After a wonderful night in Monument Valley we start retracing our steps back to California. Although we’re back in familiar territory now, there were a few places we didn’t really give a fair go on our way through, so we still have a few adventures up our sleeves before we make it back to Idyllwild…

We’ve been doing the whole trip in a little convertible that we borrowed from my uncle, but the car has its quirks and it’s no simple matter to put the top down, so we haven’t really bothered with taking advantage of it so far. Monument Valley is such a perfect location though, that we decide now’s the time to ride in style for a little bit. There is something pretty cool about cruising through the desert with the top down and the wind in your hair, and we do feel very spiffy for a while. I think most people that do this are trying to pack slightly less stuff into a little sports car though. We give up and pull over to raise the roof again after one of our breakfast bowls makes a break for freedom and tries to fly out of the backseat.

Monument Valley - Utah

Saying goodbye to Monument Valley

We make our return to Flagstaff and head excitedly to the supermarket. Arizona has beer that isn’t Corona! Utah does make you appreciate the little things in life. We wax nostalgic as we drive pass Whispering Winds, the terrible motel we stayed in on our way through last time. As much as we love reminiscing about how bad it is though, we forgo returning to that experience. Besides, we missed out on camping in Oak Creek on the journey in, so we push on to Sedona to try our luck again. It’s also about this time that our driver’s door window, which had been playing up for a while, falls right into the door making it impossible to lock the car properly. Hmmm…

We’re in luck, Oak Creek is much less busy sans-weekend and we have no trouble finding a campsite. It’s getting late in the day, so rather than set up camp straight away we mark our spot and drive off to try and catch the sun at the creek so we can finally have a swim. We’ve been looking for spots since we left here last time but every creek in Utah has been extremely muddy. We leave the car parked up on the road, and since we can’t lock it anymore, put all our valuables in the trunk. When we make it down to the creek it’s already in the shade, but the thought of being clean is just too good to pass up, so we jump in anyway despite the chill. When we get back to the car we unlock the trunk and realise…duh, you can open the trunk from the driver’s door anyway. So much for our grand security plan! Everything’s there though, so our dumb luck must be holding.

Oak Creek - Arizona

Our merry campfire at Oak Creek

We head back to our campsite and set up our tents with beers in hand. Our selection of craft beers is absolute heaven after having nothing but Corona for a while. We refuse to pay $6 for firewood but quickly get jealous of all the camp fires at the other sites, so Dad runs off to collect as many pine cones as he can find and we see how long we can keep them burning for. Quite a while as it turns out. The moon is out in full force again and looks wonderful shining through the smoke from all the campfires. The pines are a bit chillier than what we’re used to after being out in the desert, but it’s a nice change to be back in the trees again.

Montezuma’s Castle - Arizona

Montezuma’s Castle

We make a quick stop for breakfast in Sedona the next morning and then head off towards the Verde Valley to check out Montezuma’s Castle, one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. The walk around doesn’t take too long but the ruins are really interesting and give a cool little glimpse into the lives of the Sinagua people.

After this brief detour, we make our return to Jerome, a former ghost town perched right up on the cliff edges on the road back to Prescott. When we first came through here it was Saturday and the town was packed, but it’s a bit quieter this time through so we stop for a beer at the Spirit Room. We manage to find a park that’s right in front of a group of buskers and that we can see easily from the bar, so hopefully that will keep our stuff safe in the windowless car. Besides, all the windows are down and the doors are unlocked. Who would try to rob a car that is so obviously a trap?

Jerome - Arizona

Main street Jerome. A historic ghost town

After people watching in Jerome for a while, we stop in Prescott for another beer at the Birdcage Saloon, with our car parked in an even less secure place. The Birdcage is one of those cool little old cowboy bars with grooves in the bar from the old silver dollars. Dad used to play here 30 years ago, so its a fine piece of history for us in more ways than one. And once again, when we get back to the car, everything is still there. Faith in humanity restored! We camp just out of town at the same campsite we stayed at on the first night of our trip. We really have come full circle now. The road has been extremely good to us. In the morning it’s the long drive back to Idyllwild and the end of our wonderful western adventure. And what an adventure it’s been.

Listening to: Wanted Dead or Alive – Bon Jovi


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