Four Foto Friday – Amazing Arizona

I think someone from the northeast heard we were in Arizona this week and sent a little wintery weather our way. Fortunately, the recent snow storms didn’t slow us down too much and we were able to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon.

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Hiking into the painted cliffs of Blue Mesa.

Last weekend, we arrived in Holbrook, AZ for what we thought was going to be a quick swing through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. These two national parks straddle Route 40 in northwestern Arizona, and a 25 scenic drive through the middle of the parks makes for a great day of sightseeing and hiking (on several 1-mile loop trails). We had good sunshine, which made the landscape colors really stand out. We also learned all about area geology at the interpretive centers and an awesome rock store; Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood.

Not wood, but 200 million year old stone trees.

Not wood, but colorful stone in these 225 million year old trees.

On Monday morning we awoke to 3 inches of wet and heavy snow. Our first snow day! Miles and I hopped in the truck and drove back through the Petrified Forest, hoping to take some great photos (it turned out to be just so-so due to the clouds). Back “home” we celebrated with a game/movie day. Unfortunately, our one snow day turned into two, as bad weather in Flagstaff kept us from moving further West. Much to the boys’ chagrin, our second snow day was spent catching up on Math and other school work. Oh well, such is life with a couple of teacher/parents!

Sunset over the South Rim

Sunset over the South Rim

On Wednesday, we made a break for the Grand Canyon. Due to another winter storm (which is scheduled to bury them this weekend) we knew it would have to be a quick visit. We made good time and were at the park’s South Rim visitor center by 3:00PM, which gave us time to attend a ranger talk on how the canyon was formed. Following this, we explored the Rim Trail and drove out to Mohave Point for an incredible sunset view.

Jen and the boys on the Blue Angel Trail.

Jen and the boys on the Bright Angel Trail.

Thursday morning found us hiking down below the rim on the South Kaibob Trail. This short hike was a little tricky, given the recent snow and steep decent. But… the views were AMAZING. Our destination was the aptly named Ooh Ah Point. We ate our picnic lunch with a near 360 degree of the canyon, and then hiked another portion of the Rim Trail above. In the afternoon, we relaxed at an IMAX movie on canyon explorer John Wesley Powell, took a short hike on Bright Angel Trail, and drove to Pima Point for another great sunset view. It was a full couple of days, but entirely worth the effort to experience the Grand Canyon.

This morning (Friday), we awoke to freezing temps and snow showers. So, we packed up quickly and hustled our way out of the mountains towards California. Our Grand Canyon campground was at 7500 feet; now we’re at 500 feet on the eastern edge of the Mohave Desert. The temps were in the low 70’s this afternoon, a welcome change from a wild week of weather in northern Arizona. Let’s hope there’s more of this sunshine and heat in Southern California!

BTW… if FFF has captured your interest, be sure to checkout the Gallery page on our website to see more pictures from our travels. We hope to have a new February gallery posted in the next few days. Enjoy!

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