Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cottonwood & Flagstaff

We had to move camp at the end of our week with the Lawrence's because we couldn't get a spot at the campground in Sedona for the second weekend. So we moved out to Cottonwood, to Dead Horse Ranch State Park, where we had really enjoyed staying before.

After saying our goodbyes to our dear friends, we settled in to enjoy a quiet weekend, trying to keep cool as temperatures soared to nearly 100 degrees. Our air conditioner has a hard time when it gets over 90 - we're lucky if it cools us by 10 degrees, but it still feels good compared to being out baking in the sun.

One of the visitors to our camp, a Gambel's Quail:

We also had jackrabbits, desert cottontails, hummingbirds and a roadrunner.

I loved the mountain bike trail loop at this park, and was determined to ride it again, so both of the next two mornings I got up early and was on the trail before 7:00AM. Hot air balloons were visible each morning as well - I guess the aeronautics of ballooning are best before the desert heats up. Anyway, the trail was great as ever: a fairly gradual climb of about 3 miles, with great views of the valley and the mountains to the west...

...then another 3-ish miles of rolling terrain, and then the last 3 miles of brilliant downhill singletrack, chock full of sweet turns, ledges and drops - such a blast!

We pretty much holed in during the hottest part of the day, heading out when the sun got lower late in the afternoons to walk the dogs and let them swim in the Verde River that flows through the park.

Our next stop was just over an hour's drive up (literally, over 3000 feet higher) to Flagstaff. Our friends Tommy & Danielle live there, and we were happy to be able to visit them again, see their home and home-town.

Tommy took us on a mountain bike ride, one that suited Nancy's tastes - Campbell Mesa. Danielle, 30 weeks pregnant, has wisely hung up her bike until after the little one emerges. At the trailhead we found that there was a controlled burn going on, which closed most of the trail system to us, but we made the best of it and still enjoyed a nice ride.

The next day we ventured into downtown Flagstaff, and really liked it. Lots of art shops and galleries, outfitters and restaurants. It had a vibrant atmosphere, friendly and unpretentious. It's proximity to real mountains (12000' Humphrey's Peak is practically in the city) gives it a mountain town feel, yet a half hour drive gets you down off of the plateau and into summery southern-Arizona weather. Sedona is close; the Grand Canyon is close. There's trails everywhere, and most people use them. Flag is added too our short list of favorite places - one's we'd like to get to know better.

Scenes from Flagstaff:

Car paint ruined? Try duct tape as an exterior finish:

Tommy and Danielle then took us up the mountain where the four of us, along with Toby and Haley (T&D's charming hiking shih-tzu) and we went for a nice gentle hike, perfect for little white dogs and pregnant ladies! Back down in Flag, we settled in for a great evening at their house, were we were served grilled steak tacos - mmmmmm!

Our last day in Flag the weather turned ugly. Although the day dawned clear and mild, the wind picked up, scudding clouds filled the sky, the temperature dropped into the 30s, and all day long we got alternating rain, sleet, snow, hail, and sun! We did some laundry and shopping, then met T & D downtown for happy hour drinks and sushi at Karma.

It was a wonderful few days with great people in awesome Flagstaff. "I pledge allegiance to the Flag..."

1 comment:

  1. So happy you guys stopped in Flagstaff and we got to spend some time with you! Happy travels! Wish we could be back on the road too....some day :)