Sixteen Hundred Miles In Arizona

Monument Valley

by Joshua on June 14, 2014

Saturday:
I was nervous as I packed my bag. I generally look forward to travel with the abandon of a curious child but this time was different. I would be driving more than 1,600 miles on this week-long trip – roughly the distance from Augusta, Maine to Miami, Florida. I love to explore the country but I hate to drive. This would be a test of my endurance.

AZMap

My girlfriend and I landed in Phoenix at Sky Harbor International Airport. After picking up a sporty looking Chevy Cruze from the rental agency, we headed out for our hotel in Tucson about two hours away.

Sunday:
On Sunday morning we visited Saguaro National Park East. The giant cacti here are known to grow as high as 70 feet tall and spanned the  landscape as far as we could see. The scenery was beautiful as we circled the main loop in our rental car. We stopped on several occasions to marvel at the beauty all around us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Saguaro we excursioned to Tombstone, a small town about an hour away from the Mexican border. Tombstone, commonly referred to as “the town too tough to die,” is best known as the site of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. We strolled around for a while and then caught a mid-day reenactment of the famous O.K. Corral shootout.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tombstone is a nice 3-4 hour visit, but not somewhere you would want to spend a full day. So, we headed back to Tucson. Within our first 15 minutes back on the road, we hit a Border Patrol checkpoint. The agent simply asked us if we were American citizens and then waived us through. You’ve got to love Arizona…ahem…just as long as you’re a citizen I suppose.

Monday:
We spent some time at the Desert Botanical Garden before heading to Scottsdale for lunch. The Botanical Garden was beautiful. Arizona is like that with beauty on top of beauty. We wrapped up the day with a Diamondbacks versus Mets game. Chase Field is one of the prettier ballparks I’ve seen (I’ve visited 22 of 30 major league ballparks to date), but I was surprised by how sparsely attended the game was. I guess folks have better things to do out here than go to a baseball game on a Monday evening. The official attendance was just over 18,000 but it felt like a lot less than that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tuesday:
Tuesday was the best day yet on our trip. We began with a stop at Montezuma Castle. Pretty amazing view of an 800 year old high-rise apartment built into the side of a cliff.

IMAG0339

 

 

 

 

 

Next, we headed for Devil’s Bridge. Unfortunately, the hike there took longer than expected and we had a mid-day appointment scheduled, so we had to turn back before we made it to the bridge. Thankfully, and despite getting lost, we made our appointment just in time. We’d booked a two-seat ATV and a tour of Verde Valley with a pretty cool local tour company called Arizona Offroad Tours. The tour was definitely one of the highlights of our Arizona trip. Though my first time riding an ATV, I felt at one with the machine. The combined forces of man, machine and nature created a feeling of power, humility and fulfillment. It’s hard to describe the experience. I’ll just say it’s something everyone should experience for themselves and leave it at that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday:
This was the day we’d been waiting for – a full-day trip to Grand Canyon. I don’t have words to describe how majestic Grand Canyon actually is. The immensity and beauty of it all is so overwhelming as to leave one stranded in a state of thankfulness and tranquility. The best description I’ve seen of Grand Canyon comes from John Wesley Powell who led a three-month expedition down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon in 1869.

The glories and the beauties of form, color, and sound unite in the Grand Canyon – forms unrivaled even by the mountains, colors that vie with sunsets, and sounds that span the diapason from tempest to tinkling raindrop, from cataract to bubbling fountain.

The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

As much as I hated leaving Grand Canyon, we had a long drive to Page, AZ and our next stop, Horseshoe Bend. We arrived just before sunset. The majestic beauty of this marvel can’t be overstated.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday:
The spectacular nature of our trip continued as we toured Upper Antelope Canyon. There aren’t really words to describe this canyon either. It is something everyone should experience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, we made the long drive out to Monument Valley and then Four Corners Monument. Monument Valley is a great place to relax and reflect while staring out at the landscape. I felt the same way about the four corners (the only place in the country where four states meet). Though, aside from some great photo shoot opportunities there isn’t much else around.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

These aren’t places to seek out action and excitement. These are places to connect with nature, to find oneself, to speak with God, to do whatever you do when you have a few quiet moments.

Friday:
We were now in Chinle, AZ on our way to Canyon de Chelly. Everywhere we looked in Chinle, we saw stray dogs. There were vultures eating away at the carcasses of dead dogs on the sides of the roads. At one point, we came across a Chihuahua in the middle of the road while busy motorists zoomed by. I pulled over and retrieved the little guy. It looked to me like he couldn’t walk. He offered no resistance as I picked him up. I was torn. If I could have taken him home with me I would have. The only thing I could think to do was to place him safely off the road. I placed him in a shaded area and left him some water.

As we drove away, my girlfriend voiced her concern for the little dog. She was sure the vultures would get him. I called our hotel concierge and asked him for advise on where we could bring the little guy. The concierge suggested an animal hospital about an hour away. We turned the car back to retrieve the little guy. He was nowhere to be found. The water was still there, but the dog was gone without a trace. I’m still bummed that we didn’t do a better job helping the little guy.

We were fed up with Chinle and the immense stray dog problem so we left town as quick as we could. In no time we were cruising through the Painted Desert on our way to the Petrified Forest. While the Petrified Forest is amazing, fatigue was setting in and we were eager to get to our hotel in Tempe. We spent our last night dining on tacos from Carl’s Jr./Green Burrito.

Saturday:
After a leisurely breakfast, we headed to the airport. Arizona was a blast. So much beauty in the vastness of the desert and mountains. I hope to eventually go back so I can walk across Devil’s Bridge and I would love to spend a couple of days hiking through Grand Canyon. Native American reservations were everywhere. Still, I feel as though I learned very little about Native American culture or reservation life.

We drove a total of 1,617 miles across Arizona, yet we only began to scratch the surface of what is to be found in this beautiful and expansive state.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: