In early 2019, Andy and I decided that our big, week-long vacation for the year would be a road-trip to Arizona. His childhood best friend’s wedding was in October, so we thought it would be an excellent way for Andy to show me his hometown. (Brian was so inspired by Andy meeting his wife online that he signed up for the same dating website we used and met his wife, Jenny!) We were so excited and had big plans to explore Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, among many of the state’s natural wonders.
When I learned I was pregnant in March 2019, we quickly did was the math to see how far along I’d be in October. We were disappointed to learn I’d be over 7 months pregnant by the time Brian’s wedding rolled around. Surely there was no way I’d be able to travel so far away while being so close to my due date! Reluctantly, we decided that Andy would go alone to Arizona for a long weekend– long enough to attend the wedding and spend time with his friend, but hopefully with enough time to spare before I went into labor.
5 days before Andy was set to fly out, I compared the weather in Page to Mason City. While Andy would be enjoying a sunny 75 degrees, Iowa was predicted to have cold rain and 35-degree temps. It just didn’t seem fair to sit at home, alone, in such miserable weather! I spontaneously decided that I would tag along to Arizona because I still had 8 weeks left in my pregnancy, so “it’s fine, right?” (little did we know Drew would arrive 4 weeks early!) Thanks to our Southwest Airlines Companion Pass, my plane tickets were free (minus taxes.) Even though our 4 days in Arizona was far too short and we weren’t able to explore as much as we had hoped (I had to work remotely in the mornings!), it was a wonderful trip and the perfect last “vacation of 2” before we added another travel partner to our family.
We woke up at 2 am for our 6 am flight out of Minneapolis, landing in Phoenix bright and early at 7:30 am local time. During our 4-hour drive from Phoenix to Page, I worked while Andy drove. Unfortunately, I lost internet connectivity for a bit while driving through the Navajo Reservation; we finally figured out a system where Andy would pull over whenever we found a sliver of signal, I’d download the Word doc that I needed to work on, we’d get back on the road, and he’d pull over again whenever I needed to email my document. As frustrating as the limited internet connectivity was, Andy was amazed that I had any signal at all; when he lived in Page a decade ago, he didn’t even own a cell phone, and there was no signal while driving through the “res” (as it’s known locally.)
We stopped for a quick “lunch break” at Sunset Crater National Monument! As you’ll see me mention throughout this post, our time there was short but sweet. If only we had more time to explore! Someday, in post-Army life, we hope to take a big RV trip through the US, and spending a large chunk of time in Arizona is definitely on the list!
Once we arrived in the Page area, we decided to detour over to Navajo Bridge before heading to our friends’ house. I’m terrified of heights and bridges (even more so when I was pregnant!), and just walking in the middle of the bridge had my heart racing. Andy, however, is fearless and was too happy to stand at the edge and look at the Colorado River below.
Then, we drove down to Lee’s Ferry, the only point in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area/Grand Canyon area where, instead of hiking in, you can drive up to the Colorado River. Andy has fond memories of launching kayaks here… I think his mom was even a kayaking tour guide here at one point. Anyway, as the name suggests, Lee’s Ferry was a ferry service that operated in the late 1800s/early 1900s. It was initially settled by a man named John Lee, who participated in a Utahn massacre of pioneers known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre; after the massacre, he moved his family to what later became Lee’s Ferry to hide from the law. (That didn’t work, though. A few years after he settled in Lee’s Ferry, he was found guilty of the massacre and executed by firing squad.) He built a ranch (appropriately called Lonely Dells) and also began a ferry service on the Colorado River to transport people between Utah and Arizona, aka Lee’s Ferry. Today, you can explore the old ranch ruins and even eat fruit from what remains of their orchard. (I don’t think any fruit was in season when we visited. That, or I was too pregnant/exhausted to look for the orchard!)
After I was thoroughly exhausted from our visit to Lee’s Ferry, we drove into the city of Page and stopped by the Glen Canyon Dam. It was so interesting to hear Andy talk about the dam from the perspective as an Environmental Science major but also as a Page local. (That husband of mine is a true Renaissance man…)
They offer tours inside the dam, which we wanted to do, but we weren’t able to fit it in our tight schedule! Once again, maybe the next time we’re in Arizona!
And that wraps up my day one recap of our Arizona trip!