Cottonwood to Flagstaff, Arizona
Distance: 55 miles
Campground: Cracker Barrel
Cost per Night: Free (Boondocking)
Duration: 1 night
Weather: Mild & Rainy
I wasn't surprised when we woke up shortly before 6 a.m. to see dark rain clouds in the sky, as I had been watching the weather ever since we arrived at Dead Horse Ranch State Park and knew the odds were not in our favor. After Crater Lake (which was engulfed in smoke the day we visited) and the Grand Canyon (which was stunningly beautiful), Sedona was at the top of my list for day hikes and simply taking in all the scenic views of the red-rock buttes. Sadly, the weather was not going to cooperate, so I brewed our coffee (trying out the new roast we bought yesterday at Firecreek Coffee Company) and settled down in front of my computer to figure out the day's Plan B.
Smooth, but not quite as dark as we prefer.
Our original plan was to spend a full day in Sedona, return to our campsite in Cottonwood for a second night, then drive to Gallup, New Mexico (via the Petrified Forest) the following day. Since our day in Sedona was mostly a bust, we decided to break camp (sadly, no refund on our second night at the state park), visit a coffee house in Sedona before heading up Highway 89A and back to Flagstaff. By spending the night there, we could shave an hour off our drive on Thursday.
Entering Sedona on Highway 89A
We lucked out and found some RV parking in the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village on Highway 179. We wandered around, window shopping for a little while before walking up the street to Creekside Coffee, where we sat and enjoyed our coffee and breakfast treats while gazing out the windows at the mountains. The photos don't really show the beautiful colors that, in spite of the gloomy weather, still looked gorgeous.
Spotted this beauty in one of the many galleries in the village.
Remove the clouds (and the wires) and this would be a stunning view!
A Brew With a View
A coffee shop with a comfy chair and a selection of books.
Yes, they do have a view!
The coffee shop was getting busy and the noise level had reached the point where it was no longer relaxing to sit and gaze out the window, so we finished our coffee and hit the road. We continued on Highway 89A so we could see more of the beautiful rocks in the area as we made our way north. We heard that the road, with many sharp curves and switchbacks (north of Sterling Canyon), isn't the best for RVs, but we're only 27 feet and the posted speed was slow and easy, so it wasn't an issue. I'm really glad we took this drive, as it was very pretty in spite of the rain and we spotted some campgrounds that may be worth checking out next time we're in the area.
Lovely contrast between the red rocks and the green shrubbery.
At $20 per car, we decided to wait until next time when it's not rainy.
We stopped at Oak Creek Vista to take in the view of the canyon and check out some of the local Native American jewelry and crafts booths.
Oak Creek Canyon
We reached Flagstaff by 2 p.m. and found a quiet park with a good Verizon signal so we could spend a couple of hours working on computer projects. As it got closer to evening, we moved into town to the Cracker Barrel, where we had a surprisingly good meal. I tried their ribeye, which was amazingly delicious. Rod's chicken potpie looked good, too. Maybe I've been wrong about Cracker Barrel... or maybe I was just really hungry!
By the time we got settled in for the evening, a dozen or so RVs and trailers had joined us in the parking lot behind the restaurant. Having never boondocked at a Cracker Barrel, I wasn't sure how this was going to go, but it turned out to be pretty decent. There was a lot of road and train noise through the night, but we were safe and had a decent meal. Can't complain about that for a free, one-night stopover.
Pretty decent place to spend a night, if you don't need hookups.
Not a pretty campground, but we still had a gorgeous sunset.
Click on images for larger view.