Vacation days were approved, with the quick rubber stamp I expected. Motel dates are reserved.
Warning: sorta-rant ahead.
It’s only about an hour from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. You’d think a visit to the canyon would be a slam-dunk, except I don’t wanna go.
If my lack of interest sounds like blasphemy for someone who loves to travel and see stuff, hear me out.
Both G and I have been to the Grand Canyon, twice each. We live in Arizona, for pity’s sake. It’s not like it’s once-in-a-lifetime or miss it. My first visit was when I was in college. It was rainy and cold and I was crammed into the back of a tiny pickup camper with my boyfriend and his family of ten. He really did have that many in his family, there was nothing remotely romantic about the trip, nor was it really even fun. I was crazy about the boyfriend, but learned soon after how one-sided it was.
My second visit was when my oldest son was a few months old and teething. It was rainy and cold, too misty to see much, and I took care of a crankly infant while my then-husband and a friend tooled around doing whatever. Again, not a recipe for building sweet, sweet nostalgia.
Circumstances this time will be radically different, and hopefully we have gorgeous fall weather. Just the same, I remember a big hole in the ground – which I’m positive hasn’t changed – and virtually the same exact view from everywhere along the South Rim. It’s expensive to get in, it’s gonna be packed to the gills with other tourists, and yeah… just no. On top of everything else, it may be the single most-photographed site on earth, which doesn’t appeal to me as a photographer. No matter how you slice it, the prospect gets a firm “Eh” from me.
However, G’s making noises like he wants to go, so we’ll probably go. I say probably because he’s easily distracted by something shiny like a nearby lake, ghost town, etc. I won’t have an iota of remorse if we go in an altogether different direction.
In my view, most of the big “tourist destinations” in Arizona are overhyped. The Petrified Forest? It’s a cool concept but in person it’s a whole lot of rocky tree stumps spread across an otherwise empty desert floor. If you’re into vast empty space, you’ll love it. Otherwise, pass. Meteor Crater is legitimately amazing – for about sixty seconds. It’s a giant hole in the ground, just like the Grand Canayon. Only difference is it’s an inverted dome instead of cut by the meanderings of a river.
There are legitimately amazing places to visit in the state, less widely-publicized than the biggies. There are dozens, maybe hundreds Native American ruins in sites scattered throughout the state: Canyon de Chelley, Montezuma’s Castle, and Tonto National Monument are among the more well-known. For anyone comfortably mobile, visit Walnut Creek Canyon. It’s 126 steps down to cliff dwellings you can touch, situated in a donut canyon, and it’s magnificent. If we were able-bodied, you’d better believe it would be in G’s and my itinerary.
We have world-class observatories in Flagstaff and near Safford, if you’re into astronomy. We have the world’s largest gem and mineral shows in Tucson and Quartzite in winter, when the weather is spectacular. We also have a blend of third-world towns, ghost towns, and modern metropolises, with miles of open desert between. Check out Jerome, which was a ghost town but is now overrun by tourists. (Still worth the trip.) The entire town is built on stilts on the side of a mountain. One house along the main road, you have to cross a wood-and-rope bridge over a dropoff to reach it – and it only sits fifteen feet back from the roadway. Photos on the Internet don’t do it justice.
There’s more – Big Lake is so clear you can see bottom waaaay out into deep water. It’s surrounded by tall pines and is on Native American land. They keep it that way by enforcing an uber-strict policy against litter and pollutants, among other things. When my kids were little, we tied bites of bread on a string and caught a gallon-bucket full of crawdads. HUGE ones, essentially mini-lobsters. You could see them by the hundreds along the shoreline. (We ended up letting them all go.)
As a side note, I want a steampunk fridge. That is all