING US FROM PARKING. We asked the rangers where the best place to view the sunset was and it turns out that it was from right next to the hotel we selected. It was fantastic. (WARNING: e-mail will be replete with superlatives.) Awe-inspiring. One of the most beautiful views I've ever seen. VERY TRUE. YOU'LL AGREE WHEN YOU COME SEE IT FOR YOURSELVES. :)
The hotel was nice. A little pricier than we really wanted and older. PRICIER EQUALS $80 TOTAL. IT'S ALL A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE. But with character, big rooms and delightful guests. At least judging from the very cool older lady we met in the hot tub. ALTHOUGH MARRIOTT DID PAUSE WHEN, SAYING GOODBYE, THE LADY BLESSED US AND SAID "IF I DON'T SEE YOU AGAIN, I'LL SEE YOU IN HEAVEN". SEDONA ATTRACTS SUCH SPIRITUAL PEOPLE. IT MUST BE THAT WHOLE VORTEX THING GOING ON THERE. She recommended a four-wheeling jeep tour, which we took, this morning. Very fun. We had a good guide, gruff and plain speaking, opinionated but not offensive, no-nonsense with a few funny moments of whimsy.
HOLD ON, WAIT A MINUTE, MARRIOTT LEFT OUT A VERY IMPORTANT EVENT: DINNER AT THE COWBOY CLUB. NOT QUITE AS ROMANTIC AS IT SOUNDS, BUT REALLY GOOD FOOD. WHILE I WAS CONSERVATIVE AND JUST HAD A BUFFALO BURGER, MARRIOTT WENT ALL OUT AND HAD THE SNAKE AND BUFFALO SATAY-TYPE THING, ALONG WITH THE PICKLED AND FRIED PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS. YUMMY. BETTER THAN THE FRENCH FRIES THEY SERVED. THE DOWNSIDE OF THE DINNER -- NO CUTE COWBOYS TO MENTION. OH WELL. WE'VE STILL GOT A LOT OF COWBOY COUNTRY TO SEE.
THE 4-WHEEL JEEP TOUR WAS BRIGHT AND EARLY -- 8:30. NO ONE CAN SAY THE TWO OF US CAN'T GET GOING IN THE MORNING WHEN WE WANT TO. VERY COLD, TOO. WE PULLED OUT OUR WINTER GEAR, EAR-MUFFS AND ALL. AND, WE WERE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO GET CAUGHT IN A PHOTO WEARING THE SILLY-LOOKING EAR-MUFFS.
AND YET ANOTHER IMPORTANT EVENT MARRIOTT OMITTED: LUNCH AT THE SEDONA AIRPORT RESTAURANT, WHICH WAS RIGHT NEXT TO OUR HOTEL. I INSISTED WE SIT OUTSIDE (WHICH WAS NICE IN THE SUN), AND MARRIOTT PROMPTLY SAT IN A CHAIR PUDDLED WITH WATER. A GOOD INCH OR SO. WET ENOUGH THAT SHE HAD TO CHANGE HER CLOTHES. WE BOTH HAD A GOOD LAUGH, ALTHOUGH I HAD THE MUCH BETTER LAUGH. IT WAS A SIGHT GAG, YOU HAD TO BE THERE. SHE SPRANG UP OUT OF HER CHAIR SO FAST, AND WAS SO EMBARRASSED TO WALK BACK THROUGH THE RESTAURANT WITH A WET BUTT.
Then we drove Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff and then on to the Grand Canyon. Also amazing. But I've seen it before, so I'll let Haley give you the run down on it. I'll just mention that we saw some wildlife -- some REALLY close up.
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THE GRAND CANYON? GRAND CERTAINLY ISN'T A STRONG ENOUGH WORD. AWE-INSPIRING IS BETTER. WE GOT THERE A LITTLE LATER THAN PLANNED, AND HAD LESS THAN TWO HOURS TO GO FROM VISTA POINT TO VISTA POINT BEFORE SUNSET. WOW. YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO LOOK AT THE PHOTOS TO EVEN BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND. AT ABOUT 5 THE SUN STARTED DISAPPEARING BEHIND THE TREES AND MOUNTAINS. THE SKY STARTED TURNING FABULOUS SHADES OF RED AND PURPLE. AND THE ANIMALS CAME OUT. OUR FIRST WILDLIFE SIGHTING WAS A SQUIRREL IN THE ROAD. NORMAL ENOUGH, BUT VERY LONG EARS. THEN, WE SAW THE COYOTE FURTHER UP THE ROAD. NOT TEN FEET FROM THE CAR AND CASUAL AS CAN BE. BUT THE SCARY WILDLIFE MOMENT WAS AFTER FULL DARK WHEN DRIVING BY THE LODGING AREA AT THE CANYON WHEN A DEER ALMOST RAN INTO US. THAT WOULD HAVE SUCKED. MARRIOTT WAS DRIVING, AND SO FUNNY. "I'M SORRY," SHE APOLOGIZED TO THE DEER. "YOU'LL BE ALLRIGHT, SWEETIE." WHEN I TOLD HER ABOUT IT LATER, SHE DIDN'T EVEN REMEMBER SAYING IT.
We drove back to Flagstaff (where we are now) in the dark and stopped along the way to just "be" in the dark. We found a place to pull off the highway and we were the only car/people/light-source around. Once we killed the car, it was just stars. Bright enough we could see pretty well, but more stars than I've ever seen. So thick that you couldn't really pick out the constellations. And the Milky Way was bright. Made driving 70+ miles in the pitch black waiting for an elk to jump in front of the car worth it. (I am SUCH a city girl. It was so dark and I was so freaked that a deer or something would run in front of the car, we went 55 in a 65 zone for almost the entire way.) FREAKED OUT DOESN'T BEGIN TO DESCRIBE HER. IF IT HAD BEEN LIGHT ENOUGH TO SEE, I'M SURE HER KNUCKLES WERE WHITE, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY POSTED DEER AND ELK CROSSING ZONES.
Anyhow, tomorrow we're headed to Tucumcari, New Mexico, with hoped-for stops at Meteor Crater, the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert and Albuquerque along the way.