October 11, 2012:
On October 8th we drove west on route 40 to Flagstaff, Arizona with a short diversion to downtown Holbrook, Arizona to stand on the famous corner (as in the classic Eagles song). We arrived at Greer's Pine Shadows (campground) just at the Flagstaff city limits around noon. It is adjoining Coconino national forest with hiking trails accessible from the campground. The sites are sort of tight, but they are in a woodsy pine tree setting with a wonderful pine fragrance in the air. I was surprised to learn that the Flagstaff area has the largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest in the world.
A few miles away is Walnut Canyon National Monument, we went there and hiked the Island loop trail to see the Indian cliff dwelling ruins. The Sinagua Indians occupied these cliff dwellings from 1100 - 1250 and these ruins were declared a National Monument in 1915. It is a beautiful canyon and there are cliff dwellings all over the sides of the canyon. The trail to the cliff dwellings had 240 steps down, not so bad, but then 240 steps back up to the top, that was our workout for the day.
We then stopped at another National historic landmark, The Museum Club, for a cold beer (just for the historical value). We met other New Jersey people at the bar, part timers with a 5th wheel RV, had a lively political debate, learned much of their life history and ended up having way too many beers, but lots of fun ! A legendary country songwriter, Billy Joe Shaver, was there for a show starting at 9 PM, we heard him do a song as the sound check, but that's all as we were in no condition to stay for the show.
I've been to Flagstaff a number of times and love the town and I'm happy to say it is as vibrant as ever, maybe even more so. I toured around downtown, took many photos, many repeaters from previous visits, but there is always a new angle or better light. Once again, the BNSF railroad runs through town, also Amtrak and it is an extremely busy freight line.
I went for a solo ride (as Twinkles was laying a little low after her big party night) up to the Arizona Snow Bowl area and hiked a short trail. The Aspen Tree leaves are now at their peak fall color. The bright yellow Aspens intermingled with the dark green Ponderosa Pines in the San Francisco Peaks is incredible. I can't decide which tree, the Aspen or the Ponderosa Pine is my favorite, both are equally great.
Our last exploit was to Sunset Crater National Monument a short distance from Flagstaff. It is one of the most recent volcanic eruptions in the west occurring 900 years ago. The amazing thing is that it appears so much more recent than that. The lava flow is still dark with little erosion and almost no vegetation growing in it. You are not allowed to hike up the crater anymore, but there is a trail, the Lenox Crater Trail to a good view point and another trail, the Lava Flow Trail, that goes out into the lava flow area with spectacular views.
We topped this off with a great meal at a mexican restaurant, Salsa Brava, that was featured on the food network show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I don't know why it was on that show as it didn't fit any of those categories. The food was worthy of a TV show however, it really, really good. We have now exceeded our eat out food budget, will be eating in for the next week.
Happy birthday wishes to my granddaughter, Sierra, who turns two years old today !!!; and looking forward to our next stop, Phoenix, Arizona in time for my mothers 94th birthday on October 15th.
|The corner in Winslow Arizona|
|Winslow, another railroad town|
|Walnut Canyon National Monument|
|Cliff dwellings built into canyon wall ledges|
|Twinkles posing inside one of the dwellings|
|Mural in downtown Flagstaff|
|Another downtown mural|
|I loved the artistic element of this old doorway|
|Mural in downtown Flagstaff with a great woodcutter scene, Northern Arizona University mascot|
|No visit to Flagstaff is complete without a photo of the historic Hotel Monte Vista|
|The Aspen trees from a meadow near the Snowbowl|
|View form the Aspen loop trail|
|View of the Aspen trees along the way to the Snowbowl|
|View at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument|
|Sunset Crater view|
|Grasses trying to take root after 900 years|
|Ponderosa Pine trees at Sunset Crater|
|Rabbitbush flowers with volcanic flow in the background|
|Mountains of volcanic cinders|
|Ancient weathered tree at Sunset Crater|