Day 5: Sedona, Sliding Rock, Jarome, downtown Flagstaff

Today I had an Epiphany. I realized I need my own Walden Pond.

Since we decided to drive toward the Grand Canyon to see much of what the Southwest had to offer in terms of sights, we’ve been told we have to go to Sedona. Having now been there, I must confess myself disappointed. It’s an artsy fartsy town that’s too expensive for its own good. Stranger than the fat tourists who appear more interested in shopping for souvenirs than basking in the natural beauty of the surrounding area is witnessing a town full of fat tourists with almost exclusively well-equipped jeeps and hummers caravaning through these movie theater streets filled to their brims with picture shooting tourists snapping images of other tourists taking photos. Many of these jeeps are pink or other pretty colors, adding to this bizarre mix.

The jeeps are part of the countless tour companies willing to drive lazy asses around to all the natural sights…for a hefty cost of course. Most jeep tours cost between $300 and $400 PER PERSON! That’s half the cost of a monthly payment for one of those jeeps. Much of what we drove to and saw for free would come tied up in that jeep tour package. We hightailed it out of that town ASAP.

We would NOT recommend Sedona unless you were interested in driving to the middle of nowhere to struggle with parking just to go to an overpriced mall.

While driving down 89A, the scenic route from Flagstaff that runs through Sedona and all the way down to Prescott (pronounced Pres cit), our eyes were met with a wonderful rock formation. Pulling off to the side of the road we found, Sliding Rock just 5 miles north of Sedona.

Being spring, this waterhole was not very busy. We hiked along the river for about a mile before heading back and watching the kids play in the crystal clear naturally formed water park.

I don’t have any pictures of Jarome or Prescott, but the drive through Jarome was the type of drive you only read about. Not only were the views absolutely mind-blowing, but the steep climb with twists and turns made it all the more breathtaking…literally. If you’re ever within 100 miles, it is completely worth the drive. But it is not for the weak willed.

Downtown Flagstaff is the sort of nerdy travelling we are used to. We heard there was a self guided historical tour map somewhere. So we hit the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce and found said map. It was getting dark and I was not as interested in taking pictures as I was in learning the history of the town.

What did we learn?

Flagstaff was originally a lumber town. The town is smack dab in the middle of the largest Ponderosa forest in the world. It was founded in 1883, I believe. Within 10 years, a massive fire to rival Chicago’s famous fire tore through the city’s downtown area, destroying most buildings which were of course constructed of wood.

The Babbitt brothers built many of the buildings both before and after the fire. Today, the Babbitt’s are still a prominent family which includes Babbitt Ford dealership.

Today, Flagstaff is mostly a college town housing Northern Arizona University. Their mascot, the lumberjack, is in large part a throwback and homage to the city’s lumber roots. But, that’s not the entire story. Flagstaff was the very first recipient of the now infamous Muffler Man Lumberjack, a fiberglass statue. Many similar statues can be found throughout the country including right here in Albuquerque on Central and Louisiana.

That very first lumberjack Muffler Man now stands proudly on the grounds of NAU. A smaller replacement of the Muffler Man stands in front of Granny’s Closet beside a red tractor you can’t miss right on Route 66.

2 thoughts on “Day 5: Sedona, Sliding Rock, Jarome, downtown Flagstaff

  1. Been reading your trip from Gallup to Grand Canyon. Hubby and I travel down through this area almost every year. It's heartening to finally hear that someone " gets it". We see too many people fall prey to the commercialism. You've opened your heart and mind to that Land and its People and you understood it well. Congrats! I really enjoy reading yor blog.

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