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Published: June 21st 2013
Leaving the Meteor Crater area occurred early on Monday morning. My idea was to hit the road before the wind hit us. Driving a motor coach in the wind does not provide an atmosphere of relaxation and enjoyment. Constant attention must be paid to the lane markings in order to keep the right wheels from engaging those annoying “ruts’ on the side of the road that were obviously designed to awaken a sleepy driver. When you hit those ruts, the sound could wake the dead! Having the sun to your back is also a good thing when your windshield is about 8’ wide and 5’ high. It does provide a wonderful “window on the world”, and you can even get a suntan while driving!
This was to be our last travel day heading west. By day’s end, we would reach our most westward destination - Williams, Arizona. The drive was a short 75 miles so we made it a leisurely trek. Breakfast at Cracker Barrel is always good, but for some reason, when you are traveling, breakfast out is always better. A travel tip - Cracker Barrel has RV parking, and if you want to tour the area,
they will let you leave your coach while you explore the area. If you didn’t guess, we made a stop at Cracker Barrel in Flagstaff.
As we neared Williams, we watched intently for the familiar KOA signs along the road. The first sign caused a little confusion. I thought there was only one KOA in Williams so when we spied the sign, we had actually missed the exit. So we made a turn-around and headed back. When we pulled into the camp, we were struck by the beautiful tall Ponderosa Pines covering the campground. We had not seen trees at a camp site since Bluewater Lake. This was beautiful. Another bonus - an indoor pool and hot tub! Although I knew that this was not where our reservations were, I went inside with a glimmer of hope just to verify. The camp host confirmed that indeed we were looking for the KOA north of Williams. Just for grins, I asked if she had any openings for the next week and she confirmed that indeed she did. I asked about the KOA where our reservations were and she only advised that KOA policy was that if you were
We went to this part drive thru, part walk thru animal park outside Williams. Bears, Bighorn Sheep, White Bison, etc = Very Cool
not satisfied with a park within the first hour of arrival, you were entitled to a refund. I thanked her and headed back out to let Cynde know that this would not be our temporary home for the next week.
After a short drive, we located the KOA of our reservations. It appeared to be a new park. In a fairly desolate area. With no trees. Not very inviting. I went inside to check in and asked the host for our camp assignment so I could take a look. The camp sight was on the west edge of the park with a scenic overlook of the neighbor’s junky yard and disheveled outbuildings. I returned to the office and advised that the space assigned would not be acceptable. After the host relayed that there were no other sites, I asked for a refund and cancellation of my reservation. It was granted with no problems.
We quickly returned to the Circle Pine KOA where we were again greeted with open arms and a snuggly camp site with three large Pondarosa Pines to shade our stay. It was marvelous!
After setting up camp, we
headed into town. Oh boy! Another Route 66 town. Seems like we would get tired of them after about a hundred, but each has taken their challenge of survival in a little different way.
Williams is situated about 35 miles west of Flagstaff and 60 miles south of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is a part of the “Northern Circle” tour of Arizona with Prescott to the south about 55 miles and Sedona 50 miles to the southeast. Mountains are situated in the ‘center’ of the circle. Like so may other Route 66 towns, the Mother Road split the business district with the westbound lane lying one block north of the eastbound lane. This configuration allowed for two “Main Streets” of America. In Williams, the eastbound lane is the most active. There are at least five blocks of shops, restaurants, and bars. The backdrop to the south is a great mountain range covered with pines, and to the north is the gateway to the Grand Canyon. Williams served as the inspiration for the setting of the movie “Cars” and has several related attractions throughout town.
After walking the streets for several
Looks like the inspiration for Paul Newman's character, the old Hudson, in the movie Cars
hours, we hit Twisters for authentic Route 66 burgers. They were classic burgers but Cynde said the fries were a little weak! Dinner was Italian at a local bistro where Cynde had pizza and me a salad. We sat outside and enjoyed a beautiful desert evening as the Route 66 Neon Signs began to light.
Having heard the horror tales of the crowds at national parks, we decied to get up really early and beat the crowds. Nationa Geographic has a welcome center just outside the park and that was to be our first stop. National Geographic had produced an IMax movie of the Canyon so we thought that would be an great way to get an overview of what we were to see. Once we hit the visitor center, we were tantilized by the offering of a jeep tour of the South Rim. The tour would be guided by a knowledgable idividual who would be able to share history and answer questions. It also would allow for me to be an observer and take in all the grandeur of the Canyon - without having to focus on keeping the FJ on the road. So, after we
Pink Jeep Tour
At the Grand Canyon!!!!
saw the movie, we piled into a jeep that had been modified to accomodate about 6-8 people. There were, however, only four of us on the tour. The driver/guide was Richard, a retired clinical psychologist, with whom Cynde immediately formed a bond. The other folks on the tour were an elderly couple from Ohio. Cynde also bonded with them, of course.
After the tour, we headed to the Grand Canyon Village where we wondered around untile we hopped on a bus to view the other half of the South Rim. The views were spectacular. We quickly learned that a photograph did not do justice to the actual sight of the canyon and it’s grandeaur. We also questioned, how long should we look at the canyon in order to do it justice. We never came to an answer. We looked until we were numb. We elected to not hang around for a sunset view, and instead headed back to camp to rest, swim, and eat. Dinner was grilled chicken and veggies.
Wednesday we planned to visit Sedona, but Cynde got a message on Facebook from our old friend Alan Durham, who highly recommended a trip
Grand Canyon !!
We were pooped out by this time!
to a ‘really cool’ town just twenty miles west of Williams. We were game, so after a quick breakfast, we headed down I-40. Ash Fork proved to probably not be the town that Alan had recommended, but we did find a great local museum with the nicest docent. She was full of information and suggested that we visit Prescott, then drive east on to Sedona. We were a little concerned by the forest fires down around Prescott, but elected to venture in that direction just to see what we could find. As it turned out, the fires were just to the north of Prescott and appeared to be fairly under control. They certainly posed no risk to us or to our visit to Prescott.
We walked around Prescott, with the primary goal of finding a great place ot eat. A security guard at a local bank recommended Kendall’s Burgers just on the south side of the courthouse. We found this joint to be fantastic. Cynde said that the fries were the best that she had ever had.
As we headed back to the car, we stopped by the bank again, only to be greeted
by another security guard. He was full of useful information and highly recommeded that we head over the mountain pass to Jerome - an old mining town that was literally built on the side of the mountain. It was on the way to Sedona, so it seemed like a good idea. The dirve was spectacular. Cynde took picture after picture. By the time we reached Jerome, we decied that we should hit Sedona on the next day since Jerome proved to be a great find. It really is a town built on the side of a mountain - much like Eureka Springs in Arkansas. However, Jerome is really, really high on the mountain. It sits at about 6,000 feet. We searched throught the many shops and toured the local museum - the former home of the copper and silver magnate who owned the now abandonded mine.
The really cool aspect of Jerome is that there is a short cut from Jerome back to Williams. It is over an unimproved mountain pass. The kind that is one lane, no guard rail, very high, and has extremely dramatic scenery. It was about a 26 mile drive up and over
the pass. To say that the views were spectacular is an understatement. Each view was more dramatic than the previous. After about an hour and a half of mountain driving, we began to think that we had missed a trail and were headed into oblivion. But, we finally reached the halfway point. A beautiful valley on top of the world. Lush and green with trees and grass. We wanted to stop, but trudged onward in search of our home base. Finally, we found blacktop road! We were elated and finally reached Williams after about a two and a half hour mountainous drive.
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