I decided in Kingston to keep going, and arrived at the Grand Canyon International Hostel in Flagstaff around 10pm. About two miles from the hostel my car was overheating real bad; the temperature gauge up in the red. Are you kidding me?! I've brought my car to I don't know know how many Honda service centers starting in NOVEMBER and they either can't reproduce the behavior and insist nothing's wrong with the car, or they just guess and replace. I'll have to take my Honda to the shop first thing tomorrow. I grabbed a shower (amazing, lol) and went to bed.
|"Welcome to Arizona" Sunset, Kingston, AZ
Sunday, June 19th - Father's Day!
I discovered Honda is closed today, so I guess I'm stuck at the hostel another night (I wanted to go camping). Hopefully tomorrow I can bring it in.
I talked to Dad for THREE HOURS today, lol! We talked about favorite memories, shared stories, he pictures me moving in with him when I'm done with my adventure and keep him company and help him out around the house. Sounds good to me :) I want to go camping with him (haven't done that together since I was a kid), and he wants to take me to Hulett, a small town (about 400 people!) 9 miles north of Devil's Tower National Monument he goes to whenever he heads out hunting in Wyoming. And I offered to go out to Colorado with him, so he can go hunting - a lifetime dream of his.
I walked around historic downtown Flagstaff, an old railroad town on Route 66, and admired the pretty brick buildings, art galleries, cafes and gift shops. I enjoyed a flight of beer at Lumberyard Brewing Company (I love samplers of anything, lol), tried some delicious deep fried pickles at Pickles Cafe (with the best made-from-scratch chipotle sauce I've EVER tasted!), had pizza and a dessert trio at cozy Beaver Street Brewery, listened to a good band at a music festival in Heritage Square (hilarious dancing!), sang my standard "Piano Man" at a lame karaoke night at the Green Room, and went to bed. Full day!
Monday, June 20th
This morning I took my car to Honda first thing. Ryan the service advisor had a hunch that the head gasket was leaking, which if that was the case would cost $1300.00 to resurface! THIRTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS! Yeah, I just about keeled over. He said they won't have it ready until Wednesday, because they'll have to do some tests to confirm it is in fact the head gasket and then they would have to send it out to get resurfaced. I guess I'm still stuck at the hostel - no camping for me! If that wasn't bad enough, all of my photos up and disappeared from my computer while I was waiting for the shuttle! ALL my Nevada photos and others seem to have vanished without a trace! I checked around different folders and couldn't find anything, I checked the recycle bin and I did a full file search on my computer which turned up nothing. Are you kidding me?! Thank god I recently moved all my other photos to my external hard drive for safe keeping. All I wanted to do when I got back to the hostel was sink my face into the dessert I had leftover, only to find that it too had disappeared! Some asshole thought it would be nice to steal it! WOW, I don't even know what to say. Is karma paying me back some horrible atrocity I can't remember committing, or something? I wanted to cry.
I took my mind off things with a great phone call with my sister and a trip to Lowell Observatory - the same observatory that discovered Pluto in 1930! The place was PACKED. I couldn't believe how long the lines were to the viewing telescopes. At the big Clark telescope I saw M5, a cluster of thousands of age-old stars, trillions of miles away - beautiful. Then I saw Saturn through a couple of much smaller telescopes, and that was really neat. I could see the rings and everything :)
|"Clark Telescope," Lowell Observatory
Had a felafel gyro at The Pita Pit on my walk back to hostel (the observatory's only about a mile away) - it was so good - one of my new favorite foods! When I got back to the hostel it was 11pm and all I wanted to do was sleep, but the inconsiderate guy outside (and one of my new dorm roomies) was playing a concert with his guitar, literally right on the other side of my window. So much for the 10pm quiet time rule the hostel obviously doesn't enforce. Ugh, what a day :(
Tuesday, June 21st
The better part of the day was spent blogging and uploading photos and other mundane tasks, so I later rewarded myself with a pair of blue jeans (only $5.99!) from the thrift store around the corner. I recently gave all my other pairs away, since I've thinned down a little bit. I went to Collins Irish Pub for an appetizer sampler, $2.50 draft beers (awesome selection!), and great entertainment on their many flat screen TVs (UFC and dirt-biking). I apparently wasn't satisfied, because I went over to Bigfoot BBQ and had yummy onion rings and a $1 beer, lol.
Wednesday, June 22nd
I expected to pick up my car this morning, but alas, no call from Honda, so today looked a lot like yesterday with lots of photo uploading and blogging, except this time I had some movies on the in adjacent movie room, so things weren't so quiet - South Park, The Devil Wears Prada, Mortal Kombat, and Young Frankenstein (hilarious!). For lunch I went over to Greek Islands for my new favorite food - a falafel gyro - theirs was even better than the one the other day! SO GOOD! Then I went back to The Green Room for TWENTY-FIVE CENT DRINKS! Unfortunately I was so full from the felafel I could only stomach a Miller Light and double vodka cranberry, before returning to the hostel for bed. I suppose it's for the best, though. Things could've really gotten out of hand, lol.
Thursday, June 23rd
This morning was a repeat of yesterday's, uploading photos and all that. For lunch I went to Mountain Oasis Cafe, where the customer service was sloooow, but the vegetarian options were good, and I received a wonderful call from Ryan at Honda that my car was ready to be picked up. I was so excited to get back on the road I got the rest of my food to go and I went back to the hostel and got my things together and waited for the Honda shuttle. I paid a painful $1300 in exchange for my car, which they insisted was good to go - I've heard that one before. Fingers crossed.
|View of Sedona from Airport Road Overlook
I headed to Sedona, taking scenic highway 89A down, stopping for a grand view of Oak Creek Canyon from the overlook the big overlook they have there. As I approached Sedona via the national forest I was driving through the campsites I was interested in were all full, so I had to see what would happen come evening time after sightseeing. "Red Rock Country" is breathtaking! Colorful mountains, buttes, spires, prickly pear cactus, thick pinyon-juniper forests, and rich, riparian areas flanked by crimson-colored wall make this a special special place. I pulled over several times to photograph the wonderful formations, eager to remember these sites the rest of my days.
I drove the the little city of Sedona to the scenic vista on Airport Road, a jaw-dropping view of the city and its giant red rocks in the background. I continued on 89A to Red Rock Loop Road, affording magnificent views of landmark Cathedral Rock and surrounding structures. I made my way to Highway 179 South, taking in up close views of Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock formations. I continued south on 179 out of the town limits to Beaver Creek Campground in Verde Valley. For $16 (versus the $24 I was paying at the hostel in Flagstaff the past 5 days) I got a spacious, shaded site (#13) on the edge of the campground, a bit secluded from the rest, and as an added treat I took a refreshing dip in the cool waters of the creek just across from my site. I'd never seen a swimmin' hole like this before, with intense red rock as the backdrop and wonderful ledges for jumping from.
|"Cathedral Rock," Sedona
Friday, June 24th
Last night after going to bed I got up to say hello to the trees, lol, and spotted a big skunk on my site! At first I saw only his big, glowing eyes; it took a minute for my eyes to adjust and see it's huge tail raised high. At first my flashlight caught only the eyes of a cat, then I noticed the motion of the skunk right next to it. They both looked at me as if I had walked in on a private conversation or something. I hope I didn't spoil the mood, lol.
And this morning I spotted a busy woodpecker working away at a tree near my tent. I love camping :)
Man, the two families across the road from my site were so loud last night, especially the young girl that was screaming bloody murder.
I packed up and headed only a 1/2 mile down the road to the trailhead for the Bell Trail that last night's camping hosts recommended. It was a 7-mile (round-trip) hike through the "Wet Beaver" Wilderness of the Coconino National Forest. Since 1932 the trail through the rugged canyon of Wet Beaver Crest (LOL) has been used to move cattle up and down the Mongollon Rim. Along the trail through the red canyon walls I saw prickly pear cactus and its bright yellow blossoms and fruit, lizards up to 12 inches long, juniper trees and Agavi (aka Century Plant) - a stalk that shows bright orange and yellow flowers. I took the trail to "Big Crack" (who's responsible for coming up with the names in this place?! lol), and awesome swimmin' creek within narrow, red canyon walls, I had the place all to myself half the time, I saw only one other person when I showed up. I made use of the multi-level natural platforms to jump from. The water was cold, but so refreshing after the 3.5-mile sun-drenched hike there. Oh, and I've never seen a bright orange dragonfly until now!
|Slide Rock State Park, Sedona
Afterward I checked out "Montezuma Well National Monument," a natural sinkhole 368 feet wide, with walls 70 feet above the water's surface. "Formed long ago by the collapse of a limestone cavern, over one million gallons of water a day flows continuously into the Well. This constant supply of warm, fresh water provides an aquatic habitat like no other in the world, and has served as an oasis for wildlife and humans for thousands of years." I saw the ruins of a pithouse (prehistoric dwelling built partially underground) of the Hohokam people, thought to have come to the Verde Valley around A.D. 600, a community that flourished, until they up and left for unknown reasons.
Continuing up Highway 179, I visited Chapel of the Holy Cross, and architectural marvel built into the rock 200 feet above the valley floor, with sweeping views of Sedona's giant red rocks. And I'm sure anyone else who's been there in the past decade has noticed the ostentatious, 8,000-square foot "house" below it, obviously built to compete for attention. Ugh, disgusting.
I did some driving along Dry Creek Road and Boynton Pass Rd, before heading back up Scenic Highway 89A to Slide Rock State Park, that the guy at Big Crack recommended. The $20 parking lot was full, which was a blessing in disguise since I was able to park only a 1/2-mile away in a small parking lot on a pullout, which then it's only a $3 entry fee, or rebels can get in for free near the bridge. When the park came into view it instantly became the ultimate champion of natural swimming areas, in my book. Over many, Oak Creek has carved a beautiful, slippery stretch of natural slides, holes, pools and jumping ledges within its canyon walls, making one of nature's finest natural water parks. My trip to Sedona, Arizona for that matter, would not have been the same without a trip to Slide Rock :)
I left Red Rock Country around 4:30pm, taking scenic highway 180 North to the Grand Canyon.