The drive from the Grand Canyon to Winslow is as desolate as it gets. Once we got through Flagstaff, the trees fell away and the desert stretched to the horizon, interrupted only periodically by random rock formations and jagged hills.
We got to Meteor Crater in about 2 hours. The wind was howling over the rim and in the bowl, and we wandered around for a bit on the paved pathways and in the small museum. The exhibits on meteors, asteroids, comets, and general space stuff were actually pretty impressive considering the size of the place.
The gift shop had a variety of expensive trinkets, and like all the other gift shops in the state of Arizona, a large selection of rocks and gem stones. I passed on all of the collectibles except for a sticker to put in my scrap book.
It’s a quick detour, but I encourage everyone to visit Meteor Crater as it is quite a rarity!
After the crater we drove to Sedona and checked into the Wildflower Inn, a cozy and convenient little motel in the town of Oak Creek. We dropped off our luggage and headed to Jerome, a ghost town my Dad visited in the 70s while he was living in Tempe. We stopped at the visitor center first and I picked up a few post cards. We made conversation with the park ranger at the visitor center and he explained how Jerome has changed since my Dad’s last visit.
Apparently the term “ghost town” has two meanings when talking about Jerome. 30 years ago, Jerome was like the set of an old Hollywood western with abandoned buildings and tumble weeds blowing down Main Street.
Today, Jerome is a hot spot for arts and shopping, and the historical society offers ghost tours after dark as there are many haunted hotels and buildings down town. The Wild West atmosphere is gone.
Dad seemed a little disappointed by this shift but Jerome is still a pretty cute little town with boutique stores and souvenirs galore. By the time we left, it was after 4:00 and a storm was rolling in. The clouds were dark and heavy, as they would be for the rest of our trip, and wisps of rain were visible on the horizon – not a great omen for the early morning balloon expedition we had planned.
We called the hot air balloon company to find out whether our balloon ride was cancelled. It was. Because of the increasing wind and rain, the pilot decided it was too risky.
We ended up spending the morning hiking around the red rocks, despite the bad weather. We drove to a few scenic overlooks and picked a trail near Bell Rock and Oak Creek. Even though it was gloomy and overcast and the colors are very vibrant, we found several impressive scenic views and enjoyed a few hours out exploring. The sun did peek out every now and then, which at least offered a few rare spots of blue sky.
Back in the car on our way to another stop, we found a family of Roadrunners in our path – two adults and three tiny babies. They scurried across the road in front of us. I so regret not getting a picture of them, but at least now I can say I’ve seen one!
We went to Montezuma’s Castle and enjoyed a quick view of some high-up cliff dwellings from a long forgotten people. At the recommendation of the gift shop cashier, we ended up at Montezuma Well a few miles down there road, a natural spring in the middle of the desert and the only known habitat for five microscopic species which thrive in high carbon dioxide levels of the water.
After a late lunch at the Blue Moon Café, the weather forced us to call it a day, but we took a quick detour through downtown Sedona and found a really awesome store with a huge selection of art and gifts. We spent an hour or so there before heading back to the hotel for the night, and just like that our trip to Arizona was over!