Monday, March 12, 2012

Northwestern Arizona to Flagstaff

It was a long day today traveling from Hurricane, Utah. It was the mountainous areas which slowed us down. John had a choice of two highways, and he chose the scenic road because it looked like the shorter route to Flagstaff. We ended up on narrow winding mountain roads, and for awhile I questioned his judgment. John claimed it was scenic because of the snowy pine forests. After that we were back in flat desert land and began seeing high reddish colored cliffs off in the distance. I did not question the scenic drive anymore.  "These are the Vermillion Cliffs!", John exclaimed. He remembered reading about them in National Geographic a few months back. They were quite beautiful and we followed them for miles.
Our next surprise on the scenic drive of Highway 89 was near the town of Cliff Dwellers. We drove by some big boulders and what looked like a cabin built into the rocks. A number of people were walking around the site. We stopped as soon as we could and walked back down the road to that area.
A sign there explained the stone house. In 1927 Blanche Russel's car broke down as she was traveling through the area. She camped there for the night and decided that she liked the scenery so well that she bought the property and stayed. Her home, pictured above, is quite interesting. It has two rooms, separated from each other by the large rock which serves as part of her roof. Her outhouse also stands on the site. Close to the road there is a large balancing rock. A Navajo woman sat under its shade selling jewelry.
After this stop we drove through Marble Canyon. It sits at the northeast end of the Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon (Highway 64 through the Northern Rim is currently closed for the winter). Continuing on Highway 89, we crossed  the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River. The river here lies in a 500-foot-gorge that cuts across a level plain on which the highway sits.
 The rest of our trip to Flagstaff took us through the Navajo Reservation. I found out later that their land includes parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. The sovereign nation is the largest Native American nation in the country.
Before reaching Flagstaff we had more elevations to climb. Pictured above are the San Francisco Mountains. The peaks of those mountains attain the highest elevation in Arizona. After we had arrived at our destination I had one more surprise for the day. As I stepped out of our home the strangest creature ran out in front of me. His fur was colored gray and white, he had a very long bushy tail, and he ran like a squirrel. He had also had large pointy ears- jack rabbit, maybe a squirrel?  John saw him too and said he was a Kaibab squirrel. It amazes me what that man knows! Reading the AAA Tour Book later I discovered that John was right. The animal lives mainly in the Kaibab Forest, an area north of the Grand Canyon.

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