Phoenix to Flagstaff (December 27, 2012)

Thursday, December 27, 2012
After a good breakfast buffet, we headed out toward Montezuma's Castle. There was a fairly big landscaping change along the way from Phoenix toward Sedona.

Montezuma's Castle has a third mile hike to see ruins of a five-story, twenty room dwelling from the Sinagua tribe. The structure built into the side of the cliff was built around 1100.

The fact that the structure is still intact and the surface would have been so hard to build just astounds me. I also got to completely rock my new zoom lens.

I thought the walk to Montezuma's Castle was cold, but I had no idea what cold was yet. I still feel badly for the park rangers who have to stand outside during all extremes of temperatures explaining about the remains.

We took a scenic drive to Cathedral Rock and stopped at Red Rock Crossing for some great photos and a nice nature hike.

We saw a mountain biker wipe out and a few idiots walk across a log over a rushing river for no reason.

Kris caught me in a strange pose.

When we got to one section of the park, there were cairns as far as the eye could see. It continued for a long time. There were even cairns in trees.

Crazy! I could hardly fathom the cairnage.

Kris thought one section of the trail wasn't well marked, so he built a cairn to ensure other hikers wouldn't get lost.

While walking back to the car, it began to snow on us.

It seemed to come from nowhere, but it continued and increased in quantity as we continued into Flagstaff and to the Walnut Canyon National Monument.

When we got to the monument, the Island Trail was closed due to ice. We took the upper hike, but it was a bad idea. You get the same approximate view from the visitor's center glass in the back but you don't freeze.

As Kris and I trudged underdressed for the weather through the trail and past closure signs, we couldn't help but laugh at ourselves.

Snowy cold! I think Kris's face describes the biting chill perfectly.

We decided to retire and check into the SpringHill Suites Flagstaff, our lodging for the evening. We had done a stay two get one free promotion with Marriott over the summer, so this was a free night's stay!

After checking into our eclectically decorated and spacious king room, we went to eat at The Northern Pines restaurant thanks to recommendations on TripAdvisor.

This place looks like a dive from the outside, but, on the inside, you find cozy decor and a lovely fire. Sheena, our waitress, was a rockstar. When I asked about their soup selection, she recommended the bacon vegetable soup with the sandwich and salad. I got a generous salad with a 1/2 pressed turkey and avocado sandwich on cheesy bread with a flavorful crock of soup. The bacon and vegetable soup with loaded with vegetables ranging from the typical to zucchini, carrots, and celery with chunks of smoky bacon that added a very hearty, smooth, and robust flavor to the hot soup. Excellent!

I would say that Kris enjoyed his meal too, but that statement was amended at about 3am. I awoke to find Kris springing from the bed to hurl in the bathroom at about 3am. He got such a bad case of food poisoning that he was spewing zucchini from his nose. He hadn't vomited in over 20 years.

Montezuma sure got their revenge today. I guess we didn't show enough respect at his castle.

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