Brrr…There’s nothing as exhilarating as a brisk desert morning at sunrise! I was excited to face a new day on our awesome adventure. The sun was warm on my face, but the cool air all but chilled me to the bone!
I’m not sure if it’s the water in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, or if it’s just the coffee itself, but I had the best cup at breakfast. Ok…maybe it was two cups. However many I had, it certainly jump-started my day!
The rising sun was behind us as we were heading west again. The cool morning transitioned to warm rather quickly. We crossed into Northeast Arizona later that morning to visit the Petrified Forest National Park. The sights we saw were stunning, as shadows seem to dance differently across this vast, mountainous desert.
Last year when we were here, we thought some areas were charred from fires, when it was actually clouds casting shadows on the ground below us. We thought it was a mirage, as the “charred portions” were slowly moving across the Painted Desert. It’s funny now, and it only took a minute, but we finally figured it out.
This year, we were happy to have clouds moving above us. It was now officially HOT! You could smell the recently poured asphalt in certain areas of the park. If you stood anywhere too long, you would get it on the bottom of your shoe. I did, and I had proof showing on the floor mat of my car! I prefer to think of it as bringing home a little piece of Route 66 with me.
This park has more petrified wood than anywhere else in the world. If you remove it from its original location, it loses its scientific value for geologists to research. Visitors beware! It is a misdemeanor if you take any of this petrified wood or rocks, and you can certainly be charged a hefty fine if you do.
About 37 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona, there is a huge crater in the earth that was created by a meteor some say, 50,000 years ago. It measures almost a mile in diameter and 560 feet deep. I had no problem climbing all of the steps to get close to the rim of the crater. I would certainly struggle doing this now, having been recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. (RA)
The long, straight road leading to the crater has massive, red clay-looking rocks strewn over the land leading into the entrance of the park. I’m assuming these rocks were blasted to where they now permanently sit after this colossal impact. The rocks just appear to be out of place, as they don’t match the natural surrounding landscape. Why this is not a National Park is a mystery to me, but it is well taken care of by the private land owners.
The closer we got to Flagstaff, the taller the trees were! The terrain looked vaguely familiar again. It had been a couple of days since we had seen a tall tree. We were on our way to the Grand Canyon and what do you know! It started misting rain!
The mist quickly turned to a steady rain. A conversation among the three of us included a comment that the Lord could stop the rain before we arrived at our destination. I’m pretty sure we all silently prayed that this would happen because the rain drops were now heavy and relentless.
God certainly has a wonderful sense of humor. About the time we reached the front gate to purchase our parking pass, the rain abruptly stopped and we didn’t feel, or see a drop the entire time we were visiting. Surprised? I wasn’t. (Ok…maybe I was a little.)
God had already stopped the rain, so blowing those ominous clouds away would surely be asking too much. I left well enough alone. Whatever happens at this point would be perfect.
We drove through the heavily wooded areas in all of nature’s glory along with the deer, elk, and everything else. It was about an hour before sunset when we parked the car.
I’m sure my son was curious where this natural wonder was hiding. How can a 277 mile long…and 18 mile wide canyon hide so well? It doesn’t visibly appear until you walk around the first bend of the man-made concrete walking path. It’s not there, and then all of a sudden, it is! Whether we saw the sunset or not, this sight is truly AMAZING!
We had arrived at the time we wanted, the rain had stopped, and then something miraculous happened without us even asking. The clouds started to roll back just about the time the sun was dipping behind the canyon walls. It was as if the portals of heaven opened up and I could almost hear the angels singing the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
There were still menacing clouds here and there, but we ultimately saw one of the most majestic sights anyone could ever witness in person. The carved out land masses just proudly stood as if they had commanded the clouds to move out of the way, but we all know who it was! Only God could have orchestrated such an event.
I wanted to enjoy and remember the sun setting in my mind’s eye, so I do not have a photo of “that moment.” I was actually hesitant to post a photo at all. They just don’t do the canyon justice, but here is the one where the clouds are clearing to allow us to view what was to come. The sun was peeking through, shimmering on the rim of the canyon walls.
I was truly amazed as to how these events transpired…and He wasn’t finished. By the end of this night, He would also reveal Himself to us in a very different way!
After we left, and night had fallen, it started to rain again and the temperature dropped dramatically! It was cold! My son drove back to Flagstaff for us to settle in for the night. My husband had suddenly developed a sore throat, so he dozed on and off for the 75 mile journey back.
I searched my travel app for available rooms at Little America Hotel. We stayed there during last year’s Grand Canyon visit, but they had no rooms on this particular night. This is the one hotel I wish we would’ve booked months in advance, but I didn’t. We had to go with Plan B.
Plan B – Search all Flagstaff hotels until you find one? In general, most hotels here seemed fine, but there was nothing available anywhere…nada, zilch, zero, zippedee-doo-dah…nothing, so Plan B didn’t work. (The joys of road trippin’ by the seat of your pants!) It was exciting and I was actually handling it all quite well! On to Plan C!
Plan C – Stay in northern Flagstaff? There were a few rooms available not too far from where we were. After we stopped for fuel and cough drops for my sweet husband, we were heading a few miles north of Flagstaff. As we were driving to the hotel, I kept trying to book the room using my travel app.
Here it is folks…God kept us from reserving this room by “allowing me” to keep “choosing” the wrong expiration date for my husband’s credit card. I tried four separate times. You’d think I’d get it right at least one of the four attempts! The further north we traveled, the “seedier” it became. We were clearly on the wrong side of town and didn’t feel comfortable staying in this area. We didn’t have to stay! The transaction never finalized! We actually would not have stayed here even if it were finalized. Just sayin’.
I told my husband there were not many hotels south of us for about 30 miles. His reply to me was simply, “And?” This remark is so “him,” and it certainly made me smile. I love this about him. We would be heading south in the morning anyway, so why not get a head start!
The rain is now torrential! I truly believe God was making up for the span of time He halted the rain for the three of us to see the Grand Canyon in a tremendously grand way! The intense rain was relentless for hours! I don’t ever recall seeing anything like it.
Plan D – We found a very nice hotel in Sedona, Arizona. We even used the credit card that was being declined earlier. It went through on the very first try! I’m surprised it wasn’t flagged for the previous four failed attempts. Was all of this a coincidence maybe? I think not!
It was at that time we all collectively knew God was intervening on our behalf. I know that He had been intervening all along, but this particular experience stuck out in my mind as an “in your face” moment…even more so than the miracles I witnessed at the Grand Canyon.
Plan D worked perfectly! We were all three ready to get a good night’s sleep before heading to Sierra Vista the following morning. It was indeed a great day!
The reason I have taken you on this road trip with me thus far is because this journey in particular, is very significant to me. In mere days, I would be flirting with the outskirts of “my alternate universe” and in my mind, I would often use our adventure as a means of escape…if only for a moment. God is good, and this great excursion across the country reminded me of that when I was at my lowest! I appreciate you traveling along with me.
No worries though…”I’M GOOD…I’M GOOD!” I must carry on, and smile along the way.
Philippians 4:6 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” KJV (always)