Yesterday was an incredibly long day, but worth every minute. We saw so many amazing things; it was fantastic! We started off the day in Sedona, and upon checking out of our studio apartment that we had been staying in, we drove around for a bit to see some of the Sedona scenery while the sun was out. Since Monday and Tuesday in Sedona were very overcast, it was so beautiful to be able to see the red rocks in the sunlight against the bright blue sky.
After enjoying our last few hours in Sedona, John and I headed out on the next leg of our journey – Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. In Flagstaff one of the things we wanted to see was Walnut Canyon, the site of an original Hopi adobe “city” along the cliffs. It was unbelievable! The cliff-dwelling tribe built their precariously located homes along the cliff wall. They built them this way because the back wall of the adobe structure was already built and stable – they would just build off the rock that already existed. It helped to protect them from not only the weather, but also the wildlife and attack from other tribes. It was so interesting to see dozens of these small adobe dwellings along the cliff wall. John and I were speculating about how many of their children probably fell off the cliffs just by playing near their homes. One of the coolest parts about this park was that you could walk inside many of the homes, seeing how tight it would have been to live in the size of the dwellings. It was an incredibly interesting experience!
Hiking around the cliff dwellings gave us quite an appetite, so we had lunch at a local Mexican place in Flagstaff, and the food was delicious! I can’t remember what it was called, but our Chimichangas were HUGE! And sooo good! We also got chips and guacamole, and the gauc was spicy and more liquidy than what we were used to, so it was almost like guacamole nachos – it was delish!
After lunch, we started the drive to the Grand Canyon, but along the way decided to take the “scenic route” and drive past Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki. As we approached the Sunset Crater Volcano, it was really neat. The whole side of the mountain was black and looked like asphalt! We also passed by some really awesome lava flows, and for acres all you could see was built up lava rocks. In the distance you could see snow-topped mountains, and the overall experience of driving through the volcanic area was really interesting. I don’t remember ever being so near to a volcano that I was able to see the lava flows and see all-black smooth mountain surfaces as though they were paved for driving!
Further along the drive, we stopped at Wupatki, where we saw Hopi adobe ruins. The cool thing about these was that you could go inside, and they were much larger structures than the cliff dwellings. There were two separate adobe structures. The first one was a smaller, several room adobe that they believe was once about three stories high. It was built on a giant rock slab in the middle of the desert. You were able to walk right up into the structure and even crawl through the tiny doors into some of the rooms. It was awesome!
The second structure was much bigger – and believed to have housed a full village. Along with this larger structure, there was also a ball court, blowhole, and meeting place. The meeting place was a circular structure that was built with seating in the wall. This was believed to be the place that the tribe would gather together. The ball court was a circular structure with six-foot high walls, where it was believed that the Hopi tribe would play some type of ball game. They aren’t sure exactly what the game would have entailed, but historians think it may have been a game where the men used sticks to guide a ball into a “goal” like opening. The blowhole was really interesting – no one really knows what it was used for or if there was any significance in building it at all. It is an opening that is deep enough that it reaches below the ground, and it seems to “breathe” when the barometric pressure changes, either by blowing air out of the earth’s surface or sucking air in. The Hopi people now connect the breathing to one of their gods, but are unsure if there was any significance or usefulness of the blowholes in the past.
The main adobe house at this site was huge – many rooms and many floors. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go into this structure as much, but we were able to go into one room. It’s amazing how all the bricks were built off of existing rock to minimize the amount of bricks that needed to be laid and to help keep the structure permanent.
After hiking around Wupatki, it was getting late, so John and I decided to finish the drive to the Grand Canyon. After we entered the park, and had been driving for about five minutes, we rounded a curve and the sun was directly in my eyes – I couldn’t see anything! Thank God I slowed down, because as my eyes adjusted to the light, about thirty feet in front of me was a giant elk! It was crazy! It gave me quite a scare and I spent the rest of the drive through the park going extremely slow!
We actually arrived at the Grand Canyon at the perfect time to see the sunset! It was awesome! On the way in, we drove to one of the look out points and enjoyed the whole sunset. All of the peaks and valleys were alight with the setting sun and it was incredible! We were so pumped to have made it in time even though we had spent several extra hours touring the adobes!
After the sunset, John and I checked into our hotel room at one of the lodges, and then decided to grab dinner at one of the restaurants at the park. Unfortunately, the Grand Canyon is a bit of a monopoly, and has only several food options; we think the park owns them all. There is no picture of dinner because it was one of the grossest meals John and I have ever eaten, haha! I think today we’ll be eating cereal and peanut butter and jelly for all of our meals! One cool thing about dinner was that on the way to it, John and I saw five to seven Elk eating grass in front of one of the hotels! I tried to get a picture of one of them, but it was pretty dark out, so it is a little hard to see. It was crazy!
Today I just woke up and am in the main lodge area for the wi-fi. Although busy, yesterday was an amazing day, and I can’t wait to see what today will bring! Hopefully I’ll be able to post again soon, but I’m not sure if it will be while we’re still here in the Grand Canyon because there is only one location that I know of that has Internet. Tomorrow we’re off to Bryce Canyon, so hopefully our hotel there has some wi-fi!