Matt and I went to stay with his parents in Scottsdale for almost a week, since for the second year in a row they’d been renting their friends’ condo for the month of January. It’s a good excuse to go from the ocean to the desert, and we were able to work for a couple days while we were there.
I’ve already covered our previous trip to Arizona and we did much of the same stuff in Scottsdale, so I won’t bother writing it up again. We did actually make it into downtown Phoenix on this visit, and were very pleasantly surprised by how modern the city is. Also, The Breadfruit was fantastic.
On Saturday morning, we got up early and piled in the car to head north to Sedona. On the way there, we encountered a bunch of hot air balloons drifting over I-17.
It had been fairly warm in Scottsdale (low 70s during the day), but once we got near Sedona it was a lot colder. I had to change from flipflops into regular shoes and socks, which is something I’m definitely not used to anymore.
We stopped at the visitors’ center just south of Sedona to pick up maps and get our first view of the red rocks.
We headed toward town, stopping at overlooks along the way. All of these formations have names, but I’ll rely on someone else to label them for me.
From there, we drove up to the turnoff for the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
The chapel is at the top of an overlook in the hills, just a short drive off the main road. It has pretty amazing views on the way up.
Here’s the family ascending the ramp to the chapel. There are some Chinese buddhist monks coming up behind them, which we loved a lot.
The chapel itself is fairly small, though of course they have a sizeable gift shop downstairs.
The inside has a few pews and a huge rack of novena candles. They don’t use it actively for mass.
Here’s the gigantic mansion you see from the chapel. Kind of incongruous.
For lunch, we decided to stop and see what was at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. Plus, who doesn’t love arts and crafts like my mother-in-law and I do? Conveniently, we found Oak Creek Brewery‘s brewpub there waiting for us.
After lunch, we went to wander around the shops there, after we rescued Bally from this guy.
There were a bunch of excellent shops there; Judy found a purse, and I bought a silver ring, some flipflops on clearance, and some other souvenirs. (I’d have bought more, but we’d already done well in Old Town Scottsdale.) When we were done there, we decided to go see the airport overlook before checking into the hotel. It’s a couple miles west of the “Y” (which seems to be the main point of navigation in town – a little confusing since it’s not a Y but a roundabout now).
Here’s a panorama from the airport overlook.
We found the Amara Resort at the bottom of a steep hill along Oak Creek. It was right in the middle of the little village in Sedona, and convenient to everything (except for the climb). Also, the views were pretty spectacular.
We were early for check-in, so we hung out having a cocktail on the patio while they prepared the rooms. One of the servers came out and pointed out Snoopy Rock – Snoopy is laying on his back on the right. (Lucy is up there, too, but hard to see in this photo.) Matt and I walked down to the creek, which you can get to past the infinity pool that overlooks the valley. It’s too bad we only had one night there.
Our rooms were ready shortly, so we went to drop our bags off. The in-laws wanted to hang out and have a pre-dinner drink in the room, and Matt and I wanted to go up into town to do more sightseeing. They said they would take the shuttle up the hill when they were ready for dinner. We headed out, making the poor decision to climb the hill. It was only 2 blocks, but that incline at almost 5,000 feet altitude was rough for two people who live 12 feet above sea level.
We did some looking around the shops, including a crazy trading post store that probably hasn’t changed all that much in the past couple hundred years. The shops in town were a lot more touristy and less artsy than Tlaquepaque, so we didn’t find much of interest there. We checked out menus and scoped out a dinner restaurant, then headed down the hill to check out the series of plaques they had set up detailing Sedona history. What we learned is that a lot of Westerns were filmed there, and that the settlers were awful to Native Americans. Obviously.
We went all the way down to the Y and crossed the road to check out a weird mall on a hill that appeared to have some restaurants and shops. It seemed to be a Hilton timeshare setup with a Hard Rock-style restaurant that charged $20 admission, a Starbucks, and some overpriced shops. We climbed the hill back into town and went into the Cowboy Club to have a beer. As we’d learned from the history plaques, it’s where John Wayne and the other oldtimey Western stars all hung out after movie shoots.
It wasn’t as saloon-like as we wanted, but it was great nonetheless. We both had a crush on the bartender, and there was basketball on TV. Matt’s parents called to say they were ready for dinner, so we told them to meet us there. They grabbed seats at the bar with us, and we ended up staying there for a couple more rounds. By that time the place was insanely packed, and people were hovering over our seats to grab them when we left.
We crossed the street to 89Agave for dinner and had a really good dinner and margaritas. (The veggie enchiladas were delicious.) Then it was time to head back to the hotel, so we climbed back down the hill – his parents made it! – and went to grab seats around one of the fireplaces outside. We had drinks there, and a lady brought us blankets to wrap up in. I really wished we were staying longer.
The in-laws went up to their room before 9, and Matt and I went to get a drink at the bar in the lobby, which was still pretty busy. We read an art book about modern architecture and then went back to the bar to get a to-go drink before bedtime. (It was before 10pm – that’s even late for a lot of places in Arizona.) We met some people at the bar who wanted to talk about life in Key West, which is a conversation we’ve had a lot at this point.
In the morning, we checked out and headed west out of town in a different direction than we’d arrived. The park ranger had pointed out another overlook loop, so we wanted to do that before leaving. We stopped at Circle K for more coffee, and I discovered they had this in their rack of condiments: it’s more coffee to add to your coffee. Of course I did.
Red Rock Loop Road was quite scenic indeed. It’s about a 5-mile loop that starts and ends at 89A. This reminded me of the Grand Canyon in the morning:
Bally is quite the outdoorsman, as you know.
Back on the highway, we headed west again. Our original plan was to take 89A back in the direction of I-17 to Phoenix, but then we realized it wasn’t very far out of the way to go to Prescott. Since Matt and I really wanted his parents to see it (as it was a truly old-West kind of town), we decided to head that way before going home.
What Google Maps neglects to tell you sometimes is that your route involves an almost 8,000-foot mountain pass. The weather was fine, though, so it was a good adventure.
We found the town of Jerome at 5,000 feet in the Black Hills of Yavapai County. I’d never heard of it before, but we learned from an informative plaque (what can’t you learn from plaques, really?) that it’s home to what was once the richest copper mine in history.
It’s hard to see in the photos, but there’s more than one really fancy hotel up there. Here’s a bit of the mine:
We climbed up and up toward Jerome, thinking we wouldn’t possibly go through town because it was so high up there. But we did, and were greeted by cairns near the town entrance.
The highway becomes tiny going through town, as a series of narrow switchbacks. All the buildings hang off the mountain. It was really amazing to see.
We figured Jerome was near the pass, but after half an hour of still going uphill realized it wasn’t til around 8,000 feet. There was snow all over the mountain near the top. (This is looking back toward Sedona.)
The descent into the Prescott Valley is a lot quicker, with far fewer switchbacks. We got into Prescott around lunchtime, and were glad to get to show them the town before heading back to Scottsdale.