Published: September 1st 2011August 30th 2011
We noticed an immediate change in the landscape as we drove from New Mexico to Arizona. Arizona seemed a bit greener, although there was quite a lot of evidence for forest fires in the first few miles.
We totally failed to find the first two campgrounds we were looking for. The map didn't seem to match up with the landscape and they were not signposted. The first time we shrugged it off, the second time we started to get worried. We headed for the last one on our list. Time was getting on so we really needed to find somewhere to stop.
Luckily Fool's Hollow Lake was well signposted. Camping was $17, more than the $10 in New Mexico. Then we saw our pitch - huge and shady and overlooking the lake. There were hot showers too. Heaven! For once the best pitches seemed to have been given to tent campers rather than RVs (I heartily approve). It was a really amazing spot and we got the tent pitched and settled in for the evening.
That night about five minutes after getting into the tent we heard a scuffling noise. There was a full moon and it was quite bright outside. We opened one of the windows to see a skunk happily nosing around by our tent. Too most Americans this probably is more cause for concern than delight, we'd never seen one before and were happy to watch it pottering around. We rightly presumed that if we didn't bother it it wouldn't bother us.
The next day we very reluctantly packed up. We'd booked a motel in Phoenix, otherwise we would have stayed longer.
We arrived in Phoenix mid afternoon and checked into our Super 8 motel. Nothing fancy but clean and cheap and walking distance of downtown. After getting advice from one of their 'tourist ambassadors' we went for a drink in Copper Blues - which had over 60 different beers on tap, plus many more bottled beers available. Very enjoyable, although we didn't quite get to try them all. We then made our way to Cooperstown - Alice Cooper's bar and grill. Disappointingly they didn't play any Alice Cooper. However the memorabilia on the walls and the Alice Cooper make-up on the staff made for a fun night. The food was actually really good too.
The next day we had a look around town, and then headed out to Scottsdale, a really nice area with shops, bars, etc. We'd hoped to go to the modern art gallery but it was shut - a recurrent theme on this trip. Still, we had a nice afternoon wandering around before stopping for a burger in David's Diner (well, we had to really). We walked in just as Uriah Heep were finishing up their meal!
In the evening it was back to Copper Blues then to an English syle pub (allegedly) called the Rose and Crown. It was nice to spend a couple of days in a city, and I'd recommend Phoenix, and Scottsdale.
We found out around about this point that Jani Lane of Warrant had died. Very sad. We listened to two Warrant albums and stopped off at a diner for some cherry pie in his honour.
Our next stop was only a couple of hours away, in Sedona. We knew nothing about the area so we were surprised to find ourselves driving through an amazing landscape of towering red rock formations, quite breathtaking. We got supplies then pulled up at Manzanita campground. Luckily they had a nice pitch left for us. We had a relaxing evening, then the next day headed back into Sedona for a look around. A sweet if touristy town. In the afternoon we headed back to camp, and went for a swim in the beautiful swimming hole, very refreshing. That evening we cooked swordfish and salmon over the fire pit, one of the tastiest camping meals we've had.
We only had five days in Arizona, we could easily have stayed longer. Still, time is ticking away now, so it was time to move on.