Grand Canyon was exactly how I had pictured it in my mind: majestic and breathtaking. The bright sun illuminated the deep and steep canyon walls as far as the eyes could see. Some of the canyons looked like gigantic Buddhist stupas of Borobudur in Java—only these ones were carved by nature. The Colorado River, the “sculptor”, seemed endless snaking through the deep canyon.
After the Grand Canyon, we continued the journey to Sedona. We drove through the San Francisco Peaks where Arizona’s highest, Humphrey’s Peak, stood. The landscape seemed to change dramatically as we drove. We left the deep canyons and headed toward the snow covered mountains.
We stopped in Flagstaff for a tasty Thai lunch on N. San Francisco Street. Thanks to the gods of technology finding local restaurants based on reviews get easier than ever. The possibility truly gives better options to our places-to-eat list during road trips. (I tried to use at least two sources. For this trip I used TripAdvisor.com and Yelp.com)
The scenery changed once again as we approached Sedona. Towering red sandstone greeted us along the curvy road. This tourist town had a marvelous backdrop of the red mountains. We strolled around the town’s galleries and shop filled downtown. The weather became warmer with the bright sunlight.
We went on a Pink Jeep Tour to Sedona’s backcountry the next day. The two-hour off road trip flew by. The bouncy jeep ride took us to see the gigantic red sandstone formation up close. Our driver stopped at a couple of scenic places for us to take pictures. He also pointed out that these red rocks used to be home to earlier dwellers thousands of years ago. Everything looked arid with a few short cactus decorating the area but magnificent nonetheless.
We passed through a ghost town, Jerome, on our way to Scottsdale. What used to be a thriving mining town atop the hill in 1880s onwards with population of 15,000 is now a tourist destination and artist community of 450. Though galleries and shops fill its narrow and hilly streets, Jerome definitely maintains its tough wild west look and feel.
Not too far from Jerome is the Montezuma Castle National Monument. The carved limestone cliff served as a “high-rise apartment” home to the Sinagua people in 700 CE. We stopped by to check out this stunning piece of “real estate” from the past.
Traffic got heavier as we approached the Scottsdale. The landscape changed to the typical present day metropolitan America with huge highways and rush-hour congestion. Only tall cactuses along the way reminded us that we were still in the desert.
Our hotel concierge in Sedona told us that Scottsdale was a shopping mecca in the area. He should have said: a pampering mecca in the area. Restaurants, shopping malls, hotels, night clubs, and spas fill Scottsdale modern landscape. No wonder that it has been a popular domestic winter-getaway destination for some.
We drove back to Vegas in the morning to catch our flight back the next day. Tall cactuses seemed to disappear and Joshua trees came into view along the highway. We covered 1100 miles and entered a lot of new scenery into our memories in eight days.
Photos property of The Traveling Chili Pepper