Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

About 1.2 million years ago, around the time I graduated high school, a section of North America about the size of Ohio and located around the Four Corners (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah) was uplifted tens of thousands of feet. It’s known as the Colorado Plateau and its southern face is the red cliffs seen around Sedona, Arizona. This uplift is the reason the Grand Canyon and several other national parks in the region exist.
There is no other place like it in the world.
Over the last 10 days, we put 1,981 miles on our rental car.
We flew to Phoenix and then drove to Sedona, Flagstaff, Monument Valley, Cortez, CO, Moab, UT, Torrey, UT, then back to Arizona and Page, Flagstaff and Sedona again, then to tiny Jerome and back to Phoenix (but not to Winslow).
I wanted to detour to Winslow on the drive from Page to Flagstaff to have my picture taken standing on a corner, but my wife said she thought that was dumb.
We went from 425 feet of elevation in Chapel Hill to 2,100 feet in Phoenix to nearly ten grand near Boulder, UT. (Nope, I didn’t know there was a Boulder in UT ‘til this week, either. I think the population is like, 12.)
I have no idea what the elevation of Winslow is.
I don’t know exactly how many photos I took, but it seems to be more than 700. Of course, many of those are bracketed shots that I will combine into single HDR photos when I get home, so I'll guess maybe 600. (If you're interested, there are far fewer than the full 700 at
We learned that Utah skimps on guard rails and oxygen (above 7,000 feet, or so), and offers an absurd over-abundance of privacy. Parts of Arizona are hot as hell in June, though we already knew that, and other parts, like Flagstaff, are delightful.
We loved the southwest corner of Colorado, but we were only in New Mexico for a few minutes and only because we parked in the southeast corner of the parking lot at the Four Corners Monument.
Vicki agreed with my 10-minute detour request to the Four Corners monument (but not to Winslow). I just couldn’t see being so close and not getting a look.
We visited Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, the south rim of the Grand Canyon National Park (NP), Monument Valley, Mesa Verde NP, Canyonlands Needles NP, Arches NP, Dead Horse Canyon State Park, Canyonlands Islands in the Sky NP, and Bryce Canyon NP (but not Winslow).
We even stopped twice in Tuba City, on the border of the Navajo and Hopi nations. The Tuuvi Cafe there has great Navajo fry bread.
My vote for Most Breathtaking and Can’t Be Missed would be the Grand Canyon. Most Fun goes to Arches NP and the Most Beautiful award goes to Bryce Canyon.
If I could only go back to one, it would be Bryce Canyon. At the first six overlooks at the Grand Canyon, you think you’ve spoken with God, but by the seventh, you’re like, “Yep. Grand Canyon. Still there.”
I learned that I really missed the Diamond Heels playing in their Regional and Super-Regional baseball tournaments while we were gone. I followed the games on Twitter, but coverage was so sparse I could only get updates when we passed through towns — and that ain’t often in the Southwest.
This photo of a trail at Bryce haunts me. Vicki and I walked five minutes down this trail and back on our way out of the park. I REALLY wanted to hike it.

It looks like promise. There’s some really good stuff beyond that peak in the distance where the trail disappears over the ridge.
This trip was on Vicki’s bucket list. I couldn’t even think of something to put on a bucket list. I’m glad she dragged me along. I may have enjoyed it more than she did.
Vicki brought me sudafed, Kleenex and naproxen when I developed a sinus infection and a few times I had to walk to the parking lot and bring the car back to the trail head when she looked like she couldn’t take another step.
But she climbed steep steps carved into rock and four ten-foot ladders to make it out of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, (I had to climb the ladders holding both our water bottles in my left hand) and she coached me through my fear of heights on the climb up to Delicate Arch.
I was so impressed.
And she didn’t complain once when I sang “Take It Easy” all the way from Page to Flagstaff.
Not much on the radio in Tuba City.


  1. Ain't geology grand???!!!

  2. Sounds like you all had a great time My sister's husband is from that neck of the woods and they travel that area often. in a couple of months they are taking my other sister's camper out that way and do some hiking as well. nice read. congrats..


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