USA Road Trip: Days 13-14

Tuesday April 9 -Wednesday April 10, 2019

We are slowly falling in love with Flagstaff, finding it very hard to leave this morning.

We did eventually leave by mid-morning, heading south-southwest on Route 89A, towards Sedona. It did not take long, after leaving Flagstaff to enter a tall forest area. Such a contrast to entering Flagstaff from the desert on the east side of town.

Soon the road started to descend through the Oak River Canyon.

It was a beautiful drive along the river. We stopped a few times to take in the views. The weather was great, warm and sunny skies. We were surprised to see that most of the recreational areas along the river were full, it felt like a weekend.

As we approached Sedona, its red rock peaks came into view. We had visited Sedona before and remembered mainly the intense dry heat of late summer. Today was a much milder day.

We stopped near a couple of lookouts: lush greenery in the valleys framed by rugged eroded red sandstone mountains. We spent a couple of hours in Sedona driving out to a couple of trail heads. As we had not planned to stay here we did not take any of the hundreds of trails that go off into the surrounding mountains.

We left Sedona heading towards a curious small town of Jerome. It is the most unusual town perched on the side of a mountain. Looks more like an Italian Village clinging to the hillside. The town owes its roots to mining. Route 89A winds it’s way through the towns narrow streets before submitting at Mingus Mountain and descending onto an enormous valley on the other side.

Such a dramatic change in the landscape. We had hoped to make it to Wickenberg today but ended up stopping at a sprawling large town of Prescott. It was a beautiful drive, with constantly changing scenery.

Prescott (pronounced Press-kitt) is a lovely town with a rich history. We spend most of Wednesday morning walking around the old parts of town. A freezing cold wind has sprung up overnight making for a chilly walk when exposed to the wind.

A local coffee roasting house made a superb coffee, taking the edge of the cold.

From Prescott we headed south stopping briefly at Wickenberg. We had stayed here on our 2010 trip. Our memory is of a much smaller town then the one we saw today.

From Wickenberg we headed towards Gila Bend passing over the Granite Mountain. We stopped briefly on the Granite Mt descent to have a look at the memorial to the Granite Mountain Hotshots. They were 19 members of a local special response unit killed fighting a wildfire a few years ago. Hard to imagine that the scrub growing on the side of the mountain can produce fires of such severity.

From the mountain the landscape flattened. A howling dust storm obscured much of the distant view.

We wanted to see the downstream waters of the Gila River as we will be crossing it hundreds of times in New Mexico. The settlement of Gila Bend is a pit stop in deep decline. The dust storm added to the air of desolation. The town is home to a huge power station, otherwise there was little sign of life here.