We are two days out from going home. I am starting to pack up the items in the RV that go to the house. We dropped down from Page, Arizona to Flagstaff, Arizona a little over a week ago. When I say “drop down” I mean we dropped from the north to the south. On the other hand, we “drove up” as we are in a higher elevation than in Page. The weather is cooler. During the day the highs have been around 85 degrees, which is considerably cooler than the 100’s we encountered in Page and also back home in San Tan Valley.
We came to Flagstaff a few months ago, so we had a pretty good layout of the land. We were grateful that our RV park was not in the burn scar area that has flooded so terribly during this monsoon season. My past blog, “Girl Trip-The Good, The Bad, & The
Ugly!—Poopy!” I told about the pipeline wild fire that I encountered traveling from Utah back home. The details are in that blog. That huge fire left what they call a burn scar, where the trees and underbrush are all devastated and now the rain water just floods down this slope in the mountains and has caused more devastation.
We made our way to Williams, Arizona. It sits at the crossroads of Route 66 and the road to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Williams has a several block area that celebrates the old Route 66. It is lined with restaurants and gifts shops and the sounds of the oldies is playing everywhere. Next door to Williams was our real destination—Bearizona.
When I first heard of this place, I thought it sounded corny, but it actually has been one of my favorite places I visited this trip.
Entering Bearizona, there is a driving tour where bears and other wild animals are roaming freely. We rolled down our windows and took photos.
When the car entered the bear area, there is a sign telling us to stay in our car and keep the windows rolled up. That we did, but we got to a spot where the bear was pretty far away, and I lowered my window, aimed my phone/camera, and the bear looked directly at me. I pressed the button to take the photo and quickly sent the window back to a closed position. Looking eye to eye with a bear is not something that made me feel comfortable.
After the drive through, there is a walk through, which I suppose would be called a zoo. It’s a very limited zoo, but I absolutely loved it. It was a close eye-to eye-look at the animals. I would suggest if you are ever in the Flagstaff area, have a relaxing day encountering some interesting animals.
A few days later we headed to Walnut Canyon National Monument. When I first started visiting national parks and monuments with Dennis, I thought national monuments were like statues at historical places. Wrong! Here is the difference between a national monument and a national park. The National Park Service states on their website, “National parks are areas set apart by Congress for the use of the people of the United States generally, because of some outstanding scenic feature or natural phenomena . . . National monuments, on the other hand, are areas reserved by the National Government because they contain objects of historic, prehistoric, or scientific interest.” So there you have it! Dennis has a lifetime National Parks pass and it gets us into both national parks and national monuments.
This past few weeks I have been to Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Bryce Canyon of which the heights (of which I have a problem with) did not bother me. But . . . Walnut Canyon National Monument was my undoing. We were going to hike the Island Trail where 700 years ago the Pueblo Indians lived in cliff dwellings. The hike is 185 feet descending into the canyon, but it is all stairways. I’m not a huge fan of steps, much less with big open railing and wind. It really freaked me out. After doing a couple small flights down, the next was huge and bending flights down with open railings, and it was a big no for me. Dennis hiked there last spring so he was okay with me not doing it.
We hoped to go next to the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument which entrance is just a few miles north from Walnut Canyon. Unfortunately, it is closed. It had suffered a wildfire in 2021, and then once again, the wildfire in 2022 I referred to above also hit this park. Then the burn scar caused major flooding. The National Park Service is working on cleaning it up, but told us there were hundreds of trees that must be cut down. There is still flooding in their amphitheater along with a lot of debris from the flooding. There is no date stated yet for reopening. The Wupatki National Monument was next on our itinerary, which in the past could be approached from the volcano, but now we would drive to its other entrance about 30 miles north of Flagstaff. We drove from mild weather of Flagstaff back to a lower elevation where it was nearly 100 degrees. I love the scenery as we drive through Arizona. The terrain changes continually.
In the 11,000’s, about 100 years after the Sunset Volcano erupted, the people moved to this area. They built a hundred room pueblo with a community room and a ball court. About 85-100 people lived at the pueblo. Hopi Indians believe the people who lived and died here remain as spiritual guardians. Stories of Wupatki are passed on among Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, and perhaps other tribes.
The steps were not a problem at this site, and it was a stop well worth it and off the beaten path. The Wupatki women stayed home, made pottery and also kept the buildings from deteriorating by using their mud mixtures to fill gaps between the stones. The men were usually out hunting and gathering during the summer months, and returning home for the winter.
Although the pueblo is original, over the years mud has to be put between the stones to keep it from deteriorating and falling—much like tuck pointing a brick house today. One metal beam was added to hold up the wall so that it is safe for visitors to tour. On another side of the pueblo there is a wooden beam that is over 800 years old. We were able to walk all around the building, the meeting area, and the ball field.
We have spent almost a month staying in northern Arizona. It has been fun, educational, and relaxing. I am ready to go home. We will be home about 8 weeks before we leave for a European trip. Yes, I need some home time.