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Hiking...Old Friends and Grand Canyon

Sep 17 | Posted by: Bill Whyte |

Hello beautiful Arizona.  What follows is a bit of a western travelogue if you will.



Friday morning I’m on standby to catch a plane dark and early in Nashville.  Turns out this is THE time of year to be looking for empty seats on a big ole plane that will allow me to hitchhike airborne anywhere I want to for free.  My daughter Heather who works for American routed me from Nashville to LA then to Phoenix.


Traveling is ALWAYS an adventure.  I’ve learned to relax more and take whatever comes my way with less stress.  I pack a book…or two.  In this case I packed my friend Roger Naylor’s book “Boots & Burgers” that he wrote about the mind blowing scenic trails all over the state of Arizona couples with some history, humor and oh yea…great places to grab a juicy burger once you come off the trail.  One of my favorite lines I read from my colorful writer buddy was him talking about a trail being so skinny it was like “Olive Oyle” on a cleanse diet.  (still laughing)


I had a 4 and a half hour flight to LA so I watched a movie and a half.  All of the movie “Molly’s Game” about Molly Bloom who ran an exclusive high stakes poker game and was formerly a world class Olympic skier.  I had no idea Kevin Costner was in it…so…bonus!  Jessica Chastain by the way is a pretty darned good actress.  I loved her in “Zero Dark Thirty” the movie about finding and killing Osama Bin Laden…and I loved her in this too.



We landed in LA on time…always a blessing.  And then caught my connection to Phoenix on time following a guy who saw the guitar on my back and then peppered me with questions about guitars.  Like I’m an expert.  Nope…I’m not.  I explained to him that I play enough to be dangerous and just enough to allow me to be on stages and sing my silly songs like I’ll be doing all next week on the Grand Canyon Railway.  He’s a frustrated guitar player too and allowed me to follow him early to board so I could assure my guitar would store in the overhead.  He was in group 3 I was in group 6 but he simply told the gate attendant and I was on early with him.  Thank you!


If you want to start a conversation in an airport…carry a guitar and act like you know what you’re doing. 



This just in. It gets HOT in Phoenix.  108 degrees when I landed to catch a shuttle to the car rental place 10 minutes away.  Anyone else wish ALL car rentals were INSIDE the airport? 


If you’ve ever seen that scene in “Planes Trains And Automobiles” where Steve Martin goes ballistic at the car rental counter…I almost lived that moment trying to get my little sub compact for the drive north.  Apparently the agent waiting on me who was pleasant but INSISTING…suggested my car was really small and wondered if it could hold my big suitcase, guitar and computer bag.  She said the mountains really drag down little cars like the one I had rented and tried to convince me big time that I need to upgrade to something bigger.  And then the insurance pressure started about no liability and what could happen.  (My insurance covers all this…and most of you know this too)


I believe the term is UPSELLING and she was doing it to me big time.  In fact, if she had just taken my first NO I would have been in my little car in half the time.  Sigh.  In the words of Steve Martin…”I just want a #$@!! car and I want it right $#@! now!


It made me glad I don’t anger easily.



About an hour and a half later I check into my hotel in Camp Verde.  2 hours after that I’m in Sedona…about a half hour north to meet up with buddy Roger Naylor and we head for those beautiful red rocks that take my breath away every time I drive into Sedona.  Soon we are hearing rocks crunch underneath our hiking boots.  Oh yea…it’s about 20 degrees cooler in Sedona that in was down in Phoenix.


You should know my longtime friend drives a pickup truck.  And old one.  He holds onto his trucks like Mr. Burns hangs onto his money in “The Simpsons”.  No AC…no power windows.  Crank down the windows and let the air in no matter the temperature.  As much as he can, at home it’s windows open…AC off.  And at night…you can do that for sure as temps get really comfortable.  In Williams, Arizona where I am now…temps will be down in the low 50’s at night.


Our hike is half viewing…half talking.  Roger gives me a history lesson of where we are when we hike.  I learn about plants, and formations and the names they give some of those formations.  Me?  I’m trying to keep up and not slow him down AND I’m stopping to take lots of pictures. 


Our short hike done…it’s off to a great Mexican place in Sedona the “Javelina Cantina” for Mexican food and cold beers.  Just a perfect ending for Friday.



My friend Roger and I were on a 4 mile trail in Sedona by 10 AM.  The sun got warm, I huffed and puffed.  But goodness it was beautiful.  It became evident to me that I was a novice hiker while Roger is a pro.  Big difference.


Go to my Facebook page and get a full account of the hike and check out the post about the difference in Avid hikers compared to novice…like me.  You might get a chuckle…and especially so if you hike any at all.  Plus…on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts I’m posting some really incredible pictures of the scenery God surely must have painted out here.


I will say the best part of the hike was the burger and beer afterwards in Sedona at a cool place owned by an Argentine family.  The only two other places like this that they own are located in Buenos Aires.  Unreal hamburger.  Roger suggested it…and he knows great burgers especially since he’s the author of this book “Boots & Burgers”.  Perfect ending to a hike.


If you come to Sedona…and if you love a great juicy burger and cold beer do check out Dellepiane.


And then Saturday night Roger’s wife Michelle joined us at a Craft Brewery in Camp Verde to wrap up my stay and say our goodbyes again.


Some friendships are worth a concerted effort to keep alive.  I’m so glad I get a chance to come out here once in awhile do just that. 


Some of the best days of my life were spent with Roger watching him write radio comedy sketches and characters for that morning radio show in Cincinnati.  Not a mystery to me at all that his incredible writing earned him a spot in a Hall of Fame.



I pointed my car north and we climbed a few thousand feet to get to Flagstaff and pick up I-40 West towards California.  About 40 miles in you take the Williams exit and just like that you’re on historic Route 66.  I’m staying in Cowboy Junction owned by John Moore and old CMSU guy in Warrensburg.  John in the day was sheriff back in my college region, once turned down being the sheriff in Branson because he could see how crowded it was going to be and somehow wound up here in Williams where he’s been a long long time.  Sheriff, Mayor, head of security for the Grand Canyon Train, got a big ranch, and he books music acts including me to perform on the rails headed to the South Rim everyday from Williams. 


John also owns this Wild West Junction and at least one other eating place on Route 66 Miss Kitty’s.  I’ll see that tomorrow and chow down after the train comes back.  Several of the musicians I met last year ambled into John’s Longhorn Bar and Restaurant as did the bar cat “Tuffy” who sat right next to me while ate a T-Bone and washed it down with cold “Grand Canyon Beer”.  They have their own brewery just up the road.  It was good to see the other guys, and meet a couple of new ones.



I’m up.  Had breakfast lots of black coffee…put on my cowboy garb and me my guitar are ready to ride the rails the rest of the week.


If you want see photos?  Just follow my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.


Have a great Monday!


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