Driving toward Sedona on I-17, Inside Arizona Highways

When you come to Phoenix in July, it’s wise to to what the natives do.

Get out of town.

Go north.

My two “sabbath” days from this blog were spent  in the amazing desert/canyon/mountain country of Northern Arizona.

Saturday was Sedona and Sunday was the Grand Canyon.


The red rocks rose right up out of the ground as we approached Sedona. They took my breath away.

Red rock. Blue sky. Heart-shaped cloud. Ahhhh.


The Grand Canyon

But of course the greatest Natural Wonder of all is the Grand Canyon. I visited the North Rim in 1976. Yesterday I stood here at the South Rim.

A kindred spirit with all of creation. Feeling small yet awake.

Before entering the Grand Canyon National Park, we watched a spectacular IMAX movie that took us along on the re-imagined journey of John Wesley Powell, the original 1869 rafting explorer. From his journal:

We are three quarter of a mile in the depths of the earth, and the great river shrinks into insignificance as it dashes its angry waves against the walls and cliffs that rise to the world above; the waves are but puny ripples, and we but pygmies, running up and down the sands or lost among the builders.”

What better meditation could there be than this one for me? I’m about to publish a memoir Blush that starts out this way:

Ever since I was little, I wanted to be big.”

We had a delicious lunch at the famous El Tovar Inn and then watched this Hopi Hoop Dance. Listen to the words about simplicity and Mother Earth. Very moving, especially in this setting of grandeur.

After the dance, we visited the Hopi House gallery, and there, in front of me, was another connection to memoir: the Pueblo Storytellers.

I had to buy one from the delightful woman behind the counter. We talked about grandchildren. She has seventeen of them and two great-grands. Doesn’t she look like a great storyteller? We agreed that storytelling and grand-parenting go together.

At the Hopi House, finding the right Storyteller

Storyteller with two grands. P. Tosa, Jemez, NM



I’ve ordered a book on the Pueblo Storyteller tradition. I feel a kinship between memoir and this form of visual art.

I love the open mouths, the rosy cheeks, the eyes.

My New Beginning today will be to explore historic Flagstaff.

And here we are at Day 66 to launch and I am on historic Route 66!

I’d send you a picture of the road sign, except that I already made one for you out of turquoise.

66 Days Until Blush Launches

What’s your New Beginning today? How can you bring the wonders of nature and the delights of storytelling into your life today, I wonder? Log in here to continue the 100 Day Challenge. And comment below if this post stirred a story for you. Sending you inspiration from this place of wonder.

Shirley Showalter


  1. Marian Beaman on July 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    The scenes you picture stir up memories of my trip out West just a year out of college with my Mennonite friend Joann Metzler Herr. We saw the Grand Canyon and visited, as best I can recall, all 48 states except Kansas.

    I still have framed pastel-on-suede drawings of children from Rainbow Lodge in the Petrified Forest of Arizona. Interestingly, I made a notation on the back “. . . for the sake of little ones,” I assume anticipating children and grand-children with which we have been blessed.

    • shirleyhs on July 8, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      We truly have lived parallel lives. What a blessing it is to share adventure stories, childhood stories, and a reason to tell them — children and grandchildren. Makes a person feel small to be part of such vast physical and spiritual landscapes.

  2. Erma Yost on July 9, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Since you enjoyed El Tovar and Hopi House, sometime take a trip touring the buildings of architect Mary Coulter. She would have been a contemporary of Willa Cather. Among her buildings are the 1922 Phantom Ranch buildings at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and five structures on the south rim of the Grand Canyon: the Hopi House (1905), Hermit’s Rest (1914), the observatory Lookout Studio (1914), the 70-foot Desert View Watchtower (1932) with its hidden steel structure, and the Bright Angel Lodge [1](1935); Colter decorated, but did not design, the El Tovar Hotel. We made an itinerary staying in her hotels and visiting as many buildings as possible.

  3. shirleyhs on July 9, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Erma, I should have consulted you before I left! What a treasury of southwestern art and lore you have inside you. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us here. Wouldn’t you love to see Willa Cather, Mabel Dodge Luhan and Mary Colter at a dinner party?!! Sounds like a great novel to me. 🙂 And a wonderful movie.

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