Monday, November 5, 2012

An Autumn Drive

Well, look at that, we made it to November.  Technically it's November anyway, we are still projected to hit ninety degrees for several days this week here in Arizona.  In the rest of the country, we had tsunami warnings in the west and a hurricane in the east.  The tsunami thankfully was a false alarm, but Hurricane Sandy has wreaked havoc on the east coast, as most of you are aware. Thousands of people are still without power and lacking vital supplies.  Relief organizations such as the Red Cross are scrambling to provide much needed shelter and supplies, but many people are still in need.  Being so far removed from the disaster, I can only imagine what everyone is going through right now. I am encouraged by the kindness and willingness to help that many people have shown during this disaster, both from people living far from it who have donated money and time to help relief efforts, to people living in disaster areas who are doing all they can to help their neighbors.  I am wishing everyone as smooth a recovery as possible.

 One of the benefits of living in the desert is that you don't really need to worry about tsunamis and hurricanes.  Actually, I think that is the only benefit of living in the desert.  Although autumn is well on its way in the rest of the country, here in Arizona it just means that we have gone from surface of the sun temperatures to regular summer weather.  Last week we did actually drop to the mid eighties, but as I mentioned before we are back into the nineties, at least for the next few days,  This is November people.  November!  Before I moved here, I thought that there would be three months of really hot weather, and the rest would be nice.  Soon after moving here, I readjusted to four months of scorching temperatures and eight months of nice weather.  Now I'm starting to think that it will be four months of nice weather and eight months of hellish heat.  In addition to reconciling that it is still almost too hot to wear jeans, I'm also missing the changing leaves.  I wasn't going to find changing leaves here in Phoenix, but I did a little research and found that a drive north could give me a fall fix.

Scenic 89A
Scenic 89A

  Last weekend K and I took a nice afternoon drive up I-17, veered over to Sedona and then drove up the Scenic 89A next to Oak Creek Canyon.  We ended our drive in Flagstaff.  Although the trees weren't quite the explosion of fall color that I was hoping for,  there were still many beautiful changing leaves, the sky was blue, the air was crisp, and I got that autumn experience I was hoping for.  After leaving Sedona and starting our drive, we stopped at a little market called Indian Gardens Oak Creek Market.  This would be a great place to stop for a bite to eat, or to stock up on snacks if you want to have a picnic.  They have a nice patio out back to eat your lunch if you want.  There is also a visitor center where you can buy day passes if you decide to do any hiking.

Indian Gardens Oak Creek Market - a great place to stop and get snacks!
Beautiful red rocks right behind the market

Later we pulled off into Oak Creek Vista.  This was a perfect place to enjoy the views.  Although this is a heavily used viewpoint,  it is a large area, so it gives you room to break away from the crowd.  Walking from the car to the view point areas, you get to smell the trees ("So much oxygen!!!").  They seem to have a little market set up with locals selling arts and crafts during the day.  The view of the canyon is really spectacular.  This is not to be missed.
Climbing in Elevation - we aren't in the desert anymore!

Ranger Station at Oak Creek Vista

Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon

7000 Feet!

After our drive, we rolled into Flagstaff and decided to have dinner in the historic downtown area at Criollo Latin Kitchen.  This was a great little restaurant that served latin inspired dishes with locally and sustainably grown food.  We started with the masa crusted calamari, and ordered the paella and carne asada tacos.  It really reminded me of a place that might be in Eugene.  Actually, the whole town sort of reminded me of Eugene.  K and I agreed that it had a small town yet cultured feel to it.  We also noticed that anytime we visit another town in AZ and mention that we are visiting from Phoenix, we get the same response.  It seems that many people in the state are not big fans of this city.  We usually get a polite nod or "Oh" as a response to where we are from.  When we say that we are happy to get out of the city, we get an enthusiastic response that usually amounts to "Yeah, I don't blame you". 
Trees in Flagstaff

Criollo Latin Kitchen in Flagstaff

Paella at Criollo

After dinner, we walked to a coffee shop on the next block called Rendezvous Coffee House located in a historic hotel called The Monte Vista.  We sat facing the window as we drank our coffees, watching people hustle by with their boots and scarves.  Flagstaff is nearing winter!  Many of the leaves have already fallen from the trees.  Being unaccustomed to needing to wear anything other than short sleeves, I had left my jacket at home.  Luckily, K is a gentleman and let me wear his.  After our coffee, we walked around the block to enjoy the downtown feel and cool weather.  Then we reluctantly headed back to our car to make the journey back to Phoenix.  It was around 6pm when we left, and it was 47 degrees.  Two hours later we arrived in Phoenix - and it was 74 degrees. 
San Francisco Street
The White Lady Mocha from Rendezvous
An evening walk in Flagstaff

Hotel Monte Vista

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Anonymous said...

Until 3 years ago, I had lived in the Phoenix area for my entire life. I always hated it. Way too hot for my taste...way too much traffic...and way too big. About the only thing I miss about Phx is my friends and family and some of the restaurants. :) We now live in Flag and love it.

Try going up Snowbowl Rd in Flag in October for the fall leaves...about mid October is usually good. All the aspen turn and it's just glorious. (For AZ...probably no comparison to Portland) Though this last year, everything seemed to happen earlier. September is usually when the sunflowers come alive in Flag, which can be absolutely beautiful if the conditions are right. Our first year here, I was in awe...I had never seen so many sunflowers before. :)

NW Girl said...

Sounds beautiful! I have loved all of our drives to northern AZ. We will have to try Snowbowl Rd this fall. I am already dreading the summer heat!

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