Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Grandest of Canyons

This is just a short entry detailing my fun 5 day trip to Arizona, the Grand Canyon State.

It was my first time seeing the Grand Canyon, shocking given I've lived in the US since 2000. Better late than never I suppose. This time my partner in crime was my good friend Darci. We flew out on Friday morning to Phoenix (gotta love air miles). On the flight I ended up sitting beside a wonderful older lady who was married 62 years. She and her husband (her favourite travel companion) were on their way for a week's camping in the desert near the canyon with family and friends. They must have been either in their 80's or very close to it. I hope I'm doing the same when I'm their age.

Darci and I rented a car and headed towards the town of Williams where we were due to stay for the next 2 nights. Williams used to be part of route 66 and there are signs everywhere letting you know it. We stayed at a fun B&B in town owned by John, called the Red Garter B&B. It was a bordello back in the day and housed 7 gals and a madam. It was such a cool place, and the owners were super friendly. John helped us figure out a great itinerary to make the most of National Parks Week where all the parks are fee-free! What a great week we picked to go hiking. After a Mexican/Irish dinner (yes a weird combo) I retired to the sound of a horse clip-clopping down the street, kind of old wild-west style.

On Saturday morning we got up early and headed for Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument Parks. Each were stunning in their own way and we did a few short hikes in each park. Around 4pm in the afternoon we got to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The crowds were plentiful but the light was amazing. I was definitely awed and it lived up to its name as the grandest of canyons.

After much photo-taking, it started to get chilly so we headed off back to Williams around sunset. That evening I met up with my next door neighbours from Dublin who I grew up beside. The parents were visiting their daughter and their son in law in LA and decided to take a road trip to see the Grand Canyon for a few days. They mentioned it to my mam last week and we discovered we were staying a block away from one another in Williams on Sat night. What a small world. It was great to see them and catch up over a drink in such a random place.

Sunday morning we got up early and headed with a picnic lunch back to the Grand Canyon. We decided to do a trail called the South Kaibab which leads down into the canyon. Again it was pretty crowded with the park being fee-free and it was Easter Sunday so kids were off school for a few days but it was still a stunning hike. On the way back up the wind really battered us and even pelted us with rain as we came up to the rim again. It didn't ruin the day at all though and it made the hot chocolate we treated ourselves to, even tastier.

Sunday evening was spent in Sedona, the drive in was so colorful, I never knew Arizona could be so green. Some of it reminded me a little of New Zealand. Monday we hit Red Rock State Park and did a 6 mile trail loop surrounded by red rocks and green trees under a blue sky, a beautiful palatte. We headed to our hotel in Scottsdale on Monday evening (Old Town Scottsdale is a really nice town, great bars, restaurants and galleries which are worth a look) with the plan of spending Tuesday by the pool before our red eye flight back to NY. It was a super sunny chill-out day and a good way to end the trip.

I really want to head back to the Grand Canyon and see the North Rim now. I'd love to do a few days of hiking into the canyon and camping out. Definitely on my list of future trips. I tried to trim the number of photos as much as I could, tough with such beautiful subjects. Anyway, here they are!