2004 - Lana & Oxana's Tour

The luck of the Irish, that's what it was, but the luck in this case fell not on the Irish but on one of our Ukrainian friends, a young gal named Oxana whom we had become acquainted with while living in Italy.  Oxana's mom, Valentina, entered a travel company contest and won a nearly all expenses paid one week tour of the American SW.  Unfortunately for her she could not take the time off work so contracted Lana to see if she was available.  So begins the tale.

After the usual bureaucratic morass of paperwork with the Italian and American consulates, the visas were obtained and off they went.  First to NYC where their plane arrived five hours late due to the incompetence of Alitalia Airlines.  Missing their connecting flight they laid over in NYC before catching a flight to Phoenix the next day.  Eventually they caught up with the tour bus that had started from LA, but during the flight to Phoenix which had been booked on SW Airlines, they starved as no one had informed them that the flight served no meals.  A couple bags of peanuts and some soft drinks was all they had to eat until the reached Phoenix.  Things improved in Phoenix and the rejoined the tour.

The remainder of the tour went fairly well.  Oxana and Lana managed to become well acquainted with the tour guide, Vera, and the bus driver, Luis, a friendly Mexican gentleman who provided lots of jokes and tales as well as some songs to keep things interesting on the long stretches between scenic locations.  On their trip they managed to see the Sonora Desert near Phoenix, Arizona and the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Monument,  Utah, Lake Powell and Las Vegas, Nevada and finally back to Los Angles as well as many lesser known spots along the way.

That's a lot to see in only a week, but they enjoyed it and even with the lousy air travel service they came home tired but happy.  For those of you who want more information about the places they visited please try the following links.

Grand Canyon:

Bryce Canyon:

Zion National Monument:

Sonora Desert: Sonoran Desert

Glen Canyon Dam - Lake Powell:

Las Vegas:

2012 - Justin & Greg's Dinosaur Monument Visit

During a Colorado ski trip to Steamboat Springs, Greg and Justin took a day off from the slopes (barely covered with snow) to visit the Dinosaur Monument site where hundreds of fossils ranging in size from very small to really large have been discovered. The explanation for why this site has so many dinosaur skeletons is that it happens to be located at the confluence of the Yampa and Green rivers where the bodies of the dinos were deposited by the rivers. Over millions of years the mud encased skeletons were preserved as the mud gradually became solidified into sand stone. Rather than try to present the interesting information myself I've chosen to let you read it in the following links:

Dinosaur Monument - Wikipedia

Dinosaur Monument - National Park Service

2014 - Greg & Lana's Sedona & Grand Canyon Visit

Ten years later Greg & Lana returned to Arizona over the Christmas holiday week to visit Sedona and the Grand Canyon. We got a good timeshare exchange deal in Sedona at a high quality resort just outside the business district. There was still some snow left over from a storm the week before. Our apartment was very well appointed and almost new. The clubhouse has an indoor pool and sauna as well as an outdoor jaccuzi, game room, library and snack bar.

Sedona is well known for its grand natural beauty being surrounded by high desert buttes and canyons with the characteristic red sandstone that we've all seen in the western movies. The land is covered with scrub vegetation, tumble weed, sage brush, and various cacti . A few hardy trees are able to survive on the lower slopes and along Oak Creek that flows through town. The town has become a mecca for folks who are spiritually oriented specifically with a non-traditional or New Age  slant. Many artists are attracted to this spot as well and have opened numerous studios and galleries in the downtown area. Spas are also here for those who want to experience a massage, mud bath or other variations on the healing therapies. Hot springs are also found along Oak Creek for those who like the hot, soothing mineral water that flows naturally out of the desert rock.

We asked about good places to eat the first day we arrived and were directed to a down home type restaurant not far from our resort. They menu was ample as well as the servings and we felt we got a good start for the week by taking the suggestion. We also found the typical informal kind of folks that are found all over the American West. No coat and ties at this place.The next morning we had breakfast there again and were not disapointed.

Sedona - Wikipedia

Toward the end of our week we drove north to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. The trip from Sedona took about 3 hours with pauses for lunch and gas. The south rim is probably the most touristed access to the Grand Canyon. We arrived mid day and it looked like we'd taken a wrong turn and ended up in Seoul or Beijng. Anyhow we enjoyed an hour of walking along the canyon rim and looking down at a whole lot of rock. Taking photos from the rim is kind of like spitting in the ocean. Can't miss it but after you're done you can't tell the difference. Needed is a panorama camera that can capture the immenseness of this place. That we didn't have. Most likely the best views of this place are taken from the Colorado River in the canyon floor. Here's a link that shows a whole lot of this place:

South Rim - Grand Canyon

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