After a few nights on the road it was nice to pull into my uncle and aunt’s home in Cottonwood, Arizona where we would spend a couple of nights to get rested for our Grand Canyon trip and the road home. As I mentioned in an earlier post we hit some stormy weather leaving Winslow. It was a little windy but no rain in Cottonwood.
Our stomping grounds for a few days
We had big plans for our 1 day off the road: Montezuma’s Castle, Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, maybe Jerome. But when the morning dawned we decided we had been in the car enough and cut back our plans. High on our list was Montezuma’s Castle over my Campe Verde, about 20 miles east of Cottonwood. It was going to be a hot day, topping 100˚ so we decided we’d better get to Montezuma’s Castle early. After retiring from his job as assistant superintendent of schools in Cottonwood, my uncle worked as a guide at the Montezuma Castle National Monument; he left that job in the 80s and was interested in revisiting the area.
Neither part of “Montezuma’s Castle” is correct. Spaniard explorers in the mid 1800’s thought this abandoned site was related to Aztec sites so ascribed the famous emperor’s name (Montezuma) to the abandoned site. In fact this site, and others nearby were inhabited by the Sinagua (without water) people. Neither was it a castle; rather it was a community for farmers who may have moved up to the cliffs to provide more room for their crops. Naturally, though, these were well protected from assault. Not much is known of the people or why they vanished. Both the Navajo and Hopi peoples consider this an ancestral home and trace their lineage here.
We took a short hike on a well paved road to the base of the site. We sat in the shade and listened to a docent talk about the place and the people.
Montezuma Castle National Monument; Camp Verde, AZ
We headed back to Cottonwood for a quick, delicious lunch Carla, Jeanette and I decided we did want to see the red hills of Sedona. So off we went on the 30 or so mile jaunt northeast. I drove up on the neighborhoods on the west side of town and stopped a few times for Jeanette to get a nice view of places like Coffee Pot rock. Being busy navigating the road I didn’t get a picture myself. Here is one taken from east of town looking west last spring on our retirement road trip.
Red Rocks of Sedona, Arizona
Uncle Jake’s birthday was coming up so Carla, Jeanette, and I went hunting for a cake to celebrate. We got a large cupcake and a bunch of smaller donut-hole like cakes. After getting back and cleaning up we wen to the Verde Valley Schoolhouse Restaurant where we had a delightful meal. We came back to the cake and took a few pictures to commemorate our visit.
Aunt Sally, Uncle Jake, Howard, Carla and Jeanette
Crazy pose: Aunt Sally, Uncle Jacob, Howard, Carla, and Jeanette
I really love my uncle. My mom and dad are gone and I have such wonderful memories of him when we would go visit Winslow as a child. He had a great standup radio with many different bands in his room that he’d let me tune and play with. He also drove my mom and sisters and me back home to Palmdale one summer after a visit when we travelled to Winslow by train. When I was very young, I had my heart set on a toy 30-30 rifle I saw in a Western Auto store. I worked at pulling weeds at my grandparents’ house to try to earn some money; and was just simply delighted when he gave it to me. Finally, I recall going for a walk with him to a small drug store with fountain where we had cokes served in those paper cones (like snow cones are served in) stabilized in a little metal frame. He is such a warm, caring person. I try to get down to see him and Sally at least once a year. I was so happy and proud to introduce Jeanette to them.
My favorite uncle, Jacob, celebrating his birthday
We slept in a little on July 3 and dawdled before our trip up to the Grand Canyon. We caught Jeanette in a mischievous moment.