Arizona hotels have buffets open again! SpringHill Suites in Flagstaff gives you gloves for the buffet, which almost everyone accepted (don't ask about masks tho. ugh), along with the absolutely disgusting waffles and almost as bad powdered eggs. That said the rest of the hotel was pretty nice for a SpringHill?
To see more than a tiny fraction of Grand Canyon National Park's 1,900 square miles, you need a few weeks and a 4x4. Or a raft. Or a helicopter. Being short on time, I chose a helicopter-- they're suprisingly affordable here. They book you with other passengers but in this case everyone still got a window seat, so all good. It was actually one of the most affordable helicopter rides I've ever done and one of the longer ones, at 45 minutes for under $300.
Haze ruined most of the photos, so honestly, just soak it all in with your eyes. The true size of the canyon is obvious from the ground, but you gain a new appreciation from the air, flying below sheer walls and layers upon layers of rock carved away by the Colorado River. Knowing you're thousands of feet in the air, yet still looking up at the canyon walls... Flying next to massive buttes and below canyons, transitioning from the dry areas on the southern rim to the much more green south-facing slopes on the north rim-- definitely a worthwhile experience.
On the drive back to Phoenix, stopped by on the outskirts to appreciate the many saguaro cacti in the area. They're not found near the Grand Canyon, only the southern half of the state, but they're such a cliche, iconic part of the American Southwest-- even if you don't have time to go all the way to Saguaro National Park, you might as well still make a few minutes to appreciate them.
O.H.S.O. Brewery not far from the airport was another late lunch. The salad photographs better than it tastes, but at least, with modest expectations, it wasn't bad. And after two days of veggie-deprived American tourist food, it was badly needed. Their Hoppy IPA was also pretty solid, and it definitely beat airport food!