Once Robin and I decided to stop in Sedona for a short stay, we had immediately agreed on three nights stay at the Red Agave. The price was super affordable (August is low season in Sedona) and the two full days bookended by half days would give us ample opportunity to ride some of the red rock trails, do some early morning (pre-desert heat) hikes with Bruno and, most of all, get all of our laundry done. We were also excited about what suddenly seemed like a luxury item: air conditioning!
We accomplished all of our planned tasks. We did a few rides, some hikes with Bruno, including an awesome morning hike of Boynton Canyon.
The weather was cooler than our day of arrival, with highs (only) around 30C. For those of us accustomed to Souther Ontario humidity can seem muggy and uncomfortable, but trust me, the whole “but it’s a dry heat” thing is for real. Just remember, the radiation from the sun will melt you, so seek shade!
Since the Red Agave is located in the Village of Oak Creek, we drove down to the water one late afternoon for Bruno to do some fetching in the water. He had become quite good and careful on our trail hikes in the desert, avoiding the various prickly vegetation, but we had completely avoided any fetching and free roaming in fear of a USD 500 vet visit to remove cactus thorns from his muzzle.
Robin and I both enjoyed the luxury of a couple of days in air conditioning, a second tap from which comes warm (yes, who knew!!) water, and a television. Yet, we both felt somehow not completely relaxed I’m the evenings the way we do when we settle in for a quiet evening in Clifford, Robin reading her book, me staring at maps and Bruno napping away beside Robin on the bed.
On the morning of our departure from Sedona, it was clear that the three of us had, in some strange way, missed our life in Clifford while he was parked at the hotel parking lot. Bruno immediately claimed his spot on the rear seat as we drove away from Sedona, back toward Flagstaff and once again across the desolate and harsh landscape that is northern Arizona and now onto Utah.
We had planned our route to take us north from Flagstaff, through Monument Valley to some place with sufficient elevation to allow us to sleep in reasonable temperatures. Monument Valley was everything I had hoped, my expectation having been set high by John Ford directed westerns.
The drive across southern Utah was more than just Monument Valley, for it seemed that after each climb (usually ending in second gear, Clifford being Clifford), the following descent offered yet another variation on desert landscapes. I would highly recommend everyone visit this area once. The second time, probably not necessary.
Robin had found a National Forest area just outside the town of Monticello for us to seek refuge for the night. Monticello was already at enough elevation that the temperatures seemed almost bearable, and once we climbed to our planned campsite at elevation 8,400 feet, not only were we out of the desert and there were plentiful trees and green vegetation, but the air once again seemed crisp and cool. We were suddenly confident that the we were not going to perish in the desert.
Of the many USFS campsite we have visited, this one was again on the less populated side. The only campers at this campsite were us, the campsite host, and one other trailer, populated by some local type peeps who were out for a few days of bow hunting. Yeah, it is bow hunting season in Utah. We didn’t ask what they were hunting, but decided to lay low and stay close to our campground. We did attempt to look for a hiking trail close the campground, but had very little luck and the open range cattle had us a little bewildered at times. Thus, we returned to our campsite and proceeded to throw Bruno’s frisbee for a few hours in the safety of our campsite.
We left our campsite outside of Monticello after just one night and headed north, hoping for a more hospitable environment in some other part of Utah. We drove through Moab without either of us desiring to stay for a day or two to ride the trails, for we had had enough of the desert for now. During our drive through Moab, we didn’t really see anything that would pique our interest to come back one day. It seemed like just another town in the desert with a selection mediocre-to-bad lodging and food. Maybe there is some other magic side of Moab that is far away from the main road and someone will convince us otherwise.
We continued north, until hwy 191 met up with my least favourite interstate, I-90, and turned west on I-90. Thankfully for this short section, we had the pleasure of a gentle downhill. Clifford settled in at a comfortable 65mph and we watched traffic go by us at 80+mph. Soon we headed off the interstate, back on 191. Eventually the road became smaller and very quiet, as it climbed through some steep switchbacks (yeah, sub 20mph speeds for Clifford) and the road took a us through a long mountain canyon, first up and then down. A beautiful and quiet drive. We did pull off the road at some point during the climb to give way to a school bus full of children, thinking the kids likely wanted get home and 55mph would get them there sooner than our 20-25mph.
We aimed for the Uinta Mountains, with a plan to stay a couple of nights and get some decent mountain air hikes in to us and Bruno. Mirror Lake Road climbs out of Heber City into the Uinta Wasatch-Cache National Forest. We climbed (yes, slowly) up to past 10,000feet of elevation once again and found a nice spot at the Trial Lake Campground. We were somewhat concerned about availability of space as it was a Friday and we had no reservation, but luckily found one of the few remaining spots to be good for us.
We set up quickly, once again enjoying thin mountain air and settled for a relaxing couple of days.
Next time: More mountain hikes and is there a male version of honey boo-boo?