Thursday, June 25, 2009

Road Trippin’ to Phoenix

By TravelGirl --

It’s no secret that TravelGuy and I are relocating to Phoenix, Arizona in mid-July. To prepare for our big move from Seattle, we drove to Phoenix over the course of three days last week, stopping to enjoy the beautiful and not-so-beautiful scenery along the way.

Our journey began on a Wednesday morning, with blue skies and decent weather for Seattlelow to mid 70s. Heading east through the state, we set our sights on driving with no plans. In other words, we really had no idea how many hours our bodies could sit still in a car (even though we had endured a 17-hour drive up I-95 a couple of years ago as we escaped a hurricane on the east coast). So, we opted to just find a little motel each night that could offer a place to sleep and shower.

We ended up driving about 8-9 hours to Twin Falls, Idaho where we landed upon a Motel 6. All the basics were there, plus friendly staff, but no frills. You get what you pay for and $66 dollars later we had a room. ‘Nuff said. Morning greeted us with more sunshine, and we were simply happy driving in 75 degree weather with mostly blue skies. Our route took us into northern Utah where freeway speeds increased to 80 mph. Really? I mean, that’s great and all, but unless the freeway is paved with the ability to withstand those speeds, cars simply bump along. It was a very rough ride on a road not paved well, but paved with good intentions.

We drove through Utah -- first Ogden, then Salt Lake City, then Provo, passing through places like Payson, Meadow, and Panguitch, through beautiful mountains, forests, and canyons. The temps seemed to stay a comfortable 75 and at times crept up toward 80, just enough for us to use the AC. The comfort of the heat brought immediate delight to a couple of people who relish that big fat orange thing in the sky. Evening would be arriving soon, and we knew we must find a place for our heads before we got too far into the canyons where there would be no services. We passed through gorgeous Bryce Canyon, Hatch, Glendale, and Orderville, and happened upon Kanab which appeared to be our last viable stop before driving into Arizona.

Ah, Kanab. If you have never been to Kanab, go there. If you have no idea where Kanab is or why you should go, keep reading. Kanab is known as the “Little Hollywood” of Utah. This is the place where the old westerns were filmed. Remember TV shows like Maverick, Bonanza, The Lone Ranger, and Gunsmoke? How about movies such as Wagon Train, Buffalo Bill, The Outlaw Josey Wales, or Planet of the Apes (both 1968 and 2001 versions)? Well, all of those shows (plus many more) were filmed in and around Kanab, Utah. What’s even more interesting is that we happened to stay at The Parry Lodge. Of all accommodations in Kanab, we stumbled upon the one where many of the western stars stayed during their shoots. In fact, we stayed in Joey Bishop’s room. Yes, Joey Bishop from the Rat Pack. He stayed there while filming Sergeants 3 in 1962 with pals Frank, Dean, Sammy, and Peter. While I won’t make this a review about The Parry Lodge, I will say that if you are ever in beautiful southern Utah, a stay here is a must. You’ll even be treated to a free western in the barn!

Friday morning brought more sun and increasing temperatures. Heading east on 89, we drove along Lake Powell, took pictures from the bridge, and TravelGuy pretended to be Phil Keoghan (host of Amazing Race) explaining a Road Block. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, never mind. If you do, then this is where you chuckle and just picture TravelGuy as the host of Amazing Race. Lake Powell is set amid deep canyons carving out majestic red rock waterways. If you have never been there, add it to your list of places to see.

Heading into Arizona the temperatures continued to climb well into the 80s. Our AC was happy to keep us cool, performing a function it was rarely able to serve while in Seattle. We had some extra time, and since we’d both only seen the Grand Canyon several times from a plane, we really wanted to see this natural wonder close up. Entering from the south rim, we stopped at the Desert View viewpoint and looked out at the canyon below. Simply breathtaking. We moved along to additional viewpoints on our way to Grand Canyon Village, and noticed something quite different. Many of the viewing areas were not blocked off by a railing. A loss of balance could have meant falling a mile to one’s death. Needless to say, we never got within 10 feet of the ledge but were able to clearly see the inner depths of the canyon, the Colorado River, and view both east and west from the viewpoint at Yavapai Point where there is an observation deck. At some point we plan to go back to camp and do some hiking.

The day wore on and the heat started to warm our blood to the point of discomfort. As we meandered our way out of the national park and over to Flagstaff, the temperature began nearing 90. We were in Arizona, so we didn’t care. We were in an air conditioned car, so we cared even less. One more hour to go and we’d be in Phoenix…but then…the worst happened. The temperature had hit about 95 degrees, and our air conditioning stopped! Yes, the poor car had no idea what to do. Coming from Seattle, the AC was a rarely used feature, but on this road trip it was a constant. We spent our last hour headed to Phoenix with a systematic rolling up and down of our windows, pulling over to check fuses, hydrating as much as possible, and trying to keep the sweat and discomfort to a minimum. In the end, after the replacement of a $1200 air compressor, we were officially initiated into the southwest and openly accepted our sweaty state of being. After all, we made it to Phoenix, we found a great house we’ll be renting, I went to an interview, and all is good in the world. We flew back to Seattle a few days later, left my chilled car with our dear friends, and plan to be back to make a new life there in less than three weeks.

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