Saturday, 18 July 2009

Day 18 - Flagstaff, Arizona: "the Grand Canyon" (hrmm...)

Good evening!

No pictures today - I left the camera in the car and I didn't take any spectacular photos so no big loss. What, no spectacular photos from the Grand Canyon? I hear you say. Well, we'll get to that in a minute.

First I just have to say: I LOVE Arizona. At least I do now. We've been suffering with extreme temperatures for the last couple of weeks, and we thought Arizona was going to be the worst of the worst when it comes to heat. In part, that's true. When we drove through Phoenix today, we set a new heat record of 45C/112F and once again praised the lord for A/C.

Now, our road maps don't show differences in elevation above the sea level - in short, we don't know where the mountains are until we see them. Just after we left Phoenix, the road began climbing higher and higher. We saw trucks struggling along in the right hand lane, hazard lights on to warn others of their snail-like progress. We've seen mountains before, especially around the El Paso area, but then the road usually went through a pass and came out on the other side pretty quick. Here, we just kept climbing and climbing... We saw 2000, 3000, 4000 - all the way up to 7000 ft above sea level! That's over 2000 meters - the height of Kebnekajse for all you Swedes.

At that height, the ground leveled out onto a plateau of sorts, and the most amazing thing happened. All day we'd been driving through desert and mountainsides lined with dried up bushes, but now, a pine forest suddenly sprung out of the ground. There were fields of fresh, green grass! There were leafy trees here and there! But above all, the pine forest. Ah, the sweet smell of pine trees drifted in to soothe our heat blistered brains.

Here we are now in Flagstaff, 2000 meters above the sea and the night air is COOL. The surroundings are lush and green and overlooking the town is the highest peak in Arizona: Humphreys Peak at 3850 meters (12600 ft) which is snow clad in winter!

While we of course enjoy this temporary change to the climate immensely, the most amazing thing is the contrasts here in Arizona. From baking hot desert to cool pine forests in just a couple of hours is truly wondrous.

So, what about the Grand Canyon? Unfortunately, we had a taste of a crack that definitely deserves the name "Grand Canyon" tonight at the restaurant. Call it what you will - builders bum, bum cleavage, bad-baggy-pants-day... You know what I'm talking about. Our table had a front row seat for the worst case of ass-crack display we have ever seen in our combined lives. Between the sagging shorts and the shirt that had snagged on the chair, there was a full 10-15cm of crack on display. The poor guy was even sitting right at the end of a long corridor of tables, so that everyone in that part of the restaurant could see straight down the "ravine". It was bad enough for us to not break down into giggles, but I truly admire the serving staff who managed to pull off his entire meal without flinching. Admittedly, every single person who worked this evening found some excuse to go into our section, take one horrified look and hurry back into the kitchens. Our waiter even apologized for the less than pleasant sneak preview of the "Grand Canyon" :)

Enough poking fun at innocent people! Tomorrow we head off to see the real thing, hopefully at least twice as big!


No comments:

Post a Comment