Grander, and more Canyon-y than I thought

Trip Start Mar 21, 2010
Trip End Apr 30, 2010

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Where I stayed
Sedona El Portal

Flag of United States  , Arizona
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Drove north out of Sedona on Rt 89A through Oak Creek Canyon in deep morning shade, with the rising sun hitting the tops of the bare ridges. The first ten miles made for pleasant driving in the RT and then... we hit the climb out of the canyon, and the multiple switchbacks. Nothing like driving a small bus on a steep winding upgrade with a procession of pickup trucks and cars behind you. Some real white knuckling, but we made it. Stopped for breakfast in Flagstaff (where they had, what? 50+ inches of snow over a couple of weeks in January?  Still some there, on the bare ground. We very fortunately chose the counterclockwise loop from Sedona to tour the Canyon, since after a stop at a Navajo run trading post in Cameron, we came through the east gate to GC National Park. I asked the ranger where the lines were, thinking perhaps this was still the light season for crowds. She told us they were all at the South gate, near where all the campgrounds and hotels are. So we wound up driving against the flow, making stops at the rim. The crowds gradually thickened at each spot until we reached the masses at the South Rim. Before getting there, Maxine tumbled into a large snow patch and did her patented corkscrew move, nuzzling into the snowbank over and over. The parking lot at the South Rim was just about at capacity when we got there around 1pm, and the paved areas adjacent to the Rim have been torn up to be redone, so lots of orange plastic netting keeping the crowds funneling into each other as they moved from spot to spot. When we left the park headed south at about 2ish there was a triple line of cars backed up at the entrance gate. But NOT us!  Long, long drive south from the Park to I 40 east, to Flagstaff, where we drove on Route 66 into Flagstaff to look for food. Found the Galaxy Diner at 4pm, with the young servers just about even with the number of patrons. Suited us just fine. Big Rock and Roll motif as you might have guessed, burgers and milkshakes and such.
Incidentally, the quote from the Grand Canyon that was the right answer is number three - "If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it."  Downtime in Sedona today, staying local. Will buy one of the required "Red Rock Passes" to get onto national park grounds so at about 6 tonight we can watch the setting sun set the cliffs on fire.
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