*****

Sedona Arizona, April 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015

Verde Canyon Railroad Ride

We had planned on taking the train from Williams up to the Grand Canyon after our Sedona visit, but when our friend John suggested taking the Verde Canyon Train Ride we decided to do that instead. Several other people had also recommended it as a nice trip. 

Both Bev and I thought it was a bit overpriced, but as Craig would say "the dollar isn't what it used to be!"




We opted for the First Class coach which included access to both a comfortable enclosed car and an open car where a guide pointed out the features that we passed. Craig had a good time taking lots of pictures.

Near the start we passed several Native American dwelling places from 400 to 900 AD.  None of them seemed very tall, more sleeping places than walking-around-in places.


Sometimes the train was quite close to the rocks, at other times they were quite distant.  The Verde River accompanied the tracks most of the time.



A few sandstone expanses interrupted the red rocks.


Most of the Western US seems to be composed of layers.


The ability of cactus and other plants to grow in rocks is amazing.


Looking up at close rocks.



Th train went over several trestles and through a dark tunnel, but we've omitted those images in favor of the scenery.


Bev and I found the first class seating quite comfortable. Although I have not been drinking alcohol for the last month or so, Craig and I shared a bottle of Chardonnay. The view out the window is the ranch land where the engines are brought around for the ride back.


On the ride back the sun had gone lower, which made some of the scenes look better.




The ride is about four hours long. 

[From Craig]  Shooting pictures from a train is much easier than on a hike :-)

On Thursday we drove 100 miles northwest to Williams. From here we will drive the Jeep up to the Grand Canyon for a day trip, possibly Sunday. Other than that, the next few days are devoted to rest and chores around the rig. I am also looking forward to using the heated indoor swimming pool and hot tub. 

The weather is going to be a bit cold for the next few days, with possible snow on Sunday. I hope we can see some snow in the Canyon.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sedona-Tuesday

On Tuesday we decided to drive around Sedona and view more of the wonderful red rock formations and attractions.

Our first stop was the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Although I am not religious, I did appreciate the architectural simplicity of the place.



In addition to the views of the red rocks we saw a huge mansion just below the Chapel.



There is a great deal of controversy about it, with some saying its size and style violate the natural setting. I do not agree. To me it doesn't violate the setting any more than the chapel above it does. Each to their own. Hooray for the freedom in this country that allows people to build big houses and other people to install symbols of their faith in the same general area. 

Perhaps someday the mansion will be opened as a tourist attraction. It's not as big as Biltmore or the Ringling mansion, but it may be just as interesting, and it's bigger than some of the other private homes we have toured in the last year.

Our friends John and Bev were our guides and drivers. Our next stop was a view point where we could get a close up look at  Bell Rock and several other notable rock formations. 





From there they took us up to an overlook up by the Sedona Airport where we could get a long view of the red rocks and the town of Sedona.



This is one small segment of the horizon to horizon view.  Craig took so many pictures I found it hard to choose among them, but hopefully the few I have posted give you a small taste of the natural wonder of this valley. 

You just have to visit Sedona in person to fully appreciate it!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jerome and Old Town Cottonwood

When hearing we were going to the Sedona and Cottonwood area, several people suggested we should drive up to see a small town called Jerome. It was a copper mining and smelting town high in the mountains nearby.
When the copper mine finally closed down, the town died and many of the old buildings were destroyed. But at some point new "hippie" people moved in and Jerome became revitalized. It is now a destination that is not terribly touristy, nor overly "artsy." Some of the old buildings have been restored, and a few stand in their original condition.



The Jerome State Historic Park Visitors Center, great lunch spots, and fantastic views of the valley below make the short drive and difficult parking worth the effort.

We only spent a half day there because my walking is still limited by my ankle injury.

After lunch we drove down and walked around the Cottonwood Old Town business district, visiting a few galleries, antique shops, a book store, and several gift shops. 


I bought some wild new socks with pink and purple smiling javelinas as my souvenir. 
We also stopped  at an Olive Oil tasting room, where Craig got a small bottle of Cara-Cara Orange Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar.

Any souvenir must be consumable, wearable, readable, or for someone else when you live in an RV!






Did I mention there were four other Alfas here in our loop of the Dead Horse Ranch Park? It seems that wherever there is more than one Alfa, happy hour is celebrated. So we joined our Maverick friends and had some yummy bites for dinner. After having eaten lunch out we had planned on a simple salad for dinner, but the crab cakes, meatballs, deviled eggs, and an assortment of  fresh veggies were more than enough. 

The eating is GOOD!



A list of our future reservations:




Monday, April 20, 2015

Sedona, Sunday


I visited Sedona, Arizona, several years ago for a long weekend with my sister, and was eager to share its beauty with Craig. As soon as we were settled into our site at the Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, we got into the Jeep and drove the 20 miles or so to Sedona.

We first parked in a 30 minute spot outside of the uptown Visitors Center, and after picking up a map managed to find a spot to leave the Jeep for a longer time. Sunday afternoon in Sedona is a very busy time!

The sky was quite dramatic all afternoon. It never rained, but we could see rain coming down from the clouds but not reaching the ground. (Such rain is called "virga".) 

Sedona is surrounded by red rock formations. The building codes of the city restrict color and height of the homes and businesses. Even McDonald's had to comply and there are no golden arches!

Our day ended with a get-together with our old friends, John and Bev. We had a light dinner together and then went to their home for a delightful dessert and a delightful desert view. 

We knew at least one of our Alfa friends was coming to this park, this week, but were surprised to see several others! Like us, they are only here for a few days before heading out in other directions.

It is going to be a busy week, lots to see.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Surprise!

Surprise Arizona that is.

We had a very nice visit with my brother Keith and his wife Gerri, at their park model home in Surprise. They started spending winters in Arizona several years ago, and last fall they sold their beautiful Wisconsin lake home and moved down here permanently. They still have their class A motorhome and will be doing some traveling in summers, that will include long stays with family, back up north.

We were able to park in a full-hook-up site right next to their lot at the Sunflower Resort.

On Friday night we went to the Elks Club for a nice fish fry. Joining the Elks is on our list for this year. Perhaps when we are in Idaho in July, or when we go back to San Diego for the holidays. 

My brother loaned me a couple of great books about Utah, and we retired to the Alfa early so I could look through them before returning them the next day.

On Sunday we went over to Lake Pleasant for a splendid afternoon.



We enjoyed hot wings on the shaded patio overlooking the lake.


There were two pair of Mallard ducks that were having a very animated discussion with each other.  The males had the most active disputes, but only when the females were behind them, poking them in the butt with their beaks!


I had never seen Flyboarding before, and we watched several younger people trying it. Not something we will be doing anytime soon, but fun to watch.

Back at the park, my brother cooked up some yummy steaks on the Weber Q, and my sister-in-law treated us to a warm dump-cake for desert.  Which was a neat coincidence, because we were introduced to a dump cake a couple of nights before.



My brother had heard of Mexican Train, but had never played, so he brought out a big light and we played out on the patio table. The night was soft and neither too warm, nor too cool. There were no bugs or mosquitoes.  It was indeed pretty near perfect!


Keith had a nice turn of beginners luck when he used all of his tiles on the first round of play in the sixes round.  If you know the game you can imagine my groan when I was left holding the double nines, several high count tiles, and the double blank.  We had fun, Keith won, I was second and Craig was last after he had four no-starts out of 10 games.

We said our goodbyes by 10:00 AM Sunday, and drove the 100 or so miles north to Cottonwood AZ where we will be getting together with some old friends who have retired in Sedona this year.

Life is good!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

2015 Alfa Owners Club Rally

In some ways this year's AOC Rally has been the best of the three we have attended. 

One of several dinner gatherings in the Ballroom. 


We have been enjoying pot-luck meals, catered meals, and group restaurant meals every evening, along with many "Happy Hour" get-togethers. We could join in for coffee and donuts every morning, but on most mornings we prefer to sleep in and make our own breakfasts.

We feel we know more people than in previous years, and know who to ask if we have a question.

This year we skipped some of the product seminars, because we had already heard them. Craig went to some of the "tech talks", and we both went to the "travel talks".  On our list were talks about Mexico, the Rockies, Alaska, and the Maritimes.  Some of the presentations were by other Alfa owners who had traveled by themselves, and some were by Alfa owners who traveled with the Adventure Caravan company as customers and as employees. There are advantages to both. The caravan approach has the advantage of professional planning and having a wagon master and other guides available to help if you need it. You do not have to make your own reservations, or worry about getting lost or stuck. You travel with a group and enjoy a social atmosphere and group meals. But you do pay quite a lot for these advantages. To quote my brother: "It's like the difference between a cruise and a boat ride."  

On the other hand, if you travel on your own, you can go where you want, and stay for as many days as you want.  Of the trips we heard about, only traveling in Mexico for the first time would tempt me to have a paid guide.  But that may change in the future!  Did you know you can go on an RV Caravan trip in Africa? Who would have thought!

We also took advantage of "Rally Discounts" to have our coach washed, oxidation removed, and a good hand waxing. Our holding tanks also got a thorough power cleaning and all the sensors are reading correctly again. We have never had a black tank clog, but the gray tank has smelled bad lately, and a good professional cleaning was called for.

We have enjoyed some good conversations about traveling in an RV, and have gotten some great ideas and advice from others.

Our chapter of Alfa owners, the Mavericks.
We all try to avoid discussions about politics, but did have one good round where no one really got mad.  That is a rarity these days since it seems everyone is so polarized and unwilling to listen, myself included!

[From Craig]  Wednesday night we went to a dinner and "entertainment night" that we signed up for at our Alfa rally.  The dinner was good, as was the conversation 'cause we were sitting with our friends from our chapter.  Then came the entertainment which was a jazz quintet.  After two numbers, I asked Merikay what she thought of bailing out early, and she said that was OK with her.  After the third number I gave Merikay a high-sign that I was ready to leave.  I said good night to our friends at the table, and Merikay creatively added that we had to get home to walk our dog.  As we're leaving, one of our friends called after us "but you don't have a dog!"

Which some other people around caught onto, leading to general laughter.  At such times I love Merikay more than ever.

Friday was departure day, and we all got a breakfast in a bag from the resort and headed out in all directions. We stopped in at the Purcell Tire dealer in town to get a slow leak checked (caused by a loose valve stem) and got in line behind behind another Alfa for service.

Then we were on our way to Surprise, AZ to visit my brother and his wife. They have also sold their home and now live in a delightful little place in the Sunflower Resort. 

Hopefully I will be posting more often as we start traveling and exploring more of Arizona and Utah in the next several months.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I Promise!

I promise to start writing travel posts again soon. 

Several nights ago I spent several hours crafting a nice summary post about all the things we did with our grandsons during the five weeks we spent in San Diego. Then poof! I must have hit the wrong key and it all went away.  I was so tired and frustrated I could not redo it!

We have left San Diego and are on our own again.

We spent the last two nights at casinos.


Sunday overnight at Indio Casino
And Monday in the parking lot of the casino near Los Algodones, in Winterhaven.

After getting our teeth cleaned in Mexico we drove to Casa Grande, Arizona, for an early arrival at the annual National Alfa Owners Club Rally.  We will be here for ten days, and I probably won't post much about the social activities, catered dinners, pot lucks, breakfast get-togethers, games, classes, and vendor sessions.

I know we will be very busy and having lots of fun!