Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kaleigh and Mia's Excellent Adventure

Recently, our niece, Kaleigh, and her roommate from UNC spent their Spring Break with us in Sedona. I thought they were supposed to go to Cancun or someplace wild but they seemed to want to take in the sights of the southwest. It was clear they were on student budgets as they must have found the cheapest flight to AZ from NC via NY. They got in about 10:30pm and we arrived at the terminal just as they walked out the door.
Later in the week, we decided to take the Mund's Wagon Trail for a good hike. This trail is about 4 miles long uphill (one-way) starting at the Schnebley Hill parking lot. As I was the least conditioned of the 3 of us, I decided that Judy would drive us up Schnebley Hill road and drop us off as close to the end of the trail as possible. We reached the gate that closes the Schnebley Hill road and the 3 of us walked up to the trail while Judy and Dottie watched us from a scenic overlook. We found where the trail ended and headed back down Schnebley Hill. Just after we started, storm clouds blew in quickly and soon we were in the middle of a hail storm. We could see the blue sky off in the distance so we figured it wouldn't last too long. It was really cool to see how quickly water funnelled down over the redrocks. We managed to make it over some of the slick rock and through some mini flash floods and worked our way down the trail taking time for a few photo ops. Sorry about the water on the lens... You couldn't come to the Sedona area without a visit to one of the Indian ruins. So, we visited Hunanki, a very interesting spot. I always include a little off-road adventure when we visit this location, so I subjected the crew to the back road to 89A. There might have been a few puddles along the way. Next on their "todo" list was Antelope Canyon in Page. We decided to do an overnight and include the Grand Canyon in the trip. We went directly to Upper Antelope Canyon. this was a real treat for Kaleigh as she had seen some photos and this was high on her list. The first steps into the slot canyon are a bit intimidating. Pictures don't always do justice to the slot canyons, but maybe this quick video will give it some perspective.

After the slot canyon we stopped by Horseshoe Bend where the Colorado works its way around a 270 degree turn on its way to the Grand Canyon. Here is Kaleigh looking over the edge. I think that is my shadow on the right, but I look a little emaciated.
Unfortunately, Kaleigh lost a memory card for her camera somewhere near the edge. We came back later when she realized she lost it but we couldn't find it. To provide solace to us all, Mia bought pizzas for dinner which we ate at the hotel while Mia studied for an exam. The next morning, we took another look but to no avail. Photos from her whole senior year at UNC were lost on that card.
Oh well, on to the Grand Canyon. We stopped first at the overlook for the Little Colorado River Gorge where we bought a flute for Bob and Evie Saunders and took in the beautiful scenery.
Once again, at the canyon, Kaleigh was in the forefront of things. I suppose she could have gotten closer and given me more goosebumps.

And here is a shot of the 3 of us enjoying this magnificent natural phenomenom.
It took us about 2 hours to get back to Sedona from the Canyon. I was the only one who stayed awake for most of the trip. Unfortunately, Mia was still studying for an exam for a teaching position and she had to leave the next day to get back in time for the test. It was great having her visit and enjoy the beautiful southwest.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Recent Company

We've had a few rounds of company this year and have really enjoyed them. It is always fun to show people around who love to travel and do things and who have not had the fortune to have visited Sedona.

Henri and Gigi

Our first guests were our friends Henri and Gigi. They were great company and up for anything. Even with a bit of bad weather they still relaxed and enjoyed themselves. Gigi was tenacious with a jigsaw puzzle we brought with us.
But it wasn't all indoor activities. They spent some time in Flagstaff and we had a few good hikes including this one on Soldier's Pass, one of our favorites. Plus they treated us to dinner at our favorite family Mexican Restaurant, Casa Bonita in the Basha's strip mall.
Gigi works as a geologist so she was fascinated with the landscape and we took advantage of her knowledge. She and Judy stopped in some shops in Jerome and picked up some samples of copper. It was good to have someone assure us that the stones were legit.

Bob and Evie
After Henri and Gigi left, we welcomed our friends from Walpole, Bob and Evie Saunders. They jumped right into things by making two large pans of lasagna. We ate one over a couple of days and we are still saving the other one. It was great. The Pear Martinis on the deck weren't bad either.
They were really interested in seeing the Grand Canyon, so that was on their itinerary. But when they saw a brochure for Antelope Canyon in Page, they remembered that one of their daughters had raved about it. So, we heard them leave before 6am and didn't see them again til 8pm when they walked in the door with a pizza. They had managed to cram in a tour of Upper Antelope Canyon and the Grand Canyon in one day. Quite a trip but shows it can be done.
Bob took about 800 pictures (is that a record?). They were in awe of the scenery. There was some snow on the ground when they arrived so we took some photos with snow on the red rocks. Beautiful.
We took Bob and Evie to our favorite spot for a picnic and passed by the remains of a steer that we have been watching for a couple of years. Judy and Evie picked through the bones until Judy found a nice leg bone to bring home.
We continued up the trail for our lunch sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking the colorful landscape.

The morning they were leaving, I took Bob on one last Jeep ride to the Broken Arrow trail. I've blogged on this one before so I won't belabor things. Suffice it to say that when we returned to the house, Bob excused himself to change his underwear.
Then they were off for a visit to the Sonoran Desert Museum and the San Xavier del Bac Mission in Tucson. They had a great time and so did we.

Dottie Folino

Next, our friend and neighbor, Dottie Folino, joined us. Dottie was very accommodating as she shared some of the guest facilities with my niece, Kaleigh, and her roommate from UNC, Mia (more on them in another post). She walks a lot with friends at home, so we got her right out on a nice trail called Marg's Draw. It starts as Schnebly Hill and passes beneath such formations as Snoopy Rock. A great way to start the week.
Dottie really enjoyed the Indian Rock Art at Hunanki ruins
and loved the "moderate" off road experience on the way back to civilization.
She capped off the week by taking us all out to dinner at Judy's favorite restaurant.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It was bound to happen!

It's been a while and I have lots of stuff to add to the blog, but I thought I'd get this one in while it was still fresh.

While our niece, Kaleigh, was visiting ( more on that later ), we worked our way through some back roads to a place called Robber's Roost. Supposedly, it was named that because robbers and bootleggers hid there and could have a clear view across the landscape to see anyone approaching. It was a really cool spot but not for the faint of heart. Kaleigh was ahead of us and had branched off to climb to the top of the formation. Meanwhile, Judy and I hit what looked like the end of the trail as the next steps would bring us along a very narrow, slanted bit of slip rock with a wall on one side and a 150 foot, or so, drop on the other. I said this can't be it. I wanted no part of those few steps as I couldn't see what was around the corner. We eventually found Kaleigh. She wanted to take another look at the narrow path and, after some preliminary scouting, convinced me that it got a bit wider and flatter around the corner. She went ahead and I gingerly made my way across the narrow path behind her and, sure enough, it got flatter and brought us to a unique sight. There was a cave with a stone wall in front and a natural window looking out over the area. Here is Kaleigh making her way along the wide portion of slip rock and then sitting in the window.

On our way back to town, we took another back road and saw a white pickup and yellow tent out in the wilderness. We made a wide circle around it and worked our way up a rocky, narrow trail.
This is when it happened. I must have hit a good sized rock and slid into a tree root because I felt a bump, heard a thump and then SSSSSSSSSSssssssssss. I drove another 10' or so to get on level land and by then my tire was totally flat. I had cut a 2" long gash in the sidewall of the right rear tire. We were about 20 miles from civilization, but luckily I had two terrific helpers who offered all kinds of advice and assistance.

At this point the white pickup came up the trail behind us. I started to wave it around but a woman stepped out to say she had seen us go up the hill and stop and she was just checking on us. She told us her life story in about 15 minutes. She was out camping to meditate and fast, in preparation for doing her thesis on Art Therapy. She said she used to live in Phoenix but got fed up with city life, sold her Harley and moved to Jackson Hole for the peaceful solitude. For someone who wanted a solitary existance in the middle of nowhere, she sure talked a lot.
Last but not least, here is the flat mounted on the back of the Jeep with a pencil sticking through the sidewall. I sent this photo to my brother John, at Sullivan Tire, so he could give me an idea how badly I was going to get screwed when replacing the tire.