Southwest Trip – Day 1

During this trip, we plan to fly to Phoenix, Arizona to bike the Peavine & Iron King Trails in Prescott; fly to Reno, Nevada to bike the Bizz Johnson Trail near Susanville, California; and take Amtrak to Salt Lake City, Utah to bike the Historic Union Pacific Trail in Park City. I posted our Southwest Bike Trip Detailed Itinerary so that you can follow us during the next eight days. Please overlook my OCD tendencies to list every minute detail, including times for showering and going to bed 🙂 . My years of hauling groups of teenagers to ski resorts across the country are evident by the “Take Nothing for Granted” schedule!

We picked up Joyce and Ron about 8:15 AM and headed to the airport. Parking our car at the Marriott and taking the shuttle to Hartsfield has become a convenient tradition for our long trips. The security at the airport has improved since our last flight; we no longer had to remove our laptops, shoes, or liquid items to pass through the conveyor. Also, random passengers were selected for a hand swab test for explosive residue; Ed was the lucky one in our group. I always thought he looked suspicious 🙂 . We made our way to the gate in record time and had a lengthy wait before boarding the plane. The flight to Phoenix was shorter than scheduled because our plane was rerouted around some turbulent weather. Arriving in Phoenix, we decided to split up and meet at the rental car facility. Prior to the flight, we checked my bag containing our hiking poles, so I headed to baggage claim to retrieve it and then took the shuttle to the rental car site. Ironically, I beat the rest of our group to the Alamo counter! We chose an SUV (Chevrolet Captiva)  with a large back window to support the bike rack that we planned to rent tomorrow.

The predominantly 75 mph interstate drive from Phoenix to Sedona took about 2 hours. We passed numerous varieties of cacti, and I was intrigued by the desert scenery along the route. Arriving in Sedona, we checked into our condo at Vista Ridge and unpacked. The architectural design of the condos blended perfectly with the red rock backdrop.

View from Condo

View from Condo

The view from our living room and balcony was absolutely stunning! Beneath our condo was a beautiful stone patio with a bocce court, waterfall, grills, and a gas-heated tabletop. What a special place for our brief two nights in Sedona!

After unpacking, we loaded our hiking gear and drove a short distance to the Broken Arrow Trailhead in the Munds Wilderness. The 1.7 mile trail led to Chicken Point, one of five vortexes (a place known for its spiraling spiritual energy) in the Sedona area.

Flowering Cactus

After my husband warned me about watching for snakes, we embarked on the narrow, hard-packed trail lined with blooming cacti, wildflowers, and strategically placed cairns (mounds of wire-enclosed rocks marking the trail).

Gopher Snake

Not 15 minutes into the trail, I almost stepped on a Gopher snake stretched out on the trail. I jumped back and retreated to the rest of our group for moral support. Ron assured me that the snake was not poisonous so I got close enough to photograph it before we continued on the trail. I must confess that I now paid more attention to my husband’s advice to watch where I stepped.

 

Devil’s Dining Room

About .6 mile into the hike, we approached Devil’s Dining Room, a sinkhole created by the collapse of gigantic underground caverns in the Redwall limestone. The sinkhole was about 90 feet deep, and we could not resist the temptation of throwing in a rock and counting the number of seconds it took before we heard it hit bottom 🙂

 

Ed & Martha @ Chicken Point

Our hike passed by several buttes (steep-sided hill smaller than a mesa) and through many arroyos (dry gulches with flat bottoms) to the final destination atop a windy mound with a clear view of Chicken Point – a red rock formation that in no way resembled a chicken.

Chicken Point

The cold temperature and swirling wind limited the length of our stay at the “spiritual” site. Our return hike to the car was uneventful except for missing one turn and having to double back. The 3.4 mile roundtrip took us about 2 ½ hours, including lots of stops for photographs.

After our hike, we drove to Elote Café and put our names on the waitlist. Ron volunteered to wait at the restaurant while the rest of us drove to Safeway to purchase groceries. This decision turned out to be an efficient use of time as our pager went off within seconds of returning to the restaurant. Our authentic Mexican dinner was delicious, especially the Elote (fire roasted corn salsa with spicy mayo, lime and cotija cheese). Stuffed and realizing that it was actually almost midnight EST, we returned to our condo and went to bed.

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