No, we didn't eat all of the apples.
Wake up, shower, breakfast. The people working at the hostel are (as always) very friendly and suggest we should check out an ancient American Indian settlement in a canyon nearby, when Mr. B suddenly felt all the energy leaving his body. What was happening? A curse? A hole in Mr. B's energy field? Both??! No time to waste.. we had to crack on. Petrol for the car, Aspirin for Mr. B.
After a short drive we arrived at the Walnut Canyon National Monument. Thanks to our great idea of travelling in January, there was no long winded tourist cue, only a couple of cool looking Rangers. After paying the usual, slightly overpriced fee [just joking, it goes to conservation after all so is worth every penny] Mrs. B jumped for joy at the history lesson about to unfold before her and danced down the 100s of steps that had been carved into the rock by ancient Native American peoples, Mr. B meanwhile tried his best not to pass out straight away. This will be a day of very little steps for our hero. A lot of very little steps.
In this picture you can actually see another ball of energy disappearing out of Mr. B's body.
And here you can see Mrs. B taking the piss out of Mr. Bs mis-fortune. She is clearly showing off, holding up a gigantic piece of rock with her sheer strength.
The Walnut Canyon has a similar history as the Grand Canyon, carved out of the rock by a steady stream of water during the last 60 million years. Early settlers are originally thought to be from the north, refugees from the fiery eruption of the Sunset Crater Volcano. In the 11th and 12th century, 100s of people harvested crops on the rim of the canyon and lived in these carved 'rock houses' further down in the canyon.
After a 2 hr walk that should have taken 45 mins we returned to the car and set sail towards the East. Sedona. Oak Canyon.. red cliffs .. pine trees .. beautiful holiday chalets along the creek .. jagged cliffs, towers and fingers of rock.
Sedona.. sounds great on the map. It turns out to be a heavily commercialised new age spiritual sort of town. Lots of dream catchers in windows here. And crystals. A harmless tourist trap high street. Nice clean toilets. Is this Arizona's Vegas? Kind of. Also not that big. Stunning surroundings. A lot of hiking/trekking/mountainbiking industry. There is for sure a beautiful soul in this slightly overdressed hippy haunt.
Big houses .. teracotta reds .. dark greens and browns .. blended into the landscape.
A crazy house at Oak Creek Village outskirts southbound on Interstate 179, made up of coloured domes in primary colours. An old lady standing outside the house, wearing the same blue, red and yellow colours like the house. It's warm here .. no snow anymore. We're heading to Payson .. climbing from Arizona style desert hills into mountain forest, snow again, tall graceful trees. Nothing but climbing slowly and one more hour of trees. Then on the summit of the climb... incredible views over mountain scenery - in the distance more mountains, covered in dark green pines and dusted with snow at the highest peaks. Cold winter sunlight casting watery fingers over the landscape. Towards the East is the Apache reservation. Down the mountain.. icy curvy lanes .. more curvy lanes .. the scenery opens up again .. Wild West.. Payson, Cottonwood Creek .. a massive bike scrapyard next to the road .. horse ranches ..
The landscape is now properly Wild West and the hours flow by as we gorge ourselves on the passing rocks, lakes, trees and ocasional outlaw bikers on Harleys without helmets or exhaust pipes. The first big Saguero cacti .. suddenly all along the road .. America .. cruise control.
The beginning of a massive swamp on our left ..more bikers. The basin that we are driving through opens into a large lake, huge rocky hills on its side. The evening sun just touches the tops of their peaks. The Theodore Roosevelt Lake. It's huge. And then dusk..
"I can't be bothered to drive anymore in the dark.. I'm really knackered.. let's find one of these cheap motels and then get some burger stuff or something cheap.. but not shit .. and then I have to fall into a deep and dreamless sleep to regain my energy for all the adventures that are yet to come ..ok?"
So we checked into Motel 6 at Globe and then hit the local burger joint - it was as cheap as it looks:
After stuffing his face with a lot of deep fried food, the nearly lifeless Mr. B fell into a deep dreamless sleep while Mrs. B stayed up late and watched a lot of episodes of True Blood. See you tomorrow!