Exiting Petrified Forest, I decided to take the state road 180 heading west out of the south entrance, instead of backtracking to get back on I-40. For all prospective travelers, I recommend doing the latter. Rt. 180 was flat, featureless, dusty and windy -- one of the dullest drives I've encountered yet. At least I-40 in those parts livens up its scenery with lifelike (and not-so-lifelike) statues of dinosaurs to go with the theme of the Petrified Forest and its wealth of fossils. (Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the statues, but you can find them featured on other sites, such as here or here.)

Eventually the road junctions with I-40, so I was back on that and heading west. This section, too, was flat, dusty, and windy. But after driving for awhile towards Flagstaff, a classic snowcapped mountain appears out of the flatness.

Humphrey's Peak, with an elevation of 12,633 ft. The highway climbs into the San Francisco Peaks and through the city of Flagstaff (which from the road looked like any other typical American town, so, no pictures). Then I headed down Rt. 89a South, which enters Coconino National Forest and goes through the town of Sedona. I'd heard about Sedona thanks to a Plain Dealer article a few years ago.

This picture doesn't really give the proper sense of depth, but this is from one of the first "scenic lookout points" in Coconino Forest along 89a. This is part of the deep and narrow Oak Creek Canyon. The attraction of the region was hinted at when I had to maneuver my way around tour buses in the parking lot and wait at the restroom behind a line of UK/European tourists (to which I mentioned how far their money can go in America these days). (Fortunately, that was the most "touristy" encounter I've had at the time of this writing).