Category: Arizona

Sedona, AZ to Santa Fe, NM

Friday, August 19, 2022 

It’s a convoluted drive out of Sedona. You have to drive south, then east to I17, then north to I40 east. On Monday I had taken my truck to Flagstaff for an oil change. I drove north on 89A, which is a beautiful road, but it is a winding, narrow mountain road up and out of the canyon. There are tourist destinations all along this road, and it is also busy with local traffic. Workers and people are going to and from Flagstaff. It was a tough drive in the truck and NO place to pull a trailer! Going this way makes the drive about 8 hours if you don’t stop, and we stopped.

I40 in most places is Rt. 66. I had bought a book about Rt. 66, thinking we might drive parts of it. When Winslow, Arizona came up on a mileage sign, we had to make the turn! Martha was not familiar with the Eagles classic, “Take it Easy.”  I was ready for a cup of coffee anyway, so we took the exit.

Well, two blocks of Winslow make the best of the famous spot. I will never forget the place I first heard the song. I was in graduate school at Ohio State, working in the lab one evening. Mike Majchrowicz, standing on a lab bench against the wall, said, “Hey Dude, listen to this song!” He played it, emphasizing the lyrics, ‘Take it Easy’”. I guess I was being too intense.

The story of the song was also pretty cool. It would be the Eagle’s first hit. From

“Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne began writing the breezy traveling tune in 1971 but couldn’t quite finish it. Then living at 1020 Laguna Avenue in Echo Park, Los Angeles, along with Glen Frey and J.D. Souther, he had been plucking away on his piano. Frey, who was sharing a one-room apartment for $60/mo, heard Jackson in the basement directly beneath him working on an early version.

“He had his piano and guitars down there. I didn’t really know how to sit down and work on a song until I heard him playing underneath us in the basement,” Frey noted in album liner notes. “I had never really witnessed that sort of focus – someone being that fastidious – and it gave me a different idea about how to write songs; that maybe it wasn’t all just going to be a flood of inspiration. That’s when I first heard [this song].”

“Take It Easy” was originally intended for Browne’s own self-titled debut album (1972), but he shelved the piece. “It was Glenn who remembered the song from some time earlier and asked Jackson about it one day,” said band member Don Henley.

Frey continued, “I told him that I really liked it. ‘What was that, man? What a cool tune that is.’ He started playing it for me and said, ‘Yeah, but I don’t know – I’m stuck.’ So, he played the second unfinished verse and I said, ‘It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.’ That was my contribution to [the song], really, just finishing the second verse.”

Even with such a small contribution, Browne was immediately awe-struck, saying, “Okay! We co-wrote this,” as Frey recounted it. “But it’s certainly more of him. Sometimes, you know, it’s the package without the ribbon. He already had the lines about Winslow, Arizona. He’d had car trouble and broken down there on one of his trips to Sedona. He spent a long day in Winslow… I don’t know that we could have ever had a better opening song on our first album. Just those open chords felt like an announcement, ‘And now … the Eagles.’”

“Browne, a boyish and mournful young songwriter, started the song with an account of his woman problems. Out of the seven on his mind, he said, only one was a friend. The rest wanted to own him, or stone him. Never mind; take it easy.”

But it is Glenn Frey’s statue on the corner of Winslow, AZ. Next to the statue is a red, flatbed Ford truck with a pretty girl sitting in the driver’s seat. A nice shop across the street sells all kinds of Rt. 66 memorabilia, and a TV shows the Eagles singing the song in their early years.

A friendly black man sat on a bench across the street talking and waving to everyone while eating a sandwich. Behind him was a very cool vintage Airstream and truck. The man and I exchanged greetings before walking across the street to get an espresso. After a little more wandering, we decided we had best get back on the road. We pulled out beside the man, who had now settled behind an electric guitar. It would have been nice to sit down with a coffee and listen. He waved and shouted, “Hey man! You travel in style!” I smiled and waved back.

Devil’s Bridge Hike, Sedona, AZ

Thursday, August 18, 2022 

From AllTrails:

Try this 3.9-mile out-and-back trail near Sedona, Arizona. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 1 h 39 min to complete. This is a very popular area for hiking and off-road driving, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

A lot of this hike is on a dirt road that is used for off-road driving. The rest of it is pretty good, some parts challenging with steep steps. A lot of people use this trail. Then everyone gets their pictures taken out on the bridge.

With over 200 trails covering more than 400 miles, Sedona is a hikers destination. It seemed every trailhead parking lot was filled. There are lots of restaurants and stores, so it is a popular outdoor destination.

My Vasque hiking shoes are pretty worn out, and it was time for new ones, so we went to The Hike House. I have loved the Vasque shoes. They are light, comfortable and they have great grip on any surface. I think I could trout fish in these. Unfortunately, The Hike Shop didn’t have these. A nice, young lady helped me, and I ended up buying a pair of light weight Oboz for easy hikes and a pair of Kenes for rocky, more challenging hikes. The Kenes are heavier and sturdier.

We went back to Judi’s for dinner. Two guys were singing all my favorite songs.

Toozigoot National Monument, Jerome, Cottonwood, Arizona and The Church of the Holy Cross

August 17, 2022

There are three national monuments around Sedona; Toozigoot, Montezuma Castle and Walnut Castle. We opted for Toozigoot, a pretty impressive site that sits on a hill above the Verde River. It is one of many in the Verde Valley, but it seems to be a place of leadership, a place where people gathered from all over.

It is also interesting, because there still remains a good water supply and fertile valley, yet they still left about 1300, similar to all the sites we have visited. The other two monuments were sin agua or without water, yet they managed to thrive. With 80 other sites in the valley, there was once a large population that lived here. At some point the Tonto Apache moved into the area. 

We drove up the side of a mountain to Jerome, a once thriving mining town, where gold, silver and copper made some rich. It also has a history of fires, mine collapses and other disasters. The museum has a good movie, telling the rich stories of the town.

Now, it is a tourist town with narrow, winding streets, restaurants, stores and bars. You wouldn’t want to drink too much and drive down this mountain. 

We drove back to Cottonwood and had lunch at The Old Town Cafe, which was very good, and then poked around the cute, little town. 

Back in Sedona, we went to see the Church of The Holy Cross, sitting high on a hill with a great statue of the Crucifixion.

Hike Soldier’s Pass Loop, Sedona, AZ

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

68 degrees at 6:00, high of 86

Rated 4.5, it is a 4.5-mile loop trail. We turned it into a 6-mile hike with a few diversions. Sedona is a huge hiking area with 252 trails, most of which are highly-rated. With beautiful, red mountains all around, it is hard to go wrong.

All Trails hiking app warned us of parking problems, recommending the city shuttle. As we got to the closed parking lot, a lady in a car asked if we wanted a ride. We said yes and followed her to a remote parking area. She introduced herself as Debbie. She used to drive the city shuttle, then decided to go on her own. It was going to be a busy day for her. She talked quickly as we drove back to the trail head. “Don’t miss the turn to the cave”, she warned, showing us a picture of the turn. “Drink lots of water, and don’t push it. Turn around when you begin to tire. Go up the road for the first part. The trail is muddy.”

We got out, paid her and walked over to the trailhead sign. Martha is a good trail follower, and she reads every sign to completion. I always let her take the lead so I can take pictures. We missed the turn to the cave, as there was no sign or marker, so we went back. 

Following a man and his son, we climbed up a mountain to the mouth of a cave. It had a very steep and narrow slot into the cave. Once over that hurdle, it opened into a cave with a 3.5’ shelf across a wide opening. there was another shelf above. A man in sandals climbed down with a baby in his arms! His wife followed.

Across the shelf was another slot climbing out and further up the mountain. There was a half-oval window on the other side. Young people were climbing onto the window to have their pictures taken. I am amazed by what people will do to take a picture. I don’t like heights, so I didn’t want to explore any more. I was quite happy to climb out and get my feet on solid ground.

Up the mountain and over the mesa, the views were great. Back down the other side, we came to a parking lot, then followed another trail over to our parking lot. We were tired when we got there, especially knowing it was a mile and a half to where we parked our car. Amazingly, Debbie was at the gate waiting for us. As we smiled and got in, she said she was worried about us. She was also surprised such old people had walked the loop. She gave us a bottle of water and talked about all the things to do in and around Sedona. She recommended Judi’s for lunch, as she had worked there for 10 years.

It was an excellent lunch at Judi’s, and our waitress couldn’t have been nicer. Martha had a reuben sandwich and I had the chicken taco special. Now that we were revived, it was a good day.

Move to Sedona, Arizona

August 14, 2022 at 3:20 AM

59 degrees at 6:00, high 91

Three hours south on 160, then “Everything’s Fine on 89” is Sedona, Arizona. Martha had requested Sedona, after Mark’s recommendation. Along Rt 89, we saw a sign for Wapatki National Monument. Since this trip is all about the national parks and monuments of the “Four Corners”, I wheeled into the park, not knowing anything about it. From the NPS website:

Footprints of the Past

Nestled between the Painted Desert and ponderosa highlands of northern Arizona Wupatki seems like an unlikely landscape for a thriving community. In the early 1100s during a time period of cooler temperatures and wetter seasons the ancestors of contemporary Pueblo communities created a bustling center of trade and culture. For Hopi people these sites represent the footprints of their ancestors.

Next door is the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. It erupted between 1040 and 1100. Wapatki is different in a couple of ways. It is not in a canyon, and it had a ball court, the northern most ball court in America. The park is 39,422 acres, and Sunset Crater is another 3,000 acres. The ball game was likely similar to the Mayan or Aztec games with a stone ball, likely covered with pitch.

Driving on to Sedona, traffic was slowed by road construction for miles around Flagstaff on Interstate 17. It was stop and go traffic. Our route took us south of Sedona before we could head back north. The mountains surrounding Sedona are spectacular. 

We arrived at Rancho Sedona RV Park where a young man guided us into our site. 

Navajo National Monument, Arizona

Saturday, August 13, 2022

59 degrees at 6:00

“The Hopi, San Juan Southern Paiute, Zuni, and Navajo are tribes that have inhabited the canyons for centuries. Springs fed into farming land on the canyon floor and homes were built in the natural sandstone alcoves. The cliff dwellings of Betatakin, Keet Seel, and Inscription House were last physically occupied around 1300 AD but the villages have a spiritual presence that can still be felt today.” From:

You can take a guided tour of Betatakin for half a day. The only other way to see it is from an overlook across the canyon. The only way to see Keet Seel is a 10-hour, 18 mile hike. You must have a permit, and you will meet a ranger at the site for a guided tour. It is supposed to be one of the best preserved sites. These are incredible sites, and the Navajo consider them sacred sites. No doubt, they will be better preserved in this way, however they do allow their cows to roam these lands.

We opted to go to the overlook, carrying my heavy 200-500mm lens and a tripod. It was worth it though, as I got some pretty good pictures. We walked back up past the nice Visitor’s Center and down the trail to Betatakin until we reached a gate. It gave us a feel for the canyon. 

There is a very nice write-up on Keet Seel at:  After reading about the adventures explorers have had in finding these sites, this is a relatively easy trip to an incredible site where you can be guided through the site, climbing the ladders into the houses where the ancients lived.


Inscription house has suffered from erosion, people digging in the site and school children inscribing their names on the walls, so it has been closed. Still the problems persist. “The latter ruin derives its name from an inscription scratched into the clay plaster of a wall. It reads, “Shapeiro Ano Dom 1661.” An intrepid early Spanish explorer or missionary, probably on his way to or from the Colorado River, must have entered the canyon in which this ruin is located and paused at the long-abandoned pueblo to scratch a record of his visit. So far as recorded it was not visited again until June, 1909.” From:


Drive to Navajo National Monument

Friday, August 12, 2022

67 degrees at 6:00, going to 91 deg.

Sunrise from our campsite in Natural Bridges National Monument

At 8:00 we set out for Navajo National Monument, turning south on 191. I desperately needed to get the Virginia Airstream newsletter out. With no cell phone service recently, it has been difficult. We could have turned left to the nice Visitor’s Center in Blanding, but hoped to find something in Bluff. We turned at sign for the Visitor’s Center and parked in the shade. 

We were greeted as soon as we entered, showing us pictures and an exhibit. I had read a sign in front of Natural Bridges National Monument about the Hole in the Rock, wondering if it was the Hole in The Wall gang, but it was not. It is the amazing story of a group of 236 Mormons assigned on a mission to the Four Corners area. Their 200-mile trip took six months in the winter. They had to cross the Colorado River, widen a slot canyon through the west wall of Glen Canyon and build a road up the solid rock San Juan Hill. Exhausted and out of food, they stopped in what would be called Bluff, Utah on the San Juan River, irrigated, planted and made a trading post. As our guide said, “It would become the Walmart of the time”. 

Hole in the Rock
Then going up San Juan Hill

We watched three cool movies in three rooms describing the events, then toured the center. Outside were cabins, wagons and tools showing what it was like in those days in 1879. It was cool, but I HAD to get a newsletter out, so we sat down at a picnic table and went to work. It took me 45 minutes to update new members. I’m sure there is a better way to merge an Excel spreadsheet with gmail. I thought I got everyone, but would latter learn I had missed at least one.

It was noon by the time I was finished, or as finished as I was going to get. We filled with diesel at $6/gal and got some ice and orange juice. We turned west on 160 toward Kayenta through increasingly drier land. Temperatures fluctuated around 90. We turned north toward the Monument where a sign warned not to bring trailers over 26’ due to limited turn-around areas. We were 25’, so we drove on. 

We went into the nice, and busy Visitor’s Center. I showed my Senior Pass, but the lady said. “This is a no-fee park.” She explained the two camping areas that are first-come first-serve. With this crowd, we hurried to the small campground, but it was almost empty. We drove around three times, trying to pick a good site, settling on #4. We wiggled around 15 times before we were satisfied with our position, but still, I could barely put the awning out.

View from the back of our campsite

We went back to the Visitor’s Center, which was now quiet. It is an historic site where people lived 1,000 years ago. Well, they probably lived here much longer than that, but this was the building era of the Anasazi or The Ancient Ones. the Center had beautiful basket, pottery and tool displays. 

We walked out back where trails led to views of the ancient sites. It was getting late and a storm was brewing, so we went back to camp. Soon a big thunderstorm came with a lot of greatly-needed rain.

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Thursday, July 28, 2022

In the afternoon we drove 30 miles south on 64 to Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. We drove through a huge storm with rain so hard, I had to pull over for a while. We seem to bring rain wherever we go. There is a nice Visitor’s Center with a lot of information. Then there is the trading post itself – the oldest trading post with continuous business. The Hubbell family ran the business until 1965, selling to the National Park Service.

Established in the late 1870’s, Hubble played a huge role in trade and development in the area. Having lived with a couple of Indian tribes, he spoke the Navajo language and established good relationships. It is still an active store, selling all kinds of goods, but there is a whole room with rugs made from the preferred Churro Sheep, which could survive in this harsh environment. Their wool makes great rugs, which are prized.

An Endangered Breed

Churro sheep remained the primary source of wool for the Navajo until 1863. During the 1850s, thousands of Churros were trailed west to supply the California Gold Rush. Most of those that remained behind were crossed with fine-wool rams to supply the demand for garment wool caused by an increasing population and, later, the Civil War.

In 1863 the U.S. Army under the command of Colonel Kit Carson marched into the lands of the Navajo and began a systematic campaign of destroying all means of Navajo livelihood. The army slaughtered sheep by the thousands, as well as burning crops and killing other livestock. A few bands of Churro managed to survive because they were moved to remote canyons.

Faced with starvation during the winter of 1863–1864, thousands of Navajo surrendered to U.S. Army troops in a forced removal policy from their traditional homelands known as the Long Walk. More than 8,000 Navajo walked more than 300 miles to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, to a reservation area called Bosque Redondo. Enduring extreme hardships, the Navajo were incarcerated at Bosque Redondo for four years. In 1868 the Navajo returned to their homeland under a treaty of agreement between the U.S. government and the Navajo Tribe.

Churro Sheep Re-introduced

After the incarceration at Bosque Redondo, the Navajo
were issued new breeds of sheep and encouraged by Indian agents to increase their flocks. Federal agents gave two sheep to every man, woman, and child. In 1870 the U.S. govern- ment supplied the Navajo with native Mexican sheep—a cross between Churro and Kentucky Merino brought to the Southwest over the Santa Fe Trail. Other attempts were made by the U.S. government to build up mutton production. Each resulted in further contamination of the Churro breed.” From:

The sheep themselves have quite a history, as do the Navajo.

All kinds of baskets hung from the ceiling. There was a rack of antique rifles used in the west. It’s a cool place with a nice staff, and probably a great place to buy rugs.

North Rim Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Thursday, July 28,2022

66 degrees at 6:00 am, high 89

We had scheduled a Jeep tour of the canyon with highly-touted Bobby Vanwinkle, but Chinle Wash was flooded and too high to cross into the canyon. Someone had tried, but his pickup truck remained stuck in the flooded stream. We drove the North Rim to view the overlooks. We talked with a nice lady selling jewelry and pottery she makes. Having lived here her whole life, she said she had never seen the creek so high. It turns out there are two canyons, both pretty, but the first one has a larger creek.

A man sits on the bank, looking at his truck

One overlook was called Massacre Canyon, where Kit Carson chased the Indians up the box canyon, trapping and killing many of them. The creek in this canyon is not as big, so there was less flooding.

“For nearly 5,000 years, people have lived in these canyons – longer than anyone has lived uninterrupted anywhere on the Colorado Plateau.  In the place called Tsegi, their homes and images tell us their stories. Today, Navajo families make their homes, raise livestock, and farm the lands in the canyons. A place like no other, the park and Navajo Nation work together to manage the land’s resources.” From

The Ancient Ones, from whom so many tribes descended, built incredible homes in alcoves, protected from rain, snow, sun and others. It is incredible how many perfectly-formed alcoves there are on the Colorado Plateau, but this canyon is pretty special.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

We chatted with our neighbors in a cool NoBo trailer with a tent on top. A lady was making pancakes. Martha went over to see the unique NoBo, similar to Ruff and Sandra’s, but smaller. they had five people traveling in it – two small children, a teen-age boy, two women and the mother of one. 

Christine, with a big, beautiful smile, welcomed us, and showed us around. They were Hopi, with various links and marriages. With a slide-out drawer, she was cooking on an outdoor gas stove. There was a large cooler-like refrigerator behind it. Two cute girls said Hi from inside the tent on top of the trailer. The teen-age boy was sleeping inside where three sleeping bags appeared to take up the whole inside. The mother sat at a picnic table. 

They were from the state of Washington on a two-week tour. Once they heard we were headed to Canyon de Chelly, the mother opened up, telling us about the Hopi Nation living within the Navajo Nation. They live on top of three mesas that was largely overlooked by the Spanish, who saw the area as unproductive land. She said the Hopi are a peaceful people who didn’t wander so much as the Navajo. They build homes and grew a lot of their food.

It was interesting hearing their stories, but we finally let them eat their breakfast. The teen-age boy came out and introduced himself. He said he was listening to music, which he then interprets and writes his own version. They were all very nice.

We drove south on 163 through Kayenta turning east on 160, then south again on 59 for a pleasant drive. For the third time we called Sirius XM to try to fix my weather app, always an important feature, but especially on this trip to see how hot it is going to be, or how much it will rain. We are in the monsoon season in this area, so it can get interesting. It is pretty amazing how big, dark storms gather each afternoon. You can see the rain traveling across the area, yet it might never touch us.

Martha got somewhere, but then lost cell coverage. We tried again in Chinle near Canyon de Chelly and got to the travel app division before loosing contact.

We pulled into a nice, little Visitor’s Center and looked around. A young lady explained we should drive the south rim of the canyon in the afternoon/evening and the north rim in the morning. There are various overlooks along the way. She also explained the two campgrounds, Cottonwood and Spider Rock Campground on top of the mountain. She explained Canyon de Chelly is pronounced de Shay, From Wikipedia: “The name Chelly (or Chelley) is a Spanish borrowing of the Navajo word Tséyiʼ, which means “canyon” (literally “inside the rock” < tsé “rock” + -yiʼ“inside of, within”). The Navajo pronunciation is [tséɣiʔ]. The Spanish pronunciation of de Chelly [deˈtʃeʎi] was adapted into English, apparently modeled on[clarification needed] a French-like spelling pronunciation, and is now /dəˈʃeɪ/ də-SHAY.”

They had a very big rain yesterday, and the river or creek had flooded the area. We first drove through Cottonwood Campground. Signs said the bathrooms were closed due to water pressure problems, so we drove 15 miles to look at Spider Rock Campground. It was very rough-looking with trailers and trucks and old equipment at the entrance. With a huge, black cloud looming, we turned around and started back down.

Normally a creek, that has to be crossed to get into the canyon

We stopped at the first overlook and had lunch. I took a long nap since I was up early this morning.  We walked over to the rocky edge to see what was below. We saw an incredibly beautiful valley surrounded by sheer rock walls. A stream ran through the middle. For thousands of years this valley has been farmed and lived in. We couldn’t wait to tour it with a guide tomorrow, but we could see how it might be difficult to drive through the valley with the stream so swollen. 

We explored every overlook on the way down, and all were beautiful. The Navajo people still farm the valley and the top of the mesa where horses roamed free. 

We set up camp back at Cottonwood after talking with a ranger. She said two bathrooms were open now with flush toilets, so Martha was happy. We settled on site 35, apparently a popular site. A tour group of kids set up behind us as that dark cloud crept closer. Fortunately, the bulk of it went around us. Depending on where the bulk of it went, we may or may not be able to take our tour tomorrow with the highly-touted Tsegi Jeep Tours and Bobby Vanwinkle.

Indian tribes in the Four Corners
Open range where horses run free
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