First stop today was Starbucks, but the first really important stop was the Bark Park – a leash-free park here in Flagstaff, located at Bushmaster Park, which is an amazing park in addition to the doggie section. Set in a quiet neighborhood, there are tall pine trees, lots of soft pine needles on the ground, a great playground for kids ages 2-12, tennis courts, and an exceptional skateboarding park – all smooth concrete surfaces with all the curves and so forth that boarders like to use. I don’t know the technical jargon so can’t do it justice. Suffice it to say the place was amazing. All that was missing was a half-dozen or so young skateboarders to make the scene complete.
It was early on a Sunday morning, and the park was almost totally deserted. No other dogs for Max to play with, but he was undeterred. He recognizes these dog parks by now, and goes immediately to the gate and waits to be allowed in. Once inside this morning, he took off to the far corners to explore (probably hoping to find another dog).
I came prepared with a tennis ball, and as soon as I asked him if he wanted to play ball, he was on high alert. Well, this park had a little twist to it that we haven’t seen anywhere else; it had obstacles! A tunnel (made from a 24-inch diameter culvert about 10 feet long), a seesaw, ramps with boardwalks, two A-frames – one about 3 feet high, and the other over 5 feet high, and another ramp with boardwalk that went through the taller A-frame.
Max has had a little experience at his Dog Romp classes with tunnels, and ramps, but not on this scale. I decided to try him out, so I started by throwing a treat into the tunnel and he went in! Then I threw the tennis ball through and he went all the way. After a few times, I had him going through on command! Next, we tried the ramps and he trotted up and over each of them.
Finally, I tried him on the smaller A-Frame, and he went up partway and leapt off. After a little more encouragement with treats, he was going up and over the A-Frame too. The taller A-Frame was too much; he’d go up almost to the top then turn and come back. Since we had such success with everything, I decided to end on a high note so we moved away from that one.
After our fun at the Bark Park, it was on to the bigger park – Grand Canyon. When we checked in at La Quinta last night, Jeannette was on the desk and she gave us maps and directions to the Canyon.
The drive up was through beautiful Ponderosa Pine forests – the Coconino National Forest and the Kaibab National Forest. Somewhere about the halfway point we came upon the Chapel of the Holy Dove, according to its sign, an interdenominational chapel open to all. Seeing this tiny building, I had to stop and go inside:
Back on the road, we were now driving through high open grazing land, with mountains all around – and evidence of a big forest fire: several mountain faces were totally denuded, and others had clear areas of burn surrounded by healthy, untouched pines.
I was feeling really happy about heading to the Canyon, and thoroughly enjoying the drive. As we left the Kaibab National Forest, there was a large coyote sitting in the road! As we approached, he stood up and loped off into the field. I had no hope of getting a photo, but what a thrill to see that magnificent wild cousin to Max!
After about 1-1/2 hours, we reached the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, I went in and bought a pass, and two miles later we had entered the park. There’s an IMAX theater at the visitor center showing “THE GRAND CANYON.” As much as I love IMAX, I couldn’t imagine it would be better than the real thing waiting just up the road.
After we parked at the Visitor Center at Mather Point in the Canyon, Max and I began walking towards the South Rim. I have to say that this is the time of year to come – the parking lots are vast, and I’d estimate there were no more than a hundred cars. (Picture a mall parking lot with only 100 cars!)
That first sight of the Canyon took my breath away, brought tears to my eyes, and … it was just amazing. How can any of these photos possibly show the scale and grandeur? How can any word begin to describe it?
Once again, I’m going to let the photos do the telling, with the occasional addition of words:
Max, as always, was a celebrity – and I mean that in the truest sense of the word for today. When we first go to Mather Point, there was a huge group of Chinese tourists from Hong Kong. They were all pointing at Max, laughing and giggling, oohing and aahing over him. Once they learned his name, they followed us and would keep saying, “MAX! SIT! SIT! MAX!”
At one point, when we were walking up some steps and someone was coming down, I said, “Max! STOP!” and tow or three Chinese girls started laughing and saying, “MAX! STOP!”
Several asked if they could please hold him and have their picture taken (by their friends). I started to fear that we’d never get beyond Mather Point! (We did. And at some point, the tourists vanished…)
As we were leaving the park, we encountered a herd of elk cows by the side of the road:
At the end of the day, we drove out the east exit onto Route 64 (at Jeannette’s recommendation). Once we were out of the park, the trees gave way to open high desert in all directions, and we began heading down.
Off to our left, we caught occasional glimpses of what I assume were the beginnings of the Grand Canyon – nowhere near as wide, and it felt more like we were on the top of the mesa that the canyon cut through.
This drive was so spectacular, with all the colors we saw in the Canyon laid out on the desert floor. And I as so overwhelmed and tired that I didn’t take a single photo – but I don’t think a photo could convey this vast beauty.