December 16, 2019

Verde Valley

After leaving Centerville, we mostly drove straight through to Arizona.  We weren’t in a hurry though, so it took us 3 days to get to Flagstaff, AZ.  Flagstaff is a beautiful city and we have camped in the mountains around it before.  This wasn’t going to be our stop this time.  There was already snow on the ground and the high altitude would have damaged our auxiliary heater in the van.

Instead we just passed through Flagstaff and headed toward Sedona.  The drive down the mountains from Flagstaff to Sedona is very, very scenic.  I didn’t get any photos because it was narrow roads and switchbacks most of the way.  We just passed through Sedona as well because we were headed to a campsite about 8 miles south of there, half way to Cottonwood.

There is a road there that has lots of pullouts that people can camp at for free for 14 days.  It was a very popular spot.  You almost always shared a pullout with 3 or 4 other campers.  And it was muddy.  The mud was everywhere since this is the rainy season in Verde Valley.IMG 0417We settled in and hung out there for a couple of days, only going into Cottonwood to sign up again for Planet Fitness, buy food, and use the internet at the closest Starbuckis.  It was surprisingly rainy for being in the desert and mud got everywhere.  Eventually we learned to live with it.

I had bought some wood when we passed through Sedona and I was determined to have a campfire.  I had no longer got the fire going and a beer opened, when it started sprinkling.  Then it came down a little harder.  Then a little harder.  It was a full rain shower, but my fire was still burning, so I stayed outside partly out of stubborness, partly out of enjoyment.  Nicole wouldn’t have anything to do with it.  Those of you who know her, know how the cold affects her.

Eventually another rubbertramp pulled up in a SUV.  She asked to join me by the fire and I obliged.  We sat around and drank a couple beers while stoking the fire and shivering in the rain.  She was a single mother who’s children had all grown up and moved out.  So she sold her house, bought an SUV, kitted it out, and is driving around the US alone.  Her boyfriend that had planned on traveling with her bailed out on her and left her to go it alone.  She was on her way to North Carolina for Christmas and I imagine she’s doing fine.  She seemed to be dealing with the regular road hardships without problem.  Eventually it got too cold for both of us and we retired to our respective vehicles.  She took off early the next morning, on her way to her next adventure.

One morning, I decided that Nic and I would head into Sedona and have lunch.  The road that we were staying on looped around through the mountains and looked like it would be a scenic route.

As I was having my morning coffee, I noticed a couple of guys who were standing around a sedan staring at it.  Eventually, one of them approached the van, so I got out and asked him if he needed help.  They had a very low tire and no spare.  I have an onboard air compressor, so I helped them out by airing up their tire.  While talking with them, they had mentioned that there was some cave paintings up the road along the route that we were going to take into Sedona.

A short while later, Nicole and I were in a tour group at the Palatki Heritage Site.  It was literally only 10 minutes down the road from where we had been sleeping.  

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The tour lasted a couple hours and was an easy hike.  We really loved learning about these native and prehistoric peoples.  The petroglyphs were very interesting and I found it somewhat amazing that they could last so long exposed to the elements as they were.

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After the tour we drove the rest of the say into Sedona along a the washboard, potholed road that we had been living on for days.  We had some amazing pizza for lunch and headed back to the pullouts for the day.