Wednesday, September 19, 2012

American Southwest Trip: Day1 Flagstaff Area Arizona

     The hot and humid weather in Taiwan has driven some people who are use to a dry summer weather to fly out of Taiwan. My husband and I are two of those people. Each summer we come back to Las Vegas and travel in the States. 
     After all medical issues were solved. We just wanted to escape our Las Vegas life. Our original idea was to drive up to the northwest coast to Canada to see the massive and colorful fall foliage. The massive and vivid leaves are not commonlyseen in the subtropical environment of Taiwan.
     Sometimes, things do not always go as planed. We didn't have enough time to go up to the coast as one of my husband's friend might visit him in Las Vegas. So, my final notice to my husband was that I wanted to visit Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, and the Arch National Park. Well, he did all the research and came out with this 9-day-trip plan.
My husband used Google Earth to do our trip planing.
He calculated 9 days to finish this circle tour crossing
4 states. It sounded very good to me. My job was to
find and book a reasonable rental car and hotels.  

When time for traveling, it is always my husband's way
or the highway. I was required to wake up early and
be on the road by 6 AM. He was a pain on the butt.
We arrived at Kingmen for our breakfast. The weired
thing that I observed was there were a bunch of men
who were up in age sitting together and chatting.
I guested their wives probably didn't cook breakfast
for them. Female customers with their spouse were

the travelers in the store. 
After passing the town of Williams which is the train
station for departing to the Grand Canyon National
Park. The wild yellow flowers were blooming among
the highway. It was great weather condition for
traveling the country. After school startes, less
traveler on the roads and tourest spots are not crowed.  
Walnut Canyon National Monument: 
Our first stop was the Walnut National Monument 
with an elevation of about 7,000 feet (2,039 meter.) 
It has two trails in this monument. One is called the 
rim trail which length is 0.7 mile. We started with 
this easy and short rim trail first. The trail was built 
on the farmlands of the Indians (the Sinagua people) 
before the year of 1250. Their major crops were 
corn, bean, and squash. I enjoyed walking on this 
archaeological trail and appreciating the natural 
form of the landscape.   
The view was taken from the rim trail.
The canyon is 20 miles long and 400 feet 

Another trail is called the Island trail which is 0.9 
mile long. It is behind the visitor center. Two 
trails all start from the visitor center. 
If the main entrance gate is not maned visitors are
required to pay the entrance fee here for entering the 

cliff dwelling trail (Island Trail). My husband has a
golden eagle pass which is a lifetime pass for all 
national parks, moments, and recreational areas. So 
we were all set for the entrance fee.     

This is the island. We guested we were going to
walk around the island. According to its brochure,
the trail includes sheer drops and a 185-foot climb
on steps. 
As we started the trail, I heard a lady 
talking to her friends that there are 240  
steps to go down which is also meant 
240 steps to walk up. It didn't bother me 
at all, as I was full of energy to take
this challenge. 
There are 25 cliff dwelling rooms along this trail.
The archaeologists believe that the houses were
built by the women with limestones and clay which
was found in the canyon according to the information
brochure.  It was really interesting to visit this site
and wonder how the life would be around 1250.

While we imaging the life here, a sad story on a
information sign  depicted that some pothunters
in 1880s destroyed this site with dynamites and 
took away the Sinagua possessions. In 1915, the 
government declared the canyon to be a national 
monument for protecting this site from pothunters.    
In the middle of the day, the weather
was not hot but still could make people
sick. It was time to climb these 240 steps.
Honestly, it was not as easy as I though. 
 We appreciated the bench seat and enjoyed the view 
after a good climbing of 240 steps. We spent less 
than 2 hours there. 
Time: Open daily except December 25 from 9 am to 5 pm. The Island trail close at 4 pm. 
Location: 10 miles east of downtown flagstaff. from I-40, take exit 204 and follow the entrance road.

Lava River Cave (Lava Tube) : 
After the canyon visit, our next destination was the
Lava River Cave. We drove through downtown
Flagstaff which is a historical town with Route  66
going through the town. These signs make the town
more busy and interesting.   
The exit sign to Lava River Cave on highway 180 
After exiting Highway 180, the road is unpaved and
some segments are rough, especially after rain. The
white car in the picture with a low chassis was driving
very carefully. So the driver let us pass them. By the
time, we got dressed and equipped at the parking lot,
they just arrived. My husband had a short
conversation with them and found out they were from UK.
They had some idea for what this site offered but my husband
told them to prepare flashlights and warm jackets
for the hike.        
See what I found when I walked on the
trail to the Lava Tube. This was the first
time that I have ever seen this type of 

beautiful and poison mushroom.  
It was a short walk from the parking lot to the entrance
of the cave. It was app. 5 minutes walk. It looked like
it had rained at this site not long ago. 
The introduction of the natural museum
Please click the picture to read the cave information
if you think about visiting this cave. 
When I saw the entrance of the cave, I was stunned.
Was I going to climb through all those rocks like this 

inside the cave? I hoped not. 
At this point I felt that I was walking into hell.
I had to lean my body and sit on my but to make
sure each stone that I stepped on was stable. Also I
had to watch my camera and hold a flashlight in my
hand. It was not a pleasure hike. My husband comforted
me that after the drop, it should be flat on the bottom.
Well, we would see. 
We walked in this extremely dark cave for a while and
didn't see anyone behind us even the group from UK.
Sometimes, I was behind my husband and that made me
scared. I worried about something might showed up
to surprise me, especial in the ghost month in Taiwan
culture. Finally, we saw some lights in front of us.
It was cheerful to me.     
My camera flash was not strong enough but it still
could let me take a few photos. This was what it
looked like in the tunnel. Actually I could't see the entire
tunnel when I was walking there. The ground was not
smooth and it was rough with some water paddles.
My husband and I walked into the same water paddles.  
After we finished our adventure hike, the parking lot had
more cars. If you ask me would I go back again? My
answer is no well may be. At a certain point, I have to think 

about safety issues. We saw a young mother taking her 3-4 
years old child to the tunnel. My husband and I thought it 
was not a good decision especially going through the rocky 
entrance area. Well, they managed it well when we met them 
in the bottom of the tunnel. 
Prepare at least two flashlights each person. (my first flashlight was weak.)
Warm clothes (inside temperature is around 35-45 Fahrenheit year round.)
A good pair of shoes  
There are some good comments on the TripAdvisor website about this place. Everyone take one's own judgment.  

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument:

Before we headed to our last attraction, we stopped
at the visitor service center in downtown 
Flagstaff for getting some information. The visitor 

center is also the train station.  
The history of the train station

The ticket service inside the train station
Flagstaff is a neat and interesting small town that we
have visited for several times. The pins put on the
map were from the visitors home town all around the

world. As usual I had to put a pin on the map of
Taiwan and Las Vegas.  
It was about 20 minutes drive from the Flagstaff
visitor center to the Sunset Crater visitor center.
We got some information about this area and also
learned that there is a scenic drive loop which
connects the Wulpatiki National Monument then to
the highway 89. It was great information for our
next day journey. We could see more scenic spots
on our way to Page. 
We decided to walk the Lava Flow trail
which is a 1 mile (1.6 km) loop trail. 
The volcano erupted sometime between
1040 and 1100. It was the most recent
eruption in the Colorado Plateau. As we
drove on the road or walked on the trail,
we saw many volcano rocks and the
evidences of the eruption.     
Plant: Cliffrose
It was a surprising how the plants
can survive in the ash-like-soil
This was a very easy walking trail. 
The color of the volcano landscape.  
The Visitor Center is open all year, except December 25.
 Hours: November - April 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM MST
            May - October 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM MST

After all day hiking, it was time to 
satisfy our tummy. We realized that  
we skipped lunch. No wonder I was 
staving. We stopped at a roadside  
Texas BBQ vendor to pick up our 
We also visited a grocery store to buy fruit and water
for our trip. Of course, soda was very important to my
dear husband while traveling on the road. 
We stayed at a military recreation site which was 
5 minute drive from Flagstaff. 
We had ordered two differnt sandwitches. They were 
huge. It could feed two people each.
We were stuffed with the food and happy. 
                        Two people for a 9 day trip, these were what we
                   carried with us. At night the sky was clear and beautiful
                      I was lucky enough to see shooting stars and had
                                       a wonderful night.
Most times we travel with friends or family from Taiwan. This year we didn't host any visitors from Taiwan because the United States government would sign a visa waiver with the Taiwan government that can help people to save app. US$ 150 per person. So many Taiwanese postpone their travel plan to the States this year and would travel next year to the states to visit us.

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