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APRIL 18, 2009   

More Grand Canyon trip pictures & commentary on this site from 4/11 to 4/20. Our travel tips and suggestions at From the Cuyahoga to the Colorado.

Flagstaff, Tucson and beyond

View from rim into Grand Canyon showing Bright Angel TrailLiterally our last look at the Grand Canyon as we walked back to our cabin, heading for the shuttle to Flagstaff. The trail at bottom center is the Bright Angel which we took down to Phantom Ranch. The trees near the middle are Indian Gardens campground where we'd planned to stay until scared off by wind and snow on Wednesday.

Beyond the campground a trail runs across the mesa to an overlook, while Bright Angel itself heads down through the notch seen above and to the right of the trees.

Next stop, Sedona

Packs against station wallAt the Flagstaff Amtrak station our packs are piled against the wall while we wait for a ride to the Budget Rent-a-car office at the airport. From there we'd drive to Sedona for lunch, then on to Green Valley, south of Tucson, where Joanne's brother lives.

Nearly everyone that I talked with about going to the Grand Canyon asked if we planned to visit Sedona. We decided to have lunch there to see what all the fuss was about.

Our ride

I'd ordered an "Economy" car, but the rental agent offered me a choice between a Ford Mustang and a Nissan Sentra without cruise control. I thought what the heck, why not try a car that I'd sure never drive otherwise.

Al and Joanne next to bright blue Ford MustangThis picture, taken the next day at Ed's house in Green Valley, shows our electric blue "sporty" car.

To say I wouldn't kick a dog in the ass with a Mustang is only overstating it slightly. It didn't ride all that well, the seats were uncomfortable, the noise level as high as in my PT Cruiser, and when I stomped on the gas to pass on a two-lane road I didn't get nearly the response I expected.

Combine this with 21 mpg highway mileage, and why bother?

Oh, and Sedona? Disappointing too. No small town needs that many T-shirt shops. There probably is a real Sedona where people enjoy small town western living, but all we saw were streets lined with shops, sometimes two stories worth. Lunch at the Oaxaca Restaurant wasn't any great shakes either.

This turned out to be a fitting lead-in to a hellish six and a half hour drive to Green Valley. A big accident closed the highway south of Phoenix and we had to navigate around it, and then darkness and construction in Tucson obscured the signs to I-19 South. After several phone calls we found our way and finally got to Joanne's brother's place close to 11 p.m.

I'll take Amtrak over this any day.

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2009 APRIL