Things are finally starting to pick up again! The struggles we’ve faced lately reminds me to be all that much more tremendously grateful for this trip! Sometimes the contrast of the hard times are great reminders to be on the lookout for your blessings. Touring America the Beautiful with my wonderful husband has been one of the greatest blessings in my life thus far!
When we last left off, we had arrived to Sedona and were down with COVID. I was so bummed because Sedona has been on my bucket list forever – it’s a hiking paradise! However, we stayed in mostly that first week other than taking some scenic rides to keep our cabin fever at bay. When we finally made it out, we tried an easy hike (Fay Canyon) and learned we might not yet be fit for that, logging about two miles before going home to rest.
So, we decided to visit some of the nearby National Monuments the following day because they wouldn’t require much physical energy and we could still get an idea for the area. There are five all within an hour drive, but the wildfires at Flagstaff and Prescott kept us to the two closest. We were able to visit both Tugizoot and Montezuma’s castle.
Tugizoot was a hilltop Pueblo created by the Sinagua people over 1000 years ago, and the museum gave a good idea of their way of life. There are really only remnants of the walls left, but there is a picture here of a model of how it looked at the time it was utilized. I thought the story of it’s preservation was interesting too. During the Great Depression they were excavating the site, and it provided jobs for the men and women of the area in a time when unemployment was at an all time high.
Montezuma Castle was my favorite of the two. It was a 20 story highrise apartment-style cliff dwelling. Both were interesting but this one was a little more impressive to look at. My favorite part of that visit was when the child next to me asked his mother where baby Jesus was – I loved the innocence of that, but also it’s a great representation of how the place stimulates your imagination about the people and their way of life here.
We actually stayed in the slightly larger town of Cottonwood, and I would be remiss not to mention their fun and vibrant “old town” . We didn’t go into any of the many shops, but we did try a couple of the restaurants before we left and they were both fantastic. Colt Grill was a great BBQ place (I give the potato salad a 10!), and Pizzeria Bocce was also delicious. They had a Garden Mule made with organic pepper vodka and basil that paired perfectly with my margherita pizza!
By the end of week two, we were climbing the walls. This was exacerbated by the fact we’d put our truck in the shop to have the tires rotated, and some other minor work and they ended up keeping it for three days. We do have our Suzuki Bergmann scooter, but combined with the general lethargy Covid left we didn’t do that much venturing out. By the end of our time in Sedona, I couldn’t take it any more. I had serious FOMO and needed to get out at least on one of the trails! Ed was game and on our final night we ventured to Devil’s Bridge, barely making it to the arch by Sunset.
It was so worth it! We are going to have to work back up our stamina, but did log 5 miles. Most of it was flat, there is a climb there at the end that was strenuous but for the most part it was just a long walk. We have also been wanting to take a night hike in the desert anyway. Sedona offers a nice dark sky, and we came equipped with our head lamps and a hand-held black light that we hoped would allow us to spot some scorpions as it causes them to glow in the dark.
Yes, that might be a bit strange as to why we wanted to do that – but wildlife is one of my favorite things about hiking. We’ve been in the desert since the turn of the new year and hadn’t seen many of the types of wildlife we do not have back home. After a little reading, the blacklight looked like a pretty surefire way to finally see something new. It was very effective, I spotted so many Ed finally told me to stop alerting him and that we needed to pick up the pace and get back home. They were pretty much everywhere – probably spotted over 50 of them.
It’s taken several days to stop being sore from the hike. But, we are ready to start getting our endurance back and are feeling very good now. We moved on Saturday to Williams, Arizona, which is a popular town to create a home base for visiting the Grand Canyon. (Staying at the Grand Canyon takes reservations way further in advance than I have been making them – and most National Parks can’t accommodate our size RV even if I were more proactive) It’s a pretty neat small town if you are ever through here – it was the last hold out for Route 66 and it’s surprisingly well preserved. We have enjoyed many Route 66 towns as we’ve traveled. They all have some of the old 50’s style hotels and diners, but I have to say this one has been the best and most colorful one so far. They have a sense of humor here for sure! Full disclosure, I did not take the pics below, we still need to venture over there to explore more.
There is a train you can take from here to the Grand Canyon too. We have opted not to do that because we have booked the train from Durango to Silverton in a few weeks, but our neighbors highly recommended it so we are passing that info along!
We arrived pretty early in the day on Saturday as Williams was only about an hour and a half from Sedona. So, we got camp set up and headed out eager to see our first look at the Grand Canyon! We’d talked about going on and off since we’ve been married, but just hadn’t made it yet. Of course, you can’t really understand it’s beauty and vastness until you come in person, and our pics here won’t even begin to do it justice.
Originally, we had planned to hike to the bottom, and probably some day we will. Not being physically prepared to do it this time makes the park seem less accessible to me than some of the other parks we’ve visited. I can’t stand knowing the best part is at the bottom! Maybe as we visit this week and do the walk to the first rest stop on the Bright Angel trail I will change my opinion of this, since as of right now we’ve only meandered around Mather’s Point near the visitor center. I hope so! We’ve also talked about doing one of the helicopter tours, we’ll see.
On Sunday, we didn’t elect to go back to the Grand Canyon. After a couple days of hiking back to back after not having gone for a few months, plus the left over coughing and windedness Covid has left, we simply needed an easier day. Easier didn’t mean less fun though! We headed over to get a view of the Barringer Meteor Crater. This impact crater was the result of a meteor hitting the earth about 50,000 years ago when the area was occupied by wooly mammoths and giant ground sloths. It is supposedly the best preserved impact crater in the world.
The museum there is well done, you will leave with a lot more knowledge about space than you came with. They have created a nice 10-15 minute movie about the history of the crater, and they offer guided hikes along the rim. On the day we went there were 50-60 mile an hour wind gusts so they weren’t doing those, but we were able to go out and walk around the walkways of the viewing platforms and see different features of it through the mounted telescopes.
Afterwards, we were ready for some lunch and not much further down the road is Winslow, Arizona. Of course if you are an Eagles fan, you know their famous song “Take it easy” made this little route 66 town famous. It’s in far worse wear than Williams, and probably wouldn’t be a place I would recommend making a long trek to see. However, if you are ever in the vicinity it’s definitely worth a stop! They have done a great job commemorating the lyrics:
“Well, I’m a-standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me”
We had lunch in the Relic Brewery and really enjoyed their burgers and the overall ambiance of the place. We also appreciated the Eagles music playing as you walked the entire time!
We look forward to returning to the Grand Canyon this week to do some hiking and we hear there is a wonderful pie place over in Williams that we need to make a beeline to. Stay tuned!