Saturday, July 18, 2015

Flag(staff) and Sedona

I was told the "cool" people refer to Flagstaff as Flag. I have no idea if it's true :). Flagstaff is just north of Sedona and both seem to be the midway point between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon. I had heard there was great hiking in the area and Flagstaff was suppose to be pretty funky...a hippie town of sorts. I also needed a new headlight in my car which had been discovered back in Tucson when I got my oil changed. Side note: that was probably the most expensive oil change of my life. I usually stick with a Ford dealer and decided to go the 15 minute oil change express route. Never again. I don't know if I was taken or if they are just expensive in Tucson. End side note.

Luckily the Flagstaff Ford dealership is a couple blocks outside the historic downtown area. Tons of cute shops and restaurants. I explored town and bought a new belt while they checked out the car. They'd have the parts tomorrow and I decided to check into a hotel for a night. Laundry and shower time :). Not to mention catching up with the wifi. I did more shopping, exploring and eating the next day while the headlight was replaced and subsequently the tail lights as well. They also removed my cabin air filter and gave me a new one. I'm thinking this could have been cause of my recent sinus issues. 

I really enjoyed my break in Flagstaff. Great weather - cooler because it's up in elevation which also meant a little more green. Definite outdoors vibe and seemed like lots of fun things to do. If you're in the area, explore the town of Flagstaff instead of the more touristy Sedona. 

But go to Sedona for the hiking :). There is hiking in Flagstaff, but I get lazy when I'm not camping and walking around town had been enough for me. I moved on to Sedona though and did some great hikes. Sedona is touristy and expensive as well. I'm happy to report that I made it three nights in Sedona and only spent about $10 - $4 shower one day and $6 in ice and candy :). In the National Forests there, you can find spots to camp for free! They have an app that meshes your gps from your phone and PDF maps of the area to show where you're at and which roads you can camp off of. Some places you can pull off the road and just set up camp. Very convenient. 

My first hike was Devils Bridge and is a popular one. I went the long way to get there to get in some more mileage. There was a volunteer there who counts the number of hikers and shares info/advice. He helped me plan a hike for the next day. I was early enough that I missed most of the crowd. There was a mother and son visiting from Canada and they were kind enough to take my picture out on the bridge.

That's hat in hand :).

These were some weird water bugs I found in an almost dry creek.

The next day I did a loop hike around the Cathedral rocks which are a big attraction. As luck would have it, I ran into the same mother/son duo on the trail :).

Here's the cathedral.


About halfway through the loop, there was a perfect rest stop on the side of a very cool creek. I watched a lady playing fetch with her dog who was a little scared of the water and yet she kept throwing his toy in the water. It was amusing.

The third day I was planning to do a hike to one of the rivers and hang out and swim there for a bit. It had been in the upper 90s, sunny and cool water sounded great. Then I woke up to clouds and 40-50 degree weather. It did not look like a good day to be playing in cold water :(. So I headed north towards the Grand Canyon a little early. 

On the way, I stopped back outside Flagstaff at Walnut Canyon National Monument. It was pretty interesting - a steep canyon where the walls have a layer of stone that's been carved out by the water creating a bit of an alcove. Stone ceiling, back wall and floor - all you need is some extra walls and you have a house! That's exactly what the Indians from long ago did. They refer to these as cliff dwellings and there were ruins still there, some more in tact than others. 

This is a map of where the dwellings were in the canyon. 

An example of one of the rooms. 

The ceiling wasn't super high but enough, and I'm sure the average height of people was shorter then. 

Another look at some of the walls. 

If you look towards the middle you will see a slightly different color rock and then can make out the walls and rooms. All along the canyon at this height were the dwellings. 

And as luck would have it, guess who I ran into at the canyon.....the Canadian mom and son :). 

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