Monday, May 25, 2009

The Prescott loop

First a big shout-out to Team Vignette for their win at the Spread Your Wings race last weekend - way to go, Team V!

Now back to the Beard Travelogue...

We took a couple days to drive up to the Prescott area, again leaving the trailer in Phoenix because of twisty, windy roads (especially through Jerome). It rained (!) for a couple days, apparently dropping a "deluge" of half an inch on Tucson and causing people to talk about an early start to the monsoon season here. We had planned to hike on Friday afternoon but instead waited out the rain by wandering through Prescott art galleries. I discovered these awesome little butter creme chocolates at a praline shop; some things are better eaten only once (or twice) in a lifetime, or as long as I step on the scale in the morning.

We found a free "dispersed camping" site in the hills above Prescott and spent a cool, quiet night with rain pattering on Tug's roof. I love National Forests.

The next morning looked much better, so we hiked/ran the Groom Creek Loop trail. Ahh, pine forests! I love pine forests.

We found a fire tower at the top and got to talk with Susie who was working there. She spends hours watching for fires and reporting the weather, plus entertaining visitors like us with explanations about triangulation and controlled burning. We could see ourselves doing that someday.

At first these looked like bunches of berries:

But upon further inspection - actually gagillion ladybugs! They just like to hang out at the tops of mountains around Prescott.

Did I mention I love running in pine forests?

John loves using his tools. We did a bit of trail clearing along the way, although there were so many downed trees that we couldn't get them all, so John was a little sad.

Prescott had a Wildlife Art exhibition going on - amazingly talented people had some beautiful items for sale. We wandered and oogled for a bit, munching on our second butter creme chocolate...

Then we drove north toward Jerome, checking out some beautiful scenery along the way:

Jerome made me laugh - I had heard it was a "town built into the side of a mountain" so I wasn't sure what to expect. It turned out to be a typical European alpine town, complete with narrow streets, little walkways down to the next switchback, and funky (although much more Americanized) shops. Oh, and American tourists.

Next stop: Tuzigoot National Monument, remnants of a Sinaguan village from around 1100-1400 AD. Some photos:

On the way back down I-17, we stopped for the night at Aqua Fria National Monument, another free dispersed camping area. We took a nice little walk down a trail, spotting nervous rabbits, nervous quail, lizards (not as nervous), and turkey vultures (the reason everyone else was nervous) along the way to the creek:

Gila Monster! Really, this time:

I found another use for the cup holder in our camp chair:

Back to Phoenix and one last time at The Good Egg to cash in our "Best things in life" card - contentment is a good breakfast :)

We picked up Howie (hello home!) and drove north, stopping along the way at Montezuma Castle National Monument. The sycamore trees there are really pretty:

And the cliff dwelling is really impressive:

On to Flagstaff! We have enjoyed our first hours here, including a walk around downtown, getting Howie set up for a couple weeks, and a free movie (Mall Cop) with root beer floats at the campground :)

Later this week we're going on a driving tour in and around the Navajo area of NE Arizona. Plus a bunch of training/exploration in Flagstaff and Sedona. Still so much to see!
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