Eric Jay Toll

Eric is a reporter for the Phoenix Business Journal covering Economic Development. In free time, he covers the West--and other journeys along the way. Eric has been journaling about travel for more than 10 years. He is a traveler, camper, and accomplished chef--or fancy food dabbler, as the case may be. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Canyon de Chelly: Swimming in the Wind

“I’m swimming in the wind,” my daughter shouts over the gust that whips across the top of the mesa on which we’re standing. Canyon de Chelly National Monument is the landscape around us, but the Four Corners spring winds are the dominant feature as we hold on to hats and jackets swirl like capes. It’s a warm wind adding to the fun of exploring a place of beauty in a land of history. About 800 feet below us is the Sliding House Ruin. This ancestral pueblo, built, occupied and abandoned before Europeans came to the area, is aptly named....

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Canyon de Chelly: Breathtaking and Holy

“How did they get upstairs to the bedrooms?” my daughter asks as we look down from the steep cliff at the White House. The abandoned pueblos are nestled against the base of a nearly 900-foot cliff. She points first to the cluster on adobe homes adjoining the creek and then to the ones built into an alcove about thirty feet up. “See the little man climbing the wall,” I answered pointing to a petroglyph about half-way between the two pueblos, “there must have been a ladder against the wall.” The wind whipped behind us whistling between a pair of...

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How to Survive Camping in a Storm

Wouldn’t it be nice to be a weather forecaster, be wrong more than 50 percent of the time, and still keep your job? It doesn’t work in my case. As a writer I have to be accurate all the time. On the occasions when I’m not, I can print a correction; when the forecast is not accurate, you and I suffer. This all came to an ugly fruition on a camping trip in the desert between Phoenix and Tucson. Were were about an hour West of I-10, in the remote reaches of Ironwood Forest National Monument near Ragged Top...

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How to Keep Your Family Safe in the Desert

The temperature was plummeting and the sun, an orange ball dropping towards the horizon. We were in the sixth hour of a three hour hike. I could see the car in the parking lot tantalizingly close, maybe a mile and a half away, except for the fact that we are standing on the edge of a five hundred foot tall mesa and at the end of a trail. Despite my orienteering certification, USGS maps, and search and rescue experience, we’ve taken a wrong turn and are now lost in the desert with one liter of water left to share....

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Visiting the Four Corners

“How did the spider get up there?” “Look at me! I’m standing in four states at the same time!” The questions and explanations from four days in the Four Corners are still smiling memories whenever I conjure them. Monument Valley is an amazing collection of sights, culture, and lore. We hiked around the base of the Left Mitten, filled a couple memory cards with photos, bought too many souvenirs, and woke up before dawn each morning to watch the sunrise. As the center point of the trip, Monument Valley puts you in reach of several major Navajo Nation places...

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Seventeen Miles: Go In Beauty

From the back seat it appears the road just drops over the side of the cliff. Behind my head rest I hear the giggles, “We’re flying!” Navajo guide Robert Begay turns to the girls, points out the rear window, and laughs with them, “There! That’s where you’re flying, Eagle Mesa.” The two of them turn around craning their necks as I navigate a steep turn and aim downward into Monument Valley. We’re in the first quarter mile of the 17 mile Scenic Drive weaving our way between buttes and mesas. “Where are Coyote and Road Runner?” pipes a voice...

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Icons and Indians

The kids are antsy. There’s a chill in the air. It’s pitch black and the family should still be in bed. There are several dozen people standing with you on the edge of the mesa staring into the dark. Were it not for the low stone wall, it would be possible to step off into the blackness of space surrounded by stars so bright, the map is readable by their light. Whispered conversations drift through the air like a light breeze. English, Japanese, German, French are heard. Watches are checked, it should happen momentarily. This international gathering takes place...

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Eric Wechter

Eric Wechter is an editor for Fodor’s Travel Guides. He enjoyed an astonishing rise to mediocrity, playing in a number of bands in both New York and Las Vegas before settling down to a difficult career of going on press trips and writing about travel. Actually, he writes about press trips and goes on and on about how he’d like to travel more, but can’t find the time. He’s edited numerous guides for Fodor’s including the Caribbean, Pacific Northwest, Las Vegas, and Belize. Eric’s debut post for Traveling Dad chronicles his night at the American Musuem of Natural History...

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The Mist, the Bridge, My Son

Cantering across the field like a ghostly horse, the mist lifts slightly and unveils the bridge across Antietam Creek. In the quiet of the morning light, the battle sounds can almost be heard, but they’re drowned out by a joyous voice: “Dad, look! There’s the bridge. That’s the one in the poster on my wall!” A child’s energy flashes across the dew-damp grass towards the Burnside Bridge. While America reminisces about the War Between The States from 150 years ago, my thoughts go to the battlefield bonding between father and son almost 20 years ago. Following months of Lego-based...

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