Thursday, March 31, 2011

Arizona Travel Journal - Part Two

Tuesday, Oct. 12th – We woke up around 7am excited to start the day. The morning was off to a great start, as we sat down to feast on another Super 8 Super Start breakfast. Afterwards, we began our journey towards the Hopi reservation. The beginning of our 2-hour drive gave us an incredible view of the backside of the SF peaks. We finally discovered where all the aspen trees were hiding!! Yay!! The whole mountainside was painted a vibrant yellow and orange. This was a photo opportunity, so we pulled over to the side of the road to take pictures. Twenty pictures later, we headed back out on the open road. The drive continued through green pastures, but gradually the landscape dried out as it transitioning into sculptural red rocks and mesas.

SF Peaks with Aspens in brilliant yellow!
We continued to drive for quite awhile, our legs getting restless, when we spotted the historic Cameron Trading post. Eager for a break, we took the exit for some stretching, potty, and shopping! The view from the trading post was incredible so we took more pictures before heading inside to choose our souvenirs.

Historic Cameron Trading Post, est. 1914

More of the Trading post.

Canyon wash near the Trading Post

After our detour, we climbed back in the car and continued on our way towards the town of Hotevilla on the Hopi reservation. We were making great time and starting to get a little hungry when we were stopped by HWY patrol! There was an oversized monstrosity causing a road closure at the bottom of the hill that we were waiting to go down.

We pulled out some left over chips and some bottles of water from the back, and took some more pictures of the scenery around us. What the heck, we were tourists and didn’t blend in with the natives anyways, so why pretend? During our hour long “break” we watched many cars go around the traffic line and through the road block. They were chewed out by the friendly Arizona HWY patrol who made them turn back to wait at the end of the line. It was our entertainment after we had talked to native residents, and took pictures of everything we saw. Finally, after forever, we spotted the awesome oversize load that was holding us up (see pictures).

Arizona Hwy. Patrol road block

We were really bored.

This thing was huge, it had 2 semi trucks pulling it, and one pushing from behind.

Back on our way, we continued on to our final destination, the Hopi Cultural Center. Our first priority was to find a place to sit down for lunch and some water; it was hot out! We were seated at a table and given gigantic glasses of water; we’re talking biggie gulp size glasses, then we ordered traditional Hopi food from the menu. After stuffing our faces, we moved on to the museum in the cultural center where we learned a lot about the culture, and purchased Hopi jewelry, two matching bear paw necklaces (Bear Clan Power!)

Back in our car, we headed onward to First Mesa. We were excited to finally see up close and personal, the historic Walpi ruins, which are still in use today! We paid for our tours and walked around the ruins talking to our Hopi tour guide. She gave us some interesting information about the Hopi culture, as well as some insight into where our characters, Chevy and Max, come from. On a side note, there are a lot of dogs in the village that apparently belong to no one. As we walked around the village we were encouraged to speak to the many local artists that were selling their wares. We were educated about the Kachina dolls, their history, and the meaning behind them. While on tour we learned there was a wedding ceremony happening so we enquired about the customs, which led on to more information about their baby naming customs, artistic styles, food, and other ceremonies and rituals. The Hopi are very religious, family oriented people, who love and respect the earth.

2:30-ish: Exhausted, we start the drive back to Flagstaff. For a change of scenery, we took a different road back and were rewarded with views of big of open spaces and a loooong drive. There was nothing to see but grass, dirt and an occasional passing car.

4:30-ish: After our long drive, we made it back to our super hotel where we cleaned up and relaxed. That day was really tiring for all the activity, information, and sun exposure. So when it came time to pick our dining option, we headed across the parking lot to the adjacent building where the Cracker Barrel resided. Ah, ye ole Cracker Barrel, how have us Californian’s lived without knowing of thy existence? After the surprise of walking into a gift shop the size of Oklahoma before being seated, dinner was as expected.

Wednesday, Oct 13th: We woke up 7am again and ate. This was the day of our Vortex energy Yoga tour in Sedona!! Grabbed some Super Start weak coffee from the hotel and hit the trail. Not far down the highway the scenery began to change. It had been very pine tree-ey as we got out of the city and down into a canyon. The ravine reminded us of the Feather River canyon back in California, but with slightly different foliage… and cacti.

Creek in the canyon on the way to Sedona.

Driving out of the gorge into the beautiful rock sculptures.

Things began to get greener and greener, as we drove through the gorge. We even spotted a river flowing at the bottom along side the road. Just as we were getting used to the lush looking scenery, we rounded a corner and saw towering red pillars of stone peeking through the bright green trees. The stark contrast was amazing. Virginia snapped pictures like a maniac as Kristina drove, ooh-ing and awe-ing. Lots of car pictures were taken on that stretch.

Slide Rock State Park
As we entered Sedona, the red rock towers were everywhere surrounding the little town nestled at the base. We were surprised at how clean and new looking the town was. We continued down the road to the spot where we were meeting our tour guide, Nathan (pronounced: Naw-thin). We parked, and waited, then decided we were in the wrong lot and moved further down the street to the helio-pad. At 9am promptly, we received a call from Nathan asking where we were or if we had any problems finding the meeting spot. Apparently the first lot was the correct place, so we had to drive back where we had just come from. We made introductions, then climbed in his 4-runner and headed off to the trailhead. As he drove through town, he taught us a bit of history before turning down Schnebly Rd. He told us the road was named after a man named Schnebly, who was married to a woman named Sedona. Originally, he wanted to name the town Schnebly Station, but the name had too many letters and would have been too expensive to sign, and thus he named it after his wife, Sedona. Thank goodness.

Kristina posing before our hike.
After a very bumpy ride, Nathan parked along the dirt road. The trail we headed down was named Cow Pie Trail, where we saw no cow pies. We took in all the beautiful red rock monolithic sculptures, and felt tingles from looking at all the beauty that surrounded us. As is our habit, we took lots of picture as we hiked while Nathan talked about the geology, and plants unique to the area. Kristina and he bonded over talk of their kids, and Apple computer products. We learned that Nathan was working on developing his music career (check him out at:, and we told him about how we had come to Arizona conduct research for our book. He was a really a great, easy-going kind of guy. We found out we were hiking through scorpion country, as we passed lots of cacti, agave plants, and even junipers. We thought about sticking around and making some cocktails from the agave, but we had yoga that needed to be done.

Virginia and Nathan hiking on Cow Pie Trail.
We arrived on top of a monolith about midway up the valley with the red rocks high around us. The view was extraordinary; pictures don’t even begin to do it justice. Nathan and Virginia took potty breaks, but Virginia didn’t encounter a bear like our character, Kate (teaser scene coming soon). After the basics were taken care of, we got down to Yoga business. There was energy and vortex’s to be experienced. The weather was perfect, just warm enough with the sun heating our skin, but a nice cool breeze on the air to keep us refreshed. Nathan explained how we should focus our beings while we meditated. It might seem a little silly, but sitting up there on that mesa, there was something to the “being one with the earth” concept we understood. The natural forces around us relieved stress and helped us to focus on more tangible things rather that the trials of everyday. Yoga was especially nice while we overlooked red bluffs of towering awe-inspiring rock, highly recommended. Sitting there tranquil on the rocks, warm in the sunshine, it was a great feeling. Nathan was helpful in aiding us on proper breathing. Kristina felt her body relax and tap into the energy of the world, there is something to be said about sitting at one with nature, and feeling connected to it all in some unexplainable way. We both felt extremely tranquil, and recovered.

The view, enough said.

The magic of Sedona was becoming clearer to us with every breath. At one point you could feel the energy pulsing between our hands as we held them apart but not touching, as if they were magnets, attracting and repelling at the same time. Not sure if it was the vortex energy, or just being in tune to what our bodies were humming but it was a good feeling, very ‘Kachina-like’. We thought of our characters, and how they must feel the power even more intense, since they’re naturally more in tune to the energy of the universe.

After our tranquil yoga morning we hiked back, and jumped back in Nathan’s car to head back to our own vehicle. We said our good byes to Nathan and ended the outing with a hug and a lunch recommendation.

Nathan was an awesome guide!
We tried our best to remember his directions as we headed back down into town. With much acclaim, Nathan suggested we visit a place called Ken’s Creek side, a nice little bistro-type restaurant. We found the restaurant without too much drama and were seated outside on the patio overlooking a (probably dried up; we couldn’t actually see it) creek. We both ordered iced teas and sipped in bliss as we listened to the cicadas in the trees. We had no idea what the noise was but thought it was neat, finally we asked our waitress what the noise was. As California girls, we had no clue that it was cicadas making the unusual sound. When it came time to order, Kristina ordered the bacon cheese burger with fries and Virginia got the veggie wrap with arugula salad and cup of tomato soup, she gets crabby with out her vegetables! We sat back and enjoyed the mating call of the cicadas; the sound was growing on us while we waited for lunch to arrive. When the order arrived, Kristina’s burger and fried looked mouthwatering. Virginia’s veggie wrap looked delicious to her, and was everything she could have wanted. On her soup, however, was little round white things, mozzarella? Nope, they put marshmallows on the tomato soup!!!
After lunch, we left the restaurant and headed to a bead and artifacts shop next door. We explored a bit before taking off to check out the rest of town. Kristina needed a Starbucks afternoon pick me up, and then we headed back on the road to Flagstaff. We didn’t get far before getting stuck behind a stupid, slow tour bus moving only 10mph around the corners, all that relaxing yoga went out the window…well not quite, but it was close.

Elden Pueblo Ruins, working archeological site.
When we finally reached Flagstaff, we headed to the hotel to take little Kiko out for some sun. We all piled back in the car, and headed to the Elden pueblo ruins, a working archeological site. We walked around and got a close up look at the site. We were on the self-guided tour, so with cameras in one hand and brochure in the other, we explored, learned, and took pictures. Its hard work being on vacation, and we had burned lots of calories doing healthy yoga activities, so we decided that we had to go back to Salsa Brava. We shared another delicious chicken sopapilla plate. It was just too good to resist!!

Hope you enjoyed Part Two!
Best Regards,
VK Tremain


  1. That sounds like so much fun! I love your pictures!!

  2. WoW! No wonder you want to do a swamp tour in NOLA! Ha! It's a different country down there chere.

    Loved these pics! Chicken sopapilla sounds delicious. One day I'll go out west, maybe to RWA in CA in '12.
    RWA's here in ATL in '13. See me!

  3. I love Arizona. Great pics...

  4. Pam, we'll get you out here. You must come out for RWA '12!
    James, Thanks for checking out our site! I couldn't agree more, Arizona was awesome!