55863 odo Sedona 8:45 am
Today we saw two really interesting National Monuments – one of them was new to the boys – Tuzigoot NM and one we had seen before in 2003 – Montezuma’s Castle NM. The boys did the Jr. Ranger Program at both of them, learning about the history of the area, a little about the wild life and the plants.
Before going to Tuzigoot, we took a small detour to visit the town of Jerome, which is an artist colony formerly known as a ghost town. It was a fascinating town built into a hillside. It was a former mining town that was mostly abandoned until a few years ago when artists started going there and congregating. Now there is a hotel, many art galleries, a ton of shops and some rebuilding going on. What always amazed me was that the houses went right up to the road. If anyone sneezed, they might end up driving onto someone’s front porch. We didn’t end up shopping there but we should have stopped to see some of the sculptures and jewelry. I drove through there a few years ago when I took the scenic route through the mountains and forest from Phoenix to get to Sedona. I ended up stopping at a jewelry store and buying a piece with an opal and amethyst from a store run by a mother and son from the Bay Area.
Tuzigoot (pronounced differently by dfferent people, but pronounced with a whoot sound instead of a hard G goot sound by the park ranger) was a very interesting but small Indian ruin on the spine of a hill – it wasn’t really big enough to be called a mountain. There were many, many small rooms that people lived and worked in. It was evident by how it was built that it must have been a vibrant community hunting in the surrounding valley, going to the nearby river to gather water and fish, and celebrating in the giant round Kiva (basically a round ceremonial building). The backside of the mountain was the trash pit and they excavated many, many things from that pit/hillside. We lost BRyce briefly after we went to the top of a structure that had been redone. He went left and we went right. We waited at the car for him and were getting a little panicky (or at least I was; Jasper wanted to leave Bryce there) and just decided to go back on the trial to look for him when he showed up, very angry, wondering where the heck we were… always have a plan in case someone gets lost 🙂
We took a little side trip to Dairy Queen (the only repeatedly visited fast food place on our trip besides Starbuck’s – thankfully, we haven’t been to McDonald’s on this trip!) I think Jasper’s favorite place is Diary Queen – he said San Carlos would be perfect if it had an In ‘N’ Out Burger (which we are supposed to get soon, and a Dairy Queen. The only one I know of anywhere near the Bay Area is in Redwood City and it is a little run down and questionable… I sent the kids into Dairy Queen with a $20 and trekked over to Starbuck’s to get a Chai tea even though it was only 99 degrees outside today. It turns out that everyone in town was there – the line was 20 people long. I went back to DQ to fish the kids out of there and then proceeded to go to the Drive-Thru at Starbuck’s 🙂
Next we headed over to Montezuma’s Castle which is an amazing cliff dwelling. We had originally visited it when we came to Phoenix for a Bowl Game in 2003. In fact, the picture we took in front of the river was what we used for our Christmas card that year. The river was dry now and it was very hot there. We talked to a friendly older woman who was one of the docents there and she was very helpful in finishing the Jr. Ranger program. McKinley refused to write in his Jr. Ranger booklet so he had an oral exam along with two other girls from South Carolina who had come back to turn their books in. One of the great questions the Ranger asked the kids was what Park would they want to work at if they were a ranger. Jasper answered Hawaii Volcanoes (which apparently is the most popular park to work at); Bryce answered Bryce Canyon and McKinley didn’t answer but we answered Denali (where Mt. McKinley is) for him 🙂 After checking their books thoroughly, the Ranger made the kids all stand together in front of a beautiful picture of the park and she had them raise their right hand and swear the Jr. Ranger Oath in front of everyone! “I, state your name…” It was cute.
We were going to go back up to Walnut Canyon to explore that National Monument in more detail but I thought the kids could benefit form more swimming in the hotel pool and I had to be back for a 5 pm appointment for my hot rock massage. I didn’t want to miss that. I didn’t think I could drive the hour up to Walnut Canyon, explore, and get back in time. So we had fun in the pool. I actually put a suit on and McKinley announces to the world (and this would be a time when you don’t want your kids to listen too closely to things you exclaim) “Mommy looks scary in a bikini…” Lovely having children, isn’t it???
After a ton of swimming and splashing other pool guests with cannon balls and jack knives, we had a discussion on what it means to be a guest at a resort hotel – something like children should be seen and not heard???? I think that point was lost on the boys. Getting the kids out of the pool even for ice cream proved trying and took 20 minutes. After changing, we walked up to town and found yummy ice cream from a shop that makes their own. I had malted vanilla which was wonderful. McKinley had Oreo which he promptly dropped off his sugar cone as we crossed the street. A mini tantrum ensued, ending with him eating my ice cream. I went shoe shopping instead. Found awesome red sandles and these sequined type slippers in blue. Always a silver lining…
When we got back to the hotel, I was going to take a yoga class before my hot rock massage; unfortunately I missed yoga because the room was locked. I guess they are serious about starting on time. Not very yogi like… The boys watched a movie “you don’t mess with a zohan” while I had a massage even though they were lobbying to watch this unrated Will Farrell movie, which didn’t sound like a good idea at all to me. The steam room was fantastic and the hissing steam scared the bejeesus out of me when it first came on. I jumped a mile – good thing there wasn’t anyone else in the room with me – they would have seen me almost touch the ceiling when I jumped. I felt really ironed out after the hot rock massage and several inches taller. Now if I could figure out how to get that feeling to last for weeks…
We had dinner at the Cowboy Club, which was a little touristy, but had good food and was very busy that night. I made the boys try rattlesnake, buffalo, sweet chili pepper sauce, prickly pear cactus fries, and prickly pear salsa with red and blue corn chips. Jasper thought the rattlesnake tasted like chicken. Bryce thought the sweet chili pepper sauce was too spicy and McKinley loved the prickly pear cactus fries (which were my favorite too). Thankfully, there was a warm breeze which made it really pleasant to eat outside that evening. I had a pulled pork sandwich that came with the pulled pork in its own mini-iron skillet – it was fantastic! Jasper had a buffalo burger which he loved. McKinley had a grilled cheese sandwich using Texas Toast, so he had a hard time fitting it in his mouth! It was a fun day that started with exploration and ended with great food!