Good morning from Homolovi State Park just outside of Winslow, Arizona. We arrived here last evening in time to set up, have a surreptitious beer and glass of wine and guacamole (thanks Wade A. for the easy recipe) before a beautiful sunset unfolded. Nothing like right place, right time.
Homolovi is located about a mile and a half from Interstate 44 and is high desert (4,900 feet above sea level). After Grand Canyon, being back in an environment with long-distance views is a nice change. We'll be here for at least another evening before heading in the general direction of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is either our second or third Arizona state park. Kudos to Arizona for their very well thought-out parks.
I'm admitting right here I'm over Spring Breaks. Really. I was complaining about this to a friend a few days back as Melanie and I were relaxing having a beer and glass of wine at the El Tovar Hotel on the South Rim at Grand Canyon. His response was, "Yeah, like, damn those kids." We laughed at my over reaction and his sarcasm. But still.
It's been a bit of a downer for us full-time traveling newbies (great name for a college band?) trying to find a place to stay (without reservations, lesson possibly learned) and a quiet place to hike or ride our bikes. Since our boys now do Spring Break on their own for the past few years, my recollection apparently has gotten dim or I'm just dim, but regardless, my Spring Break experience this year is sucking, especially since my memory of Sedona, among other locations, was of this sleepy, but kitschy, and extremely beautiful place in northern Arizona (25 years ago).
So, Sedona was a parking lot full of people who were there, I assume (those Pink Jeep tours though), to have some fun in the few days they had during their respective Spring Breaks. Don't get me wrong, it's still beautiful in Sedona, amazing views everywhere you look, but with many more businesses and many, many more houses, all tastefully done, of course. Regardless, as another friend opined, it's definitely the Gatlinburg of the Southwest. Melanie just rolled her eyes at my complaints as she was extremely pleased with her experience.
The photo above is the only one you get. I'm not here to mislead you with selectively photographed, cropped and edited images. If you do find yourself in Sedona, your experience may vary depending on your inclination toward magic crystals and vortexes. 😎
Jerome and Flagstaff, Arizona
We left Sedona, Arizona and headed to Jerome, another place I'd been to on one other occasion some twenty-five years ago. My recollection was of a small arts community with a history of copper mining set on the side of a mountain looking east towards Sedona. It's pretty much the same place I recall with a few more renovations and stores and restaurants.
If shopping is your thing and you like great vistas, Jerome is not to be missed. We had a good lunch there and moved along to Flagstaff, Arizona.
We pretty much enjoyed our stay in the college town of Flagstaff. We stayed in a KOA campground (America's Campground) just outside of Flagstaff historic downtown. The weather was a little too cool to do much bike riding, so our few days there were mostly spend around camp. We did, however, venture out on two evenings and found a cool wine bar at which we drank and had dinner.
We will visit Flagstaff again when the weather is more conducive to riding around the great historic downtown on our bikes or, when I have my ski gear, so I can take advantage of Arizona Snowbowl. Either way, Flagstaff has a good feel.
Grand Canyon National Park
I'd tried for days to get a reservation at one of the campgrounds within GCNP, but, as mentioned above, it was f'ing Spring Break and everyone and their children had made a plan. So, after searching my various resources online, I made the determination that we'd go to the park and the worst thing that might happen is we'd park Miranda on National Forest land just outside the park and drive in to visit.
We got up early on Monday morning, made coffee and drank it on the way there. Arriving at the park around 8:45 a.m., we easily made our way in (no charge 'cause I have that Senior Pass 😎). My first stop was to Mather Campground. The nice ranger person told me they were full, but if I'd come back by around noon, there may be cancellations by then. He also suggested trying next door at Trailer Village.
We made our way over to the Village. I told the person there I had no reservation, I understood it was (sigh) Spring Break all over 'Merica, but was it possible he had a space for Miranda so that my wife, who'd never in her entire whole life seen this wonder of the world, could now take a peek and be truly amazed.
How many days do you need, he asked me? Well, most gracious and kind sir, one or two, would be very nice. Give me a sec, he said. Sure, I can give you and your wife two days. Miracle of miracles. I thanked him profusely as we left for our spot at about 9:15 a.m. (check in time normally is 1:00 p.m.) Maybe that crystal I'd touched in Sedona...
If you've never seen the canyon, it's a must see kinda thing. Photos never do it justice. One must stand on the rim of the canyon and take in the grandness, the constantly changing light playing on the walls below.
We rode our bikes along great bike paths and one morning got up early, made coffee, packed that and a couple of protein bars in the panniers, along with my camera, and watched the sun come up along a couple of places on the South rim. We'll definitely be back at some point, the North Rim was closed for the winter.
Photos taken in two different locations along Desert View Drive
Our lunch spot in a pull-out overlook as we left Grand Canyon on Desert View Drive
Desert View Overlook
A few shots from Trailer Village Campground