Tuesday, October 1, 2013


"The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see" - G. K. Chesterton

Snoopy Mountain, Sedona

Our trip through the Western states of the USA has been amazing. While Caroline and I have been to some incredibly popular places (Yellowstone, Zion etc) we have been fortunate to have avoided anything too touristy. When we were planning this trip, we wanted to see some stunning parts of America and to learn about the cultures which have lived there. We tried to avoid cities, and anything that sounded too much like a tourist trap. And generally speaking we have succeeded. While we have been tourists, more of the time we have been traveling. We have been wowed by the landscapes, the wildlife, the history and the local cultures, whether they be Native American or not.

Today was another day of fantastic landscapes. We drove from Flagstaff south to Sedona through the beautiful Coconino Forest. Dense pine forests cover mountains, and permeate the air with a fresh, wonderful aroma. The forest then gradually is replaced by mountains of the deepest red I've seen so far on this trip. A picturesque river valley follows the road into Sedona. That's where the fairy tale ends. Sedona is the most ghastly tourist trap imaginable, a town that is in an absolutely beautiful part of the world that has decided to cash in on its position. The friendliness and openness that we've experienced throughout this trip was replaced by ignorance and commercial materialism. Prices are hiked, and the customer is just another source of income. Coach loads of tourists were teeming along the streets, making this the busiest place we've been to so far.

The scenic road into Sedona

Sedona sits at the bottom of this river valley
To be honest, Sedona was a disappointment after all the amazing things we've experienced this roadtrip. We spent probably an hour in Sedona before just turning around and driving back to Flagstaff. Flagstaff, by contrast, is a fantastic little town. Situated on Route 66, Flagstaff has an easy feel to it. The historic downtown district is full of restaurants and bars which would suit every type of person from businessmen, to the most alternative hippies. We are staying in an amazing hotel which has housed a number of celebrities. The Monte Vista Hotel, central in downtown, has seen Hollywood superstars like John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable and Debbie Reynolds as well as modern stars like Freddie Mercury, Jon Bon Jovi and Anthony Hopkins. Their name plaques are on the doors in which they stayed, and sometimes pictures of the stars also adorn the doors, and some are even signed.

Historic Hotel Monte Vista, Flagstaff
Not all the rooms have name plates on, but ours does. Not that I'd ever heard of George Babbitt before. However, in this part of the world, the Babbitt family are pretty famous. I found a brief biography here, and in the photo above, on the far left side the Babbitt Store stands.

We have one more full day tomorrow before flying home to Melbourne. We have had a great set of experiences so far, but this journey will lead to more exploration when we get back. I have learned much on this trip, though I'd like to learn more about certain aspects of it.

Stunning Sedona background. Is it just my imagination or does the big rock resemble Australia? Snoopy is lying by its side!

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