We kicked off our third travel season in late April, heading east for Arizona. We stopped for a short two night stay at the Needles KOA in Needles, California, before crossing into Arizona. Temperatures in Needles were much more bearable this early in the season, upper 80’s and low 90’s, as opposed to the triple-digit heat we endured here two years ago. We felt this was a nice short shake-down trip for the trucks & trailer after a winter with little travel.
Camp Verde, Arizona
From Needles, we moved on to Camp Verde, Arizona, staying for one week at the Verde River RV Resort & Cottages campground. We had originally intended to head directly to Flagstaff, but found that our preferred campground did not open until May 1st. We took the opportunity to explore around the Camp Verde and Sedona area.
The Verde River RV Resort was an older campground undergoing major renovations. The park was clean and quiet and served as a good base from which to look around the area. At about 3,900 ft. elevation, temperatures in the area were in the high 80’s to mid 90’s. We could tell we were nearing the end of the comfortable season for this transitional desert area.
Day trips included drives around Sedona and scenic Cottonwood Canyon, visits to historic mining town of Jerome, as well as the Tuzigoot and Montezuma’s Castle National Monuments.
On May 3rd we headed on to Flagstaff for a week stay at the J and H RV Park. At nearly 7,000 ft elevation, Flagstaff was considerably cooler than at Camp Verde and the San Francisco Peaks above Flagstaff were still well cloaked in snow. For the most part, weather was lovely during our stay, with daytime temperatures in the low to mid 70’s. We did have a few days with high winds, chill temperatures, rain and even a few sleet and snow showers.
While in Flagstaff, we enjoyed visiting with longtime friends, Klaus and Margaret. Our visits were brief this time as Margaret was preparing for an upcoming knee replacement surgery and was in much discomfort and limited in mobility.
We also took the opportunity to buy new tires (Kevlar-belted Wranglers, again) for our Toyota Tundra and then have the wheels aligned and another issue checked out at the local dealership. We knew our tires were becoming worn and were due for replacement while still in SoCal, but too many other things came up before we left on our trip. Annoyingly, just a few days into our trip, the check engine indicator had come on in the Toyota. The Flagstaff Toyota service department diagnosed a faulty Oxygen sensor and replaced it. At least it was something minor.
Day-trips in the area included visits to the Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments, scenic drives and picnics, and another visit to the Flintstones Bedrock City, near Williams, AZ.
Night Photography at Lomaki Ruins
I also got in one night of photography at the Lomaki ruins in Wupatki National Monument. Skies were clear and winds were very light, good conditions for photographing star trails over the ruins, despite bright moonlight. For this photo session, I was trying out several new dimmable LED light panels mounted on light stands to cast a faint light on the ruins – a technique called low-level landscape lighting. I really liked working with the LED panels, achieving much more consistency and control than basic light painting using flashlights, a technique I still use, but supplemental to the light panels, now. Here are a few of the photos from that session:
From Flagstaff, we moved on to Holbrook, Arizona, for a week-long stay at the Holbrook / Petrified Forest KOA Journey campground. As per the KOA Journey designation, this is a very basic campground, but very neat and clean. The campground was surprisingly quiet, despite being located just a few hundred yards from busy Interstate 40.
Weather was good for mid-May – at about 5,079 ft. elevation in this desert town, days were getting hot – upper 80’s and low 90’s. The summer monsoon season hadn’t started, yet, but we still had thunderstorms in the area and several afternoons with high winds and blowing dust.
Highlights of our stay include day-trips to the Petrified Forest National Park, Homolovi State Park, and various sights along Historic Route 66. We enjoyed seeing the historic Wigwam Motel and other vintage buildings and signs in Holbrook. We also stood on that famous corner in Winslow, Arizona (such a fine sight to see!) and visited Meteor Crater, Jackrabbit Trading Post, and the abandoned Meteor City Trading Post.
Night Photography Around the Holbrook Area
One of my goals in visiting the Holbrook area was to photograph some more of the Historic Route 66 sites scattered along the Interstate 40 corridor and local towns. I had photographed several sites around here in past years and looked forward to another visit. For this trip I photographed the Wigwam Motel at sunset and the abandoned Meteor City Trading Post at moon-rise. I also revisited the Six Guns ghost town and photographed several of the abandoned buildings there by moonlight.
The Wigwam Motel session was a bit disappointing as it was on a busy weekend with many guests wandering about and non-vintage cars parked at the motel. The best clouds and sunset were on that evening, other days were very windy and hazy or just did not have an interesting sunset. Oh well, you take what you can get while you are there.
Just as I was finishing up at the abandoned Six Guns campground, a group of three other night photographers out of Flagstaff walked in on me. We had a nice chat while they were setting up and I was tearing down before moving on to the next subject. Seems like it’s getting mighty crowded out there for us night photographers!
Anyway, I had a great time getting out and photographing these sites. Here are a few of the photos:
That’s all for now. Safe travels and enjoy the journey!