The fairies who danced at my christening brought many welcome gifts but forgot the parcels labelled contentment,patience and satisfaction: I go through life perpetually fretful and impatient. My habit of seeking more and better does not make me a relaxing travel companion. While others are stopping to marvel, applaud, savor and appreciate, I am usually halfway to our next destination, desperate for fresh stimulation and always seeking new thrills. The Cackler finds it very wearing so imagine her delight when we hit Arizona and I was truly and utterly entranced. Completely satisfied. Stunned with amazement.
Chihuly glass complemented the cacti in the Botanical Gardens in Phoenix creating surreal landscapes of stunning beauty. Giant Saguaro signposted the horse trails through Tanque Verde. Our Tuscon hotel poured shots of watermelon-infused tequila to enjoy by the firepit as the sun went down over the city. The Grand Canyon, familiar from postcards, still offered constant surprise in shapes, colors and scale. The deep quiet of the water at Lake Powell was in sharp, icy contrast to the urgent smoke signals from the hydro-electric power station and the orange and pink intensity of the buttes and bluffs. Where the stone met the water, there was a layer of what looked like cavity wall insulation–pale and unhealthy looking pleats and puffs of rock, as though the land was lapping at the water.
The rock at Antelope Canyon has stood for maybe 100 million years. In the last 10 million of those, water has washed through sculpting the sandstone. Our Navajo guide took us there at 8am before the sun could light and warm the way. He freed his iphone from the pocket in his hoodie and took snaps to help our unaccustomed eyes to see the most interesting and stunning shapes in the stone. Ancient still and darkness clung to us. High above, small shafts of light the color of weak tea. “You’ll see why I like this time of day best”said our guide, rounding the final corner. The stone walls were dazzling; celestial. In my head, a choir of angels sang something soaring.
You’d think we’d have had enough of rocks by the time we cleared the Painted Desert and descended Oak Creek Canyon to hit Sedona. Not so. We celebrated Coffee Pot Rock, Cathedral Mountain and Sugarloaf as the sun came up. You rock, AZ.