Sunday, November 13, 2016

Arizona, back to Utah, then home

For years, my brother, Dick, said, "Ya gotta go to Sedona," (in Arizona) knowing that we love the red rock landscape of southern Utah.  We've been to Arizona many times, but never to that portion of it.

So on this trip, we made it a point to see Sedona which lies about 30 miles south of Flagstaff.    The road connecting the two towns cuts through a breathtaking canyon with a few switchback turns. Fortunately, Dick warned us about it before we headed down in our motorhome.

"Take the freeway south and cut over to Cottonwood", he said.  So we did.

We discovered Dead Horse Ranch State Park which sits on the north edge of Cottonwood, on a slope over looking the town.  This, of all the campgrounds we visited, was our favorite.  One must remember that this is not western Oregon.  This is desert.  The terrain may not appeal to everyone.  But the sites were spacious, the view was vast, and the price was good.

Cottonwood is one of several small towns in the area, and of no particular interest in and of itself.  But it had the essentials and was a convenient base.  The first night there we were treated to a lively thunder storm.  Hello Arizona.

We rode our motorcycle back up the next day to see Sedona.

Wow.  We continued north through Oak Creek Canyon which we had avoided in our motorhome.

More Wow.

Then back to Sedona which has a hearty array of shops and restaurants.  The town itself isn't all that unusual.  It's the countryside wrapped around it that puts on the show.

Note:  If you are easily swayed into impulse purchases of touristy stuff you don't need, just use a motorcycle for transportation.  Then you are physically unable to buy that gorgeous but ridiculously expensive rug that YOU KNOW would eliminate all sadness if you could gaze upon it in your living room forevermore.

We rode through the streets and neighborhoods.  Sorry these pictures are not the products of high-end camera equipment, skill, and careful composure ...... just me with my phone, holding onto the back of a bike, with shadows in all the wrong places.

(Thanks, Dick, for pushing us to go there.)

The next day, on the advice of a fellow camper, we decided to visit the nearby town of Jerome.

"It's right over there", he said, as he pointed to a small clump of lights on the side of a mountain in the distance.  (Notice the small community in the center of the picture, half-way up the mountain.  Cottonwoods sits below.)

Jerome came to be in the late 1800s, built next to a copper mine, and accessed by a narrow, winding mountain road.  It was once known as the "wickedest town in the west", likely due to its unfortunate, yet colorful history of brothels and saloons.  Now its streets zig-zag up the hill through a quirky hodgepodge of shops and cafes.  This semi-ghost town is a must-see if you ever get this way.

In it's 100+ years history, all the buildings in Jerome have burned or slid down the hill once or twice.  At one time there was a 200 room hotel, considered to be the largest in the state.  It too had the sad fate of burning to the ground, but was never rebuilt.

We spent the next two nights on the shores of Lake Powell which gave Husband ideas of a future house-boat vacation.   It's sad to see the low water level of this very unusual lake.

While there, we did motorcycle loop down through the town of Kanab where we had lunch.

A bit of personal history:

It was the summer of my ninth year, 1964.  My mother died several months earlier and my dad, my two brothers, and I were on a road trip down to Los Angeles and back up to Glenwood, UT.  My sister was spending the summer between college semesters in LA with our aunt who was house-sitting for Rose Marie Reid, a successful swimsuit designer. I said house-sitting, but it was more like mansion-sitting.  Our few days there made an impression on me, hence I never forgot the name of its owner.  I never met Ms. Reid, and it wasn't until just very recently, I learned of her fame.  We visited Disneyland, Marine Land, and Knotts Berry Farm, before heading north.  (My only memory of that leg of the trip was going through Bakersfield in 112 degrees with no AC.)

My point in telling this story is that we (plus a pet guinnea pig I somehow acquired along the way) spent a night at Perry's Lodge, a motel in Kanab, UT.  Kanab is a small town and in the 40s, 50s, and 60s was often the hub of movie makers because the landscape, with the canyons and mountains, made the perfect backdrop for westerns.  And for years when in Kanab, Perry's Lodge was the place to stay.  

After that hot car ride, we were glad to hit the swimming pool at the motel.  My dad was an avid swimmer.  He taught all his kids to swim, except me, the youngest.  Not that he didn't try to teach me.  I just never got it.  But he figured he'd give it another go.  T'was at the edge of this pool I remember standing, with my toes curled over the rim, arms stretched up over my head, knees bent, and hands clamped, thinking that any minute, I would somehow transform into an actual swimmer and dive in head first.

My dad urged, coaxed, and patiently waited ..... I stood for what seemed like an hour in that crouched position.  But it never happened.  I never did the dive.  I probably pulled off a few impressive belly-flops in the process, but to this day, I do not dive into water.  I hardly even swim, in spite of several attempts at lessons.  And THAT (with a lot of unnecessary details tossed in) is what I remember every time I drive through Kanab.
Notice the irony?  (The rules must have changed since then.)

We drove to St. George, UT.  T'was there we did four awesome things:
1.  Reconnected with some dear cousins whom we think need to move back to Oregon.
2.  Spent a few hours in this beautiful, historic building.

3.  Rode the bike up through Zion National Park.
4.  Went to Costco to do some serious shopping.  (This was the first real city in which we had spent time in weeks and I had been in withdrawal.)

Zion is my favorite national park.  The pictures I took are (again) ... from my phone, from the back of the bike, and with the same bothersome shadows.  This canyon is beyond words and the pictures don't even come near the experience.  We've driven through it in a (different) motorhome with our kids, in our convertible BMW, in a van with friends, in a bus with family, and now on a motorcycle.  We've hiked in it and waded through its river into slot canyons.  I think all that's left is to see it on a bicycle, or from a helicopter ... or perhaps in a hot air balloon?

Needing to expedite our return home, we began the trek north.  We had an appointment in Bend, OR, in a couple of days and other family matters looming.   On the last day of our trip we got in a quick visit to a particular piece of newly purchased property in a community called Crooked River Ranch where we were welcomed home by a stunning sunset.

Check out our future view when someday we again put down roots.

It's not Zion, but it's ours.