Were heading to Flagstaff Arizona for our first multi-day trip in the Road Runner, our new RV. We decided on the name Road Runner for two reasons, one because the rigs horn sounds like the beep beep the crafty bird made on the Saturday morning cartoons, the second cause that’s what we will be doing running around the roads of our country for the foreseeable future since COVID-19 has limited our ability to fly and stay in hotels safely.
On this trip we're joining our friends who live in Scottsdale, Dan & Lynn, and Scott & Clare who both, by the way, have much larger and beautiful coaches. They had planned a four-night stay in Flagstaff as a getaway from the Scottsdale heat and invited us to join when we bought ours.
We decided to break up the drive to Flagstaff into two days, nearly 10 hours straight through was not something I was looking forward to on our first road trip. The challenge was where to overnight since most options in the middle were desert and this time of year 100+ degree heat. Live and learn I guess, we decided on Needles as our overnight on the way there.
We loaded up the Road Runner with everything we thought we would possibly need and headed on our journey. Traveling through the desert we ran into 108-degree temperatures for the majority of the drive. Our trip took us through “scenic” desert towns of Acton, Littlerock, Victorville, Barstow, and Ludlow finally arriving into needles at 7 pm to 107 degrees!. Instead of setting up camp for the night in these temps, we stopped into the Riverfront Café along the Colorado River with a view of watersports activity on the river. It was fairly quiet when we arrived so we sat at the bar for a quick bite while hoping for cooler night temperatures to come.
Just about the time our food arrived, the raucous boating crowd started pouring in from the river where they had spent the day drinking while cruising up and down the fast-flowing river. As a reminder we are in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the California Governor had just required masks to be worn in all indoor spaces but little Needles apparently hadn't gotten the message since NO ONE was wearing them. Imagine a bunch of shirtless, bathing suit wearing drunk boat people coming in for more beer and shots after a full day of the same on the river. Loud talking and yelling at each other in close quarters generally having a good time, can you say community spread! Needless to say after being offered to participate in the activities, we politely boxed up our food and got the heck out of there! I have nothing against fun times on the river but at this point, I would prefer not to get sick!
It was about 8:30 when we arrived at the local KOA campground, temperatures have cooled to 100 degrees so we quickly set up the rig, turned on the AC, and headed to the pool for a cocktail and refreshing dip. A welcome relief from the heat we were nearly alone In the pool relaxing from the day's drive and planning tomorrow's journey.
Up early today to beat the heat, cooled down last night to 89 degrees! Who lives in these places and why! Since we were out of camp early this morning we decided to take some of the scenic byways and roll through portions of old route 66. Not much to see along the routes anymore except for the long journey through beautiful rolling hills to the old town of Oatman. We were greeted by wild Donkeys when we arrived at the outskirts of town. A car with a couple of other tourists had stopped in the road and were out of their car feeding and petting the Donkeys. We all stopped and turned when we heard their car door open while no one was near it. Turns out these Donkeys are pretty smart and have figured out a way to open car doors with their teeth, most likely to find some treats inside.
The small old western town is quaint, nothing open yet as it's still early on a Sunday morning but we walked the wooden walkways and admired the shops. We continued along old route 66 through the desert, stopped in the middle of nowhere about 30 minutes outside Oatman for a late breakfast in the RV. It was great to be among the foothills in the desert with no one around enjoying a meal with fantastic 360-degree views. Continued on our way through the desert back to the main highway and on to Flagstaff.
We arrived at Black Bart’s RV park where our friends who arrived a bit earlier had just about finished setting up camp. The park was convenient to downtown Flagstaff but a little run down and too close to the freeway and truck parking next door. We all agreed that for future trips to Flagstaff we would select somewhere else to stay. But for now, we’ll make the best of it. Somewhat cooler here compared to our desert journey, temps during the day were mid 80’s and cooled to ’60s at night, a welcome relief! Our first night there we sat around a common table between the three rigs, caught up with each other, and enjoyed the evening.
The next day we were out early to pick up a rental car for a few days, then off to Williams to catch the Grand Canyon Railroad. We reserved seats in the Parlor car, the last car on the train that included a private bar, snacks, and an outdoor space where we could enjoy the passing scenery. Due to Covid-19, the car was limited to 50% of its capacity which was nice. We boarded and proceeded on the hour and a half journey through the desert and high forest landscape ending the ride at the base of El Tovar lodge in the Grand Canyon Historic Village. Here we had about 3 hours to check out the sights before the return train ride.
We walked around the rim of the canyon near the village. Crowds were a little thinner than usual due to park capacity limits. Food and beverage services were also very limited but we managed to find a shady table and some food and beverages to hold us over. The canyon never ceases to amaze with spectacular views of the steep red-hued walls against deep blue skies made even more spectacular by the limited crowds. After a brief walk around the canyon rim, we were back on the train headed through the vast open spaces towards Williams, entertained by the cowboy guitarist and staged train robbery along the way.
The next day we headed out to explore Flagstaff, the first stop was Snow Bowl the local ski resort to take the lift up to the top. We grabbed some lunch at the base and headed up the lift, completely unprepared for the brief rain shower and wind along the way but a beautiful ride regardless. The resort is large and ski runs looked pretty good. Since we couldn’t take him to the ski resort, we left Dan’s dog Walker back at the camp under the care of RV neighbors Dan met. We decided to pick him up and reward him with some water time. With our chairs and beverages in tow, we headed out for a relaxing afternoon at Lake Mary while Walker enjoyed fetching what seemed like hundreds of tennis ball throws we took turns hucking into the lake.
On our last full day here, we explored the historic center of Old Town Flagstaff on foot, stopping at a few of the brewpubs along the way. Old Town is centered along the railroad where most of the town's early activities occurred. Several route 66 era facades and structures have been or are in process of being preserved adding charm to the area.
Overall a fun trip, our first multi-day RV experience was pretty good. Aside from the long drive to and from Flagstaff, we thoroughly enjoyed leisurely camping with friends while experiencing the surrounding area. I must say that I didn’t hold Flagstaff in very high regard before this trip, perhaps because it has mostly been a drive-through not a stopover on previous journeys. But we have come to appreciate what Flagstaff has to offer and will certainly be a place to stop into and experience more of what it has to offer .