Arizona – first three weeks

August 27, 2015, Trip: Continuing West
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We crossed the state line into Arizona at Bullhead City and boy, this is one sweltering state in August! We were quite impressed with what Bullhead City had to offer: decent home prices, not far from Vegas, all the shops/amenities etc. without a big city feel.

After spending the next night in Kingman, where we were not so impressed, we drove the Historic Route 66 for about 50 miles going through Peach Springs – a very scenic drive. We made it to Flagstaff which is at a much higher elevation and camped in a forestry site in the Coconino National Forest. This was in the Cinder Hills OHV area which is surrounded by dormant volcanoes, craters and of course, hills of cinder. We took a few 4×4 roads and instead of being sand/rock like Utah, they were black cinder gravel. There are lots of ponderosa pines up there too. The evening temperatures dropped up there nicely for sleeping.

Saturday, we took another 4×4 road which was rated a difficulty of 2 (out of ten) but really should have been at least a three if not a four. We hit the side rail on the driver’s side of the truck, had several things tossed around in the back, bathroom vent cyclone was almost ripped off by branches, the outside storage bin popped open, and we almost tipped over at one point!!!! The scenic rating of this particular road is a 9 (also out of 10) and although there were some pretty overlooks, it should have been maybe an 8.  We tend to d0 roads with 9 or 10 scenic ratings and usually in Tigger try not to do roads that are more difficult than 3 but we have now downgraded that to 2 and don’t trust our Arizona four by book anymore. In our jeep we used to do roads in Utah as difficult as 7 but the jeep was shorter, lighter and most importantly: not our home!

We spent another night in a forestry site east of Flagstaff near the Walnut Canyon National Monument. We had not intended to visit this national monument, but since we were close by, we checked it out and were very pleased we did. This canyon has over 300 cliff dwellings dating back centuries before the people left in the 1200’s and is well laid out. They have a lovely paved path down into the canyon with good, mostly restored sites to visit. It seems that before this became a national monument, it was looted a great deal so a lot of dwellings were destroyed and artifacts stolen.

The clouds began gathering and the sky was getting darker as we headed east. Our destination was Meteor Crater National Landmark. It turned out not to be a National Parks Board site and the entry fee was rather steep so we decided not to tour it. We were able to see from about a quarter mile away, where the outlines/hills of the “hole” were and in reality, it’s not like you can appreciate the hole while standing “in it”. We noticed that we were not the only ones turned off by the price; we saw at least two other parties of visitors, who said “$18 each? Forget it”.

Sunday night looked quite fierce for storms and so Doug found us a $25 hotel in Flagstaff. We picked up salad fixings for dinner and took advantage of the Wi-Fi. The campgrounds in the area here wanted at least $30 and no Wi-Fi! It wasn’t the Marriott but it was clean and had hot water. The thunder and lightning put on quite a show but it was clear by morning.

Monday, we awoke to find a puddle of what Doug thought was differential fluid under the truck. We took it to a place that was supposed to specialize in 4×4’s but they couldn’t take us until Thursday so we made an appointment and decided to stick around Flagstaff for a few more days. Then Doug thought, “Let’s try a Jiffy Lube and see what they find and can do”. They diagnosed it as an oil leak due to a loose oil filter! We had just had an oil change done before leaving Utah at a Jiffy Lube outside St. George, so we had them replace the filter. It seems that the tech was able to remove the existing replaced filter by hand which meant it was definitely not installed correctly.

We took the scenic Route 89A down to Sedona; weather was iffy again today and after attempting a back road rated a two again, we gave up and turned around – it should have been a four as it had big steps and ledges we didn’t want to do that rigorous a ride in our “home”.

There is only ONE RV Park in Sedona and it’s a very pricey five star park; boon docking is not allowed in the main Sedona area. As Doug had learned in the late afternoon he had a bunch of work coming, we headed back to Flagstaff where it’s cooler and got another hotel for a couple of nights at a great rate. Doug worked, Fran got some laundry and shopping done and we took some good walks.

Wednesday, after Doug working the morning we returned to the Sedona area. Sedona was named the prettiest city in the US and it is aptly named but it is pretty touristy and caters more to the higher end tourist crowd (hence the one five star RV park) and much of the forestry and BLM lands nearby are protected for day use only. There are a good number of back roads but many are maintained in conjunction with the Jeep touring companies so that people will use their tours rather than attempt the roads themselves. We walked around downtown checking out what there is to see and found a backcountry camping spot about five miles from town (just beyond the day use boundary) for the night with a great view of the red rocks in the area. There are plenty of hikes in this area and lots and lots of “spiritual” places to “enlighten your mind and body”.   However, we both prefer Moab to Sedona as it’s more laid back and outdoorsy.

We did check out the “hot” spots in Sedona which were the scenic lookout at the Airport over the town, Bell Rock & Courthouse Butte, Cathedral Rock and Chapel of the Holy Cross. It was an on and off rainy afternoon and parking was an issue for us at many of these sites so we were not always able to do the short hikes offered.

Thursday we drove the Boynton Canyon Pass road and did a few hikes. This 4×4 road was rated a 1 and was a one which was a nice change; a bit washboardy but nothing challenging. Along this road we did a couple of hikes including Faye Canyon which was very pretty and had lots of trees so it was shady alot. We also hiked out to the Boynton Vortex – people believe that forces from inside the earth crusts come out at these places; all we felt was a wonderful breeze!

Next day we attempted the 2 rated Dry Creek Road and again, felt it should have been rated a four. It was only 4.2 miles and after 2.3 we turned around so we missed out on the hike at the end but we did do the Devil’s bridge hike on the way back which was very rewarding.

We headed out of Sedona on Friday and drove the Hwy 179 Scenic Byway stopping in Oak Creek for a beer to toast the 13th anniversary of Fran’s dad’s passing. He would have enjoyed the little pub we chose. We spent that night on the east side of I17 near Rimrock on BLM land.

Sunday we visited both of the national monuments near Rimrock: Montezuma’s Well and Montezuma’s Castle. Both were well worth checking out. The Well is a sinkhole that has had fresh spring water in it for 10,000 years and has a few cliff dwellings as well as evidence of many homes/farms on the rim. Montezuma’s Castle is a five story cliff dwelling that has been restored and well kept.  You see the dwelling in the cliff above but the public is not allowed inside; impressive nonetheless.

We spent another night on BLM land near the town of Cottonwood that night after hitting town for some supplies. We have been experiencing an electrical short in our kitchen which has been the bane of Doug’s existence for the past few weeks. First it appeared to be just in the kitchen light (under the cupboards) so he fixed that by bypassing the wiring and wiring the light directly to a 12V socket. Then…. the stove hood light/fan began acting up. After many hours, of trials and tribulations, he decided we need to rewire that whole section. What a job and Doug detests anything electrical (calls electricity the “devil”) but we got ‘er done. (Impressed, Joe?) It was quite an accomplishment for him. We have purchased a couple of fans that we want to now wire into the system, so that will be the next big electrical challenge. Just like home owning, RV ownership is a constant challenge.

Sunday we drove on up to Jerome, high in the mountains. This is a small historic mining town that is quite a draw on long weekends it seems (it’s also nice and cool here being at a much higher altitude than say, Phoenix and it was Labour Day weekend). We drove slowly, as traffic was heavy, around the little town twice (one way streets) trying to find parking and gave up. We spent that night on forestry land again way up high on Mingus Mountain at 7500 feet and it was lovely for sleeping.

The weather this past week has been unsettled. It clouds up every day at some point (but not everywhere), gets muggy and there are isolated showers, even thunder showers, somewhere in the vicinity.   But the sun always comes back out and the heat returns with it. There was huge rain on Sat/Sun but we were lucky to only see it happening in the distance and not be in it.

Labour Day Monday found us in Prescott, Arizona. This town is part of the Prescott Valley and seems like a nice place to retire. The elevation is around 5000 feet so it’s not as hot as Phoenix and it still gives you the change of seasons. Who knows?

We ran some errands and then spent that night sleeping and using the Wi-Fi at the Lowe’s. This works out great for us as we have never been bothered there and once the store closes; it’s fairly quiet (unlike Walmart’s). The day had started out sunny, but as has been happening lately at this time of year, the afternoon brings storm clouds and you may or may not get wet.

Our next destination is east of here and north of Phoenix: the Mogollon Rim back road (pronounced Muggy-own – cannot explain that one). Supposed to be quite scenic and have lots of boondock camping. The rim part is that this is the southern edge the Colorado Plateau.

 

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