Yesterday Mom and I did a tour of the Verde Valley. In the library here at the park someone left some Arizona Highways magazines and Mom had picked up one on the Verde Valley. I said 'hmmmm, want to go there this week?' and she said sure. When I mentioned leaving at 5am, she paled a bit, but said ok. So we pulled out in the dark at 4:58am yesterday morning. Spoiler alert, no pictures posted. So what's new, right?
Anyway, I headed up I17. Mom mentioned Montezuma's Castle as a place she would like to see. That hadn't been in my plan, but we stopped on the way up to check out the hours. It wasn't open yet, and it was 40 degrees outside. I pondered, and headed on up I17. By the time we got to Flagstaff at around 7,000 ft (more or less) it was 25 degrees and sunny. I was thinking of the almost 80 degrees due in Phoenix that day. Hmmmm. I say that a lot.
We started the tour by driving down Oak Creek Canyon from Flagstaff to Sedona on 89A. It is pretty, but I admit I'm spoiled. Hanging around in the Southeastern US for so many years I take such drives for granted. Or did until I moved to Phoenix. I'm thinking I'll be more impressed with it in the summer when the temperature in Phoenix is 118. I'm sure all of Phoenix will be right there with me as well, which may make it interesting. As it was most of the campgrounds and picnic areas were blocked off.
As we got into Sedona the rocks turned red and there were more buildings. I had come to Sedona last summer and wanted to find the Forest Service office to get some maps. So, we rolled through north Sedona and out 179 almost back to I17. I'm efficient like that. The views at the office were as great as I remembered. Mom was snapping photos and I was snapping photos of her snapping photos. She got a senior pass for $10 (lifetime). I was going to get an annual pass for $80/year but decided to just use her pass on this trip. We asked for suggestions of a place to get breakfast and where the thrift shops are. Having those pinpointed on a map they gave us, we headed back up 179 and had breakfast at the Red Rock Cafe. It was ok, but as most restaurants are here (compared to Tennessee or Honduras) I considered it a bit expensive.
We checked out thrift stores on our way to the Sedona airport. I think Mom bought a small something at one of them.
We drove up to the airport and I noted that even at 10am there wasn't any room to park at the pulloff to the vortex. With Mom I wasn't going to hike to the vortex anyway (that's my excuse this time). Mom took obligatory pictures of the view at the overlook while I basked in the sun and just enjoyed the view. Then we went to the actual airport. The landing strip is on top of the mountain. It must be a real trip to land there. Small airplanes only, or helicopters.
We then worked our way on south on 89A, stopping at the McDonalds on our way out of town. Yes, we are heathens, well, I am. The arches are small and are green instead of yellow on the small sign out front. The place was packed and needed to be at least 3 times as large as it was to handle the crowd. I figure even in Sedona, whether they want to admit it or not, McD's has a place to fill. For me it was a large sweet tea. We drove to Cottonwood and I looked around for RV boondockers and saw one small grouping.
The original plan had been to go on the train ride that starts in Clarksdale. I do plan to do that at some point. However, it leaves the station at 1pm and is 4 hours long. While we could have made it to the station in time, it meant that we wouldn't get to Montezuma's Castle. I also weighed the $50/each price tag of the train trip vs. free with Mom's pass at the Castle, and suggested that we just drive to Jerome, Tuzigoot, and head back to see the Castle. Mom was ok with that. She hadn't been too excited about the train ride anyway, which is why when she actually wanted to see the Castle I changed the plan.
We went to the Jerome Historical Park and toured the visitor's center at $5/each. Then we drove around Jerome. We didn't stop in town as we weren't hungry and didn't need either antiques or wine. Again, I'm a heathen. Having been to Gatlinburg, TN many times and Mom living around Weston, MO most of her life, there isn't a lot that tourist towns hold for us.
After that it was a drive to Tuzigoot. By this time I had the air conditioning on in the Jeep as it was very sunny. I still used my fleece when walking around outside, but it was a beautiful Arizona day.
We used Mom's pass to get to visit the museum in the visitor's center at Tuzigoot. I find this to be an unfriendly place. Can't really put my finger on it, but I felt the same way last time I was there. They won't let you just walk around the visitor's center without paying up. $5/each, or have a pass like Mom did. Mom doesn't walk far easily, and I had already seen the actual ruins. I think the best view is from the road driving up anyway. It may have something to do with the fact that it was really hot when I was there last, and I had already walked all around Jerome and was tired. At any rate, after walking around and reading all the informational displays in the museum we headed out.
It was fun driving through old town Cottonwood on the way back to 89A and then heading back to I17 on 260.
We got to Montezuma's Castle around 3pm and used Mom's pass again to gain entrance. This place seems much more friendly It was an enjoyable walk around looking at the cliff dwellings from the ground below and sitting on the benches. A nice ending to the tour. On the way home we stopped at Rock Springs. Mom just got some pie while I had a cup of their corn chowder. The chowder was good. Our waitress was having a bad day and Mom ended up with regular peach pie instead of peach crumb. She even put a packet of sugar on it as it wasn't sweet enough for her. As I said, we are heathens. My Jack Daniels pecan pie ended up being regular pecan, which I know because I had the JD pecan pie last time. I decided was good enough that we didn't bother telling the waitress. She had also messed up the pie order of another table and was making amends to them.
Mom had her return ticket for March 5, so we have time for a couple of trips yet. I'm thinking of driving up to Payson for lunch next week.