It was February 2020, back when we were young and naive and had no idea the craziness of what was about to hit! (It sounds like the opening to a scary novel!) We knew about the virus spreading in China but it had not yet hit the US nor were there any lock downs at the time. We had house guests and had plans to tour them around Arizona . We were a bit hesitant due to the impending onslaught but we decided to venture out and just be careful and boy, are we glad we did! It would be our last outing of that type for a long, long time.
We toured our guests around the Phoenix area for a few days before departing to points further afield!
Lake Barlett is in the north east area of Phoenix and is a reservoir created by damming the Verde River. It offers camping, a day use area, boating, and fishing. We spent the day there exploring and having a leisurely picnic. We also had a lovely dinner at the Tonto Bar & Grill at Rancho Manana Golf Club in Cave Creek. They have a lovely outdoor patio with space heaters (if required). And the food is fabulous!
We also did a bit of shopping in Cave Creek and Carefree and managed to squeeze in a high tea at the English Rose Tea House.
Desert Botanical Garden is a 140-acre botanical garden in Papago Park in Phoenix. We are members and visit frequently and enjoy the different exhibits that they offer at different times of the year. This time the exhibit was “Wild Rising by Cracking Art”. This exhibit traveled from Milan and showcases over 1,000 animal sculptures made from colorful and recyclable plastic!
After a few days of casual fun and rest we drove up to Sedona and toured around and spent the night in town. We visited the Chapel of the Holy Cross which is built into the buttes along with touring around the usual tourist spots of Sedona including a few vortexes to renew our energy!
Next we headed on to Williams which is a small town along I-40 and is known as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon via the Grand Canyon Railway. Historic Route 66 runs through town and has a variety of souvenir stores and diners and is a must see for tourists on their way to the Grand Canyon (if you are into that sort of thing). Further north on Hwy 64, en route to the Grand Canyon, is the Flintstones Bedrock City which is an amusement center and an RV park. It brings back memories if you ever watched “The Flintstones”, yabba dabba do!!
Grand Canyon National Park – what more is there to say. At this time the park was fully open, flights from China had been stopped a few days before, and the area was the least crowded I had ever seen it. I have been visiting this area frequently for over 30 years and it was fabulous to see the place so sparse. It allowed us to really enjoy the area and to find parking spots easily!!
Sunset Crater National Monument is the location of a volcano about 1,000 years ago. CInder and lava rock can still be seen. Close by is the Wupatki National Monument which is home to Native American archaeological sites. Both monuments are on the way south from the Grand Canyon east entrance just off of Highway 89. Also further south off I-17 is Montezuma’s Castle which is a well preserved cliff dwelling from around 1100 to 1425 AD. All are well worth stopping at and visiting.
It was a wonderful trip with great weather albeit a bit chilly. We had no idea this would be our last outing for quite some time and would be our last visit to hotels and restaurants for a very long time? It was well worth it and we are glad we got out and about before the lockdown!