If you know me at all, you know that I am not a morning person.  My natural body clock would wake me up around noon and have me go to bed around 1 or 2 in the morning. Getting up early is tough on me. (James used to be a morning person, but then he married me!) That being said, we got another late start on Thursday morning.  In our defense, our last week in San Diego was exhausting as James was checking out of the Makin Island, I was finishing up my job at San Diego State, the movers were there all week packing up our things, and we were trying to move out of the apartment and say goodbye to friends.  It was both physically and emotionally exhausting, just in time for a drive across the country!  But such is life, and we were still determined to make the most of the drive, no matter how tired we were.  Our first full day of driving was filled with breathtaking views and fast speed limits, two things that make for a perfect drive.

James mapped out our entire trip using Google maps and determined that we would take 1-40, as it avoids most major cities, thus avoiding traffic.  And if you know James, you know that nothing makes him more angry than traffic.  I-40 is a gorgeous drive and we drove 1,752 miles of it. We weren’t planning on stopping anywhere other than for fuel, food, and sleep, but like I mentioned previously, how can you not stop in the wild west? We made our first stop at Montezuma’s Castle, a five story, 20 room cliff dwelling carved over 100 feet into the air on the side of a limestone cliff.  This wasn’t our first visit to the dwelling, as we had stopped on our way out to California, but it was a beautiful day and we thought AJ would appreciate the walk.  Plus, we try to use our National Parks pass as much as possible, and how often do you get to see cliff dwellings?  Montezuma’s Castle was built by the Sinagua people over 900 years ago, and it fascinates me.  Had we been there before 1951, we could have actually climbed into the ruins, but due to the immense damage tourists were having on the structure, you can now only gaze at the dwelling from afar.  Fascinated yet?  You can take a virtual tour here: Virtual Tour or you can read more about the history of the dwelling here: History and Culture.  The complexity yet simplicity of the structure simply takes your breath away.  It was amazing, but we had limited time, so it was back on the road for us.

We hadn’t gone very far when we began seeing signs for Sedona. Sedona is not on 1-40, but it’s still kind of on the way to Flagstaff, and since James had never been there, we decided it wouldn’t take us that much longer to change our course just a little bit.  Plus we needed food and gas, so why not get that in Sedona?  I think the detour was the best decision we made on the entire trip.  It was gorgeous!  I am glad James was driving, as I would have been unable to pay attention to the road with the beauty around us.  I was reminded of a sermon given by one of our pastor’s at Tech about driving along the road and being sucked into the beauty of a sunset.  He was overwhelmed by the immensity and beauty of it and saw God in His creation.  I was completely overcome by Sedona, and wish we could have stayed longer.  It was the kind of place that made me feel like I could be inspired again to do great things, and that I could be creative and lively because my surroundings pushed me to be that way.  I am thankful for the momentary bliss and the encouragement that Sedona gave me.  The red rocks disappeared as quickly as they had appeared and gave way to a winter wonderland.  I was a bit shocked, especially since we had just spent hours driving in the desert, but was pleasantly surprised when we were able to stop and play in the snow!  These southern Californians did get to experience winter after all!  AJ was not nearly as enthusiastic when we threw him in a mound of snow and took his picture.  It made me a little sad that he was more excited to get back into his kennel for hours than to play in the snow, but he too had acclimated to the 70 degree year-round temperatures of our SoCal home.  And with those three exciting experiences behind us, we continued our journey to the East Coast.

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