We lingered in Arizona because the weather was warmer than in most other parts of the country during this time of year. We were still moving north, but our next state was Utah and we weren’t in too much of a hurry to arrive there before mid-march… at least. Mike and I had taken a short trip to Sedona once, and I wanted to return to the area and spend more time in that majestic town. There weren’t really any nice RV Parks in Sedona proper, but we did find a great state park down the road about 20 miles. We secured reservations at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood for two weeks and made that our destination when we departed Tucson.
There were lots of things to do and see at this location, and we had a good amount of time for ample exploration. The weather was also wonderful for the duration of our stop, so I was able to take lots of photos. I will spare you excessive paragraphs and let the pictures do the talking for the rest of this blog post.
River otter in the Verde River.
Sedona is famous for its vortexes. The area has long been known as a spiritual power center containing subtle energy. I visited the Boynton Canyon Vortex during our Cottonwood stay. This is the trail to the knoll where the energy is strongest.
The swanky Enchantment Resort is nestled among a cluster of red rock mountains. If you look closely you can see some of the buildings of the hotel.
I sat beside the knoll of the Boyton Canyon Vortex for about 30 minutes, trying to absorb as much yin/yang balance as possible. Not sure if it worked, but I should at least get points for the attempt.
They say Juniper trees respond to the vortex energy in a physical way that reveals where the energy is strongest. The stronger the energy, the more of a twist the trees have in their branches. Seems plausible, since I didn’t see any twisted Junipers in areas that did not tout vortexes.
I guess this guy was getting lots of yin/yang balance, since he climbed to the TOP of the knoll. I doubt him screaming “The view is awesome as SHIT” from the top of his lungs helped any of us underlings feel like we were in any sort of peaceful and zen setting.
This crane stopped by Mike’s fishing hole to join him in a little morning angling.
I didn’t realize our drive north along I-17 after Phoenix was going to be through the mountains. Cessna thought the terrain was very pretty as green emerged throughout the landscape. She was hoping she would be able to pee on grass again.
I tried to hold it together during the climbs and descents, until we passed a sign that instructed all trucks to pull over and check their breaks. As we approached the Runaway Truck Ramp, I was starting to lose it just a bit. Mike, as usual, was in complete control of the rig… even as I was screaming “break, use the breaks, break, what about a lower gear, break, oh dear put on the breaks”.
Our spot was number 47 at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Water and electric hook-ups only. We were there for two weeks. We made it one week before we had to move the Monaco to the dump station, and then we stopped by again on our way out at the end of the second week. I showered in the campground bath house every day, Mike took Navy showers, and we did a great job of conserving water for the rest of the stuff like teeth brushing, dish washing, etc.
Park Ranger Dog.
The view from my office window. Prescott, Arizona is on the other side of those mountains.
Dead Horse Ranch had a nice walking trail around three ponds in the park.
Piper needed sunglasses, so he improvised.
If you look closely, you will see a quail in the middle of the photo.
I went to Jerome on Sunday afternoon just to check things out. The historic mining town is literally built on the side of a mountain. I am a little acrophobic, so it was a bit of an experience navigating the roads through town. The views were exceptional, though.
Jerome was a super busy place on a clear and warm Sunday afternoon. I was surprised. I didn’t realize I was heading up to a weekend hotspot!
If the weather is pretty on the weekend, apparently there is an unwritten rule that says all motorcycle owners must take a drive to Jerome. Not sure how they get back down the mountain after drinking and listening to live bands all day… but I was gone by then so I didn’t worry about it.
A view of our campground from a little hill to our southwest.
We enjoyed gazing at a bright full moon during our stay at this campground.
Sedona was just about 20 miles down the road from our campground, and the views en route made the trip seem even quicker than that.
Our first stop in Sedona was with the dogs to Cathedral Rock for a sensational afternoon hike.
Some of what we saw during our Cathedral Rock hike.
Cathedral Rock in Sedona.
During the first week of our stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park a firefighter from Ontario, Canada went to the top of the hill near our campground and played bagpipes at sunset each night. WOW! One of the coolest surprises we have witnessed on our entire trip.
Sedona has dozens of wonderful restaurants. One of my favorites was a relatively new place called Mariposa. The items I ordered from the Latin inspired menu were delicious, the views were spectacular, and the décor was absolutely amazing. If you have a chance to visit – go at sunset and sit outside on the patio.
The entrance gate at Mariposa. Those metal globes are carved with butterflies and turn into flaming torches at dusk. The whole place is totally sexy.
Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona.
A red mountain behind the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
Inside the Chapel of the Holy Cross. I stopped in to say a quick prayer and light a few candles.
Before we embarked upon this adventure, if you had asked me to speculate which state would provide the most fresh fish during our trip, I guarantee my guesses would not have been Kansas or Arizona. That is for certain! The Verde River was very good to Mike.
Tlaquepaque is a shopping village in the heart of Sedona. It is filled with wonderful art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and other shops. A friend told me the men call it “to-lock-your-pockets” and wives should be forbidden from visiting. I spent one afternoon there without Mike.
The pool at the Enchantment Resort. Pretty cool, huh?
This helicopter flew over our camp spot several times each day. I think they were running aerial tours over to Sedona and back.
One of the trails at our campground. We never had to go on the same hike twice.
The captain of the Monaco rigged up our campground fire pit to smoke some of the trout he caught. He’s a genius!
Mike talked this road runner into posing for the camera.
Tuzigoot National Monument was within walking distance of our campground. It is a two to three story Pueblo Ruin built up on a ridge above the Verde River. They say it was a community for over 400 years, which is twice as long as the United States has been a country!
My friend Betsy and I spent countless hours riding our bikes around our neighborhood during our childhood in Harlingen. Now she lives in Phoenix with her family. She and her boys (one husband and two children) drove up to Dead Horse Ranch State Park and camped overnight so we could have a visit and get caught up with each other. It was so much fun to see familiar faces during our stop! We almost kidnapped her kiddos and brought them to finish the Lower 48 in 48 Tour with us!
An eagle flying over the river at the state park.
We got to see two sets of friends during our Cottonwood stop. What a treat! We drove back down toward Phoenix on a Monday to spend an afternoon with our friends Brian and Shanna. We met Brian through our next door neighbor in The Woodlands. When we got close enough to hook up with him and his wife, we seized the opportunity!
Saguaro Lake outside of Mesa, Arizona.
A view of Saguaro Lake during our hike with Brian and Shanna.
Another Arizona surprise. Would you guess this picture was taken in the middle of the desert?
A nice afternoon hike with friends.
When we got back to our cars after hiking along the edge of Saguaro Lake, I was surprised to see a group of wild horses grazing in the grass beside the parking lot.
When the wild horses made their way to the beach by the lake, I was beside myself. What a lovely sight!
We drove back to Cottonwood through Payson and the Tonto National Forest on Hwy 87 to Hwy 260. It was a beautiful drive the entire way! After dark we were warned to watch out for elk. Didn’t see any of those creatures, but we did come upon three javelina in the middle of the road.