On to Flagstaff, Arizona, Route 66, and The Grand Canyon

As San Francisco’s beauty receded in the rear view mirror, we set our sights on Bakersfield, California then on to Flagstaff, Arizona. We left Route 66 and headed north to the Grand Canyon.

The road afforded more beautiful vistas as we climbed from 6,000 feet above sea level to nearly 8,000. Who knew that big hole in the ground was at such an altitude?

We paid our $25 fee and received our instructions. Gusto the Wonder Dog was welcome everywhere except on the shuttles. We’d have to hoof it. No problem. We found a parking place and took off.

The day was overcast with patches of sunshine as we hiked along the paved trail. When the Southern Rim came into view, I was reminded of the old days in a church’s sanctuary, where everyone whispered. My eyes feasted on the expansive views. Everywhere I looked, colors and textures beckoned. I’m usually shy of heights, but there was so much to capture my attention, I didn’t really think about it.

Gusto seemed unconcerned about the whole thing. He sniffed around, perking up at the appearance of two squirrels whose colors almost blended into the surrounding rocks. The two put on quite a show for their onlookers, posing for the cameras and no doubt hoping for handouts. Gusto wanted to eat them.

There are two squirrels––can you see them?

Soon, more wildlife joined us as a couple of elk does (are they called does?) wandered into the area, grazing with their spotted fawns. We saw them again later, as we munched our lunch at a picnic table.

As we finished our lunch, rain sprinkles urged us toward our car. The drive back down took us through patches of pouring rain, but we were happy and satisfied. We’d seen what we came to see and it defied our humble cameras. You really must see it to really appreciate it.

We were ordered by our spouses to take this next photo, as proof that we were really there. We’d avoided camera lenses up to this point. Clumsy, unflattering things. So here we are, thanks to a stranger’s expertise. That’s me on the left. Gusto’s in the middle. Daughter-in-law, Alyssa is on the right. The real star of the show is behind us.

If I ever have the opportunity to return, I fully intend to go. I would love to do a more thorough examination of the area. As we headed to New Mexico the sun set behind us. What a beautiful sight. We’re hopeful about tomorrow’s stops, but our hearts are set on home. Missing our hubbies and can’t wait to see them.
Thanks for stopping by. My next post will complete this journey with a few of my favorite scenes, including the final ones, when my son reunites with Alyssa. See you on the road!

From Newberg, Oregon to Paso Robles, California

I never expected to see some of the places I’ve seen these last couple of days. Has it only been a couple of days? The vistas along Highway 101 truly inspire. The rugged coast of Oregon gave way to the giant trees of Northern California. Our breath was suspended around nearly every turn. The batteries in my camera kept running out. Wish I was a better photographer!

Then we met Highway 1 and it almost stopped us in our tracks. If you ever choose to go that way, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful vistas and quaint little seaside towns, but be warned: take Dramamine or load up on ginger PRIOR to your trip. And bathrooms are few and far between.

Back on the 101, we stopped for the night in Healdsburg, California, in a lovely hotel that resembled a Tuscan villa. The next morning, after a pitstop at a French bakery, we headed to San Francisco, across the Golden Gate bridge to the marina. Once again, awe-inspiring views awaited. A regatta was underway in the bay. Yes, the America’s Cup! The sailboats were vividly colored and beautiful. Foreign voices sounded in the crowds around us, which is probably not all that unusual for San Francisco. Driving through the city will not soon be forgotten and not just because of the crazy traffic. All the places I’ve only seen on film danced before my eyes. I would love to return here and spend several days exploring.

After leaving San Francisco, we passed through San Jose and headed back to Highway 1 and Monterey Bay, which led us to Carmel-by-the-Sea. One of the loveliest places on earth. Very dog-friendly as well. A little shopping, a little walking on the beach, and we headed to wine country.

We passed through America’s salad bowl, Salinas, California, an expansive valley surrounded by mountains. It was interesting to see how these farmers grow in raised rows with ample irrigation. I noticed cole crops, artichokes, garlic, onions, and abundant lettuces being harvested by migrant workers.

The flat valley crops graduated to grapevines in the hills as we drew near our day’s destination: Paso Robles. Here, we spent a very comfortable night snug in the hillside vineyards.

Day seven of our journey awaits as we head out this morning for Bakersfield, California, then on to Flagstaff. Thanks so much for stopping by. May your day be richly blessed!