Northern Arizona

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Last week we had a wonderful trip through Northern Arizona.

Itinerary: starting in Phoenix going Northeast through Tonto National Forest towards Winslow. In Tonto, we met our first surprise, which would become a recurring pattern: whereas we expected Arizona in April to be hot, and we were prepared for hot, it had some really cold spells, and we were not prepared for cold. We started in the Sonoran Desert, surrounded by cacti and sun, but one and a half hours later in Tonto, we were driving through a veritable snow storm, but fortunately, just as it was getting worrisome, we crossed the ridge and started descending towards Winslow to the North.

The Colorado Plateau on the other side of the ridge was then pleasant and warm, and the next days we traveled through and visited the Petrified Forest, Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and more.

After that we headed for the Grand Canyon, but temperatures dropped so low, and we didn't have the right outfit for that, we stayed less than a day there, most of it huddled in the hotel room. Still, the views we got were just amazing, and throwing snowballs was an unexpected fun exercise.

Our last stop took us to Sedona, where we were again welcomed with amazing views. The rocks and formations all had in common that they dramatically changed with the movement of the sun, or with us moving around, and the views were always fresh.

Numbers: Our trip took us about 950 miles / 1500 kilometeres of driving, and I was happy that it was a good Jeep for this trip. The difference in altitude went from 1000 feet / 330 meters in Phoenix up to 8000 feet / 2400 meters driving through Coconino. Temperatures ranged from 86° F / 30° C to 20° F / -7° C.

What I learned again is how big this country is. And how beautiful.

Surprises: One thing that surprised me was how hidden the Canyons can be. Well, you can't hide Grand Canyon, but it is easy to pass by Antelope Canyon and not realizing it is there. Because it is just a cut in the plateau.

I also was surprised about how flat and wide the land is. I have mostly lived in areas where you had mountains or at least hills nearby, but the Colorado Plateau has large wide swaths of flat land. "Once the land was as plane as a pancake".

I mentioned the biggest surprise already, which was how cold it got.

Towns: it was astonishing to see the difference between, on the one side, a town such as Page or Sedona and on the other side Winslow. All three have a similar population, but Page and Sedona felt vigorous, lively, clean, whereas Winslow felt as if it was on the decline, deserted, struggling.

The hotel we stayed in in Winslow, La Posada, was a beautiful, weird, unique jewel that I hesitate to flat-out recommend, it is too unusual for that, but that I still enjoyed experiencing. It is clearly very different from any other hotel I ever stayed in, full of history, and embracing themes of both suicide and hope, respectfully trying to grow with the native population, and aiming to revive the city's old town, and it is difficult to really capture the vibe it was sending out.

For pictures, I am afraid I am pointing to my Facebook posts, which should be visible without login:


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