June 6-8, 2022
A visit to Sedona had been highly recommended and so we decided to incorporate a stop there into our route south-west towards San Diego. Once we got to San Diego, we would drive north up the coast all the way to Canada! We left Route 66 at Flagstaff and drove down State Route 89A known as the Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive. The road wends it way 4,500 feet down through sandstone canyons and forests. There were some roadworks which slowed things down but also enabled us to fully appreciate the scenery.
Sedona itself is a desert town in an incredible setting; surrounded by red sandstone formations, canyons and forests. It also attracts those interested in New Age and spiritual pursuits (quantum lightweaving (whatever that is), crystals and vortexes).
We stayed just south of Sedona in the Village of Oak Creek at a lovely little motel, the Wildflower Inn at Bell Rock. It had the most stunning view of, you’ve guessed it, Bell Rock. Shortly after arriving we sat outside our room for a couple of hours taking in the lovely view and passing the time of day over a few ciders with an Irish guy, Seamus, who had been Uber’ing his way around from Phoenix to Vegas!
The next morning we woke to another beautiful day. We spent the morning doing admin and then went on an afternoon quad bike tour with Arizona ATV Adventures.
We were on the West Sedona Canyon Tour which explored a beautiful area with a great guide, Tim. Some good dirt trails and lovely lookouts.
We didn’t get to do the full trail route though as there was an accident when someone without driving experience took over driving the quad bike. Within a few minutes they overturned the vehicle. The two people on the quad were trapped under it and would have had some nasty bruises though, thankfully, were not seriously hurt. As they were shaken up, they didn’t want to continue with the tour so we couldn’t continue with the rest of the trail as planned. We had the choice whether to come back the next day (not possible for us) or go back out to another area with just the guide to complete the allocated time. We decided on this and had a good time (in fact we had quite a bit of extra time) and were able to drive at a pace which was more suited to our level of experience. The next morning we bumped into the people involved in the accident while getting breakfast and they were all ok – a bit bruised but nothing serious.
One of the lovely things to do in Sedona is to watch the sunset as the rock formations glow from orange to red when illuminated by the setting sun. The place to see the sunset is up the hill near the airport and that is where everyone gathers. So, of course, we joined them!
The next morning it was time to move on but before leaving we went to see a striking church which seems to rise out of the red rock, the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
Built in the 1950’s, this Roman Catholic Church was commissioned by a local rancher and sculptor, Marguerite Brunswig Staude, who had been inspired in 1932 by the construction of the Empire State Building. Not only is the church itself striking but the views from the church of the surroundings are pretty magnificent as well.
On the drive from Sedona to San Diego, the landscape changed by the hour as we went from red rock canyons to the desert landscape of the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area.
We stopped for the night in Blythe, just over the border in California, which we regretted when we ended up in probably the worst motel of the trip (Econo Lodge, Blythe) and a deadbeat town though we at least were able to be well fed and watered at a local Mexican restaurant, Garcias. It was hot too and the swimming pool at the motel had been drained because of Covid (as many had) so no chance of a refreshing swim to cool us down in the 45ºC heat.
Next day, around 70 miles out from San Diego, we visited the Desert View Tower. Built in the 1920’s, there was a great view from the observation deck at the top of the tower and a quirky tourist attraction with a museum with eclectic historic local artefacts and nick-nacks dotted across the various floors in the tower. Next to the tower, we explored Boulder Park which includes animal and other sculptures which were originally sculpted in the 1930’s by Merle Ratcliff whilst he was unemployed during the Great Depression. On the road to the tower you pass Coyote’s Flying Saucer Retrieval and Repair Service. We didn’t stop as it looked closed (perhaps Coyote was out retrieving a UFO) but we did see a UFO!