Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cottonwood, Sedona and Jerome

November 21-26, 2013:

A big travel day for us, 200 miles, taking Rt 89T (Indian Rt 20) through miles and miles of Navajo land to Rt 89 south to Flagstaff, then Rt 40 west to Rt 17 south to Rt 260 to Rt 89A into Cottonwood, Arizona.  We arrived at the Dead Horse Ranch State Park just on the outskirts of Cottonwood about 2 PM.  It is a easy large pull through campsite with electric and water, dump station nearby and bathroom/ shower within walking distance.  It was very cloudy all day, with on and off periods of rain and quite cold, 39 degrees just north of Flagstaff, down in the Verde Valley at Cottonwood it is a mild 50 degrees.  Snow is forecast for Flagstaff on Friday, heavy snow up in the San Francisco Peaks, we seem to have just squeaked through.  The plan is for 6 days here, lots to do and then to Phoenix for Thanksgiving with the family, then on to our winter destination in Tucson.

Threatening view along Route 260

Frosty morning view from the campsite

It seems we have arrived in time for the monsoon rains, it rained steadily all night and is forecast to continue all weekend with possible localized flooding.  Fortunately we seem to uphill from the Verde River.  

We drove through downtown Cottonwood, which has a section called "Old Town" with many restaurants, antique shops, a couple of pubs and an assortment of tourist trap shops.  Next, we drove to Sedona to look around but the Red Rocks were mostly obscured by the dense rain and clouds.  We stopped at the local chamber of Commerce to get some ideas of things to do.  They recommended visiting the shops at Tlaquepaque, which was a very upscale shopping plaza full of galleries, cafes, a brew pub and various other artistic and specialty shops.  At almost every shop we entered, the shopkeeper would ask where we were visiting from and we would go through the whole living full time in a RV spiel.  This happens a lot as we travel and it usually starts a long conversation, almost always good, but after three or four times in a row, it gets old.  So when asked, we look at each other and laugh and take turns answering.  Sometimes you just want to give a town name and be done with it. 

Cottonwood mural

Another mural

Larry's Antique Store is great

Tons of old stuff for sale

Very cloudy Bell Mountain outside Sedona

On Saturday, it was another cloudy, rainy day so we set off to the town of Jerome, 8 miles away, to go to the Jerome Historic State Park.  It is another excellent museum on the rich Copper mining history of Jerome.  The town itself is situated on a steep hillside, a mile high, with mine tunnels all over and a fault running through the center of it all.  They have had problems with landslides in the past and with buildings sliding downhill, the most notable being the town jail which has slid a couple hundred feet down the hillside.  It was another wild colorful boom town in it's day that almost became a ghost town after the mines closed.  In the 1960's an influx of counterculture types came in and started artistic shops and such which resulted in the tourism industry of today. This is the third time I have been to Jerome and it is a favorite Arizona town of mine, many similarities to Bisbee, AZ.  We walked past the "Spirit Room Saloon" in mid afternoon and saw that a band, "Cadillac Angels" was starting at 2 PM. It is a very cool old western Saloon, the place was packed, the band was good and it big fun. Leaving Jerome, the clouds had lifted somewhat over Sedona, visible at the horizon and the sun was illuminating the red rock mountain formations.  It was a stunning view and some one must have gotten an incredible photo. 

View of Jerome from the museum

Model of the Copper Mine and underground shafts

Lots of Railroad history in Jerome

Largest Mine Headframe still standing
in Arizona, built in 1918

The Hotel Connor in Jerome

Jerome, Too strong to Die

Sunday, the rain is ending, but it is still very cloudy.  We go in the afternoon to Montezuma Castle National Monument where the Sinagua culture lived in a five story 20 room cliff dwelling, 100 feet above the valley floor from around 1100 AD to 1300 AD.  Nearby is another badly deteriorated dwelling, Castle A, which originally was a five story, 40 room dwelling.  The Sinagua people were a quite advanced culture and farmed the valley floor.  They built irrigation canals from the year around flowing river.  These people were in large numbers and had pueblo type dwellings all over the area.  We then went a few miles away to the Montezuma Well.  This is a huge sinkhole that is continuously kept filled by underground water that surges up from below.  The Sinkhole has an outlet that naturally regulates the level of the lake water with the discharge going out into a creek.  There are ancient cliff dwellings around the perimeter of the sink hole.  In addition, there are five unusual animal species that live in this lake that exist nowhere else in the world, quite amazing ! 

Montezuma Castle view

Inside the Cowboy Corner Store

Lots of old Saddles for sale

Montezuma Well

Cliff dwelling at the Well

Cliff dwelling ruins at lower part of Well

Indian dwelling ruins at top of the Well

Monday, freezing in the morning, but lots of sun and blue skies, so off we went for some hiking in the Sedona area.  Our objective was the Bell Tower Rock area but when we got there all parking spots were taken.  It seems there are still lots of tourists, more than we expected in late November, maybe due to the Thanksgiving holiday ?  Anyhow, we then went to the next turnoff parking area, no spaces there either.  The third pull off area was the charm, we parked and went off onto the "Little Horse" Trail not knowing where it went or how long it was.  A passing couple told us it was great and so we stuck to it and it turned out to be fantastic.  It ended up being about 2 1/2 miles long, very scenic, culminating on top of a large rock Dome with a great 360 degree view of the surrounding terrain.  We passed very few people on the trail, however when we arrived at the end there were about 30 people standing on top of the Dome.  We wondered how they got there until we saw the "Pink Jeep Tour" vehicles parked there which had carried all the people to the top using a dirt road on the back side of the mountain. Afterwards we stopped in "Up Town Sedona" to window shop, we found everything there to be so touristy, not much of a real town feel to it.  There are two Sedona now, the "Up Town Sedona" and the "West Sedona".  It will always be a beautiful place, but so much traffic, so much development, it's sort of ruined.  This is what happens when paradise is left in the hands of Developers, Bankers and Realtors.

View from the Little Horse Trail

Yucca Plant

View of the Dome near end of the trail

Pink Jeep tour stop
View along the Little Horse Trail

Tuesday freezing again, then another short, but great hike on the Chimney Rock Trail which goes 360 degrees around the very scenic Chimney Rock.  It really does resemble a chimney, I often take exception to these named rocks, especially the animal ones.  The recent rain really soaked into the red rock soil and everything green appears to have burst back to life.  We then went back to Old Town Cottonwood to the "Red Rooster Cafe" for lunch, very good. 

Chimney Rock view

Chimney Rock up close

Twinkles posing along trail

Tuesday night I ventured back to Jerome, up the long winding dark hill to the "Spirit Room Saloon" for acoustic Tuesday.  It really wasn't genuine Acoustic but close enough for me.  It was a duo from Phoenix called Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold (taken from a Townes van Zandt song) who were very interesting, entertaining and played a mix of bluegrass, blues, country and folk utilizing guitar and banjo.  It was a small but fun crowd for a Tuesday night. The view from Jerome at night is very special as the town sits up high on a hill side overlooking the Verde Valley which is filled with lights.

Mural behind bar in the Spirit Room

Interesting picture poem in the Spirit Room

Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold

Next stop is the Destiny RV Park in Goodyear, Arizona in time for Thanksgiving with my mother and sister's family in Avondale, Arizona.

More to follow,
Twinkles & Slick

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