road trip

We got up early Sunday morning – packed the minivan with some clothes and a cooler with my pomegranate juice and Darlene’s Gatorade – brewed a couple coffees on the Keurig in travel mugs with some Ghirardelli dark chocolate melting chips in the bottom and were on the road by 6:30 AM. We’ve been anticipating the trip for a few months now – it’s good when the day arrives and you’re able to drive away.

We have timeshare reservations for 5 nights in Sedona. I wanted to attend worship service in Gallup – about ½ way on the 360-mile journey. We made Gallup in time to grab an Egg McMuffin and still make most of Bible class followed by worship. The service was an encouragement with 50 or so friendly people in attendance. We’ve come to enjoy visiting little congregations on our trips out of town. We often travel on a Sunday because our timeshare points go farther for Sunday through Thursday stays.

We left Gallup after services. The air was crisp and clear – I could pick out the snow caps of the San Francisco peaks which sit beside Flagstaff from 100 miles away. The peaks impose themselves upon the high desert rising over 5,000 ft above Flagstaff at their base to an elevation of 12,600 ft. There is a ski resort at the top – not something expected in Arizona. We stopped in Flagstaff for a late lunch at the Beaver Street Brewery in the historic downtown. There was a chilly breeze on the day following a winter snow storm. We’ve spent quite a bit of time in Flagstaff over the years and Beaver Street is one of our favorite places to eat. We shared a Thai salmon burger and a bowl of great sweet potato fries. The fries came with a creamy dip with a strong rosemary flavor – interesting and good. The salmon burger tasted really fresh, and the Thai slaw on it was especially spicy and good.

Sedona is about 30 miles beyond Flagstaff to the southwest. Outside of Flagstaff a short distance the road drops down world famous Oak Creek Canyon. The elevation change as the canyon descends is a full 3,000 feet with Sedona at an elevation of 4,300 ft compared to Flagstaff at 7,000 ft. There are stretches of the canyon with switch back curves and serious drop offs at the edge of the road. On the trips up and down the canyon in years past I have often ended up behind a driver – maybe from Kansas – intimidated by the curves and drop offs – they creep along riding their brakes; hugging the canyon wall. It happened again this trip. I’ve ridden the canyon often on a Harley Davidson in years past. It was easy to just jump around a slow car on the Harley – double yellow lines or not – not so with life in a minivan – patience is forced upon me. I’m sure patience is a virtue and I will learn to enjoy and appreciate it someday. You can see Oak Creek at times as the road descends – the landscape changes from the Ponderosa pines of Flagstaff to broad leafed trees and bushes and junipers and cedars as the red rocks of Sedona come into view.

As the bottom of the canyon is reached the red rock cliffs and spires and rugged sandstone formations on both sides of the valley come into view. It is a special sight that is always remembered. It is one of those things you are anxious to tell people about when returning home – the words, though, can’t ever match the things that were seen. The photos help a little, but even pictures don’t do justice.

The Wyndham timeshare resort in Sedona is very nice – beautifully landscaped with spacious units – many of them with views of the surrounding sandstone cliffs. We first stayed here in the early 2000s when the units were first built. Here are pictures of the view from the patio I took this morning and the interior living area in the unit.

We’ve got 5 nights in Sedona before heading to Grand Junction, CO for Christmas weekend with children and grandchildren. We’re meeting some old friends not seen in 25 years for lunch one day – they live in Phoenix and we’re meeting at a café ½ way between us. Phil was minister at a congregation we were part of in the 1980s in Grand Junction. Though it has been many years I still count Phil and his wife, Rene, as special friends. Then we plan on driving to the Grand Canyon one day – we’ll tour some of the many art studios and shops for a day and try to walk trails some each day. It should be a good time – these 4 days and 5 nights – and they all start and end with a road trip – the destination is always in mind – but the trip days are also a very special part of it all.

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