Monthly Archives: June 2021

Saguaro National Park

Arizona Highways (and byways) – November 2019

I have to admit to feeling some trepidation as we embarked on our journey to Arizona. There are so many reports of Canadians being stopped at the US border; we can’t totally avoid a news-stream dominated by reports of US mass shootings, of political and racial tensions.

One of the best things about travel is that it forces us to move outside our accustomed ‘box’. It was challenging to realize that I am affected by that distorted media stream, to some extent buying into what is just another shading of demonization and prejudice. It was a delight to be reminded how charming and friendly I find all but a tiny minority of Americans and to remember what a beautiful, varied and interesting country the USA is. I still get a warm feeling thinking about the joyful singing of and interaction with the African American who was responsible for our breakfast in Watertown, having got up at 4:30 am to prepare and serve a much better than average hotel buffet.

Our travels were rich in new experiences, from desert landscapes to pit BBQ. What follows is largely drawn from my Facebook entries, effectively journaling our 2019 Arizona trip.

Note: Click into the images to scroll through at full size

November 5 – Travelling

A short drive across the border to Watertown, 45 minute flight to Philadelphia, then on to Phoenix, Arizona, arriving in time to have supper with Paul’s business partner, Jeremy, having quickly dropped off our luggage at our delightful Airbnb studio. We are staying in what was the garage of a house previously owned by Arizona’s first female governor, Rose Mofford.

November 6 – Phoenix

Business in the morning!

Then an awesome afternoon at the Heard Museum (don’t miss this, if you are in Phoenix!), with a leisurely walk ‘home’ through the lovely Encanto-Palmcroft historic district.

November 7 – Phoenix

Desert beauty and pit BBQ (Little Miss, considered among the best in the USA) – both somewhat alien to us northerners. Too much food in the last 48 hours as Jeremy has tried to expose us to some of the delicious quirks of the Phoenix food scene we’d have been unlikely to find on our own.

The Desert Botanical Gardens were a great introduction before we head out into Arizona’s desert lands tomorrow.

In Phoenix we have been fed to within an inch of our lives, culminating last night in what is known as THE Mexican restaurant to take out-of-towners to, Barrio Cafe. The food was amazing and the street art outside really cool, not to mention great company with our ‘business family’.

November 8 – Phoenix to Bisbee

Saguaros and petroglyphs (Saguaro National Park); magical glass, the historic Hotel Congress in Tucson where John Dillinger was captured, desert skies, ending the day in one of America’s quirkiest and best small historic towns, Bisbee.

As a bonus, there is a music festival, so we arrived to live music and cocktails in the back yard of our vintage motel!

November 9 – Bisbee to Globe

Bisbee
Bisbee

From Bisbee to the wild west of the brothers Earp, Doc Holliday, Big Nose Kate and Sadie Marcus (Tombstone) – The Birdcage Theatre offered one of the more authentic glimpses or Tombstone’s heyday.

Then on to the Salado Pueblo at Besh-Ba-Gowah, the treasure trove of the Pickle Barrel Trading Post and a wonderfully quirky classroom bedroom at the Noftsger Hill Inn in mining town, Globe.

It had to be the biggest B&B bedroom ever at the old school house in Globe, now the Noftsger Hill Inn! There was also a neat link to where we stayed in Phoenix, a home that had been owned by Rose Mofford, first female governor of Arizona. Rose was born in Globe, went to school here, and gave many materials from her time in office to the owners.

Noftsger Hill Inn
Noftsger Hill Inn
Noftsger Hill Inn

We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Pickle Barrel Trading Post, though it was somewhat overwhelming.

Somewhat unexpectedly in this old mining town, we rounded off the day with a delicious Asian fusion meal at Bloom.

November 10 – Globe to Sedona

Montezuma Castle’s Sinagua cliff dwellings gave us a sense of a different type of Pueblo – the area had a lovely feel to me.

Montezuma Castle - Information Board

Not too long after, we got our first glimpse of Sedona‘s awe inspiring red rocks.

Approaching Sedona

Our home for the next few nights, the Red Rock Hiking Studio, is in an older part of town that was settled by the Haight-Ashbury generation, away from the tourist bustle and with a fabulous view from the end of the driveway. The evening’s bonus was the sighting of a Javelina (wild pig) as we drove in after supper.

November 11 – Sedona

Awe, wonder, beauty both natural and artistic; the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a chapel that rises out of the rock (in which Frank Lloyd Wright had a hand) and Mother Earth’s ‘Cathedral Rock’ (from so many different directions, including the gorgeous tranquility of Crescent Moon Ranch and coloured by the day’s changing light). Although the core of Sedona is shot through with bustle and commodification (the galleries were interesting in a way, but overwhelming), the red rocks have a genuinely peaceful quality, even looking out over a glorious Vista over lunch from the Creekside Bistro at the heart of downtown, though even more so sitting surrounded by the glory and soaking it up!

November 12 – Sedona

Gina on the Chimney Rock Trail, Sedona
Gina on the Chimney Rock Trail, Sedona

Feeling reasonably proud of myself; we’ve covered 8.5 km today in two separate hikes – and for probably the first time since back issues cut in in my early thirties, I walked with a backpack! We set out round Chimney Rock from our door at 7:20 am, getting to the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park at the other end of the trail a little after 9 am – almost a sense of arriving as a pilgrim from the hills, rather lovely.

The Chimney Rock Trail loop is a lovely and relatively easy 3.5km hike, with fabulous views.

After a short break, we set out again a little further round the same range of rock up Soldiers’ Pass via the Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole to the Seven Sacred Pools (as the monsoon was somewhat lacking this year, we only counted 6 with water!).

Elote Cafe, Chef Jeff Smedstad’s much acclaimed gourmet Mexican restaurant, is something of a foodie ‘must do’ in Sedona and was our choice to cap off our stay. I couldn’t resist buying a copy of the Elote Cookbook, duly signed at our table by the chef, along with a properly bound menu from the night of our visit (included with the book).

November 13 – Sedona to Phoenix via Jerome

I’ll be honest, road tripping had rather caught up with me by this point. As a result, I probably didn’t really appreciate our last stop, the historic copper mining town of Jerome, as much as I might have!

And the journey back to Phoenix was something of a trial – a residual effect of concussion, too long on the road still messes with my head.

November 14/15 – the return to ice and snow

What a difference a day makes… More than 30C between Phoenix and Seeley’s Bay. This is the first time we’ve missed first snowfall and the icing of our bay – even the first snow-clearance of our driveway! Our wetland looks promising for skating this year if we don’t get too much snow.

Arriving home to snow!
Arriving home to snow!

You can view our full Arizona album on Google Photos and follow our journey on Google Maps.

(Due to the intervention of Christmas 2019, family issues and then Covid, my half finished post was put on the back burner and forgotten about! But this was a great adventure and worth recording. So, finally, the post is finished. June 2021)