Let me begin by saying you should always read the description of things before you book something...I did not go white water rafting yesterday but on a river adventure. There are only a minimum of three day trips for white water rafting down the Grand Canyon, in case you are looking into it. I booked a half day trip with the Colorado River Discovery, which was a motorize pontoon raft with a group of twenty down 16 miles of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (http://www.raftthecanyon.com). No paddling or getting wet involved- which wasn't what i wanted but none the less, it was still enjoyable and easier to take photographs (photo #1 &2). The company was highly organized and each guide personalizes their tour so it was organic and not a corporate manuscript. Our guide was a local Navajo girl, who even sang us some beautiful native songs and we were the only raft that got to pull up and touch the petrified sandstone (photos #3) Half way through the trip, we stopped on a beach, ate lunch and then I took a small walk to see some petroglyphs, while mom used the out of place porta-potties (photo #4). There are a few campsites down the calm stretch of the river, which are reachable through private boat or the company can drop you off and you kayak to the end. There was lots of wild horses throughout the trip along with bighorn sheep, rainbow trout (not indigenous) and birds including the rare California condor and golden eagles (photo #5). In photo #6, can you find the wild horse? It is there - keep looking...It gives you a little perspective of the size of the canyon and the environment the animals survive in. The half day trip started at the Glen Canyon Dam and ended at Lee's Ferry at the cusp of the Grand Canyon National Park and took roughly 5 hours round trip.
At the end of the long day, we shopped a little at the CRD store (great shirts and i do not usually buy souvenirs) and returned to the Point Marina to eat and wakeboard. However, unfortunately the motor was broken on the wakeboarding zipline, so we grab a decent but expensive ($19) Margarita pizza and called it an early night. On a side note, the Point at Powell Lake does have free wi-fi, which is very hard to find in the area outside your hotel. We were very tired after all day in the sun so I passed out by 9pm without writing about my day, so sorry for the delay to those of you who are following.
We left Page, AZ early so we could drive through the Grand Canyon National Park on our way to Sedona, AZ. We took US-89 south and on our way stumble upon the best jewelry stand on the side of the road run by Elaine Bazan, a hardworking, mother of two who grew up on the reservation. She hunts for the stones in the mines, saunters the silver, and inlays all her jewelry. We purchased some one of a kind pieces but I have to mention her in hopes you will contact her for some authentic Navajo pieces at email@example.com (photos #7 & 8).
Our rafting guide mentioned the day before that she loved the Navajo tacos at the trading post in Cameron so as we turned into the east entrance of the park at US 64, we stopped (photo #9). The restaurant is in the way back of a giant, tourist trap store. I do not buy my souvenirs from places like this because they are marked up in price and I'd rather buy directly from local families that are everywhere on the side of the road. Back to the Navajo Taco - it is a freshly made fried Indian bread with a bean and meat mixture spiced ever so right and topped with lettuce, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes and local diced green chiles (photo #10). Not only do you get your monies worth at but I will never be able to forgot how good the beans were with Indian fried bread and cheese. The best way to describe it as more like a taco salad then a typical taco and it is a great example of the difference influences in the area.
There is no lodging that accepts dogs in the Grand Canyon so we just drove through down the Desert View drive from the east end to the south entrance (photo #11). We started at the Desert View watchtower where there was a short walk to the edge that we could take the dogs (dogs are not allowed on trails or in buildings) and Lucy, my bulldog, got her photo taken at her 11th national park (photo #12). We all just sat there and at Grand View Point, looking out while taking in the enormous beauty of the painted desert as we discussed how peaceful it was but we couldn't figure out why even though there was a lot of people. The highlight of the day was running into the Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile which Ive always wanted to find. Then the rest of the day, my mom and I enjoyed singing the jingle while driving the rest of the 30miles through the Park.
At Flagstaff, we jumped over to US-89A through the Coconino National Forest and Slick Rock State Park, rather than staying on Interstate 17 and I will definitely be returning to camp and fish here. The state park and forest area were very busy considering it is midweek and there were multiple campsites throughout, some even along a creek. There were resorts and lodges along with a rainbow trout farm and plenty of hiking trails. The trees make it shady even in the summer sun and the winding roads were enjoyable as you climb down 3000 feet to Sedona. As you leave the heavily forested area of Flagstaff, you start to see the famous red rocks of Sedona. We stopped at the Chapel of the Holy Cross which is an old, small chapel built into the rocks - it is a great stop for everyone going through Sedona, even those who are not religious. In the evening we strolled the Uptown area, where there are lots of stores, galleries, fudge shops and restaurants. While this might ruin the surprise for the person we purchased a present for - the Sedona Olive Oil Company had a great selection of oils to try. We ended up getting the Frantoio olive oil with hints of artichokes and almonds and i am a little upset I did not buy one for myself but it is a little hard to carry a bottle of olive oil on the road. Per the saleswoman's suggestion, we moseyed on over to the Cowboy Club. They had a fine dining section within the restaurant called the Silver Saddle and we opted for that instead, as we are a little tired of burgers and fries. Immediately after we sat at our giant, classic booth, which i love, they brought out an amuse bouche of prime rib with a jalapeno cream on a crisp bread and i ordered a local mircobrew wheat ale. It was an enjoyable meal all and all and we finished the night with ice cream, my mom's favorite. Tomorrow Ill be dropping her off in Tucson and staying with family for a few days so no more blogging til mid-week. It was a great first week and I hope you all are enjoying this process as much as me. I will try to get a map up and fill up my writings and photography a little more. Make sure to check out the photography page for more photos from this week and like us on facebook :)