It’s been a full coupla days here in the boondocks. On Sunday afternoon the Big White Beluga rolled into town and joined us at our little spot in the wilds. It was a welcome reunion with much dog-licking and happy paw-play (that would be the dogs, not Sue & Dave), and the two “beasts” slotted easily into our spacious pad for the evening cocktail and meal. Very relaxing stuff all-around.
But Beluga brought some weather too. The next morning the winds started picking up and some serious dark grey clouds rolled over the mountains. We stubbornly braved the gusts for our morning coffee (which became more like café-a-dirt), but were subsequently forced inside for the rest of the day. It turned out to be a rock n’roll kinda day, with slides in, 50 mph gusts and spatterings of rain, but the show from inside the RV stayed cozy and warm. The event reminded me of the wild spring winds we encountered in New Mexico a few years back. Not much you can do except point your butt to the wind and wait it out…such is life sometimes.
Today it’s a tad chillier, but the crazy stuff is mostly gone and we’re winding down to our very last cocktails overlooking the valley. By this time tomorrow we’ll have said our last goodbyes to Beluga, given our last adieu to Arizona and be on the red soils of Utah.
But before I go I figured I’d round-up a few of our favorite outings in the Cottonwood area. This whole valley, part of the Verde Valley (Green Valley) has attracted people since the very first hunter-gatherers 10,000 years ago. With its ready source of water, rich ore and mineral soils it’s seen steady development from early pueblo’s in the 1100′s, mining in the 1870′s to modern-day tourist attractions. Here’s some of our favs:
1/ Tuzigoot National Monument
Tuzigoot National Monument is an excellent example of an early Sinagua village. Built between 1125 and 1400 it contains more than 110 rooms and sits beautifully on a hill-top ~120 feet above the Verde Valley. It’s just one of the many ancient pueblos in the area, but it was carefully excavated and remains rather well-preserved. Plus the museum has some very nice exhibits too. A really fun outing to learn about early cultures & settlements in the area. Definitely worth the visit.
A historic hillside town sprung from the discovery of vast deposits of copper in the late 1870′s. It grew from mining boom and ~15,000 people in the 1920′s to only 50 people and near ghost-town status by the mid 1950′s. The development of a State Park and pressure to preserve the heritage gave the town another start and it’s now a well-loved tourist stop. The old buildings weave their way up Cleopatra Hill (a fittingly lavish name) and there’s plenty of good food, wine and mining history to keep you occupied. Jerome doesn’t have the cool hippy culture of Bisbee (it’s much more gentrified/touristy than that), but it’s still got some nice appeal. In our 2 trips into town we had some excellent Mexican food at 15.Quince and a delicious coffee at the teeny Flatiron. Worth a stop for sure!
3/ Cottonwood, Verde River & The Wine Trail
Cottonwood is only ~5 miles from our boondocking site and boasts a cool old town downtown, a lovely State Park and multiple access points to the Verde River. The latter winds it way through the entire valley (and far beyond) and provides lots of neat little picnic areas, paddle trips and (most importantly for us) doggie-splash moments. As a nice little side-attraction for those of us with a nose for grapes, there’s the Verde Valley Wine Trail. There seems to be no end of wine-tasting rooms around town, plus there’s even a winery within biking distance from our boondocking spot…no need to drive, baby!
That’s my quick and rough round-up of the area. There’s plenty more, of course including all of wonderful Sedona (which we visited a few years back), lovely Flagstaff and tons of interesting spots in the surrounding forests, but there’s only so much a boondocker can get around to. We’ve simply loved our winter in Arizona, but we’re looking forward to the next part of the voyage. See you in the red rocks of Utah!