Thursday, July 1, 2021

Sedona with Brandon and Julia

Lewis & Clark at Chicken Point on the Broken Arrow Trail outside of Sedona
It has been a crazy May and June!  Bailey graduated high school (which at XCP entails almost non-stop activities all week and every weekend for a month), and she graduated with TWO associates degrees from Rio Salado Community College!  It was an amazing and emotional time for me - my trail buddy and off road companion has grown up, has her own 4x4, and is heading to college in a couple of months.  I'm not crying.  Nope.  No tears.  Just allergies...

On top of the rocks Paul and I were crawling around on!

But then...Paul and I were super excited to hear that his eldest son, Brandon, and Brandon's significant other, Julia, were coming to town!  They were headed to Sedona for some much needed relaxation since having their adorable son, Luke (I might be a bit biased...but I think he's the cutest little dude out there!).  

It's practically impossible to take a bad photo in Sedona - look at all that beauty!  (and Brandon too)

So on Sunday, we met them for breakfast before their long drive to Sedona.  We took Oskar and got a picture of Paul with his two boys.  We had a great time, and gave them some ideas for stuff to do before their check-in time.  They had rented a Jeep (we know, we know, but the rental places don't rent Toyota 4x4's), so Paul and I planned on heading up the next morning to do a couple trails with them! 

The Bat Cave on the Broken Arrow trail

So off they went to their super-awesome looking spa/resort place to stay, and we went home to prepare for an all day outing on Monday.  As usual, we were up and at 'em early on Monday, we grabbed the usual Starbucks, and off we went to Sedona.  We had decided we wanted to do Broken Arrow, a trail that is listed as moderately difficult.  I wanted to drive some of it, and Paul had we met up with Brandon and Julia in their Jeep, and off we went, with me navigating all the side streets of Sedona.  When did Sedona get so big and crazy?  I remember in the 80's...........I digress...

Lewis and Clark at Submarine Rock

We pulled into a small parking area to air down the tires, and then turned onto the trail.  I took video of the introductory "ledge" that is supposed to tell you if you can or cannot make the trail.  It was a piece of cake...both trucks went right up.  Well, the Jeep took a bit more coaxing, but it finally did it.  We got a bit of a headstart on the Pink Jeeps, but there were a few ahead of us already - man, they are EVERYWHERE.  But we made pretty good time, and it was beautiful outside, as well as beautiful in Sedona.  Our first stop was at the Bat Cave where we took a few pictures, looked into the big hole, and then decided to move on.  

On top of Submarine Rock with Lewis & Clark parked down below

We were then off to Submarine Rock.  Submarine Rock is HUGE.  And has two "peaks" to the rock.  On one side was a geocache.  Brandon and Julia hadn't geocached before, so Paul showed them what it was about, and they found the geocache!  Meanwhile, I walked to the other "peak" and ended up talking to a really nice guy from Colorado, near where I grew up.  He was on a mountain bike and riding Broken Arrow - we saw a number of folks on mountain bikes - impressive!!!  

Okay - we'll allow a picture of the Jeep here...because it's Sedona and SO BEAUTIFUL!

After hiking around Submarine Rock for a little bit, we were back in the trucks - and this time I was driving!  I went down the steep rock entrance to Submarine Rock like a pro - Brandon and Julia behind us in the jeep.  We turned off to head towards the overlook at Chicken Point and then the Devil's Staircase.  As we bounce around, Paul has jumped out to spot Brandon, and I had to move forward a bit, and of course, immediately whack Paul's new wheels on a rock and scratch them up.  I felt terrible...but Paul kept encouraging me to drive on.  We bounced along - nothing hard or difficult.  In fact, it was all quite mild...Chicken Point overlook was STUNNING and we again saw the guy on the mountain bike walking along "the white line" up on one of the mountain looked terrifying to someone who isn't good with heights.  

AZBackRoadsGirl driving down the rocks
But then we head out and towards Devil's Staircase.  At the "point of no return" before the staircase is a big area with large red rocks that you can drive up.  And when I mean up, I mean UP!  Like - you're in the truck and all you can see is the sky...The first attempt I made I got stuck half way up and the tires just spun.  So I backed back down and moved over a couple of feet, and the Lewis & Clark popped right up over those rocks.  Then Paul had me turn the truck around and go DOWN the nasty part I got stuck on.  Did that like a champ.  

Paul showing off...
Then of course, Paul had to do it to show everyone that he could.  He almost ran Brandon over, but you know, it's all in the name of good off-road run, right?  We played around going up and down the rocks for a few minutes.  We noticed the pink jeeps would go DOWN the rocks, but not up.  We did both.  Multiple times.  And then - we were off to Devil's Staircase.  

Brandon coming down Devil's Staircase
Devil's Staircase has a reputation as being a horrible section of the trail.  I guess it technically is, but it's just really bumpy...I didn't hit bottom even once.  It was worse for Brandon and Julia because 1) they were in a Jeep and 2) it was stock - but both trucks made it just fine.  It was a little tippy, but I handled it with ease...I had a worse time trying to go up the rocks before the point of no return...

Bobbi playing on the rocks in the FJ Cruiser
The Jeep just had to couldn't play...

Bobbi playing on the rocks
After the Devil's Staircase, we went back to play around on the rocks by the Devil's Dining Room (topo map feature).  I went up and down and up and down, climbed all the rocks while Paul guided me to get me comfortable.  At this point, I was just playing.  Because these were little climbs.  Nothing like what I had done earlier.  

The "Portal" at Bradshaw Ranch.  Supposedly this can open up into an alternate universe or reality or something...

And then we decided it was time to be done.  We were in search of a bathroom, a cold drink, and off to our next adventure - the Bradshaw Ranch.  This time, we were looking for the portal and the rest of the old buildings at the ranch.

The northern portion of the Bradshaw Ranch properties
We drove over to Bradshaw Ranch - a long drive past some of Sedona's most popular hiking areas - where people park and walk a mile or more just to get to the trail head...then on to a dirt road, cross a huge wash, and there we the mystical Bradshaw Ranch.  Paul briefed Brandon and Julia on the paranormal significance of Bradshaw Ranch, and I told them about the history of the ranch as a filming location, as well as a place for the stars to stay (like Elvis!).  

The house on the northern portion of the Bradshaw Ranch

We decided to walk around the NAU fenced area and over to the area designated as a portal.  We all took our photos standing "in" the portal - thankful that nothing weird popped out of a portal opening while we were there - and then we bushwhacked over to the North end of the property to investigate the old barn/shop and the old house.  

Eerie old gate at the Bradshaw Ranch
As we were walking back through the corral, the old wooden fence was creaking in a most creepy I stopped to take some video of it.  With the odd clouds overhead and the wind that would occasionally moan through the canyon, it was a very weird feeling being there.  We headed on down to the ranch proper, and investigated the VERY large ranch house and smaller historical adobe home.  The entire complex was fascinating, and fairly creepy...but I'm glad we went back and saw the entire thing.  Last time Paul and I were here, he missed the entire North end of the property (and I didn't go in at all).  

The Bradshaw Ranch - the Big House
The Bradshaw Ranch House

Panoramic View of The Bradshaw Ranch, including the old historic adobe ranch house
We then did a quick geocache that was on the outskirts of the Bradshaw Ranch property, and then headed back towards the main dirt road to head over to our last stop of the day - the oh-so-secret cliff house.  This is another one of those places I won't give any specific directions to - it's such a cool place, and part of the trek there is on private property if you don't pay attention to where you are headed.  
The Cliff House
I have found some sparse history on the builder of the "cliff house," as we call it.  But nothing certain and nothing I can fully verify.  But it's cool...and in excellent shape because the internet is keeping its location very secret.  The cliff house is a multi-level home built into the side of a cliff.  It is surrounded by private property as best I can tell, and may be on private property or may be on National Forest land - the line is different depending on what software and map you are looking at.  Either way - it is a cool place to visit.  And no, Elvis did NOT live here, nor did he visit this cliff house.  But it's a good story...

The hike to the Cliff House - gorgeous!!!

After our hike in, up, and back out of the cliff house, we decided it was time for some dinner.  We went to the Golden Goose American Grill and had an amazing dinner - filet mignons - and a couple drinks - then it was time to head home.  We said goodbye to Brandon and Julia, who got to head back to their gorgeous room and relax in a hot tub while Paul and I made our way back down to Phoenix and the heat.  

The astounding beauty that is Arizona and her extreme weather changes...

It was another beautiful day in gorgeous Sedona - and we went during the week so that we missed most of the people - although Sedona was still packed, and by the time we left Broken Arrow, there were tons of vehicles.  But the views were perfect, the rain trying to blow in made for some gorgeous photo moments and kept the air cool!  I hope, with all the fires burning up there, that all these amazing places are kept safe!

The Dirt Road Duo at Broken Arrow

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