I was so tired last night that I didn't take a picture of where we slept! So, this is where we woke up:
^^ Casino parking lot near Fort McDowell, AZ
Before we left, Scott shaved in the parking lot! Ha, it was too funny to not get a picture of. This van life thing is pretty entertaining sometimes.
We took off around 8 for Payson, AZ, in the Tonto National Forest. There were a couple of things from the Cotopaxi Questival that we didn't get to near there that we still wanted to check out.
After a stop at Wal-Mart, we found a water faucet at a park -- just across from the library -- to do dishes in and re-fill our water..
Thank goodness it was semi-warm out. This isn't going to be fun in the winter!
So this is where we sat fro 10 until almost 1. I was so far behind on updating this blog that I easily kept busy the whole time...and still wasn't caught up. I maybe could have been if the internet there wasn't as slow as molasses...
We made lunch in the van -- more quonia and eggs, and I tried to re-organize some shelves / clean the van while Scott continued to work.
I ran in to the library one more time to use the bathroom and re-fill my water bottle before we left around 3:30 -- and a book on the "Free" shelf caught my eye. It was a beginners book to learn Spanish, so I snagged it. I mean if South America is on the agenda for next year, a little Spanish would be helpful.
Anyways, we headed out of town and pulled up to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park right at 4pm. The sign said "No entrance after 4" but of course we continued driving in anyways. It was one of the two places out here that were part of the Questival challenges and I really wanted to see it.
I think what happened next was karma for ignoring the time. ;) The raod was a 14% grade, and I was driving. I mean I was trying to go slow, but on top of the grade, it was basically switchbacks with sharp curves one after another. I took one just a little too fast and the bottle of Olive Oil (along with everything else) fell from the shelf to the floor. The lid apparentlly wasn't on too well, so oil went everywhere. It even splashed up to the front where we were.
And to top it off, when we got down to the actual entrance, a park ranger came out and said we were too late to go any further and we wouldn't be able to see anything. We had to turn around. Ugh.
We asked him if the hot springs (the other thing on my list) were too far away, and he said yes. BUT - we shoudl check out state road 300 up north -- if it was still open -- for a good sunset view. Since our other two options were a bust, we decided to check out his suggestion.
Our first clue that this was a bad idea should have been when road 300 was so small it was barely even on a map.
And our third clue shoud have been when the steep road turned mud from the melting snow.
But no, we ignored all clues. And got the van stuck in the mud.
We were at a pretty good angle, and while all four tires were in the mud, one was really spinning and kept is from moving.
Scott tried a few things, including putting a board down under the tire that was left on the side of the road from the last person that got stuck there (thank goodness), but I think what realy got us out was when I finally decided to get out and push while he floored the gas. And we made it.
We definitely didn't continue down the road any more after that,and decided to just enjoy the sunset from whatever paved road we could find.
We did get a few more shots of the sun from the dirt road before we hit the highway:
We decided to head west to Sedona for the night so we could do some exploring there tomorrow. We only saw it in the dark during the Questival and I wanted to see more of it. And wouldn't you know it, on the drive we found the perfect spot to view the sun going down after all.
The pictures really don't do it justice at all. The changing leaves on the trees as far as you could see, the layers of mountains in the distance. It was just gorgeous! (And right off of a paved road!)
We stayed there until the sun was down and then kept driving another hour or two in to Sedona. I know this is a bad, blurry picture, but I just loe when there is just a little bit of color left on the horizon and the rest of the sky fades to black.
Scott did some research and decided the best spot to view tomorrows sunrise in Sedona was from a trail head near the airport, so that's where we parked for the night. We hiked up to the summit (not far at all) in the dark with headlamps just to check it out.
The view of Sedona at night was pretty cool, and it left me anxious to see what it would look like in the daylight.
Back in the van, Scott made dinner, which included steamed veggies with this new little steamer thing I got him.
Dinner is served! Quonia, black beans, corn, salsa, steamed cauliflower and carrots. Mmmmmm. He really has mastered the whole cooking in the van thing.
I went to sleep shortly after that, while Scott hiked back up to take more pictures. He got some great shots of the stars over Sedona, but I'll leave that to him and take the warm bed / more sleep option myself.