Sedona, Arizona: Reuniting with Friends

17 06 2018

Our next destination was Sedona. I’d been there back in 2003 with my girlfriend Tonya. We stayed out in Jerome, about 25 minutes away. I remembered hiking the Oak Creek Canyon section, and spending a few hours by the river looking at Cathedral Rock.

Sedona’s big draw is its beautiful red rock canyons and rock formations. This time we’d be doing some hiking but I’d also meet up with some friends I’d not seen in ages. My friend Ruth Ann, who’d moved to Arizona from Portland and I hadn’t seen in 9 years would meet us. And my high school friend Kim Kroeger Miles lives in Sedona. I had not seen her since the mid 1980’s! We all had a cookout at Kim’s house, which is surrounded by the red rocks. I was a little nervous seeing people I hadn’t seen in so long! So much history has gone on since last we met. Children, marriages, near-death experiences, travel, and triumphs.

 

It turned out to be a lot of fun. Kim made a unique Caesar Salad, whipped up some burgers for the grill, and created an amazing dessert made with some of the fruit from her orchard. So good to visit!

The following day Ruth Ann, Tully and I set out to get outside to see some of Sedona’s outdoor attractions. What I discovered is that Sedona is an international magnet for tourists, so much so that it might not be possible to visit on a budget. And its roads are jammed with tourist buses and cars. The main road just cannot handle all that traffic! And while beautiful, every trail we visited charged a fee, from $5 to $20! It was so busy the Oak Creek trail was “sold out.” I imagine locals know other less busy trails to get out on.

The first park we visited was Slide Rock State Park. It was open, and not busy. We learned it really doesn’t have trails, just a swimming area and picnic area on the river. It would be busy in warmer weather!

Next, we decided to visit Red Rock State Park and Cathedral Rock. We’d be driving through downtown Sedona to get there. Wow, what a traffic jam! On the single-lane on the other side of the road, it was bumper to bumper for a couple of miles. Lucky for us, our side wasn’t so bad. I’ll cover those parks in the next post!





From the Atlantic to the Andes, and Esquel (via Arizona)

11 12 2011

The adventure turns west. We leave the Atlantic behind, and will continue to make our way over the Andes mountains, to the Pacific. Of course, we’ll not be doing this in a day! We’ll be stopping in Esquel, a small ski town, then Bariloche, Argentina’s ski mecca, and then stop in Puerto Montt, Chile, which sits at the top of Chile’s vast fjord system.

Let's not have a breakdown out here!

Today we have a lot of territory to cover. Leaving Puerto Madryn, we’ll spend hours crossing the Argentinian steppe, a vast flat area said to be the 7th largest desert in the world, with flora like Central Oregon. Crossing this region, you sometimes imagine hills, when there are none. And it’s empty – which is normal in Patagonia!

At long last we do see hills.

Arizona? Nope. Argentina!

The road takes us into a region completely overlooked by Lonely Planet and Rough Guide. It has areas resembling Arizona, or the John Day River!

Where's Clint Eastwood?

Or Oregon’s Painted Hills! Only more of them.

It takes us a couple of hours to pass through this fascinating area.

I was really surprised it isn’t mention, and it’s totally unpopulated.

Activate your zoom to find the guanaco to the right of the summit!

We pass through a valley and we can see painted hills everywhere.

I’m thinking they are like the ones in Oregon – they are ash deposits from distant volcanoes – in this case they are Andes volcanoes.

I am very excited to witness the Andes for real! I wonder if they will look anything like the Himalayas.

After spending so much time in the steppe, all of us are looking forward to seeing mountains all around.

And then we round a bend, and there they are!

Lonely highway with Andes! We are there at last!

It’s not long before snowy, craggy peaks stretch from south to north horizon to horizon – and we are quite far away. I must be looking 70 miles in each direction. And then, what’s this? Something not supposed to be here. But there it (they) are! Pink flamingos all hanging out in this pond way up here?

Flamingos out of nowhere!

It doesn’t take long for me to get used to seeing mountains all around. As they loom closer, I can see lots of snow up above. We are told it will melt and by summer, except for the glaciers, it will all be gone. The mountains look like they must be above 10,000 feet, yet Saskia says they are no more than 6,000.

Toward 5 p.m. we arrive in Esquel, a small ski town, with the La Hoya resort sitting above. It’s late spring, so it’s pretty quiet. But everywhere there are signs of alpine tourism. Esquel is the gateway to Los Alerces National Park.

There are chocolate shops, ski shops, rental shops and tour guides.

There are lots and lots of restaurants, and we are HUNGRY!

But we are in Argentina. We must remember that restaurants won’t be open until 8:00 at the earliest!

So we bide our time, talking in the hotel lobby and then walking around.

This young lady walks into the hotel looking very tired, and a bit sad. She sits down on the couch, across the coffee table from me. I ask what has she seen today? She turns out to be from Spain, and was part of a Spanish version of the reality show “Survivor!” She just got voted off! They had spent three weeks being shuttled around blind in the back of a truck from one “survivor venue” to another. They had practically nothing to eat. She had gotten very close to her teammates! She was pretty bummed, and was going home shortly. But she was glad for the experience.

Well, it was getting near “dinner time,” so we wended our way through Esquel’s streets in search of a meal. We dug up one spot with a likely menu – one that actually had fresh salads! We poked our heads inside, and nobody spoke English. Christof, our universal translator, stepped in and somehow worked everything out. They were not open yet but they took us. Then we got some beer while they got the table ready. And when it came time to read the un-readable menu Christof was there to help out and order, and make diplomatic amends with our server, who turned out to be super cute.

This was one memorable meal full of giggles and laughs, the conversation degenerated on both the female and male sides to less-than formal, more like stories of early life encounters with the opposite sex, and preferences, and such! Soon another bottle of wine was on the table, and we began to wonder what the other people in the restaurant thought of us.

And that was only the beginning. Afterward we ran into Yap and Patricia and all of us went on a pub crawl, winding up at this totally cool old style bar with all kinds of Patagonian mementos hanging from the walls. We succeeded in persuading the proprietors to play dance music and went on from there!

On the way home I saw the Southern Cross for the first time! Or so I thought. What I saw was what turns out to be a “false” Southern Cross!” No matter. I would continue to search for it!

Looking forward to hiking in Los Alerces National Park tomorrow!