Roadside Views from HWY 89


Until our hiking trip through southern Utah a few summers ago, I disliked driving. Previous to that summer, my long distance automotive experiences had been heavy with interstate hauls through billboard jungles and carpool driving that racked up almost as many miles but with more predictable signage. Bo-ring.

Utah’s mesmerizing Highway 12 changed all that for me. And a couple of years later as we zipped up SR 17 and Highway 89 toward Flagstaff, and eventually, the Grand Canyon and Page, Arizona, time once again lost shape and substance.

As the landscape shifted from a flattened desert dotted by saguaros, prickly pear cacti and ocotillo plants into the more vegetated Verde Basin and then to the exposed sedimentary rock of the Colorado Plateau, my mind decelerated, simply absorbing the transitions.

I found my pause button.

Photo ops diminished as the landscape shifted from vast expanses to don’t blink cuts through mountain passes, but I imprinted enough beauty in my brain to make it a lasting memory—and began savoring the simple pleasure of driving from here to there.

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8 Comments to Roadside Views from HWY 89

  1. I drove through Utah back in ’83. Unfortunately, I missed all the scenery as my buddy and I did most of our driving at night and one of us typically slept while the other drove (kind of like The Lawson’s Big O, if you remember that commercial). We likely made better time than you did — but we missed a lot of the details.

  2. One day we’re going to take the kids on a cross country trip out west. I’ve only been to California, so it will be my first time too. Just like I went to Disney for the first time this past summer. I see a strange pattern developing…..hmm……

    Enjoy the long weekend.

  3. I recall driving to the Grand Canyon one Feburary on icy roads. The thing that surprised me most was that there is no hint of the Grand Canyon until you are virtually on top of it. Thinkign about it, the canyon is basically a large hole in the ground so it isn’t a big surprise but I kept expecting to see something of this stunning panorama before I’d parked in one of their car parks.

  4. Fine scenery. The desert has a life of it’s own.

  5. Driving is not my favorite either but these vistas are really stunning.

  6. These vistas reminded me so much also of my trip on HWY 89 – thanks for sharing, Heather. I love your blog!

  7. Just say the words “road trip” and my husband has the maps spread out on the dining room table to plan his strategy. We’ve traveled your route many times. The beauty of a road trip are the little things that you’d never see from the window of a plane or train.

  8. The stretch of highway you describe-and what a beautiful job you did describing it-is among the most spectacular in the world. A road trip like that really whets one’s appetite for further travels.

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