A Hobbit Full Grown

Today was my 33rd birthday. I am a Hobbit Full Grown now.

This morning, I woke up at 5:30am Mountain Time, walked outside of the RV, watched the sun rise, and did a guided sitting meditation. It was a nice way to begin the day, in a calm state of mindfulness, in the middle of the desert.

Our first stop this morning was the Meteor Crater, where we looked at a giant hole in the ground not nearly as impressive as the Grand Canyon that reminded me a lot of the giant hole that we had dug for the pond in my grandfather’s back yard when I was a kid. Still, it was neat to learn about the crater — about one man’s determination (and ultimate failure) to find a large meteorite beneath the surface, about the fact that there are current scientific hypothesis suggesting life on earth may have been jump-started by several impact events in its early formation. Overall, I was a little disappointed by the experience — it was interesting, but it paled in comparison to our Grand Canyon adventures the morning before.

After the Meteor Crater, we took a winding road full of switchbacks down a mountain into Red Rock Country. It was a beautiful drive with breathtaking views, even if I did spend the whole time clutching the table until my knuckles turned white. We had lunch at the Red Planet Diner, which was this crazy little place decked out with science fiction decor, ceilings painted with stars and planets and alien landscapes, and busts of famous science fiction characters like Obi-Wan Kenobe, Flash Gordon, and Mr. Spock hanging on the walls. The food was passable (the Apple Pie was AMAZING) but the experience was a good one. 

After lunch, we struggled to find a place to park our RV, but once we did, we went on foot through the main streets of Sedona. Quite honestly, I was a little disappointed. The surrounding landscape was beautiful, and the shops were a little quirky and interesting — but they were just all so commercialized. In my head, I’d pictured Sedona as this rustic, small little village full of crazy hippies selling crystals and tie-dye t-shirts and reading tarot cards — and I loved that concept. When I arrived, it was like a new agey Gatlinburg — with machines that would read your aura, with very pretentious-looking wine stores, with well-groomed and stylish upper-class people walking the streets with their expensively-bred lap dogs. Almost every other store was proclaiming the town a great “vortex” — and the entire shopping area was making money off of the idea. I had heard that Sedona was this amazing spiritual center and that the place had great energy. After spending yesterday in so many natural places completely rich with real, raw spiritual energy, it was awkward to be in a place that claimed to harness so much of that energy but instead was focused on selling a product. Quite honestly, it just made me angry.

After our journey to Sedona, I looked at the map and noticed that the road to Jerome — our intended destination — was full of more of the dangerous, switchback curves, and w much further than I’d initially thought — not to mention we’d just have to double-back for the rest of our trip. Plus, I was nervous that I’d be just as disappointed in the highly touristy ghost town as I was in Sedona. So, we decided to go see the Montezuma Castle ruins instead, and took I-17 North back to Flagstaff, and then West on I-40 to Williams. We stopped at one of my company’s travel centers in Bellemont — completely swamped with Memorial Day business. The restrooms were less than perfect, and there was a lot of trash on the floor in the deli area, but the place was well-stocked and the staff was friendly and helpful, and my friends got to hear my voice advertising restaurant specials on the loudspeakers. It felt like a little piece of home. One of the things I didn’t realize was just how grateful we would be as amateur RV-ers to have RV lanes to pull into. We have struggled so much at other gas stations to have enough room, space, time, etc. to fill up. It was nice to have a space designated just for us. It definitely helped make the experience a very positive one, from a driver’s perspective.

We pulled into the RV park relatively early — which, ridiculously enough, was the highlight of my day. The RV park is this crazy old Route 66 hotel that has served travelers heading to the Grand Canyon. There are old hotel rooms, and train cabooses that have been converted into hotel suites, a really old swimming pool, a place to play horseshoes that is being overrun with crickets, old bank vault doors, abandoned golf cars to be used by kids as playground equipment — the place is just full of history and kitsch and I am absolutely in love with the place. One of the cabooses is actually haunted, and as such the RV park itself is a registered haunted landmark. There is so much crazy, quirky history on the grounds, all related to Route 66 which is a highway close to my heart. It’s a wonderful place to end my birthday.

We’ve changed our plans a bit — considering how long it actually takes to drive places in an RV and how expensive gas is for these things. We’re going to visit Bearizona in the morning, and then we’re going to explore several sites along old Route 66. On our way back to Nevada, we plan on checking out a couple of *real* ghost towns that are scattered along Highway 93. We’ll end the day at an RV park along Lake Mead so that we can spend our final full day at the Hoover Dam and the Lake Mead area.

Tonight, I think I will share beer with friends, and we’re planning to do a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition play test tonight. Because that is what geeks do when they rent an RV together.

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