The clear sky and slight breeze of last night turned into an overcast sky and gusty winds this morning. Gusty winds and desert soil makes for dust storms. In this case, pretty spectacular dust storms. Unfortunately, the dust storms masked clear views of Monument Valley. Dust storm and reduced visibility aside, Monument Valley in Southern Utah (or is it in Northern Arizona?) is a magical place. Actually, the dust clouds added to the mystical appearance of the site. Sort of like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, the monuments were rising from the dust cloud on the valley floor below.
Yesterday’s trek on the gravel road down the side of a mesa well prepared me for today’s 15 miles drive on dirt roads through the valley. Winds went from gusts to calm and then gusts again. During the wind gusts, dirt clouds would form so thick that you couldn’t see oncoming traffic or where the road was. I did have a few off-road adventures when I thought the road went one direction and, as it turns out, it went another. I’m glad I was in a SUV but Morgan wasn’t too thrilled with all of the bouncing around. I’m also guessing that all of the dust played havoc with the air filter and cabin filter on my vehicle. Pioneer settlers never had that problem.
Then came the rain. Not heavy rain, more like showers; just enough to turn the red dust into red slime. Fortunately, we were at the end of the drive and headed back to the visitor center when the red slime hit. Back on tarmac, we headed south towards Flagstaff, AZ. Just past Keyenta, AZ on US-163, the rain stopped and the wind picked up sending tumbleweeds scurrying across the road. For those who don’t know, tumbleweeds scatter their seeds by tumbling across the prairie and smashing into the front of passing vehicles. It was kind of fun to watch the car in front of me hit a tumbleweed and seeing it (the tumbleweed, not the vehicle) explode into a million pieces of tumbleweed shrapnel. It was not fun, however, to play dodge tumbleweed when traveling at 70 miles per hour. I took a couple of direct hits myself.
The rain came back along with the heavy winds. The rain turned to hail. I really felt sorry for the motorcyclist behind me. I encountered several groups of motorcyclists braving the elements. They all looked miserable. You can tell when a motorcyclist is miserable. He/she is hunched over, head down and death grip on the handlebars. Been there, done that, I feel your pain bro. Of course my claim of solidarity would have seemed more heartfelt if I hadn’t been sipping a cup of hot coffee at the time and bumping up the car’s heater another notch.
The rain and wind continued all the way to Flagstaff with exception of the rain turning to snow. The temperature in Flagstaff was a good 30 degrees colder than Mexican Hat. The winds kept strong. Morgan wanted out to sniff around when we stopped for fuel but I was not about to go through the ordeal of getting her in and out of the car in the middle of a blizzard. The rain stopped, the wind let up and the temperature rose on our drive from Flagstaff to Sedona. The GPS had me on the interstate. Google Maps and the roadside signpost directed me another route through the canyons to Sedona. Given the weather, I chose to stay on the interstate. It was just easier and I wasn’t in the mood to listen to the GPS declare “Recalculating!!!”
Sedona is gorgeous. I can see why it is the playground for the rich and famous and women’s getaway trips. I’m staying at the edge of town given that it was the only hotel that would accept a German Sheppard.
I drove into town for dinner at René at Tlaquepaque, located in the Tlaquepaque Arts and Craft Village. It was an excellent meal.
Seared scallops served over a prickly-pear beurre rouge.
Definitely worth a visit when in Sedona, AZ.
René at Tlaquepaque
336 State Route 179
Sedona, AZ 86336