Thursday, October 25, 2012

DAY 65- Prescott, Sedona, to Flagstaff…

I woke up to a wonderful sunrise outside my window of my east facing room.  I went down for the continental breakfast.  I had stayed the night in a very nice Hampton Inn in Prescott Valley.  They have fresh coffee out all night for you to partake of which I thought was a wonderful feature considering how I love my coffee.

I went back up to my room jumped on my computer and let’s see where we are going to go today.  I had the idea of going into Prescott again just to check out the area for a bit then I wanted to head north to Sedona and possibly stay in Flagstaff for the night.  My thought was that Flagstaff hotels would be cheaper than Sedona.  As I got on-line with my computer that just what I found out.  Set up my reservation packed and off I went.
Photo- Prescott's Courthouse Square a very walkable park like setting.

Back into Prescott I drove.  Prescott is nestled in foothills and mountain valleys.  It is a very pretty area.  There’s nice neighborhoods that looked average income but were well kept near the historic  downtown.  I parked on the street next to the courthouse square.  Prescott’s historic downtown is centered off of the Courthouse square.  I noticed signs under light poles that stated” Prescott Everyone’s Hometown”.  I will admit that Prescott did have a nice comfortable feel to it.   
Photo- Signs stating Prescott Everyone's Hometown.

On one side of the Courthouse Square there’s a grouping of older buildings called Whiskey Row which has a variety of shops, restaurants, and bars.  The art collective that I visited last night is here.  Almost down at the other end, I visited another gallery call Van Gogh’s Ear.  Yes, I’ll admit I went in because of the name but it was a very nice gallery with a wide variety of art; paintings, photography, sculpture, jewelry, purses, and other wearable art.  I also loved that they were playing soft jazz music. 
Photo- Part of Prescott's Whiskey Row.

I walked around the rest of the street area surrounding the courthouse square.  There were quite a few western wear or art shops but among those were woman’s upscale boutique clothing stores and antique shops.  It was an understated easy going shopper’s paradise in one aspect but I was really enjoying walking around and window shopping because real effort had been put into the window displays.  I bet this place would be amazing at Christmas.

I looked at the clock and realized I had better get going to Sedona or I would really be driving in the dark to Flagstaff. I took a chance that Hwy 89 would run into Hwy89A.  I had a general map but it didn’t show the city area of Prescott and where the highways met up.  As I headed north out of Prescott the landscape changed dramatically from mountain valley to sandy rock formations.  This was very interesting and within such a short distance.  Wow!  I wish I had known and made more time.  I think I may have to come back here to explore more in the future.  But I will admit that I’ve felt that way in several areas.  I often feel I could spend weeks or years exploring some of these places that I have visited.
Photo- A rocky landscape just north of Prescott.

Photo- Scenery along Hwy 89A north before Jerome.
The scenery as I headed north became amazing the further I went north and the closer I got to Sedona.  Warning Hwy 89A is one of those scenic routes which entail tons of curves but the curves are really worth it in this case.  Course, I think I’ve heard men say that too.  Hmmm.   The road runs through a mountain pass and there are rocks, evergreen trees, and the other trees were turning yellow and orange.  It was gorgeous scenery.  I stopped at a view area just before coming into the town of Jerome.
Photo- View Area just before Jerome.

Jerome is a ghost town that has turned into an artist haven.  I was here years ago with a friend and it was marvelous place to spend the day.  The highlights I can remember of that day is eating a hamburger at the haunted hotel and watching a glass blowing demo in a lawn chair from 4 ft. away.  I was there to late in the day to find a parking place easily and I really wanted to spend time in Sedona.  I drove through Jerome slowly remembering some places and seeing new places too.
Photo- Red rock scenery just outside of Sedona.

I was several miles away from Sedona when I started to see the red topped bluffs that surround the area.  I was just barely within the town area when I saw these pink jeeps turning down a side street.  I HAD to check this out.  The side of the jeeps stated that they were off-road tours and they were packed with people.  I followed two of the vehicles and there was another two behind me.  I figured I would follow until they went off the road and get a taste of what the riders get.  I was on Dry Creek Road and it was a nice drive out on the road.  I completely lost interest in the pink jeeps and was enamored with the scenery. WOW!  The road came to a “T” and I took a right hand turn.  I stopped at a parking place not far down the road and took a few pictures. 

I turned around and headed back to Sedona.  I saw signs for a visitor’s center and followed those.  I went in and asked one of the older men at the busy counter if there was a shopping area with a lot of galleries and some restaurants too.  He grabbed a map and told me of two that were very close. 

I went to the Tlaquepaque; no please don’t ask me to pronounce this name out loud.  Parking was a bit of a struggle but it ended up really being worth it.  I walked from the boondocks and into a Mexican Oasis.  Among the Spanish inspired architecture there were graceful arches, the soft splashing of fountains, tranquil plaza areas, and shade covered verandas.  It was all very relaxing and there are about 45 restaurants and shops spread throughout the area. 
Photos- The Tlaquepaque shopping area in Sedona.

There were live musicians playing out in a couple of the plaza areas.  One was a new age on an electric guitar that I didn’t care for but another was playing soft flamenco guitar which just fit in perfect with the architecture.  He had CD’s that were available to purchase.  I sat down and listened for a while on a nearby bench; watching people walk by and shopping.  I just sat and enjoyed this was a wonderful place to come.  It was also rather confusing to find your way around because there are so many nestled verandas and plaza areas of all sizes. 

Most of the shops were galleries, but there were a few restaurants, pottery, clothing, and what not among them too.  I ended up having a late lunch on an outside patio of a Mexican restaurant called El Rincon which had bright colored umbrella tables. The food was okay but it was on the bland for Mexican but it was a mostly white high end clientele in the area.  But a warning if you do purchase or eat anything in Sedona, you need to figure in their 10.75% sales tax.  I overheard one lady complaining about it when she purchased an item that was under $5 at one store with the clerk.

Next I drove further north on Hwy 89A, the highway went by state parks and recreational areas.  I was really enjoying the drive and enjoying the scenery of rock formations, evergreen trees and colored leaves.  About 10 miles out of town, I look down to see the fuel light has come on.  Oh shit!  I should’ve fueled up when I was in Sedona; what was I thinking?  I had gotten a little too relaxed at the Tlaquepaque.  I pulled into the next turn out area, turned off the car, and grabbed the map to see where I was.  Well, I could be anywhere along a 27 mile stretch and not particularly sure if there would be a fuel station at the end of that stretch.  I opted to turn around back into Sedona and hoped that the downhill would help get better gas mileage to get me further.  I thankfully made it to the first gas station and filled up. 

It was getting later and I thought it might be faster to work my way over to I-17 to head north to Flagstaff.  I turned onto Hwy 179 heading south.  It was the only way to get to I-17 from Sedona.  Well, I don’t know if it was any faster to go this way because every 4th intersection was a round-about where you had to slow to 15mph.  They sure love their round-abouts!  There wasn’t as many as Bend, OR but this area from Sedona heading over towards Cottonwood sure had them.  Just before Cottonwood the road finally straightened out and widened.  The speed limit increased and I felt like I finally arrived at I-17.  I turned north to Flagstaff.

The interstate was virtually a straight shot going north but had a fair amount of climbing.  I took it easy.  The car has been fine but I didn’t want to push it.  The interstate speed was 75 but I stuck to about 70mph.  Now the only problem is that I had directions to the hotel from Hwy 89A.  But I did have a Woodlands Blvd that was supposed to be a turn off.  I take an exit off to double check the address and directions.  As I’m trying to get back onto the interstate I stumble upon Woodlands Blvd.  What luck!

I drive along and look for the hotel.  I turn in and park.  I wait while the clerk checks in two married couples.  I get up there and tell him I’m here to check in.  I give him my name, and he asks how to spell it.  Just like it sounds—All Good, I say.  He checks his computer and asks if the reservation maybe under another name.  No, I say.  Is there another Radisson in the area?  Mamm, this is Ramada.  The Radisson is down the street and off on your right.  I turn around and laughingly announced to the whole room,” Go figure!  I got the wrong hotel!”   Out the door I went, while the perplexed faces of the other hotel guests looked on.

I found the Radisson and I was so glad to see it because this was definitely a step up from the Ramada down the street.  I went into a marbled entrance and up to the desk where a clerk helped me right away.  He was happy because I guess my reservation was the only one that had gone smoothly for him for the night.  He said I was his lucky one and upgraded me to a suite.  Sweet!  While he finished checking me in I told him about checking in at the Ramada down the street.  He said that happened all the time.  They used to have a Residence Inn down the street that they used to get people trying to check in here too.  He was probably just being nice but I was feeling rather like a blond.

I got to the room and changed into some warmer clothes.  The temperature overnight in Flagstaff was supposed to get down to 42 degrees.  Brrr-rrr!  Man, I’m turning into a whimp!  I decided to just take it easy and stay in the hotel to eat.  I went into the Lounge area where there was only one other couple.  They had the game of the first World Series on and I sat at the bar ordered an appetizer from the Happy Hour Menu and had a bottle of Blue Moon.  It was myself and the bartender watching the game alone for the most part.  We would make comments about the game here and there but neither one of us were really vested in it.  He was a Diamond Back fan and I’m a Braves fan; but we still watched the Giants win the game.

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