New Mexico was nicer--a more interesting landscape--but just as bitterly cold as Texas, unfortunately. Especially on the Eastern side were people very friendly and helpful. By the time we got to Arizona the landscape of New Mexico seemed boring in comparison. Arizona has been nothing short of amazing. We visited the world's largest tepee (which definitely had the best gift shop at the AZ-NM border) and Petrified Forest National Park. I'm actually so unhappy with our pictures from there because they don't even begin to capture the stunning beauty of the Painted Desert (the northern part of the park.) I'm really glad we were able to drive through the park (about 28 miles, and our 2nd national park on this trip so far.)
A national park annual pass costs $80--but now we have access to all the nation's national parks for a year. Great Smoky Mountains National Park actually didn't charge, but now we've also been to Petrified Forest, and plan to visit the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. With regular admission at $20/car, it will be worth the cost if we can make it to any other parks this year, and that we certainly intend inshaaAllaah.
In general I'm loving the desert. Despite the cold, biting winds (Petrified Forest was so cold we barely left the car--one reason perhaps the pictures aren't all they could be) the views are amazing, all the way around.
As the sun set we drove onwards towards Sedona, AZ, taking a tiny little winding road (Hwy 89A) down from an elevation of about 7000 ft. to 4500 ft. Unfortunately it was dark, but I'm sure the view of Oak Creek Canyon would have been amazing. I'm hoping we can take that road back out of town during the daylight to see it.
We arrived in Sedona in the freezing cold to a wonderfully charming room at the Sedona Views Bed & Breakfast. We're staying here until Thursday inshaaAllaah, and it's really wonderful. Two nights so far in a lovely room, followed by two delicious gourmet breakfasts. The host even prepared turkey bacon and turkey sausage since I informed him beforehand that we don't eat pork.
The first day here in Sedona it rained pretty much all day. And with that kind of weather we didn't want to risk taking the Hwy 89A up the hill (it's very twisty, but one of the most scenic roads in America we're told.) So we stayed in town, but after all the driving we've been doing, it was nice to just chill for a while. We stayed in, watched some Star Wars (husband's first time seeing it--we brought all six with us) and ate at a few local places. We also did some laundry in the afternoon since we'd been traveling for almost a week, and it was just time. But all in all, a nice way to spend a rainy day. Last night we got a little bit of dusting snow and ice, that's pretty much all melted now. But apparently Flagstaff got about 26 inches of snow, so no plans to drive that way today. For the moment, we're hoping that the roads will all be open tomorrow so we can drive up to the Grand Canyon.
Today we'll stay in town, check out some local sites and do a little shopping. Oh yeah, and buy some warmer clothes because it is frigid!