Saturday, April 21, 2007

More Trip Pics

On our way to breakfast at one of the lodges our last day in the National Park, we saw a group of six elk grazing right by the road. They were used to traffic I guess! Breakfast was a treat that day. We had been at our campsite, and we were down to oranges and granola bars. We had biscuits and eggs at the lodge. After that we went to the IMAX theater to see an IMAX movie about the Grand Canyon. Well worth the time! After the movie, we got back on the road in our little rental car - a Chevy Cobalt, with a very little engine. Driving through the mountains, James had it floored going uphill - and as fast the car could go was about 40 mph. Our next destination was Sedona. On the way there, we saw this sign on the highway. We passed it up at first, because it sounded like a hoax. I mean, who's ever heard of a white buffalo? We decided to turn around and see what it was all about.
We walked into a small gift shop, and there was a lady in there to greet us. They charged $5 admission, and she gave a little bit of history about how their ranch got started, and she had pics of the animals - sure enough, they had white buffalo. They had genetic testing done on the first white one that was born to make sure that it was 100% buffalo - no cattle in its ancestry. It was all buffalo.
The Native Americans in the region come and bring offerings to the buffalo. These are the 1st white ones documented, and the Indians believe they are the fulfillment of an old prophesy to bring peace.

There were other animals at the ranch. They had Pygmy goats, doves, a bunny, and an alpaca.

After we arrived in Sedona, we went to see the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It is a catholic church, built in 1957.
A bird's nest we saw in a cactus outside the church - it was occupied. The bird flew out when we walked by the cactus.

The next morning we went to Slide Rock State Park. The photo above is a rock formation at we saw while hiking on one of the trails at the park. The photo below is of the park's swimming hole, which was named one of the top 10 swimming holes in the US by Life magazine. The water was very clear, and very cold!

Monday, April 16, 2007

More trip highlights

On our drive from Phoenix to the canyon, we stopped at Montezum's Castle. It is the site of some very well preserved cliff dwellings that were built and occupied by the Sinagua Indians around 1400 AD. Quite an impressive site considering the native people did all the work with hand tools.

We saw a lot of mule deer in the National Park. They are a bit bigger than the deer here in the south. Their ears are bigger, and they don't have much a tail. They didn't seem to mind all the visitors at the canyon. These walked right through our campsite. (That's our tent directly behind them.)
Our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon. We were both awed at the magnificence of God's handiwork. We hiked down into the canyon in the afternoon, but only for a little over a mile down. The trail that goes to the bottom is 8 miles long, and the park service strongly recommends that you not attempt to hike to the bottom and back up in one day.
We saw our first California Condor during our hike. The bird was almost extinct in the 1980. In 1982 only 22 of them were left, and they were all in captivity. About 10 of them were released in the Grand Canyon in 1996, and now there are about 70 in the park. They are up to a total population of 273. It is the largest bird in North America with a wind span of 10 feet. It was very exciting to see the bird in the wild. All of the Condors in the park are tagged. If you look closely at the picture of above, you will see that is bird 82.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Day One Details

On our first day of spring break, we arrived in Phoenix mid-afternoon. We left the airport, rented a car, and went to check into our hotel. It was too early to check into the hotel. We we went for a drive to see some of the sights in Phoenix. Our first stop was the Arizona Biltmore.
It is a large resort that was built by Albert Chase McArthur, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright served as a consultant on the design, and it certainly has his fingerprint. The artist in me just had to see it. After that we took a two hour tour of Taleisin West. This was Wright's winter home. He lived in Wisconsin the rest of the year. It is now a school of architecture. An interesting thing about the school is that there is not permanent faculty. Architects will come from various parts of the US and teach for a few weeks a time, and then return to their regular jobs. The picture is a shot of the front of the house. The pool served two purposes, recreations, and it was their fire insurance. When the house was built in the 1940's the closest fire department was much too far away to rely on in case of a fire, so the pool was the water source in an emergency.
There was a lovely view of the city from the front of the house. Phoenix was full of these Saguaro Cacti - it is the state flower of Arizona.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Spring Break

Last week was James' spring break break. I had the week off, and we went to Arizona. We spent the first night in Phoenix - where we toured one of Frank Lloyd Wright's houses, and then we drove up to the Grand Canyon. We camped there for 4 nights. It was magnificent! It was the first time either of us had been there. We spent out last two nights in Sedona, which is about halfway between the canyon and Phoenix. Between the two of us, we took about 500 pics. Here are a few of them.
Our first view of the Grand Canyon.
On Tuesday, we took of day long tour that left from the Canyon, and went up to Page, AZ - which is almost in Utah. We got on a raft at Glen Canyon Dam and floated down the Colorado River for about 4 hours. The weather was great. Glen Canyon is much smaller than the Grand Canyon - being 1000 feet deep versus 1 mile deep. It was beautiful!

This was my favorite spot in Sedona. It was Red Rock Crossing - a state park. The creek was very shallow, and very cold! We waded through the stream and enjoyed the view from the middle of the creek. More photos coming soon.