Altoids at Altitude

Trip Start Aug 05, 2012
Trip End Jan 11, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Saturday, October 13, 2012

Howdy y'all, just got back from a road trip with my international buds so that must mean it's time for an update! Forewarning that this is one long sucker of a post (-thought I'd be nice for once)!

I don't think there is much to update on between San Diego and now other than the usual routine of sports, good grades with minimal effort and seeing friends so let's get to it...
A couple of weeks ago I said that I wanted to go sky diving and asked who wanted to join; the idea snowballed into a full 7 seater (luxurious) mini-van roadie to the Grand Canyon!  There was so much to organise- a near impossible feat- but Selina is an organisation queen so somehow we managed to get everything done! Our lovely boys Matt and Daniel took us to the grocery store in style- 3 trolleys later the family shopping filled up the tray of the ute.  Halloween prep is in full swing here and pumpkins are only $2.50 each! It was so tempting to buy as many as the truck would allow!
Friday morning I trekked to Selina's apartment with my bag of tricks for the weekend and we went to go get the car early afternoon Thankfully, leenzy drove around town for the first bit so I had time to mentally prepare for driving on the wrong side of the road- don't worry we made it out alive haha. We packed the car up and packed everyone into the back, though it was definitely a squeeze!  On the open road Selina and I switched out and I drove the rest of the way to Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Sedona, our first campsite of the trip (and secretly I was thinking possibly my last night on earth). We set up camp in the dark and got to the fun part of camping as soon as possible- the drinking! "Never have I ever" learned so much about my friends in one night- I think I'll keep them around though.
Ricky and I stayed up late in our skydiving tent talking about our expectations, excitement and fears haha.  The next morning we got dropped at Red Rock Skydiving and both survived one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life thus far- unfortunately I've discovered yet another expensive and highly addictive hobby..  Paperwork in which we gave up our rights and accepted the possibility of death was signed before the brief training session could begin.  We stayed strangely calm in the tiny plane that we were squeezed into, and were flown over Sedona's red rocks before getting to full altitude over Cottonwood where we were landing.  Zach, my tandem instructor, gave me an Altoid mint to pop my ears before we jumped out of the plane- 2 miles up! Thirty seconds of free fall at 120mph later, which actually felt like I was flying, and the parachute was pulled and we floated around and played with steering while I took in the sites for the next 7 minutes.  My bum reacquainted itself with the ground and Ricky and I headed back to check out our photos (which then of course, I had to buy for the hilarity of my facial expressions).  The others showed up promptly and we headed out on the road to the Grand Canyon.
First stop on the way was Frank Lloyd Wright's Chapel of the Holy Cross, which is built into the rocks of Sedona.  The children in the back weren't particularly keen on the idea of going to church so we didn't go inside, but on the way back to the main road Stewart ran onto the highway to get his beloved hat, which was thrown out the window en route in protest (as Selina said).  Next up we took them to a natural waterslide, Slide Rock. The water was cold enough that I'm sure I got brain freeze- needless to say there were more funny faces that afternoon.  Back on the road quick as a flick- we had a very tight schedule (and an official itinerary thanks to Selina) in order to fit everything in to the trip.  Finally we got to the Grand Canyon- I know, skydiving and the Grand Canyon in one day... I still can't quite believe it all happened- and the 10 degree drop in (daytime) temperature was noticeable! In one weekend we went from being in the 30s to -1 and back again! The Grand Canyon really is awe inspiring.  There are no words to describe it and no photo (well none of mine at least) can fully capture it.  The longer you look the bigger it gets and the smaller you feel.  Hopping on and off the Grand Canyon busses and walking between viewing points, we got a number of different views of it all before the sun went down over the horizon.  Headed back to our campsite to set up after dark again- this time we got our own fire pit though! BBQ time! I lost my S'more virginity and I'm probably hooked for life now- uh oh!
We were lucky enough to experience both sunset and sunrise in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen... Well those of us that could pull ourselves out of bed at 5:30 in the freezing, and very dark, morning anyway- Selina, Chris, Ricky and I just about froze waiting for the shuttle from the visitors centre.  As soon as the sun rose, everything else was forgotten as we thawed out watching the most magnificent thing I may ever see.  It was entirely unforgettable and I'll cherish it for decades to come (sorry for getting super cheesy just now but it was such a soul stirring sight). After sunrise we went to a few stops we ran out of time for the night before then headed back to camp to find, still sleeping, Ellen, Niall and Stewart.

After packing up camp we drove out along the East Rim of the Canyon headed for the middle of nowhere. We stopped off at the Watchtower, the inside of which is covered in American Indian art, and has some great views of the Canyon. The shop assistant, as lovely as he was, seriously delayed our strict itinerary and we were further pushed for time at the Cameron Trading Post when the food took forever and made us all feel unpleasantly full- getting back in the car wasn't fun! Selina and I got more and more stressed as we came to the realisation that we'd be very hard pressed to get to Monument Valley (where they filmed all the old western movies) in time to do the scenic drive before closing but thankfully our lovely friends took pity on us and said they'd commit to getting up early to do it before our long drive home the next day.  It meant the stress was gone and Selina could get her best friend's 21st present before we got back on the road to Utah.  The closer we got to the state border, the more desolate our surroundings became; we got to the middle of nowhere on the other side after passing some depressing towns on the way.  The views and red rocks were well worth the drive out there though- breathtaking! Getting red dust everywhere and all over all my things perhaps wasn't a highlight of Monument Valley... It was quite nice to be out of cellphone reception range though. We fostered some stray animals at our last campsite- three kittens and a dog we named Ben (there were two puppies that came to play, but that was after I'd passed out from exhaustion).  I wanted to take him home so badly.  The next morning we packed up camp really early (Utah is 1 hour ahead of Arizona) and drove the scenic, off-road, route around the valley.  Quick stops for photos in a few places and we were out of there! Time to head home and check out the different landscapes of Arizona all in one go on our 7 hour drive back home.

It took the rest of the week to recover from the trip- sleeping on the ground isn't particularly comfortable it turns out- but it was such a fantastic experience that it didn't matter at all.
Best go do some work now; depressing that I'm at home alone on a Saturday night but next weekend I'll be partying it up with my next-door neighbour from back home, Aimee, in Toronto!
Much love, Rose. xx

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