HAPPY TRAILS- DAY 9

Got up pretty late this morning and kind of meandered through the dressing and showering routine. We went downstairs here at Twin Arrows and sampled their fare. It was pretty good. I was able to order blue corn pancakes because they are mostly gluten free. Carol had a monstrous omelet that she could not finish in a couple of days. Our waitress had only been working here for about two weeks. Therefore she was not familiar with speaking to customers for long periods of time.

Fortunately for her Carol, saver of souls was her partner in a colloquy. This woman who looked to be in her forties had seven children. She had children ranging from 19 to 4 years of age. Her eldest had dropped out of school in 8th grade and her next oldest had a child at age 14 and quit school because kids were bullying her. She tried a bunch of other schools but none worked. Happily for her, Carol had a number of suggestions that could clear up some of her troubles. Problem is that she probably will not try any of them. Felt kind of sorry for her because she was driving kids to school, shepherding some to day care and working a full time job. There seemed to be a man in her life, but it was not clear how he was helping.

That started off the day with a bang. We got into the car and headed to the Petrified Forest, which is not a forest and most of the things there are not petrified.

However, the scenery and the actual petrified wood are exceptional. The park is about 26 miles long with visitor centers at each end. The entrance we took showed us a film of how things started about 220 million years ago. The trees were brought there by the water flowing down from the north. Actually, Arizona, was closer to the equator in times long past. The current thinking is that all the continents were connected as one land mass called Pangea. Don’t ask me to explain anything more. There is this thing called the internet where all truth resides.

One of the explainers at the visitor center told contradictory stories about the pieces of petrified wood around the center, saying that it was there when the building was built. The park ranger said that was a laugh and that those stones were put there by humans.

Lots of interesting info about the beginning of the national park system and the way people kind of looted the petrified wood before there were any rules to stop it. Actually, it didn’t stop until the 1960’s. You may not take any petrified wood from the park. Your car may be searched on the way out. No, I did not take any.

The points at the stops along the road were spectacular and instructive. There was even a pueblo town that housed about 200 souls up until 900 CE. I have included a pic of the petroglyphs that the pueblo dwellers carved into the rock. I am so filled with information that it is coming out of my fingers.

Yes, we did go through the Painted Desert, but by that time, I was not looking forward to the drive home. We stopped at a small town called Holbrook on the way back to gas us both literally and figuratively. Did you know that most super markets serve lacey Swiss cheese and Genoa Salami? Along with some green tea, we were in deli heaven on the way home.

I continue to lose at video poker. Someone is not looking out for me.

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HAPPY TRAILS- DAY 8

Yup, it’s over the hump day for us. Our 8th day was somewhat significant because we have been thinking about this site for a long while. The Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon is so magnificent that it would take a person months to actually see even a large part of it. The park service has figured out the most simple way of seeing all of the major points (and I do mean points) in the park.

There were large visitor centers (yes more than one), lots of lodges, places to snack and a bunch of shuttle buses going everywhere. Fortunately, we did not need to purchase anything at any of the shops. The trip from Page, AZ to the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon was filled with a myriad of Native American roadside stands that sold things quite a bit cheaper than the large trading posts. We were advised by a number of Navajo people that this was going to be the case. And it was so.

We have met so many foreign visitors on the shuttles, in the snack shops and on the various stopping points along the canyon rim. They come from all parts of the world. Carol thanks them for coming to our country and they respond with kind words about America.

Now here is a weird thing. I believe that we met Mycroft Holmes along one of the trails. Carol wanted to have our picture taken with the gorge in the background. This couple, in their late 30’s agreed to do it. They were very lovely English folks. In a discussion with them we learned that the gentleman, who did not give us his name, worked for the Foreign Service. He was not very forthcoming about what he did, but did allow as how he had been posted in various places around the world, including China. Somehow we got onto the subject of t.v. shows and then the new Sherlock Holmes adventures. His demeanor changed as did the subject. That was close to the end of our conversation.

We trundled our way back to our car (so glad we could find it among the7 or 8 parking lots. We drove about 70 miles to Twin Arrow, a Navajo Casino and Hotel. This is a real cool place. It’s on to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert.

HAPPY TRAILS- DAY 7

 

We headed toward the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s about a 3 hour jaunt over some pretty interesting roads. There are few switchbacks and lots of open space to see what the Dodge Challenger can do. I did none of that and concentrated on getting good gas mileage. That’s the trick that I learned in the Arm y driving a deuce and one half truck. It has stuck with me all of these years.

We passed some wonderful scenery and two scenic places that we really appreciated- the Vermillion Cliffs and the Cliff Dwellers. Hopefully, I will be able to send you a picture of the Vermillion Cliffs (was vermillion one of those crayons like burnt umber). We drove through lots of pasture land and signs for deer Bison and Cows. Are you kidding me? There were really cow crossings?

We got to the North Rim and did what we said we would do, sit on a chair and lounge around looking at the canyon. We listened to tales of people taking three days to cross the canyon and others who followed different trail. It was fascinating to listen to them. We have no such ardor for taking those kinds of hikes. We roamed around got some Diet Pepsi and pizza. We were there maybe 2 hours. It is not a place for people to hand around except if they are staying at the Lodge. It is not at all commercial. If you like solitude that’s the place, or is it?

We did not see any cliff dweller locations on the way out to Grand Canyon. On the way back we stopped at the motel at the Cliff Dwellers. We found out from a young lady and older gentlemen, who are travelers and skip out after the season’s end, that there are no real cliff dwellers and it was named after a lady who built a house there. These two really liked solitude.

As for the cows and their crossings, ranches have been allowed to graze their cattle on federal land since the 1880’s. Things have not changed. In summer they forage and graze along the one highway and in the winter they graze below. I wonder how the ranchers get them from place to place. Must me a cowbell.

HAPPY TRAILS-DAY 6

It’s so great when the place you’re staying in has breakfast included. Mostly the food is rather shabby and the coffee is tepid and putrid. However, you don’t have to get into your car and look for a place. This is a junior Best Western. It is brand spankin’ new. It is also so new that there ae some of the employees that have not gotten used to it yet. Advice about tourist places is at a premium. People know they are somewhere around, but can’t really tell you how to get there.

Fortunately next to us having breakfast was this French couple (all of 19 years old) who told us about Antelope Canyon. They even gave us specific directions to get there and things we should do and not do. One of the things that we should not do it go on a tour in the upper canyon. The lower canyon is moderate and we should have no trouble traversing it.

Well, let me tell you, the performers in the Cirque De Soleil would have a hard time going where we went. We drove our car on a dirt road to a large piece of land that held two excursion companies. I am using that word advisedly. One was Ken’s and the other had no name. We chose Ken’s because it had a gift shop and Carol was still looking for her flute.

Our guide turned out to be Jerome and twenty something Navajo man with a real hold on all things Antelope Canyon and happenings in his part of the world. We had 12 people in our group- an American couple, an India Indian couple, an Arabic couple, and five French people (and older father type and two young couples). Jerome was excellent. If it weren’t for him, we would probably still be in the Canyon, trying to figure out how to get out.

He gave us particular instructions about not taking pictures or doing anything while we were climbing up and down ladders. He allowed as how some of the ladders were at such and angle that we might want to do them backwards. There was a bunch of that.

The French folks really looked out for us- pulling us up when we needed to be pulled up and following along when I led them in choruses of Chevalier de table ronde, and an old Edith Piaf song La Vie En Rose. It’s amazing how much crap is still sitting in my head. One of the young men was particularly good in explaining what Jerome was telling us about the Canyon.

Jerome told us where to take pictures and what happens to people if it starts to rain real hard. We were chastened by his words and prayed that it would not rain. Carol and I will never forget this experience.

From Antelope Canyon, we moved unto the Glen Canyon Dam. It was built from 1956 to 1963. It controls water in the Colorado River and parcels it out to seven states and Mexico. We saw an interesting film about its beginnings. The scope of the construction defies my imagination. The amount of concrete used was in the millions of tons. Wonder why we stopped doing these infrastructure things. Come on folks, let’s build a dam.

We then found a road that took us to a resort area, still a national park, called Waheap on Lake Powell. We decided to take a boat ride and while we were waiting we had a bite to eat and you are never going to believe this, Carol found her flute. She was very particular about what kind of flute it should be- very small, Native American made and five holes. What she bought was very big, six holes, expensive and with a book and DVD to explain how to play it. She practiced sitting on a bench overlooking Lake Powell.

Lake Powell is about 135 miles long and was created by the dam. We took many pictures on our boat trip, but could not portray the walls of the lake and the colors. Might send you a picture sometime. We finished our boat tour in a couple of hours and retired to our room, only to go on a tour of laundromats and a drive in for a sumptuous repast of a taco salad. We were bushed. We look forward to Grand Canyon today.

HAPPY TRAILS-DAY 5

As two sleepy people arise in Springdale, Utah we will probably not see this place ever again. We hope that our children and grandchildren come to see the wonders of both Zion and Bryce National Parks. We climb into our Dodge Challenger and drive over to return out keys. The desk clerk asks where we are going from here.Carol explains that we are going to Page, Arizona to see Glen Canyon and Lake Powell and the North rim of Grand Canyon. As we break the land speed record of 40 minutes out of Zion, we see a big horned sheep just looking at us and saying, “Man are we glad that these humans are leaving our habitat.”

She tells us that we should stop at Kanab (pronounced Kanab) and see the festival there. That sounds interesting to us until she says that the place we are going to Page, is a dirty no fun place. We should stay in Kanab. Since I have already plunked down dough for Page, we were interested in what it might be like in comparison to Kanab (pronounced Kanab).

Yes, festival is on at Kanab. It has little white tents with so many jewelry and craft artisans plying their wares. It is also called the Festival of the Stars. Many moons ago, lots of western movies were made there. The producer of the movies lived in Kanab. Even Ronald Reagan worded there in a movie.

There were enough six shooters on display to even make a movie today. One of the characters was Gabby Hayes.   He has been studying George, “Gabby” Hayes for years and looks just like him. I was so stunned; I could not take a picture of him. He has seen all of the movies, both non-starring and starring ones as a sidekick. He said there were over 190 of them. He had more information about Gabby than he did about himself.

Carol actually bought a butter dish. Ours had been lost in the transition to South Carolina. We heard some s**t kicking music by a trio that did a pretty good job. There were lots of people in various get ups. There was ever a magician sporting a weird top hat. We continue to search for a Native American 5 holed flute. Carol heard a woman playing it in a place called Weeping Rock in Zion. We now have to visit every gift shop from here to Las Vegas. If you have one at home, please do not tell Carol.

The trip to Page took us through the Thunderbird motel restaurant again. Our new waitress told us about problems with bullying in her school. She said that ½ of the kids drop out in middle school because of it. We were trying to ascertain who was bullying who. Turns out it’s the Anglos bullying the Navajo kids, the Navajos of different clans bullying each other. One of the bus drivers seems to bully everyone else from another Navajo clan. I am breathless just thinking about it. I wonder if that’s the complete story. Guess I will never know.

After Kanab, we drove 74 miles to Page. This is one weird place. It is a big strip mall plunked down in middle of a desert. Most of the stores are very new. We even went into a Safeway store to look around. It seemed to cater to fancy eaters and not locals. We must be in a touristy place with the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. We will find out tomorrow why we were the only Occidentals in a Chinese Buffet Restaurant.

HAPPY TRAILS-DAY 4

Carol announced yesterday after some giant walks in Bryce Canyon that today was going to be a rest and rehab day. With that opening line, do you see where this is going? We really did luxuriate for about an hour after rising. We then went out to eat breakfast at MeMe’s café. That after looking for Rosie’s Diner which does not exist. Our son-in-law’s mom is called MeMe by her youngest grandchildren. We learned that it is a diminutive for grandmother in French.

It is a good meal and it led us to ask the question that has daunted us for many years of our marriage. “Where can we find a native American flute with 5 holes?” We have seen them from about 10 bucks to 500 dollars. There is no way of choosing which ones that we want. I am not able to play a flute because I have no idea of how to read music or why anyone would ever want to play a flute. We still have a number of days to go before we give up and get one on the net. The possibility that we might also buy some jewelry is about 99%.

After breakfast we wandered around Springdale and looked for flutes and other stuff. Springdale has 4 million tourists come through. Most of them seem to be from other lands. Most are from European countries- German, French, Italy and Netherlands. The other groups are from the Far East of Asia, no Indian folks, or Afghani, or Uzbek, or Tadzhik, or Mongol, just people from Singapore, China, Japan and others. About half of the people are from the states and they are from all over. We even met some people from Penn State (State College) who knew a superintendent who was a friend of mine. How can you beat that?

We took the shuttle into Zion again to see another part of the park that we had not seen before. It was called the Emerald Pool. It required a long walk up a higher elevation. I didn’t mind the walk up but my legs rebelled at coming down. You don’t use those muscles very often. It requires that you take a Naproxen pill every day and take a warm shower and complain to your wife that she said we were going to rest today.

Tonight, we are planning what we are going to do when we get up to Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon. I am for lying down near the pool at the place we are staying at. Carol is all for exploring all of this stuff. She is probably right. You may not get this way again.

HAPPY TRAILS-DAY 3

 

Who the heck knows how to get from Springdale, Utah (Zion National Park) to Bryce Canyon in Utah? Frau Blucher (our GPS) has done us little good since we got her. She is always off message and sometimes even off our maps. We could not get her to see that we really wanted to go to Bryce Canyon when she wanted us to go to Salt Lake City.

Undeterred by our lack of understanding, we asked the person in the motel office and she have us a snap of the fingers and told us how to do it. She was right on target. The only drawback to her instructions was trying to get out of Zion National Park. The road to Bryce goes right through Zion. The switchbacks were unbelievable. The scenery could almost make you drive of into a canyon. When we approached a mile long tunnel, I had no idea how to turn on the lights in this rented Dodge Challenger. Fortunately, Carol screamed at me in just the right tone and I finally turned something that turned on the lights.

Besides the switchbacks and tunnels, we made it to a halfway point at Mt. Carmel, wherein resided the Thunderbird restaurant, motel, tsachkie shop and a snack shop. It had been started by a lady named Fern Morrison in 1931 and has grown with the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren running the place. Our waitress was a tall young woman of about 31. She was pleasant and the meal was good and plentiful. The reason I am telling you about our waitress was because when I went to the men’s room, Carol and already changed this woman’s life and the life of her and her 4 year old daughter. The only time this woman was out of Mt. Carmel was a period in St. George about an hour away and Bluffton,SC. If that sounds familiar, it is where we live. That was impossible.

We left the restaurant motel on our way to Bryce National Park. We took a shuttle in and stopped at Inspiration Point and took pictures. It is a marvel of nature. Pictures to follow. We then said that we must walk the rim of the canyon to Sunset Point .7 miles away. It seemed like a lot more than .7 of a mile. It was also without any barriers for you to fall hundreds of feet into an abyss. We watched ourselves and then came to Sunset Point. It was there that is started to rain very hard. We scrunched into a bus waiting area with a bunch of people from around the world. How do you say move over to a Chinese Gentlemen who seems to see you as an inanimate object.

The shuttle driver was a laugh a moment. He told us to get to the back of the bus and get friendly. He said not the touchy feely friendly. I actually sat next to a French lady for Brittany and had a broken French/English conversation. Carol sat next to a fellow from Berlin who was taking his 12 year old niece on a 3 week tour of the U.S. She pretty much hated everything so far except for the snacks and gift shops. That sounds kind of familiar.

We took the shuttle to the end of the line. When I got off the bus, the driver was in a big hurry and didn’t notice that I had not quite exited. As he closed the door on my arm and started to drive away, I yelled and another gentleman stopped him. I kind of scared the crap out of him. He was very solicitous. I hope he watches a bit more carefully next time. He has been driving this bus since 2000.

On our way back to our motel, we stopped at a Native American jewelry place and a rock store. There are many of those places selling pretty much the same goods. In the rock store we encountered Donn who told us that 10 years ago she almost died. She was dead for 30 minutes and thought that she had been introducing her grandma to everyone in heaven; she recovered and still believes she was in heaven. She really would like to go back there as soon as she can. I felt sorry for her and her situation. She believed that there were no accidents or coincidences. Interesting philosophy for someone who almost died.