Arizona and Nevada 10/2/1999-10/10/1999
10/2/99 - Monument Valley and Lake Powell
We got up at 6:15. We checked out and ate breakfast at McDonald's. We stopped to see Newspaper Rock State Historic Park, a panel of petroglyphs etched in sandstone. We drove to Natural Bridges National Monument and walked to the overlooks. We then drove to Monument Valley. We ate lunch at the San Juan Cafe in Mexican Hat. We had Navajo food: we each had fry bread, and Craig had beef stew and I had a vegetarian taco. We did the scenic drive at the Navajo Nation. It was gorgeous. Because it is a tribal park, you are not allowed to stray from the dirt road and designated lookout points, but it was definitely worth the few dollars we spent for admission. There are guided Jeep tours as well, which you can get at the main vistor's center. However, we thoroughly enjoyed driving the rental Blazer, and taking photos that look like they are straight out of a car commercial. Before we left Monument Valley, we stopped at a small shop within the park. Two young boys were outside playing with a dog. They followed us inside, and it turned out that they were minding the shop. They were very friendly, and were very interested in where we were from. They were in fifth grade. We chatted with them for a while, and I bought some pottery from them.
We drove to Page and checked in at the Wahweap Lodge on Lake Powell. We watched the sun set over the lake from our balcony and then ate burgers and fries in the Driftwood Lounge. It was much warmer here: 90 degrees at 4 pm. After dinner we went out to the pool/hot tub. Some Canadian stunt pilots were there for the air show. They gave Craig a beer. Bats kept buzzing the pool to eat insects.
10/3/00 - Waverunners on Lake Powell
We got up at 6:00. After breakfast at McDonald's, we went to Doo Powell to rent our waverunners. We had to borrow their truck to bring the waverunners to the marina, as commercial vehicles are not allowed there. Craig dropped me off with the waverunners, and then returned the vehicle. We had a blast driving around Antelope Island, and reached a top speed of 46.8 mph. It was really exhilarating Craig's throttle broke on a beach. We left his waverunner there and continued with both of us riding mine. I kept feeling like I was going to fall off, so we ended up taking turns. At the end of the day we towed the borken boat back to Antelope Point (luckily the beach were it died was right across the way). When we returned them, we got $80 back for the broken one. Despite the problems, it was a blast. The lake is gorgeous. It would be fun to go back with a bunch of friends and rent a houseboat. There are so many islands and beaches off which you could anchor, it is possible to have some privacy.
We went back to the room for sunset and went to the Driftwood Lounge for burgers, drinks, and a football game. We topped off the night with another visit to the pool/hot tub.
10/4/99 - Antelope Canyon and North Rim
We went to Lower Antelope Canyon, a "corkscrew canyon" which was truly amazing. Though the guide books stated that you could get a guided tour, the canyon was really self-guided. It is on reservation land not far from Lake Powell. You pay money for admission, and you are led buy a guide to the canyon, which looks like a fissure in the earth. You lower yourself inside, and find yourself in a maze of sprialing slickrock. It is gorgeous! But check the weather forecast before you go. Flash floods in rainstorms have killed hikers down there.
We left Lake Powell and drove to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We stopped for a nice lunch at the Jacob Lake Inn, where we ate "Big Cheese" sandwiches. Then we continued to the North Rim. We hiked to Bright Angel Point. The view was disappointing, due to pollution. Then we checked into our cabin. We relaxed for a while and then drove to Cape Royal for sunset. We then went back to the cabin, and saw a deer drinking from the water pump. We showered and went to the saloon for a drink. We went onto the lodge's proch with an outdoor fireplace and rocking chairs overlooking the rim. It was gorgeous and cozy. We ate in the lodge's gorgeous dining room (reservations required!) We had a shrimp quesadilla as an appetizer. We wanted the filet mignon, but they were sold out. It was a good thing, because we loved our second choice: New York strip steak with three pepper glaze and red oven-roasted potatoes. Our dinner seating was late, so we went to bed after that.
10/5/00 - Wupatki National Monument, Sunset Crater, and Winslow
We rose early and walked partway to Bright Angel Point for sunrise. We then went to the saloon for coffee and pastries to go. We stopped at the Jacob Lake Inn for supplies, and then drove to
Wupatki National Monument. We saw Anasazi and Sinagua ruins, and could even walk into them. We took the self-guided tour, which led us through a through a 100-room pueblo and a ballcourt. There was even a blowhole which blew cold air up from out of the earth. We then went to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and hiked the lava trail, climbing a cinder cone.
Then we drove to Winslow. We checked into the hotel, which was right off the highway, and then headed into town. We found the corner immortalized in the Eagles song "Take It Easy", which has not been turned into a park (complete with a statue of Glenn Frye and bricks that can be adopted). We ate at the Casa Blanca Cafe, a little hole in the wall place, and had great enchiladas, sopapillas, and tacos. The salsa was incredibly spicy. THis is where we learned the difference between green and red salsa. We then went in search of a liquor store. The old Rt 66 is rather run down. We eventually ended up at a grocery store and Wal-Mart near the hotel (other side of town, near the new highway).
10/6/99 - Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Flagstaff, and Steve's Arrival
We ate breakfast at the hotel. They had delicious biscuits and gravy. We left Winslow and stopped at the Petrified Forest National Park. It was gorgeous! It was amazing how much petrified wood was just laying around on the ground! You are not allowed to take any, but there are many little gem shops that sell it. We walked around in the trails in the park, and then stopped at
a gift shop to buy a piece of petrified wood and a manzanita root (manzanita is a reddish brown shrub which is found all over the southwest, as well as in northern California). The landscape was amazing; all of the hills were striated with purple and gray.
We were running low on gas, and were afraid that we wouldn't be able to make it to a gas station. We pulled into the Painted Desert visitor's center to get some gas. It was so expensive there that we couldn't justify filling the tank. We knew there were cheaper gas stations nearby, so Craig only put enough into the tank to get to the next gas station. When he tried to pay for it, the attendant thought that we were ripping him off, because who buys $5 worth of gas? He accused Craig of resetting the pump after filling the whole tank. After some explaining, we were able to pay the $5 and make a getaway to the nearest cheaper gas station.
We went to the Meteor Crater (it seemed ludicrous to pay to see a hole in the ground, but we had our hearts set on seeing it, and there is no way to even view it without paying admission. It turned out to be a good way to spend an hour or so, as they had a little space museum on premises as well). The crater itself is 50,000 years old. It is 550 feet deep and 2.4
miles in circumference. The winds there were 70 mph, so viewing the crater from outside was a quick endeavor. However, it was quite impressive. The life-saized cardboard astronaut cutouts placed within the crater were pretty tacky, though. After that, we stopped at Walnut Canyon National Monument, the site of ruins of ancient cliff dwellings of the Sinagua people. The homes were carved into the sides of the limestone cliffs, and built walls out of smaller pieces of limestone on the exposed side of the home. There was a nice trail on which to hike, with many stairs. It is a popular field trip destination, as evidenced by the several school groups in attendance when we were there.
We ate a Mexican dinner at the Kachina restaurant in Flagstaff. Then we had some time to kill before picking Steve (Craig's brother) up at the airport, so we watched the Red Sox at the Beaver Street Brewery. We talked with a guy named Mike who was a sales rep for Addison Wesley Longman (small world again!!)
We picked Steve up at the airport. His luggage was nowhere to be found. After a stop at the world's slowest McDonald's drive through, we drove back to the Quality Inn for a good night's sleep.
10/7/99 - Sedona and Arrival at the South Rim
We picked up a continental breakfast in the lobby, and then made a quick stop at the airport to collect Steve's luggage (which was fortuitous, as his hiking gear was in there). We drove to Sedona via Walnut Canyon.
We went on the Sedona Red Rocks Jeep Tours' Cave Dwellings of the Ancients tour with a guide named Wendy. I made an idiot of myself by smashing my head so hard I fell over while getting into the van. Wendy drove the three of us to the site, where we put on waders and waded through the Verde River. Wendy's dad is an archaeologist, and she really knows her stuff. It was a great tour of limestone cliffside cave dwellings of the Sinagua.
After the tour, we went to some shops in Sedona and drove down Schnebly Hill Road. Then Craig drove us south a long way, as Steve and I had never seen a seguaro before. We ate dinner in Flagstaff at Salsa Brava (recommended by Wendy). It was delicious! Then we had a drink at the Beaver Sreet Brewery.
After dinner, we drove to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was a white-knuckle drive for Craig, as we kept a lookout for deer eyes glowing in the dark. We viewed the stars at Mather Point and the Bright Angel trailhead. We saw some shooting stars.
We checked into our cabin (we had neighboring rooms. You do not get an entire cabin to youself here, as you do on the North Rim). I woke Craig up at 2 am, frantically thinking there was a chipmunk in the bed. That is a dream that I will never be able to live down.
10/8/99 - South Rim
We got up at 8. We ate breakfast at the lodge (more yummy biscuits and sausage gravy for me). Steve was sick (we later found out it was dehydration), so while he rested, Craig and I took the bus to Hopi Point and walked along the rim back to the cabin. We then went to the visitor's center. They had a display of some of the types of boats that have been through the Colorado Rover over the years. The small wooden boats that John Wesley Powell and his crew took looked amazingly dangerous. We traveled East to Grand View Point. We got some food and supplies and went back to the room.
Steve was feeling better, and we walked up to the Arizona steakhouse for a delicious dinner. After hanging out in the room for a while, we went to sleep.
10/9/99 - West Rim Trail
We got up for sunrise at Mather Point (who brought the trumpet for reveille?) and then ate breakfast at Bright Angel. After showering, we prepared to hike the West Rim. We took a bus to Hermit's Rest and hiked the 8 miles back to the lodge. We saw very few people along the way. Most of the hike was very close to the canyon rim, although sometimes we were forced to walk along the road. The views were fantastic. We ate lunch on a rock ledge, dangling our feet over the edge and looking down at the sheer drop down to the canyon floor.
After cleaning up back at the cabin, we went to the Grand Canyon IMAX movie in Tusayan, and then dinner at the Steak House in Tusayan. We did some gift shopping back at the lodge and then hung out in the room before going to bed.
10/10/99 - Grand Canyon Caverns, Kingman, Hoover Dam, Vegas, and Departure
We woke up at 7:00. We packed up and ate our last breakfast at Bright Angel. We stopped at the Visitor's Center. We drove down Route 66 to the Grand Canyon Caverns. It was pretty touristy, as it had an elevator which takes you down 210 feet to the caverns and there was a mummified sloth and bobcat. However, it was interesting to learn that it is actually connected to the Grand Canyon (at one point they put colored smoke in the caverns and watched to see where it came out; they found it in the Grand Canyon, many miles away). The caverns are made of limestone, and the temperature within them is 56 degrees year-round. The caverns had been designated as a bomb shelter during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the rations were still there. We ate lunch at Mr. D'z Rt 66 Diner in Kingman. It was a rather new place, but they went for that vintage feel. We had burgers and onion rings, and got root beer floats to go.
We then went to the Hoover Dam. We took the last tour of the day. It was amazing...there was enough concrete in there to pave a 2-lane road from New York City to San Francisco. Then we drove to Vegas. We drove over to the Las Vegas Hilton, and rode
Star Trek: The Experience. There was a Star Trek museum while you waited in line for the ride itself, which was awesome. We had drinks and a quesadilla at Quark's (a replica of the restaurant in Deep Space Nine, complete with an angry Klingon at the bar. We took pictures with a Klingon and a Ferengi. The whole casino was Star Trek themed, and I dropped $25 on Borg-looking slot machines. We drove down Las Vegas Blvd., which looked very cool in the dark. We made it to the airport in time for our midnight redeye flight.
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