Of course, travel has always held a certain fascination for me, and so, again, I recently traded labor for leisure last month with a trip to Arizona and Utah in search of some natural beauty.
When my itinerary was set, one always painstakingly prepared by my Lady Jane, we hopped aboard a Southwest Airlines plane and headed, appropriately, to the great Southwest, arriving at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix.
Once in our rental car, we began our route, one that would take us to Arizona’s Sedona, the desert town near Flagstaff surrounded by so many red-rocked buttes; Williams, an embarkation point for the South Rim of the grandest of canyons; Winslow, once cleaved by the Mother Road, Route 66, and a town re-energized by the lyrics of The Eagles’ song “Take It Easy”; and Page, where we wanted to see the dynamic duo of the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell.
Then it would be time to skip across the Arizona-Utah state line for the beautiful drive through the Grand Staircase Escalante in Southern Utah and slip into Kanabe, the site of many Western movies and TV series of my youth, before settling in Springdale, our three-day headquarters, for side trips to see Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.
Finally, there would be the return drive to the Phoenix area for a couple of final days to catch a Diamondbacks ball game at Chase Field as well as grab some glimpses of Tempe and Scottsdale before our return.
Really, it was a memorable trip on so many levels, and as the case with all my trips, both foreign and domestic, it was a trip that prompted many personal insights and observations.
First, and not for the first time, despite a pretty good body of work when it comes to travel experiences, I again proved I don’t know how to dress myself. I went pretty much all in on the lighter clothing, thinking of that legendary Phoenix heat, and didn’t really plan well for Northern Arizona, where in Williams, morning temps dropped into the 30s.
Failing to properly assess the weather meant a trip to the gift shop before boarding our train for the Grand Canyon to plunk down $40 for a jacket to fend off the South Rim winds.
I guess I didn’t learn my lesson four years earlier when, on a fall trip up the coast of Maine and then into New Brunswick, I found myself yearning to see Acadia National Park outside of Bar Harbor, Maine, specifically in early morning and on Cadillac Mountain, where, from early October through early March, sunrise is first visible.
Despite having heavier clothing back at the hotel down in Bar Harbor, I again was improperly dressed, thereby necessitating a gift-shop visit on Cadillac, a shop open early for all the dumb bunnies like me who needed to plunk down their greenbacks for thick hoodies. There were some others as unenlightened as I, all men who failed to heed the warnings of their women. We periodically glanced at each other sheepishly and selected our clothing of necessity to fend off the frost of a beautiful morning.
There’s always a price to be paid for failing to plan well. As Founding Father Ben Franklin once admonished, “Necessity never made a good bargain.”
As for other observations, I’ll leave you with two about our travel, often down stretches of road often straight as an archer’s arrow between the prickly pear and saguaro cacti and all that sage brush and red rock but vastly different in the Valley of the Sun.
First, while I’m used to being the passer in Ohio, I was indeed the passed. My 5 mph over the speed limit was soundly trumped by Arizonans and Utes passing me as if I were in neutral.
And, finally, the rush hour traffic on I-10 in Phoenix in this city which has, over time, burgeoned to nearly 1.5 million people makes what we sometimes complain about in Lima, such as 20 minutes worth of driving from west to east down Market and Bellefontaine, seem like totally inconsequential griping. Trust me, folks. We are so fortunate not to be a part of such gridlock and chaotic lane shifts, the ones I witnessed by Arizonans seeking a few feet’s worth of asphalt advantage.
Thanks this week for allowing me to show you a few vacation slides from a locale so very different from where I usually hang my hat. While it’s always nice to get out on the road, it’s equally nice to return to where I feel most at home.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.