Ride West: Day 13 to Flagstaff, AZ
I didn’t think today’s ride would be able to match yesterday’s travels. I was right. Instead of Absolutely Spectacularly Magnificent, today’s ride was just Great.
Leaving the incredible scenery of Zion, including the view from our hotel window, the view from the place we had breakfast and the view riding down the main street of Sprindale, was difficult. It’s a cliche, but words really can’t do justice to what nature has wrought in Zion Valley. But leave we did, beginning with a reverse traverse of the same set of great switchbacks into the tunnel that led us in to the Valley of Zion yesterday.
We headed south and east toward Arizona, driving much of the time in desert or near desert conditions, though mountains nearby make the ride easier to take. I had originally planned to go through polygamous Hilsdale/Colorado City where Jon and I could check into some Sister Wives, but we went another route instead.
The clerk at the hotel at Zion had given me a couple of tips on places to visit along the way on US 89A and we took advantage of his advice. He mentioned the Cliffs of Vermillion, which I thought was a natural/scenic site and which turned out to be a very small town (50 people) with one restaurant where we stopped for coffee. Great conversation with the CoV native behind the counter who regaled us with stories of the area, including throwing burning bales of hay and flaming tires off the Navajo Bridge, which spans the beginning of the Grand Canyon near Lees Ferry more than 450 feet above the Colorado River.
The bridge was built in 1929 and discontinued as a vehicular bridge in the late 1990s when a replacement was built about 100 yards downstream. Note: Lee’s Ferry was the only crossing of the Colorado River for more than 660 miles until the Navajo Bridge was built. Lee’s Ferry is currently the site where they launch rafting trips down the Grand Canyon, and we saw several boats/rafts beginning their semi-perilous journey down the gorge.
Riding once again in triple digit temperatures, we headed to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon (where it was only about 85 degrees.) We had both been there before, but the Grand Canyon is worth seeing as often as you can. Incredible views from a dozen vantage points, many with interpretive information provided by the NPS. Once again, I was struck by the shear size of the place and the time scale involved to carve a gorge a mile deep and almost 20 miles wide in some places.
While at the Grand Canyon I was struck by the number of languages being spoken, with English definitely not at the top of useage popularity. While there today we talked (sort of) with folks from Italy, Germany, France and Croatia. Also represented were Chinese, Japanese and Korean. I would be surprised if there weren’t at least 50 different languages spoken at the Grand Canyon today, though I have nothing but my instinct to guide me on this guess. So why don’t more Americans visit the natural wonders in their own back yard? Too busy going to Disney World, Branson, and the Mall of America I guess. My language skills (Russian and Spanish) are rusty and other languages are all Greek to me, but I still think I heard a lot of Wow! today in several tongues.
Tomorrow: Arizona Deserts (or desserts if I can find more boysenberry pie)