We left Albuquerque in a whirlwind with our sights set on Sedona, Arizona. We made two notable stops along the way. First was Gallup, NM, a small town near the NM/AZ border which Hollywood put on the map thanks to the many westerns which were filmed near there. The town is famous for the El Rancho Hotel (and motel), located on historic route 66 and built in the 1930s specifically for traveling film crews and silver screen stars. The main lobby area of the hotel is beautiful and unique, with an enormous stone fireplace flanked on either side by twisting staircases to the overlooking second floor. Rooms are named for the stars who frequented them. And the food smelled delicious, though we opted for our own cheaper fare.
The second stop we made was Petrified Forest National Park. Highlights of the park were the vistas overlooking the Painted Desert, and learning about how the fallen logs turned to stone over the years. The park is one of those over-managed places, where you can’t walk anywhere off the path (at least in the parts we saw). It was sort of disappointing in that way because you couldn’t get a good look at the majority of the petrified wood. But after 30 minutes of walking around and stopping at as many pieces as possible, we were ready to move on.
We could feel a repeat of the Carlsbad experience creeping up on us as we drove past Flagstaff and into the forest that leads to Sedona. As the sun was setting, we passed three campgrounds with no vacancy (it was Saturday night...), and the only RV park in Sedona did not allow tent camping. Outlook not so good.
After driving the resort-style main strip of Sedona, we landed at a motel called the King’s Ransom. The room was more expensive than we’d wanted but in the spirit of preventing another Carslbad bad motel experience, we bit the bullet and took their last room. Loren was quick to check out the attached restaurant, Elote Cafe, on Yelp and as it happened we’d landed at one of the best places to eat in Sedona! After a long wait which included sampling some of the leftover wine from ABQ and some of Elote Cafe's fresh margs, we soothed our growling stomachs around 10pm mountain time/9pm Arizona time. [Q: Why doesn’t Arizona follow Daylight Savings?]
We were also fortunate that our room had a walk out patio from which we could wander into the courtyard-ish area to watch the Perseids meteor shower. It wasn’t the best stargazing we’d seen (thanks, West Texas, for spoiling us!), but we each saw at least 5 shooting stars. We passed out after fighting to stay up to see the rumored hundreds per hour, which never delivered.
The next morning, filling up our bags with continental breakfast fruit and having a couple of boiled eggs, we set off again to see more of beautiful Sedona. We made a mental note that this place could be a candidate city for retiring: beautiful red rock mountain vistas, nearby Slippery Rock State Park (which we didn’t have time to see), a nearby National Forest, emphasis on outdoorsy activities, and a ton of spa resorts. Kristen revised her take once she realized she’d gotten heat rash after only spending about 5 minutes outside to take some mountain photos. That place gets HOT! All in all, though, Sedona is a place we plan to at least visit again.