Arizona--Phoenix to Williams, Grand Canyon Gateway

Trip Start Apr 16, 2009
Trip End Jul 12, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Saturday, May 16, 2009

DAY 26, Monday - Mesa Verde, Day of Rest - We were so exhausted after the Mesa Verde day, we decided to have a down day, rest, and catch up on things like laundry, the blog, downloading pictures, etc. It felt good to get somewhat organized. We celebrated our day of rest at Tequila's Mexican Restaurant in Cortez, Colorado with a real southwestern marguerita (we were surprised it was not frozen).

DAY 27, Tuesday - On to Arizona, Navajo Nation  ( )- Colorado in this direction is very desolate, flat, and then hilly. We passed hitchhiking Native Americans on a busy highway. We crossed the San Juan River and stopped at the Navaho's Four Corners Monument, where we paid $6 to see the spot where four states (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona) meet at one point (rip-off, but we never plan to do it again). There we also had the privilege of being able to buy Navajo arts and crafts. Linda bought a silver Four Corners pin from Navajo Alice Toney of Montezuma Creek, Utah. Some of the arts items were of excellent quality and pricey. They typically use native materials for their arts. We've been to Bill Richardson's territory (New Mexico), and now to John McCain's, Arizona. Linda thought we were going to Mitt Romney's (Utah) until Mike said no, Mitt's was Massachusetts. But . . . it turns out Mitt did have the Utah connection because he earlier had been involved in reorganizing the Olympics efforts for the Park City Winter Olympics in 2000.

We passed a town called Teac Nos Pos. Signs advertise businesses 90 miles ahead in Tuba City. We tried to have a quick picnic on the side of the road about 10 miles northeast of Tuba City beside a formation of a pair of rocks. About two minutes after sitting down on our Costen Floors picnic blanket, a blast of sand hit us. After that, our paper plates had sand on them. Lunch was a bit gritty. The sky was dusty with blowing sand. We passed a "Wild Horse Crossing" sign. Near the Grand Canyon, it is desolate with almost no grass, only sand--no cacti... 91 degrees. As we approached Flagstaff, the terrain changed back to ponderosa pines as the elevation went up to 6,906'. The temperature dropped to 77 degrees. East of Flagstaff, it became desolate again--dry brush, and the temperature rose again to the mid-80s with strong winds. After remarking that this territory is close to what we might imagine as "hell on earth", we passed Canyon Diablo. We stopped near Meteor Crater for the night. It's very warm, windy, and dusty, but there are different birds here that appreciate it. Having to get to Phoenix the next day early, we had to skip seeing Meteor Crater.

DAY 28, Wednesday-Mesa, Arizona (Phoenix) - Anyone following the map as we are traveling has most likely noticed an unusual southward deviation in the last few days to southern Arizona. Some concerns with our RV trailer have forced us to seek out the nearest authorized dealer to get them fixed, and so we drove south to the Phoenix area. This metropolitan area is huge; Phoenix is the sixth largest city in the U.S. Over 17,500 Navajo live in Mariposcopa County.

This morning Linda went outside the trailer earlier to see what birds were up and about. Instead of birds, there were jackrabbits in the RV park, four of them near us just sitting in the road and on the grass. After leaving the desolation near Meteor Crater in central Arizona (on the old Route 66, by the way), the terrain changed immediately. We went from desert to ponderosa pine to mountains as the elevation increased traveling south, and then closer to Phoenix, down to where saguaro cacti had flowers blooming on top. We crossed the Aqua Fria River (not cold, only dry), and the terrain changed again, now to yellow flowering bushes, saguaro cacti, and short, scrubby, blooming cact. May is prime time for the beauty of the desert plants.

Leaving Flagstaff this morning, it was 67 degrees. Phoenix was 101 late this afternoon. Phoenix has beautiful landscaping on the interstate throughout the city. Natural plantings of blooming rose and yellow buses abound. We passed Thunderbird Rd. and presumed it went to Thunderbird University, one of the schools to which Sarah applied for graduate school. Loop Road 101 around the city has gorgeous natural plantings of blooming white, yellow, pink, and orange bushes along with cacti and lizard paintings on the walls of overpasses and barriers, similar to the roads in New Mexico. Today we learned that the Indians are responsible for the gorgeous plantings and road artwork, requiring it because these roads pass through their land.

Most houses and commercial buildings in this very flat area are one-story. Houses have small yards, most with gravel in front, not grass. Many of the finer ones have Mexican tile roofs. Businesses often have covers over parking lots, like carports, to protect cars from so much sun. There are man-made canals we suppose are for irrigation. Mesa seems to have many low-rent districts; house trailers abound. We were amazed at the abundance of RV sales, service, and storage businesses, unlike anywhere we've been. It seems this area is extremely popular with snowbirds, who come to escape the cold northern winters.

101 degrees is HOT! However, we are in the cool Hampton Inn Phoenix-Mesa for the night after pizza at Barro's, a local establishment since 1980.

We didn't know anything much about the subject of Indian reservations since we have none in VA, but Native American control here is of upmost importance. See .

Obama spoke tonight at the commencement for University of Arizona, so that was the headline news here--pretty cool, he shook hands with the upper degree graduates as they crossed the stage, delaying his departure on Air Force One by about a half-hour.
DAY 29, Thursday-Stuck in Phoenix at 102 Degrees - While the RV trailer was being repaired, we made the best of our unplanned destination by visiting one of the few attractions in Mesa, AR, not willing to venture into downtown Phoenix. The Arizona Temple Visitors Center (Mormon) built in the 1920's is a beautiful building with flower gardens and pools. The "Sisters" there were very gracious; we presume this is the type of role for young women while young men go on missionary trips. There was a huge sculpture of Jesus in the Main Lobby, and paintings of the life of Jesus and a scale model of Jerusalem with audio and lights that related locations on the model with the paintings. We watched an hour-long movie on the life of Joseph Smith and the early years of the Mormon Church and left with a gratis copy of The Book of Mormon. Overall, it was pleasant and educational.

As the temperature climbed steadily, we ventured to Scottsdale, AR, another Phoenix-area city, famous for its arts galleries, a "Most Livable City". The roads are flat and wide with 6 lanes. Old Town Scottsdale with its palm trees and sculpture was a pleasant surprise with its "Old West Meets New West" theme. At first glance, it looks like an old Western town with its long, connected storefronts with western style signage and roofs overhanging the sidewalks. Palms and sculpture adorn the streets. There is a pretty white restored adobe mission originally built for the Mexican barrio here, and many of the newer buildings have Spanish Colonial Revival styling with tile roofs.One of the cool things we found was that several restaurants had mist sprayers out on the sidewalk so one could walk through the mist to cool off in the 103 degree weather. Great lunch at Karsen's Grill in town; their Turkey Reubens are fresh with cole slaw not sauerkraut, and the potato salad is REALLY home-made.

Dillon's RV repair shop dropped the ball on the RV repair and didn't get the part needed in time to get the trailer back to us before 5:00, and the technicians "don't work past 5 o'clock", so we were stuck here in the heat for another day. Arizona is mostly Navaho land. The area is full of motor home parks, and the Apache Trail is very run-down. However, the Hampton Inn Mesa is one of the best HI'sI we've seen, but we would rather be at the Grand Canyon--maybe on Friday.
DAY 30, Friday - Phoenix to Williams, AR - We got back on track for the Grand Canyon today. Got the RV and got out of the oven while the temp was only 93 degrees. We headed up toward Williams, AR, which is an old western town that is the gateway to the Grand Canyon on the south side. On the way to Williams, we passed interesting roads with names that seemed strange to us Virginian.U.S. 60 was Superstition Freeway, named after the Superstition Mountains. We crossed 74, known as Carefree Highway. Then there was Horsethief Basin Recreation Area, Bumble Bee, Blood Basin Rd., and Big Bug Creek. We passed the "Yavapai Apache Casino".

We made a stop by Montezuma's Castle National Monument (misnamed after the Aztec ruler by early soldiers of the Mexican War) . Here there were the ruins of a five-story cliff dwelling built by the Sinagua (from sierra sin agua, the Spanish name for the mountains "without water") in stages in the period 1100-1400. Interesting because it is 90% of the original remains. Williams is pleasant and cooler, and on Friday night several restaurants have outdoor dining and music. Starving, we ate at a steak restaurant and listened to a country singer. Really anticipating the Grand Canyon tomorrow.
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chicasarita on

Where in the world is Mitt Romney?
'Linda thought we were going to Mitt Romney's (Utah) until Mike said no, Mitt's was Massachusetts.'

Hahahaha. You know, there are Mormans in other states besides Utah.

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