I’m back! I just returned from a three week tour of the southwest. Along the way Kathy and I visited 5 national parks, 3 national monuments, climbed 2 peaks above 12,600 feet, summited another state high point, all while knocking out a couple of bucket list items. We were able to achieve all of our objectives, with the exception of climbing Mt. Bierstadt in Colorado. This was the second time our attempt on this mountain was thwarted before taking even one step on the trail. In 2009 we had to cancel this portion of the trip because the Colorado DOT closed Gaunella Pass for road reconstruction. This year, rain put the kabbash on our plans.
I know this may be complete heresy, but I thought Zion National Park was far more scenic than the Grand Canyon. Some of you may even want to burn me at the stake when I say that the Grand Canyon would barely make my list of top 10 national parks, even though it’s the 2nd most visited park in the system.
On a positive note, I have to give a shout out to the state of Arizona. The people in the “Grand Canyon State” were extremely friendly, especially in Flagstaff. From cheerful, helpful attitudes, to providing samples of local flavors, Arizona truly gave us the red carpet treatment. In Sedona the bartender at the Oak Creek Brewing Company gave us samples, without asking, of some very exotic beers, such as a banana and clove beer, a Belgian Abby Ale/Oktoberfest, and a dessert beer made with vanilla and mandarin orange – one of the smoothest tasting beers I’ve ever had.
In Flagstaff, the 1899 Bar and Grill allowed us to taste a locally made pumpkin spiced porter, as well as a local vodka made with green chiles. While visiting the Flagstaff Farmers Market I inquired about fresh roasted Hatch (New Mexico) chiles. Although he couldn’t sell me a small batch, the owner simply gave me two homemade canned jars of roasted green chiles, a product they just began selling this year.
Anyway, we did a heck of a lot of hiking throughout Colorado, Utah and Arizona during the trip. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting hike reports and photos from all of our adventures.