In Chetland With Maury and Debbie

Maury and Debbie (WTAFP), good friends of mine here at the blog, recently took a trip through Chet country. He’s a terrific photographer. Here’s Maury’s post about it, the wonderful photos by him (unless he’s in them!) (Re his reference to The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, I’ll be there on the tour for A Farewell to Arfs, the next Chet and Bernie novel, in August. And now over to Maury!)

Overall the trip was absolutely amazing. The three National Parks (Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce), were all so very different in their character, but as we learned, all are actually intricately connected as part of something that is referred to as The Grand Staircase, spanning the length of the Colorado Plateau, in which all three are located. Being able to stay in lodging inside all three of the parks greatly contributed to the overall experience as well. Along the way, we also learned a lot about the history of how the parks were developed as national parks, including the importance of the Union Pacific Railway and Fred Harvey, restaurateur and hotelier extraordinaire (and the Harvey girls as well, who worked there).

On our way from Scottsdale to the Grand Canyon, through the Sonoran Desert (full of saguaros) and after a short stay in Sedona, we had the chance to stop in Williams, Arizona, which apparently is one of last cities along historic Route 66 to be bypassed when US-40 was built. Route 66 is especially meaningful to me, since it was the main street (Central Avenue) traversing Albuquerque when I was born.

The hiking throughout was exhilarating, the only problem being some time limits connected to the tour group we were with. We made it down the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon about a mile and a half and saw some incredible views of the canyon from being part way down (the whole trail to the bottom is about seven miles and of course that means seven miles uphill coming back). At Bryce, we did the hike from Sunrise lookout to Sunset lookout (the main trail for going into the amphitheater), starting at about 20 minutes before sunrise and seeing the sunrise over the east rim as we descended. For a good part of the hike we were essentially the only people in the amphitheater, which was eerie but very calming; we did not encounter any hikers who started at Sunset (going the other way) until we were about two-thirds of the way through the hike. One consequence of the direction we went was that we had to tackle going uphill the ten killer switchbacks at the beginning of Sunset (the descent from Sunset is much quicker and steeper than from Sunrise), but we prevailed. And remember we were doing this at an altitude of over 8000 feet above sea level at Bryce. At Zion, in addition to viewing the spectacular landscape, we were able to do the River Walk and the hike to the emerald ponds; unfortunately both are quite popular and the crowds were overwhelming at times. Interestingly, Bryce seemed almost deserted in contrast to Zion.

We also saw some amazing views throughout. One of the more memorable ones being at the overlook for Horseshoe Bend, proving a dramatic vista as the Colorado River wends its way through Glen Canyon south of the Glen Canyon Dam (which created Lake Powell, a majestic man-made lake 168 miles long), and then 24 hours later being on a raft float navigating around Horseshoe Bend on the river itself. Quite a contrast. During the time we were staying near Lake Powell, we also visited the slot canyon in Antelope Valley and flew on an eight-seater Cessna prop plane to view Lake Powell, Glen Canyon and Rainbow Bridge (interesting name), which in this case is a spectacular natural arch along the canyon wall.

One last thing to mention; while in Scottsdale, we did make a pilgrimage to The Poisoned Pen, one of the few independent mystery books remaining in the country and a frequent visiting spot for Peter/Spence when he goes on book signing tours. I imagine he will next be there for round two of Mrs. Plansky, whenever it is released.

[The cover photo shows Maury and Debbie hiking into Bryce. The other photos: Grand Canyon as seen from partway down the Bright Angel trail; Horseshoe Bend from an overlook over the Colorado River south of Glen Canyon dam; Maury and Debbie on a raft float going around Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River; Zion.]




7 Comments on “In Chetland With Maury and Debbie”

  1. Greetings!

    Such magnificent scenery! I really love the photo of Maury and Debbie hiking…just breathtaking! I would love to know who took this photo and how.

    Thanks SQ/PA for allowing them to share their photos and story!

    A real scorcher in this neck of the woods today.

    Good day to all!

  2. Peter/Spence: Thanks so much for posting this and allowing us to share our adventures in Chetland with our fellow Plunderers. It was a great adventure and one that we will alway remember and cherish. The majesty of that part of the country is totally overwhelming.

  3. Thanks, indeed, to PA/SQ for bringing us these wonderful pix and words, and to WTAFP for taking/writing them and sharing with us. What a wonderful adventure you had! Since we moved to Idaho, we, too, have been exploring the National Parks out west. They are our true treasures.

  4. Oh, WTAFP you two had such a wonderful trip! Thank you for sharing so we could go virtually. Unfortunately virtual is all I will ever be doing as the last time I went to Yosemite I had altitude sickness for a few days. I guess it comes from living a life so close to sea level.

    I’ve been to all three of those parks but when I was much, much younger, in my 20s. We took a road trip when my brother was at the Air Force academy. You photos brought back memories. We never saw the Grand Canyon except from the top. On a separate vacation my Dad and brother did go to the bottom and back up to the top. I think they may have hiked to the bottom and then taken the donkeys back up for all of the reasons you state.

    I have cousins that may or may not still be living in Scottsdale as we’ve lost touch. I stayed with them one night when I had an interview with the Scottsdale school district right out of college. I’m sure things have changed a lot in the last 50 years.

    I hope at some point PA/SQ might be having a book signing a bit further west that The Poisoned Pen. I just can’t make that drive. Not sure I can do L.A. any more.

    That was certainly a trip of a lifetime. Maybe at some point I might try it as a tour like you did. That is probably a lot more doable for me now than extensive driving.

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