Music: Yeha-Noha (Wishes of Happiness & Prosperity) by Sacred Spirits
It’s much warmer in northern Arizona than it was the last time we were here – November 2007. It snowed that time. This time it’s in the 90’s and so arid you can get dehydrated sipping iced tea in the shade. Not that we’re complaining, but isn’t dry heat supposed to be not so, well, hot? We put the question to a few people here and the answer we always get back is, “You guys are wimps.”
“It’s a cool day in Arizona,” they say. “Oregonians,” they mumble. We can’t help it. We haven’t seen a drop of rain since we left Oregon over a month ago, and we’ve been told people at home have seen the sun two times and were startled at that. The Hopi say that people derive strength from living here because of the challenge presented by the land and climate. We can certainly understand how that might be true, and hope that we might come away from our Arizona experience, if not completely hardened, enlightened on the value of liberal amounts of sun screen.
Our first stop in Arizona was at the very north of the state: Grand Canyon National Park. It’s a high elevation, around 7,000 feet, so it was cooler there, but still sunny and dry. Remember when the Brady’s went to the Grand Canyon in the 70’s? Yep, it still looks the same. Six million years in the making. Not so many polyester pant suits today, but the view is spectacular.
Our first day at Grand Canyon, we hiked the Rim Trail; an eleven mile walk along the southern rim. It was miles of amazing views and steep overlooks with no railings. Grand Canyon is visited by four million people each year, so there are areas that are really crowded. Not on the trail, though. Along most of the trail the only sound is the wind, and you can walk right up to the edge and look down thousands of feet to the canyon floor without anything or anyone hindering your view – or fall. We were careful, staying at least six inches from the edge at all times. Exhilarating!
Our next day at Grand Canyon, we decided to give our feet a much needed rest, so drove the 25 mile scenic route through the park. At the end of the day we stopped at Lipan point to watch the sunset. It was a windy night, and as we sat on a boulder waiting for the sun to go down, pondering the fate of Bobby and Cindy lost at the Grand Canyon all those years ago, we saw something floating up from the canyon, below. It was just a dot at first, then as it got closer, a piece of paper getting whipped around by the wind. The wind blew it up the canyon wall. It would disappear into crevices and behind boulders, and then be brought back out with a gust. It made its way up, until finally, when no wall was left, it blew right to us and landed on the ground. It was a dollar bill. One single dollar, probably dropped into the canyon accidentally at some point by one of the thousands of tourists that had been there that day. We took it as a good omen, though, and maybe even a sign that our Grand Canyon zip line idea may not be too far fetched after all. Something to look into later.
After a few wonderful days at the Grand Canyon, it was time to leave and head south to Verde Valley. As we mentioned, we were here in 2007. Both this time and last we’ve stayed about a week. You’d think that it would be easy to run out of things to do, but not so. There are so many national parks, state parks, national monuments, overlooks, historic places, etc. here, that not only was it non-stop sight-seeing last time, but we found completely new things to do this time – and there are even more things that we missed and will have to get to next time.
We did do some of the same things as last time. We had to visit Sedona, of course, with its beautiful rock formations and mysterious spiritual vortexes (we’re still not quite getting the vortex thing, but keeping an open mind). Several stores in downtown Sedona have in-store psychics available to customers. “Will this t-shirt shrink after the first wash?” and “Would I find this cheaper somewhere else?” are two questions that we thought of asking, but didn’t.
Our other sight-seeing outings have been mainly to historic Sinagua and Anasazi ruins. This entire area was once home to tens of thousands of ancient Indian people who lived and worked in small pueblos or homes made along cliff edges. There are hundreds of ruin sites in northern Arizona and New Mexico; some fully excavated and some not. In several, you can actually walk into the rooms that haven’t crumbled, and imagine what it would have been like to live there 800 years ago.
Sometime around the 13th century the Anasazi people left this area. Nobody really knows why, but the Hopi (who are believed to be descendants of the Anasazi) say they just knew that it was time for them to move on. They believe that there is much to learn from letting go, leaving the known behind and moving on to new things. We understand that idea – it’s what got us here. It’s also the reason why after a very lovely stay in Arizona, we’re heading out tomorrow. It’s time to do see and experience some new things. We’re moving on to New Mexico!