Today’s journey led us to the one and only Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon just got served
Photo Credit: Kelvin Sage
But before we got there, we woke up this morning to check out more of our wigwams during the day and said farewell to 3 members of the crew: Gareth, Clay, and George, who we will be meeting up with again in Venezuela in 3 days.
Then we drove 3 hours west and north towards the Grand Canyon:
Getting to the Grand Canyon wasn’t as quick as I had hoped:
1. 30 minutes in traffic
2. Pay the $25/vehicle fee at the entrance
3. 45 minutes looking for parking.
4. Hop on packed shuttle buses that run on a constant circuit.
5. 20 minutes on the bus
6. Reach the Visitor’s Center
7. Walk north another 5-10 minutes towards the South Rim. . . .
Worth the journey.
Photo Credit: Kelvin Sage
After around 2 hours walking around The Grand Canyon, we then traced our steps back to the parking lot and took our RVs south towards Flagstaff, which had its own share of pretty views fitting to Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” playing in the background.
After a quick dinner in Flagstaff we headed 3 hours west in the pitch blackness and are now staying overnight in the border town of Needles, California.
Tomorrow, we complete the last leg of our 6 day, 9 state journey along the entirety of Route 66 with an 8 hour drive across the Mojave Desert and northwards to San Francisco. (Yes, we know the historical end of Route 66 is supposed to be Los Angeles, but we got a ridiculous deal to drop off our RVs in SF instead of LA, so please forgive us).
- At time of posting in Needles, CA, it was 31 °C -
Humidity: 5% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: clear
3 months ago Jenn, of Map&Move, and I took a weekend trip to Arizona to do research for what was then a possible Route 66 trip. Today we’ve returned with a caravan of 3 RVs and 11 friends driving along Route 66 from Chicago and reaching Arizona in 3 days: We stay true to our goals.
This was today in a nutshell:
The Painted Desert
Backtracking, we woke up in Albuquerque, New Mexico at around 8am and grabbed breakfast at Frontier Restaurant, known for its green chili on anything.
After breakfast, we strolled around Old Town for a few hours.
The old town church here is the oldest building in Albuquerque, NM
Before heading out from Albquerque, we paid respects to Walter White’s house from Breaking Bad.
Walter White's house just got served
Afterwards, right before saying goodbye to Vishnu who had to leave the trip early for work, one of our RVs tried to yield to a police car coming from behind on its left. Unfortunately it got stuck between another vehicle coming from behind on its right, leading the RV to completely sideswipe and wreck a side mirror of a hapless car.
Once again, another accident. Luckily, the car owner was cool with it. We exchanged info and insurance information and then we were on our way.
After another accident involving the RVs, Jenn soothes her nerves with a Twister burrito
We pressed onwards for about 4-5 hours towards Arizona.
…and we got to Petrified Forest National Park just in time before it closed.
Named for its large deposits of petrified wood thousands of years old, the Petrified Desert consists of a $10/vehicle self-guided drive-thru national park where you can also see the painted desert from afar. The whole thing takes about 45 minutes to an hour to see from north to south.
Driving onwards we were able to catch more of the painted desert at sunset.
How far we'll go to get a good group photo
Petrified wood that's countless years old
We left the Petrified Forest National Park at around 8pm, then driving onwards west 30 minutes towards Holbrook, AZ
Once reaching Holbrook we had the whole places to ourselves with dinner at Butterfield Steak House:
…and then spent the night in the iconic wigwams at Wigwam Motel, a historic staple on Route 66.
- At time of posting in Holbrook, AZ, it was -3 °C -
Humidity: 31% | Wind Speed: 3km/hr | Cloud Cover: sunny
Last night in Page, AZ, we stopped by for a drink, live music, pool and a little bout of Western dancing at the Windy Mesa Bar.
2 Chinese Americans, 2 Serbs, and 1 Australian in a group may have made for a curious look, but people were generally friendly and welcoming, teaching us how to dance!
The next morning we left at around 12pm to check out the vistas at nearby Lake Powell, about 5 minutes north of Page, AZ.
Afterwards we checked out Monument Valley, which I never heard of (and few of us on the East Coast have either)…but trust me when I say that when you see it, you’ll know it. So we drove 2 hours onwards towards the Utah border by Kayenta, hoping to catch Monument Valley by sunset.
From the Utah border, we drove about 10-20 minutes inland more to pay the $20-25/vehicle fee to enter the area where you can actually see Monument Valley the way it’s supposed to be seen.
It’s about a 17 mile drive around the Monument Valley circuit, and as you can imagine, it was totally worth the journey to get here. All the epic car commercials finally come to life, and you wonder how places like this really do exist within your own home country.
Afterwards, as the sun finally set below the horizon, we started the 4-5 hour drive back to Phoenix, AZ where I would catch my flight back home to NYC later that night.
Last drink together at Blue Martini in Phoenix, AZ.
- At time of posting in Monument Valley, UT, it was -5 °C -
Humidity: 46% | Wind Speed: 14km/hr | Cloud Cover: cloudy
2 days ago I decided to visit Arizona for a weekend trip right after getting off of work. I was going to link up with a friend, whom I traveled with in Brunei, who was going to continue her cross-country USA trip.
When you find yourself at Antelope Canyon less than 24 hours after landing, you know you made the right decision. I shouldn’t be comparing, but the 1.5km souq walk towards Petra had finally been rivaled by the mere few hundred feet of the slot canyon we found at Antelope.
Antelope Canyon just got served
Ever since I’ve known Jenn, she has been encouraging me to check out the Couchsurfing community. Although plenty of people I’ve met the last few years have been asking me to join the community, Jenn was the one to actually convince me; I guess it really has been long overdue.
After landing in Phoenix at 2am, we spent about an hour at the airport looking to rent an SUV for the weekend. Afterwards, we crashed at the house of a local couchsurfer named Milan.
Milan, who greeted us with amazing homemade Serbian soup from his crockpot (you need a spokesperson for Crockpot? This is the man!), was a Serbian refugee from Bosnia & Herzegovina and has been living in Phoenix since he was a teenager, having been moved here by the U.S. government during the Bosnian War. Now working for Head Start in providing comprehensive education for low-income children and their families, Milan not only agreed to host us for the night but also accompany us with his fellow Serbian friend, Mladden, for the weekend trip to Page, AZ. Moreover, we found a 19 year old Australian girl traveling by herself in the USA, Iggy, on Couchsurfing who also wanted to join us.
Jenn and Milan with his crockpot creation
Jenn, Milan and I slept for about an hour at Milan’s place before setting off with Mladden and Iggy (whose bus came in 2 hours late and managed to get to our place just as we were about to leave and search for her) at 9am for the 5 hour drive to Page, Arizona.
We got to Page, AZ at around 2:45pm where we made it just in the nick of time for the 3pm tour to Antelope Canyon with Slot Canyon & Tours (one of the few open during the weekends). If you go on an official tour like we did, you don’t need wait for a reservation for the hiking permits; you can just go straight there.
For about $37/pp, they packed us in a little open-air truck and drove for about 15 minutes to the opening of the Upper Antelope Canyon.
Driving to Upper Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon just got served
Getting to Antelope Canyon is stumbling upon a photographer’s dream. Thousands of years of flash flooding and water erosion through these rock formations has given the canyon the appeal you see today. You can be the worst photographer in the world and still get shots people would pay good money for.
We spent an hour walking through here, leisurely, before getting to the other side of the canyon. But if you wanted to breeze through it, it would take 5 minutes . . . but why would you?
Milan and Madden for their album cover
After Antelope Canyon and being dropped off back in Page, we got back in our SUV. it was recommendeded that we check out Horseshoe Bend nearby, so we drove about 10 minutes south to the entrance for 1/2 km hike to the valley.
And after a quick uphill and downhill hike, you’ll come across something so beautiful, you’ve wondered why you never gets the amount of press that it should:
After 10 minutes there, we walked back to our SUV and drove back to Page, AZ for the night.
The lights of Page, AZ
- At time of posting in Page, Arizona, it was -16 °C -
Humidity: 47% | Wind Speed: 10km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear