A Missed Hot Air Balloon Trip, the Grand Canyon and a trip back in time to Bedrock
Updated: Jul 6, 2018
From the natural majesty of one of the Seven Wonders of the World to the ultra-creepy Bedrock City roadside attraction, we had a great spur of the moment road-trip to the Grand Canyon from Sedona!
Monday, June 18th we woke up at 3 am to get ready for our 4:00 am pickup for our Sunrise Hot Air Balloon trip. We were SO excited about it...I booked MONTHS in advance with Red Rocks Balloon Adventures of Sedona and made sure to have an extra couple of days in Sedona (as was suggested) in the off chance they needed to cancel due to weather, we could then reschedule. Well, let me tell you, rescheduling is not an option, at least it wasn't for us, and to be honest, it seemed like they could care less about the fact they cancelled. That morning. A 1/2 hour before we were supposed to leave.
Don't get me wrong, I understand that the wind patterns were unusual due to a tropical depression that had come up through the far eastern part of the state 2 days before and that had we gone up, we would not have been able to land where we needed to land. I get that. What I didn't like was that we were given no realistic option to reschedule; rather given a date that was over a week later. They don't do anything to accommodate the people that they cancel on due to weather. They just keep their other bookings and you get a text saying you are on their waiting list and "you never know!"
What I do know is that I never got a follow up call on any of the remaining days I let them know we were available to personally let me know that unfortunately, they wouldn't be able to accommodate us. No apology. No sucks to be you. Just radio silence.
And that sucks in my book. We really were looking forward to it.
So instead of soaring above the landscape of Sedona, we decided to roll with the punches and figured that since we were up, dressed and ready to go, we'd head out to the Grand Canyon that morning. It was a 2 hour drive from Sedona and with a stop for gas and breakfast, that would put us at the park around 6:30 am or so and we would get there before all the crowds.
I don't do crowds. Specifically, I majorly dislike rude tourists who think nothing of pushing, shoving, and getting in front of you knowing they are disrupting a family photo moment. You know the type: people who think the world revolves around them or just don't have proper manners to not act a fool in public. Sad to say that some of the worst offenders are our fellow Americans, but I digress. You DON'T want me to get on a roll about how rude some people can be!!! So getting there before the tour buses arrived was super awesome!
After a rather uneventful drive (with an ever -so slight interstate detour in Flagstaff) we reached the Grand Canyon park entrance at about 6:15 am. The cost for our vehicle was $35 to get in and as we head down the entrance road towards the Visitors Center and Parking, we encounter our first elk! I have to admit it was rather exciting.
One of the advantages to being at the park at the butt-crack of dawn is that you have your choice of places to park. No having to drive aisle after aisle of cars trying to find an open spot or someone about to pull out. We could have our pick of spots. I think that maybe there were about 15 other cars in lot. It reminded me of when Clark Griswold pulls up to Wally World in "National Lampoon's Vacation" and they are the first ones there in a vacant parking lot. We parked, grabbed the backpack with our granola bars, trail mix and bottle water and started our day.
It was 6:30 am and the sun had already risen, but the temperature had not and that was something I was unprepared for. I was cold. In June. In Arizona. It never occurred to me that it would be 55 degrees outside. Yes, fifty-five. Since we were there so early, the Visitor's Center wasn't open and neither was the gift shop, so I couldn't buy a sweatshirt (I wanted to get one anyway) but luckily, the temperature rose quickly and we really couldn't have asked for better weather.
We "hiked" about 3 miles along the South Rim Trail, encountering some more hungry elk enjoying breakfast, hummingbirds, chipmunks and countless squirrels who would try and look cute and innocent while another one tries to grab the granola bars out of your bag that you set down on the ground to take a picture (yes, that actually happened!) Here are some of the friends we made along our morning trip on the South Rim Trail
Now I had never been to the actual main part of the Grand Canyon before, but we had been to a part of it. Back in 2013, Jason and I took a helicopter flight to the West Rim of the Canyon, which is on an Indian Reservation, so they allow helicopters to land inside that area of the canyon along the Colorado River. It was very scenic, but PALED in comparison to the sheer magnificence of THE Grand Canyon. It is one of those places that just makes you think about all major changes to the landscape and how the passage of time left us with what was right in front of us. It was nothing short of amazing.
If you haven't gone to the Grand Canyon, it is so worth it. We aren't camping type of people, but I could only imagine how awesome it would be to rent a camper one summer and travel around to all the parks I've only seen on TV or in movies. Who am I kidding? There is no way in hell we could ever do a trip like that because in reality, we'd probably wind up like Clark and Ellen Griswold, getting on each other's last raw nerve with Sarah bored out of her mind being in a car all day. Although, my brother is sort of like our version of Cousin Eddie, so we've got that base covered already.
On our way back to Sedona, we decided to stop at a place I had read about online prior to the trip and I knew it was something we would pass on the way to the Grand Canyon National Park, but I was COMPLETELY unprepared for the creeptastic, retro-riffic, acid trip of a pit stop at Bedrock City.
101 US-180, Williams, AZ 86046
I grew up watching the Flintstones. 2 episodes every weekday afternoon from 3:35 to 4:35 on TBS in Atlanta. Along with Scooby Doo & Bugs Bunny, The Flintstones were one of the best cartoons ever made. When I saw that there was a "theme park" and campground devoted to Fred, Barney, Wilma and Betty, I knew we had to stop by. My daughter was also a fan of the show, as I made sure she watched DVD's and learned all about the "Barney Copter", Fred and his twinkle-toes when he would bowl and what exactly the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo was...She was SO excited and her 14 year old self thought that is place was awesome.
I felt like I was in some Bizzaro TV Land...like if there were an episode of the Twilight Zone that went back in time to Bedrock. This place just totally gave me a case of the heebie-jeebies. When we first walked in, there was a woman behind the counter wearing some sort of animal print fabric top with her hair pulled up in a bone (like on the show) and after paying her the $15 admission (total) for the three to get in, she told us to have fun and to "just ignore the stray dogs running around" as they got inside the fence earlier and she hadn't bothered to get them out. Lovely...a pack of stray dogs just running around inside.
We go through the turn-style and go out back to "Bedrock". Anticipation runs through my veins.
Sweet Georgia Brown.....We are the only people here.
Thoughts begin to run through my head as quick as a caged mouse running on a wheel:
"We are actually in a serial killer's lair right now...Let me make sure I have cell service in case I need to call for help. Are we going to wind up chained in someone's basement?"
"When did we last get a tetanus shot?"
"Is this a real place or just a fake village on a nuclear testing facility like they had in the 50's?"
"Dear God, where is everybody???"
Sarah, however, was captivated. Although I am seriously into all things retro, this was a little TOO retro for me. Like the place was built 46 years ago was was just left untouched and unmaintained ever since. Sarah thought it was the utter end all be all of kitsch and went from building to building like a kid searching for presents on Christmas day.
Did I mention we were the only ones there?
When you walk in, to the left, there is a "petting zoo" that is supposed to hold a "Goatasauraus". There was nothing there, but then again, the back gate to the enclosure was wide open. Who knows? Maybe the pack of stray dogs ate the goats. Straight ahead was the requisite "put your head on the poorly painted bodies of Fred and Wilma and get your picture taken" tourist props, which of course Jason and I did willingly for Sarah.
We passed an abandoned stage area, but we have no idea what would have gone on there. Then we came to the "theater", but it was dark, uber creepy and the screen or sound wouldn't work, so we moved on and started looking at the other buildings. A hair salon, with what looks like dismembered heads to me in a glass case, the police station, a gas station, a grocery store and Fred and Wilma's house. Statues of Betty, Wilma, Fred and Barney that make you wonder if there are secret cameras behind those vacant/crazy looking eyes of theirs...recording our every move and conversation. The volcano, Mt. Wilma, which supposedly has a "tram" running through it, was not working. There is an old metal slide encased in the body of a brontosaurus. A couple of see-saws near falling apart, replicas of Flintstones cars with missing steering wheels and random loose rusty nails sticking out.
Moms out there, trust me. This is not a place you want your kids running around willy nilly. You see Sarah in the car below? There is no steering wheel there, so people can get in and out easily, I guess. But there ONCE was a wheel there. Now there is just an old nail sticking out of the wood which makes it very hard to get in and out. Now you know why tetanus shots were on my mind!
Oh and those are the wild dogs. A German Shepherd and a Pit Bull/Boxer mix. LOVELY. Please don't eat my child. I just hope they belonged to someone who was staying at the attached Flintstones Campground. Oh yes...you can stay here overnight. Not in the "amusement park" portion, but right next door.
I think we'll pass.
There is also a giant, crawl through snake tunnel that reminds me of the giant snake at the end of "Beetlejuice" rather than anything I ever saw on The Flintstones and I had to put the big old kibosh on that one when Sarah asked if she could go through. Jesus only knows what might be in there. Bees Nests. Dog Poop. Standing water. Just plain nasty funk. Nope, that was not going to happen. There was NO way I would let you go in there.
After about 20 minutes, it was time to go. We go to leave, passing through the "gift shop" filled with some vintage Flintstones tchotchkies and TONS of Made in China crappy souvenirs, we take a couple of photos by the sign out front and then it is time to head back to Sedona.
This is one of those places that if you are in the area, you should stop by, but don't expect much. It has all the kitsch of those roadside attractions like the Worlds Tallest Thermometer or the Biggest Ball of Twine, that you expect to see on a cross country road stop. for $5 a person, I say give it a go, but just make sure you're current on your Tetanus shot!
Next up...Natural Waterslides and a super cool shopping spot in Sedona....