Our Trip August to November 2012 (October 13-18)

Thursday  October 18

You’ve Got to Know When to Hold ’em…

After an unhurried morning, we headed for the Camp Verde Campground, just south of Sedona, actually wishing we could have stayed at least one more day at the Grand Canyon. We plan to come back again,as there are a few things we would still like to do. We came into Sedona via the Oak Creek Canyon scenic route, which was absolutely lovely, reminiscent of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We decided to stop in Sedona first before carrying on to the campground. We finally found a place to park, as there were far more tourists than we had imagined. The weather continued to be almost perfect, with a cloudless sky and balmy temperatures. We wandered the shops, bought a few things, and had a meal at a Mexican Cantina. We arrived at the campground in late afternoon, and headed for the pool and hot tub. We both went in the hot tub, and 1 1/2 of us went into the (unheated) pool. We spent the rest of the afternoon there, then returned to the clubhouse for a rousing hour of Playing Card Bingo. It was simple enough for even me to understand it, and I understood it well enough to walk off with the final prize of (wait for it)..$12.00! The only downside was that the wifi was awful, so I couldn’t update the blog as planned. We are headed for Scottsdale tomorrow to stay with Kip and Cindy for a couple of nights, so will be able to update then.

Wednesday  October 17

Happy Trails To You…

As planned, we took the shuttle  bus to the Visitor Centre and watched the same movie we watched yesterday (about 20 minutes long, and beautifully done). Having spent yesterday seeing a lot of the Canyon, we got a lot more out of the movie the second time around. We liked it so much that we went over to the Bookstore and bought the full DVD. Before leaving the Centre, we watched an 8 minute presentation projected from inside a sphere. I have no idea how it is done, but here is whatr it looks like:

Very cool…

We then caught the shuttle bus going east along the rim, and got some other perspectives. Once again, the weater was perfect. One of the stops was the Kaibab Trailhead. The trail actually goes all the way down to the Colorado River a mile below, but we settled for going down partway, just to be able to say that we did some kind of hiking!

Part of the Kaibab Trail

An Alber Squirrel

Another viewpoint, another squirrel, this one having a scratch

The vistas were different from yesterday, but just as stunning. We had a bite to eat at the Market Plaza, where we were engaged in conversation by an older lady, who noticed Jeannine’s Balloon Fiesta t-shirt. Turns out that her now-deceased husband worked as some kind of missile engineer at Cape Canaveral, and she watches all the launches from her beach condo. She travels extensively and has 5 world cruises under her belt. Needless to say, she is a Tea Party Republican. She was quite nice, but we found it hard to relate to her experience. We returned to the camp site, and later tonight will be going to a Ranger presentation on the geology of the Grand Canyon, which should be interesting. Off to Sedona tomorrow.

Tuesday October 16

A Really Big Hole in the Ground, Full of Really Old Rocks

After a lazy morning, we took advantage of the great shuttle bus service and spent the afternoon on a route that goes west along the South Rim of the canyon, and stops at nine viewpoints, each one as spectacular as the others. The buses run every 15 minutes, so you simply get off where you want, spend as much time as you want, then hop the next bus and continue on. The weather is absolutely perfect and expected to continue, with a cloudless blue sky, warm temperatures, and enough of a breeze to keep things comfortable. I won’t try to describe the views; here are a few pictures: (all of the photos will be on Fotki in a few days)

The Grand Canyon


“Just take one more step back…”

Granite Rapids (the river is the length of a football field wide at this point: this was taken with a telephoto lens)

Optical Illusion: Mather Point Sunset

We returned to Priscilla after dark and had supper. We will probably take the shuttle and do the shorter route going east tomorrow.

Just a piece of advice: if anyone is considering a trip to Germany, now is a good time to go. The whole country appears to be here; we went half an hour and didn’t hear a word of English!

Monday  October 15

“I’m Ready for My Close-up, Mr. DeMille”

As mentioned yesterday,we stayed in Gallup, New Mexico  last night, , in the historic El Rancho Hotel, located on Historic Route 66, which served as home base to a significant number of movie stars in the 1930’s and 1940’s, as many movies were shot in the vicinity. The corridor walls are covered in dozens of autographed pictures of such stars as Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, John Wayne, Glenn Ford, Henry and Jane Fonda, Lee Remick and Jane Russell, to name a few. Each room is named after a movie star, and it seemed only fitting that we would wind up in the Robert Taylor Room (not to mention the fact that I had purchased some “David Taylor” jeans at Sears a few days previous.)

El Rancho Hotel

El Rancho lobby

Speaking of Route 66, we had to divert into Winslow Arizona and stand on the corner:

No explanation needed

We arrived in the Grand Canyon National Park Campground in mid-afternoon, and hadn’t been there an hour when we met the local Elk’s Club:

Chapter President (the guy with the biggest rack)

We pulled out our chairs and had a perfectly wonderful evening with a couple of Green Apple Martinis.

Sunday October 14

Up, Up and Away (God is good!)

When we arrived at the Park this morning, Jeannine suggested that we check with the balloon ride company, just to see if there were any cancellations (we were already re-scheduled for tomorrow), but I was not optimistic. We added our name to a wait list already 10 or 12 names long, then waited for 25 minutes as the list was whittled down. Lo and behold, we got the last two spaces! This meant that not only would tomorrow be less stressful, as we already had a 6 1/2 hour drive, but more importantly, we would be going up with the mass ascension. Here are a few pictures:

How it begins

The happy couple

The view from up here

Another view from up here

The ride lasted for an hour, and is almost impossible to describe in words. We felt like birds flying freely with no sound but for the occasional burning of the propane burners keeping us aloft.  We were surrounded by other balloons who could wave at us as we went by.  The colours were amazing and the size of the balloons varied from enormous to gigantic.  Again so hard to describe. We flew with 8 other people who all were in awe as we were. To be part of the approx. 500 other balloons was truly a gift. The sky was cloudless and while it was a little chilly the burners gave off some warmth from time to time.  The chill really didn’t matter though;  we were so grateful to be up.  When we landed (a perfect landing I might add)  we were treated to some history of ballooning and a traditional champagne toast, souvenir pin and flight certificate.  Jeannine got very emotional, she was so overwhelmed with the experience.

Here is the lovely poem printed on our Flight Certificate:

The winds have welcomed you with softness.

The sun has blessed you with his warm hands.

You have flown so high and so well that

God has joined us together in laughter and set us

gently back into tyhe loving arms of Mother Earth.

– Irish Balloonist’s Prayer

I will post all of the photos and video clips on Fotki:


The photos will begin on p.25 . It may take a couple of days to post them all. We will be heading for Gallup New Mexico tonight, rather than waiting until tomorrow, which will make for a shorter drive to Grand Canyon tomorrow. I will not have internet access until Thursday, so will update then.

Saturday October 13

Lowes, Glowdeos and DWI

We slept in this morning after a long day yesterday; we just couldn’t drag ourselves out of bed to go to the morning balloon ascension. We decided to try the Tram ride again, but when we got up there, we found that there was a 2-hour wait in a line-up just to buy tickets, and our feet weren’t up to it. I needed some hardware, so we found a Lowes Bulding Supply and picked up a few things. From there, we went to a huge Mall, where we decided to grab a meal at Fuddruckers (try saying that 3 times fast), which is a very popular fast-food chain here, famous for its hamburgers. The reputation is deserved, but let’s back up a second. When we ordered our food, we found that you could also order a beer, which we did. The cashier asked us for ID, which has nothing to do with us appearing underage (we wish!), but instead is a legal requirement in case we had a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) on our record. I didn’t bother pointing out the obvious, which is that since we were Canadian, they weren’t going to come up with anything, unless it was DWC (Driving While Canadian). I had my ID, but Jeannine unfortunately did not.

This evening, we went to the Glowdeo (described in an earlier post). Here are a couple of pictures:



One of the many concessions, apparently in an attempt to differentiate himself from similar establishments, advertised the sale of “Soveniors”, where everyone else was selling “Souvenirs”. We caught the shuttle back to Priscilla and went to bed early, as we plan to catch the final mass ascension of 500 balloons tomorrow morning.

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