How to Make the Most of Your Weekend
Step One: Buy a ticket.
We land in Phoenix by 9:30 P.M., head to the rental car and start driving north on I-17. After gaining a few thousand feet in elevation, we quickly realize winter storm Echo is still lingering. Our speed slows to a measly 35 mph in snow and ice for two hours. By 1 A.M. we reach I-40 from Flagstaff – it’s well groomed and we cruise until reaching Route 64.
At an elevation of around 7,000 feet with slick, icy road conditions, the temperature has plummeted to below zero by 2 A.M. We dodge a deer, an elk, and another deer, this time a massive buck, and finally a conspicuously large white bird on the road. All of which set our nerves on high alert.
We arrive at the hotel at 4 A.M. I see the sky is clear and sprint to the Rim trail for a quick night photography shot. I’m wide awake, largely because I saw my life flash before my eyes dodging large male deer and elk just an hour earlier. I run in the dark with my headlamp, passing animal tracks that are not exclusive to deer – there are predators out here.
It’s cloudier than I thought at the rim, and freezing. I bail, running back to jump into bed until 6:30 am. Sunrise is at 7:30 and I’m already on the rim taking this picture above. In fact I’m the only one out here aside from a friendly park ranger.
On my way back to wake up Sarah I plop down in the snow to take a photo. My instincts guide my eyes to the right, just as a larger than usual coyote is approaching me. His winter coat embodies more of a wolf, than a coyote, I think. He quickly changes course, trotting out into the woods in what seems like dismay. I ponder what sort of fight that would have been, had we decided to square off.
We spend the rest of the day exploring the Rim Trail and venturing around the Desert Tower area to the east of Grand Canyon Village.
For sunset, we find solace in watching the sun creep below the canyon rim at Lipan Point.
Only 36 hours into our trip, we catch sunrise one last time at Pima Point.
A beautiful drive through Oak Creek Canyon and lunch in Sedona tops off our weekend in Northern Arizona, before heading to Phoenix for red-eye flight back to Boston.