Posted by Donna Goetzenberger
Recently, Mesa West Rotarians Donna and Bryan Goetzenberger, and Dan and Colleen Coons, had a whirlwind of a wild and exciting weekend spent with our District’s youth exchange on a three-day trip across Northern Arizona and into Utah.  This trip was put together for the purpose of introducing our District’s Inbound Youth Exchange to not only the Northern parts of the State of Arizona, but also to educate the students about the landscapes, attractions, native American culture, and the beauty of our great State.  In addition to the adult Rotarian leadership, the group consisted of this year’s Inbound students, next year’s Outbound students (2020-21), Rebound students from last year (2018/19), ROTEX, as well as a couple of Short Term Exchange Students (rebound and outbound).   The group consisted of 21 total participants.
Departure was set for the morning of Friday, October 25th.  Dan and the students from the Valley (Emilee, Remy, Martina, Ben, Adryan, Rebekka, and Maci) met at the Goetzenberger residence at 6:30 a.m., and the partial group departed at 7:00 a.m.  First stop was Anthem, picking up three students - Tianna, Ashtyn, and Lucas, the second stop was Cordes Junction picking up Prescott student Quinn, third stop was Sedona I-17 turn-off to pick up In-bound student Louise, and the last pickup stop in Flagstaff to pick up Vince, Marcela, Cherish, and Gillian. 
Friday’s travel itinerary included a first stop at Walnut Canyon.  Unfortunately, we were met with a slight problem “right off the bat,” and were forced to adjust the day on the fly and scrap Walnut Canyon,  due to a large semi-trailer and multi-car incident on the I-40.  We detoured and instead started out day out at Sunset Crater Volcano, where we explored the lava landscape, before having a picnic lunch. 
We then drove to the Wupatki National Monument sites (two separate well-preserved ancient dwellings) where we learned about the Native American history of these ancient people who inhabited the area thousands of years ago. 
Our next stop was Meteor Crater where we learned fascinating information about this meteorite impact that occurred approximately 37 miles east of Flagstaff, and 18 miles west of Winslow in the northern Arizona desert.  It is proclaimed to be the "best preserved meteorite crater on Earth."  The crater is about 3,900 feet in diameter, 560 feet deep, and is surrounded by a rim that rises 148 feet above the surrounding plains. 
Our last stop of the day was at the home of local Flagstaff Rotarian, Paul Wagner.  Paul, his lovely wife and other Flagstaff Rotarians welcomed us with a huge spread of heavy appetizers and desserts, after our long day of touring and exploration.  We enjoyed a wonderful evening, where our students each introduced themselves and shared about their home country (or their exchange country), and shared a favorite experience and amazing language skills, to the Flagstaff Rotary Club.  We all had a very nice evening spent in Rotary friendship, and are very grateful Paul and the Flagstaff Rotary Club for the wonderful welcome they gave us.
Saturday started bright and early, with us all up at the crack of dawn eating breakfast and ready to depart Flagstaff at 7:00 a.m. sharp!  (Well, maybe not quite as sharp as we wanted, but 7:15 am on a Saturday morning is “sharp” enough in my mind!)  We had a loud and boisterous two hour car ride to Page, Arizona, where our first stop was a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam.  We learned that the Dam is 710 feet high.  It was built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) from 1956 to 1966, and forms Lake Powell, one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the U.S.  We discovered that the dam is nearly the size of the Hoover Dam, and that the operation of Glen Canyon Dam helps ensure an equitable distribution of water between the states of the Upper Colorado River Basin (ColoradoWyoming, and most of New Mexico and Utah) and the Lower Basin  (CaliforniaNevada and most of Arizona).  During years of drought, Glen Canyon guarantees a water delivery to the Lower Basin states, without the need for rationing in the Upper Basin. In wet years, it captures extra runoff for future use.  The dam is also a major source of hydroelectricity, averaging over 4 billion kilowatt hours per year. 
Following our tour of the dam, our next destination was Horseshoe Bend for a scenic overlook and an invigorating hike. 
And the jewel of the crown of our day was a hike of Antelope Canyon led by a very informative native tour guide.  As you can imagine, the pictures taken by our group were nothing short of spectacular!  After Antelope Canyon, we headed back to Page for a local pizza dinner spot, followed by ice cream at the iconic Big Dipper Ice Cream Shop! 
We departed for Monument Valley at approximately 7:00 p.m. that evening, and arrived later that night around 9:30 p.m.  (Needless to say, after the adventurous day that we had, it was a relatively quiet night, and an early bedtime). 
Sunday dawned bright and early.  Alarms were set for 6:00 a.m.  As you might imagine, the students were seeing Monument Valley for the first time via a beautiful early morning sunrise at 6:30 a.m.  Again, the pictures taken were spectacular!  Breakfast was at 7:00 sharp, followed by a quick stop at the historic Goulding’s Lodge.  At 9:00 a.m., we were all ready and waiting for our next adventure – a jeep tour through Monument Valley, led by a native tour-guide/driver.  The experience was educational, enlightening, and gave many pop culture facts about the famous western films and movie stars who had filmed in the special location.  Once again, the pictures that were taken of the landscape and our group were amazing, and will continue to provide reminiscent memories of this special trip to these students for a very long time. 
Our group said goodbye to Monument Valley and to Utah, and headed off to our next adventure – Dinosaur Footprints in the native desert, the Navajo Code Talkers Museum, and the historic Tuba City Trading Post. 
At the end of the day, we followed our original schedule of drop-offs at Flagstaff, Sedona, Cordes Junction, Anthem, and back to Phoenix at 7:00 p.m.  To say the least, the trip was incredible and jammed-packed full of adventure!  I truly believe those who participated will look back with fond memories, and be thankful to our District for such an incredible trip that will be forever remembered. 
(A special thank you to Bryan, Dan and Colleen for allowing me to talk them into such a crazy weekend!  I could not have done it without their help.)