After leaving Benson I headed up to Casa Grande which is half way between Tucson and Phoenix. I decided to stay in the Escapee’s Rover’s Roost park to wait for my Michigan/Florida friend, Sandy’s arrival. The Rover’s Roost is the first Escapee’s Co-op in the extensive co-op system. Friends I made at the Escapade in Tucson are members of Rover’s Roost and told me about the park. This is the second time in a month I found myself in Casa Grande, a town I never even heard of before. I had a few days before Sandy arrived and I made good use of the time before my first two-week guest arrived. I drove up to the Phoenix airport to pick up Sandy and we spent a few more days in Casa Grande before taking off for our new destination near Cottonwood, AZ. My book club friend was in the area and stopped by for the night.
It’s about 180 miles from Casa Grande to Cottonwood and required driving though the middle of Phoenix. I’ll admit that was a bit of a white knuckle drive for me. There is SO much traffic in Phoenix. Once you get through Phoenix on Hwy 17, you climb into the mountains for pretty much the next 90 miles. We decided to boondock in a popular spot off Hwy 260 and Thousand Trails Road. I didn’t realize how popular it was until we arrived and could barely find a spot to park. As luck would have it, (bad luck?) the Wondering Individual’s Network (WINs) were there for a gathering. This brought an additional 20 or so rigs to the area. Sandy’s keen eye found a spot for us and it turned out to be a wonderful site with great views. The original plan was to stay for a few days and then move somewhere else or to a campground. But, as luck (bad luck again!) would have it, it was Easter week and all the campgrounds were booked. I was told that Easter week is their busiest week of the year! I have to keep better track of the holidays. This isn’t the first time holiday camping has caused a problem. So we settled in for the duration. It turned out to be a great site. We were able to go 15 days on the holding tanks and still had water and a little room left in the gray and black tanks. That’s saying something for two women who have to pee every hour! This location was perfect for exploring Sedona, Cottonwood and Jerome.
This was my first boondocking since I left and it felt great to be back in the wild. When we set up camp we didn’t realize there were cows grazing in the area. Our first clue was a mooing alarm clock the next morning. I looked out the bedroom window and there was a cow right under my window. There were about eight cows surrounding the few rigs in the immediate area. When we went outside we found muddy footprints on the outdoor mat and nose prints on the portable solar panel.
We gave ourselves the name Sister’s of the Travelling T-shirt. Let me explain. Sandy’s sister-in-law’s father (did you follow that?) has an outdoor store in Pinconning, Michigan and had t-shirts made. Sandy had the great idea of taking pictures of the t-shirt (with her in it) at the various places we visited, so, that’s just what we did! Every time we went out the door I asked, “Do you have the t-shirt?” Here are a few of the photos.
We kept busy while in the area. Another Escapade friend, Rick and his rescue, wonder dog Nola, were camping in the area. We went to dinner and celebrated Sandy and Mike Sikora’s wedding anniversary. Thanks Mike for buying a wonderful dinner for us, even though you weren’t there! At least we knew where we were 31 years ago…at their beautiful wedding in downtown Detroit. Rick took us for a jeep ride on the Red Rock Canyon Loop. While on the loop we stumbled upon the Pataki ruins.
We also discovered another boondocking area on FR 525 and if you go about five miles from 89A you have stunning views of the red rocks. We even ran into Rick at the Safeway while grocery shopping. I seem to have a much busier social life on the road than I did at home!
We were parked closer to Cottonwood than Sedona so we went there to explore. I’ve been to Cottonwood three years ago (as Facebook reminded me) with my friend Dianne. Dianne has a timeshare just outside Sedona and we spent a week there. Cottonwood is much smaller and less crowded than Sedona. We stopped to eat at The Red Rooster, which quickly became our go to restaurant in Cottonwood. On the way into Cottonwood I saw a sign for a Drag show. Drag show in Cottonwood, AZ, you say !?! That should have been my first clue. We went to the show that evening. First, the show started over 1.5 hours late. Then, when the performers finally came out we couldn’t see well from where we were sitting and the stage was poorly lit. By this time I was really annoyed so we decided to leave. After seeing professional drag shows in San Francisco and Key West, this was a real disappointment. Oh well…nothing ventured, nothing gained!
We visited some of the archeological sites in the area: Montezuma’s Castle and Well. Here’s the thing…Montezuma was never there. It’s not a castle, nor is it a well. WTH? Montezuma’s Castle is a cliff dwelling built into the side of a rock mountain. I couldn’t help but think who looks at the side of a mountain and says, “That’s a good place to build an apartment building?” I am always amazed at human ingenuity.
Montezuma’s Well is actually a sinkhole with water. The archeologists are still trying to figure out where the water is coming from. Every time they put cameras down into the water they get sucked down into the water spouts. Interesting places. Of course we got pictures of the t-shirt!
Because Sedona was a big traffic jam all week, we decided to go shopping early one morning before the crowds. That was a good plan. I always find something different to buy in Sedona, and this trip was no exception. Sandy and I both found a few things we couldn’t live without.
We also drove Hwy 89A from Sedona to Flagstaff and visited Flagstaff for the day. This scenic drive goes through Oak Canyon and indeed, it was very scenic! I had driven through Flagstaff before, but never stopped. We purchased a few items from the Navajo artists set up at the Oak Canyon stop. We found the Lumberyard Brewery for lunch and toured the Riordian Mansion The Riordian Family was some of the first settlers of Flagstaff and provided lumber for the railroad as it moved west. We learned a lot about the history of Flagstaff. I will return to Flag (as the locals call it) after my trip to Mexico. It is much cooler there due to the higher elevation. There are several sites in the area to explore before moving further north in search of a cooler climate and other adventures.
Sandy and I drove to Jerome for late Easter Dinner at the Asylum Restaurant. The restaurant is at the top of the hill with great views. The Asylum got great reviews on Yelp, but we found the food mediocre at best. It was Easter and the kitchen was slammed, so maybe that is why our food came out lukewarm twice! The view from the restaurant was spectacular! Sandy was in Jerome twenty years ago and said the town has really grown.
The night before we were pulling out to move to the Jerome Elks Lodge, I noticed a very small Class A motorhome pull in looking for a spot to camp. It’s very unusual to see a small Class A and I was curious about its size and configuration. Sandy noticed two younger women get out and set up their outside sitting area lickity split. So off I went to say hi and find out about the rig. It’s only 26 feet and nicely configured. Shortcoming, not enough storage room. Vanessa (36) and Carley (30) invited us to have some wine and of course we accepted!
I found both women inspirational and they gave me hope for the future! They are intelligent, strong, fearless women and impressed both Sandy and me. After a painful breakup and leaving unsatisfying jobs, they decided to rent an RV and hit the road. They had no experience operating an RV, but that didn’t stop them. I assume they got the 30 minute overview from the rental company and off they went in search of their future! They had a lot of questions for me and I answered as honestly as I could. They said they felt like Sandy and I were sent from the future and they could see their future standing (or sitting, as it were), before them. We talked about everything…jobs, travel, relationships…everything.
They were definitely worthy of being crowned as Road Queens with the travelling tiaras. So I went back to my rig, fetched the tiaras and came back for the crowning ceremony. I wish I had extra tiaras so I could have given the tiaras to them. But alas, I couldn’t leave my only tiaras. They seemed very moved by it. We loved meeting these women and I surely do hope our paths cross again.
I spent my remaining time at the Jerome Elks Lodge until it was time for me to depart for Mexico. I’m stored the rig at the Elks Lodge while I was away.
I took this video for Sandy to send to her nephews and thought maybe some of you would like to see it. So here is a short, unprofessional video of my little home on wheels.
Now I’m off to Mexico for two weeks with the girls. When I return from I’ll move up to Flagstaff and see the North rim of the Grand Canyon and then head north to Page.
Till next time…