Monday, June 30, 2008

Desert, desert and more desert - Sedona and Red Rocks

Driving up to the Grand Canyon, our first stop was Montezuma Castle. A cliff dwelling of ancient peoples, it was perched so high in the cliff that access has always been by ladder. Obviously the logistics of getting thousands of people daily (who all need paved trails, apparently) up that distance, and the importance of preserving the ruins, mean you can't see inside the ruins themselves, but the view is pretty cool. There is apparently 19th Century graffiti inside!

There were also the remains of an even larger dwelling next to it. You could see where other rooms had been made in the rock cliffs. On the bottom left of the photo, you can see one of the stones they used to grind corn. It even has demonstration corn!

There was a reason not to feed the squirrels!

Our second stop was to see the Red Rocks from a vista point in Oak Creek. They were absolutely spectacular....

(OK, doesn't look too red here...)

The middle rock is called Bell.

We then drove down a 5-mile winding, red dirt road to Red Rocks Crossing at the creek. The views along the way were incredible, and mostly private land.

The view was worth it though. The red dust was very fine, and stuck to everything. Our legs and the car were covered! Here are Cathedral Rocks, one of the most recognisable landmarks.

Brendan saw a very tiny frog at the creek - it was about 2cm long! At first he thought it was an insect, until it started hopping. There were lots of tiny fish in the water, which I thought might have been the tadpoles for the frog.

We then drove up to Sedona, and Red Rocks Park itself. We very gingerly drove along the second half of the road, which was dirt again. Sedona itself had cheap ($3.99/gal) petrol (California is at $4.80/gal - but one day that will probably be really cheap!), and was a resort town modelled on the old-fashioned cowboy look.

Red Rocks viewpoint from the park - how crazy cool is this?!

We headed into Williams, a town about an hour away from the Grand Canyon, and checked into our hotel. It was a historic motel along the old Route 66 (now the 40) and was, well, quaint. The floor in the hallway sagged at different angles. But the owner was nice. (Look at the mats for a clue.)

Finally, we drove up to the Grand Canyon to see the sunset! It was incredible beyond belief. It's pretty hard to describe the feeling of dangling your feet over that vast space. It's actually too big for the brain to process - on an intellectual level, you know it's big, but "grand" is an understatement. It was awesome. We walked around and found a spot to climb out on the rocks to take photos. The whole canyon is incredibly open, unlike most American parks - if you fall off, it's your own fault.

(Click on the photos to make them larger... then walk away and read a book while it loads... kidding!)

The other side. There are lots of tourists - can you see all the little figures? That's a viewing platform. We wanted some alone time, so we found a spot away from everyone else. We're standing on a long ridge similar to that one.

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