Posted by Donna Goetzenberger
Recently, District 5495’s Youth Exchange Program had an exciting and educational weekend with a three- day trip across Northern Arizona and touching 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, with the students from the Valley (Emilee, Remy, Martina, Ben, Adryan, Rebekka, and Maci) meeting at a central location pickup point at 6:30 am. That partial group left Phoenix at 7:00 a.m. The First stop was Anthem, picking up three students - Tianna, Ashtyn, and Lucas, the second stop was Cordus Junction picking up Prescott student Quinn, third stop was
Sedona I-17 turn-off to pick-up Inbound student Louise, and the last pick-up 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 we 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 the trip at Sunset Crater Volcano, where we explored the lava landscape, before having a picnic lunch.
We then drove to the Watputki National Monument sites (two separate well-preserved ancient dwellings) where we learned about the Native American history of these ancient people who inhibited the area thousands of years ago. Our next stop was Meteor Crater, where we learned fascinating information about the 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 arimthatrises 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 they’ve had so far on their exchange year. Our ROTEX also introduced themselves and showed off their skill with each of them saying a greeting and thankyou, in the language that they each learned while on their exchange. 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.
Also, a huge thankyou to the Flagstaff Rotarians for the trays of cookies and pastries, and the goody bags that they sent with us as a special treat for the next day of travel!
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 ona 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 Glen Canyon Dam. We learned that the Dam is 710 feet high, and was built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation(USBR) from1956 to1966, and forms LakePowell, one of the largest man-made reservoirs in theU.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); and, 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 peryear.
Following our tour of the Dam, our next destination was Horseshoe Bend for a scenic over-look and an invigorating hike.
And the jewel on 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 pm.
(Needless to say, after the adventurous day that we had, it was a relatively quiet night, and an earlybedtime.
Sunday dawned bright and early. Alarms were set for 6:00 am. As you might imagine, the students were seeing MonumentValley for the first time via a beautiful early morning sunrise at 6:30 am.  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 speciallocation.
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 back in Flagstaff, Sedona, Cordus Junction, Anthem, and then 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.
              THANK YOU ROTARY DISTRICT 5495 !!