Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park
gardening and enjoying life in Salem, Massachusetts
Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park
Winslow, Arizona January 2016
I had so wanted to have my post about starting onion seeds ready for today, but, my heat pad was curled up and I had to weigh it down with books to flatten it out..
Instead, here’s our drive through absolutely beautiful Oak Creek Canyon, between Sedona and Flagstaff.
So happy that the road was open!
No words needed….
Onion seeds and some cool Winslow AZ stuff coming, I promise!
It looks like we have a theme here. When we started to plan our trip to Arizona we thought that the entire state would be much warmer than New England, however as we learned in Sedona, it’s snowy in northern Arizona in the winter. The altitude at the south rim of the Grand Canyon is 6500 feet above sea level, higher than Mount Washington which at 6288 is the highest peak in the Northeastern US. Who knew? We do now!
To make our way to the Grand Canyon from Sedona, we drove through a winter wonderland of snow.
Oak Creek Canyon
After leaving our hotel we turned toward Sedona by mistake on our way out to the highway. We were thoroughly enjoying the scenery and didn’t realize our mistake until we reached the town of Sedona. The drive back to route 17 toward Flagstaff was about 15 miles, so, rather than backtracking we took the scenic route through Oak Creek Canyon and we were so glad that we did. It was breathtaking, and while we didn’t use it, we had four wheel drive if we needed it.
Anyway, two and a half hours after leaving Sedona we made it to Grand Canyon!
… looking over the south rim of the Grand Canyon!
This moment had been on my bucket list for years. I have very fond memories of seeing it with my family as a child and I’d always wanted for Michael and our kids to experience it, so I was kind of overwhelmed. I barely looked at the view myself because I was having a great time watching their reactions.
Good thing I took lots of pictures! The views are amazing from every possible vantage point. In case you missed it, I posted photos of nothing but views of the Grand Canyon on Wordless Wednesday last week. You can see them here.
Just above is the exterior of the main visitor center at Grand Canyon Village in the south rim. I didn’t take photos inside but it was beautiful with engaging exhibits about many different aspects of the history, wildlife and geology of the canyon.
The south rim and north rim of the canyon are very different. While it’s less than twenty miles straight across, the trip to the north rim from the south rim is over 200 miles each way. The north rim is closed in the winter and sounds much less developed then the main viewing area of the south rim, which has a village that includes ten hotels, several visitor centers and museums, restaurants and a post office.
After seeing the canyon and looking around the visitor center, we had lunch at the El Tovar Hotel. This is one of a few remaining Fred Harvey Hotels and it’s an interesting stop. It was built to be one of the most elegant hotels in the west in the early 1900s. Fred Harvey was a British immigrant who built many restaurants and several grand hotels on the rail lines and on Route 66. El Tovar was designed by well known architect Mary Colter who also designed grand hotels in Winslow, AZ and several other cities across the southwest. We’ll run into Fred and Mary again soon in Winslow. We grew quite fond of them and appreciated their very cozy and elegant design style!
One of the wonderful aspects of traveling in the winter is the lack of crowds. While the lodge and dining room were pleasantly busy, we were seated right away. The El Tovar dining room was lovely. At $400/night per room, we weren’t staying there, but lunch was as reasonably priced as many of the other stops on our trip. The food was good, not spectacular, but very good, and the service was great. After a few days on the road white linen tablecloths and napkins were a treat.
These beautiful stained glass chandeliers were too.
I would have loved to have gone up to see the mezzanine… the view of the canyon must be awesome up there!
The front porch looks like an inviting place to sit on a warmer day.
The hotel had the look, feel and smell (in a good way) of a huge log cabin. It should probably be a post of it’s own.
This is a garden blog, not a hotel blog, but hmm….
This photo (complete with window reflection) was taken inside the Yavapai Geology Museum. This was our “homeschooling for ten days” moment of the day.. I should probably call it the “un-schooling” moment because I worked very hard to let the kids experience it on their own terms without intervening too much, so that they would really get it, and they did. The geological miracle of the canyon is crystal clear after spending a half hour there. I should have taken more photos but I was busy looking around and learning.
We also visited the Hopi Lodge, which is a recreated Hopi house thats used as a gift shop. The visitor center right behind Hopi Lodge had an interesting exhibit about life as a resident of Grand Canyon Village. Apparently a few thousand people live there in a housing complex that’s tucked away out of view. There’s even a school and a health clinic. I think that it would be an interesting place to live as a park service family.
Here’s our official Grand Canyon family portrait.
Before I close I’ll summarize a little bit about the logistics of our visit to the Grand Canyon.
Coming Soon: Winslow Arizona and starting onion seeds!
Words and people coming soon, I promise!
We “just got back” from our family trip to Arizona and as I tried to figure out what to share here on The Salem Garden I decided to talk about it one stop at a time. We were a family of seven out on the open road, just like the old days! It was fun to travel with young adult children and our baby is almost eleven so she was able to keep up with everything everyone else wanted to do. There were views and gardens, wildlife, great food and lots and lots (and lots) of quality family time.
We landed in Phoenix at dusk, picked up our SUV and drove two hours north to Sedona in the dark, hitting some pretty slick snow and ice on the way.
We weren’t really thinking too much about encountering snow and ice in Arizona before we left Boston. Fortunately we were prepared with winter clothes but I don’t think we were truly in the winter mindset. We learned quickly that Arizona has winter too, especially northern Arizona.
After a quick night of rest we woke up in the morning to this…
…absolutely incredible, classic Arizona! The snow clouds were still lingering but it was amazing!
My New England kids thought we had landed on the moon!
Yes, there was snow, but it seemed different on a cactus…
or frosting a red mountain.
We couldn’t get over the beauty of this place. This is the view of the town of Sedona looking down from the Airport Mesa.
Even the most commercial area of downtown Sedona was surrounded by mountains.
One of the things that makes Sedona special are vortexes of energy. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s believed to be a place where energy that’s released from the earth provides healing and strength. There are very specific spots called vortexes where the energy is concentrated.
We hiked to the Cathedral Rock Vortex.
My middle daughter and I felt the energy… she and I are very open to energy of all kinds.
Even though they didn’t admit it, I think the rest of the family did too.
The energy radiated from the earth and we looked up at this…
The scenery was so stunning that it was very easy and yet difficult to capture in photographs.
Here’s the view from our hotel.
A note about the hotel (actually motel) … we stayed at the Wildflower Inn and found it to be simple, clean and very affordable. A continental breakfast was included and you could sit and enjoy this beautiful view. While Sedona is known for it’s spas and luxurious places to stay, we feel that we had the full Sedona experience without paying lots of money for our hotel.
At this point in the trip we were busy with things like teaching the children to look at each of us as Michael and I both took their picture simultaneously, everywhere we went…
Look at Dad… please…Now look at Mom… smile and say “Arizona”!
They’ll get it eventually, you’ll see…
To wrap up this post… the big things about Sedona are:
I’m ready to retire to Sedona… I think the kids are too.
We’re still working on our canoe/lake/East Coast Dad…
Next Stop, the Grand Canyon, via Oak Creek Canyon… it was a wild ride~