Friday, April 27, 2012

Sedona, Arizona

The next place my sister, Shannon, and nephew stopped at on our trip to the west was Sedona! In Sedona, we were camping on government land while exploring the the red rock mountains and the little old town of Sedona. My sister, Lindsay, visited Sedona about six years ago. She was familiar with the camping area and the town... or so we thought.

Lindsay marveling at the beauty. Pretty sure she is saying "See! See how beautiful it is!"
A red rock mountain beaming in the sun!
We were driving from Flagstaff, taking hwy 89 down to Sedona. I say "down" because the curvy road is down a mountain. The road seemed to be in-between two mountains, and depending on where you were on the road, it appeared that there were red mountains directly in front of you. The sun was close to setting so the mountains in front of us looked like they were glowing gold! It was one of the most beautiful drives I have ever taken. I live in a hilly area. Mountains are a huge treat to me! Lindsay started to even cry since the drive was bring memories back for her. She also managed to video tape the drive down... while driving...

There are hardly any free camping sites in Sedona, but luckily Lindsay was taking us to where she camped six years ago. She remembered the road she camped on was "Bear Creek." With my handy, dandy smart phone, I looked up Bear Creek road in Sedona. When I found it on the map, but something looked off. There seemed to be several other roads right next to it, not like a campsite. It looked more like a subdivision. We just had to drive there and find out! The only problem was that the sun was quickly setting. We needed to set up camp and start cooking our food preferably before it got too dark!

My GPS took us to Bear Creek road... Sure enough, it was in a subdivision... a subdivision that looked very new. We did not research whether or not Sedona still had camping. Now we were a little freaked out thinking that it was used for new construction! Lindsay assured us that she would find it! We didn't want to risk getting stuck without a place to sleep, so Shannon called her husband who just happened to have hotel points. In and out of phone reception, Shannon attempted to book a hotel just in case!

Lindsay slightly remembered that you had to drive out of town to get there. So we drove, and we drove, and we drove. Lindsay recalled that it was a street to the right of the hwy in the middle of nowhere. Finally, we found a street with that description, pulled off onto a gravel road, and started driving up the mountain. The road was pretty rough and at times I didn't think we were going to make it! How horrible would it be if we we got stuck on this road in the middle of nowhere without cellphone reception!!

Lindsay was unsure it the road looked familiar especially since it was starting to get dark! We needed to look for signs that people have been camping there like, a fire pit. After driving up the road for sometime, finally we saw a fire pit! And then another, and then another!! We were on camping grounds!

And do you know what the name of the street was? Beaverhead Flats. Not Bear Creek...

This is what it looked like when we arrived at our campsite...
It was a close call, but we were able to set up camp and cook our food (which took about an hour or so!!).

Monday, April 23, 2012

 We were stopping in Holbrook to explore the petrified wood! Here, and several other select areas, forests become petrified, literally turning into stone. It takes the perfect temperatures, pressures, mineral and about 100 years. The wood, now turned to stone, has orange, yellow, red, and more colors swirling in it!

Petrified wood found in a shop!
The National Petrified Forest resides in Holbrook. Lindsay did her research ahead of time and discovered a rock hounding site for petrified wood! On the first day around four in the afternoon, we set out to find this site! The thing about rock hounding sites is that they usually are not charted very well. They are routed by past visitors who give directions using trees, dirt roads, and other unreliable markers. With the sun setting quickly, we only had to hope we could find it!

The spot where we found the rock hounding site

After following a dirt road for some time, we could only hope we were at the right place. We jumped out to look through the dirt and rocks hoping to find a treasure. At last, Lindsay found a stone that might resemble petrified wood. Soon after, we found more and more! We filled a small box with petrified wood and crammed it into the car.

The next day we went to the National Petrified Forest Park! We were leaving to go to the next town immediately afterwards, so the car was packed to the brim with luggage. The National Petrified Forest includes the painted desert, jasper fields, petrified forests (of course), and much more beautiful scenery!
View in National Petrified Forest. See the darker rocks towards the top? The rocks directly below it are 500,000 million, or something like that, years younger. There are missing rocks in between the two layers. No one knows where they went...
This is the Painted Desert. Not only are there stripes of different colors in the mountains, but they appear to change color throughout the day. Sometimes they look purple, sometimes orange, red, grey. That is why they call it the Painted desert! So many colors!
 The National Petrified Forest is about 20 miles long. At the end of the drive, right before the exit, there was a sign that said "All Vehicles will be Searched." Our minds started racing... Since the we had the car packed up for the next town, we had the box of petrified wood in the car!! There is no way they would believe that we found the petrified wood at a rock hounding place! As we were SLOWLY approaching the exit, we scrabbled to hide the box of petrified wood which at one point was right in the open. Our thoughts were that if we buried it deep enough, they wouldn't want to search for it. We got up to the exit, saw the guard and stopped. We probably looked like we just robbed a bank; nervous and guilty. The guard asked us "Did you take any petrified wood?" and we said "no." She then said "have a nice day" and we drove off.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Holbrook, Arizona.

My sister (Lindsay), friend (Shannon), and nephew (Avery) went on a two week road/camping trip to Arizona, Nevada, and California. We left on December 27 at about 6 O'clock thinking that my almost two year old nephew was going to sleep through the night. Yeah... he just ended crying the whole night. No, more like screamed the whole night. 

At about one O'clock, I took over driving. I found out this night that I was a champion night driver. I whizzed past several rest stops. Each time I would see one, I would think "I will catch the next one." I ended up driving until about five O'clock in the morning. Finally I felt like I couldn't take anymore. The only thing I could find was a picnic area where a bunch of Semi trucks were parked. Seems sketchy... but we survived. We slept until about seven. Hmm... two hours of sleep before we continue making our way across the country? Perfect.

Notice the snow on the mountains ahead...
Finally, after 20 hours of driving, we made it to our first destination, Holbrook, Arizona. Our plans were to camp there, saving money on a hotel. Yeah... it was 35 degrees during the day. I don't even want to know how cold it got at night! We wanted to find a cheap hotel and did so... one that was $25 a night. It was Sahara Inn with "Sahara" spelled wrong. Also, the heater did not work. We had the owner come in and light it with a match. And as expected, there was a creepy van out in the parking lot accompanied by the creepy man. Again, seems sketchy, but we survived.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jerome, Arizona.

During my adventure to the West, my sister, Shannon, and nephew went to go visit a little town up in the mountains called Jerome. We went there on New Years Eve to celebrate. I would highly suggest everyone should go!

Jerome is an art town, filled with shops and vendors off of the street. We walked around exploring all of the little shops, which really meant that Shannon and my sister Lindsay were exploring while I was snapping pictures. The picture to the right is a sculpture Shannon bought from one of the local vendors, Janie Layers. It is a dragon made of clay and painted! Shannon named him Jerome! He became an amputee after a rough plane ride home :/

After we explored all of the art shops and vendors, we decided to go out to a late dinner at the Haunted Burger. This was pretty exciting for us since we had been cooking all of our own meals while camping. We were seated on the second story of the restaurant with a nice view of the town and an overlook off the mountains. I don't even remember what I got, but I definitely remember scarfing it all down.

After dinner, we sat on a cliff to watch the sunset and drank wine. We got there while it was still light outside. We had a view of red rock mountains, which is where we were camping, snow capped mountains, plains, and more! Watching the sunset slowly come in was a great start to the new year!

While we watched the sunset, we heard sirens! Like I said, it is in the mountains, so the drive up there was a little scary considering that I am not a fan of rickety roads with straight drop offs.The speed limit is about 25mph for the whole road, yet the police officers and the firetrucks had no problem getting up the hill when a house caught on fire later in the night... Dang dry weather! We could see the firetrucks coming from the very bottom of the hill all the way to the top. After a period of time, we realized that the fire was right next to us! It was on someone's back porch. We had a nice view of the firefighters putting out the fire. What a sight! And luckily the house was not too damaged!

Picture of Jerome from a distance
After the sun had gone down, we made the drive back down to our campsite. The road down the mountain curved all around, so sometimes we would face south, sometimes west, east and north, right? At one point my sister nearly screamed "What in the hell is that?" I quickly took off my seat belt from the backseat to see what she was talking about... A large green streak quickly flashed across the sky! It changed from green to yellow and then disappeared!! Yep, we saw a comet! Although Shannon and I still swear it was an alien! It is just so crazy that we happened to face it right at the perfect time!

We got back to the campsite and had a bonfire! Avery, my nephew, was put to sleep in the tent while we continued the party. The next few hours of the 2011 year was spent giving advice, listening to good music such as Everyone's free by Baz Luhrmann, and watching the stars. When it finally turned midnight, we ran away from on campsite (so we wouldn't wake the baby) and made as much noise as possible. We were hoping to hear people from the town below us or some of our neighbors... Nope, we could not hear anyone else making noise :( But it was still the best New Years I have had so far. How many people can say that they celebrated New Years by a bonfire in the middle of the desert with good friends?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Arizona Mountains!  My sister, her friend Shannon, and my two year old nephew went on a two week adventure exploring Arizona, Nevada, and California. We camped for most of our trip. This was taken from my campsite in Quartzsite, Arizona where we went to visit the Gem shows. Vendors from all over the place come in their RVs to set up shop. They sell anything from precious stones to old license plates to purple glass.

While we were there, we camped at the government owned land just down the street. It seemed like it was mainly for RV campers due to the large amount of them!! The further you drove back on the land, the hiller/mountainer it got, which meant less RV campers and more privacy! I don't know if I saw any other campers back there! Although at little scary being back there all alone, it was a humbling experience.

In addition to the scary experience, while exploring the land for a perfect campsite, we came along a flat, beautiful piece of land with a "fireplace" already made. Sounds like the perfect place to camp, right? We thought so too until we decided to drive a smidge forward and saw a pile of rock... and not just any pile of rocks... a pile of rocks with a cross stuck in it. Looks like we found a grave site!! I don't know if there was something buried under it, human, animal or even a cactus, or if someone was just trying to scare any visitors... Either way, we decided there was NO way we could camp at that site! 

While we were there, I felt horrible! I was so tired and constantly felt like I was about to throw up. There was one day when my sister and Shannon went to the Gem shows in town. I decided that I was going to stay at the campsite. Again, although I was all by myself in the desert (or at least I was hoping so) I was not scared. It was such a beautiful experience! It was about 80 degrees out with a slight breeze with mountains completely surrounding me. Something I think everyone should experience, and by themselves if they can ;)

While I was camping I would try to wake up every morning before the sunrise, find my perfect spot, and watch the sun come up... one of my favorite activities. I can feel a tingly go down my spine thinking about one particular time. I was the only one who was up. I walked over several hills to find my spot, a view over the town with mountains surrounding all of it. When it was still dark outside, the town was lit up. Cars were entering and exiting through the highway which ran along the campground. The sun came up over the town illuminating the golden mountains. It was a beautiful mix of city life and nature provided by the sunrise!

How I wish I could be there now!

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