Friday, September 01, 2006
I realized that I didn't post anything after our stay at Mesa Verde, Colorado, and so here is the rest of our trip. Wanna hear? Sure, of course you do! We spent a good week in Arizona.
We drove from Mesa Verde through Monument Valley and past the Grand Canyon to Flagstaff. Oh, we stopped at the Four Corners monument too. Or tried to stop. We ended up leaving.
The Grand Canyon was cool. Busy. So busy that it was like the Disneyland of National Parks. We stopped, took a look, got a coffee, and it took us 1/2 hour just to leave the parking lot, so we ran for the hills-or rather...Flagstaff. I'm not sure if I understand the draw of the Grand Canyon. I mean, it's beautiful, yes. But it's far more developed, and it's so big that it doesn't look like you can really get in there and experience the canyon, like Zion, Bryce, or even Arches. The crowds alone are enough to send me running.
Then came Flagstaff and the biggest culture shock of our trip. We went into a Cracker Barrel restaurant. For those of you from other countries, the Cracker Barrel is like an old country store with a restaurant in it. The store is very cute and has piles of things that I'd love to take home with me. They have beautiful rocking chairs, knick nacks, travel games, candy, t-shirts, you name it. The restaurant's menu consists mostly of southern USA style food. Food that I've heard of only in books, but never seen. I'm usually a very adventurous eater-hey, I had crocodile when we were in Australia...but I draw the line when the food has the fat and calories that I'd normally eat in a week. Breaded, deep fried, Okra? Grits? Catfish? Lima Beans, Turnip greens, chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, smothered in gravy? Iced tea for breakfast? We ordered sandwiches and then watched the people. I've never felt so distinctly Canadian in my life as we sat there listening to southern drawls around us. Kevin did have the nerve to try chicken and dumplings, but it was so different from ours here at home that he refused to eat it (which is a first because he's not a picky eater). We went twice because it was near our hotel, and it was definately an experience. (I do have to say that they make a mean beef stew and their biscuits are to die for)
Tucson was a lot of fun. Everyone we talked to kept commenting on how hot it would be, and yes-it was hot (around 40 degrees Celsius...or about 105 F). But we gradually got used to it and it was not really that bad. Arizona has monsoon season this time of year, and we did see a lot of thunderstorms (the rain also cooled things off). You do the activities early in the morning and then hit the hotel pool for a swim or to snooze in the afternoon. We hit a whole pile of tourist attractions...The Pima Air and Space Museum, the Titan Missle Museum, Saguaro National Park, the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Kartchner Caverns, and Old Tucson Studios. All were fantastic and I recommend them all to anyone visiting Arizona. The most pleasant surprise of the Tucson was our hotel, which turned out to be the best of the trip-both in accomodation and service. I very highly recommend the Sheraton Tucson Hotel and Suites...just the beds alone are worth it (they don't call them Sweet Sleeper beds for nothing!). Extra bonus...Summer is not the high tourist season for Tucson. If you can stand the heat, every attraction is open and pretty much empty of crowds! Also it's a good money saver, because you can get hotels for a good price.
It was a great trip. On the way home we even began scouting out new destinations for next year, namely North and South Dakota, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Northern Texas, and Arizona. We've been bitten by the road trip bug. Badly.