Palm Springs, CA to Flagstaff, AZ 3/8 - 3/22, 2013

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March 23rd 2013
Published: March 23rd 2013
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We left the Palm Springs area and drove to the southern end of Joshua Tree NP. We spent the night on BLM land there, and the next night in Quartzite. Then on to my brother Johnny and his wife Katy's home in Phoenix, where we enjoyed a very nice visit. We stayed at a resort north of Phoenix briefly, then headed on to Sedona. Sedona is unbelievably gorgeous, and we enjoyed walks and meals there. And finally through Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff, and yesterday we drove the car to the Grand Canyon. We are having so many #10 days of clear, bright, sunny skies - we feel very lucky.


The joshua trees are in the northern section of JTNP, and we saw them last week. Otherwise, the southern end did not seem so very different, yielding interesting walks and meanderings. There was one wild flower walk where you needed a magnifying glass to see the flowers. I took a photo of a water bottle next to a lupine which was about two inches tall. Flowers are treasured in these high altitude areas.

That was our first night on Bureau of Land Management land; it's free, with no hookups, and we slept very well. I was surprised to feel so sad to leave California. We saw so many, various, gorgeous places in that state that I haven't begun to absorb it all.

John especially wanted to visit Quartzite, where thousands of RV'ers park on BLM land (with some hookups and for a small fee) in the winter. The town is rather primitive, but we happened upon a nice RV park and got showers. We drove out into the desert onto BLM land where RV'ers are parked. I was a bit surprised that their "lots" were huge; they mostly seemed to want their own, abundant space. There were lots of super fancy RV's, and lots of very primitive setups. (And I'll bet for sure a gun at most sites.) We had pizza for supper at Silly Al's next to a long table with 28 fogeys who must have been spending months together there. That's not quite the life for us.

In the past, I have always flown into Phoenix, or arrived from the north, so it was something different to arrive from the west. My golly, has that town spread out to an astonishing degree since I first went there decades ago! We parked in my brother Johnny's driveway and spent hours just catching up. J and Katy were chilly because the temps were in the low 70's, so we sat inside. I remember Johnny saying that 80 is the cutoff point - getting chilly for them, and getting too warm for us.

J and K are on a diet which has left both their belts with several inches flapping in the breeze. Katy is a fine cook who prepares tasty meals without much hullabaloo. The first night, J grilled filet mignons, and they were accompanied by a vegetable salad and a fruit salad, both very colorful. Meals continued to be similarly luscious.

Our main expedition in Phoenix was to the Veterans Cemetery north of town, where our parents rest. It was good to visit them. When my father first was buried there, it seemed a perfect place for him, with the plain, windy desert he loved so well surrounding him. But in the past couple of decades, the Cemetery has grown and has lovely manicured lawns, carefully and respectfully tended. It's nice, but I miss the wilder-ness.

Katy and I did our usual round of manicure/pedicure/eyebrow waxing/facial and thrift shops. She's a fun girl friend to be with. John and I tried to keep up our daily steps count, drove some around Scottsdale and found a coffee shop there, etc. etc.

When we left Phoenix, we ran into a few 90 degree + days, and spent time by a pool, protected. 90 isn't so bad in the desert when it's overcast and there is a steady breeze. I still get a kick of watching jackrabbits and quail rushing around.

On to Sedona. I had been there twice before and thought of it as a beautiful but too touristy place. Well, it is increasingly tourist-oriented, but this time I was transfixed by the scenery. The northwestward highway into town goes up and down hills, with huge rusty red outcroppings in surprising shapes in every direction. We stayed in a campground closest to town. From our door, we could look across Oak Creek to a hill which rises steeply to the buildings of "Uptown" Sedona; a great location.

John and I took several walks one day, and a longer one the next, accomplishing way more than 10,000 steps. BUT my toes are unhappy as a result and it is hampering our subsequent walks. Dang! I don't really want to complain about the signage on the trails, BUT if you travel to Sedona and plan to hike a bunch, be sure to invest in a guidebook which details the turns and distances on the trails (like the AMC guide). I kept feeling uncertain at junctures and it took away a bit from the joy of being surrounded by awesome scenery.

We were blessed with clear skies while in Sedona and later at the Grand Canyon, and the photos John just downloaded are each more beautiful than the last.

The Oak Creek Canyon route north to Flagstaff is spectacular, ranging from the creekside campgrounds and inns to the precipitous cliffsides as you follow the switchbacks to the top. It's only a 16-mile stretch, but I knew I would hate it in the RV and ruin it for John by panicking, so I drove separately, starting 45 minutes after he did in the RV. I was able to mostly enjoy my ride, but as I approached the campground we planned to stay at in Flagstaff, I could only hope that he was safely there. And he was! I was so glad to spot that American flag swish painted on the back of our RV!

We spent the next day hanging out in Flagstaff, with my movements hampered by those doggone bruised toes. We were thrilled when the two packages we had had sent here both arrived! The tire rotation on the Corolla in Palm Springs had resulted in our losing two wheel caps along the road; John phoned the place that had done the work, and they ordered new ones from Toyota and sent them on to us!!! And my 50th reunion yearbook arrived from Johnny's house, where it had arrived several days after we left. Needless to say, I buried my nose in the yearbook. And I was warmed by the honesty and information contained on the autobiographical pages; fascinating to read about the somewhat, but not always too, different roads we Midd kids have taken so far.

Next day brought our (car) trip to the Grand Canyon. It was another crystal clear day, only chilly enough for a light jacket or sweater. At our first stop, we met a carful of two couples who had spent three days driving there from Vermont. John couldn't get over the fact that they were still friends. At the Canyon, we heard English spoken almost as frequently as all other possible languages.

Everyone must see Grand Canyon if they possibly can. I know I can just glance into it, but the impressions persist and it is truly an incredibly beautiful spot. Add to that the associations I have with it: the more recent being Susie's three week November into December rafting trip with more than a dozen raft guides from Lake Mead to Lake Powell and her photos from the River perspective; and the other my father's love for the Canyon where, when he lived near Phoenix in Sun City, he spent weeks substituting at the Grand Canyon Clinic for the regular doctor. His photos probably numbered well over a thousand...

With Susie teaching in Korea, I had considered flying over for a visit while we were on the west coast, but that didn't manage to make sense. She will be flying home to New Hampshire on Easter, and we have just made reservations for me to fly to NH on April 2 from Albuquerque, and from Boston/Logan to Denver on April 6. That gives some parameters for our next meanderings into New Mexico and Colorado.

Meanwhile, today, we are happy to be in Flagstaff where it is sunny but cool with a prediction of 19 degrees tonight (we have to turn off the water and disconnect the hose from our hookup at night here). John is across the table from me at the Library, delighting in Value Line. He has been disappointed that this is spring break week for Northern Arizona University because he had looked forward to ogling the coeds. Tough luck, eh?

Happy Easter to all!


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