Meet Sally. Sally was a fiery redhead that always worked best with her top down. We certainly weren’t the first inside her, but she liked it rough and we delivered. We all knew it was only a weekend thing, but after giving her the ride of her life, things got a tad emotional.
*Ahem* Sally, as in Mustang Sally, was our fire red, mustang convertible that brought us through Arizona. I’ve spent a lot of my life behind the wheel, but this trip was my first real road trip. We lived on fast food and fast lanes. We covered 830 miles, from Phoenix to Sedona, from Flagstaff to Page… and while we did stay at the historic Hotel Monte Vista, Sally was our real home.
After arriving late Friday night in Phoenix, picking up Sally and heading straight up to Flagstaff, we checked in at the Monte Vista. Very cool place. Old and charming. We stayed in room 404, which happened to be Spencer Tracy’s room. Comfy and cozy – my only complaint was replacing the keys each day because the magnetic strip was off. After an all day adventure, the last thing you want to do is talk to another human being when you are tired, look absolutely disgusting, and most often smell even worse. Also, it’s pretty awesome that the Monte Vista is practically on historic Route 66.
We started off with the grandest of rocks – The Grand Canyon. You don’t quite “get it” until you walk right up to the edge. We visited the South Rim, but the following advice should be taken from any side. Do not stay at the viewing points. People spend days exploring the canyon, and while you may be short of time like we were, the last thing you want is to take a bunch of pictures with the railing behind you. Walk along the Rim Trail. There are thousands of spectacular spots to watch the canyon in peace, and many outrageous spots to take some heart pounding pictures. No? Just us? Doubtful. Check these out. Oh, and the glass skywalk is next to Vegas… Just in case you were wondering…
“There’s this road, with a great view of this rock.” For our first evening in Arizona, we wanted to watch the sunset in the Sedona desert. We drove straight down to Sedona and ended up in a park at the end of Red Rock Loop Road. Listen, you don’t need to go to the park to get a great view of Red Rock – there are pull offs all over the road that have amazing views of the landscape. This applies to everywhere in Arizona for the most part. However, if you end up at this park, head deeper into the park on the trail, then turn left into the fields – there is a perfect viewpoint here. The closer picture you see below is from this spot. The one farther back is from a pull off on the side of the road as you start driving back.
Before I go any further, I need to do a sidebar for all the drivers out there. Driving in Arizona is fantastic. You seem to move through worlds… one minute it’s all red rock, with mountains shooting toward the sky, kind of like Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, then its flatlands with pale grass and tumbleweeds – I shit you not, tumbleweeds actually roll across the highway like in the old western movies – next its a pine forest, next, next, next. You’ve got to see it to believe it. You drive for incredibly long stretches without seeing another car and there’s practically no speed limit (edit: we have been informed by the arizonan authorities that there is in fact a speed limit). Also, leave the GPS behind. There truly aren’t that many options and as I’ve said before, cutting off the GPS and pulling out the map is exhilarating. Another thing, do yourself a favor and get a convertible – just don’t forget a hair tie and a jacket – turns out Arizona can be really cold and windy.
So, do I tell you about Flagstaff nightlife? Or do I launch into the next day of adventure? I guess I could sum it up real quick and tell you the description Amy and I decided on when someone told us that the city was diverse. “Flagstaff isn’t diverse – it’s a clusterfuck.” All in all, we did meet some semi cool people, got invited to a castle, were chastised for not hunting animals and discovered some true, unsuccessful playboys. Big thanks to the cute Collins bartender who successfully got us intoxicated and the boys at Pita Pit who fed us great food after 10pm (much harder than it sounds).
After a “well, I don’t feel great” wake up, we pulled ourselves together and headed off to Antelope Canyon. If you head up to Page, go a bit early. There’s a viewpoint right off the main strip that is absolute perfection. The stop gives you a non-touristy spot to grab some pictures of a canyon with a beautiful river flowing through. By the way, none of these places require a ton of hiking, but because of the elevation, prepare to wheeze like a motherfucker.
On to the awesome Antelope canyon. Random facts: You need a tour to get in, so no need to get mad when you see that anyone can drive up to the outside entrance. A jeep ride through a shit ton of sand is required to reach the canyon opening – we did the upper canyon and recommend it. Also be advised that the sand you ride through will be absolutely fucking everywhere… In your hair, behind your ears and certainly in your mouth. However, it’s totally worth it. You are literally walking between two rocks that have been separated by monsoons. Pictures don’t do it justice, but here goes.
Nearby Antelope canyon is Horseshoe Bend. Totally worth the stop, but completely packed with tourists. Extremely pretty though, so take the time and shove some tourists out of the way to sit on the rock ledges.
Sundays are dead in Flagstaff so lets jump ahead to the ride back to Phoenix. Not much to say here, but that the iconic cactus is close to Phoenix (we nearly started a riot in fear of not seeing one), and the Montezuma ruins are right on the way and worth a quick stop if you never saw any ruins. We nearly saw the Wupatki ruins on the way back to Flagstaff on Sunday, but lets just say Arizona is hella creepy at night.
The Wave. Missing this broke my heart, but it was unavoidable. If you remember anything from this post and do plan to go to Arizona, apply to visit The Wave four months before you head out.