By the time I get to Arizona

I am so glad that I have family in Arizona; it gives me a great excuse for coming back again and again. Now that I have visited this state a few times, it seems to be one of my favorites. There are three national parks off Hwy 40 (Rt 66) and many more scattered around the state. Every time I come here there’s something new to see, along with the old standbys.
First up was another visit to Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Park. This time, it didn’t rain on me and I spent the entire day wandering around taking pictures. The temperature at night dropped to the teens and I spent the night in Holbrook at a hotel to treat myself to a nice warm room.
The next day I drove on to Flagstaff and didn’t realize how close I was to Grand Canyon National Park, and decided to take a side trip there. What!? A side trip to the Grand Canyon? That’s two national parks in two days! OK, as you probably have been reading my posts, you might have noticed a couple of things: one – I can’t sit still in one place for very long; two – I’m a very spontaneous person!; three – I love an adventure! I do plan ahead when I have to, but being on the road opens up a lot of opportunities to stop and enjoy what’s around me.
That being said, I drove up to the Canyon and spent most of the day at Mather Point and took the free shuttle around the village. It was Thanksgiving week and was crowded in spite of a cold, but sunny day. I stayed until sunset to see the canyon change into amazing colors. Sadly, there was a lot haze, but Lightroom saved the day and gave me some pretty good images. It was cold again in the teens that night and I found a hotel in Flagstaff to stay. I can’t believe the weather has been so cold even in the Southwest!

I had planned to visit the RV resort I worked at in Benson a couple of years ago to say hi to some people I knew and drove down there for a night.. Unfortunately, my friends were sick and I just left the next day. Things have changed there, and I don’t think I’ll go back. Prices are sky high and there are more restrictions. Looks like this is more of a subdivision now, too.

Finally, I arrived in the Phoenix area and visited my cousin, Bobby, who treated me to a very nice dinner at the White Chocolate Grill. Then I met up with my cousin Mary to stay for Thanksgiving with her family. We all got together and had a great time, and my cousins Bobby and Mary are wonderful hosts. Mary and I enjoyed pierogis at a restaurant and brought some home. We also went shopping with her son and I stocked up on fleece at the Columbia Outlet Store. The shopping center boasts the tallest tree in Arizona and it was really pretty! One day, I took off to walk a trail nearby and spent some good “me time” on the trail. There were beautiful views from the hill and the trail was pretty easy. I chose the steep way up and got some good cardio in! The rest of the time was spent relaxing with her family and just chilling out. Bobby’s brother and his wife were in the process of coming down to Tucson for the winter and I hope to see them at some point.

Sadly, I left my cousin and continued on the California. Quartzite was the next stop and I spent the night at Hi Jolly campground, a BLM area with a camp host and was right off of the highway. It was quiet except for the noisy highway, but I’m used to that and it didn’t bother me.
Karen’s Cafe offered a nice breakfast, and treated myself to a good meal. There was a tiny museum that had some odd stone sculptures and a cemetery that bears the Hi Jolly name, a tribute to a camel guide who lead the U.S. Army program to integrate camels into the desert. The program was a failure, but the government was thankful for the hard work.

I liked Arizona so much and with so many family members there, I might consider it a winter place to stay. We’ll see…

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