Our journey today started by climbing through Oak Creek Canyon with its weather-sculptured dramatic red rock crags that peeked through tall pine trees. The canyon is a corridor between the towns of Flagstaff and Sedona and you can’t travel between the two without driving through it, but it is well worth the journey. The further you drive the monolithic wall of the canyon get taller and redder. It looks like those famous western movies we all used to watch as kids.
After a while, we made our first stop of the day on the main street of Sedona a centre for Native American arts. It’s no accident the beauty and mystery surrounding Sedona have birthed a town where healing and serenity are an expectation. This new age Nirvana is known as a spiritual power spot. Without exaggerating, you can actually feel a quiet, inner peace, no wonder it has been revered by Native Americans for thousands of years. It didn’t however have a great effect on the weather and we ended up having to buy long sleeved shirts as the wind that was whistling down the canyon was freezing.
We continued our journey through the San Francisco Mountains to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We had pre-booked a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter excursion so that we could drop down between the flame-coloured walls and plunge 6,000ft to the Colorado River. However, as we got closer to the Canyon, dark clouds appeared and the weather changed dramatically – all of a sudden it was pouring rain. When we reached the car park of the Flight Centre, we had to put on our raincoats, only to find our flight was cancelled due to lightning in the Canyon. Much to everyone’s disappointment, we slouched through the rain, back to the coach and on to the Visitors Centre.
By the time we got to the first lookout it was still overcast but the fog had lifted a little, the rain had eased and we could just about see down to the floor of the canyon, it is an amazing sight – truly jaw dropping. Once at the edge you get a sense of just how deep it is and nothing can prepare you for the sheer size. I think the first view you get must be the best, and words cannot really do justice to the overwhelming magnificence. There’s a fear that it’s so sublime you’ll get used to it – all the more important to let that precious first impression seep in.
Overall, our day at the Grand Canyon was really good; it was just disappointing that the weather was poor. The rain then returned and we continued to drive to the small picturesque mountain town of Williams with Route 66 as the main street for our overnight stay.
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