The triple digit heat is over. It was a cloudy day in the mid nineties with lots of wind in the Cottonwood area. On my drive I even passed through a brief rain storm.
My drive was through Sedona and on north to the outskirts of Flagstaff before returning south on the Interstate. Sedona still isn’t my cup of tea. The impression I developed three years ago continued with this drive through visit. I think the problem is that as a high end resort community if you aren’t staying in town you aren’t able to appreciate the area. The traffic is very heavy and many of the roads are narrow with a rotary every few hundred feet to manage intersecting traffic. Parking is also a problem. There aren’t enough public parking spots in the downtown area. I passed several overflowing parking lots today. Away from the downtown area all of the roadside turnouts and parking areas were also full. The scenery back away from the road behind the shops and resorts looks spectacular. It just isn’t easy to get near.
When I got back to my RV home at Dead Horse Ranch State Park the weekend was in full swing. All three of the RV camping loops were marked as full. The tent area was only about half full. The sound of competing music from the weekend residents was really cranked. I think it was a battle of country vs. rock, but really just sounded like noise. At some point during the evening they were told to turn it down by the park staff. It looks like this will be an active weekend.
Today was the third triple digit day in a row. Thankfully, it is the last one in the current seven day forecast for this area. Other areas of Arizona have had a longer run of hot days and they are still in the forecast. This area is about ten degrees cooler than the Phoenix area.
I took a walk along the Verde River section of the state park today. The tree cover keeps the sun from beating down and the sound of moving water is relaxing. I also like the birds the water attracts. Around the park ponds there are several families of ducks. Today I even saw one of my favorite birds, a Great Blue Heron.
The campground is starting to fill for the weekend. Families with young kids are arriving. The overall atmosphere of the park went from sleepy to noisy fun. I’m not sure what the specific attraction for families is. There is no real swimming area and the park’s playground is closed as a virus spreading precaution. I did see a couple of kids with their family splashing in the river, but it looked more like an act of desperation.
Last nights cloud cover didn’t allow the temperature to drop quickly or very low overnight. It was still in the 90s outside at 11PM and probably only got to the high seventies before the temperature started to climb again to another triple digit day. Sleeping last night was a trade off. Either live with the loud cycling of the AC or deal with the heat with the occasional breeze through the windows. I tried both, but didn’t really sleep until 3AM or so.
The lack of sleep and today’s heat resulted in a general lethargic mood today. Just before noon I left the campground on a tour of the area for something to do and to take advantage of the focused AC in the car. Eventually I found myself near Walmart. I needed a few non grocery items like holding tank chemical so I ventured in. I found the chemical and a large package of expensive RV toilet paper. I usually use regular septic safe toilet paper, but given the current supply issues I grabbed a package. In the grocery section of the store I bought some frozen items so my travels for the day were over. I needed to get home before everything melted.
My evening walk around the campground shows a subtle change. The weekend crowds have been mostly Arizona residents. Tonight there are more sites occupied by out of state vehicles than I’ve seen during my stay. Is this a sign that people are traveling again?
The temperature reached triple digits in Cottonwood AZ today. The day started with full sun and a gentle breeze. By midday the breeze was gone allowing it to really warm up. Late in the afternoon the clouds moved in. Without direct sun outside activity became possible. This evening the clouds remain and a very strong wind has arrived.
Once the clouds covered the sky the I set out on a hike into the Coconino National Forest. The trail is rocky and climbs up hill for a long distance. It is possible to see long distances to the north and east from the top. Approaching nightfall kept me from continuing the loop trail. I turned around in time to get back to my RV home before dark. The temperatures this weekend are forecast to be cooler, so I may try the trail again.
Today’s temperatures were in the upper half of the nineties, but a nice breeze kept things comfortable when you weren’t in the direct sun. Tomorrow is forecast to have a similar temperature with less wind. The temperature climbs again later in the week.
Today turned into a lazy day. When I went to bed last night, I had thoughts of driving into Sedona today. I didn’t get out of bed quickly this morning and found myself still sipping my morning coffee as the noon hour approached. My general ambition level was pretty low. The end result is touring the area was put off until another day. Sedona is a more upscale resort area than I gravitate toward, but it does deserve a visit while I’m here.
This afternoon I took a walk down along part of the Verde River. As you might expect the water level is low, but there is plenty of evidence of recent high water. There are a lot of deep wash out areas and plenty of debris caught in the trees along the sides. Some of the trees were even uprooted and lying at odd angles. The walk in the shade with the sound of moving water was refreshing.
On my evening walk I found the campground to be emptier than last night. A couple of empty sites were marked as reserved. That usually means someone hasn’t arrived for yet. The whole state of Arizona is under curfew from 8PM to 5AM this week to control the violence and looting associated with the demonstrations. Anyone planning to arrive late may have to arrive tomorrow.
The campground was full this weekend, but by mid morning it looked very empty. I woke up around six thirty when the first RV departed. That’s one of the disadvantages of having the site across from the exit and dumpster. A steady pace of departing RVs followed. Checkout time is noon, so they don’t have to get early starts. I suspect traffic and temperature concerns cause people to leave early. The two lane southbound highway to the Phoenix area winds up and down over some serious elevation. A little slow down or an accident on that stretch or road causes long delays.
Getting home before the temperature reaches triple digits could also be a motive for leaving early. The Phoenix high temperature made it to triple digits by early afternoon. In this area with a strong wind the temperature only got to the mid nineties. Out of the direct sunshine it was a very comfortable day.
For today’s exercise I drove down to the ponds in the day use section of the park. I would walk, but the trails to that area are open to the beating sun. There were a few families enjoying picnics in the park along with a little fishing in the ponds. The three ponds are surrounded by nice green shade trees. It’s possible to walk around in relative solitude out of the direct rays of the sun. Even the ducks were taking advantage of the shade at the waters edge. This area along the Verde River is so different from the desert area on the surrounding hills where my campsite is located.
On my evening walk around the campground it was interesting to see the campground more than half full after this morning’s mass departure. A group of RVs with ATVs occupy the sites below me. I hope they don’t all decide to power up their ATVs early in the morning.
A strong breeze during the second half of the day kept the near one hundred degree temperature from feeling oppressive. Still, there were very few clouds in the sky. Outside activity in the bright sun has to happen in small doses.
Between the two months of “stay at home” because of the virus and the long periods of hot temperatures, it doesn’t seem like the end of May. In my mind it is either the start of the travel season at the end of March or the end of of summer in late August. It is very confusing as I try to develop a new plan going forward.
The Grand Canyon National Park announced its full reopening plan late Thursday. The whole south rim area including the campgrounds will open on June 5th. On Friday morning I tried to score a reservation at the Trailer Village for June 8th when I leave. All of the sites big enough for my RV were already booked. I knew it was a long shot, but that is one of the reasons I held off making reservations after this stop. Friday afternoon I booked the three weeks following the eighth. One week is in a commercial park with full hookups followed by two more weeks at another Arizona State Park along Interstate 40. Next week I should be able to book into July. I’m waiting for New Mexico to relax some of its restrictions.
My big activity of the day was watching the Dragon Demo 2 launch from Cape Canaveral on TV. I didn’t hold much hope that the weather would cooperate, but they found an acceptable weather window. The USA is no longer dependent on other nations to get astronauts into space. I’m also curious what kinds of technology and industry will take advantage of the commercial crew launch capability of Space X.
Today’s only walk was late in the day. In addition to walking around the campground I took one of the trails to the top of the hill overlooking the campground. I got a good view of the tops of many RVs including my RV home. The sunset was not very photogenic.