Saturday, February 15, 2014

JUST A GREAT SCENIC JEEPING MORNING BUT THEN WE GOT CRUSHED BY THE SEDONA TRAFFIC!!

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(THIS IS SATURDAY’S POST)

Stepping out of the rig early this morning I noticed the air currents were moving in from the Northwest.  Sedona is northeast of us so didn’t figure we would see any hot air balloons.  Later heading for the highway we saw a balloon chase crew sitting in a parking area.  They obviously know more about a balloon’s direction of travel than I do.  Minutes later heading into Sedona we saw 4 in the air with one looking like it was headed straight for Annie’s place.  I would like to get a few photos of a hot air balloon landing.

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EARLY MORN AT OUR HOUSE

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SPOTTED THIS BALLOON FLOATING ALONG BY THE ROAD ON OUR WAY TO SEDONA

Had not realized this was a long week-end with President’s Day happening.  We sure bore the brunt of that early this afternoon but this morning’s traffic was light in Sedona as we hit the Information Booth about 8:30 a.m. 

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COMING INTO THE WESTERN OUTSKIRTS OF SEDONA

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THE NAVIGATOR CHOOSES THE ROUTE…ME, I JUST DRIVE THE DARN JEEP

Armed with a couple good maps we made a bee line out of town looking for Schnebly  Hill Road.  Fellow in the info booth said it was a great Jeep road & that is exactly what it turned out to be.  Commonly called Jeep roads these roads are all usually doable by any high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle although I really had to wonder about some of the domestic vehicles we encountered today.  Had to keep in mind there were a lot of week-end tourists out & about as well & I’m sure a lot of the vehicles we saw today never did make it to the top of the 4 mile dead end road. 

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THIS NICE SMOOTH PAVEMENT SURE DIDN’T LAST FOR TOO FARDSC_0045

THIS IS VERY TYPICAL OF THE ROAD ALL THE WAY UP & ALL THE WAY DOWN…NOT NICE!!!!

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But first a word about Sedona.  Yes it’s very commercialized with way too many people & way too much traffic.  Not my kind of place at all but there is another side to this place.  Surrounded by towering red rock mountains Sedona has gone to great lengths incorporating their surrounding mountain colors into the town’s architecture.  Buildings are restricted as to how high they can be so all buildings have a low profile which allows views of the surrounding mountains from just about anywhere in Sedona including downtown.  You can stand on main street in spots taking photos of the surrounding mountains as if you were right out in the wilds.  I like Sedona’s Southwest architecture & earth tone colors.  It’s a very pretty, neat & clean looking town.  I don’t mind seeing all the little colorful shops, arts & crafts places, eateries, café’s, & antique parlors.  To me they are eye pleasing scenery in themselves because they are constructed well to fit in.  There is beauty in landscape architecture & I like to see that.  Just as long as I don’t have to get dragged through the shops I like to look at I’m OK.  It’s just too bad there has to be such a mosh of people & such a mass of traffic.  But without one you would not have the other.  More about how Sedona’s crushing traffic swallowed us up & spit us out later.

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The sheer beauty & majesty of Sedona’s surrounding mountain scenery is truly awe inspiring & breath taking.  It is the redness of the soil & rocks that gives this area it’s appeal.  And to that add a carpeting of greenery with Alders, Junipers, Mesquites, Oak & Pine trees, Sycamores, Acacia, Chokecherries, etc.  The list just keeps going as does the forests of green bringing out that deep burgundy red in the soil, the rocks, & the mountains.  It was into this wonderland of scenic wonders we soon had Jeepers scrambling over multitudes of rocks along one of the roughest & rockiest roads  we have ever been on.    This road was definitely a tire burner.

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We crawled our way up through the Canyon with an average speed of about maybe 10mph tops.  We really got pitched around inside the Jeep on this road but the breathtaking scenery just kept pulling us forward. I did stop & get out at one point to figure out how I was going to climb over one particularly bad spot.  Figured I’d just follow the tire tracks of countless vehicles before us & that worked.  Did bottom the Jeep’s rear end out on the way back though at that same spot. 

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GOT OUT & HAD A LOOK AT THIS SCRAMBLE BEFORE WE DECIDED TO GO LEFT

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SOMETIMES THE ROAD JUST DROPS OFF ON THE SIDES

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A PINK JEEP TOUR RUMBLES BY

As I have said before, we are not Jeep extremists & there is a very thin line where one can make a wrong decision which could easily result in damaging one’s vehicle.  That very thin line consists of two things.  On one hand is that young foolish male Macho attitude that of course is not just restricted to young males as many of us older males well know.  The counter balance to that maleoolishness is the much steadier common sense mature approach that many females rightly so bring to the mix.  It is generally an evenly balanced combination of the two that makes for a successful day.  Destinations are simply reached in a safely thought out manner with no harm being done to the vehicle or passengers therein.  Oh yes there are always some words exchanged along the way but as long as an agreeable balance is maintained we generally reach our destination in full agreement.

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OUR DESTINATION IS THE TOP OF THAT TALL ROCK ON THE RIGHT & A TELEPHOTO VIEW SHOWS PEOPLE ALREADY ON IT IN CENTER OF PHOTO BELOW

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At the top end of Schenebly Hill is a small turn around parking lot.  A short rock scramble from there takes one up onto a high rock formation called Schenebly Hill.  Great views from up there all the way back down the valley one has just traveled all the way up from Sedona below.  We didn’t scramble up the rock formation right away because there was a gaggle of people already there. 

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THEY REALLY HAVE THESE JEEPS TRICKED OUT

Two pink Jeeps from the PINK JEEP TOURS company had arrived just before us.  No way we wanted to be up there with a whole bunch of people chattering away.  These types of places need to be seen & experienced in the true serenity of their surrounding.  That is precisely why we do not enjoy going on hikes or tours with groups of people.  Of course the upside of tour groups is that you have an informative guide along explaining everything you are seeing.      

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LUCKILY THE LAST PINK JEEP LEAVES & THE HILL IS OURS…BUT NOT FOR LONG AS MY TELEPHOTO LENS TELLS ME MORE PINK JEEPS ARE ON THEIR WAY

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WE SCRAMBLE UP SCHNEBELY HILL

Luckily we did not have a long wait & the pink Jeeps were soon loaded up & on their way back down the Canyon.  Didn’t take us long to scramble ourselves up onto the big sandstone rock formations.  Pheebs is part mountain goat & scrambles around rocks like a Monkey in a tree.  DSC_0076

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Probably took a couple dozen photos before I noticed below more pink Jeeps on their way to Schnebly Hill where we were standing.  Knew they would be loaded with people so we soaked up as much of the tranquil ambience as we could in our short 15 minutes before heading back to the Jeep & getting out of their before all the noise arrived.

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LOADING UP TO HEAD DOWN & A LAST LOOK AT SCHENEBLY HILL WE JUST CLIMBED

We have always found that whether one is walking, hiking, or driving, return trips to starting point trailheads always seem to take much less time.  And so it was this morning as we seemed to take half the time coming back down the rocky road as it took going up. 

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We had spotted a dry rock waterfall earlier on our way up so stopped there & hauled out our peanut butter sandwiches.  Beautiful spot as we sat on a couple rocks beside a hiking trail next to a cave like rock formation that would indeed be an active waterfall during Monsoon season. 

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EATING OUR PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES IN A FOREST BY A DRY WATERFALL

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SOME LADY HIKERS & MOUNTAIN BIKE ENTHUSIASTS COME BY ALONG THE TRAIL WE

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One of the pink Jeep tours slowed down & we heard the operator tell people this spot has been used in movies.  Said a big water tank truck would go up the road a bit farther then dump their load of water into the dry creek bed.  Below the film crew would be all set up to do their scene as soon as the tanker trucks load of water came cascading over the waterfall’s smooth rocky lip.  Groovy:))DSC_0132

THE DRY WATERFALL

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ONCOMING TRAFFIC REALLY PICKED UP AS WE WERE COMING DOWN

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We finally made our way down the canyon to the trailhead where the pavement started.  It was a short half mile drive into Sedona.  It was a short half mile drive into traffic hell is what it was!! 

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A LAST LONG TELEPHOTO 300mm LOOK BACK UP THE VALLEY TO SCHENEBLY HILL

Within minutes we were transported from some of the most scenic beauty we have ever seen into instant traffic chaos.  Our day went from super great to super upside down aggravating in about half a mile.  Never in my life have I encountered so many round-a-bouts in just one area.  If there was 2 there was 22.  Not having ourselves a hard destination we were soon swallowed up in the madness & it didn’t take us long to become totally disoriented, turned around, befuzzled, & discabooble-ated in the swirling manic maelstrom of downtown Sedona.  I felt we were caught up in Monsoon’s raging torrent.  We went around numerous round-a-bouts like we were on a merry-go-round.  I won’t attempt to tell you where we all were because I don’t know where we all were.  I do know at one point we were headed for Flagstaff so had to make a U-turn & drive right back into the moiling metal mess again.

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JUST MADE A U-TURN & ARE HEADING BACK INTO THE SEDONA FRACAS

We came out of one round-a-bout heading south on highway 179.  Didn’t take us long to realize we had just made one big huge mistake.  179 is a major highway into Sedona from # 17.  Traffic coming into Sedona was bumper to bumper for miles.  Figured half the city of Phoenix was probably headed into Sedona for the long week-end.  We just kept heading south cause I didn’t want to turn around & get stuck in that long traffic jam going back into Sedona.  Did see a sign for the CHAPEL OF THE HOLY CROSS so rocketed out of a round-a-bout down that way to have a look.  Well it’s a dead end road & the whole area was a Zoo.  Cars randomly parked & abandoned with people all over the road taking photos etc.  I grabbed a few photos out the side window going by, wiggled onto a big flat rock (remember you can do that with a 2 door Jeep Wrangler:)) & got turned around.  No way was I wanting to stop in that mess so we got ourselves out of there right quick.  Maybe go back again & have us a look another time when there are not hordes of people everywhere.  Oh ya, a tour trolley loaded to the hilts had just pulled in ahead of us too.  I was lookin fer ya Phil but didn’t see ya.

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ALL THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS WERE TAKEN FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT ALONG HIGHWAY 179 SOUTH

We were soon back on 179 thankfully putting miles between us a the traffic menace in Sedona.  On the plus side we got to see more great scenery that we might not have seen if we hadn’t got muddled up.  Kelly remembered a place called the V-BAR-V HERITAGE SITE east of #17 so figured while we’re down that way trying to find our way back to the rig we might as well check it out.  Well that didn’t work.  Signs up saying ‘No Pets’ as we pulled into the parking lot.  Well that was it for me.  Not leaving Pheebs in the car no way!! 

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By now with the maps we had Kelly figured out a shorter way back to the rig.  I certainly did not want to have to go back through Cottonwood because I knew that would be a traffic nightmare over there as well.  To make a long story short we found a road heading towards Fort Wow that lead through a little town called Cornville.  Lite traffic & we had nice quiet & scenic ride all the way back to our rig.  Soooooo glad to get back to our wide open spaces, chirping Robins, & loads of peace & tranquility.

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Not sure where we are headed in the morning but if we have to go into Sedona to pick up another Jeep road we will do so very early in the morning & make sure we have a clear escape road heading back to our camp.  Many of these back mountain roads are connected so I’m sure we can map out a route to totally avoid Sedona on our return.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like Sedona & think it has a lot going for it.  It’s just too darn bad about all the people & all the traffic.  And too bad we had to be here on a long week-end.  But then again we headed here for probably the very same reason countless thousands of others did…..this great spell of unusually warm weather going on at the moment.  Think we might have made it into the 80’s again………………….

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Going to try & answer a few questions here from readers.  The Class A we thought might grab our spot pulled into a tiny spot just off the road about a quarter mile before they would have reached us.  So in hindsight we might have been Okay leaving our spot empty maybe.  They were still there this morning but when we came home this afternoon the Class A was gone……Question in Shoutbox was, “What is the annual cost and maintenance expenses for a Class A vs Class C MH? What is the mileage lifecycle for these MH's?  Best answer & advice I can give to this ‘Guest’ is head on over to RV NET FORUM & post those questions.  You will find a bunch of knowledgeable RV folks over there much better qualified to answer those questions than I.  Somebody asked me the other day how old I was & I even had trouble with that…………:((DSC_0161

GROANER’S CORNER:(( Mrs. Baker wanted to go ice fishing. She had read several books on the subject, and finally, after getting all the necessary equipment together, she made her way out onto the ice. After positioning her comfy stool, she started to make a circular cut in the ice. Frighteningly, from up above, a voice boomed, 'There are no fish under the ice.' Startled, Mrs Baker moved farther down the ice, poured herself a large coffee, and began to cut yet another hole. Again, from the heavens, the voice bellowed, 'There are no fish under the ice.' Mrs Baker, now became very concerned so she moved way down to the opposite end of the ice, set up her stool, and began again to cut her ice-hole. The voice rang out once more, 'There are no fish under the ice.' Mrs Baker, stopped, looked upwards and said, 'Is that you, Lord?'  The voice replied, 'No, this is the Ice-Rink Manager.'

25 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures of those red rocks. Sure looks like Pheebs is enjoying the hike. Would have to agree about the Sedona traffic - especially on a three-day weekend. During the week, the short drive up to the airport is nice. It's a small airport and it's fun to watch the planes come and go. There is quite a panoramic view of the city and one of the supposed "vortex" sites is on that road too. It's a nice little hike but I don't put much stock in the vortex stuff!! Hope you find some nice quiet places to explore.

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  2. Great shots of Pheebs on the red rocks! Did you know they also restrict the colors that can be painted on the buildings in Sedona? Probably won't find too many wild colors there! We enjoyed our visit to The Chapel of The Holy Cross. It was fairly quiet there while we were there, nice!

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  3. Al, anytime you want to know about holiday weekends, you just ask me. As a teacher, yes, this is a 3 day weekend! You'll want to remember that spring break(at least for me) is the last week of March...not sure about Arizona. While we love Sedona's colors, we don't enjoy the traffic either. Have you been through Oak Creek Canyon? It's BEAUTIFUL!
    ~Cheryl Ann~

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  4. Fantastic photos of the red rock, Al! Pheebs looks even cuter with that backdrop. The desert looks very green--it's beautiful. We're beginning to get a lot of round-abouts in our area too. They're confusing even to we locals!

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  5. That Pheebs just seems to stand there and enjoy the fantastic sights herself. She is sure one sweet dog!!!
    Beautiful pictures Al, overall, just a very good Blog! Enjoyed your trip....

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  6. Sedona is beautiful as your pictures attest.

    NOTE TO SELF: avoid Sedona on the weekend... :-)

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  7. I certainly enjoyed your red rock tour this morning while I drank my coffee! Gorgeous photos!

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  8. Just love the area, and great scenery there, we spent a week in the area a few years ago and were able to avoid the crowds, no holidays at that time.
    Excellent photo too.

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  10. You make me so glad I had a chance to be in Sedona 30 or so years ago! I spent several nights camped in different spots along Schnebly Hill Road! I don't remember it as being a dead end road. I remember it leveling off and going through some ranch land and coming out near Highway 17!I will bet no one is even allowed to camp there now! Beautiful Country... without the crush of traffic!

    Sunday, February 16, 2014 Delete

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  11. Remember all those bloggers comments about how they would never go to Florida because of the traffic and crowds?? It is all in knowing where to be and when, as you know as well. We have had quiet empty roads for most of our time in Florida so far. That will end soon as we travel south to the popular hot spots where we plan to pass through as quickly as possible. I had a friend who lived in Prescott, and no matter WHEN we went to Sedona the traffic was horrendous and bumper to bumper on 179. Icky. Still, it was worth it. When I would hike in those red rocks I would be amazed at how the scenery could eat up all that messy energy of all those people. Also...there is red rock country all through Southern Utah far beyond what Sedona has that IS still empty of people. I hope you get there, Al, you and Kelly would love boondocking at the Studhorse Peaks area on the Burr Trail just outside Capitol Reef National Park. Promise me you will get there someday. I want to see your 4 wheel adventures and photos of that part of the world.

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  12. Thanks for the memories you guys. Use to explore that area with my folks back in late 50's; and, again when I was a student at (then) ASC in Flagstaff in the early 60's.

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  13. Wow! Saw more of Sedona area in your photos than I did visiting the area.
    Loved the one of you and Pheebs on mountain side. Thanks for the tour.

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  14. I went to Sadona once with my sister. It was very busy then too. Craig has mentioned he might like to get a Jeep, but I'm not sure I would like the bumpy road. I like hiking.

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  15. Al, you sure made my day today. I laughed and laughed at the thought of you getting lost in all those round-abouts. And it also reminded me that once my dad went around a round about 10 times with our travel trailer in Stockholm, Sweden, before we finally figured out the right direction.
    And I agree with you about the landscape-adjusted architecture of Sedona.

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  16. Sedona looks like a stunningly beautiful place. I've never been there and don't have any desire to go. You have WAY more patience than I would have with the traffic and the tourists.

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  17. Beautiful, beautiful photos! I too loved the landscape around Sedona. We came through there in 2000 with my MIL in a rental RV, and I remember it was right after a thunderstorm. All the water gushing along the roads looked like someone had been slaughtered! It was in October and not overcrowded. But as I said, that was more than 13 years ago. Since then traffic has increased everywhere and it will increase further with all the free online advertisement the digital world offers us now.
    No offence intended. :)

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  18. Oh my...those red rocks look like heaven to me! Sorry to hear about the jeep tours and all the folks. We also love the peace and quiet! And we so agree....no pets? We don't go either!
    I do have a question....do you air down your tires on these off-road adventures? It sure helps to keep you from bouncing around....Joe airs down to about 25 pounds. And for serious off-road we air down to about 18 pounds.
    Gay

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  19. I often wonder how many cases of beer a balloonist has to buy to keep his chase crew happy and ensure they come to pick him up after he lands. ;c)

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  20. Thanks for letting us ride in the back seat of the Jeepster with Pheebs...she was great company. We love Sedona, but on a weekend...not so much. I remember the Pink Jeeps too..they are darn near everywhere you go!

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  21. Kelly and Al…
    our blog runs behind real time so we are long gone :(
    a perfect opportunity to meet up finally…down the drain. We are currently in St George, Utah FYI.
    Next time, we hope :))
    Box Canyon Mark and bobbie

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  22. stunning stunning pictures... thank you for another great post.

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  23. Awesome pictures of the Sedona area! The wife and I have been crewing for, and chasing hot air balloons for years. Have a number of posts on our blog about events in October of each year. Even made the Albuquerque event back in 2004, but that was definitely pre-blog days. I know there are exceptions to everything, but have never meet a balloonist that didn't welcome folks to gather around a landing area, take pictures, and ask questions. If you run across a chase crew, ask if you can tag along. I bet they will say yes. If you don't make contact with a chase crew, just "follow" the balloon to the landing site. You don't want to get in front as you may possibly interfere with his landing attempt. As long as your are behind the path of the balloon, you're good. Looking forward to some great pics.

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  24. Heh heh I love your retelling of the conversation process when taking a "jeeping trail" ... sounds JUST like Steve and I when we were taking a long trail in Big Bend last year about this time. heeeheeeeeee we made it to the end, and no damages, so I guess we did good. eh?

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard
    http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com
    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

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  25. Schnebly Hill Rd was our first real Jeep road after we bought our new Jeep. Great road! We didn't know the story about the dry fall.

    There is very nice trail (not too hard) from the end of the Broken Arrow Rd that takes you to chapel. A much easier way to visit without the cars and traffic.

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