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Lava flow at Sunset Crater National MonumentNormally we are good at planning our vacations, but sometimes the "need" to visit certain places, interferes with the planning. The way we had planned this trip especially the"detour" to southern Arizona meant that we got to visit two of America's most popular tourist destinations, Grand Canyon NP and Yellowstone NP during weekends when they were almost overflowing with people.

The trip of this particluar day was planned to be a short drive from Holbrook to Grand Canyon Village. It got a little longer though. In 2006 Dorte and I paid a short, very short visit to Sunset Crater National Monument north of Flagstaff, and this time, Tim wanted to visit it as well. We drove from Holbrook and directly on to I-40 again, this time in a westerly direction back to Flagstaff. Here we turned north on Route 89 until we came to Sunset Crater where we once again could use our annual pass. The entrance fee was only $ 5 though, so it was not much we saved. When Dorte and I visited four years earlier, we would not pay this enormous fee, so we only d
rove to a pull-out hust before the visitor center, but Tim and I went all the way up to the car park at the volcano. It is forbidden to climb the crater, so we did not, of course, but we went for a walk along a path which is made through the lava flows from the last outbreak, which occurred between 1080 and 1150. The volcano is an about 1,100 feet high cone of lava, but since the area itself is 6,900 feet above sea level, the volcano is recorded as being 8,042 feet tall.

Along the path there were a lot of signs telling about the volcano, the area in general and the plants growing on the lava flows. Here we discovered that Sunset Crater is the youngest of approx. 600 volcanoes, located in the area between Williams and Flagstaff. There is a strong likelihood that there will be a new outbreak in the future, and that this will happen further east. This is due to the outbreaks coming from a relatively small "hotspot". This doesn't move, but the tectonic plate on which the area lies, is moving westward, and thus it seems that the outbreaks are moving further east. So now you know that about volcanoes!

Tim is busy paying our bill at The Twister, Williams, Az.After the visit here, it would have been easier to continue north on U.S. 89 and entering the Grand Canyon NP at the eastern entrance, but since we had planned to leave by that route, we decided to drive back to Flagstaff, take I-40 further west to Williams, where Dorte and I had stayed in 2006. From here we would then go north and take the southern entrance to the National Park.

As said so done. We drove back to Williams, and here we had some lunch. When Dorte and I stayed in Williams in 2006, I had read about a cafe, which was still decorated in the 50s style, like when Route 66 was at its highest popularity. We didn't visit the café, "The Twister" then, but we made up to it this time. We found a place to park the car and then we ate lunch at The Twister, which indeed was decorated with red vinyl and plastic, as you see in movies from the 50s. Tim got himself a burger while I was eating a jumbo hot dog. It was a loaf with a sausage of about 10 or 12 pounds - or so it seemed. In reality it was probably somewhat less, and it was mayby the best hot dog I have had in USA. It was served almost as hot dogs are served in Denmark. That of course added to the good feeling about it.

After lunch we drove north towards Grand Canyon National Park. Here we had to queue up to get into the national park (bad planning, bad timing). Although five lanes were open, there were so many visitors that it took us 45 minutes to reach the ticket booth. We finally got through the queue and into the park, where we immediately headed for Grand Canyon Village, where we had booked the room overlooking the Grand Canyon at the Kachina Lodge.

It is one of the four hotels that are at rim of the canyone. Kachina and Thunderbird Lodge has no receptions, so we had to check in at the larger El Tovar Hotel. We drove up to this hotel, and here our problems began. It was impossible to find a placve to park the car space even though we drove around and around the square. All the one-day tourists, who were out in nature on a beautiful Saturday were parked around the hotel. Parking near the Katchina was impossible too. Eventually we had to drive to a parking lot on the other side of the railroad trails, where we managed to find a space. While Tim was waiting in the car I walked the approx. 10 minutes back to El Tovar, just to be told in the reception, that our room was not yet Desert View view point, Grand Canyon NP, Az.ready but would be 1.5 hours later. I went back and told Tim and we agreed that we would take a drive inside the park. Spe
cifically, along the only road on which cars are permitted, namely out of the east entrance (the one we had just avoided, because it would also serve as our way out of the park.)

We drove all the way to the view point, Desert View at the eastern entrance, and here we went for a walk and enjoyed the views - and the heat and the hundreds of people, and then we drove slowly back toward the hotels, while we stopped at almost all view points along the route. When we got back, we still couldn't find anywhere to park the car but this time Tim just let me out of the car, and circled while I checked in. When it was over, we drove to our hotel where we unloaded the luggage and then Tim took the car to the parking lot where we had parked earlier, while I dragged our stuff to our room.

The room turned out not to be particularly large, but it had space enough for us. And the views which we had paid for turn
ed out to be excellent. We lived on the second floor (top), so we could look out over the canyon. It was impressive. When Tim came back after parking the car, we went down to Bright Angel Lodge, and had dinner there. Then we went for a walk along the canyon up to El Tovar, and back to the room again, where we went to bed early and set the alarm clock to wake us at 5.00 AM the next mornig, so we would get an early for our trip along the canyon.

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