We got up at 7:00, Mark showered up, and we hit the road. The parking that we were promised was free the night before, was not, so we and by we I mean Mark, paid and we left. We were heading towards some ruins, and possibly Sedona on the way to the Grand Canyon, where we would make it that night.
After a lot of searching, we finally happened upon an Old County Buffet for breakfast. Perfect. We were all really hungry, and there seemed to be nothing for miles. We feasted like bike in the old days when we biked across the country. It was good just what we needed for the long day of car riding ahead of us.
We left the OCB and headed for the first set of ruins Mark had researched. They didn't exist. He printed out the directions, and we followed them, but there was nothing there. There were a few more that he had "researched" that were now called into question. We were able to stop at a visitor's center on our way towards Sedona to ask for some local advice. There we got some maps, and such, but the lady we spoke to was unaware of any Indian ruins.
With her directions we headed towards Sedona, coming over a beautiful pass with a long reaching view of a large valley. Like so many others, this picture doesn't nearly due justice to the richness of the colors that can be seen first hand. On the other side of the mountain was a small town by the name of Jerome. It was built into the side of the mountain, likely for some protection many years ago, and was a tourist haven. The road was lined with cars occupying every single parking spot available.
We continued down the mountain, and stopped at gas station to get some drinks for the rest of the day as well as some more advice from people with maps in a little booth out front of the store. They instructed us to check out the Indian ruins that were in Sedona. So we did. We missed the turn for them and ended up stopping in one last tourist center in Sedona. We righted the ship, and were heading towards the Pulatki cliff dwellings. It took a while to get there, since once we got off the main road, it was a pretty bumpy ride suitable for a jeep, not the compact Mark got.
On our way into the dwellings we spotted some Prickly Pear cacti. They were not nearly as sweet at their milkshake form, so our stop didn't last long. We got to the dwellings which were actually pretty neat. The cliff side apparently acted as a nice safe haven in terms of weather, which helped preserve the ruins as water virtually never reach the area to erode anything. There was also a lot of art on the walls that was interpreted by the local rangers to the best of their ability. Some ideas seemed logical while others, an absolute guess.
It was a nifty stop. Our next was in Sedona. Sedona is apparently known for their turquoise, so he wanted to get some for his wife. The store was a bit of a bust, but feeling the need to shop like most women, Mark bought a book instead.
We left there and headed for Flagstaff on our way to the Canyon. On our way to Flagstaff, we drove through the Oak Creek Canyon. It was a beautiful place with actual running water, and it was really heavily forested. A bit out of place compared to its surroundings.
When we got to Flagstaff, we stopped at a Mexican joint. The service was second to none at the restaurant, and the food was delicious too. Good people.
After that, we headed to the Canyon. I took over behind the wheel, since Mark was sick of driving. The sun began going down as we drove towards the canyon. We again drove through some forests, well the paved part at least, and enjoyed the twilight scenery.
When we pulled into the Grand Canyon, we quickly navigated to our campground. Much to our chagrin, the Canyon walls were not lit at night by artificial lighting, a true crime to humanity. Some crap about preserving nature meant we would have to wait until the stupid sun rose to actually see anything. On our way to our campsite we passed a market which we planned on returning to after setting up the tent.
Paul wasn't feeling too hot, so he decided to call it a night early while Mark and I headed down to the market. When we got there, the market had closed. There was a restaurant still opened, where Mark and I got a beer. It was a nice way to finish the day after an energy depleting day of sitting down. It wasn't the end of Mark's day however, when he noticed a gift shop was still open. Unable to resist his urge to splurge (just thought of that), he went and bought something for all of the members of his immediate family. I loved giving him a hard time, and then he pointed out that I'm cheap so it all works.
After that, we headed back and tried to get to bed early. We had to get up for 6:00 to figure out where we would be sleeping in the canyon the following night. We were right near the edge of this massive hole, but couldn't see it as it was nearly completely dark. The Grand Canyon lay ahead the next day. Lovely.
Life was good.