Yes, I actually did some stuff in 2020 that was interesting BESIDES work! Most of it involved Arizona, just because I didn’t do much else that didn’t require planning ahead. I guess I’ve just become so used to seeing a certain amount of pay each week that I’ve begun to become a workaholic…perish the thought! But 6 day weeks pay for lots of fun stuff both with new purchases at home and trips to fun places!
Fall in Sedona!
Over new years 2020 my wife and I decided we would go to Sedona in the spring. This was to be the ‘trip somewhere’ I had promised her on her birthday the year before. Or maybe it was the year before that…I lose track. Anyway it was ‘on’ this time! Reservations made, money spent, vacation time requested, nothing to stop us now, right? Well no, the whole world lost it’s mind over a virus with a 97% recovery rate, and reservations and flights were cancelled. Bummer. So back to work, luckily for me it never really slowed down much minus an initial 2 week ‘shutdown’ to assess what the market was about to do. Eh, just let me work, I’ve lived through every other roaming wraith disease we’ve had, and besides, I had already been sick with something pretty rough in early ’20 and that was probably ‘it’. So, nose to the grindstone, I switched focus to making as much money as I could, and take time off ‘later’. That mindset never really went away, but after weeks on end, I knew I needed a break. So I told my wife we would do Sedona in early November, and new reservations and plans were made.
The Arizona genie has escaped the bottle…
Arizona!? Yeah, I remember that place! Having researched places we wanted to see on the Sedona trip, I started thinking about prospecting again too. As usual, I figured I’d just check prices for round trip tickets, you know, for grins, just to see if I might squeak in a trip to hunt for gold before the holiday craziness set in. Well, wouldn’t you know it-I found a great deal on flights that would have me out to the big Az, and back again just before my birthday, mid-month October! Done! Tickets paid, plans made! Oh, uh, yeah, I told my wife, ‘I did a thing…we’re still going to Sedona in November though’!
Fall in the goldfields of Az is a great time. It’s not terribly hot, and you only need a light jacket for the morning ride out on the quads. Our prospecting plans had us going out to scour an area my buddy had found a patch in, high on a mountainside…which reminds me, I haven’t told THAT story yet either, lol! Anyway, that was our primary plan, to see if any gold remained, and possibly find any other associated patches in areas of similar geology and terrain features. I’ll save the details of that trip for it’s own post later.
Sedona it is!
Having been back from the Big Az for 16 days, barely enough time to shake the dust off from my prospecting adventure, my wife and I boarded a plane, and headed west! Our plans had us staying in Flagstaff, a place we really wanted to see more of, and heading down scenic 89 to Sedona for Jeep tours and hiking adventures, restaurants, and honestly, a new experience for us-a trip that was just the two of us. We knew the weather would be a bit variable, so we packed down jackets, hoodies and warm stuff, and also a complement of light clothing for 70 degree weather that was predicted for Phoenix. Wait, we did pack our down jackets right? On our early AM Uber ride while discussing weather, we realized that we forgot my wife’s down jacket! The new one she bought JUST FOR THIS TRIP. I mean, I said ‘we’ but really it was me. I had removed the jacket from my backpack when rearranging, and somehow got distracted, never putting it back in! Ugh, add $150 to the trip budget, again, since we already bought the first jacket! Luckily-I knew where the closest REI is to the airport, having been there before!
Once in Phoenix, rental car procured, paper map and GPS routes enabled, we decided to hit a place for ‘breakfast’ we had been recommended to by my son-Matt’s Big Breakfast. Normally I wouldn’t mention places by name but it was dang good and I want them to stay in business for the next time I have a chance to stop in! Now stuffed, we set out for REI and then…adventure ahead! I could tell my wife was ‘taking notice’ of Phoenix, the cleanliness, the scenery, the amenities…inside my head, in my best Star Wars emperor voice, I was thinking, ‘good, let the Az flow through you..’. Unashamedly, I’ve been voicing my desire to move to Arizona, and parts of this trip were to also gauge my wife’s reaction and whether she would love Arizona the way I do. So far so good…
After finding a jacket, hitting a grocery and loading up on drinks and snacks, we jumped back on ‘the 17’ (westerner talk) and headed out of Phoenix. I felt like a tour guide as we traveled north on 17, at least up to Cordes Junction, where 69 intersects 17, and heads on up to Mayer, then Dewey-Humboldt, Prescott Valley and on to Prescott, all my prospecting grounds! I resisted the urge to suggest we take a spin through that area, my wife already having told me that she wanted this to be about what we planned and not get sidetracked. I guess she knows how my A.D.D. works. The best I could do was a long stare at those mountains and an internal promise=’soon’…
NOW the trip begins!
It’s not a true adventure for two until you’re both in a completely new area and have to work together to find places, decide on timing, or even to rearrange plans on the spur of the moment-and having passed out of the areas I’m familiar with, I felt that ‘all new ahead’ feeling that I’ve come to be addicted to over the years. First up Montezuma’s Castle!
Now the name of these ruins is a little deceptive. The ruins are not actually from Montezuma, but the name was given by early settlers who assumed the ruins to be Aztec, and thereby related to Montezuma. In fact, it is believed that the ‘castle’ had seen it’s heyday, and had already been abandoned before Montezuma was even born. Be that as it may, seeing these cliff dwellings, and the surrounding countryside, you can’t help but be awed that people lived that way, and even thrived in such harsh surroundings. Let alone realizing that they must have had no fear of heights!
Back on ‘the 17’, we headed north through the Verde Valley, so named because the Verde River runs through it, resulting in an area rich in wildlife and plant diversity, including lots of trees-the first real sign that we had left the lower desert area and things were beginning to change as we went further north. Knowing we might be a little short on daylight, we decided to go directly to Sedona, grab some tour guides (not like that! I’m talking about printed booklets!) at the visitors center, maybe get a bite to eat, then head to our hotel in Flagstaff. As we wound our way through the valley and up highway 89, we began to see large red bluffs ahead! Coming into Sedona for the first time is a little hard to describe. Actually, it might be hard to describe even if you’ve been there many times. It starts off scenic, then just keeps getting better and more impressive as you get further in. The bluffs and spires of the area are impressive, and as you get into Sedona you can’t help but feel the mountainscape surrounding you on all sides, with Oak Creek winding through the lowest points of the area. Almost anywhere you look you will be greeted with an impressive view.
I joked about being on ‘hippie watch’ as we came into town, and ended up being a little disappointed at seeing only one, potential hippie on the way in…but I knew I’d see something weird eventually!
A different ‘vibe’
It’s true what they say about Sedona, it has an energy all it’s own. I’m not talking about vortexes and indian spirit type stuff, but it has a feel that is different. Even the tourist trap stores with endless T shirts, mugs and trinkets, seem like more fun to be in than in other places. I didn’t even get tired of seeing 10,000 different cactus images on magnets, shirts, caps pens, and heck, I’m sure they even had some on underwear for sale somewhere! But hey, Sedona is an iconic place, so it’s only proper to load up on memorabilia and cool little jewelry items for everybody back home! Besides, we were under the weight limit for check in suit cases when we flew out-we had room for more!
Then there’s the food. First up for us were bison burgers and cactus fries with prickly pear sauce at the Cowboy Club. I’d fly out and drive right back to Sedona right now for more of those dang cactus fries! We sat outside right on the main drag and watched the Pink Jeep Tour coming and going loaded up with tourists just like us, and talked about whether the occupants were prepared for being bounced around, and how many might just spew like a shaken up coke bottle after having stuffed themselves before the tour. Of course, I had to bring out the tired old ‘barforama’ jokes, it’s obligatory after all…
Speaking of the Pink Jeep tours, we got our turn to enjoy the rugged terrain, courtesy of one of the highly modified jeeps owned by Pink Jeeps. I had already been eyeballing the mechanical details of the Jeeps because I knew they wouldn’t be able to carry 8 people without having been modified, and being somewhat of a gear-head, I’m always interested in that stuff. On our ride, after asking our tour guide, and getting the high level run down of modifications they make, we rounded a bend, and almost as if on cue, encountered somebody trying to drive a smart car or somesuch clown car down the trail! As it turns out, that portion of the trail actually does go all the way to I-17, if you have a vehicle that can handle it that is. The tour guide told us that rescues of stranded and badly broken vehicles are very commonplace, and expensive! As we snapped pictures and tried to film every detail of the scenery, we…OK I was noticing some of the lifted Jeeps and 4Runners that were headed out to points unknown, festooned with lights, boonie crasher bumpers, roof top tents, and every other offering straight out of the four wheel drive shops. I love that stuff, but admittedly I long to see the stuff I grew up with-homemade bumpers, function over form built vehicles that might not always look pretty but will get you over a mountain or pull it down trying. Eh, I guess that’s how it goes when you get older and have seen a few things, lol!
And how ’bout Flagstaff?
Flagstaff is an awesome place. At 7000 feet above sea level, you get pine trees, snow, ELK, cool summer temps and the feeling of being in a mountain town. We wanted to tour a bit more than we had time for, so we’re planning a road trip back there for this summer! More to follow on that!
You tired yet?
Finally, and to finish this endless post about a trip more fun than I have the ability to convey, we found ourselves back in Phoenix. Our flight back to Dallas was an early one and we didn’t want to try to drive back and turn in a rent car all before catching an early flight. As an aside, if you’ve ever been to Phoenix Sky Harbor airport and had to rent a car, we can enjoy a laugh and a head-slap together! Who on God’s green earth decided the rent cars for the airport should be so far away? Plan for an hour to get that portion of your trip taken care of, maybe more depending on how busy things are. I mean, pack a lunch, make sure you went to the bathroom, maybe have a survival kit with you….it’s a journey! lol.. But I digress.
There are many cool parks with hiking trails within the Phoenix metro area. Many. I’m talking, you need the All Trails app just to sort out which ones you want to hit. Which is exactly what we did. It’s really cool to hike in the desert. For us, the vegetation is all new and interesting. You don’t have to worry about poison ivy, but you trade that for jumping Cholla, prickly pear, saguaro, ocotillo, and many other plants that look pretty, but are off-limits for touching! The place we chose was super scenic, had some old mining ruins-a very common thing in Arizona-and just the right mix of elevation and easy trails. It was nice and cool out, so snakes weren’t a concern, although I do like to see lizards and stuff, so I kinda missed those. So finally, a little Mexican food, and some last glances at the beautiful scenery, we checked into our hotel, crashed and flew out first thing the next morning.
Oh yeah..I almost forgot!
I asked my wife, ‘what do you think of my Arizona?’, and she said she really liked it!