It was 4:40 when God said let there be light. We were all still in bed so we needed to hurry because we didn’t want to miss the sunrise. Hurriedly, we jumped out of bed, tried not to hurt
With Ben on the Ivories, we managed to butcher a few show tunes at the Tovar Lodge
each other—the room was itty bitty and with two queen beds there wasn’t much floor space—dressed and started out the door to get to the rim before it was too late.
Us at the South Rim, where thousands gather every morning
When we arrived at the rim we scurried around trying to locate the best spot from which to view the actual sunrise – it was light but the sun was still a bit below the horizon. As it turned out there were probably 20 Japanese tourists who found the same perfect spot as we. They were scattered on the rocks but fairly close in proximity to one another and to us. It took me back to the first time I went to Japan. I was with Joe Duffey and his wife Anne Wexler. Joe was the director of USIA—the public diplomacy arm of the US government. As you may have guessed given the state of US diplomacy—that agency no longer exists—the worst mistake the Clinton Administration made. Yes, there were others but folding USIA into the State Department was right up there on the list. Anyway, one of the items on our list of tourist attractions was the Emperor’s Palace. It is important to know that Japanese people wait for years to get to see the Palace. In fact, we were told that when a Japanese child is born he or she is given the date they will get to tour the palace. As diplomats, we didn’t have to wait that long. We got our appointment in a day. We felt very fortunate. We walked along with 15 Japanese citizens, a tour guide, and an interpreter. The tour guide narrated more than a few points of interest and with each mention of a place of particular interest the Japanese oohed and aahed—at exactly the same moment. It was hard to be polite and not guffaw because it was like a Saturday Night Live skit. We managed to maintain our decorum and at the end of the tour we got in the car and laughed for an hour.
The sun rose at 5:15 a.m. The excitement on our rock mounted and when the sun came up the Japanese all clapped and cheered as if it was the first time they had seen the sun come up—like they didn’t know it was going to happen. To tell you the truth it was thrilling to watch their joy. I never fully understood their pride in being the Land of the Rising Sun until that moment.
And they clapped at the Rising of the Sun
Then we went sight seeing and did what I refer to as a ‘Burnett’. This means you never end up where you thought and inevitably plans change based on a whim of some kind. So here’s what happened. We went to the Painted Desert and then to Little Colorado River Gorge – which has an 800 foot sheer drop that was totally terrific. The kids pretended to drop off.
Help! Help! they cried in Stage voices
They were a bit too close to the edge for my liking but they lived. It was early so we decided to go into
JKB in the Alan Ladd suite at the Monte Vista in Flagstaff
Flagstaff—people in the Canyon said it was a fabulous place, and it turned out that it was.
At the Weatherford Hotel, near the room where Zane Grey wrote his Western Novels (Flagstaff)
We found an adorable old hotel and determined that this would be much more fun than going back into the Canyon.
Into the car we went and drove back to the Canyon where we got our bags, checked out of our room, got back into the car and drove back to Flagstaff. We took all our stuff into the Monte Vista hotel and proceeded to the Walter Brennan room. Each room is named for a movie star because so many movie stars stayed there while they were filming on location. It was fine until we turned on the sink—which was totally backed up. So, because we couldn’t locate the front desk clerk by phone, I ran down four flights of stairs and changed the room to the Carol Lombard room—the air-conditioning didn’t work so we moved yet again to the Alan Ladd. But the place was so cute we didn’t even mind the move. Well we minded a little but not enough to be in a bad mood.
Flagstaff is a colorful place. For example, when we arrived there was a rock band in the plaza (on a Thursday) where people not only listened to the music but they jitterbugged—with people they obviously did not know. It was like Lincoln Center in the summer for a swing dancing event.
Another view of the Alan Ladd suite
There are no shortage of good coffee places—places that only serve espresso-- and there is even a bike/jogging path that is dressed up with greens but runs along the railroad track, so you can move along without interruption and the only distraction are the trains that run frequently and toot loudly. (That goes on all night but with a noisy old air-conditioner you hardly notice the noise).
The Classic Hotel enjoyed by so many over the years.
When we left for Sedona this morning it was not without some sadness. Chances are we will not come back to Flagstaff –with friends and family in the Phoenix area a trip north is unlikely. But it was a treat to discover this neat little place and we enjoyed every moment. We’re just sayin….Iris