The Grand Canyon – what a site to see! When we arrived in the park, I had no idea that we would be driving right by views of the Grand Canyon that we could see from the van. We were planning to go straight to our campsite and unhook the camper so that we could still have the opportunity to see some sites in the afternoon. However, when we started seeing astonishing views from the van, we had to pull into some of the overlooks. The views were breathtaking. We hopped back into the van after looking for a little bit so that we could hurry and go drop off the camper.
It was rather chilly and windy outside, so we opted to take a shuttle bus ride on the Hermit’s Rest Road that allowed us to get out at any of the shuttle stops. Each of the shuttle stops had an overlook so you could spend time gazing at the Grand Canyon. After spending time at one of the overlooks, we decided that it was really too cold to get out of the shuttle and that we could just look from the warmth of the shuttle. We did the whole shuttle tour admiring so many views that we were able to see. After departing the shuttle, we were walking back to the car when we found a bull elk (also known as a wapiti) munching on something in a parking lot. He ignored us, but of course we watched him and snapped a couple pictures. We saw quite a bit of elk while we were in Grand Canyon National Park: two bull elk and a couple different groups of cow elks (females).
We headed back to the campsite for dinner and bed. We were expecting to meet up with friends of ours from South Carolina that had moved to Arizona. We were hoping that they would make it in that evening, but they had all kinds of difficulties on the way, so we didn’t see them until the next morning. Friday morning, we awoke to cold weather and rain, which would turn to sleet and snow at times. After we all had breakfast, we headed back to the canyon to see more views, despite the weather. Well, it turned out to be just miserable in terms of the weather, so after a visit to the Visitor’s Center and another ride on the shuttle tour, we went back to the campsite for lunch in more rain. The campfire helped, but it wasn’t long before we all were ready to flee the campground in favor of someplace dry.
On the way to Flagstaff, we drove through a steady snow. It was beautiful and amazing to us who rarely see much snow to be driving through snow in May. We ended up being able to rent a cabin in Flagstaff with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms that slept a lot of people. There were a total of 25 of us in this cabin, and most of us had beds. It gave us a good opportunity to let the kids play together and for the adults to visit. We had such wonderful conversation. It was so rejuvenating to spend time with another large, Catholic family discussing our faith.
On Saturday we travelled to Sedona, AZ to see the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This is a Catholic chapel that was built integrated into the red rocks of Sedona. It has a huge cross as part of the frame of the building on the outside and is also built into the inside of the chapel. It was so impressive to see the many people that were there to see a Catholic chapel. I was able to spend some time in prayer. Especially endearing to me was a statue of St. Michael the Archangel (also the name of the parish we belong to) that came from 17th century Mexico and was hand carved, painted, and gilded.
Most of the areas that we have been driving through for the past couple days have been in the high desert. We haven’t seen a great deal of trees, just cacti, scrub bushes and trees, and little tufts of “grass”. Driving to Sedona we drove through Oak Creek Canyon where it looked much more like the forests of the Carolinas and southeastern United States that I am used to. There were large trees in forests beside beautiful running rivers with small waterfalls. We picnicked in one of these spots where the kids were able to jump around on the boulders and stick their feet in the cold water. I spent time trying to identify a bird that was flitting around us a lot. I never was able to identify it, but I’m going to keep trying!