Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Clean Mountain Air

So the hotel (which I will describe more fully in days to come when I feel less bitter) was not full of clean mountain air. It was mildewy, masked with air freshener spray. The beds were uncomfortable, the room cramped. I hardly slept, because I was coughing more and more, and it was getting even harder to breathe.

Nevertheless, with the optimism of any eager traveler, I thought I would snap out of it and be fine any minute, and we continued on our itinerary to Sedona, land of artistes and red rock. Amazingly, on the beautiful two-lane winding road, when we dropped to 6000 feet, I gasped and drew air deeply into my lungs! Crap! It wasn't just the chemicals, I had altitude sickness as well!

How that happens is beyond me, unless it was just because my respiratory tract was compromised. I've been to the Grand Canyon area before and never had trouble. But oh, blessed road down the mountain! Suddenly the world seemed a lot better than it had.

Like a wonder of the ancient world, along the side of the road there appeared a nice little parking area beside the likes of which I have not seen since I was young and the mountains of Pennsylvania were cleaner: a spring, with water pouring in twin streams, drinking water fresh from the earth. I tasted it, and it was delicious. We filled up all our emptied water bottles avidly, trading comments about how good it was, and how amazing it was, with locals and tourists alike, for the spring had an unending stream of patrons.

For that alone I would have made the trip to Sedona, and I would love to visit Sedona again in the future. We drove, and walked, and snapped photos and soaked in the splendor.

After dinner at The Barking Frog, (an eclectic little restaurant with good service and tasty food), we returned to the top of the plateau at 7300 ft.

Again I coughed through much of the night. I can tough this out, I thought. It was Wednesday, and I only had to make it through Thursday night.

In the morning, we headed for the Grand Canyon. I had in mind walking the rim trail from the Visitor Center to Bright Angel Point, about 4.4 miles round trip. Easy.


Even though we took it slow, the exercise was wearing on me. I couldn't get more than about 50 - 75 feet before I had to sit and catch my breath. We got some good photos, and saw some incredibly beautiful vistas, but by afternoon, the only thing I cared about was my next breath.

I began getting a typical altitude-sickness headache, and was losing my sense of direction; crossing the parking lot to the car was an ordeal. I can make it one more day. Feeling the tightness as I breathed in ... No, I can't.

Hurrah for Expedia! When we hit our hotel room, I fired up my laptop and was able to book a room at a Holiday Inn Express in Kingman, Arizona. We loaded up and headed west. By 5000 feet, I could draw a breath again, and by 5pm, we were in our room, happy as birthday-party children about how CLEAN and luxurious the room was.

There are lots of photos, and lots of things to say, but they will have to wait. We made it there, we made it out. We took our grand-daughter to see things she had never seen before.

Maybe next road trip, we'll just stay along the coast.

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