US Southwest, May 2008

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

While we had started out in San Francisco, the main part of our vacation was spent in Arizona.

Arizona was the 48th and last of the contiguous states admitted to the Union on February 14, 1912. Arizona is noted for its desert climate, exceptionally hot summers and mild winters. But the high country in the north features pine forests and mountain ranges with cooler weather than the lower deserts.

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It was a long, hot drive, from Blythe to Tucson.

The view did not change much, dry desert country. Even the cactus plants looked grim: many had holes or were damaged, probably by animals looking for fluids.
There was a lot to do about gas prices when we were here (May 2008), though I found the prices still considerable less than what we payed for in Europe. Fortunately for us Arizona was among the more moderate US States in the rise of fuel prices.

Entertainment on the road: dustdevils doing their thing..

And I don't think much of his garden, either..

Big and powerful
Everything is bigger in the USA... so they say.
To have or have not
Plenty of penitentiaries here... Do they help?

Burned out gasstation
Who would put a house here?

Most of the time we took our snacks from gasstations, but we thought a treat was in order. This was in Eloy.

What I found annoying was I could not fill up & pay at the nozzle with my credit card anymore (had no zip code to enter), but had to go inside.

A classic in the desert
A classic car in the middle of nowhere
Never saw such a weird limo...

Saguaro National Park, a little east out of town. We went here when the sun was setting which added extra atmosphere to the giant cactus which grow here.
Beautiful area and a very nice drive.

Time magazine ran a brief report (2008) that people dig these cactus plants up and sell them (the Carnegiea gigantea do around usd 1.000 a piece) to landscapers and nurseries; the Nat'l Parks Service declared intentions to insert microchips in the cactus plants so they can be traced and identified...

Saguaro National Park


click here



Raceway After that fantastic drive in Saguaro NP, we went to Tucson's Raceway Park. We had a little difficulty finding it being off the map, out of town.
But we got there eventually and enjoyed the thundering motors. Pity that large fence spoils things for photography a bit.

I like to go these events, and rodeo's, whenever I can include that in my 'mad dash itinerary'..






Desert flowers
We took the scenic byway, Stateroad 79, driving from Tucson via Coolidge and Chandler to Phoenix.



Texas Roadhouse
Willie Nelson
A sumptious sunday lunch at Chandler.
It was crowded and noisy, but the food was good and... Willie has been here!

Wet relief!
Phoenix was unbelievably hot... temperatures over 100F! A swimmingpool was a welcome relief. Phoenix is a hot spot, we new that, but in May it isn't supposed to be so bad. But when we were here it peaked extraordinarily, for just a few days.
We took our choice of motelrooms from the discount coupon books, which one can pick up from gasstations and restaurants (e.g. Denny's). This worked out well for us; most included a good breakfast.
Cool ride
Heading into town
Back on the road!




Montezuma's Castle Montezuma Castle National Monument, located a little north of Phoenix on the I-17 (near Camp Verde), features well-preserved cliff dwellings.
They were built and used by the Pre-Columbian Sinagua people around 1400 AD.
The reasons for abandonment of their habitation sites are not yet known, but warfare, drought, and clashes with the newly-arrived Yavapai people have been suggested.
The five-story stone and mortar dwellings contain 20 rooms and once housed about 50 people.

Pity we could not have a look inside, like at Mesa Verde (went there in the 1990s), but that is probably to avoid unreparable damage.






Oak Creek village of Sedona, including an Outlet Center. It was nice shopping here, away from the actual crowds at Sedona where one is almost trampled by groups of Japanese or Germans.


The only way to create a 'home-away-from-home' is to throw all your travelling junk around..


Sedona Sedona's main attraction is its stunning array of red sandstone formations, the Red Rocks of Sedona.
The formations appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun. The Red Rocks form a breathtaking backdrop for everything from spiritual pursuits to the hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails.
Sedona is named after Sedona Miller Schnebly (18771950), the wife of the city's first postmaster, who was celebrated for her hospitality and industriousness.
Actually, on the afternoon we arrived, we had cloudy skies. But then when we drove to Sedona for a first visit and dinner in town (there is an excellent Thai food restaurant in Oak Creek Village, btw) and we were welcomed by opening skies and a blazing sunset!



Mining town

We came here in search of a ghost town (Jerome), but did not find it! We came to a museum, but that was not what we were looking for, so we left. I was under time pressure, having booked a scenic flight that afternoon.I probably should have continued higher up the mountain.
This entire trip I had planned for 3 visits to ghost towns, but none of them actually happened, due all sorts of reasons. A good website to plan them is

But the visit to Jerome did provide this nice abandoned dwelling: gasstation and mini-mart.


Pre-election The election fight between Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was everywhere, ab nausea, but I liked this demonstration of support.


We drove the looproad to Red Rock State Park

The town of Sedona



Red Rock State Park, fantastic scenery!


We just happened to exite the Thai restaurant at Oak Creek Village and noticed the setting sun transforming these rainshowers into a surreal event.. We quickly got into the car and drove a mile out of town. Felt like one of those storm chasers!
Every minute the view changed, it was spectacular and breathtaking.
And we didn't get a drop of rain on our heads!





Biplane ride!
Splendid view

The weather turned to windy and overcast and the scenic flight I had booked at Sedona airport was cancelled. The next morning I tried again and after some discussion and waiting I got my ride...
It was a bumpy ride, but only added to the spectacular flight.





Heading out of Sedona, going north towards Flagstaff, we climbed outside the canyon. Indian artisans had their creations on display and for sale.

Indian artisan

Plenty of nice things for sale


Rain on a hot road creating rising damp; we were in for cooler weather.




Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

What can one say about the Grand Canyon that hasn't been said?


Coyote unperturbed by the snowfall

Clouds around our heads and it was cold



Indian dwellings
Living on these windblown plains Indians on the high plains.
It is very windy here but they don't seem to care, at least I don't see any work done to get relief from that blasting wind.
But they don't seem to care about their surroundings anyway, most places are a mess by my standards.





Motel in Page
Page: Rodeway Inn, not very good.
Page, not much of a town.



Antelope Canyon But this is what we came here for: a visit to Antelope Canyon!
Unfortunately, the day of my visit was on Memorial Day Weekend and the phototour by Antelope Canyon Tours had been fully booked 3 weeks in advance. I had no choice than to accept tickets for 09:30 and it didn't help that it was overcast and occasionally rained.
The canyon is so narrow that you need a good midday sun to make those special photos.
Oh well, it was spectacular nevertheless and glad I finally made this visit.



Antelope Canyon is the most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest. It is located on Navajo land near Page,AZ.
Antelope Canyon includes two separate, photogenic slot canyon sections, referred to individually as Upper Antelope Canyon or 'The Crack'; and Lower Antelope Canyon or 'The Corkscrew'.
The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tse' bighanilini, which means "the place where water runs through rocks".
Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding and secondarily due to other sub-aerial processes. Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time the passageways are eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic 'flowing' shapes in the rock.


Outta here!
The drive on the riverbed is fun too. You can see that with heavy rains they have to cancel the tours.
It is not all scenic beauty
It is not all scenic beauty around here, witness the smokestacks of some factory.


It was cold and I was in desperate need for some hot coffee, but managed to shoot some pictures while being thrown about in the back of the pickup truck. We were soon going to be out of Indian country, so I took these images as a good bye.



Original Indian dwellings... I think?


It was cold, overcast and we saw no reason to stay another night in Page. Motel prices showed the effects of Memorial Day Weekend and all discounts went out of the window. So, after buying another round of souvenirs and a nice lunch, we crossed the border into Utah and headed for Kanab.




Full circle: CALIFORNIA again