…Continuation from Coast To Canyon | California
Chandler, Arizona. We had arrived at true relaxation for a few days. My grandparents live on a man made pond surrounded by private residence in a Suburb of Phoenix. Waking up here after the long drive from San Francisco to Phoenix was just what we needed. There were all sorts of birds chirping away each morning, and we had regular visits from ducks, herons, and hummingbirds. My grandparents, Don & Marlene Holliday, served us some very tasty meals, which we were so thankful for after cooking most of our meals over a campfire. Below is the view from their backyard under the changing evening light.
After some time well spent with my family; thank you again Grandma and Grandpa, we were back on the road and ready for adventure! Next stop, Sedona! Our timing was a little tight as we had to get to a Grand Canyon campsite and hopefully find a decent spot before nightfall. Of course, I like to stop as much as possible to get photos, so this always makes our travels slower. Anyway, enter Red Rock Country!
About half way through Sedona we stopped in Tlaquepaque. The name might be hard to to say, but it was a place well worth looking around. Tlaquepaque is an artisan village that’s been around since the 1970’s. So it’s not ancient like some of the other places you might see in Arizona, but the architecture(modelled after traditional Mexican villages), hidden passageways, and abundance of art all make it a place you can spend a long amount of time wandering. It’s also right close to Oak Creek which runs right through Sedona and feeds the roots of the beautiful Sycamore trees that provide a cool, shady break from the Arizona sun. It was a perfect Arizona experience and we fell quickly in love with the place, especially all the different textures and colours, and also the little guy with the blue belly pictured below.
We made our way up to Sedona’s main strip, and found a few cool shops and some public defibrillators mounted on light posts( I guess the heat causes a lot of tourist heart attacks in this place). We felt a little over bombarded with tourists at this point though and decided to make our way to the Grand Canyon. On a side note, the bird in the picture below, is actually a very rare California Condor.
The drive North out of Sedona, and along Oak Creek was another incredibly twisty road and took us up into Flagstaff, which held quite different scenery from the rest of Arizona we had seen. It was still dry, but a lot more trees and a lot more grasses. I, for whatever reason, was expecting a drive through the desert straight to the canyons edge, but instead we got quite a long ways of forest through the Flagstaff region. It was a rather delightful change of scenery.
Grand Canyon National Park. This was a pretty long drive through the Kaibob National Forest(whoever called this place a forest, had clearly never been to BC) and almost all of the drive looked exactly like the picture below. The sun was setting and there were no other cars on the road for a good half hour sometimes. We found a place to stay for the night, and got our first look at the Canyon the next morning.
And here it is! Our first look at the Canyon! While this is still beautiful, and blows you away, it is unfortunate that this is apparently how most people see the Canyon, under full sunlight, washed of it’s truest, rich colours.
This spot is definitely not man made…
Remember the Condor from earlier on in Sedona, well, we got the rare chance to see 8 more like him hovering the Grand Canyon. The California Condor, the rarest bird in the world. We were told by some staff of the Grand Canyon National Park that it’s extremely rare to see them there as they usually stick to the Flagstaff forested areas and that there are only 75 or so of these Condors in Arizona, and a mere 226 living in the wild around the world. Every one of the birds we saw were tagged. These birds were massive too, the largest birds in North America. 9 1/2 ft wing spans! Get out the measuring tape, that’s HUGE! That bird would barely fit in our living room; it’s almost twice the width of our Miata. Unfortunately for me, I bought a bigger zoom lens just days after doing this road trip. I would have loved to have it for this.
There were plenty of these Rock Squirrels too, who liked to spend long periods of time peering over the canyons ledge. They kind of looked like they were always contemplating suicide. Crazy little critters. These are also the perpetrators of the most violence recorded on humans in the Grand Canyon. They are not afraid to get close and give you a hard bite. This is mostly the fault of humans feeding them. They apparently cause hundreds of injuries per year.
Our campsite in the very creatively named Desert View. While the name was a bit dull, the scenery certainly was not. We were also fortunate enough to experience another Arizona rarity on this trip, clouds!
The Desert View watch tower.
Even the clouds help to give the Canyon some more texture and colour, some of the local photographers I talked to were quite happy about this! We were also fortunate to get a day that was dead calm in regards to wind, there simply was none. Despite the grandeur of the place, it was quite a peaceful time to be there. Perhaps this is why the Condors were hanging out over the canyon?
We made one last 5 min walk from our camp ground over to the canyon edge to get a look at the evening light(the time of day that a lot of the tours don’t get to see) on the Canyon and was it ever glorious. It’s just incredible how rich the colours become, and how more definition can be seen in the landscape.
The last bit of the Grand Canyon that we saw was behind these road side stands, which dotted the long, blistering hot stretch of asphalt from the Grand Canyon up North to Utah.