Trans Western Airlines was offering a Getaway vacation package. The offer appeared in the New York Times; two weeks in Flagstaff with airfare, hotel and rental car combined into one package. We applied, paid and received our itinerary.

We landed in Phoenix, picked up our car and headed for flagstaff, eight thousand feet higher. A tire blew before we left the city. Did that dampen our spirits? Not a bit. They replaced the tire and once more we were off. The air conditioner became life support.

Arriving in Flagstaff we attempted to sign in at the Holiday Inn. A short, skinny arrogant manager claimed he never received any reservation for Coogan. I was shocked.

"Can you inquire around the town for an opening", I asked?

"Its Fourth of July weekend", he snarled, "there's nothing open anywhere."

"Look", I was beginning to panic, "we just flew in from New York. What are we to do?"

"I can put you up for one night but that's all."

"It will help. In the meantime I'll call TWA.", I thanked him.

TWA said all reservations are handled through Omaha and gave me their number.

I called Omaha to inquire of my reservations and was told they would look for them.

The next day we checked out local scenes afraid to go too far because of the missing reservations. After a difficult time with this scrawny manager I received one more nights grace.

Again I called TWA. They could not help me. I must check with Omaha.

The Omaha operator said, " We are trying, have patience." I laid back in the bed and my patience gradually developed into deep anger. Once more I called Omaha.

"We are still trying."

"I'll tell you what! You have one hour to find them. If I don't hear from you in one hour, I'll be on my way to Phoenix to catch the morning flight to New York. The first person I will see will be the State Attorney General to find what cooks with these TWA Getaways."

The operator was back in twenty minutes. "We have found your reservations."

"Well its about time", stormed I.

"Would you do me a favor", she asked?

"Within reason", I gruffed.

"The next time your in Omaha can I buy you a drink?"

"You certainly can", I laughed.

I knew then what she meant.

I couldn't wait to go downstairs to the desk. "You have confirmation on the Coogan reservations", I told the clerk, "Here are my tickets."

"First the manager would like to speak to you", he said. I went into this little bastard's office without knocking. "You want to see me", I asked?

"Yes", he demanded. "Do you realize how much trouble we went through to find those reservations?"

With my finger pointing at him, "You're ass isn't off the fire yet", I told him. "I may still see the State Attorney General when I get home."

"Well! Well!."

He never did apologize, but he kept out of my way the rest of the two weeks.

Can you imagine how many poor suckers gave him maybe a hundred bucks to do something for them?

I owe that operator in Omaha a drink.

After the second day we really enjoyed ourselves. However, after the first two blocks from the motel, Wilma had to lay on the grass in the shade while I brought some water. The thinner air and the heat got to her. By the following day her body became accustomed to it. I find it hard to realize that Flagstaff is at 8000 feet supporting deserts and Mount Washington, New Hampshire only 6000 feet with a year- round frost line from 5000 to the top.

It was the weekend of Indian celebrations. Tribes from Alaska to Mexico sent the best of their talents. Parades Saturday and Sunday mornings. Rodeo competition afternoons and Ceremonial dances at night. I can't imagine a more enjoyable week.

I learned to keep a few singles in each side pocket for the Indians are great spongers.

They say they need entry fees. Actually it is drinking money. The streets each morning sport a group of Indians who have not yet sobered up.

The Indian's body does not seem able to handle liquor as his white brother. Or some of his white brothers. It takes much more time to sober up. Even then, they don't look the part of a fierce warrior.

Monday morning there were no Indians to be seen. They had all returned home to their reservations.

Each day thereafter we visited the famous sites of the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Oak Ridge Canyon, the volcano and the crater caused by an ancient meteor.

The extinct volcano didn't have a crater. Gray colored rocks of all sizes formed the sides of the mammoth cone. The top was just a rounded shape of the same rocks. Blow holes as they were called, appeared along the sides of the cone where gases found a periodic escape. Climbing to the top was difficult. The rocks were not stable. To slip would cost skinned bones or turned ankles I don't know if it was more chaotic than Mount Helen, but I'm sure it was more frightening to those who lived at the time.

Fifty thousand years ago a 300,000 ton meteor entered our atmosphere causing a 4000 foot diameter rim and a hole 600 feet deep not too far from Flagstaff. Scientist believe a steep approach angle saved the meteor from disintegrating heat. By now I imagine the residents were becoming quite irate.

The philosophical question is, does what goes down cause more damage than what goes up?      Any takers?

Hey, the Canyon! Seeing is believing. All Presidents had something good come from their administration regardless of obscuring scandals. Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed all those portions of Arizona to be protected by the U.S. Park Administration. It no doubt thwarted many get rich quick land developers and condo builders.

It took a good many weeks for the Colorado River, frost thaws and wind to wear the land down to a thousand foot ditch. The most colorful, beautiful ditch in the whole world.

The painted Desert is another breath taking scene. Petrified trees of the most colorful stone lie on the ground from horizon to horizon. More trees are uncovered as erosion and weather expose them. The remains of a building made from the stones lie in the midst of the forest. The winds were no doubt sever at times. The building probably gave protection until the people could again travel.

Heavy fines are levied against anyone removing the smallest stone from the forest. Gift shops just off the park limits offer items of all descriptions legally.

Until Roosevelt protected them, fortune hunters dynamited the trees for the choice stones the process exposed.

GO TO the next chapter in my life

RETURN to the table of contents

RETURN to the home page