Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To the North Rim

From Anthem to the North Rim is supposed to be simple -head north on I-17 to Flagstaff, continue north on US-89 to just below the Glen Canyon Dam, cut west on 89A, and bingo! Not quite.

We dawdled a bit by diverting to Arcosanti,, a planned, self-sustaining city for 5-10,000 in the desert 70 miles north of Phoenix. It was conceived by a genius, Paolo Soleri, about the same time Larry Halprin was working out the design of The Sea Ranch. Soleri had the tougher challenge, since he wanted Arcosanti to be environmentally self-sufficient - and he didn't have the backing of a developer with deep pockets. So he - now in his late 80s - and students, interns, and a note-for-profit foundation have been plugging along for 40+ years, gradually making the concept a reality - it's worth the two miles of dirt road to visit the place, a real surprise in the desert.

Then back to the serious business of getting to the North Rim. No problem until we were about five miles north of Flagstaff and found US89 blocked because of the out of control (then) wildfire that was threatening housing adjacent to the road. What to do? We chose to go back to Flagstaff and take off to the east about 50 miles into Navajoland, turning (sort of) north for 100 miles or so to Tuba City, the "capitol" of the Hopi Nation, and back to US89, about a 100 mile diversion. BUT, it was well worth it to drive through the Painted Desert up close and personal. The mesa walls are spectular in the intensity and variety of color.

As a result, we got to the North Rim just about sunset - a spectacular time. We spent Monday and Tuesday nights in what the Grand Canyon Lodge calls a Pioneer Cabin, quite adequate.