A Little Vacation Before the End

When we were first told that we would have a lay-off week before our final engagement in Costa Mesa, I thought it sounded like a huge drag. But when it came right down to it, I was ready for a little break, and it was nice to have one more “vacation” before unemployment, when I know I won’t want to spend the money on any more travel for a while.

Ryan flew out to Tucson for our last weekend there and busied himself with a rental motorcycle and some exploring, while I finished up the weekend of shows. On Monday we spent the day driving to Sedona, where we would spend two nights. It was a beautiful drive, and we made stops in Flagstaff, and Jerome (a small mining town on the side of a mountain) along the way. Our rental house in Sedona was perfect – centrally located with great views, and lots of space.

We spent Tuesday exploring Sedona. First we drove up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a chapel that is built into the side of one of the cliffs, and is said to be a “place of power” in Sedona. We took lots of photos – there is an amazing panoramic view from up there. After that we grabbed some lunch in the “uptown” area, and then drove out to Boynton Canyon, where we did a six mile hike. Boynton Canyon is one of the “vortexes” of energy in Sedona, and we spent some time hanging out by the Kachina Woman rock formation and taking in our surroundings. I don’t know if the “vortex” thing is real or not, but it was definitely extremely peaceful there.

Chapel of the Holy Cross interior

Chapel of the Holy Cross interior

Chapel of the Holy Cross

Chapel of the Holy Cross

Boynton Canyon

Boynton Canyon

Kachina Woman

Kachina Woman

That evening we drove up to Airport Mesa, which is another vortex site, to watch the sunset. There were dozens and dozens of people up there with cameras. There were some clouds in the sky, which made for some dramatic photographs.

Sunset at Airport Mesa

Sunset at Airport Mesa

On Wednesday we packed up the car and headed north to the Grand Canyon. We met up with Suzanne, who had also just arrived, for dinner at El Tovar, the nicest lodge on the national park grounds. We got our first glimpse of the canyon (Suzanne and I had never been there before), and then had a delicious dinner. Then it was back to the hotel and to bed, so that we could get up and back to the park in time for sunrise the next day.

We were up and driving to the park by 5:15am! It was FREEZING. After the temperatures being in the high 90’s in Tucson, it was quite a shock to be in temperatures as low as 20 degrees. We ran around and did jumping jacks while we waited for the sun to come up. It was worth it, though. The early morning light on the canyon rocks was just beautiful. As soon as the sunrise was over we went back to El Tovar for breakfast, and luckily got a table by the fireplace!

Suzanne at the Grand Canyon at sunrise

Suzanne at the Grand Canyon at sunrise

After breakfast we headed over to Bright Angel trail to start our hike. It takes two days to hike all the way down to the bottom of the canyon and back, so we decided to just go down about three miles and then hike back out. There were a lot of people on the trail, and it was interesting to hear people’s stories along the way. There were a lot of people who had camped out at various places along the trail, and we met one group of women who were finishing up a “rim to rim” hike, which had taken them the better part of a week (they hiked down the north side, camped on the canyon floor, and now were making their way up the south side). We saw a few mule trains, although most of them were carrying rangers rather than tour groups. The hike was definitely difficult – going down, and back up, but we made it the six-mile round trip in about five hours and were very proud of ourselves!

A raven on the trail

A raven on the trail

Suzanne and Ryan on the trail

Suzanne and Ryan on the trail

Mule train

Mule train

In the afternoon, Ryan and I went back to the hotel and napped while Suzanne took off for Williams, where she was spending the night before heading to a yoga retreat in Sedona for the weekend. Ryan and I headed back to the park later in the afternoon, and drove all thirty-five miles of the road out to Desert View, on the eastern end of the south rim. We stopped at a few of the overlooks, including one for sunset.

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The next day we decided not to do another vertical hike, but instead we walked about eight miles along the Rim Trail, from Hermit’s Rest, out at the western end of the south rim, all the way back to El Tovar. I have to say, the views of the canyon from the west side were my favorite. You had less obstructions in the way and were able to get more of an idea of how vast the canyon really is. Even though the trail was relatively flat, we were still pretty beat by the time we made it back to Grand Canyon Village. We went to the bar at El Tovar for a couple of prickly pear margaritas, to celebrate hiking 20 miles total that week!

A panorama taken with my iPhone

A panorama taken with my iPhone

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After our drinks were emptied, we took the park shuttle back out to Hopi Point for sunset. There were lots of people out there – I think Hopi Point was my favorite lookout spot of the whole park, so I wasn’t surprised to see lots of people there for the sunset. We took lots of photos and then scrambled back into the warmth of the shuttle bus and headed back to the hotel.

Sunset

Sunset

People watching the sunset at Hopi Point

People watching the sunset at Hopi Point

Having had our fill of nature for the week, we drove to Las Vegas on Saturday 🙂 We stayed at the Treasure Island casino and had a great time, seeing two Cirque du Soleil shows (“O” and “Mystere”), playing the slots, and just walking around and exploring all the hotels and casinos. I was pretty beat by the end of the weekend and ended up having a little fainting episiode on Sunday evening (no big deal, my back was just hurting from carrying my bag and camera around all day, and it just caught up with me).

Watching the water show at the Bellagio

Watching the water show at the Bellagio

On Monday I dropped Ryan off at the airport, and then made my way to Orange County, where we are playing our final engagement of “Spamalot” in Costa Mesa at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. I can’t believe the end is finally here!

I am driving back across the country following our closing, taking two weeks to get back to New York. I’m headed first to Houston, where I’ll catch up with the “Mary Poppins” tour and spend a day with Fran and Tanya. Then I’m making a sharp left turn and driving up to Wisconsin, where hopefully it won’t be snowing, to spend a few days with Ryan before heading back to the Big Apple. I’m hoping to see a little bit of autumn along the way since I’m not getting any here in California!

It was really nice to have one final adventure with Ryan before getting back to life and reality. I don’t know what the future holds, but hopefully there are more adventures to come!

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