September 26-28 New Mexico I - Arizona Reunions

We were considering how to best use our new-found time, so I checked my trip list. We have three main trips left (in the continental U.S.) - New York City and environs, Kansas City and environs, and New Mexico (Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos). We thought the latter would be perfect, with the October weather and the upcoming balloon festival. We also decided to plan a few missionary reunions along the route. As my trips are already planned, we packed up a few clothes and were off.

 
We headed east through Hurricane on the morning of September 26, then toward the Zion's Park via Springdale. One of our goals was to find some frou-frou for the walls of our Entrada home but we found nothing in Springdale. We did buy a couple of excellent hand-dipped chocolates, however. It was a gorgeous day as we drove through Zion's up the road through the tunnel and into the eastern side of the Park.


KR by a Zion's Rock
Formation
We turned right at Mt. Carmel Junction and headed toward Kanab. Nice job Kanabites on redoing the main street through town with streetlights and sidewalks. We meant to take the 89A through Fredonia and over the Kaibab Plateau to Navajo Bridge, but somehow took a wrong turn onto 89. I kept thinking we should be getting to Fredonia, but by the time we got to Johnson Canyon, we had gone far enough that it made sense to just continue to Page via Big Water. It also allowed me finally go up Johnson Canyon to see the old Gunsmoke set. A few miles east of Kanab, a deep canyon slices northward through the Vermillion Cliffs of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Johnson Canyon has an eclectic past. During the 1870’s the infamous John D. Lee called the canyon home. In the mid-1900’s it served as a movie set for multiple Hollywood westerns and, of course, the Gunsmoke TV series.
Collapsing Gunsmoke Set
After exploring Johnson Canyon, we enjoyed light traffic and the beauty of the vermillion cliffs all the way to Page. We crossed the bridge at Glen Canyon Dam, took the 89A detour south through Cameron, passed Sunset Crater, and arrived in Flagstaff around dinner time. KR Pricelined a hotel in town getting m us a beautiful room at a brand new Courtyard Marriott near the university.

Vermillion Cliff Near Big Water
We called ahead to see Ali Crane Seaman, and despite the fact she and her husband were heading to Hawaii for their 10th Wedding Anniversary the next day, they and their wonderful children met us for dinner at a yummy pizza place. Wow! It is so fun to visit our missionaries and see how well they are doing.

Ali Seaman and Family
We slept in then headed south via Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona. To drive through the canyon, you have to leave the freeway and wind your way via many switchbacks and narrow roads. The weather was perfect and the canyon green and flowered. Don't miss this place if you are close. As you lose elevation and near Sedona, the limestone turns to red rock. Even though we have been in the area several times, it never fails to awe. We stopped at a goofy "Mexican imports" place and had fun posing with the various items. Worth a stop - southern end of main road in Sedona. We bought a few small things for our house and went on down the road to Phoenix. As we were getting on the freeway about 20 miles away from Sedona, KR realized she did not have her wallet. We called back to the store and confirmed she had left it there. Fortunately we didn't get all the say to Phoenix. And we got it back! Whew.

 
We arranged a missionary get-together in Phoenix also and had a great time at a Chinese restaurant in Scottsdale. Elders Tejada, Bennett, Lewis, K. Smith, Urrutia, Schmitz, Crum, Luna and their spouses, as well as Hermana Baldwin showed up. The Smith's brought their son so there were 20 of us. We were seated in the center of the small restaurant and we got kind of loud. I am not sure the restaurant owners expected us to dominate their evening meal like that, but we had such a tough time keeping it down.

 
We stayed overnight not far from the restaurant. As we were taking our stuff from the car to the room, I realized I had left my backpack under the table in the restaurant. That was a major problem, as we wanted to leave early in the morning to visit the Michaud clan in Mesa. We were afraid the restaurant would not open until noon or so, so I raced back. A large "CLOSED" sign hung on the door and it was locked up tight. I drove back to the hotel not knowing what to do. KR was smiling as I entered the room and said Ian Bennett found the backpack and was bringing it over to the hotel. We were so grateful as the restaurant didn't open until noon the next day.
 
On the morning of the 28th, we drove south to Mesa and had a short visit on both sides of the road with the Layton's and Michaud's (Kristi's cousins and aunt and uncle). Barb and Clay fed us a breakfast of freshly gathered eggs cooked to perfection, wheat toast, and some weird-colored smoothie meant to keep us healthy. Everyone seemed to be doing well.

                                                                  Bob, Barb and Clay

                                                           Aunt Patty, Uncle Dick and Barb
 
We spent the rest of the day on roads I had never traveled. We went east on US60 out of Mesa to Florence Junction, Superior, and Globe, then through the Apache Reservations to Show Low. The White Mountain and San Carlos Reservations along US60 are separated by the Salt River and at this point the Salt has formed a great canyon. There is a bridge at the bottom of the canyon, but to get across it, you must first go down a long winding road then up the other side on an equally winding road. An awesome site. Below, KR frames the river far below on the north rim of the canyon. 
 
 
As we continued to head east, we came to the small town of Witch Well on the border of Arizona and New Mexico. Now you have been there!
 

 
We were hustling to get to El Morro NMT before it closed at 5:00 p.m. and entered New Mexico on Route 53, through Zuni Pueblo. We arrived at El Morro about ten minutes before it closed, but the rangers were having nothing to do with our idea of walking up to the inscriptions at that point. We would have to check it out on our way back. The first major kink in our plan. We also passed by El Malpais NMT, since we would be coming back the same way. We stopped in Grants for dinner at Badland's Burger. Good food, check it out. It only took us about an hour to get into Albuquerque from there. Aahhhh! Three nights without moving as we Pricelined a nice room at the Hyatt Uptown.

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