When we left off, Kevin and I were about to be stranded at our Mister-Rogers-Neighborhood-meets-the-Gestapo RV Park. Knowing there was a big snowstorm coming, we’d actually considered canceling our reservations at pricey Rancho Sedona, but we didn’t have many good options. Dead Horse Ranch State Park has a 14 day stay limit, we already knew there was no availability in Phoenix, and we’d just fled a different campground south of Sedona. Plus, even if there was somewhere else to go, the whole region was about to get hammered by the storm, so we figured we might as well just stick with the plan and hunker down in crazytown.
Our goal is always to avoid extremely cold weather because a) it causes things to break; and b) it can be miserable in an RV. But this winter has put us to the test as we just haven’t been able to find consistently nice weather anywhere. Add a major snowstorm to the equation and we knew we needed to come up with a plan to prepare for the situation.
Most of our plan revolved around snacks….
Other than our chocolate supply, we did make some efforts to prepare for the storm.
We topped off our propane tank and I lined the very drafty cabinets in our bedroom slide with Reflectix to add some insulation. Once we were in the coldest part of the storm, we relied on our electric heat pump and space heaters during the day while running our propane heat at night – this ensured we wouldn’t run out of propane when we needed it most, and kept our bays warm (the propane heat flows under the RV so it warms our bays and tanks). Finally, we disconnected from the outside water supply overnight – using our fresh water tank and water pump instead. This prevented any freezing of our outside hoses and connections.
When I posted this picture on Facebook:
about 800 people (OK, 2, but it seemed like 800) noted that we were smart for bringing our slides in before the snow began to fall. Only problem? Our slides are on our driver’s side… They are out, you just can’t see them in the photo.
All of which caused me to have a slight panic about whether we were causing thousands of dollars of damage to our house.
I took some comfort in the fact that none of our neighbors had brought their slides in either. On the other hand, one of these neighbors managed to burn through his entire supply of propane in three nights. So, perhaps, these were not the experts we should be relying on?
Anyway, there was nothing we could do so we just waited it out and hoped for the best.
Once the storm was over, Kevin went out and knocked the snow off the slide toppers, and, several days later, we pulled in the slides with no problems. It was a huge relief and proof positive that you don’t actually have to know what you’re doing to successfully live and travel in a motorhome.
The snow came down heavily for two days. Because of the intermittent melting, it’s hard to say exactly how much we got, but I’d estimate it was between 12 and 18 inches. It was gorgeous!
And while we weren’t sure how our SoCal beach dog would feel about the white stuff, we had nothing to worry about. Thor was a total snow lunatic.
Red Rocks Emerging…
As the snow melted, Sedona’s famous red rocks emerged even more beautiful than usual.
While we waited for the trails to clear, we wandered the town a bit.
The Tlaquepaque Shopping Center is right up the street from the RV park and offers numerous art galleries, independent craft and clothing shops, and unique dining establishments. It is designed to feel like a Mexican village, complete with cobblestone walkways, decorative stone archways, and beautiful statues throughout. Under bright blue skies, warm sunshine, and quickly melting snow, it was a beautiful spot to meander.
We visited two standout restaurants while in town:
Elote Cafe is a reasonably priced, casual Mexican place that features authentic and inventive flavors, friendly service, and pretty views from their large windows. We chose to share several items off the small plates menu so we could try multiple dishes.
We just barely ordered too much, but it was so delicious we didn’t mind the post-dinner waddle home.
Hideaway House is a cool little Italian spot on one of the main streets in town (thanks for the tip, Shannon B!) While the restaurant is known for its awesome red rock views, it was a bit chilly to sit on their deck, so we sat inside. Not that it mattered. The food and service were both outstanding.
Finally, the trails leading to Sedona’s famous Red Rocks emerged from the snow. The only downside of our post-snowstorm hiking was the mud. So much mud.
Sedona has a ton of hiking trails with options for all skills and abilities. We chose to tackle a couple interconnected trails in the Coconino National Forest. Here’s a map of the area:
Once we gained a bit of elevation on the main Broken Arrow Trail, we found ourselves surrounded by 360 degree views of red rock formations and pine forest….
The whole town is a Jeep commercial….
Red rock walls tower high above the trails…
and interesting natural details abound.
While we were busy looking up and around, Thor was busy exploring the area’s water features…. turns out, we’ve got ourselves a bona fide water dog!
He found every creek and remaining patch of snow. And, when I asked nicely, even sat for photographs.
I had seen photos of Sedona’s famous Chapel of the Holy Cross on various blogs and was intrigued by this small chapel built right into the rocks. Happily, there was a trail that led right to the chapel’s parking lot. It felt a little weird tromping up to a beautiful church in our red mud covered hiking boots with our dog, but no one seemed to mind.
The chapel was completed in 1956 and is generally open to visitors year round. It can also be reserved for weddings.
The interior is tiny – just 6 or 7 pews on either side of a central walkway to the front.
As the sun dropped lower in the sky, we headed back to our car. With every passing minute, our surroundings grew more brilliant. Sedona’s true majesty is best captured at sunset (probably sunrise too, but that’s never going to happen for us).
While we had to hoof it to get back to the car before dark, we thoroughly enjoyed hiking in the heart of Sedona.
In addition to the Chapel, the other iconic site on our list was Devil’s Bridge. This extremely popular hike ends at a huge natural bridge visitors can walk across to fulfill all their Instagram dreams. We hiked this fun trail with Shannon and Ken.
We took the long way via the Wagon Trail which offered some beautiful views and extra mileage before connecting to the main trail.
It is an easy hike which becomes more moderate as hikers have to walk up a series of more significant inclines. The final ascent to the bridge is very steep. All of which would have been fine if not for the recent snow.
As we gained elevation across the hike, we ran into more and more snow, slush, and ice. By the time we got to the final ascent, we were looking at icy/slush covered stone steps with nothing to hold on to. At that point, all except Kevin called it a day.
Kevin, on the other hand, completed the climb and saw the bridge, but failed to take a single picture.
That kid is never gonna make it as a travel blogger.
Anyway, I’m super bummed I didn’t complete the hike but my fears (or smarts depending on your outlook), won out. I’ve no doubt we’ll be back some day and I’ll finish it then.
Speaking of slipping on messy trails, our experiences on the trails in Sedona convinced us it was time for new boots. I’ve had these Keens longer than I can remember and have put an obscene number of miles on them. The seam on my left one ripped long ago, but I’d just ignored it until recently when I noticed the inner lining under the seam was tearing as well – meaning the boots would no longer be waterproof.
And I’d noticed the tread was wearing, but didn’t appreciate just how bad the situation was until I compared them to a new pair:
But man, thinking about where these old boots have been blew me away. Even more so than our RV or our car, our boots take us to the coolest places. From the rocky coastline of Maine to the Redwood Forests of California, from the cliffs of Nova Scotia to the white sands of New Mexico, from the mountains of Colorado to the slot canyons of Arizona, these reliable kicks have been all over the place.
We’ve seen a number of folks come off the road recently. The reality is, this lifestyle can be tough to sustain for any number of reasons. It’s not for everyone and we are endlessly reminded that any number of things could put a quick and unceremonious end to this nomadic phase. Seeing other people come off the road and considering all the ways in which our own plans may be derailed, provides fuel to the fire to explore more and not take a moment for granted.
And with that, here are my new boots:
…ready to take on new mountains, forests, dunes, and canyons. We’re excited to keep venturing out, and we’re happy that you’ve all chosen to come along for the ride.
Next up: Winslow, Petrified Forest National Park, and a gigantic hole in the ground.
Where we stayed:
Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, Arizona
Rancho Sedona RV Park, Sedona, Arizona