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2005.03.25-04.02 - Arizona w/ Mom (& friend May)  -  These are photos from my spring break trip with my mom to Arizona, where she was visiting a grade school friend. We spend a couple of days in Phoenix, visited the many cacti of the botanical gardens, and had Easter dinner with May's family. Then we started off toward northern Arizona and stayed two nights on the Navajo Reservation at Thunderbird lodge, near the town of Chinle and Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument. Our big adventure was an all-day tour into the canyon, which has no real road, in 6-wheel-drive 24-seat ex-Korean-War trucks nicknamed "shake-and-bake" trucks because of their greenhouse-like fiberglass coverings and the bumpy ride through mud, clay, and quicksand sinkholes. (You can take your own car in as long as you have a Navajo guide with you, but at one point in the road, our driver said, at least 11 smaller vehicles now lay under the ground. After multiple lawsuits, the lodge, with its big trucks, now charges $3500 to tow someone out.) This spectacular canyon has some wonderful cliff dwellings and rock formations. On our way back out, we got stuck trying to get across the creek, and this proved to be the big excitement of the day. After trying unsuccessfully at least six times to just gun it up the hill, breaking the winch on the front of the truck, creating huge ruts in the mushy clay, and plunging the back of the truck (where I was) deeper into the water, the truck behind us pulled us out. Some idiots from another tour company in a little SUV tried their hand at it, but got stuck in the huge ruts. The other truck pulled them back out, too, and got across successfully, pulling themselves up by a small tree. Then they pulled us up the other side, but the little cars (by now there were two) were just left there. Who knows how they got out.
The next day, we headed off across Navajo and Hopi land, seeing the Hopi mesa-top villages along the way. We walked through the large 800-year-old stone village at Wupatki Nat'l Monument and walked through the stunning jagged lava flows at Sunset Crater before heading to the town of Winslow for the night. (Once a major Route 66 and railroad stop-off point, the tourism industry now consists of US66 and "Standin' on a corner..." a la the Eagles' "Take It Easy" knick-knacks.) As per May's fantastic itinerary, we spent the night in the magnificent Depression-era La Posada Hotel, which claims to be the "last of the great railroad hotels." It is currently being brought back from the wrecking ball (nearly) and features a fabulous restaurant, a doorstop Amtrak station, gardens, and a unique and delightful kind of cozy/rustic/funky/hodge-podgy atmosphere. A ride through stunning (if overly-touristy and -eccentric) Sedona took us back to the 86 degree desert heat the next day. It was an altogether very enjoyable experience. :)
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Linn Davis  
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