This was such a spontaneous trip. Isaac just finished up a class at work, and gets to take a month of leave. We suddenly have a few weeks of family time, but we’re locked down at home with Margot’s dance and soccer commitments which start up after Labor Day. Which reminds me of this awesome episode of On Point about the Big Business of Kids Sports. It’s worth a tangential listen. Anyway, we had a labor day weekend wide open and brimming with possibility.
Our friends decided to take a last minute trip to the Grand Canyon, so we tagged along and went to Sedona, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, and then took a side trip to Phoenix. All in 3 days.
I’ve driven on I-40 from Oklahoma to California many times, passing through Flagstaff, completely unaware of the town that lies beyond the interstate. This time I came into town from the South and got an entirely new perspective of the city.
Our hotel was very close to the Northern Arizona University campus. Isaac and I were swept up with nostalgia over our college days, riding bikes everywhere, eating al fresco and dressing in the most sickeningly hip fashions. I remember the “Norman” times (referring to my college town) when everyone was exceptionally beautiful, well dressed, enlightened, and full of presidential potential. What a fallacy! We were all just silly twenty-somethings in new situations with an inflated sense of wisdom. It was really fun, though, and I love seeing that microcosm replicated in other places, with other generations.
Anyway, we had a great time in Flagstaff at their First Friday event. Music, shopping, and great food were all on point; I even found a vintage copy of the Vegetarian Epicure cookbook that I’ve been looking for.
The Grand Canyon National Park system is completely immense.There had to be a thousand people crawling around the South Rim. A multitude of languages and accents wafted around, mixing with the sounds of camera lenses snapping. Bored children and teenagers dragged their feet, while Baby Boomers crowded the railings and hogged the views. It was hot, and my kids were unappreciative of our beautiful country, and above all else, there weren’t any trails to take my kids on in the short amount of time we were there.
There’s something about visiting a national park and not hiking any of it that makes me cranky. So we saw it, took photos, and made mental notes about which trails we want to attempt with our kids when the temps drop this fall. Right now, I can hardly comprehend how one navigates the trails and canyon system safely, so I’ll have to do a lot more research before I draft plans for us to truly experience the canyon.
One thing I love about Isaac is his draw towards roadside attractions. I’ve been suckered in one too many times, so I’m more inhibited about taking an impulsive side trip.
But I’ll tell you, I was pleasantly surprised by Bearizona. A drive through zoo? Yes, tell me where to sign.
Mountain goats, rams, wolves, bears and bison were all awesome exhibits. It’s so nice to see bears chilling out in the fresh air, instead of pacing psychotically in a tiny zoo enclosure. I hear zoochosis is a thing, but I saw no sign of it here. These animals were fat and happy and had plenty of room to roam.
The area was glittered with yellow wildflowers.
We made it through the drive through exhibits, and partially through the walking exhibits before we were hit with torrential rainfall. A storm soaked us and we pretended to be terrified at the thunder as we ran towards the car. I lost my keys at home before the trip, and not having a fob really slowed us down as we tried to take shelter out of the rain.
We left Flagstaff and made it to Camp Verde for dinner, then onto a beautiful luxury loft in Phoenix. Our last day of travel was happily spent at Ikea (where we didn’t spend a fortune, I’m pleased to report). No photos of Ikea because have you ever tried to steer their carts through crowds? There is no room for error, and little room for snapping photos. Why do all four wheels swivel? The people want to know!
Happy travels around Arizona.