America the Beautiful!

By Richard Dischinger, THS '60

September 2006

A trip to the Canyons, September 2005


Chapter 1. The Beginning.


I had wanted to take this trip since I took my family around the country in the late 70's. My plan was to spend more time there and get deeper into it. I told my friend Eddie I would take him with me, and we would ride some horses through the Canyons and listen to Willie and Waylon and the boys, but that never came to be.


I got old and Eddie is no longer with us, so I took my wife Carol and my horse was a Chevy Impala. We started out by flying to San Francisco and after 3,000 miles returned from there 18 days later.


Our first stop was Yosemite, the first of many awesome places. Driving through the pass toward Nevada, we saw our first snow. Nevada is a very sparsely populated state and we made great time. I had planned to stay overnight in a place called Warm Springs, at the start of the Extraterrestrial Highway. All that was there was an abandoned bar and the ruins of what looked to have been a stage coach stop.


Along the Extraterrestrial Highway we made good time, at 90 mph most of time. I kept looking to my left for the Area  51 sight but we never saw it; after I got home I found that it was on the right. The town of Rachel is near it and that was nothing but a bunch of house trailers, a gas station, and a restaurant that looked closed. Not too many towns in Nevada. We stayed the night in Caliente which was almost at the other end of the state. The next day we drove to Zion National Park, another great place. They have free Shuttle buses in most of the big National Parks that alleviate the traffic problem.


After the bus tour we saw a large cloud of smoke that turned out to be an avalanche. I asked a Ranger and was informed that this happens every day and the park is constantly changing, but this happened to be an unusually big one. Sure glad we weren't under it.


We continued through a tunnel (with Windows built in) to the other side of Zion National Park. It is amazing how you can go 20 miles and everything changes, as we saw throughout the trip.

Our next stop was Page, Arizona, then on through Utah. We were already a day ahead of schedule. On the way we took one of those LMR's (land management roads) in Grand Escalante National Monument. We only went in about 3 miles (this one was 46 miles long and comes out on Highway 12 at Cannonville Utah.


Later we took some pictures.

There are many of these roads throughout the South West. We were glad to get to Page a day early, which allowed us to take the 7 hour boat trip on Lake Powell to Rainbow Bridge, a natural arch in one of the canyons of Lake Powell. Carol and I promised to take our family here and rent a houseboat for a week.

That night we ate in a great Mexican restaurant. We stayed two nights in a place I found on Internet. The place in Page was not what we expected, but it was a clean 3 bedroom apartment - Carol and I each had our own room and we had room for a guest. I think it was $42 a night. Next day off to Sedona.


Chapter 2. The Red Rocks


After leaving Page, Arizona we headed toward our Timeshare week that we swapped for in Sedona, Arizona. On the way we detoured to see the Vermillion Cliffs and try to see a Condor, which we did not find. On that side trip we got up close to the Colorado River at, I believe the name was, Lee's Crossing. There we saw some Indians fly fishing for rainbow trout, with some success.




We also stopped to buy earrings from a Navajo and learned how the Mormons traveled there. They built shelters using the large boulders in the area and constructed their shelters using the boulders for the roof because there were no trees to obtain wood in this desert environment.



The scenery changed many times to different colors and at one place there were sand dunes that looked like dirty snow. Going into Flagstaff, we climbed up a big mountain that was volcanic (not active) and then through Flagstaff to the top of Oak Creek Canyon, then down the windy canyon road into Sedona.


Arriving in the red rock country, we drove through the town which is very artsy, to our condo south of town.


We were, as usual, pleasantly surprised with our unit. The units were brand new separate buildings 10 by 40, modular construction.


They were elaborately furnished and had pocket doors and cut glass windows and a series of bow windows in the front, and a large deck, with a barbeque and a babbling brook in the rear. What a nice place!



The following day my friend Joe Peck, a fireman I worked with came to visit us. He lives in Phoenix. Joe has two antique cars and showed us around in his 55 Chevy convertible, complete with fuzzy dice!







Joe took us to a church that was built into the red rocks with beautiful views of the mesas.













We had lunch at the Cowboy Club and walked thru the town. I also met an old friend from my childhood, in town with his horse.



The next day we did some exploring on some of those dirt roads I was talking about in Chapter 1.


We were able to travel them because it was dry (not advisable in wet weather without 4 wheel drive). The tour jeeps were on the same roads we traveled although there was not much traffic. The roads were mostly well maintained with terrific scenery (we took many photographs).



The next day at Joe's suggestion we went to Jerome to trade tee shirts with local firefighters (above their the door was "Ladder 11;" they were glad to receive my Ladder 11 shirt, from my New York City Fire Department firehouse.


Jerome is a small old touristy mining town on top of a mountain, with a ghost town just outside the main town: 



On the way back we stopped at some Indian sights in Verde Valley. One was Montezuma's Castle which was a large pueblo built into the cliffs. It is amazing how these people adapted to the land to build their shelters.

















Joe made arrangements for us to go to Williams and take a train ride to the Grand Canyon. We sat in the top of a glass domed observation car on the way out and a luxurious Parlor car on the way back. There was a singing guitar player who looked exactly like Ringo Reilly.



The Grand Canyon was spectacular. This is the second time we have been there.

After we got back home to New York, Joe's friend who works for the railroad offered me a job (no fooling) as a robber actor on the train.

I told him I was finished being a bad guy and only wear white hats now.

Twenty years ago I probably would have taken the job on!


The next morning we had breakfast in the Coffee Pot Restaurant, a famous breakfast place. 100 omelets - it was very nice. Then we took a trip from Sedona to Rt. 17 on a road Joe told us was a hiking trail. Well, we drove the whole way, about 20 miles, on a dirt road up the side of the cliffs. Carol was not happy at one point in the climb, but at that point we met another couple on the way down who told us that the bad part ends in about 3 blocks! Where were they from, I wonder - 3 blocks! We were on the side of a remote cliff!


We had the condo until Friday but decided to leave a day early so we would be able to see Arches National Park.


To be continued next month: Chapter 3. Injun Country


Your comments about Canyonlands are welcome by Richie. Email him by clicking: Richie