Last Wednesday I woke up at 4am so as to have the family on our
shuttle bus at 4:45. Except that, once I was done with my shower I
realized somehow my alarm clock was 20 minutes late, and my cell phone
alarm (set for redundancy) had not gone off due to the confusing
requirement that you not only set the alarm time but also 'enable' the
alarm. So everyone else got up and had about 10 minutes to be ready.
Fortunately, the shuttle was also a bit late, and we had packed
completely the night before. So, before we knew it, we were riding to
the airport. Our driver, Julio, was a nice old New Yorker who gave us
a rundown of Seattle history, when he wasn't answering endless
questions from our (surprisingly for 5am) talkative kids.

Our flight was uneventful and Luke came to pick us up at the airport.
We picked up some sandwiches at Casella's, a local sub shop that
Kristen's family frequents, that even has a picture of Kristen (all
right-- Kristen plus her whole graduating class and every other
class-- but still). Then we went to Kristen's Grandpa Carl's house to
eat lunch with Jen and pick up Kristen. Unfortunately Grandpa was not

We drove out to Sedona, the girls in the Pathfinder and Luke and I in
the Jeep. As we drove out of the Scottsdale area Luke pointed out the
huge site where he will soon be working and, by all accounts, running
the show. Luke and I were having some great conversation as we drove
north, until we came around the bend and I saw the astounding,
enormous, rust colored sandstone formations growing out of the red and
green valley below. Since my jaw was on the floor it was difficult to
keep on talking. I don't know how long it would take to get over the
majestic Sedona landscape, but it has to be measured in years.

We checked into the timeshare which Grandpa Carl owns, and which is
nearly as beautiful as the landscape around it. Everything in our
two-bedroom suite looked brand new and stylish. Both bedrooms and the
living room had a big flatscreen. I can't say enough about it beyond
the fact it is the nicest place I've ever stayed. Luke, Emma, Avery
and myself swam while Kristen and Salina bought some groceries and
cooked dinner in the full kitchen. Except that poor pregnant Kristen
could not stomach the smell of onions cooking and had to go out to the

Thursday morning Avery stayed with Kristen while Luke took the rest of
us out in his Jeep. Out and up. Up Schnebly Hill Road. Teddy Schnebly
was Sedona's first postmaster, and named the city after his wife. She
must have been beautiful. We stopped several times to take pictures,
look for fossils, and hike around. We saw a deer along the road but
did not get any good pictures. Luke had intended to take us all the
way up but we finally came to a gate, locked for the winter. So we
just hung out at that spot for a long time, and took in the sites.
Emma collected 30 red rocks for her class. On the way down, we stopped
at a trickling creek to look around, and Salina found some big cat paw

We came back into Sedona and had lunch, and then we all went to Oak
Canyon Creek near Bev and Rowland's timeshare. We saw lots of lizards
and Salina jumped into the freezing cold glacial creek. Emma was
fearless crossing the stream. That night we had dinner at another of
Kristen's family's favorites, Shugrues, where I can personally
recommend the Torrington steak. Then Luke and Kristen headed out of
town so that Luke could fly out Friday morning to Blue's memorial
service. They left us with the Pathfinder and their Garmin (a
navigation device).

Friday morning we packed up and went into Sedona proper to check out
the tourist trap Tlaquepaque, which is a fancy set of artsy shops in a
beautiful Mexican styled villa. Except that the best coffee we could
find was pretty awful.

We drove north from there heading for Williams. We stopped at a creek
and explored, and there was someone's driveway that went straight
through the creek. As we continued north we were rising in elevation,
and though we were leaving the beautiful red-rock country, the
landscape continued to provoke awe. I saw a coyote on the way. We even
began to encounter piles of snow.

We arrived in Williams that evening. Williams is a small town on
historic Route 66, about an hour south of the Grand Canyon. It was
very cold, and the Travelodge we checked into was the polar opposite
of the luxury of the Sedona timeshare. But we walked all the way up
and down the strip and were very charmed by this little town. We had
dinner at a fun Route 66 themed restaurant named Cruisers Cafe. Every
shop has a wealth of Route 66 or old west paraphernalia and decor. The
people are very nice and all willing to chat.

One fella behind the counter in a Western shop had a bola tie, a big
black hat and a dark and wrinkled tan, looking the part of a real
Southwest cowboy. But when he opened his mouth out came a New England
accent. He had come over from the east coast years ago and fell in
love with the little town. I can see how. It reminded me a lot of
Forks. Somewhat depressed as far as the local economy, but still
pridefully striving along.

The next morning we had breakfast at the Route 66 Diner across the
street and coffee a bit later at the Java Cycle cafe, both of which I
heartily recommend. We took some extra time at the cafe to let Emma
catch up on her journal, in which she wrote a paragraph about our trip
every day. Then stopped by Safeway and put together a picnic lunch,
and headed up to the Grand Canyon.

There are many places and sites which get a lot of hype and do not
live up to it. The Grand Canyon is not one of them. We parked and
hiked a little bit to the edge of the canyon and once again, jaws
dropped. It is so immensely huge, it is hard to understand just what
you are looking at. The sun was high in the sky so there were barely
any shadows, which increased the difficulty of comprehension. The
landscape is so varied and detailed, each ancient layer created slowly
in a different epoch of prehistory, then carved away by water in just
the last few million years. The age of the place was tangible. We
hiked maybe a half mile along the trail, taking numerous pictures.
Emma and Salina were both very brave, venturing very close to the

We got back to the car and drove to a different spot and had our
picnic. There were huge crows badgering us for our scraps, one of them
cawing in a very precise rhythm the entire time. Avery was very
curious about the cemetery nearby, a burial site for those who worked
at the Canyon, so we took a walk through it. Then we went down to the
Canyon rim again and hiked another mile or so. Avery got very whiny
towards the end so we headed back (although now she says the Grand
Canyon is one of her favorite parts of our vacation). I think Emma
would have happily hiked across the entire thing.

We drove back to Williams, had dinner at a fun 50's themed cafe called
Twisters, and then Salina and I watched the Matrix. Salina's classes
actually started Wednesday, so she had homework to do. Believe it or
not, watching the Matrix was one assignment.

Sunday morning we drove down to Scottsdale area and checked into our
resort in a nearby town called Carefree. The houses in Carefree all
look like the style of adobe home you'd expect in an Indian village on
a mesa-- square cornered and earth colored. Our resort was also very
nice. We went swimming immediately, since we had returned to proper
Arizona weather.

Then we drove into Scottsdale to have a barbecue at Bev and Rowland's
house. Luke grilled and Kristen and Jen assembled the salads and other
trappings, leaving us the pleasure of visiting with Bev, Rowland and
Grandpa Carl. Actually, I am sure Bev and Rowland did a lot too, but
if so, they made it seem effortless. The back yard was as beautiful as
when we all came down for the wedding. The girls and Dylan picked
oranges and rode Dylan's toy jeep.

The next morning we drove the girls out to Spur Cross Stables and
bought them a few minute horse ride. We walked around the ranch a
while and visited with the friendly workers. There were lots of horses
and some other animals, including a huge and perfectly cylindrical
potbellied pig. Then we had lunch at a nice outdoor Mexican restaurant
with a big pond full of turtles, ducks and fish. We sat right next to
the pond and the girls watched the turtles sunning. On the way back to
the resort, we saw a large wild cat that looked like a lynx, walking
right into the resort area, frightening some ladies. We also saw
numerous quail on the site.

That afternoon I drove into Scottsdale and picked up Luke, and we went
to the Diamondback's opening day at Chase field. Bev and Rowland gave
us their tickets for this day, which was amazingly generous of them.
Chase field is a lot like Safeco field. It has a retractable roof. It
also has-- brand new this year-- the largest flat screen display on
Earth, about 50 x 140 feet, called the Supertron. I did not know this,
and before the game they had the display divided up so it looked like
several small displays plus a traditional scoreboard. Then, an
announcer on a small "screen" said "this is too small" and broke out
of his screen into the bigger display. Then the entire screen showed a
zoom in of the audience, and there's two white guys sitting there, one
of whom is wearing a white UW hat with a purple W on it-- and I
realize that it's me! After the star spangled banner, four Air Force
jets flew over the stadium, and later the pilot's were at the game. It
was a great game, which the Diamondbacks won (against the L.A.
Dodgers), and featured many good plays and a few home runs.

While Luke and I were at the game, Kristen, Jen and Dylan went out to
the resort to be with my girls. Apparently, they had a lot of trouble
with the Jeep, a story I will leave them to tell.

Tuesday morning Luke picked us up and we dropped by the Scottsdale
office of Salina's company, Apex Wine Cellars. Then we all hiked
halfway up Camelback mountain, which sits between Scottsdale and
Phoenix. It was very fun and beautiful. From the highest point, we
could see miles and miles over Scottsdale and Phoenix. Once again,
Emma would have been happy to climb to the top, and Avery was ready to
go back about two minutes into the trek. Then we went in and got
Casella's again and brought that into Grandpa Carl's for lunch. We had
a great visit with him. Then we headed back to the resort for a swim.
That evening we met Luke, Kristen, Grandpa Carl, Barb and Jen at a
TGIFriday's midway between Carefree and Scottsdale. Then, back at the
resort, we put the kids to bed and packed.

The next morning we drove in to Bev and Rowland's and said goodbye to
everyone. Luke and Kristen were headed off to a prenatal checkup, so
Bev offered to drive us to the Airport. Finally, we flew home-- though
we all ended up sitting in different rows! The thought of sitting next
to strangers made Avery very nervous, until her neighbor let her watch
"Pirate's of the Caribbean" on her laptop. I was surprised Avery would
watch it. But she said it was funny.

We feel bad for the people Salina met at the resort, who were doing
the same trip (Carefree, Sedona, Canyon) in reverse, because the
weather reports show rain up north now. It seems we got the best of

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