Tag Archives: road trips

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.

More album photos: Heather Dugan Creative on Facebook

Flagstaff Things To Do

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Grand Fluctuations

It was my third or fourth trip to the Grand Canyon, so I knew exactly what to expect and packed accordingly: sleeveless shirts and sunscreen to counter strength-sapping heat and burning UV rays along with thermal shirts and gloves for winter chill.  And I got it right.  The temperature can vary by as much as 30 degrees from rim to floor, and springtime at the Canyon is especially unpredictable.  So much for packing light.

As we drove north from Flagstaff, AZ, we watched bright blue skies layered with wisps of white cloud over with pastels.  Light hued pastel pinks, yellows and purples that were surprisingly intense for what I normally perceive as no-drama colors.  My admiration for the unusual lighting gave way to delayed realization of stormy weather ahead.  We had already rearranged our itinerary to avoid forecasted 65MPH winds, but it looked like we were in for some interesting weather.

Hail hit suddenly as we turned onto state route 64, deafening all other sounds.  I drove steadily toward our hotel with occasional slides, seeing nothing but an iced road bouncing with ice pellets and shrouded by fog.  And then, it was over.  We turned into the first pull-off, the Desert Watchtower, excited to be within yards of a stunning view and disappointed that it was completely enclosed by clouds.

Seemed like a good time for a lunch break, and after some hot soup and salad -we found the weather had changed yet again!  The clouds had dissipated and brightening sunlight revealed:  the Grand Canyon.

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