Thursday, June 28, 2018


 I'm leaving Africa behind for a short while to take a detour on an old-fashioned American road trip.  A one-day travel conference caused us to schedule a trip to Scottsdale on a Wednesday of the last week of June.  That is not an ideal time for one to leave the clear mountain air of Durango for the hot desert sun of southern Arizona, but it provided us with an opportunity to get out of the house while our kitchen was re-tiled.  It was also an opportunity for us to get out of the smokey fog surrounding Durango from the 416 fire.  So we packed our bags and headed south.  Our plan, since we wanted to be gone at least a week, was to take two days to complete the journey to Scottsdale,three nights there, and two days coming back.

Our first decision was where to stop on the first night out.  We, of course, opted for detouring through the Grand Canyon, but were uncertain if we could find reasonable lodging.  I remembered some controversy earlier about incorporating a town just to the south of the National Park, so we drove through the park and, sure enough found the town of Tusayan.  It almost all looks brand new!  According to Wikipedia, it was only recently incorporated with a total population of 558, but the incorporation was unpopular with some and they are fighting it.  Typical Western politics.  I stopped at the Holiday Inn Express; they had a room, but it was $250 for the night. 
I thought that too extravagant for a Holiday Inn and drove away, but next door found a little gem of a motel from the 50's called the 7 Mile Inn.  The "vacancy" sign was lit, so I walked in.  A friendly, smiling woman came from a back room that looked like her living room and signed us in for $109 plus tax for the night.  The motel was almost engulfed by two new behemoth hotels which surrounded it.  I think we had found the incorporation opposition.  The 7 Mile Lodge accepts only drive-in traffic, so it doesn't have the expense of a reservation service or on-line booking engine, but they have old-fashioned friendly owners, meticulously clean rooms, and all the amenities including free wi-fi at a great price. 

Brunch at the El Tovar Hotel

The next morning we rose early and drove back into the Park (thank you, Golden Passport) for breakfast and to feed on the view once again.  I had forgotten how spacious the "Grand Canyon Village" was with markets, hotels, overlooks, and trail heads. We ended up at the old El Tovar Hotel which was built as a Harvey House at the end of the railway in the early 20th century.  It's been recently remodeled and proudly occupies its prime spot at the edge of the South Rim.  The hotel itself reminded me of the Strater Hotel in Durango with its period furniture. And, best of all, breakfast was superb.  Good detour!

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