Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Belated Farewell

In real life, the adventure ended on Tuesday.  Since then, I've returned to work and have been really busy, so haven't had a chance to conclude the adventure with our Russian friends. 

After our day at the Canyon and Lowell Observatory, about all we had to do Tuesday was spend the day and return to Tucson for a 7pm train.  As is normally the case when we've got the time, we took the "scenic" route back to Tucson and wound down route 89 through Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona.  It is always a beautiful drive, especially with the blue skies and some starts to the Fall colors starting to show.  A regular stop with newcomers is a swing past the Chapel of the Holy Cross, built in the mid 50s..  The photo at left was found on line, showing the Chapel built into the Red Rocks of the valley.  It is not only a spectacular structure, but also has a great view of the surrounding country.  Unfortunately, the most prominent view is of a rather gaudy estate built at the base of the church, shown at right.  In the distance, more rock formations that the Sedona area is known for are visible.
The inside of the Chapel is rather basic, obviously the architects didn't want to compete with the exterior and views.  In total, we spent about 30 minutes enjoying and documenting the views from the top of the hill.  Maiia was enjoying the view of herself, and I caught her doing a self-portrait...
Of course, we had to do the obligatory group portrait to prove we were there, the red rocks providing a suitable backdrop for this shot...  And at right, the trio of Leo, Andrey and Danila were hanging out before the trip continued.
While we should have taken the direct route back to Tucson, we continued to take the longer, scenic route back to Tucson, even most of the kids ended up sleeping or playing video games, rather than enjoy the view...  But to mix it up, we headed east from the Verde Valley, passing through Strawberry and Pine, before lunching in Payson (Pizza Hut!).  Afterwards we continued down just east of the Four Peaks Wilderness Area before encountering the eastern outskirts of the Phoenix metropolitan area before hitting the I-10 back to Tucson.  It was a sad moment as we dropped off the kids with all their luggage to meet their train back to the LA area.  After spending over a week with them, it was an emotional time to say farewell.  Of course, we took another group picture...
For me, the return to reality hit early the next morning as I went back to work to catch up on what I've missed the last week.  Meanwhile by now three days later, our new buddies are having adventures with new hosts somewhere in western California.  It was great spending time with them, and seeing their individual personalities coming through after getting to know us a little.  We've already gotten invites from some of the parents to visit Krasnoyarsk, some have left comments on the blog, and if you go to our traffic viewer at the bottom of the blog, you can see we were pretty popular in Siberia all of a sudden, as parents, friends and teachers followed our exploits.  I'd certainly do it again, it was great fun, both sides benefiting from the visit - they had a knowledgeable guide with some connections, they covered expenses, and Melinda and I got a peek into a window of lives on the other side of the world.  We found out that they are all pretty much just like us, and it would be great to keep up with the kids as they grow and hopefully visit again in the future.  Plus we got some cool gifts - some shown at left! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great photos and a really cool pencil