Flagstaff to home Oct. 4 - 21, 2015

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October 31st 2015
Published: November 3rd 2015
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We definitely wound down for the last few weeks of our trip. Strange to think that for people still working, two and a half weeks might be a nice vacation. We spent a week in Flagstaff, but it was very windy and cool, and it rained, so we mostly enjoyed nestling inside the RV. Finally headed south, but since it was Columbus Day weekend, we couldn't get a campsite in Sedona. Serendipity: we camped for several days in Cottonwood, not far south of Sedona. Had unusually good meals there. At last, on to Phoenix, where we divided our efforts between readying the RV for storage and visiting my brother Johnny and his wife Katy. With them, we attended the Arizona State Fair, visited the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park (wonderful!), and I had my first experience at a dine-in theater. The plane ride home was memorable: we had three middle-aged women who tried to overspeak each other, loudly, for the entire four hours, sitting behind us, and the ride was so bumpy that the flight attendants were ordered to sit down and we didn't get coffee until over three hours in the air. It is nice to be home while the trees are still very colorful, and we are slowly "reentering" this life.


In the past, we have been to many special sites in Flagstaff and around that area. This time, we didn't get around to revisiting them. We must know we will go there again, because Flagstaff is definitely one of our favorite places. We did find a great Indian buffet, and I found a wonderful knitting shop. And John would never let us omit having a beer, always Guinness for him there, outside the Irish Pub across from the railroad station/visitors center, where many trains pass through every hour. There was snow on top of the mountain at the Arizona Snow Bowl, a reminder of what season we are in.

Our usual luck in getting last-minute reservations at campgrounds left us when we tried for the lovely place by Oak Creek right in town in Sedona. The place we ended up in Cottonwood was not the greatest, but we really liked that town. There is quite a lively, artsy, downtown, and at Paradise Point bakery and cafe, we found a man who loves to bake and prepare coffee with great imagination and care.

We spent a day in Jerome, which has an interesting history. It was a mining town, very populous at one point, and then down to almost no residents until it reinvented itself as an artist colony. The buildings are perched on the side of a steep mountain, with zig-zagging roads. We wandered around town, had lunch at Haunted Hamburger (!), and wove our way down the mountain when too many tourists descended on the town.

We also drove north to Sedona and enjoyed seeing the spectacular red rock landscape which surrounds the town. It truly is a breathtaking setting. We meandered through town, visited a nice local art gallery, and then, again, when it got too full of tourists, we headed back to Cottonwood. We had done a bunch of hiking in Sedona previously, but didn't this time. (I was still hurting from a hard fall I had taken in Flagstaff - nothing sprained or broken, but bruises. I had had quite an audience, too, since it was Parents Weekend at Northern Arizona University, and we were on the main street.)

A cutoff from the highway leads to Page Springs, where Johnny and Katy had often camped, years ago, and they had mentioned that there is a very good restaurant just above the campground. So we stopped to check it out, and decided that Up the Creek was definitely worth returning to for a dinner. What a fun meal! It was a Sunday night, and on Sundays wine from opened bottles is available at half price. The bar tender gave us several samples (we drained a few bottles) until we finally made our order, and entertained us with stories of his childhood growing up in Yosemite Village where his father was a resident engineer. Although John McCain's vacation ranch is down one of the dirt roads we passed, he did not happen to dine at Up the Creek that night.

Our visit in Phoenix was fun, and the weather was interesting! I used the exclamation point because the weather there is so seldom "interesting." Each of the five days we were there, we had rain for awhile, and the skies were often dark and dramatic. The first time, we got an alarm on our cell phone warning of dangerous impending weather; stay inside. We had never gotten one of those alarms before. The sky was ominous, and in other areas of The Valley of the Sun there was substantial damage, but not where we were. The second time, Katy and I were sitting inside when she said, "It's raining!" She had heard the rain pelting on the roof, but I could see the sun shining brightly outside. And, lo and behold, the sun was bright, and the rain was torrential for several minutes. Another day, a woman drove into a washout and had to be rescued; the rescue was covered live on local TV, and I think it even made nightly national news.

Our drive from our campground to Johnny and Katy's house was lovely, once we discovered an alternate to the main highway. Despite the astonishing amount of development in the Phoenix area, there are still large areas of desert and rolling hills, where you notice the mountains that enclose the valley.

The Arizona State Fair was enormous, with all sorts of weird food (chocolate covered bacon, fried oreos, etc. etc.) John had one of those huge (tough) turkey legs. We skipped the rides and just wandered around looking at the crowds. Later that day, Johnny grilled some wonderful steaks for us.

That McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park was a wonderful surprise. It was in a huge park, where dozens of families were celebrating picnics and birthdays, and little kids were all over, having a grand day. We rode on a miniature steam train all around the park, waving at everybody. Then we explored a real railroad car, the Roald Amundsen, which had been used by several presidents. In that one car, there was a kitchen, a room for the cook and steward, a large dining room, a bedroom, and a large living room. And then we went into the museum, which had three enormous model railroad layouts, of different scales. Each was the focus of a local model railroad club, so each constantly grows and gets more elaborate.

Been there, done that is my response to the dine-in theater, although it was certainly a new experience for me. Our reclining easy chairs had little tables, and a waitress brought our orders to us. My salad was quite good. Oh, and there was a movie, "Bridge of Spies," and it was very good.

Johnny and Katy picked us up at the place where we are storing the RV and car, about 30 miles north of their house. And Johnny delivered us to the airport shortly after 5:00 the next morning. Katy had fixed us coffee before we left, thank goodness (see The Basics). We look forward to returning to Phoenix sometime in late January.

Meanwhile, we are very happy to be at home. John is excited about being able to rake the leaves. And the pine needles. And the acorns. We are delighted to spend time with local family and friends. Our mail still hasn't reached our mailbox, but we are weathering that problem. The cooler weather and general slowdown have caused me to be tardy in writing this blather, but I think that in the past I have not often written a final entry. So this is progress, of a sort. Best to all!


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