We left Mesa Saturday morning and started driving north. The landscape was changing dramatically before our eyes as we rose in elevation - leaving the 90+ temperatures in Mesa to the cool 70s of red rock country. We are camping near the town of Cottonwood at the Verde Valley Campground. It is situated deep in a valley, surrounded by tall cottonwood trees, the Verde River, lots of birds, and lots of other campers. Including lots of children. I've been spoiled by the quiet of the 55+ RV parks and I guess I've forgotten how noisy children are!
There are very few cactus here compared to further south, and no more of those beautiful, tall saguaros. Here there are tall trees, and gasp! grass! Once we settled in to the campground we drove into Cottonwood to check it out. Its bigger than what we expected, and we found this cute little shop that sells, wait for it......scrap booking stuff AND antiques! The couple than run the place are so sweet, and they gave us a good run down of things to do in the area.
It was already late in the day, so we went antique-ing on Sunday. The antique stores here are of course full of "western" stuff, so different than the kinds of things we would normally find thrifting and antique-ing in the midwest or on the east coast. Lots of cowboys and indians themed artwork and knick knacks as well as lots of native american artwork and artifacts.
And you know I'm a sucker for a cute baby face!
There were also interesting boutiques, jewelry stores (thanks for the earrings, Noel!), and we had a GREAT lunch at a place called the Red Rooster!
So that was Cottonwood on Sunday. Monday we got up early to do some birding around our campground. The Verde River runs right through the place we are camping, so we had fun seeing more birds we had never seen before, including a pretty red summer tanager. We also saw a hot air balloon, which I guess is a pretty popular tourist activity here. Afterwards we headed into Sedona and explored the Red Rock State Park as well as Red Rock Crossing. The state park had a nice visitors center and we took a nice hike. It was nice to see BIG trees again, and grass, and we enjoyed the cooler temperatures.
I don't know what the other birds are, we bought a western bird guide, but I'm still not sure what is what after just catching a glimpse of a bird here or there. Who knew there are hundreds of birds that are yellow and pretty much look alike?
At Red Rock Crossing:
Piles of stones along a trail are called cairns and usually help you stay on the
trail. Here we found hundreds, so which way do we go now?
I was so excited to find this place! Its an iconic photo you see in a lot of
books and brochures about Sedona. I had to walk through the water to get
this picture, but the place was awe-inspiring, and worth some soggy socks!
Around every bend is more beautiful scenery, overlooks,
interesting plants, dead trees, lizards and more.
This grasshopper was HUGE! A good 3 inches. When I first saw
it flying across the trail, I thought it was a bird!
Lots of lizards around here
A view through the microscope at the visitors center
of microscopic shrimp found in the streams and rivers
We watched a movie about the area at the visitors center. This
is a picture of the movie screen
Old eagle eyes
Pretty wildflowers in bloom
We brought a picnic lunch
A river shot
There is a tiny yellow bird in there - some kind of warbler
I shot a few pictures of a flicker on a tree. I thought maybe she was feeding her babies, or building a nest and cleaning house, as she looked like she was taking stuff out of a hole in the tree and throwing it out. Imagine my surprise when I downloaded the pictures and saw THIS:
Look close! Thats a BABY she is throwing out! I don't know if it was her dead baby, or if this bird is one of those that will steal the nest of other birds! Poor little bird......
The following day we drove up to Jerome, an old copper town built into the mountains. All of the buildings are very old and look like they will crumble to the ground any moment. There are hundreds of tunnels under the town from the old mine - a structural engineer could make some serious money out here! There were a few times I felt down right unsafe on some of the steps and balconies of all the various artsy shops and galleries.
We watched a glass blower made a beer mug. Is wrong that I was kind of glad
it broke just as he was finishing it? He was a jerk and very rude when asked questions
by the people watching. Gotta love karma!
Noel reminiscing his old VW van days.....I woke up
in the back of his old van on my 21st birthday with
my blouse gone, a crepe paper sash and a wicked
We did some more hiking both in Boynton Canyon and up to Devils Bridge (both in the Sedona area). I chose to trails because they say they were "moderate" hikes and fairly short in distance. Obviously whoever wrote the description of the trails has a different definition of "moderate". So our hikes are more like "hike, hike, hike, sit on a rock.....hike, hike, hike, sit on a rock...hike, sit on a rock....sit on a rock, sit on a rock, hike, sit on a rock...."
walk, walk, walk
sit on rock
sit on a rock
sit on a rock
walk, walk, walk
sit on a rock
sit on rock
take a pain pill and sit on a rock
sit on a rock....
sit on a rock....no wonder it takes us so long to
You wont even believe what happened to me as we were going to Devils Bridge! First, you have to 4 wheel about a mile down a forest road to get to the trail head (or walk it if you don't have a truck like we do). Then as I am climbing up these steps like these:
Something fell off the ledge above me
the ledge above me
and landed about 10 inches from my foot. It was THIS:
Yes, that's a SNAKE! He landed right next to me, on his back. Had I been leaning any closer to the rock wall it would have landed on my head! But I handled it like a champ. Instead of freaking out and falling off the cliff, I immediately said COOL! and grabbed my camera! LOL
So all that hiking (.7 miles my A@@ - it sure felt further than that!) we got to this:
It was beautiful, and the trail was busy with folks coming and going. It was making Noel and I both a nervous wreck as people kept going out onto the thinnest part of the bridge to have their picture taken, including a woman holding the hand of a little boy that wasn't more than 2 years old. Several people have been killed doing such stupid things, so I took a few pictures and then we headed back down.
Shooting with a special effect called "vivid"
So back down the trail we went. I took a million more pictures but this blog is long already, so I may add them later just so I have them in this, which is basically going to be my travel journal.
On the way into Sedona afterwards we saw the library, and gasp! They were having a book sale. We were sweaty and dusty, but we stopped anyway!
We have a friend of a friend that owns a place in Sedona called "The Trading Post", so we stopped in to see him. His store has all kinds of interesting things, including bones, claws, pelts, hides, and so much more!
Back at the campground, our neighbors put out some hummingbird feeds (we have one but didn't put it out this week). This place is thick with different kinds of hummingbirds, and I have spent endless time watching them buzz in and out. They aren't afraid of me one bit.
The crockpot has been a lifesaver this week because even though it feels like we've hiked miles, we are really only out a few hours before my pain levels become intolerable and we have to call it a day. I do feel like I'm getting stronger though, although I haven't lost a single pound much to my dismay. This is already too long, so I will try to add more pics from this week later.
Later Update: I broke ANOTHER tooth last week, so I had to go to the dentist in Cottonwood. Fortunately I found a dentist that could manufacture a crown same day, unfortunately, that wasn't cheap.
My crown being made
I saw one of those funny signs of facebook that said "My dentist said I needed a crown. I said "I know, Right?" Of course now that I wanted to cut and paste it here I couldn't find it!
The other update is that as we were packing to leave Verde Valley this morning, I couldn't find my purse. I looked all over the trailer and truck. Several times. We had done laundry and grocery shopping so I thought perhaps in carrying stuff in I left it in the truck and it was taken over night. The truck was locked, but the window 1/2 open. Police were called, credit cards and debit cards cancelled and much stomach churning was done. Upon putting out the slides and setting up camp in Flagstaff, I found the purse between the mattress and the wall! Much crow is to be eaten, but I'm happy to have my cash, and more importantly, my pain medicine, back! Oh the life of a traveling Lemon!
Some antelope we saw near the highway
I had the camera ready, but we didn't see any bear
A cute statue in Sedona
Can you imagine this view as you drive to the grocery every day?