Fossil Creek Waterfall – A Pretty Hike to a Scenic Cascade

November 2022 – The Fossil Creek Waterfall in Arizona’s Verde Valley is a scenic cascade at the end of a pretty hike through the woods. It’s especially beautiful when there’s a bit of fall color!

Fossil Creek Waterfall in Arizona a pretty hike to a scenic cascade


The whole Fossil Creek area was closed for several years due to wildfire erosion damage. When it reopened, lots of people jumped at the chance to hike in this beautiful area once again, and we were among the the very first who showed up the day it opened!

The trailhead is accessed via Fossil Creek Road. One end of this road intersects with AZ Route 260 about 8 miles east of Camp Verde and the other end rolls into the west side of the town of Strawberry.

Arizona Delorme Atlas

Coming from the west, Fossil Creek Road is a dirt road, and since we were unsure what condition it might be in, we thought it would be fun to drive our Polaris RZR side-by-side instead of our truck. The road turned out to be well graded and the drive was easy, even for a passenger car.

Riding a side-by-side to Fossil Creek Arizona

The RZR made getting to the trailhead a lot of fun!

The area near the trailhead had sustained quite a bit of damage. Fortunately, another pair of hikers who knew the area well were parking their car just as we arrived, and they helped us find the start of the trail to the Fossil Creek Waterfall.

Buddy, our little Trail Scout, was excited to lead the way after that!

Dog on the trail at Fossil Creek in Arizona

Buddy loves his job as Trail Scout!

It was autumn and some of the trees were wearing their finest fall colors.

A tree lights up with fall color on the Fossil Creek Waterfall trail in Arizona

Quite a few trees were outfitted in their Fall Finest.

We walked slowly and savored the pretty autumn colors around us. It wasn’t as dazzling as the fall foliage along Colorado’s San Juan Highway or in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but it was lovely nonetheless.

Fall foliage at Fossil Creek in Arizona

We saw some yellow…

Fall color at Fossil Creek in Arizona

…and some red.

Arizona Highways Scenic Drives
Autumn leaves in Arizona


The trail was a little rocky in some spots and there were a few small water crossings too. Someone had built a bridge across the creek, although it was probably easier to hop over the thin stream of water since it wasn’t very high!

The trail took us across a small bridge

It was easier to jump over the tiny creek, but I took the rickety bridge instead!

Suddenly, we heard rushing water in the distance ahead of us. Some hikers who had done the hike before noticed us staring at it hopefully as they passed. “That’s not the waterfall!” one said with a wink.

We spotted the first cascade at Fossil Creek in the distance

We spotted a small waterfall in the distance.

This little cascade was very pretty, though, and we hung out for a while, sitting under the canopy of trees listening to the sounds of the water tumbling over the rocks.

Fossil Creek Arizona has many waterfalls

We found ourselves in a lovely grotto next to the rushing water.

Fossil Creek Arizona waterfall cascade


Buddy found his happy place up on a rock and watched us as we took photos.

Beautiful dog at Fossil Creek in Arizona

Buddy surveyed the scene from up on a rock.

We finally tore ourselves away from this lovely little oasis and continued our delightfully shaded hike.

Hike to the Fossil Creek Waterfall in Arizona

The hike to the Fossil Creek Waterfall has plenty of shade.

Fossil Creek Arizona in autumn with fall foliage


The sounds of the little cascade faded away and were soon replaced with the growing roar of the Fossil Creek Waterfall ahead of us.

Suddenly, the waterfall came into view. Wow!

Fossil Creek Waterfall in Arizona in autumn with fall color

And there it was…beautiful!

A small group of people arrived shortly after us. Some jumped in the water for a swim and made their way over to the waterfall, clambering up on the rock shelf beneath it and going behind the spray to peek out from behind the wall of water.

Swimmers dive into the water at Fossil Creek Waterfall in Arizona

Fossil Creek is a popular swimming hole!

Swimmers stand behind Fossil Creek Waterfall in Arizona

They made it!

We sat down for a while, enjoying the pretty surroundings while hikers and swimmers came and went. We learned that Fossil Creek is so popular in the summertime that you have to get a permit and only a small number of permits are given out each day.

We felt fortunate because it was the off-season and the area had just opened (without fanfare), so we didn’t have to get a permit, and there weren’t any crowds.

Fossil Creek waterfall in Arizona

Seeing Fossil Creek Waterfall is a great reward at the end of this pretty hike.

If you find yourself in Arizona’s Verde Valley, and Fossil Creek is open, we highly recommend you do the hike to the waterfall!

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Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, AZ – What a Hike!

May 2019 – One of the most popular trails in Sedona, Arizona, is the Broken Arrow Trail. There are actually two trails called Broken Arrow that run more or less parallel to each other: a narrow path for hikers and mountain bikers and a wide 4×4 jeep road for motorized vehicles.

Broken Arrow Trail Hike and Jeep tour in Sedona Arizona-min

Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, Arizona, is great for hiking, biking, horseback riding and motorized buggies too!

We set out early in the morning and the light was beautifully filtered through the trees.

Early morning light hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Shafts of light fill our view in the early morning.

Lovely wildflowers were blooming.

Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona early morning puppy hike in wildflowers-min

Buddy pauses in the wildflowers

Wildflower in Sedona Arizona-min

Such a rich color, and so delicate too!

After a brief section going through the woods and climbing a little, the views began to open up in spectacular fashion.

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona_-min

A short climb through the woods brought us to some breathtaking views.

Hike Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min


The hiking trail and the jeep road criss-cross every so often, and when we climbed up on a plateau we could see a side-by-side down below.

UTV on Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona Views-min

Which is more fun, a buggy ride or a hike? Undoubtedly best to do both!

But at this early hour the hiking trail was quiet and we enjoyed the wonderful peace and serenity of being by ourselves in the woods greeted by happily chirping birds as we walked.

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min


Sedona’s hiking trails are incredible because you never have to walk very far to get an eye-popping view, and this trail was full of them.

Views on hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Views, views, views!

hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona Views-min

I’m not sure if Buddy was more captivated by the views or the lizards!

Puppy hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min


The rising sun warmed the rocks and we breathed deeply in the soft air. Sedona is beloved by everyone who goes there, and mystics and psychics have been drawn to it for a long time. They feel a spiritual power in the red rocks, and no wonder. It is easy to feel a deep connection to life and nature while soaking in these sublime views.

View on Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min


Posing puppy Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona_-min

Does our little companion feel the power of the vortex?

Dramatic red rocks Broken Arrow Trail hike Sedona Arizona-min

Nature’s skyscrapers!

As the morning progressed we saw a few mountain bikers go by.

Mountain bike on Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona_-min

We shared our hike with a few cyclists. It’s a memorable trail no matter how you do it!

Broken Arrow is one of the top jeep destinations in the Sedona area, and before long the first Pink Jeep Tour of the day showed up.

Pink Jeep Tour Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

A Pink Jeep rolled into view.

The drivers love to give the passengers a few thrills along the way, and we watched several pink jeeps come out of the woods and then climb over the wide rocks at crazy angles. The passengers whooped and hollered the whole while.

One driver yelled to his passengers, “It’s my first day. I don’t really know what I’m doing!” as he swerved all over the place on the flat rocks.

Pink Jeep Tour Sedona Arizona-min

The drivers are all great entertainers and they love to give their passengers a thrill.

Pink Jeep Tour Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

What a fun way to experience the Broken Arrow Trail!

Of course, there are stunning red rock hikes all over several western states, but what impresses me about Sedona is how the residential communities and the hiking trails have somehow managed to blend into each other without one treading on the other too much.

View from hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min

Even with homes so close to the trails, we found each hike to be a total immersion in nature.

There are multi-million dollar homes tucked right up against the trails and some trailheads are down neighborhood roads. Those lucky folks can walk out their back door onto a world class hiking trail every morning. Yet while you’re on the trail, the busy world falls away, especially if you join the rising sun and commune with the waking animals at an early hour!

Unusual plant Sedona Arizona-min


You could spend many months in the Sedona area and hike three to five miles every day and still not tick all the trails off your list. We loved our stay this year and were fortunate that the spring of 2019 was a cool one in Arizona so we could relish this gorgeous landscape a little longer than normal!

In the Light Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Broken Arrow is a gorgeous trail. But, then, every trail in Sedona is gorgeous!

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Hiking the “Pig Trails” in Sedona, AZ – Breathtaking! (oink oink!)

May 2019 – The hiking trails in the area around Sedona, Arizona, are so spectacular that they are worth many return visits. The thing is, the trails never look the same because the views and the air and the feeling change as the weather changes.

Sedona Arizona Pig Trail Hikes in red rocks on an RV trip-min

The hikes in Sedona’s red rocks are glorious in any weather.
Here dark clouds loom over the views from the “Pig Trails” hikes.

We decided to explore the trail system that is known collectively as the Broken Arrow system, and specifically within that system we wanted to see what could be seen from the various Pig Trails.

The what?

Well, whoever named these hikes must have seen a lot of javelina rooting around here, because quite a few hikes have pig-related names.

Javelina (pronounced “have-a-leena” despite being spelled a bit like the Greek throwing spear) are not pigs at all, but they have a piggish look about them from snout to tail.

They eat prickly pear cactus pads (ouch!) and leave very fibrous poops behind.

Dead tree and red rocks in Sedona Arizona-min

A dead tree and dark skies — what a delicious morning on the trail in Sedona!

So, the trails we wandered around on had names like “Pig Tail Trail,” “Hog Wash,” “Peccary,” and “Hog Heaven.” How funny!

We got started on our hike a little before 6:00 in the morning on a blustery and overcast day, and the trail was damp from rainfall the night before. We breathed deeply in the crisp fresh air.

I especially loved the smell of the wet creosote bushes. It is a pungent smell that somehow evokes the essence of the southwestern desert for me. That unique creosote smell is especially thick in the Phoenix area during “Monsoon Season” in the summertime.

Buddy didn’t say anything about the smell of the wet creosote leaves, but he barreled around the corners in sheer delight.

Puppy runs on hiking trail-min

Buddy flies around a corner to tell me what’s up ahead!

There was a little archway between the trees on the trail, and we took some fun pics of each other with the red rock spires in the distance.

On the hiking trail in Sedona Arizona-min

Two Happy hikers.

Another happy hiker!

The gloomy clouds made the views particularly dramatic, and with each turn in the trail we got a different glimpse of the distant spires in a natural frame.

Sedona Arizona red rock pinnacles with storm clouds-min

Distant red rock spires framed by dark clouds and darker hills.

As an aside, we just saw the article I wrote that offers a few of our photography tips in the June 2019 issue of Trailer Life Magazine, and it is truly eye-popping.

The editors kindly set aside six full pages for the article — all without ads — and called it, “Shoot to Thrill.” How perfect!

Some of our favorite pics appear in the article along with some notes about things we think about when we take photos in our travels.

I don’t know if they’ll eventually post the article on their website or not, but for those who subscribe to the magazine, please keep an eye out for it! The article talks about framing, among many other things that are all very straight forwar, even with a smartphone camera, and we used an example of the framing technique from Arches National Park since we hadn’t yet taken these photos in Sedona!

Red rock pinnacles with storm clouds Sedona Arizona-min

We kept seeing these cool framed images as we hiked.

Sedona Arizona red rock spire-min


As we rounded a bend, the trees that had been partially blocking our view disappeared and our jaws dropped as we looked out at the fabulous stormy sky hovering over the red rock peaks.

Sedona Arizona red rock view with stormy sky and puppy-min


Sedona Arizona red rock view-min

Will the storm clouds break?

Suddenly, we heard a clap of thunder in the distance. Uh oh! That was it for hiking! We hightailed it outta there and ran for the safety of a coffee shop in town where we enjoyed a latte and a muffin while it rained.

Storm clouds over Sedona Arizona-min

The storm clouds got darker and then thunder sent us scurrying off the trail!

Storm clouds continued to swirl around the Sedona area and dump rain now and then for a few days. One afternoon we saw the most amazing cloud form over our rig.

Fifth wheel RV under storm clouds in Arizona-min

What a cloud!

Then the sun set in brilliant color right over some blooming cactus flowers.

Cactus flowers at sunset-min


Sunset with cactus flowers Sedona Arizona-min

Cactus flowers give the sunset a nod.

While the skies did the wild thing above us, we spotted some spring wildflowers blooming at our feet. Beautiful!

Pretty wildflowers Sedona Arizona-min

More pretty wildflowers.

Red cactus flowers-min


When we were out and about around town we saw some gorgeous views as the skies slowly cleared. That’s the unusual thing about this area: even driving around town you’ll see awe-inspiring views!

Red rock views Courthouse Butte Sedona Arizona-min

As the storms began to give way, we saw some gorgeous view around town.

We decided to check out the pig-related hiking trails once again on another morning, and this time, as day dawned out on the trail, there was sun in the sky.

What a difference that made. The subtle coloration on the distant peaks became washed out and the sky was a beautiful blue but not too exciting, so our focus shifted a bit.

We quickly teached the point where we had turned around before and kept going to see what was ahead.

Puppy playing in the red rocks-min

We hit the Pig Trails on a sunny day and the features that captivated us were completely different!

We came to an open area in the trail where we could prowl around on huge wide flat rocks. Buddy sat down to take it all in and wait to find out what was next on our hiking agenda.

Puppy in the red rocks of Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy takes a break and enjoys the view.

The rain had created puddles in places where there probably aren’t any most of the time. There was a narrow ribbon of a stream flowing along a crevice in the rocks.

Sedona Arizona hikes are great for photography-min

Our focus shifted from the distant views to the trickle of water and puddles near our feet!

Mark spotted me with my reflection, and after yelling to me to stand still so he could get a pic, we both started to look around for reflection images. You have to get low for these. Buddy is already low, so he helped out in the search.

Red rock reflections in Sedona Arizona hike-min

Seeing my reflection, Mark gave us both an idea to look for other reflections in a cluster of small puddles!

Photo op in Sedona Arizona on Hog Heaven trail-min

Buddy kept an eye out for lizards while we scouted for reflection images!

Wow, what fantastic reflections we found! For my birthday a few months ago, Mark had given me a Nikon 12-24mm wide angle lens, and this jewel of a lens creates jewel-like images!

Red rock reflections Hog Heaven hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min


Reflected Red Rocks in Sedona Arizona on Hog Heaven hike-min


Of course, sometimes just as I get a cool shot lined up it gets photo-bombed by our four-legged friend.

Red Rocks in Sedona Arizona on Hog Heaven hike-min

Oops! Photo bomb!

The little puddles made some beautiful images and an hour quickly passed while we crawled around on our hands and knees peering at the distant red rocks with our faces and cameras just above the water.

Puppy leaps across the red rocks-min

We loved crawling around these shallow puddles, and so did our furry friend.

Puddle reflections in Sedona Arizona on Hog Heaven trail-min


Interestingly, we ended up on this trail a few days later and the puddles were all but gone!

Mountain bikers love riding the trails in the Broken Arrow system, no doubt because they are very challenging! In some sections you ride on an exposed sandstone ledge — not for the faint of heart!

Fortunately, we had hit the trail so early in the morning that we didn’t see a soul until the final few hundred yards when a mountain biker approached.

Mountain biker in Sedona Arizona-min

At the very end of our hike we saw the first person on the trail — a mountain biker!

We’ve begun to realize that if you are lucky enough to get to Sedona, Arizona, whether with an RV or without one, you can’t go wrong on any of the hiking trails.

Some trails have funny piggy names while others are named for features in the landscape, but either way, they are all fabulous and they are all worth doing!

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Top Sedona AZ Hikes: Little Horse to Chicken Point + Templeton Trail (Cathedral Rock)!

May 2019 – Sedona, Arizona, is a hiking and biking paradise, and during our stay we set our alarm for an early hour on many mornings so we could hit the hiking trails before the crowds.

The National Forest surrounding the Sedona area is filled with a fabulous network of trails, and each morning we started at a different trailhead to explore and experience the beauty for a few hours.

Best Sedona Arizona Hikes Little Horse Trail Cathedral Rock Trail-min

Two great hikes in Sedona Arizona:
Little Horse to Chicken Point and Templeton Trail around Cathedral Rock.

The Little Horse trailhead lies a few miles south of downtown Sedona and made a wonderful jumping off point to get into the incredible red rock views, but we weren’t sure at first if this trail would look its best as the sun rose.

Little Horse Trail Sedona Arizona Hike-min

An early morning hike on Sedona’s Little Horse Trail

The trail wandered east through scrubby woods for a while and the red rock formations ahead of us were backlit as the sun rose, so it seemed we wouldn’t get the spectacular images that Sedona is famous for.

However, the red rock slabs and sand under foot made a great canvas for playing shadow puppets once the sun rose a little way. We looked down off a ledge and saw a cartoon caricature of ourselves!

Playing with shadows during a red rock hike in Sedona Arizona

Who’s that down there?!

Cactus flowers were blooming everywhere. Most were pink or yellow, but as we turned a corner we found a gorgeous clump of red ones.

Red cactus flowers Little Horse Trail Sedona Arizona Hike-min


Above them rose an equally stunning clump of red rock spires!

Cactus flowers on Little Horse Trail Sedona Arizona Hike to Chicken Point Overlook-min

A beautiful bouquet of red cactus flowers
against a regal red rock backdrop

The Little Horse trail goes to the Chicken Point Overllook, and when the trail opened up at this glorious spot it seemed like the views went on forever.

View from Chicken Point Overlook Sedona Arizona Hike-min

View from Chicken Point Overlook

Chicken Point Overlook view Sedona Arizona Hike-min

Chicken Point is the glorious highlight of several trails

Chicken Point Overlook is one of the most popular destinations in the Sedona area, but for 20 minutes we had the whole place entirely to ourselves because it was still very early in the morning. We wandered all around the massive red rock slabs taking photos.

Patterns in the rocks Chicken Point Overlook Sedona Arizona Hike-min

Without a soul in sight we lined up all kinds of interesting images

Suddenly, as I lined up a shot, a pink jeep on the first Pink Jeep Tour of the day on the Broken Arrow Trail appeared out of nowhere. The driver backed the jeep up to a precipice and teased the passengers in the far back seat who were perched right over the edge.

Pink Jeep Tour Broken Arrow Sedona Arizona-min

The first Pink Jeep tour of the day rolls into view.

Within minutes two more pink Jeeps were parked nearby and the place was crawling with excited tourists.

On another morning we set out on the Cathedral Rock trail in the early morning hours. This trail climbs up a series of stair steps from the Cathedral Rock trailhead and delivers you to the base of Cathedral Rock where there is a fabulous view of Nature’s wondrous cathedral and of the surrounding landscapes as well. At this point the trail intersects with the Templeton Trail.

Dawn on the hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min

A beautiful day dawns

Again, our early start put us on the trail two hours before anyone else, and when we arrived at the wide “slickrock” slabs in front of Cathedral Rock we had acres and acres of red rock playground to ourselves.

When I saw the sun beginning to light up the spires on Cathedral Rock I frantically hunted around for a beautiful foreground to go with it. I couldn’t find anything handy right away, but then I noticed Buddy sitting right in front of me, perched perfectly still as he watched Mark in the distance. Nice!

Puppy in front of Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona Templeton Hike

Puppy Chow made a lovely foreground when the sun suddenly lit up Cathedral Rock

As the sun glowed on Cathedral Rock I continued hunting and finally stumbled on a gorgeous bed of delicate lavender flowers.

Flowers and puppy at Cathdedral Rock Templeton Hike Sedona Arizona-min


The air was very chilly, and balloon enthusiasts in the distance were taking advantage of the cool air to fly their balloons. One rose over the landscape. What a wonderful way to enjoy Sedona’s incomparable views by floating just slightly above the land in silence except for the occasional noise of the heater to heat the air in the balloon.

Balloons rise over red rocks in Sedona Arizona-min

A balloon soars on the morning thermals in the distance

We followed the Templeton Trail to the east around the base of Cathedral Rock. The trail took us into the woods where we had lovely views through the trees.

Dawn on Templeton Trail hiking in Sedona Arizona-min

Morning light on the Templeton Trail

After about a mile and a half we turned around. Now the red rock landscape was bathed in beautiful bright sunshine and the air was delightfully warm.

Templeton Trail Hike Sedona Arizona-min


Slilckrock section of Templeton Trail Hike to Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona-min

The Templeton Trail goes along a ribbon of flat sandstone at the bottom of Cathedral Rock.

Templeton Trail is a super popular mountain biking trail, and we rode it a few years ago. It is a challenging trail with lots of rocky obstacles, but the slickrock portion that goes around the base of Cathedral Rock is flat and smooth and fun.

We still hadn’t seen a soul on the trail, either hiking or on mountain bikes, even after two hours of hiking. We rounded a bend and Cathedral Rock soared back into view.

Templeton Trail Hike to Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona-min

Cathedral Rock.

Hiking Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona Arizona-min

Approaching Nature’s stunning cathedral

Templeton Trail Hike to Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona-min

What a place to hike!

An evening primrose in the shadow of a tree at Mark’s feet caught his eye, and a lovely blue flower dancing before the red rock cathedral caught mine.

Evening primrose on the hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min

Four white hearts with a pretty yellow center

Cathedral Rock and wildflowers in Sedona Arizona-min

Flowers bask in the sun in front of the cathedral

The patterns in the red rock slabs were wonderful. In some places the rock was stained with white and in others there were interesting cracks and crevices.

Red rock patterns and Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona-min

There are very cool patterns on the ground.

When we got back to the intersection of Templeton Trail and Cathedral Rock Trail we finally heard some distant voices. Hikers were coming up the trail from the trailhead parking lot.

When we met up with them they said they were going to head west on Templeton trail where it goes around the other side of Cathedral Rock and down towards Oak Creek. We’ll have to go that way next time!

Cathedral Rock Trail Sedona Arizona hike-min

We loved this hike and will do it again heading the other way!

Wildflowers on Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona Arizona-min

Wildflowers lined the trail

We roamed around some more and found some wonderful puddles reflecting the beauty of Sedona.

Cathedral Rock reflections in Sedona Arizona-min

Mirror image in a puddle

Colorful reflections in the water-min

We just love these kinds of reflections

Reflections in the water Sedona Arizona-min


Sedona, Arizona, is a nature lover’s paradise! If you haven’t been there, put it on your itinerary. If you have been there, then you know it’s worth many return trips!

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Brins Mesa Trail & Unexpected Delights in Sedona Arizona!

April 2019 – We’ve visited Sedona, Arizona, many times, not only as full-time RVers but also before we started this crazy lifestyle, back when we were living a workaday life and looking for a getaway vacation. The scenery around Sedona is absolutely stunning, and we are always thrilled by the beauty.

RV camping and hiking Brin Mesa Trail in Sedona Arizona


Sedona is an outdoor lovers paradise, and whether hiking, mountain biking or off-road Jeep/ATV riding is your thing, there are hundreds of breathtaking trails crisscrossing the Coconino National Forest all around town.

Somehow, though, in all our visits to Sedona, we’ve never done many of the “signature” hikes. So on this trip we decided to check out Brins Mesa Trail, a top rated beauty that appears in many Sedona hiking trail lists.

Hiking trail Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy sniffs the start of the Brins Mesa Trail

Twenty years ago, Sedona was a small town, but today it is not only a huge sprawling community but it plays host to gazillions of tourists all year long. April is one of the most popular months to visit, so we knew that if we wanted to have any kind of solitude on the trail, we’d have to be up at the crack of dawn.

The air was cool when we started, and we were glad we always carry light wind breakers in our truck, because the heat wave that had swept the area lately had left us so hot the night before, it never occurred to us that it might be chilly at 6:00 a.m. when we started hiking. So, we’d arrived in shorts!

Brins Mesa Trail hike in Sedona Arizona-min

What a glorious start. The air was wonderfully crisp and clear — and cool!

Brins Mesa Trail is 3.6 miles long and goes between the Brins Mesa Trailhead at the northwest end and the Jordan Road Trailhead at the southeast end.

There are three trails that originate at Jordan Road Trailhead: Brins Mesa Trail, Cibola Pass Trail and Jim Thompson Trail. Brins Mesa Trail intersects with other trails along its route, so you can hike for miles and miles if you like.

Our plan was to hike out a ways from the Jordan Road Trailhead and then turn around and hike back. We hadn’t thought much about where the turnaround point would be and we hadn’t read about the trail, so we had no idea what to expect.

Hiking Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

We hit the trail at 6:05 a.m.

Ours was the first vehicle in the parking lot, and we had Brins Mesa Trail to ourselves. To our surprise, a runner passed us almost as soon as we started, but he quickly vanished ahead of us, and the only sounds we heard after that were chirping birds.

Buddy was in heaven and he ran in happy circles around us.

Puppy hikes the Brins Mesa Trail hike in Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy waits for us partway up a series of red rock stairs

The sun began to light the sky behind the craggy red cliffs on our right, and we climbed up a series of natural red rock stairs. The scenery was lovely.

Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona hiking with puppy-min

Buddy checks in with Mark about the route.

Checking the view Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

This way.

At our feet we noticed little bouquets of flowers perched here and there as if Mother Nature had set out vases along the trail.

Yellow wildflowers Sedona Arizona-min

Wildflowers were blooming in delightful little bouquets along the trail.

White wildflowers Sedona Arizona-min

Mother Nature had taken some time to get her flower arranging just right.

A thorny cactus had a single flower on the end of one branch.

Cactus flower Sedona Arizona-min

A single cactus flower.

The trail opened up on the left side to a fabulous red rock mound that begged to be explored. We wandered around for quite some time, admiring the wide flat swoopy rocks that looked a little like dough overflowing a pan, and we poked our noses into the woods here and there too.

Suddenly, we realized we’d lost track of the trail. We conferred with each other and with Buddy about where we were and where the trail had disappeared to.

Buddy is a good listener, but when it comes to route finding, he’s top notch and we find it’s best if we do the listening!

Agave plant and puppy Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy listens well, but we listen to him too!

Navigating the Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy explains to Mark which way the route goes.

Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona with puppy-min

“Hey you guys, it’s this way”

As we backtracked to the main trail, the sun crested the distant peaks and swept across the rocks all around us, transforming them from cool shade to warm sun in an instant. Mark caught a starburst through a hole in the branch of a dead tree.

Starburst sunrise Brins Mesa Trail hike Sedona Arizona-min

A ray of golden sun.

Sunshine warmed the trail ahead of us and lit the distant peaks.

Hiking Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Sunshine warms Brins Mesa Trail

We decided we’d gone far enough, even though it was just 1.2 miles or so, and we started back down to the trailhead. We knew there were some great 360 degree views somewhere, but the day was heating up and we weren’t sure how much further we had to go to see them.

Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona hike-min


As we hiked back, we met five or six couples coming up the trail from the trailhead, and we discovered from one couple who does this hike often that if we’d gone just another quarter mile we would have seen the fabulous views. Oh well — next time (and maybe we’ll do it in the afternoon when the cliffs to the east aren’t backlit)!

When we got back to the parking lot it was around 8:00 a.m. there were only two or three parking spaces left. We were glad we’d gone early. What a lovely morning walk that was!

Views on Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min


This visit to Sedona was also the first time we’d had our off-road buggy to take us on motor vehicle-friendly trails to remote spots.

Polaris RZR in Sedona Arizona sunset-min

The sun sets in splendor after a fun day of RZR riding.

We bought the RZR and began triple-towing with it hitched behind our fifth wheel because we wanted to get further into remote areas that we couldn’t easily reach by mountain bike or with our truck. And sure enough, it took us to a hidden jewel on this trip to Sedona.

We took the RZR on a joy ride through some rather boring flat countryside and rode it to the end of a road where a sign stopped us: “No motorized vehicles beyond this point.” We noticed the trail continued, though, so we hopped out and hiked a little further on a woodsy trail.

As we turned a corner, we suddenly heard the trickle of water ahead of us, and then we found ourselves in the middle of a little desert oasis!

Reflections in the water Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy admires the colorful reflections in a surprise little watering hole.

Water reflections Sedona Arizona-min

Glassy water reflects the red rocks.

We arrived at the golden hour in the late afternoon when the red rock cliffs, blue sky and green trees were reflecting in the mirror-like water. Our jaws dropped. What a fabulous surprise!

Water reflections Sedona Arizona-min

We were astonished by this fun little discovery.

Reflections at Sediba Arizona-min


Water reflections Sedona Arizona-min


Sedona has quite a few creeks and springs, and there are beautiful hikes to reach them. We loved hiking the West Fork Trail and doing The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek hike. Both hikes led to gorgeous oases in the red rock desert.

Sedona Arizona water reflections-min


Sedona Arizona reflections in the water-min


The afternoon was downright summery with a high temp in the high 80s, and that water in front of us was just too tempting not to jump in! Mark took off his shirt and tip-toed in. “Brrrr!” He shouted as he splashed his hands in the water. “It’s COLD!”

But it didn’t take long for his legs to numb up so he could go in the rest of the way!

Swimming hole Sedona Arizona-min

“Come on in, the water’s fine!”

Swimming at Sedona Arizona-min


I finally put down my camera and joined him!

Buddy waded along the edges of the water, got a big drink, and then leapt back on the rocky shore to chase lizards.

The heat wave in the Sedona area brought fabulous stormy skies each afternoon with Arizona-monsoon-like clouds. The sunsets were just divine.

Sunset on a dirt road in Sedona Arizona-min

A classic Arizona sunset over a lonely stretch of road.

We had planned to stick around the area for two weeks or so, but the heat was getting intense and the winds began to pick, making the dust fly. So, our planned list of things to do in Sedona will probably have to be shelved until our next visit!

RV camping Sedona Arizona-min


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The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek (Bell Trail Hike), Sedona, AZ

March 2016 – We really enjoyed mountain biking the Bell Rock Pathway during our RV travels to Sedona, Arizona, and one day we got chatting with young neighbors in an RV nearby about where the good mountain biking and hiking spots were around Sedona. They knew the area really well and asked if we’d ever been to The Crack at Wet Beaver.

Mark raised an eyebrow.

“No, no, not that!” They said. “It’s a really cool gorge on Wet Beaver Creek. It’s a great hike, and if you take your bathing suits you can swim there!”

Bell Trail Hike to Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

“The Crack” at Wet Beaver Creek

The next morning dawned sunny and warm, so we took off on the Bell Trail to hike into the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness to find this infamous Crack.

Beginning Bell Trail Hike Sedona AZ

The beginning of the Bell Trail hike into the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness goes through open grassland.

The Bell Trail is named for Charles Bell who built the trail in 1932 for moving cattle, and a sign at the trailhead indicates it is still used for that purpose today. It is about 3.5 miles from the trailhead to The Crack. The trail goes deeper into the Wilderness, but we figured 7 miles out and back was plenty for one day.

At the beginning, we hiked through open grasslands and under a canopy of trees alongside Wet Beaver Creek. After about two miles, we came across a red rock cliff soaring into the sky with a tree on top.

Hiking the Bell Trail Hike Sedona AZ

A red rock cliff with a tree on top juts into the sky

For the next mile or so we walked through gorgeous red rock scenery as the trail hung onto the edges of bright orange hillsides and zig-zagged under exotic red rock formations.

Hiking Bell Trail Sedona Arizona

How’s that for a cool trail?!

We were hiking in the morning, and the sun felt good on our skin, but later in the day this desert landscape would become very hot.

Bell Trail Hike Sedona Arizona

Desert plants, like ocotillo cactus and prickly pear, abound.

We could hear the sound of rushing water ahead of us, and soon we saw the creek splashing noisily over river rocks to our right. What a nice spot for a picnic!

Bell Trail Hike to Wet Beaver Creek Sedona Arizona

We stopped for lunch in a quiet spot where the water rushed over river rocks.

The whole area was filled with leafless deciduous trees that must bring true magic to the landscape in the fall. And what a great spot to do some flowing water photography!

Bell Trail Wet Beaver Creek Sedona Arizona

Wet Beaver Creek polishes the rocks in its path.

We hiked just a little futher on and suddenly the landscape opened up to massive shelves of boulders stepping down to sheer cliffs that plunged into the water below. This was The Crack!

View Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

“The Crack” is like a red rock quarry with huge flat slabs of sandstone and water far below.

Our friends had described crystal clear water that was a lovely shade of blue, but the creek was running fast from the snow melt and had swelled so much that lots of debris had been stirred up as the water tumbled down from the mountains. The water was murky and filled with foam from the crashing waterfalls upstream.

This made for some neat slo-mo photos!

Swirls Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

The fast moving water from the snow melt created cool foam swirls

The Crack is a stunning spot that is so unexpected in the dry dusty desert.

Hike to Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona AZ

The canyon walls were steep and the surface of the water was foamy!

The huge flat boulders are really inviting, and we scrambled around on them for quite a while.

Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona AZ

I just love that tree growing out of the crack in the rocks.

Photography at Wet Beaver Creek The Crack

This little oasis was such a surprise after the dusty, dry hike to get here.

We had the place to ourselves. Other than the distant sound of rushing water, it was quiet and still.

Hike to Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

We had the place to ourselves…for the moment!

I ventured out onto a cool looking precipice hanging out over the water and Mark got my photo.

Diving platform Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

Little did I know that this is a favorite diving platform!

Suddenly, we heard voices coming down the trail. Two young couples appeared and set up beach towels right on that same rock precipice I’d been standing on and then stripped down to their bathing suits to get a tan.

“Are you going to jump in?” One girl in a bikini asked me.

I looked down at the murky water doubtfully. Diving into the its depths had not been on my agenda today!

Sunbathing Wet Beaver Creak The Crack Sedona Arizona

Sunbathers stretch out on the diving rock.

Then, I watched in amazement as she made her way down to a lower rock and jumped in. Brrr!! Then the other girl did the same.

“The water’s great!” They yelled out to me.

Well, I was happier taking photos of them than swimming, so I let them have all the fun in the water while I stayed warm and dry on shore.

They debated jumping off the rock precipice where they’d laid their beach towels, but because they couldn’t see the bottom — which they said you usually can — they decided not to. You never know what kind of submerged log might be lurking just below the surface.

Flying leap Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona AZ

The water was too murky to dive from the upper rock, but this intrepid gal jumped in from lower down.

The bathing beauties climbed out of the water using a rope that someone had secured in the rock, and they settled in on their beach towels for a while.

We left them and began to make our way back along Bell Trail. The trail had gotten really busy, and we were amazed that the silence of the early morning was completely gone now, shattered by the continual voices and footsteps of other hikers making their way to The Crack on this warm Friday afternoon.

A snort and a whinny up ahead alerted us to horseback riders coming down the trail. What a neat sighting at the end of a very enjoyable hike.

Horseback riding Bell Trail Sedona Arizona

A pair of horseback riders greeted us on the trail going back.

If you spend some time in Sedona, whether you travel there by RV or some other means, a hike on Bell Trail to The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek is a really nice change of pace. More info and links below.

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Bell Rock Pathway, Sedona AZ – Hiking & Biking the Red Rocks

February 2016 – We packed up our RV in Tucson, Arizona, when the daytimes highs began to creep over 90 degrees, and hightailed it back through Phoenix and on up to Sedona where the 4,000′ elevation makes the climate about 10 degrees cooler than down in the Sonoran Desert regions of the state.

We hadn’t been in the red rocks in over two years, and when we first caught sight of the towering red cliffs and rock formations that envelop the town of Sedona, we were almost breathless with excitement. We couldn’t wait to hit the trails, and one of the best places to immerse yourself in red rock scenery is right in the heart of it all on the Bell Rock Pathway.

Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Mountain Biking

Within a few moments of getting on the Bell Rock Pathway, hikers and bikers are immersed
in the best of Sedona’s red rock scenery

We were joined by special friends, and we set off on our mountain bikes.

Ready to ride bikes on Bell Rock Pathway Sedona AZ

Our friends Rich and Mark join us to ride the red rocks!

Bell Rock Pathway is one of the most popular hiking and biking trails in the area, and it is inundated with bus loads of tourists every day. But we were on the trail fairly early on a weekday morning, and there were just a few hikers here and there.

Hiking and biking Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

Bell Rock Pathway is shared by walkers, joggers and mountain bikers,
but there’s plenty of room for everyone.

The magic of the Bel Rock Pathway is that you don’t have to go very far to be totally wowed by the scenery. In fact, we always find we get swept up in the stunning scenery right in the parking lot, and many of the bus loads of tourists never make it past the asphalt!

Bell Rock Pathway Mountain biker and jogger Sedona AZ

What a place to go for a run — or a bike ride!

Bell Rock Pathway is beloved by walkers, joggers, and mountain bikers, and the path is wide and relatively smooth and extraordinarily scenic.

Jogger and biker Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

The views are great in every direction!

The Bell Rock Pathway parallels the main road, and there are three parking lots that give you access to the two ends as well as the middle of the trail. We started at the southern end, and the trail climbed steadily for about a mile. But the jaw-dropping vistas were worth every huff and puff as we went along.

Mountain bike Bell Rock Pathway Oak Creek Arizona

As soon as we got a little distance from the parking lot we had the trail to ourselves.

Bell Rock Pathway is a very easy mountain biking trail and is ideal for beginners. Yet there are just enough little challenges here and there to keep more advanced riders on their toes. The views become more and more spectacular with every pedal stroke.

Mountain bike Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

I couldn’t stop taking pics of Mark as he rode ahead of me!

After the first mile, the terrain goes up and down and sweeps around twists and turns qutie a bit. And then suddenly it opens up to this fantastic area of wide, flat rocks.

Bikers Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

After a mile or so the path opened onto wide flat rocks with outstanding views all around us.

Standing in the middle of this wide open area, there are eye-popping views every way you turn. It literally doesn’t matter which direction you look, you are surrounded by majestic, towering red rock formations.

Flat rocks MTB Bell Rock Pathway Arizona

These flat rocks are an ideal spot to take a breather and look around!

And then the trail takes off again, descending through wide turns.

Mountain bikers on Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

The middle portion of the trail sweeps through turns and rolls up and down small hills.

Bell Rock Pathway is a trunk route that has lots of little off-shoots, and all of those other trails are more difficult. We simply rode it to the end, about 3.5 miles from our strating point, and turned around to retrace our route.

Mountain biking Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

The Bell Rock Pathway is about 3.5 miles long one way.

The beauty of this hiking and biking trail is that the views on the way back are completely different than the views on the way out, and the lighting on the rock faces changes constantly.

Bell Rock Pathway Mountain Biking Sedona AZ

Weeeee! Bell Rock Pathway is easy and fun.

Riding behind Mark, I couldn’t stop clicking the camera, framing him inside of one magnificent view after another. Holding the camera up and riding one handed is a little dicey, though, and always makes for a rather exilharating ride!

Mountain Bikers Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

The return trip has all new views for us!

Mountain biker Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

Bell Rock Pathway is worth doing over and over again — it’s easy and it is stunning!

We enjoyed our bike ride on the Bell Rock Pathway so much that we came back to do it again a few days later.

Mountain bike Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

One very happy camper!

Mountain bike on Bell Rock Pathway Sedona AZ

We enjoyed riding our bikes on the Bell Rock Pathway, but most of the people out there were walking…

For RV travelers in search of a good way to get out into the Red Rocks without doing a strenuous hike or challenging bike ride, the Bell Rock Pathway is an ideal trail.

RV camping under the stars in Sedona Arizona

At the end of the day we all put our feet up under the stars…

Feeling a little rusty bike-wise? It might be time to get back on it again! Two years ago our 76 year old friend Marcel showed us that mountain biking is the Fountain of Youth (blog post here). Now 78, he’s still shredding the gnar out there, and all winter long he’s been mountain biking in Arizona!

More info and links for Sedona’s Bell Rock Pathway below.

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There are three trail head parking lots, and each one requires a parking pass, either the Red Rock pass or a Federal Interagency Pass (the old “National Park Pass” or Senior Pass). And be sure to get there early, especially on a beautiful sunny weekend.

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Acadia National Park’s Carriage Roads in Maine – Thanks, Rockefeller!

June 2015 – One of the great treasures of Acadia National Park is the Carriage Road system. These roads, which are open only to non-motorized traffic, run all through the interior of the park for a total of nearly 50 miles, traveling through the woods, passing by lakes and ponds, and skipping over streams on beautiful old stone bridges.

We loved taking our bikes out on these roads during our RV travels to Maine.

Bicycling the Carriage Roads in Acadia National Park Maine

Heading onto the Carriage Roads in Acadia National Park

While we were there, we discovered that, like many of America’s national parks, we have the Rockefeller family to thank for this unusual road system. It turns out that the history behind the Carriage Roads is quite a tale.

Back at the turn of the 20th century when cars were first coming into use, the folks that lived on Maine’s Mt. Desert Island had a bit of a class war over whether or not automobiles would be allowed on the island’s roads.

The wealthy people who owned the summer estates (Pulitzers, Vanderbilts and others of their ilk) wanted Mt. Desert Island to be a rural getaway where they could travel about by horse and carriage and leave the hustle and bustle of the city and its newfangled automobiles behind.

The locals who called the island home all year long wanted the ability to get from town to town easily, and these newfangled automobiles were just the ticket.

Riding the Acadia National Park carriage roads in Maine

These wonderful roads pass several ponds and lakes.

The state of Maine left it up to the local communities to decide for themselves whether or not automobiles would be legal on each town’s roads. The upscale towns of Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor, where the summer residents socialized and moored their yachts, voted to outlaw automobiles on their roads. The more working class towns, like fishing village Southwest Harbor, voted to allow automobiles on their roads.

In the end, after some human road blocks and a few arrests of automobile drivers caught flamboyantly breaking the law and driving on the wrong roads, by 1913 all the towns had agreed that cars were okay.

Biking under a stone bridge Carriage Road Acadia National Park Maine

Rockefeller hired masons to construct beautiful stone bridges.

I’m not sure where the Rockefellers stood on this issue — they lived in Seal Harbor at the south end — but John D. Rockefeller, Jr., decided to build a Carriage Road system just for horses and buggies. These roads went around the interior of the island and were available for everyone to use. This gave all visitors and residents of Mt. Desert a way to enjoy the peaceful inland forests up close, without a car.

John D., Jr., was an expert horseman and an experienced road builder, and he built lots of lovely roads and beautiful stone bridges. He kept buying up parcels of land and extending his road system until he had almost 50 miles of roads throughout the island.

Carriage Road signs Acadia National Park Maine

The trails are extremely well marked,
but carrying a map is a good idea!

In the 1930’s, the National Park Service began putting together the foundations of what would become Acadia National Park, and Rockefeller ultimately donated all of these land holdings — with their new road system — to the National Park Service to become part of the new park.

Riding bikes on Acadia National Park carriage roads in maine

What a wonderful way to experience the Maine woods.

I never knew much about the Rockefellers, but they are an incredible family. John D. Rockefeller, Sr., founded Standard Oil in 1870. By the end of his life in 1937 he had created a staggering personal net worth of $339 billion (in 2007 dollars).

It is impossible to compare wealth across the centuries accurately, but to try to put his riches in perspective, he was worth a whole lot more than the top 3 of the world’s wealthiest people today combined.

Bill Gates ($79 billion), Carlos Slim ($73 billion and Warren Buffet ($72 billion) are worth $224 billion all together. That’s $115 billion short of Mr. John D! Even adding in Mark Zuckerberg ($35 billion) leaves a gap of $56 billion.

To think of it another way, Rockefeller was worth 4.3 times what Bill Gates is worth. Imagine someone with assets and/or income 4.3 times more than yours. Or imagine someone with assets and/or income that is one quarter of yours. That’s the difference between John D. Rockefeller, Sr., and Bill Gates. Nevermind the difference between Rockefeller and the rest of us!

Horse drawn wagon on the Carriage Roads at Acadia National Park Maine

If you’re not into biking, there are other ways to experience the Carriage Roads!

What is more, somehow John D. Rockefeller managed to pass on an incredible sense of personal motivation and high standards to his children. And they somehow passed that on to their children too.

How common it is for the people who make the deepest impact on the world to have kids who flake out. Nevermind the flakey kids — who ever hears from the grandkids? In so many cases, the kids, grandkids and great-grandkids of the biggest movers and shakers of this world all float on their predecessor’s money with little motivation or interest in doing something remarkable.

Large turtle by the bike path

There’s lots of wildlife out here — this female turtle was busy laying eggs.

However, while John D. Rockefeller, Sr., was a ruthless, cut-throat, and not necessarily fair playing owner of a total monopoly in the skyrocketing oil industry, at the end of his life he turned his efforts towards philanthropy, and that is where his kids picked up the ball and where his grandkids carried it forward.

A snake next to a shoe

Just after seeing the turtle, we rode past a small snake.

John D. Rockefeller had seven grandkids, five boys and two girls. One of these grandchildren, David, is still alive. Reading a little bit about David Rockefeller, I learned he was a highly accomplished man who stepped out of the shadow of his dad and granddad and made his own indelible mark on the world.

He celebrated his 100th birthday a week before our visit to Acadia National Park, and the Park Service rangers were all abuzz with excitement because he had just donated a huge parcel of land adjacent to the park for public use in perpetuity.

Apparently David Rockefeller is quite a spry 100-year-old. A ranger told me she’d seen him cruising around on these Carriage Roads his father built in a horse drawn carriage!

Acadia National Park bridge on a carriage road

This bridge was a fun spot to take a short break.

The Rockefellers acquired and gave away massive tracts of land all over the place to preserve the most beautiful landscapes and make them available for everyone to enjoy.

When we were in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we learned that half of the land that was donated and half of the money that was raised to create that park had come from the Rockefellers. The other half was provided by local landowners, residents and the National Park Service.

Half! That’s incredible!

The Rockefellers had a major role in the creation or growth of many other national parks too, including Shenandoah, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Mesa Verde, Redwoods and the Virgin Islands.

Bike riding over a carriage road bridge in Acadia National Park Maine

We just loved these old stone bridges.

It is really easy to bash the ultra rich, or be envious, or question how they got their money, and on and on. But if it weren’t for the Rockefeller family using their staggering wealth to preserve these unique tracts of land, they would have fallen prey to development.

And the amazing thing is that the Rockefellers didn’t have to do any of it.

In the case of the Tetons, John D. Sr., had to put up quite a fight to get the National Park Service to take his land. The process was a bit of a nightmare, and he could have thrown up his hands and quit. But he didn’t.

So, we have the Rockefellers to thank for choosing (and sometimes fighting) to spend their money on us and on future generations of humanity.

Kayak on Jordan Pond Acadia National Park Maine

A kayaker at Jordan Pond.

David Rockefeller, who just gave away all that land on Mt. Desert Island a few weeks ago, is worth only $3 billion now, a mere fraction of what Bill Gates, Carlos Slim and Warren Buffet are worth. Obviously, he could be worth a lot more if the family had kept their money to themselves.

Perhaps with a nod to the example set by the Rockefellers, Bill Gates is busy giving away his fortune to fight disease and poverty in third world countries,. Three years ago, Warren Buffet gave each of his kids $1 billion with the requirement that they, in turn, give it away.

Lunch at Jordan House Acadia National Park Maine

The Jordan House is a great place to stop for lunch.

This is all very heady stuff, but the Rockefellers have been on my mind a lot since we started traveling, because their name keeps coming up at so many of the national parks we visit. The depth of caring in that family for the beautiful places in America seems to have extended through the generations.

Bicycling in Acadia National Park Maine

A wonderful spot for a bike ride!

We recently watched a thought provoking movie called America: Imagine The World Without Her. It’s a documentary made by a man who was born and raised in India, and it is fascinating to see this country through the eyes of someone who is not a product of it.

It’s a highly political film. However, it is well worth watching, because it makes you think about the origins and spirit of this country.

One of the most interesting points it makes is that after the American Revolution ended, and after General George Washington managed to wrest control of the locals away from the Brits, he broke with historical tradition.

Unlike all the leaders in human history up until that very moment, he did not proclaim himself King of this new country and give himself and his heirs absolute power and authority over the populace until the next overthrow.

He could have.

Jordan Pond Acadia National Park Maine

Jordan Pond is such a nice surprise in the middle of all these woods.

Since then, America has been a place of many kinds of firsts. Setting aside public land in the form of national parks was one, and the very first national park in the world was Yellowstone, created in 1872. Countries around the world have followed suit and preserved their natural treasures with gorgeous national parks that are open to the public. What a blessing for everyone alive today and for all that follow in the future, worldwide.

Bicycle at Bubble Pond Acadia National Park Maine

The Carriage Road at Bubble Pond.

It is highly ironic that the polluting combustion engine, fueled by oil drilled from nasty, dirty wells, created the fabulous wealth of the Rockefellers who then turned around a generation and more later and poured their profits into the national parks.

It’s ironic, too, that the family that benefited the most by the invention of cars and the related explosion in demand for oil was behind the creation of the unique Carriage Road system at Acadia National Park where the only legal traffic is human or horse powered.

Bicycling carriage roads under a stone bridge at Acadia National Park Maine

The Carriage Roads are very special!

I guess a leisurely ride or stroll on this special road system through the woods inspires a bit of reflection. It did for me.

If you do some RV travel in Maine, or if you visit Acadia National Park by some other means, make sure you spend a little time out on the Carriage Roads in Mt Desert Island’s forests. You may find new thoughts, ideas and musings stirring within you.

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New River Trail State Park – Galax, VA – Pizza, Beer and Biking!

May, 2015 – After seeking out the waterfalls of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, our RV travels took us over the border into Virginia to the town of Galax (pronounced “Gay-lax”) where we planned to see two famous Parkway attractions: the Mabry Mill and the Blue Ridge Music Center. However, when Mark spotted a microbrew pub in town — Creek Bottom Brews — our truck automatically steered itself right to the front door!

Creek Bottom Brews Galax Virginia

Creek Bottom Brews welcomes us in.

Inside, Mark found himself in craft beer heaven. The walls at one end of the brewpub were lined from floor to ceiling with individual craft beers from every brewery he’d ever heard of, and even a few more. What’s better, the bartenders were pouring pints of unusual craft beers from around the country as fast as the tap handles could go. The place was filled with very happy looking customers.

We ordered a pizza to go along with the Thunder Bay Brewing pale ale they had on tap. I don’t know if we were starving or what, but that was by far the best beer and the best pizza we’d had in a really long time. What a great place!

We never ever do this, but we went back again the next night for the same exact thing, and then we went again for a third time the night after that! We became Creek Bottom Brews regulars in just three days!

Beer selection Creek Bottom Brews Galax Virginia

Is this beer heaven or what?

As we happily sat there enjoying this truly awesome pizza and beer each afternoon, we noticed that lots of the folks around us were dressed in cycling duds. What was going on? Many of them just buzzed in to get their growlers filled or to pick up a six pack of something exotic. Apparently this was how these Virginia folks rehydrated after their rides!

It dawned on us that there must be a trail or something nearby, so I asked the next gal I saw in a cycling jersey where she’d been riding. “On the New River Trail,” she told me. “It’s a really great Rails-to-Trails ride that starts right across the street from here in Galax”

The next morning we hit the trail!

New River Trail State Park Galax Virginia

The New River Trail is wide and flat and easy to ride on.

Oh my, what a terrific Rails-to-Trails system this New River Trail is. We were blown away. It was one of the best Rails-to-Trails rides we’ve done, right up there with the 72-mile Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in Idaho. It is wide and flat and winds along the New River for 57 miles. And for such a great trail, we were amazed that on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend there weren’t all that many people on it.

The fun thing about this really scenic trail is that it passes by all kinds of interesting things. We came across a small waterfall and stopped to take pics.

Riding the New River Trail State Park bike path

We enjoyed a small waterfall along the way.

And we stopped at the old Cliffview Station depot building.

Cliffview Station New River Trail Galax Virginia

Cliffview Station is an old depot that makes a fun stop.

There was also a very cool wooden bridge that was fun to ride across.

Bridge on New River Trail State Park Galax Virginia

We loved this curved wooden bridge.

Much of the trail went along under a canopy of trees, but there were lots of open areas too where we saw horses grazing in the fields.

Horses in fields Galax Virginia

There was lots of interesting stuff to see along the way.

What I loved is that this is a trail for everyone. We saw families out biking on cruiser bikes and we saw more serious folks on fancy mountains bikes. Some people were even out there on road bikes. The trail was wide and flat and smooth enough for any kind of bike. And of course there were walkers and joggers too.

Bicycles on New River Trail State Park Galax Virginia

We saw families and old folks alike out on the trail.

The New River Trail is part of the Virginia State Parks system, and we got talking with a ranger and learned that this trail was actually donated to the state by the Norfolk Southern Railroad back in 1986. Political wrangling got in the way of its management for a while, but now it is a true jewel in Virginia’s state park system.

Bikes on the New River Trail in Galax Virginia

Every kind of bike rolls well on this trail.

We were amazed to learn from him that even though they operate on a shoestring budget compared to other states, Virginia State Parks has been rated the top state park system in the country. The care with which this trail is maintained is proof of why.

Wildflowers New River Trail State Park

I can never resist the wildflowers!

The trail has several campgrounds along its length, and we passed one of the campgrounds on our ride. What a fun place to pitch a tent! We saw quite a few cyclists who were touring with panniers on their bikes, and we met one couple who was doing a three day, two night ride out and back on the trail!

Cliffview Campground New River Trail Galax Virginia

Tents set up at Cliffview Campground, one of several campgrounds on the trail system.

We did about 20 miles round trip and then we just had to go back to Creek Bottom Brews. After all, that’s how the cyclists around here rehydrate after their rides, and we needed to rehydrate too!

As we sat there enjoying their out-of-this-world pizza, we joked that Galax, Virginia, needs a motto:

Come for the Blue Ridge Parkway, Stay for the Pizza, Biking and Brews!

Mountain bike on New River Trail Galax Virginia

We sure were glad we stopped in for a beer — what better way to discover a cool bike trail?!!

If you take your RV along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the vicinity of Mabry Mill and the Blue Ridge Music Center, take a little time out for a bike ride and a brew in Galax!

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Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing – Sedona AZ

Sedona Arizona views around town are spectacular

Every road in Sedona is a stunner!

October, 2014 – After a brief stay in the mysterious and intriguing Navajo lands of northeastern Arizona, we headed south to Sedona.

We had spent several weeks here in the spring, but this is a place that deserves lots of return visits, so we were delighted to stop in town once again.

The spectacular views are utterly breathtaking, no matter how many times you have driven past them, and I couldn’t stop myself from getting some pics out the truck window — again!


Bronze sculpture of a painter in Sedona Arizona

A bronze sculpture of a painter recreating the scene while a little girl takes his pic.

The town of Sedona is a fun combination of funky, artsy, mystical and outdoorsy. On the artsy side, a large brass sculpture of an artist creating a painting on an easel stands in the middle of town.

The artist is painting the stunning mountains that line the horizon across the street while a little girl snaps a photo of him.

Skeletons outside a shop in Sedona Arizona

Two skeletons sit chatting outside a boutique shop.

On the funky side, two skeletons were sitting on chairs out in front of a boutique shop. They were gabbing away, as happy as could be. One of them waved “hi” to us as we walked past.

Another bronze sculpture depicts Sacagawea, the young Shoshone Indian woman who guided Lewis and Clark on their exploratory expedition of 1804-1806.


Bronze sculpture of Indian Sacajawea with her baby in Sedona AZ

A bronze sculpture of Sacajawea and her baby.

In the sculpture, she is carrying an infant in a papoose on her back.

Sedona is much loved for its mysterious and mystical side too.

There are vortexes in the area where people get in touch with their spirituality, sometimes experiencing unusual connections and awakenings

What we noticed, however, were the intense sunsets, a hallmark across all of Arizona.

Late one afternoon, the sky lit up in glorious shades of pink and purple.

Pink and purple sunset in Sedona Arizona

We see our first Arizona sunset after a season away.

During our previous visit we had seen some gorgeous photos of Cathedral Rock taken at Red Rock Crossing where Oak Creek reflects the brilliant red rock formation in its pools.

Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona

Cathedral Rock – without the reflecting pools!

Hiking along Oak Creek at Red Rock Crossing in Sedona Arizona

The hike along Oak Creek

There are two ways to get to this spot, either by going through Red Rock State Park or by driving down Verde Valley School Road to the end.

We chose the latter method and followed the trail through some woods and across a large flat grassy meadow where Cathedral Rock loomed at the far end, brightly lit by the afternoon sun.

Then the trail ducked into the woods again, roughly following Oak Creek.

Hiking along the base of Cathedral Rock at Oak Creek Arizona

A glimpse of the base of Cathedral Rock

At last the view opened up a little, and we could see beautiful red rock spires near the water’s edge.

It was a warm day, and we came across a group of people sun tanning on beach towels and wading in the water in swimsuits.

Besides getting a little exercise hiking, though, we were on a mission to see Cathedral Rock reflected in the watery pools, not to sun bathe. Unfortunately, we soon found out we were at the wrong end of the trail. So we turned around and headed back.

Passing the turn-off to our truck on the left, suddenly huge flat slabs of red rocks fanned out in front of us.

Kneeling in reverence at Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona

Mark kneels in reverence at Cathedral Rock — or is he checking the settings on his camera?

Recent rains had filled the crevices with water, making wonderful still, shallow pools that reflected Cathedral Rock in the afternoon sun — in bits and pieces.

The best way to get the reflections was to get really low or even lie on our sides and shoot across the water.

I walked across some dry rocks into the stream a ways and looked back to see Mark bending over his camera in a perfect image of solemnity and reverential worship at the foot of Cathedral Rock!

I had to laugh as I took his picture, and then I lost my balance and plunked one foot in the water, right up to my ankle.

Oops. Never laugh at someone enjoying a particularly spiritual moment, whether it’s with the Divine Essence or with their Nikon, especially in Sedona!

Cathedral Rock reflects in the pools of water at Red Rock Crossing in Sedona Arizona

Cathedral Rock is reflected in shallow pools by Red Rock Crossing.

Cathedral Rock in Sedona AZ is a perfect place for a portrait!

Sedona is for Lovers

Our stay in Sedona was just a few days this time, but we were so happy to be able to stop by once again and take in a few more of the exceptional sights there.

Here is some info about Red Rock Crossing:

Related Posts:

Trailer Life Magazine’s December 2014 issue features our article Arizona’s Red Rock Country, and you can read it here.

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