Goal: Camp Verde, AZ
By day three, our road trip was becoming a bit too road-trippy, as in we found ourselves on the road for 10-12 hours a day, eating a ton of road food, and starting to feel a little sick of sitting on our behinds for so long. So I decided it was time for some kind of exercise. I flipped through our guidebook and saw that there was a recommended side trip to the Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave just outside Grants, NM, so we decided to check it out. And we were all glad we did.
There were two relatively short routes to hike. One to the ice cave and one up a dormant volcano. We chose the path to the ice cave first. We layered on some clothing, because the temperature in the cave, we were told, never rises above 31 degrees Fahrenheit. This was an interesting hike for all of us as we saw some beautiful Ponderosa pines, some sinkholes, and some Native American remains. Most interesting, though, was the ice cave itself. After descending a pretty long staircase, during which the temperature slowly dropped, we found ourselves in this beautiful, natural refrigerator staring at a huge mass of bluish-green ice. It was wonderful to get out of the car, see the beauty of this natural site, smell the smells, get the heart rate up, and learn a few things all at the same time. But our hike wasn’t over.
We then ascended the dormant volcano, one of many in this area (who knew?). We spied more Ponderosa pines and learned about what makes the rocks the beautiful orange and red and white colors that we were to see much more of in this part of the country (minerals leaching out from inside the rocks). We finally reached the top and were able to look down into the crater of this old volcano. The kids were a little disappointed, because I think they expected to look down on some bubbling-hot, orange lava. But they appreciated the zenith of the hike nonetheless.
The Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave was a great stop and helped rev up our energy to get back on the road. We were going to be at the Grand Canyon the next day!
But we had one more stop to make…
I don’t know about you, but my husband and I are very big Eagles fans. The Eagles practically composed the soundtrack to our high school years. So we absolutely HAD to stop at Standin’ On The Corner Park in Winslow, AZ and “Take It Easy” there for a few minutes. It was stupid fun standin’ on that corner with Eagles music blaring from the nearby tourist trap stores. The kids had no idea why we had to get out of the car, though. Maybe, someday, they’ll understand.
We arrived at our destination just in time for dinner. A sleepy little town about 25 minutes south (if I remember correctly) of Route 66 – Camp Verde, AZ.
Day 3 goal: Accomplished