“You’re leaving Hope behind.”
So proclaimed the signboard as we drove away from the small village of Hope Arizona.
Our typical road route to Sedona takes us through Flagstaff on I-40 and down highway 89A through Oak Creek Canyon. This time, after exiting Joshua Tree National Park via the southern gate, we turned east onto eighteen-wheeler infested I-10. Over the border into Arizona we exited the interstate onto quieter US-60 and headed north and east. Just before we found Hope, we motored by Passmore Gas, a propane vendor. We seem to have discovered a bubble of comedy amongst the bleak barrenness of this corner of Arizona.
Covering parts of AZ 71, AZ 89 and AZ 89A, the remainder of our path to Sedona is scenic. With steep grades and tight hairpin turns, it’s the type of road that suits a sports car. Unfortunately I left my Ferrari parked in the garage of my dreams. We’d have to suffice with a less than sporty combination of a pick-up truck pulling a twenty-two foot Airstream trailer. It was particularly tricky threading the rig through the tight, narrow, and crowded streets of the old mining town of Jerome. If you remember the board game “Operation” you get the idea of the type of maneuvers required.
I haven’t done the math, but I’d guess that Sedona Arizona has been our top mountain biking travel destination. It’s been about twelve years since our first stay. For ten years following our initial foray, annual weeklong visits add up to plenty of time bouncing along on the red rocks. For a variety of reasons, we have not visited Sedona recently. It was time for a return visit. Once back in Sedona we’d find that many things have changed.
On the outskirts of Sedona one change was immediately obvious. Sedona now has a mind-boggling number of traffic circles. It’s as if the town of Sedona hired a French traffic planner and pumped him full of methamphetamine. Some of the circles work well; others are simply ill considered. No matter what, in Sedona you’ll get plenty of practice driving counter clockwise around rings of pavement. Perhaps it’s good “vortexing” practice.
Ultimately we arrived at our campsite base at the Rancho Sedona RV Park to begin our eight-night stay. Normally this would mean that we would have 6 or 7 days of riding. It didn’t work out that way. This visit we would only manage three good days of mountain biking. Bike repairs, a burst water pipe and the resulting biblical flood in the trailer, and a day of heavy rain mixed with snow doomed four days of trail riding. On the remaining days we rode just enough to see some of the new trails and rekindle our interest. It seems that we will have to make another visit to Sedona soon.
There’s a new restaurant in town, Elote Café. This popular upscale eatery a klick or so past the “Y” on 179 in the Kings Ransom Hotel serves modern Mexican food. It is the best meal we’ve had in Sedona.