My first solo road trip!

I have absolutely loved road tripping in the U.S. since 1995, and have gone on one nearly every other year since that time until 2005. After that, I lost touch with my navigator and with it, some of my confidence. Until January of this year, that is.

The open road desperately called, and this time I answered with a mini road trip of my own to Arizona. It's about time I did it! And I can truthfully say it won't be my last. It's the first of many solo trips I'll be taking in the years to come. I promise. Following is a quick glimpse of the phenomenal sights the U.S. (or at least Arizona) has to offer...I look forward to discovering so much more!

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Wow...I really am in Arizona.

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It was hard keeping focused on the road when the amazing Red Rocks were everywhere. And I arrived at a perfect time...just before sunset.

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Finally had to stop in a small lot just so I could marvel at the incredible colors and formations.

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This was the lovely view from my hotel room at The Orchards Inn of Sedona. The room itself was tired and in need of updating, but the view was absolutely worth it.

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Took a walk through the touristy part of Sedona in the early eve. Wish I could've enjoyed a few quiet minutes at the little table and chair, but it was freezing!

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Exquisite colors at sunset...

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Took a short walk through the neighborhood behind the main street the next day and came across some beautiful homes. I could wake up to this view everyday!

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 Love this extreme closeup of the top of a wooden post on the side of the road.

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Took a little walk on Fay Trail and came across this silversword-like plant (as in Maui's Haleakala).

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Stopped at the Sedona Visitor Center and was guided to lots of easy area trails. Decided on the Bell Rock Trail with a vortex at about sunset. One of the best decisions I'd made, but didn't come across the vortex...

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Encountered lovely views all along the easy trail.

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Couldn't take enough pictures. Love digital!

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Went a little higher following the rock baskets. Sunset ended up being the perfect time for this hike. And there's no worry about being alone. Even as I was leaving, people were still coming up the trail.

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Loved this sculpture found in the courtyard of upscale boutiques and art galleries.

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It had rained the night before and found the car covered in frost next morning. No problem. Moved the car into the sun and used my trusty credit card to remove the slush.

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Really didn't want to leave Sedona, but this drive toward Flagstaff on 89 North made it worth it. I absolutely LOVE driving on narrow, curvy roads. My worry about ice-covered roads was all for naught; the road was perfect.

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Made a pit stop and sorely wished for a snowball fight. Like, real bad.

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On the I40 headed west toward Tusayan, and eventually, the Grand Canyon's South Rim. Flagstaff was a little confusing, so stopped at a gas station for help. Came across the handsomest cowboy complete with boots, blue jeans, white shirt and hat standing on the fender of his truck, looking into his engine. He had the most beautiful gray eyes...

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Checked into the hotel and headed straight to the Grand Canyon for my first views offered by the South Rim. Stunning sunset colors, as well as amazingly COLD. A bit hazy, but still nice.

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Blown away by the canyon's sheer size...incredible.

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Last shot before running to the car and blasting the heater!

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Breathtakingly cold the next morning! Beautiful frost on my car window.

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The start of a new day at the South Rim. Clearer than the day before and am loving the terrific weather. You can see the Colorado River winding its way on the canyon floor.

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Artsy fartsy?

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A canyon is a canyon is a canyon...but this is the Grand Canyon! And spectacular views can be found at every stop along the South Rim.

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Still more incredible views...

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Shot of the Watchtower interior at Desert View Lookout. There's a gift shop on the first floor and you can climb the stairways to several levels, all the way to the top.

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Canyon view from the top floor of the Watchtower.

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Alright...more canyon views. This time from the western side of the Yavapai Point

and Observation Station. Every opening along the Rim Trail offers a scene I want to capture.

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Toward the end of the Rim Trail. A bench with a lone occupant provides just one of the most panoramic views of the canyon. Beyond that, you can walk to the canyon edge,

but be careful...no railings!

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Really got into textures and tried to eke creativity from the brain with some shots.

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Made my way back down to Phoenix after a few heavenly days up north. Stopped at the Desert Botanical Garden for a real nice walk since I love cactus. Totally worth it. These amazing Dale Chihuly pieces are at the entrance.

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Cool cacti line the paved paths. Notice the holes up there?

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These feathered friends make themselves at home, literally.

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Really neat...never seen a "cactus" like this one before. Or is it a succulent?

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Another feathered resident of the gardens...like a little sassy showgirl with her mini plume.

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Your standard cactus. Love that green.

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Loved the way the paths meandered every which way...time for peaceful introspection.

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Like little pineapples growing on a cactus head!

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Had no idea this is what the inside of a "standard" cactus looks like!

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Lots of people visited the garden on this day. It was great!

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Reminded me of small sweet pickled relishes. So delicious...I mean, cute!

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A mini succulent Christmas tree!

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Love these diverse plants...

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And so my trip ends the way it began...I'd love to come back!