As we start our journey back home we were watching the weather closely to figure out what days would be best to drive into Colorado without snow. Based on what we could see, there were some warmer days coming, so we decided to spend a few days at Dead Horse Ranch State Park outside of Sedona. It is ironic because about a year ago we were in Dead Horse State Park in Utah. What is it with this name? It was a great stop over with a nice campground. Our first afternoon after we got set up, had a very cold rain blow in. It made for a perfect afternoon of blogging and catching up on emails.
The following morning, we awoke to a beautiful sunrise and a dusting of snow on the hills around us. We decided since it was cold out that it would be good to drive up to the town of Jerome. We had no expectations except that we knew it was historical. What a fascinating place it was. It was an Italian hillside town, meets Ward, CO (a small town near Boulder with old buildings and abandoned cars) with a touch of charm, history and funk.
For me, as an architect and an artist, I was fascinated with the buildings that had charm but looked like they were barely standing. There were building facades left standing with no building attached, there were foundations and remnants of buildings from the past now on empty lots, as well as some newly restored buildings. Fortunately for us, we were there early before the crowds of tourists arrived, and were able to walk the narrow hilly streets before it turned into tacky tourist land.
Jerome originally was a mining town for copper and gold and there was lots of mining memorabilia around town as well as historical markers on buildings. I had a field day taking photos and am thinking that I might need to do a watercolor painting series of the rusted out and run-down buildings and cars. For me, watercolors are the perfect medium for that type of subject matter. We were fortunate that the sun was shining while we were there, and had fantastic views of the Verde Valley below with the light shining on the red rock formations of Sedona.
We descended from Jerome and stopped at another surprise National Monument. Tuzigoot National Monument is an old restored Pueblo. It was a quick stop and interesting but after seeing places like Mesa Verde National Park this felt a little bit unimpressive.
Our drive back to the campground took us through the old section of Cottonwood which was very charming. We stopped and walked the main street and enjoyed a few of the shops. It appears that this is also a substantial wine region with several tasting rooms. Both of us are perplexed by that since we haven’t seen a grapevine growing anywhere nearby. Unfortunately the tasting rooms are mostly closed due to Covid, so we will have to find out more about that later.
We moved into Sedona and stayed on our new friends property on the edge of Sedona. It was a peaceful setting and a great place to spend a few days.
The afternoon that we arrived, I headed out to paint with Susan and Jeff (my new plein air friends) to paint Cathedral Rock. It was a fantastic afternoon with great sunlight and the scenery in Sedona does not disappoint.
Our second day in Sedona was very cool and cloudy so we decided not to paint. We started our morning with a hike behind our friends property with some nice views, and even Buddy thought it was fantastic when he found a rubber chicken!
Ross and I then headed out in pursuit of the wine region. We finally came across some vineyards and decided to stop at an open winery for a tasting. It was a lovely spot, and we were fortunate that the sun came out for awhile. We enjoyed the wine and some snacks for lunch and were pleasantly surprised, but not excited enough to buy any wine.
From there we headed into Sedona where we were overwhelmed with the amount of tourists in town. We couldn’t get parking anywhere and the town was packed. So we headed back to our temporary home where I touched up my painting from the day before and Ross played guitar. We then spent the evening having a lovely quiet dinner with our new friends.
New Years Day was a glorious sunny day so we headed out to Crescent Moon Park for a big day of painting where we worked on two paintings. I’ve been finding it overwhelming and difficult to paint these rock formations. They are extremely intricate and I find my self getting lost in the details. I am beginning to realize that it would be better for me to get the massed shapes in and then work my way into the detail by adding shades and shadows. By the end of the day I was exhausted but love the learning and painting growth.
The next morning, we got up early since we had a long day of driving ahead of us. We were greeted with a beautiful sunrise in our window and then as we were driving out of Sedona the hot air balloons were rising. A beautiful way to end our trip.
The next two days were long drives that ultimately landed us back in Boulder. It gave us a lot of time to reflect on the trip and talk about our favorite moments, locations etc. We ended up being gone for 83 nights, driving 7250 miles and creating lots of new paintings. Our biggest trip yet, and a fantastic way to travel during Covid and see parts of the United States.
Until our next adventure here is the last sunset of that trip and a photo of Buddy wondering when we are going to be home.
Happy New Year to you all! Live your life to the fullest and enjoy each day as it comes.