Here I am in full on resort mode at the über trendy James Hotel in Phoenix (actually Scottsdale.) I tried soaking up as much sun as I could to ward off the oncoming S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) I know I'll have all winter in New York.
The  "serenity pool" had a restful waterfall.

I was in Phoenix for a wedding, which took place at the Desert Botanical Gardens at sunset. I had never seen a saguaro cactus before.
The happy bride and groom, Marti Zimlin and Jon Hurwitz share their first dance, to "Wonderwall" by Ryan Adams.
The morning after the wedding I got into my rental car and headed up north. I had carefully planned the music for my trip by getting an iTrip and programming a 500+ tune playlist for my iPod. Man, that was great. The ride from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is about 220 miles, and goes from sea level to 8000 feet. I must have gone through 6 or 7 different climates, each one of them entirely new to me. This is at a rest stop on the 17. I think it was called Sunset Point. By now the cactus badlands had given way to these rolling black hills. I'd never been in a place where you could see the entire horizon in 360 degrees like this before. Turns out the world is round after all.

I didn't realize the speed limit on the road was 75 MPH, meaning everyone was doing 90. This was great driving except that you would have to pass slower moving trucks and trailers, and if you weren't going fast enough in the passing lane someone would come up behind you in the blink of an eye. Once I got used to it, it was like the Autobahn, except with lots of twisting rising turns.
I took the bypass through Sedona. Wow. There were several times on the drive when I would turn the corner and see something I had never even imagined before, and this was one of them. I didn't get that many pictures on the way up thinking I'd stop on the way back. Sedona the town is set in this insane Krazy Kat landscape of towering red buttes and rock formations. (And yeah it really is called Coconino County, for all you comics fans out there.) There are a lot of little shoppes and art galleries. It's kind of a strange place because there are all these sort of tacky buildings set among this surreal, supernal beauty. That's mankind for ya, though.
After Sedona, there's a two lane highway that goes up about 2000 feet through the Oak Creek Canyon. The landscape here took my breath away because there were lots of trees in full on autumn foliage set among white limestone (?) cliffs. The sun was hitting everything just right and the only thing I could think of (nerd alert) was Lothlorien...the golden cliffs surrounding by green and gold and a clear blue sky. No wonder people love that place.

I took this picture at the Oak Creek Canyon scenic view. Just a few days before there had been a big rain, the only one of the year for the desert, and there was about a foot of snow in Flagstaff and here, although much of it had melted as you can see. And yes, it was c-c-cold.
I arrived at the Grand Canyon after dark on Halloween. I was staying at the Maswik Lodge, one of the hotels in the actual park, about 200 yards from the rim. It was very economical, but if I ever go back I'm going to plan ahead and try to stay at Bright Angel, which has cabins right on the rim. I took this photo with a 6 second exposure. It was pitch black and I had no idea what anything looked like. The temperature was about 20 degrees.

You all know how much I love Halloween, but there would be no costume for Heidi this time out. I watched a few "scary" movies on TV and passed out pretty early.
Those of you who know me will find this the most incredible thing of all. I decided to get up at 6:30 am so I could see the sunrise over the Grand Canyon. That's how I wanted to see it for the first time. Coffee cup in hand I made the short walk to the rim. There are a few places in the world I've been that literally blew my mind and this definitely counts -- no picture or description could do it justice. It's a bit more than a mile across here, and a bit less than a mile deep.
Nothing to say, really.

There were a few golden clouds towards the east.

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