Mary Jane, her twin sister Jan, Scotty and I had a great ten days on our Southwest USA trip. On June 16th, we flew into Phoenix, Arizona and rented a car. We put 1900 miles on the car by the end of the ten days! Also, I now have over four hours of digital video to edit!
We first drove south to Tucson to see the Xavier del Bac Mission, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Saguaro National Park. The mission is the best preserved of the old 1700s Spanish missions in the USA and is still an active church. The Desert Museum is a world class museum with many outside acres of desert plants. It also has the characteristics of a zoo -- we saw coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, and other southwest desert animals. I especially liked the humming bird house with many humming birds zipping around drinking the nector from flowers. However, it was a very hot 105 degrees and several of us faded in the heat.
We enjoyed our stay in Tucson.
On the drive from Tucson north we saw a massive forest fire in the distance. The light brown smoke covered a large part of the sky and blocked out the sun. From the news, the Tucson area has had several bad forest fires.
We next drove to Sedona, Arizona to see the beautiful red rock formations. Sedona has many shops and artist galaries. However, we restrained ourselves from "shop-til-you-drop" behavior!
We visited Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument near Flagstaff where a volcano violently erupted about 800 years ago. We hiked a neat lava trail where we could hike through the different types of lava.
A few miles north of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is Wupatki National Monument with neat ancient Native American ruins.
On June 19th, Scotty's birthday, we presented him with a HUGE birthday present -- the Grand Canyon! He is now 13 and a teenager! The next day, we hiked a mile along the South Rim on a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the 70s. Quite a contrast to the heat in Tucson! We hiked about a half mile on the Bright Angel Trail where the mules descend from the Rim to the bottom of Grand Canyon and back up. The Grand Canyon is so huge and beautiful it is hard to describe in words. While I took digital video of the scenery, Scott, Mary Jane and Jan took pictures. Scott again showed his talent using his digital camera! He took some awesome pictures.
After a day and a half at the Grand Canyon, we drove northeast through Monument Valley and to The Four Corners Area. Along the way, we stopped to see dinosaur tracks just east of Tuba City. Since the tracks are on private lands of the Navajo Nation, we hired a Navajo Guide. Our guide was named Frank and it was neat to chat with him. Not only did he show us many dinosaur tracks, he pointed out his home in the distance. A kind and gentle man!
At the Four Corners Monument (where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet), Scotty was able to have each foot and each hand in a different state! He thought that was neat!
After the Four Corners Area we drove through the town of Mexican Hat named after a rock formation. After Mexican Hat we drove to Cortez, Colorado which is near Mesa Verde National Park. At 7 am the morning of June 21st we had to find the Walmart in Cortez! Scotty HAD to have book five of the Harry Potter series! He wanted to go at midnight when the book was released but we refused! Scotty devoured the more than 800 pages in the next four days while we were driving around!
On June 21st we visited the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. We explored Spruce Tree House up close and personal. We also hiked a three mile trail to see some indian petroglyphs. Neat hike but too rugged and long for us flabby easterners.
After Mesa Verde we drove to Canyon de Chelly National Monument inside the Navajo Nation.
After leaving Canyon del Chelly Jan wanted to visit the town of Window Rock which is the capital of the Navajo Nation. Next we drove to the Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert. The colors in the Painted Desert are so varied and beautiful that it hard to believe they are real and of this planet. We had never visited the Petrified Forest before and didn't quite comprehend that the "forests" had hundreds and hundreds of downed trees of petrified rock. Many of them of beautiful multi-colored agate.
We drove to America's largest Meteor Crater but it was too late in the evening and it was closed.
The day before we flew out of Phoenix to return home, we explored the Phoenix Zoo and the Phoenix Science Center. Scotty likes to do both.
Scotty is fascinated by signs. Here are several examples he took on our Southwest Trip.