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What else I did this summer: Grand Canyon, Navajo Nation, San Francisco

August 23, 2013


On Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

Back in the day, I vaguely remember going to Audubon slide lectures and Travelogues with my family because we weren’t allowed to go to movies and had no TV and this was Real Entertainment and Educational, my parents said.

I have three more areas from our travels this past summer so I’ll do them like a travelogue for my own records/journal but they will only be interesting if you’ve been there or are going there or are my family. You are welcome to quit reading now if none of these fit you. Or just skim the photos, I really like some of them.

I’ve skipped around from our travels and if you’re now lost or heaven help us, INTERESTED in any of the other posts and itinerary: (with links to prior posts, if there was such)

July 6 Phoenix, Ariz.
July 7 Grand Canyon National Park
July 8 Navajo Reservation and Zion National Park, Utah
July 9 Hoover Dam, Nevada/Ariz.  and  Las Vegas
July 10 Bakersfield, Calif.
July 11 Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Calif.
July 12-13 San Francisco

P1030426My only pretty-pathetic picture of the landmark Saguaro cactus

Grand Canyon. On the way to Grand Canyon from Phoenix, we drove by Sedona which I’ve heard a lot about and would have loved to make a side trip. But now I know why everyone says it is so pretty, with much greener scenery and many shades of red soils in the hills near Verde Valley. My biggest regret is I didn’t insist on stopping to photograph the many Saguaro cacti we saw through this whole area—thinking oh we’ll surely see them many more times so I’ll wait, but once we got out of Arizona we didn’t see any in all the other desert and wilderness areas we drove through, which seemed like a lot. Now I know why the Saguaro is so proudly on Arizona license plates.

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Above are a few favorite shots soaking in the Grand Canyon most of Sunday afternoon until evening, made much more enjoyable by using a free environmentally-friendly shuttle bus system from our motel to the Canyon, all along the southern rim at various stops, and a few short hikes between lookouts. Highlights were seeing a California condor and its nest (bottom two pictures here); an elk; muledeer; and a desert piney lizard (again, so said the ranger). And hats off to the National Park system offering a LIFETIME pass for just $10 to any National Park once you reach the ripe age of 62, for which my brother-in-law qualified. You pay $10 one time and the pass covers you and anyone with you the rest of your life. So score! We spent nothing on park entrance fees or shuttle buses in the four parks we were in.

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Navajo Nation. Leaving Grand Canyon to head to Utah’s Zion Park should have been a couple hour drive. We ended up detouring about 1½ hours for road construction and when you detour in the desert, there’s not another crossroad a mile down the road. No, 50 miles down the road comes the next highway.

I didn’t quite realize when and where we entered Navajo lands or Nation, except for seeing makeshift roadside stops for tourists with locals selling jewelry, pottery, blankets and the like. When my family went out west in 1964 we spent a day and evening on what was then called the Navajo reservation visiting a Mennonite mission there.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures, which is maybe good because it is always sad and perhaps invasive to take pictures of poverty. But the land and the homes were so very humble and hot looking: shells of long abandoned trailers and forlorn mobile homes or shanties with lots of stuff outside baking in the sun where people currently lived. There were great expanses of just nothing—land, a few scrub bushes or trees, outcroppings of rock, distant plateaus.

Fast forward to the end of our trip, San Francisco.


San Francisco. After many days of 100-115 degree heat everywhere, in San Francisco we donned jackets, yes, and layers of clothes and still were chilly on the bus tours we took to get acquainted with the city’s various parts.


I was thrilled to have almost two full days there: my mother confirmed that when my family visited in 1964, we only went across the Golden Gate Bridge and that was about it—farmer Dad didn’t much like cities. In 2003 I attended a Mennonite Health Assembly there and several of us did side trips to Alcatraz and the wharf district, but this was my first time seeing the financial district and all of the many lovely neighborhoods with their unique and interesting architecture and of course the famous Haight and Asbury streets of the “peace and love, man” era of the city’s history. We enjoyed blue skies and clear waters but I was hugely disappointed to learn that the much-loved and hilarious-to-watch sea lions were off making their own kind of love and peace, sea lion style (mating season). On Alcatraz, we lucked into a ranger tour and got to go in some abandoned tunnels and hear even more of the inside story of the famous prison, once a military prison, and eventual home to Al Capone and the Birdman of Alcatraz, and many others, including families of guards who also lived on the island.

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Scenes from Alcatraz Island, Haight-Asbury district, one of many lovely parks, and Stuart and I with Golden Gate Bridge in the distant background. It was rainy and cloudy by the time we got to Golden Gate that evening with not very good pictures.

Summer’s almost over and so is our long anticipated western adventure. I’m very grateful to my dear husband for planning this trip with me and to his brother for joining us. When my family went out west in 1964 Dad figured we averaged spending $20 a day for our family of six. Twenty bucks for six over six weeks. Of course, then we Mennonited-our-way staying with friends, acquaintances and anyone who would let us camp in their yard, but stopped once a week for a motel break and pretty much saw whatever we wanted to see (even Disneyland) while having most of our meals in the camper. This trip was not cheap but we too ate a lot of cold meat sandwiches in our motel rooms (even in Vegas, see earlier entry) or McDonald’s salads to keep costs down.

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But it is always good to go home again.


And to get there, safe and sound.


From → Family Life, Nature

  1. I love that picture of Dad reading the comics, and Uncle Nolan doing a Sudoku puzzle. So them! Enjoyed reading this as always.

  2. Yes, the expressions on their faces are very them and very relaxed.We had about 2 hours to kill. Note also the tear out sudoku puzzle Nolan had given Stuart to work, and he was taking a comics pause!

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