Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Cactus Garden
I lived in New Mexico for ten years when I was a kid, but I never saw the Grand Canyon. And really never thought I would at this point in my life.  But my daughter was planning a trip to Phoenix to attend a job-related conference, and she suggested I meet her there so we could see the Grand Canyon together. 

It was 105 when my plane landed in Phoenix. And I was wearing long sleeves, and black head to toe. What else?

 These cacti photos were taken in the Cactus Garden of the resort (conference) hotel in Scottsdale where we launched our trip. This place was way, way, way out of my league. A glass of tea was $8.00. A salad was $20.00.  Are you freakin' kidding me? It put me a little in mind of some of the hotels I visited while on book tour last fall. Where I couldn't afford the food, and existed on the power bars I'd stuffed into my bag before leaving home.

Cactus Garden

Cactus Garden

But luckily I was only at the resort one night. The next morning we headed north.  I expected bad, winding roads with a lot of traffic.

Highway 89

I expected heat. 
Yep. (It was 115 degrees by the time we left Phoenix for home.)
We lucked out and decided to begin our Grand Canyon tour from the Desert View (East Entrance) rather than the main entrance (Grand Canyon Visitor Center). I really think the Desert View ended up being my favorite view, with a tower on top  of the canyon that was amazing. 
Grand Canyon, East Entrance

We kept wondering where all the people were, because there were very few cars and very few people. We wondered if summer was the off season.  ??  But by late afternoon, we reached the main gate and found them. The people. Sun sets at 7:30, and many viewing areas are only reachable by shuttle bus. And the last bus returns to the parking lot at 7:20, which makes no sense.  The visitor center closes at 6:00. So we wasted an hour on the shuttle, not realizing that we didn't have enough time to get off, walk to the viewing area, and get back to the parking lot before the buses stopped running. If I had it to do again, I wouldn't even go to the main entrance. But anyway, we got back from a nightmare shuttle ride (the kind were sweaty crotches are in your face, and sick people are coughing on your neck) to just catch the last of the setting sun at the main entrance where we'd unwittingly left our rental car.  We never made it to the point that was supposed to be the prime spot, but I can't imagine that one view is so much more spectacular than another. 
Grand Canyon, Main Entrance

We stayed the night in a nearby motel. The next morning we headed for Jerome, Arizona, the biggest ghost town in the country.  More about that later.

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