Ian and Margaret's RV Adventures travel blog

This guy (or gal) seemed to think there might be something interesting...

. . . but our guys weren't exactly welcoming (you can just...

This stormy sky on our first full day in Cottonwood was just...

We spent a couple of days in Williams AZ, known mostly as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon”. Although we both had been there previously it had been only to catch the train up to the Grand Canyon and we’d never really seen any of the town. I can’t say we improved on that situation much, but we did see a bit more than we had in the past.

As mentioned before, our plan is to end our summer’s adventures with a stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood AZ, where our dear friends Fred and Jo Wishnie would be working as camp hosts for the month of October. We didn’t, however, want to arrive on a weekend, during which parks like that (in cooler parts of the state) are likely to be quite crowded, so we had picked Williams as a good place to wait out the weekend and to finish up the cleaning that was needed after a summer on the road. I always plan to do a “serious” cleaning before we put the trailer into storage for the winter, but I don’t always manage to get it done; this year I was determined and we had the time, so I didn’t have any excuses.

So I cleaned. I defrosted the freezer (not one of my favorite jobs), cleaned out all the cabinets, tossed quite a few things that were beyond useful life, filled a bag with things to be taken to a Goodwill drop-off whenever we find one, dusted the tops of ledges that hadn’t been dusted in . . . well, way too long! I even took a Magic Eraser (miracle cleaning tool) to the wall where there were scuff marks from things rubbing against them while we travel. As I’ve said (although apparently not often enough), it’s not as clean as it could be, but it’s as clean as it gets. And I feel a great sense of accomplishment. Also a stiff back, various abrasions, a couple of broken fingernails and a flare-up of tendinitis in my hands. In response to my question recently about the age to qualify for a senior discount for something or other (which I was pretty sure I was too young to get) Ian said “That’s OK, you can pass for it.” I’m sure he’ll recover soon. Anyway, at the end of a weekend of cleaning, I couldn’t really argue with him!

There was some brief excitement when a cat that apparently lives in the campground came around and sat on our steps for a while. It was quite friendly, but without a collar or tags. We kept our two cats inside, but they stood at the door and were occasionally nose to nose (through the screen) with the intruder. There was hissing, growling, ears back, tails up – our guys were protecting their turf with every weapon they had!

Since I’ve just taken a shot at Ian, I have to give him credit – he took me out to a very nice dinner Sunday night. We found a surprisingly good restaurant in Williams. The review I read said it’s what passes for fine dining in Williams – I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but it was very good and not overly expensive.

Williams does have quite a number of interesting old buildings around town and I think I’d enjoy spending some time here walking around with my camera. Unfortunately, because it’s the Gateway to the Grand Canyon, there are also hordes of tourists at most any time of the year. Taking the train from Williams is a great way to see the Grand Canyon, especially since they have banned automobiles from most of the park and parking in any of the satellite areas can be a nightmare, so I recommend the experience. I just wish that, when we’re in Williams, not quite so many people take advantage of it!

Nevertheless, we enjoyed our brief visit to the town even though we didn’t see much of it, and we’re ready to move on.

So, bright and early Monday morning we gathered ourselves together and set off for Cottonwood. This was the kind of day we like – only about 80 miles to drive and great friends at the other end. When we arrived at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Fred and Jo met us and, with Fred driving the golf cart they get to use as camp hosts, led us to the site they had picked out as being perfect for us. They were, of course, right and we were soon set up, TV and internet satellite dishes pointed toward their respective mother ships and we were settled in for a great visit with Fred and Jo.

Ian had been wanting for some time to have someone look at the truck (this does seem to be an ongoing refrain this summer, doesn’t it!) but had figured that the issues weren’t life-threatening and could wait until we got back to Phoenix. But I remembered that when we were having our problems at the beginning of the summer, I had gotten an email from Lee Ann and Larry McCormick, whom we had met last summer, about a great Ford mechanic they had found in, of all places, Cottonwood, Arizona! So I suggested to Ian that while we were here he have this guy look at the truck. Since the problems appear when the truck is started cold in the morning, he wanted to leave the truck overnight and have the mechanics start it in the morning to hear for themselves the alarming noises we heard.

So, as the Wishnies and we prepared to go into Cottonwood for lunch, it seemed like a good time to take our truck in and we could ride back with the Wishnies. Unfortunately we didn’t know that the address we had for the Ford dealer (which Ian had gotten from the internet) was no longer current. After some serious discussions with – and about – the GPS about how to find the address in the first place, we finally got there, only to find it was another business altogether. Fortunately, however, Ian had the phone number, so a call quickly established that they had moved (about three years ago – things really do linger forever on the internet!) to Camp Verde, about 6 miles away. So off we went, found the dealership and proceeded with our day. [And, two days later, I can report that the truck is fixed and running beautifully. Thank you Larry and Lee Ann – and thank you Ted Archer at Coury Ford.]

We had lunch at this great little convenience store. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve had a sit-down meal at a convenience store ever before in my life and here I’ve eaten in two in the last two weeks! But this place had great food – Mexican-influenced but lots of burgers with all the fixings – and we all ate too much and talked non-stop. Afterwards we all needed naps, so back to the campground we went.

Of course our visits with the Wishnies always seem to revolve around food, and they had generously offered to fix dinner for us that night. As usual, Jo had put together a delicious meal of stir-fried pork and rice with decadent brownies for dessert and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. And so our first day in Cottonwood came to a wonderful end and we look forward to the rest of our week here. We will visit the interesting old mining town of Jerome, now reborn as an arts town; probably make a pilgrimage to Sedona, center of all things “New Age” and Southwestern Arts; and undoubtedly eat, drink, laugh and talk. Stay tuned – we’re not done yet!

Just a quick postscript for those who may have seen national news about tornadoes in Flagstaff – we’re about 70 miles south of there and, although we’ve had quite an exciting day (today is Wednesday 10/6) of rain, hail and tornado watches and warnings, we were never in serious danger. But a Camping World RV sales facility was directly in the path of a tornado that touched down west of Flagstaff and several trailers on their lot were destroyed, some thrown into the highway. There were also train cars overturned and, reportedly, a couple of 18-wheelers that were overturned. Miraculously it appears that no one was seriously hurt or killed, but it was pretty frightening. This is not usual weather for this part of Arizona, although it’s not unheard of. But just to reassure everyone, we’re fine, just a little tired from a night of being awakened every hour or so as it sounded like the world was coming down in pieces all over the roof of our trailer.

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