Camp Verde, AZ, to Moab, UT

I had a really good night in Camp Verde, to my surprise, getting a solid six and a half hours of sleep and then dozing for about an hour more. I had a lazy morning and then set out around eight. It was quite cold and very, very, very, very windy.

My first stop of the day was in Flagstaff. I had initiated an INTERAC e-Transfer while I was in Camp Verde so I could make a withdrawal at a Bank of America in Flagstaff. My GPS told me that would be my only opportunity to access a BOA ATM before Moab and I needed cash for the hostel. BOA is part of the same network as Scotiabank, so no ATM fees there. By the time I arrived at the bank, the transfer was done, so I was able to complete my part on my phone and then get in line at the drive-thru machine. I felt bad for the folks behind me because my withdrawal took some time. Like the ATMs in Mexico, the machine would spit out my card and make me start over if I asked it to take out  more than I had in my account (sometimes hard to gauge because of the exchange rate).

That finally done, I took off and was pleased to get off the Interstate even if it would be slower going. Olive green hills that reminded me of home slowly turned to rich brown red and that brought the dust. The picture didn’t turn out well, but the clouds were dirt brown. Pardon my gross windshield — no windshield cleaners in the US!


After several hours, I finally approached Monument Valley! I have wanted to see Monument Valley since November 17, 1986, at approximately 8:05 PM EST. But I was told by a few friends who have been that the tours are the worst kind of tourist trap and that I will be enormously disappointed. However, readers told me I would be able to see some of the monuments from the main highway. Visibility was poor, but I was ready to stop at pull-outs if I saw anything interesting…




Monument Valley straddles the Arizona/Utah border.





And, finally, a bit of a clearing!



Can you see the utter morons in front of me? They flew past me at the really nice scenic pullout right behind me and then pulled over right on the road to take pictures. Please don’t be like them.


There was still more to see. I actually have dozens more pictures!







Happy with my taste of Monument Valley, I pushed on through the very scenic town of Mexican Hat.




And this is why it’s called Mexican Hat, I’m sure!


Neat cut straight through a hill:


I climbed up to 7,000ft during my day and then started to descend to 4,000 feet, enjoying the vegetation changes as I did so, like this contrast of the red stone with the poplars. It got less windy as I started going down and a bit less chilly.





More snow paused at a construction zone.


Another neat rock formation.


And my first arch! This is Wilson Arch.


I pulled into the hostel in Moab around six and paid for a second night since I was immediately not sure I would want to spend five nights there. It’s nothing to do with the hostel — it’s a hostel. I knew what I was getting into and this appears to be one of the good ones. I’m just past the age of living a million miles from a shared bathroom and the wifi only works in the communal spaces. But my cabin is private and the bed is good. So we’ll see how my first day at the park goes.

I went out into town to get dinner. Moab appears to be along a main stretch with a few other roads jutting off of it. There are lots of restaurants. It was fun to look up addresses in my GPS because Utah has a unique addressing system based out of Salt Lake City (eg. 60N 100W Moab, UT). I had a case recently where I learned about this and so it wasn’t a complete shock last night.

For dinner, I found myself at a really good Thai restaurant eating super spicy Pad Thai (I actually requested 3 out of 5 stars!) with a cold Chinese beer. But at 24USD, I won’t be splurging like that every night!

I had an early night since I had no internet access in my cabin and didn’t want to go to the communal space to get online as I was exhausted. I also couldn’t use my phone as a hot spot because I was out of pesos and CIBC declined my purchase of more money so I could buy a data plan. I’ll try again tonight.

I had a good night’s sleep, but the morning is being trying since I can’t relax in my private space with coffee to do my emails and online stuff. Hopefully, I’ll be less cranky after a day in the park…

It’s almost seven and the communal spaces are getting busy, so I’m heading out.

Fun in Sedona, AZ

Driving around Flagstaff last night gave me the impression that it’s not an easy city to drive in. I kept on missing my turns and had to do long detours to get turned around because of the railroad that divides the city. This morning, in the light of day, it wasn’t any better.

There wasn’t anything I particularly wanted to see in Flagstaff, so at reader Sandra’s suggestion, I decided to go spend part of the day in Sedona, a short distance away. Well, it took longer to get out of Flagstaff than to actually get to Sedona!

GPS directions and the paper map told me to take Beulah Blvd, or route 89, to Sedona. So far so good. Until I hit construction and a sign that said, ‘Road ahead closed, take I-17 and exit 337.’ I was at a dead end and had to reverse until I could find a place to turn around. Had I been in the rig, I would have had to unhook and reverse a giant motorhome for about a quarter of a mile!

I finally got turned around and looked for detour signs. There were none. I could see I-17, but no on ramps. My GPS was of no use. The paper map wasn’t detailed enough. Siri had no idea what I wanted. I finally pulled into a parking lot and saw a police officer standing by his patrol car sipping a coffee. I asked him how to get to I-17 and he told me that the gas station over there could sell me a map. Gee, thanks! *rolls eyes*

On the way to the gas station, I passed a lady walking and asked her. She had no idea how to direct me. I made it to the gas station and asked the attendant. He said the on ramp was near Walmart. So I drove around Walmart a bit and finally found the on ramp.

I drove down I-17 until I got to exit 337. Guess what was there? A sign that said, ‘Sedona detour, exit here.’ Seriously, Flagstaff?!

Had I been in the motorhome today, I really doubt I would have made it to Sedona as I would have been caught in dead ends several times and would have been fed up with having to unhook and get myself turned around. For a tourist destination, Flagstaff has a lot to learn about road signage.

When I finally got on the way to Sedona, I enjoyed the drive down a very steep twisty road (the kind that I hated in the RV). We dropped several thousand feet in elevation quite quickly.

I was surprised upon entering Sedona to find tons of signs announcing free three-hour parking all around the main tourist strip. Quite unexpected! I parked and then walked up and down the main street looking into shops, checking out restaurants, and eventually came to the visitor info centre. The city itself is quite unremarkable, but the surrounding landscape is very beautiful! Sedona had a good vibe to it. I felt very relaxed there.

A very helpful lady at the visitor centre gave me some info on hiking trails to check out in the afternoon, telling me that I needed to stay longer to explore Sedona’s 300 miles of trails! She also told me that there is $5 per day fee to hike in the area, but that a number of other passes are accepted, including my interagency pass! She gave me a hang tag for it, something I could have used at Craters of the Moon.

I then headed across the street to the Life is Good store, hoping to replace my now much too big ‘All who wander are lost’ tee-shirt. I found several shirts with the phrase on it, but the only one that had a colour and cartoon on it that I liked was a lady’s size L. The sizing is ample, so I needed at most a medium and didn’t feel like paying $32 for a tent I wouldn’t want to wear in public. Oh, well. I pass Life is Good stores every so often and will keep trying.

It was only just past 11:00 by this time, but I was ravenous, so I decided to hunt down lunch. When I found a well rated restaurant serving rattlesnake, my decision on where to dine was quickly made. That’s all I have to say about that in this post with respect to those of you with sensitive constitutions. For the curious, here’s a review of my lunch.

After lunch, I wanted ice cream seeing as the temperature was now infernal. Most places wanted $5 or more for a small scoop, but I finally found a place that wanted a more reasonable $3.75. I got a scoop of espresso and it tasted exactly like a Tim Horton’s iced cap!

I was then ready to walk off my lunch, so I headed off for a trail head. I wasn’t really dressed for the climate (denim capris and a cotton tee-shirt) and only equipped to carry half a gallon of water, so I didn’t have any ambitious goals except to explore the hillside. I found myself in a warren of hiking trails, all poorly marked, and eventually turned back, certain that I would get lost. I mean, after a few turns, one cactus and pile of red rocks looks pretty much like another! 😀 I still managed to spend about an hour before making my way back to the trail head.

There, a man came up to me and asked if I was visiting from out of town. I cautiously said yes. He said that if I didn’t mind going all the way back up the road to the first round about and coming back down the other side of the divided highway, I just had to do the short Yavapai hike up to a scenic viewpoint. Thank you!

I did exactly that and found a short, but still a bit technical, hike up to a fantastic viewpoint of Sedona’s red hills. I am so grateful to that lovely man and his beautiful and sweet German shepherd! And thank you, Sandra, for making sure I didn’t miss out on this lovely town!

Sedona really charmed me and was much more affordable than expected. I could have easily found a hotel under $50 a night in the area. But unfortunately, border day is coming up fast and I had to make tracks. Yet, there was more magic to be found a short distance down the road.

An Adventure En Route to Flagstaff

From Pipe Springs, I returned to Utah so I could take route 89 through the southern edge of the Grand Staircase – Escalante Monument, an area famed for its beautiful multicoloured hills. I pulled over at an information sign that indicated that the ghost town of Pahreah and an abandoned movie set from the 1930s, as well as the Paria cemetery lay six miles away in an isolated valley. The sign warned that the road is only passable to high clearance vehicles in dry conditions. Well, this was certainly not something I could do with Miranda or my old toad, a subcompact Accent!

Off I went down the twisty clay road and it was good going at first, but the road became very twisty and steep. I came down one twisty slope into sandy and got the first niggle of worry that maybe my plan wasn’t such a good idea. This is the kind of feeling I was expecting to get on the Angel’s Landing hike, but never felt once. I continued on for a long while and finally got to something, a sign indicating that the ghost town lay ahead and that the old movie set had burned down and what’s there now are replicas. There was also, to my surprise, a clean pit toilet.

I continued on and found the cemetery. There were names and dates on a plaque, but all the gravestones were unmarked.

Shortly after the cemetery, there was a sign that said, ‘High clearance 4×4 vehicles strongly recommended beyond this point.’ The ugly feeling returned to my stomach with a vengeance. It was surprising to feel it there and not at all on the hike the other day. The scenery down into the valley had made the drive worthwhile and I made the decision to trust my gut. It was late and I didn’t even feel like walking the route to see what I might be getting myself into. I had to reverse almost a quarter mile before finding a place to turn around. I have no idea why the sign was placed where it was. 🙁

The trip back up was something! Sure enough, I came this close to getting stuck at the bottom of that steep sandy slope. It was really tricky because I had to make a run up the hill in very low gear and turn at the same time to avoid going over the edge of a cliff. After that, it was smooth going.

Even though I did not make it to the ghost town and movie set, I am very glad I took the detour! The scenery was so beautiful and I got to see what my truck is made of!

From there, I pushed on to Page where I got fuel and discovered that… someone stole my brand new gas cap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I bought fuel yesterday before going to Kolob Canyons and I most certainly remember putting my gas cap back on. I am not impressed. 🙁

Page has a really impressive dam. There was even places to park around it for photo ops.

From Page, route 89 was closed and I had to take a detour that was very, very, very slow going . I was glad when I reached Flagstaff as I was started to feel a little faint from hunger. I pulled into the Cracker Barrel at 5PM local time. BTW Arizona is like SK in that it does not change the clocks, so right now it’s on Pacific Time. Cracker Barrel is a guilty pleasure and this was only the second one I encountered on this trip. I enjoyed their apricot glazed pork chops with pecan wild rice, the special of the day, which made for an inexpensive meal.

It wasn’t even six when I got done with dinner and the evening stretched on ahead. I found a Starbucks where I did the last blog post, but didn’t realise that they closed at seven! I thought to go see a movie, but Flagstaff has only one cinema and there was nothing appealing playing. It was way too early to crawl into my bunk for the evening.

So I went to Walmart to kill some time and picked up some fleece pants since it’s going down to almost freezing tonight and all my warm PJs are in the laundry basket. Yes, it wouldn’t have killed me to wear smelly PJs tonight, but I could afford $8 for a clean new pair. 😉

From Walmart, I drove around for the better part of an hour looking for an overnight spot. Flagstaff has a dizzying amount of motels and hotels, but finding one that met my requirements took ages. I’m happy with what I found, although the train that passes frequently might be an issue.

I’m not sure what I’m doing tomorrow. There’s a few things in Phoenix that are of interest, so I might head there. There isn’t really anything around or in Flagstaff that I particularly want to stick around for, plus the weather here is quite cool since we’re at almost 7,000 feet of elevation and I put away most of my warm clothes! 🙂