Go With The Flow

Are you still in Flagstaff, Arizona? Where have your travels taken you? Hello! Anyone there?

Hi. Yes, Rebekah speaking, we are still alive! After our adventure to Grand Falls almost 2 weeks ago, my asthma started taking a turn for the worse. Apparently, dust and asthma don’t mix…who knew?

To be fair, my lungs were still weak from having COVID at the end of June, and between being in a high altitude and breathing in a lot of dust, my lungs decided to rebel! Thankfully, I packed my nebulizer, and after being put on a steroid regiment, I am on the up-and-up!

We should be back to programming as usual this weekend as we make our way to California! Originally, we had planned on heading to Mammoth Lakes, CA, but between its 7,900 ft. elevation, and the fires that are going on in the area, we decided to forego that plan and allow my lungs to fully recuperate by sticking to sea level along the coast of California.

Stay tuned for the exact cities and places we visit, but bring on the salty air! In the meantime, allow me to regale you with our adventures since Grand Falls.

As I said, because my asthma has been temperamental (to say the least), we haven’t recently gone to any national monuments, BUT that doesn’t mean we have been without any form of fun!

Joe and I met a fellow Texan at the local Orangetheory gym during our first week in Flagstaff and have hung out with him and his wife a few times during our stay! We went brewery hopping downtown and even enjoyed a pool day one weekend. I think all of us have enjoyed finding a slice of home out here in the desert…even if our alma maters are somewhat of rivals.

Comically, the first thing our new friend’s wife said to us was, “So, I heard you guys went to UT? [My husband] hates the longhorns.” We told her we wouldn’t hold the fact that her husband went to Tech against him. Ha!

Between enjoying Texas school rivalries and exploring Flagstaff with new friends, to appreciating the scenic bike trails and ancient pueblos, Joe and I have enjoyed our time here in Flagstaff. Until next time, California here we come!

A Grand Adventure

Vroom…vroom! Glancing up I took in a familiar sight and sound. If the roar of an engine wasn’t a dead giveaway, the picture before me told me everything I needed to know…we were about to take off on a motorcycle adventure.

There’s nothing quite like being on the back of a motorcycle. Feeling the wind and sun kiss your skin and the purr of an engine beneath you, you feel a sense of freedom and reckless abandonment. This motorcycle venture was no exception, and I could barely contain my excitement during the hour long journey to our destination. Where were we headed? A Navajo Indian Reservation, home of Arizona’s 5th largest waterfall, also known as Grand Falls.

Grand Falls is dry a majority of the year. Taller than Niagara Falls, these muddy falls flow during the months of March and April and during a short window, monsoon season, in July and August. Knowing we had been gifted rainfall that week, but our chances of seeing the waterfall flow were slim, we took off in hopes of seeing the chocolate waterfall.

The drive to Grand Falls was beautiful. The sun was shining, clouds filled the sky, and the scenery gradually shifted from forrest to desert. Not only was there a change in terrain but also in temperature. We quickly went from a breezy 82 degrees to a temperature over 100, and by the end of the trip, Joe and I were sporting matching sunburns from the intense rays.

Though the bulk of the ride was smooth and cool, as soon as we entered the reservation, the washboard road jilted our internal organs and solidified our decision to take Joe’s dual sport motorcycle with off road tires, the trusty KLR.

Finally, we arrived at our destination, and much to my chagrin, the Grand Falls were little more than a Grand Trickle. Despite, the lack of water flow, the Grand Falls was still a site to behold! Nestled in a volcanic field, evidence of the lava flow could still be seen in the charred, black rock and sand that pressed against the red cliffside of the Grand Falls.

Though we didn’t quite hike all the way to the bottom, Joe and I waded through the dark silt and marveled at the surrounding landscape. It felt like we were on a distant planet from Star Wars! I am continuously amazed by the diverse topography our country offers.

Overall, we immensely enjoyed our adventure to Grand Falls, Arizona. After all, it’s not every day a person can boast of riding a motorcycle through a Navajo Indian Reservation!

Going Down is Optional. Returning is Mandatory!

Situated in Flagstaff, Arizona, Walnut Canyon National Monument is home to ancient cliff dwellings and incredible rock faces. Though the geological formations of the canyon itself are remarkable, what truly sets this site apart are the pueblos nestled into the curved canyon walls. However, visiting these pueblos is no easy feat.

In order to walk in the steps of those who came before, visitors have two trail options. You can either casually walk the easy 0.75 mile Rim Trail which provides you with a nice overlook of the canyon and cliff dwellings, or you can choose the more physical, strenuous Island Trail that takes you into the canyon. Guess which one we took?

“Going down is optional. Returning is mandatory” are the words emblazoned on the Island Trail trailhead at Walnut Canyon National Monument. With the steep one mile trail dropping 185 vertical feet into Walnut Canyon where the cliff dwellings could be explored, did we dare undertake the 273 stair step journey? Yes, yes we did.

Before beginning our descent, park rangers posted in front of the trailhead offered me and Joe water and assessed our physical prowess. Joking! Kinda. At the start of the Island Trail, there are signs asking you to consider your physical condition before hiking. As if the 273 stair steps into the canyon aren’t enough, the trail loop follows the cliff edge and has 190 stair steps spread out over its length, as well as a lack of continuous hand railings. It is definitely wise to take a moment of introspection before undergoing the descent. Remember, “Going down is optional. Returning is mandatory!”

Despite the 6,690 ft. elevation and the combined 463 stair steps, Joe and I were ready to conquer the Island Trail and explore its hidden treasures, and boy am I so glad we did! Pictures don’t fully capture the beauty and grandeur of both the canyon and its ancient pueblos, and as we were hiking, I couldn’t help but be amazed by what I was seeing and ponder the Ancestral Puebloan people who called the sheer cliff faces home.

From collecting and storing snow melt in preparation for the dry season when water was scarce, to farming various crops, this resilient tight-knit group of people adapted to the land and its environment. I am in awe of their culture, community, and lifestyle.

I think it’s needless to say that Walnut Canyon National Monument is a historical site worth visiting. It is a sacred place full of rich history, and we cannot recommend visiting enough!