A truly fabulous day. Thanks to the wonders of nature.
After we had checked the Caranex, to ensure no rattle snakes had crept in and taken up residence during the night, we were up nice and early. On the road by 9.20, we were soon in red rock country and the town of Sedona.
It was a beautiful blue sky morning. Hot, but not humid. The only downside was a smoky haze hovering around Sedona. We had noticed smoke billowing in the distance yesterday. There must have been a forest fire not too far away. A shame as it made photography at Sedona difficult. There were signs warning of smoke as were headed north too.
I loved Sedona. Very much a resort town. It is touristy, but in a gentle way. A nice vibe and very welcoming. Surrounded by canyons of red rock shaped into all sorts of weird forms and sizes. Erosion by water and wind over the millennia has carved wonderful surroundings for the town. We drove around a bit to see more rock formations and from different angles.
Parking in the town centre was easy and there was free wifi. So, leaving Dennis to sort out his blog and emails, I went off to explore. First stop was the post office and on my way I encountered what could only be a rattlesnake in the middle of the pavement. Am sorry to disappoint you, but it was tiny and very dead. Just goes to show, though, that they are around
After a revitalising cup of coffee, I thought I might enjoy a bit of retail therapy, or at least looking. I found a very nice white and blue linen dress, but then reality set in and I realised that smart things and Land Rovers don’t go together. It’s not so much the Land Rover, but the little storage box I have to keep all my possessions in. Everything gets very squashed and creased. Also very tempting was some chunky silver jewellery. Again I resisted.My wardrobe of shorts and T-shirts will have to be sufficient.
We then set off for Flagstaff. What a lovely surprise this drive turned out to be. Climbing up to over 6000 feet through canyons flanked with pine trees. The pines here are also suffering some sort of malaise. A pine beetle or bug of some description, no doubt. Here there were a lot of individual trees affected. Later in the afternoon we came across whole areas of dead trees.
En route for Flagstaff we stopped at a viewing point overlooking the canyon floor and the road we had just driven up. Shortly before Flagstaff, another halt in a park for lunch, parked right between two large pine trees. We didn’t stop in Flagstaff but drove through. It is an attractive, clean, modern town.
Our next destination was the Grand Canyon, about 90 miles north. As we approached the National Park entrance there was no indication of any canyon or hint of what was to come. Passing the airport, with dozens of helicopters taking passengers on viewing trips, we soon came to the park entrance. It is $35 to enter, but we have our annual pass which covers all the parks in the country for $80. A great buy. Once in the park all that could be seen were hotels, restaurants and retail opportunities.
We went straight to the visitor centre to plan the best way to see the Canyon. We want to spend tomorrow here. Now we are armed with maps and advice on walking trails, shuttle buses and prices for helicopter flights. Also camping. The campsites close by are all reservation only but we are directed to a ‘first come first served’ site at Desert View. Setting off for Desert View we soon look to our left at a viewing point and see the Canyon. We are gob smacked. It is awe inspiring. We had no idea it was there. We thought it was behind us. Soon we pass another viewing point and make the decision we will wait until tomorrow to have a look. This decision is quickly reversed. At the next stopping point, we have to have a look. It surpasses all expectations. The size, the colours, the depth. It takes your breath away. The campsite is further than we imagined and a number of stops have to be taken.
The Canyon is over 3000 meters deep and one cannot see the Colorado river at the bottom. Unimaginably created by water. However many billions of years must this have taken?
Reaching the campsite, there is plenty of space and we are in a nice spot a close walk to the facilities. Quickly having a beer and getting dinner. The sun sets soon after 7 and so it’s dark early. We grumbled about the length of daylight when we were in the far north, but it does allow you to get so much more done in the evening.
Soon we were watching tiny bats darting and weaving above us catching insects on the wing. Amazing little things. I settled down to write the blog and Dennis went to bed early. I feared he was getting a cold. It’s easy to get a chill going from the heat to strongly air conditioned places. I gave up with the blog. I had to climb into bed before Dennis was asleep. It is impossible to get in without disturbance. Once tucked up I couldn’t sleep. My head was still writing the blog.
I watched the night sky through the vent above me. The stars were like a bad dose of measles. Small spots of light all over the sky. The previous night we had watched two satellites passing. I looked for more, but didn’t see any. It started me thinking about them. Does anyone keep a master record of all the satellites up there? I presume not, as different countries launch them for their individual reasons. Do they have a shelf life and what happens to them when this is over? Can they be brought back to earth? Do they fall out of the sky and disintegrate or are there piles of satellite garbage floating around up there, in the same way as plastic is polluting our oceans?
It took me ages to get to sleep. Excitement at the prospects of what today holds perhaps?