Tuba City & back to Flag

I had not made advance reservations but was pleased to find a room right next door to the Navajo interactive museum. The hotel had a restaurant as.well so I enjoyed one of my favorites, BLT on sourdough toast. In the lobby of the hotel they had free fry bread!
After another night of resting my poor ankle – obviously doomed to be swollen until I get home and can leave it up – I spent several hours at the two museums next door – one about Navajo history and the second dedicated to the Navajo code talkers. Both were very interesting as was the Trading Post next door.
I eventually got back in my car and headed back to Flagstaff. Like all the roads I had been on there was some pretty scenery.
I took a short break at the Cameron Trading Post which is also now a quite lovely Inn.

image

Following the rules of the road and serendipity, I turned off the highway for the Wupatki ruins. These were not cliff dwellings but more houses .

image

And this second one which is in better condtion.

image

It is sort of leaning into a wash so I don’t know how long it will last but it has been there quite a while so I guess it is good for quite a bit longer. You can actually go inside this one, which made for a good spot to get a picture of the landscape.

image

After hobbling along in the ruins, I headed into Flag and back to the same motel where I had my bout with the flu. Feeli g much better than my last visit a week earlier, I headed back to the Lumberyard for a burger and a raspberry ale.
The next day I just ambled around Old Town Flagstaff. The main street there is old rte 66 so there is a hodge podge of rte 66 souveniers and just old Flagstaff buildings – oh yes and a brew pub on almost every corner. I had lunch at the Flagstaff Brewpub where I thoroughly enjoyed a BLT and an IPA on cask with a grapefruit infusion. The weather was in the mid sixties which made ambling perfect.

image

I haven’t made a.study of it, but are gargoyles common on churches?

image

I suppose if Notre Dame can do it, so can a church in Flag.

image

That night,still in Flag, I had Indian food for dinner – as in India, not native american. Chicken tikka masala and naan. Another gustatory delight!

And so ended my road trip …. well not quite, I still had to get to Tucson and serendipity might yet prevail.

Monument Valley

After leaving Canyon de Chelly I went briefly into the town of Chinle to figure out where to next. I spent some time with my map – an actual paper one! – and a chocolate milkshake and decided Monument Valley should be next if I could find a resting place. Checking my Navajo Country guide I was able to find a spot in Kayenta and after going online was able to book a room, so off I went further North and West. The motel room was excellant and there was an attached restaurant. Dinner was excellant and my appetite had finally returned so I had an awesome steak salad with fry bread for desert. Boy is that stuff good – served with honey and confectioners sugar! mmmm.
Once again packed up the car and headed North.

It wasn’t far to the Utah border and Monument Valley. First I stopped at the visitor center and looked at the exhibits and talked with one of employees there, who asked if I had been there before. I told him it had been 25 years which prompted him to say that a lot had changed since then. This of course caused.me to laugh and to get a strange look from him. He was thinking about the relatively new visitor center and the huge resort up the hill. On the other hand, I was laughing at the thought that the monument itself had changed much in 25 years – rock monuments don’t change quickly.
I paid my fees and went in.

It was as I remembered it, but inspiring none the less.

This photo is of the “mittens”. The cars down on the road may help define the scale. Any fan of John Wayne and westerns is familiar with scenes of the area.
I spent a long time on the patio of the resort soaking it in.

image

Of course it helped that it was another beautiful AZ day (even if I had crossed over to UT). High was around 68 with a lovely breeze.
During my contemplation on the patio I had decided it was time to start heading South again – so I set my sites on Tuba City.

Canyon de Chelly

Once turned back around and headed in the right direction (NW towards Chinle) back through more of the beautiful high desert.

image

I had been to Canyon de Chelly – almost exactly 25 years ago. The timing I can be positve about as my strongest memory of the trip was morning sickness. I desperately wanted a return trip with better memories. I felt doomed to some disapppointment as I knew today my ankle was not going to let me hike, but I would at least get some views without looking hopefully for a bucket.
I arrived at Chinle without any issues and went into the vistor center and collected my map and headed off to the overlooks.

image

The canyon is gorgeous and it is easy to see why people would settle here.  From this view I moved forward to the most famous of the ruins, the White House. OMG deja vu, deja vu!!!

image

From the moment I got out of the car at this overlook, the memory came flooding back. Up until then, I couldn’t remember doing any hiking here but yes I did! I remember the overlook and much of the hike! How could I have forgotten?
This may end up making my son smug – that all my thoughts centered around him from that early on….
This is a beautiful hike but there are slippery rocks and some pretty steep areas as.I recall. Definitely not one to take on a bad ankle..

image

This photo gives a view, pretty much from the top of the trail – the white house cliff dwelling is in that dark spot on the far side of the canyon floor.
I spent quite a.bit of time at this overlook just soaking it up and reliving a hike from.25 years ago. This little fellow helped entertain me, as he couldn’t figure out what we were looking at over the wall.

image

I went on to some other overlooks but none fired my memory like the White House ruin did.
After the ruins I went and indulged in a milkshake while I determined my next port-of-call. I decided that although Monument Valley is in Utah, it is very barely N of the border and as long as I stayed in AZ it could count for my AZ road trip. So off I went to the NW again towards Zayenta – still in AZ, still on the Navajo res.

Window Rock

image

Window Rock is the home of the Navajo tribal government. I started my day decadently late at the Navajo museum next door to my hotel. As well as artifacts, there was some beautiful artwork to enjoy. My ankle appreciated solid flooring for a change. Outside a traditional hogan had been built for visitors to see.

image

After the museum, I drove over to the Window Rock war memorial park which also is in the middle of most of the govt buildings. This one is their justice department.

image

The town’s namesake is the visual focus of the park, of course.

image

But running a close second is the statue in remembrance of the Navajo code talkers of WWII fame.

image

I know that I am grateful to them as they were instrumental in the battle of Iwo Jima and my dad was pretty much right there as well. And so, if that battle had gone differently I might not have been at all!

It was time to head on my way off to chinle and Canyon de Chelly (pronounced shay).  I took off following what I thought was Indian rte 7 contemplating Navajo code talkers until the road narrowed yet again and I ran out of paved road with only a dirt driveway ahead. While I enjoy serendipitious adventures, sometimes one must just admit to an oops. Siri could not help as Verizon had no bars in this area. It was time to give in and ask directions. The gentlemen that I asked conferred on the best route to offer me and settled on the most traveled route with the admonition that it was better to be safe than sorry. I thanked them and decided to go along as one directional mishap a day was perhaps enough. So back on the road again! (Willie Nelson, get out of my head!!!)

Navajo Nation

Stretching across most of northern Az into NW NM and diving into Utah is the Navajo reservation. Over 27,000 sq miles. Although, I had been through parts of it before, an Az road trip wouldn’t be complete without further exploration. I kept up with my attempts to stay on Rte 66, managing the final stretch from Joseph’s city into Holbrook where I needed to restock my cooler. I was out of snacks and, as a total non sequitor, the Navajo reservation is dry. Oh yes I got another gallon of water, too.
Holbrook manages to blend the traditions of Rte 66 and Az tourism nicely with such places as a Wigwam motel! Yes, you can actually sleep in one.

image

No, they are not made of bison-hide. And if you ever wondered where old VW bugs went to die?

image

I might have found the spot. Well my cooler was stocked, I had a full tank of gas and another gallon of water so I turned north onto az rte 77.
Did I mention that Sedona was beautiful? There was a stretch  of this road that left me breathless. I look at the pictures I took, and don’t see it but it was magnificent.

image

Maybe it is just too grand…. a panoramic view would help, but it was just something that got into me.

image

After a while I thought I must be approaching a convention center or similar structure … in the middle of no where, but the scale was.all wrong. A quick look at a map assured me that I was approaching the town of White Cone, and sure enough

image

Not long after that I headed eastbound on rte 264 heading for Window Rock – the seat of the tribal government. Of course, all Tony Hillerman fans would know that detail. I attempted.to stop at the historic Hubbel trading post but they were just closing for the day. My ankle was throbbing again so I just pushed on to window rock so I could once again get my ankle elevated!

Homolovi

image

Along the Little Colorado just NE of Winslow are.the ruins at Homolovi State Park. This is the site of an ancient Hopi village. After the obligatory stop at the visitor center to get a day.pass, I headed up to the premier dig site – where they estimate there were between 1200 – 2000 rooms.

image

The conservationists have left actual pottery shards out in small groupings in there area where they were dug for the visitor to view. This seemed much more impactful than viewing in a museum later.

image

It is a fascinating site and so very peaceful. I was able to sit on a bench by myself and just “be”. It wasn’t but a few miles from I-40 but due to rolling hills no traffic could be seen or heard!

image

Winslow

After Walnut Canyon, I alternated between I-40 and Rte 66 until reaching Winslow, AZ. I’ve already sent the below to nearly all my friends and family, but here it is again…. Standing on a corner in Winslow AZ….

image

The flatbed Ford is not very visible so here it is again without me to distract

image

The statue is called the balladeer.. my ankle was screaming from the hike in Walnut Canyon and I was up only a day since the flu so I called it quits early on.

Walnut Canyon

So almost 48 hours after entering Flag I headed out again without actually exploring the town at all, but I had a desperate urge to be on the road again. I took a side trip to the subaru dealer to get some replacement taillights and headed East. My initial destination was Winslow. In keeping with the Road Trip rules of the road, I stayed off of the freeway when possible. Unfortunately whole sections of rte 66 are missing and I-40 was.the only alternative. I was.approaching the on ramp at.one such interval when I saw the sign for Walnut Canyon. Since I had done no pre-planning I had no idea I was close to the place! Ah serendipity! A new destination.
Like many spots in AZ walnut canyon has water twice a year – once from snow melt and some winter rain and then again in Jul-Sep from summer rains. It was  dry for my visit.

image

Walnut Canyon is famous for its cliff dwellings. Apparently there was a volcanic eruption around 1000 AD which is believed to have been a major contributor to the migration to the cliffs as dwellings.

image

The cliff walls on both sides of the canyon are full of these. The people would have gone to the top to plant crops and down to the bottom for water. Nature’s own stairmaster.

image

The AZ conservation corps spend years putting in stairs and paving a trail down to a group of the cliff dwellings so visitors could get close, so swollen ankle and all, I went. My ankle didn’t really appreciate it but it was well worth the descent. I was obviously more distracted by my ankle than I like to admit as I do not seem to have taken any photo’s while peering into the past from up close.

Cottonwood to Flagstaff

Firstly, I did go back to the riverwalk in Cottonwood. The trail was easy to follow and it was moving toward dusk so  I set a brisk pace ( for me at least ). Its March so spring is on its way and in a protected area like this you can see it coming.

image

I wandered down the trail enjoying the weather and the quiet. At last a glimmer through the trees – was that the sunset bouncing off of water? I had to beat my way through last season’s reeds but at last I was rewarded.with a sight  of the Verde River!

image

With a feeling of accomplishment (simple pleasures) I was able to meander my way back to my car.
I chose Pepe’s diner for dinner where I indulged myself with a blt on sourdough and apple pie a la mode …. sigh….

On the evening of my Sedona-uh-oh adventure, I bypassed gustatory pleasures for a night in with an ice pack and snacks from my cooler.

So goodbye to Cottonwood and off to Flagstaff. Since my vow to avoid the imterstatesnwhen reasonable, my route took me back through Sedona. It took a bit longer to traverse downtown than the day before because of the St Patricks day parade. Okay – what exactly about Sedona screams “I’m Irish”? Seriously, I want to know.

From there I contunued to follow oak creek and then back up into the mountains and pine forests that are the backdrop to the Flagstaff area.

image

What a varied and beautiful state.  I eventually pulled myself away from the view and headed on in to flag ( as we arizonans are allowed to.call it).  My rest for the night was on rte 66 on the east side of town and oh woe but on my way there I had to go practically by the lumberyard brewery. Siri and I had words about its exact location but eventually we settled our differences and I enjoyed most of a ginormous Sonoran dog and a Knotty Pine IPA. My foot was bugging me still so off to the hotel and the ice pack.
I woke up several hours later with chills, aches and fever. The least said about the next 24 +/- hours the better.

Sedona

On yet another beautiful day I jumped in my car and headed off to Sedona. Handy that Jerome, Cottonwood and Sedona are so close together.  Following the rules for road trips I took the scenic overlooks but even so, I arrived within 20 minutes. I don’t know what its like coming from any other direction but I turned a corner and omg! It is gorgeous!  Of course other than stopping in the middle of the road there was no way to get a good picture at the best spot. There were signs reminding drivers towatch out for pedestrians but I figured they were on their own … there was scenery to gawk at.
I hightailed it to the visitors center and loaded up with pamphlets and touristy maps and headed back to find an easy day hike … well that’s what I thought I was doing, except of course I turned the wrong way and followed along Oak Creek Canyon. What a difference… red rock desert vs

image

I can only imagine how grateful pioneers would have been to run across this. I followed along Oak Creek for a while but then reminded myself that I had a vortex to find so I looped back around and headed back into Sedona. It looked like the vortex with the easiest access was one of two that were on the butte that had the airport on top. Since airports are generally well marked I found the turnoff with ease. At the first turn out I eagerly looked for a spot but it was all full up…. I didn’ t know it yet but that was to be the source of future bad luck. Anyway I followed the road up to the scenic overlook and this one was  beautiful.

image

Truly, the picture does not do justice to the view. After soaking it up for some time, I meandered over to an area map an

image

And saw this sign …. A vortex – aha my goal for the day…. and only a half mile. Okay for some it was a half mile, but not for those of us clever enough to take the detour and discover the super secret Masonic lodge located up on the plateau. So, apparently, the gate sign that says “don’t let the deer in” actually means, “trail out here”. So I continued hiking and ended up … yards away from the lower parking lot and the vortex. Who knew that there would be a drive-up vortex?

image

Up I climbed the last few.feet waiting to be swept up into….. more beautiful views. Rats maybe if I had worn my mystic moonstone I would have been swept up into more … mysticness. Oh well, it was truly beautiful and the weather was only a tad on the warm side. After making sure I had canvased the area for vortex-ness, I decided to head back up. At first I didn’t see the trail spur that I had used to come down but I did see one labeled airport so off I went. It was a beautiful trail and I was happily going along …. thinking surely my half mile was almost complete when I met a couple who told me that I was probably only a quarter done??! Okay this was not the trail I was looking for. But what the heck it was well maintained and I had brought water so on I toiled.

image

Trees on mountainsides are so inventive and have their own beauty – this one is a juniper. After a bit longer I sidled up to a handy boulder to take a break and enjoy the scenery. As I got up to continue the hike, my right foot slid out from under me and I found myself about to go face down into…

image

I gracefully executed a full gainer and landed lightly on my feet! Okay I frantically twisted and landed on my butt with only the loose outer portions of my shirt making contact with the prickley pear. Unfortunately, my ankle was seriously involved in the twisting. Fortunately I was not bleeding anywhere. So I just sat there for a bit wondering how I was going to get up without doing myself further injury when a hiker came by. After she helped me up and we ascertained that as long as I didn’t twist my ankle I could walk reasonably well I encouraged her to go on with her hike. She then depressed me with the knowledge that I had a mile and a half to go but she made up for it by telling me my hair looked fabulous…. true or not that is a sure way to lift a girls spirits! So off she went and I plodded along after. I kind of lost interest in scenery after that as I had to pay close attention to the path.

image

Eventually the trail dumped me right back at…. aufgh! the lower parking lot! I swallowed my pride and begged a ride to the top. After sitting in the car for a few minutes recovering I was ready to call it a day and get some ice on my ankle.
Ankle notwithstanding, I’m glad I took the hike.
And that was my Sedona-uh-oh adventure.