Last stop in TX, then New Mexico and Arizona 2/16-3/6
Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”- Seneca
Following a spontaneous decision to stop in El Paso and take part in the Papal mass at the border, we took advantage of good weather in New Mexico where we explored Las Cruces and Santa Fe. From there we headed to Arizona and had a great time at the Painted Desert, Winslow, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Havasu City before making our way into CA.
El Paso, TX
“I’d really like to avoid El Paso and go a different route as we head west.” These were my words to William BEFORE learning that Pope Francis would be visiting just across the border in Juarez, MX in a couple of days. We weren’t terribly far away and figured this kind of opportunity wouldn’t come along that often. It was awesome to have the freedom to zigzag and change plans on the fly so that we could hear Pope Francis’s message first hand. It was a really special and moving experience.
We watched the Pope’s mass in a simulcast at the Sun Bowl, just across the border from Juarez.
Las Cruces, NM
Las Cruces was home base for our back and forth to El Paso. We stayed at a state park there and enjoyed a wine tasting at a local, family owned vineyard, several hikes, and a farmer’s market before heading up to Santa Fe.
Santa Fe, NM
The weather has been beyond amazing on our trip so far. We really didn’t expect to be able to make it to Santa Fe in February as it is typically pretty cold and snowy at this time of year. So when we noticed a warm, clear forecast, we headed that way. We were struck by the beauty of the Southwestern architecture, the walkable town filled with art galleries, the friendly people, local shops and terrific restaurants. We were only there for one full day as weather was taking a turn, but it was enough to get a taste of the town. It’s definitely on our list of favorites and we hope to make it back. Neither of us are opera aficionados but were very intrigued to learn about the summer opera season here- so it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that we’ll give it a go.
Painted Desert, AZ
The Winslow, AZ area was our stopping point on our route from Santa Fe to the Grand Canyon. We detoured just slightly to see the Painted Desert and took the scenic drive around the park. William has fond memories of his grandfather Mayfield sharing stories about a trip he had taken with William’s great grandfather to the Painted Desert years ago.
“…Well I’m standing on a corner in Winslow AZ and such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl my lord in a flat bed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me….” – lyrics from Eagles song “Take it Easy”
La Posada Hotel- Winslow, AZ
“World’s Best Places to Stay” – Rated #1 in Arizona for design and dining. Conde Nast Traveler
“Hotels We Love”– The Best Hotels in all of North and Central America. National Geographic Traveler
“Top Ten affordable hotels in the United States.” Trip Advisor Choice Award
“The Turquoise Room was rated as the second best hotel restaurant in the entire United States.” Conde Nast Traveler
Our surprise find in Winslow was the incredible La Posada Hotel. At the suggestion of the park ranger at the Homolovi State Park, we simply planned to stop for a quick lunch. It’s rich history, beauty and one-of-a-kind story drew us in immediately. We knew it was worth more than a brief stop, so we booked a room less than five minutes after walking through the front door. It’s the only night so far we’ve spent out of our RV, and this was definitely worth it.
La Posada was the last great railroad hotel built by the Fred Harvey Company along the Santa Fe Railway. It is a hotel, restaurant, museum, and gardens that dates back to 1930 and masterpiece and favorite building of Mary Elizabeth Jane Coulter, one of the greatest of all Southwestern architects. She also designed several buildings that we would later see at the Grand Canyon. La Posada’s owners, a couple who live on the property, saved it from ruin. Their vision is not only to restore the building, but also to provide a catalyst for the revival of the once thriving community of Winslow. It is uniquely a hotel (very reasonably priced and pet friendly!), residence, and private museum filled with the owner’s renowned artwork and museum pieces. The inspiration for the design of La Posada was the great haciendas of the Southwest, Spanish in origin but with Mexican and local influences. Amazing stop!
Grand Canyon, AZ
“The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself.” – John Wesley Powell
Enough said. Pictures follow.
I had traveled through Sedona twice before, both times making only a brief stop on the way to the Grand Canyon. My memory was hazy, but I thought it would be a place both William and I would enjoy on this trip. Thankfully, it turned out to be the case. It was a fabulous destination for all of us!
Beautiful Red Rock Canyons, green trees, early spring blooms, wonderful creek flowing right next to our camping spot at Rancho Sedona RV Park, great trails, and fabulous restaurants, galleries and shops with super friendly people. One local explained it like this, “No one is really FROM here, and everyone who ends up here loves it, so you’re generally around lots of very happy people.” And so it seemed.
After Sedona we made a brief stop in Flagstaff to have a new satellite dish installed. Then we headed to Lake Havesu City, AZ where we spent two days hiking and taking Maysea for swims. The lake is huge, something like 65 miles long, and formed from damming the CO River on the border between CA and AZ. The water is beautiful and clear and is surrounded by large rock formations in the midst of the desert.
We left Lake Havesu on the 6th, traveled through our first ever dust storm and high winds in the Sand Dunes Recreation area after crossing the state line into CA. It was a bit hairy, but we made it fine. We’re currently in El Centro, CA waiting out the western wind/rain event before heading to San Diego, CA on the 8th. We plan to spend a week there and look forward to a visit with Hunter this coming weekend!