So when I woke up at 5:38 in the morning in my Sedona, Arizona room realizing that I had never seen the Grand Canyon (and I have been to Arizona more than 10 times in my life), I decided I needed to go. I had discussed it with my wife the previous day so my mind was made. I was out the door in less five minutes leaving my travel companions asleep in the hotel, grabbing only my wallet, phone, rental car keys and some vitamins.
At that time the 89A drive from Sedona Arizona through Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff was very manageable and it was spectacular in and of itself without the heavy sightseeing traffic that route would see later in the day. The previous day we had visited Slide Rock State Park and even on a cloudy day of light rain the automobiles were in abundance.
By the time I reached Williams, Arizona I realized that the cool temperatures which had followed the recent rains in the area suggested that I put on some long pants, purchase an light jacket and grab a hot cup of coffee— my 1st cup of the day. I was able to do all three things at a general store near a KOA campsite that touted the best priced Grand Canyon souvenirs and clothing. The light, hooded, grey sweatshirt I chose would do nicely. I had padded the p.a. speakers in the back with extra blue jeans so I had covering for my legs. The store's coffee came from a nearby roaster, the signage boasted that it had been roasted within 7 days, and it was a perfect cup, strong and flavorful. Mission quickly accomplished.
What I’ve neglected to mention is that I was on a time crunch as I needed to return to the hotel in time for the checkout to pick up my wife and fellow travelers Kurt Baumer and his wife Anita then we had to return the rental car to the remote building where we would catch a shuttle to our terminal. You see Kurt and I had been hired to perform for an Arizona group with ties to Texas at the Sedona Hilton at Bell Rock. The three of them had chosen to get a reasonable amount of sleep and enjoy the Sedona experience rather than accompany me to the Grand Canyon. Who could blame them?
As I entered the park and maneuvered from the far left line of too many cars to the right I realized a new entry station was opening up for the day and I was in the national park with very little waiting time. The smiling attendant gave me the lay of the land and I was off to see the Wonder. And what a wonder it is. I started on the south rim trail and began walking eastward. It was not disappointing thirty minutes. The picture above taken by a young passerby can tell you better than I can. "Tá bom (I learned this phrase from our percussionist who hails from Rio de Janeiro)," I said to my photographer and his friends from Brazil as I scurried back to the park parking lot to retrieve the car to return back to our hotel.
The euphoria lasted throughout the return trip to the room across the mountain region (elevation 8000 feet the signs said) into Flagstaff. Thank you Siri and Maps for choosing one route to the Grand Canyon and a different route back to Sedona. I was accompanied by Dvorak's Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major on satellite radio and then by Beethoven's Piano Trio in B-flat Major, Op. 97 know commonly known as the "Archduke Trio" the car screen shared. Yes, I'm a musician but I'm not an expert in classical music--the satellite programming just caught my attention as the normal radio faded in and out. It was a perfect soundtrack for a bucket list adventure.
I had asked my wife to extend the checkout time to 11:30 and I had a few minutes to cleanup before the journey home to Phoenix, Austin, and eventually my home in Cottonwood Shores (near Marble Falls, Texas).