Thursday, March 24, 2011


Our next camp was at Dead Horse State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona. Only 30 or so miles from Prescott as the raven flies, it still took us an hour and a half to get there. The more direct route, 89A, is a tangle of switchbacks climbing a coupla thousand feet up and down over Mingus Mountain, and is unsuitable for trucks and trailers. We took a longer, but less demanding, circle route. The park is nice, with very large sites and great views of Mt. Mingus and the surrounding mesas.
Here is Gigantor and the Whale settled into our site at Dead Horse Ranch:

The park is popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. This cowboy rode down a trail that passed right by our rear window:

The trails are not only all bike-friendly, but are also bike-awesome, and I had a great time riding on the trails right from camp, way up into the hills. The seven mile long loop was full of great features to ride over and off of:

Great scenery, too:

But for scenery, down the road in Sedona is where it gets truly amazing. Words cannot describe the beauty, and pictures hardly do it justice either. I took the bike into town to sample a few of the outstanding trails that criss-cross the landscape all around the city. Here I am riding the Templeton trail at the foot of the Cathedral formation:

It was a slow ride, not because of the trail - because of the scenery. I was contantly stopping to admire the view and take pictures:

The next day we all went into Sedona, and Nancy, Toby and I hiked up the Cathedral Trail and along the slickrock. Nancy was equally impressed with the views...

...whereas Toby was more impressed with the smells!

Afterwards we had an excellent meal at Elote Cafe, a Mexican restaurant which received high praise in on-line reviews, and rightly so. It reminded us of our favorite local back home, River Tavern, in its creative and delicious dishes prepared with care, and emphasis on local ingredients. From the signature Elote dip of roasted corn, cream & chili, the smoked chicken enchiladas and pork carnitas, to the mexican chocolate pie, every bite made us pause and savor.

Also near camp are the ruins of a native american pueblo, preserved as Tuzigoot National Monument. The stone remains of this hilltop village is fascinating. Each stone enclosure, once covered with a wood/adobe structure, was accessible from above by ladders. The rooftop entry also served as a chimney to allow smoke from cookfires to escape. Many of the rooms still contain the grinding stones used to pulverize corn into meal.

And, clinging to the steep slopes of Mingus Mountain, is the town of Jerome, a copper mining town that was once nearly abandoned, but is now a thriving artists community. The narrow streets that are cut into the mountainside are lined with buildings both abandoned and refurbished, containing great little shops, restaurants, bars and lodging. A really cool little community.

So, we really liked the Sedona area. This is a part of the country that warrants further exploration, and is one of very few places we've visited that made us want to pick up a newspaper to take a look a the local real estate section.

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