Homecoming has been an American tradition for over 100 years now. It’s one of the biggest times of the year for most American colleges and universities, with loads of past students returning to play football, parade and party. Flagstaff has their own unique homecoming tradition – Tequila Sunrise. Most of the towns bars open at 6am, serving a tooth-aching mixture of tequila, orange juice and grenadine to thousands of punters intent on getting hammered by midday.
We took a stroll around the streets just after 9am and found a lot of people were close to achieving this goal. We also found out later that police had to break up a huge party of over 1,000 people at an off campus complex, arresting several underage drinkers…right across the road from the police station. If you were young and single this is a pretty good time to be in Flagstaff!
Sober enough leaving Tequila Sunrise (we didn’t touch a drop, we’re not young and single), time had come to gain some spiritual oneness and vortex the shit outta Sedona. Cruising the scenic 89A as it twist and turns into Oak Creek Canyon below, we passed through Oak Creek with it’s Native Indian stalls shaded by the lovely Sycamore and Cottonwood trees.
Slinking into Slide Rock State Park ($10 per car) late in the afternoon to escape the brutal summer heat and refresh in the natural slide formed in the red rock, we idled away the afternoon being dumped along the various levels of the slide and watching others do the same. Putting one of the BBQ’s to good use and having a craving for some bangers (sausages) the coals were promptly lit and some pigs in blankets became lunch.
Leaving here for the Rancho Sedona RV Park, we were soon brought to an abrupt halt by the notorious Sedona weekender traffic, of folks converging for their weekend meditation sessions. Sweating balls eventually we arrived at the RV park only to find that they were full for the night, though they kindly pointed us further down the 89 to free camp, before Cottonwood, for the night off on our right hand side. This is Bureau of Land Management land, most of which you can ‘boondock’ (free camp) on throughout the country. There are plenty of other ‘official’ campground options along the 89A and 179, though all lack hook ups.
With the sun descending we hunted out some WiFi to find a place to chill out until nightfall. The Canyon Breeze Plaza is a perfect place to take a caffeine hit, drink a beer or to grab a bite to eat (awesome strawberry cheesecake ice cream) whilst sitting out on their patio, looking out over the striking red rock formations of the surrounds. The WiFi is good and nobody bothered us when we parked ourselves here for a couple of hours.
As darkness set in we headed out of town to find the spot previously mentioned, setting up for the night under the stars. In the morning sunrise the place looked like an African landscape with long grasses swaying in the gentle breeze and stunted desert trees silhouetted against the rising sun.. Turned out to be a great piece of advice from the folks at the fully booked RV park, as we slept for free by ourselves without being hassled.
Heading back over to the RV Park, we were happy to find the sites perfectly shaded with good power and water hook ups. It’s not often on this trip that we’ve spent money on an RV park, due to the States various free camping opportunities. The only thing lacking here was good quality WiFi. We took the chance to clear out Porkchop, take some for sale photos and blog on our own little grass area under the leafy canopy of trees.
Food time. Putting the campsite to good use Matt whipped out the BBQ and made these delicious bad boys.
Afterwards it was time to check out the typical tourist spots and once again enjoy the views of the gorgeous environment. Strolling around town only takes a half hour or so, and most of the uptown area is geared towards the tourist population (there’s a reason it’s nicknamed ‘rubber tomahawk town’).
Heading back down the hill we ducked into the artistic enclave of Tlaquepaque, which we’d recommend a visit to, milling around the various galleries and sculptures situated under the sycamore trees lining Oak Creek. You can get lost here wandering the alleys, arches and courtyards, and we made our way back to the van separately after doing just that.
For more Arizona pics check out our Flickr site here.