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We didn't have much planned for our time in Arizona. Beedoo! was going to visit her family, and I'd be along with them. However, Beedoo! did plan to take me to Los Abrigados in Sedona, where every year a light display is held for Christmas. Common families will decorate the various buildings of the compound, or have their own little displays, made up of christmas lights and props.

So, off we went. Now, as mentioned in the commentary in a previous comic, the weather in Northern Arizona was a bit different than usual this year. And so, as we drove along(relatively) small mountain road, rocks to our right and a deep drop to our left, twists and turns all over the place, we hit a bank of fog. Man did we hit a bank of fog. The pea soup outside our window, combined with the fact that it was getting dark, made for what may have been the most harrowing ride of my life. Fortunately, Beedoo! managed to steer us out alive, but those were some tense, silent moments in that car... For reference, here is a picture of the road under normal weather circumstances:

Imagine driving along these with maybe a few meters vision.

We did finally manage to emerge from (or, actually, from under) the fog, and made it to Los Abrigados after taking a few wrong turns and seeing more of Sedona than strictly necessary. Turns out that the incessant rain had shorted out the displays:

ARIZONIANS! We made not know how to deal with snow, but if you ever have any questions about dealing with rain, don't feel shy to ask, okay? ;)

On the way back, we decided to take the freeway, which was at least safe enough for me to dare breathe and take some pictures:

Can you imagine how much fun the mountain roads were?

As I said before, fog is not normal circumstances for Flagstaff, but the weather here was weird during our vacation. I believe in this case, a cloud actually fell out of the sky and got hung up on the Peaks. Arno and I had meant to start down to Sedona at around 4:00, but didn't get going until later in the evening. There was barely any fog in Flag at the time, so we thought we would be fine for the rest of the way down. Wrong.

There are two ways to get to Sedona from Flagstaff: One is to drive on the highway for about an hour on I-17 and then double-back up through the red rocks, and the other, faster route is to go down 89A though Oak Creek Canyon. I mentioned the Switchbacks in an earlier post, that they're all hairpin turns and near full-circle descents. These can be scary to drive in the best of conditions, when you're only going 15-25mph tops. They're downright terrifying in fog! I clung to the wall like nobody's business, white-knuckling it the whole way down. The last thing I needed at that point was a tailgater, but you can bet I got one. I was walking a fine line between speeding up a little bit for this guy's benefit and saying screw you, I'm not taking any more risks here, so back off!

Oh, and on the way in, yes, I got lost. Normally I have a pretty good sense of where I need to turn, but my landmarks have changed, notably that Sedona has installed roundabouts all over the place. o.0 I've only encountered traffic circles a couple of times. I hate them. I never know when to get on or when to get off. If you want me to cause an accident, put in a traffic circle. Because the first of these was at the corner I was supposed to turn at, I passed through it without making a turn to head toward Tlaquepaque (a local aritsan shopping plaza), and got lost in Sedona, taking a turn here and there where I thought I might get back on the right road. One such turn led up up a very steep hill in a residential area, which supposedly went to a scenic lookout point, but in turning around to head back the way we came, we missed the correct parking area for that as well (though I think Arno enjoyed the view on the way down). I eventaually made it through the traffic circle again and down to Los Abrigados.

So you would think that with all that harrowing driving that I would at least get some reward for the trip, right? But no such luck, since the rain had shorted out the circuits on most of the lighting displays at Red Rock Fantasy. (Sedona's not used to getting rain this time of year either, at least not in the quantities we were getting in Flagstaff. We did stop and listen to the creek flowing for a couple of minutes... moving pretty fast, making a steady little roar.)

I was not about to try going back UP the switchbacks, given what I'd had to drive down in, and decided to head to the Red Rocks exit instead. What I didn't know, again, was the Sedona had put in those bloody stupid roundabouts every mile or so! Even though the fog was hanging about 20 ft above us now, the darkness was still a limiting factor, and every time we'd come across a traffic circle, I'd have to slam my brakes on to avoid going over the top of it. I really don't see the point to these things... is it really necessary to have these on a highway where people probably aren't watching what they're doing in the first place?? You're in trouble with me, Sedona!

The drive back was likewise bad, (Arno's photos really do not do it justice...) heading back into the fog almost immediately after hitting the highway. This, however, was not nearly as scary as the switchbacks and we moved a bit faster, though not fast enough for many drivers who insisted visibility should not be an issue. I was just terrified that an elk might step in front of the car at some point.. or someone else's up ahead of me, and then we'd all die in a horrible accident. But we didn't... made it back to Flagstaff, fed the dog, then picked up some fast food for dinner, still fighting with the top layer of fog and the fact that most places were closing, it being around 9:00. Exhausting evening.

By the way, Arno made this comic on his own. Isn't it cute? ;)