November 12, 2018

Cottonwood, Sedona, and Flagstaff, AZ

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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. 

Off we went, arriving in Sedona around 11:30. We could see the rock formations as we drove, but the sky was gray and the windshield blurring with rain, so I knew the photos I'd hoped to capture on one of my day hikes would have to wait for a return visit. Bummer!

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. 

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  1. Again, such pretty pictures. Yes, I'm a dark roast coffee lover these days. The darker the better. I don't drink as much coffee, so what I do drink needs to be very, very tasty. We like Cracker Barrel for a meal now and then. They have a nice selection of vegetables and my husband likes the chicken and dumplings. They make a good breakfast too.

    1. Kay, you are always so thoughtful to comment on these long travel posts. Thank you, dear friend. Like you, I don't drink much coffee anymore. One, maybe two, cups a day, so definitely a dark, tasty cup is required. We don't have a Cracker Barrel nearby, so we only go every once in a while on a trip. I actually prefer their dinners over their breakfasts, but maybe I just haven't found an item that I love. At home, I usually have greek yogurt and fruit or quinoa with nuts and fruit for breakfast. Not exactly the sort of thing on their breakfast menu! :)

  2. Those mountains are gorgeous even with the crummy weather.

    I'm not a Cracker Barrel fan but Carl and his family love it. I had no idea you could park an RV there overnight.

    1. Kathy, you and Kay are so sweet to comment on all of these travel posts. Thank you, dear friend! Yes, the mountains were pretty, but I know from photographs just how stunning they are when the sky is blue with a few scattered white clouds. Next time, for sure! I'm still not completely sold on Cracker Barrel, but that steak was pretty tasty. I didn't know they allowed overnight parking either until I read about it on someone's site. Walmart used to allow it, but now it depends on the city and the management. I think Cracker Barrel decided to help pick up the slack. Of course, everyone probably goes inside for at least one meal, so it's good for their business.

  3. I'm so sorry that Sedona was a washout. At least it will give you an excuse to return to Arizona, and maybe next time you can stop by Houston and we can meet! Wouldn't that be fun!

    1. Deb, we most certainly plan to return to Arizona. I want to see Sedona in all her glory, as well as pay the Grand Canyon a second visit. We have very dear friends living in New Braunfels, so we most definitely plan to return to Texas. I think the majority of my blogging friends live in Texas, so maybe we can all get together someday!

  4. Those photos are beautiful even in bad weather... on our list for the next trip! Nice of Cracker Barrel to allow boon docking. I remember the days when they had audiobooks you could rent at one location and return down the road. We haven't eaten at one in ages.

    1. JoAnn, I thought the views were pretty in spite of the rain, but I can imagine how stunning they would look with a bright blue sky to add some contrast. Maybe we'll meet up with you two in Sedona, although I think it will probably be a few years before we head back to the Southwest. Alaska and Canada are calling... I think you can still rent audiobooks at CB, but I'm not sure.


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