Hoodoo? We do!

Bryce Canyon is the most unusual place I’ve ever seen and, surely, one of the most unusual on Earth. Several trails are closed because of ice and snow, but we enjoyed the views from several viewing spots.

What are hoodoos? Perhaps they are the Legend People.

Here we are.

There are cabins near the lodge. Notice the wavy pattern of the shingles.

On our way to Bryce Canyon, we noticed earthen ramps spaced along the fences. These are for wild animals who cannot jump over the fences and who want to – dare I say it? – cross the road. Considerate folks, these Utahns!

Tomorrow we go to Zion National Park.

Rollin’ on the River

The Colorado, not The Mississippi! Our day began early with a trip to view Horseshoe Bend. Unfortunately, that required an early departure, so only one of us took the trip. He liked it a lot and shared photos, one of which is below.

Later in the day we drove to the Glenn Canyon Dam, boarded rafts, and floated through Glen Canyon on a calm section of the Colorado River. The weather was perfect.

A lovely afternoon, floating on the emerald green river. The water is very clear.

We stopped at a site to see petroglyphs. Note the anatomically correct figure of the chief.

Here we are!

And a view of the Colorado from above.

This trip gets better every day!

Natural beauty

Today was cold and windy, which helped me decide not to complete a short hike to see the Betatakin ruins at the Navajo National Monument. Had I continued on a little farther, Cecil said the trees would have sheltered me, but I turned back and missed seeing the ledge house.

Lunch at Fiesta Mexicana in Page, AZ, was tasty. Although we were a group of 42, service was very good. And I liked the bright decor, especially my chair with a dancing señorita.

After lunch, Nate, our Navajo guide, took us to Upper Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon formed by wind and rain and, mostly, flash floods. It is one of the most unusual and starkly beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Look for the heart in the second photo.

Valley Days

David, our Navajo guide, picked us up in an open-sided vehicle that appeared to have no shocks. If it did have them, they weren’t in working condition. Our dusty, bumpy, cold ride gave the 18 of us great laughs all day. We had fun!

To enter Mystery Valley, you must be Navajo or accompanied by a Navajo. The land formations are astounding, as you will see below.

David told us their average annual rainfall is 9″. So far this year they’ve had 8″. He said, “We’re in great shape.” Last year they had a severe drought, and many of their animals (horses, cattle) died. This year the desert is green.

We visited the House of Many Hands, a site sacred to the Navajo. Look at the petroglyphs.

After a picnic lunch, David took us to Monument Valley, where many John Ford westerns were filmed.

My favorite cowboy

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A day late . . .

We’ve had a busy two days at the Grand Canyon, starting with sunrise.

That morning we took a history walking tour along the South Rim, which we followed with a short hike on part of the Bright Angel trail.

The red line shuttle carried us all the way to Hermit’s Rest, and we stopped at lots of scenic view points before reaching the end. Our total miles walked for the day? 8+!

This morning found us at Desert View, at Mary Coulter’s Watch Tower, located at the eastern end of the Canyon.

This afternoon we drove through the Painted Desert on the way to Goulding’s Lodge in Monument Valley.

Below is the view from our room. Can you see John Wayne’s shadow?

Sedona Rocks!

After breakfast in the hotel and after putting bags on the bus and after putting ourselves on the bus, we began our trip to Sedona. One interesting tidbit came from noticing a road sign for a donkey crossing. There are wild donkeys around Phoenix! I regret that we didn’t see one.

Our first field trip was a visit to Montezuma Castle National Monument, the well preserved 700-year-old Anasazi pueblo ruins. A park ranger explained that theirs was a matriarchal society in which the women tended the crops (corn, beans, squash, cotton) and the men were weavers and hunters. The average lifespan was 42 years, and 50% of children died before the age of 5. It is believed that about 35 people inhabited this community.

Although Beaver Creek runs through the valley, the native Americans chose to dwell high on the Hill for protection. The walk through the sycamore trees was lovely.

Outside Sedona we stopped at the Red Rock State Park. Below, left to right, is a view of Castle Rock, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Butte. The rocks are really big and really red!

Cecil and I went exploring and took a short walk along Woods Canyon Trail.

Our next stop was Bell Rock viewpoint. We enjoyed the easy hike to the base of Bell Rock, stopping along the way to take pictures.

Leavin’ on a jet plane

As we do often, we began this journey with breakfast at The Egg. Word must not have spread that we were leaving town because the usual diners were not there.

We did not buy an Egg doll, but we did enjoy our poached eggs.

A boring airport is actually a lovely sight! Our American Airlines flight left on time, but there was a computer problem with one of the engines, so we returned to the gate for repair. It’s so much better to find an engine problem while still on the ground. After the glitch was fixed, we had to wait on paperwork to be completed. About 15 minutes later the captain announced that all was done. The plane was pushed back from the gate a second time, but we had to return because during the repair they had inadvertently erased the weight and load data. No worries because we’ve not yet had an AA.com flight be on time.

It was a smooth flight to Phoenix. I was surprised when cabin attendant announced the time difference – three hours, not two. Hmmmmm. We learned tonight that Arizona does not have Daylight Savings Time because they want the extra hour in the A.M., when the temperature is cooler. Smart!

The orientation meeting led by our leader, Don Lago, went well. We enjoyed eating dinner here at the airport Hilton Garden Inn with Don and two couples from Ontario. Tomorrow to Sedona.

What to take?

Telling people we are Road Scholars is lots of fun because they think we are RHODES Scholars. Of course, friends know that is an impossibility for intellects such as ours. We take our laughs where we can! Since we have rarely taken trips organized by a tour company, just signing on was a leap of faith. Maybe a baby step?

Communication with the company indicates that the organizers know what they’re doing. They’ve even provided clothing and packing suggestions. We are to bring “a reasonable amount of each item for the number of days (we) will be traveling.” The list includes “shirts, blouses, or tops” and “wrinkle-free pants, or skirts.” Underwear and socks are included. As if I’d leave home without them. And sleepwear for those, like me, who like it.

My concern is how to pack for a variation in temperatures. Traveling to canyons in the heat of summer did not appeal to us, so we are prepared for cooler, though not cold, weather. Some days will, however, be in the 70s, and walking will make us warmer; nighttime temperatures will be in the 30s. Such weather changes will require layering. Although I have never been one to overpack, having to manage my own suitcase ensures that the hand-washing of my few articles of clothing will be necessary.

Our trip ends in Las Vegas, and we are going out for dinner and later a show there, so I will need shoes other than my hiking boots. Maybe if the lights are real low, no one will be looking at my feet. Shoes add weight to a suitcase, you know.