California Here I Come!

I’m not playing anymore, I am going home ~ Anonymous

I am back in California for a few days and I am LOVING it! The temperature here is a refreshing 67 degrees this morning. There are restaurants and stores aplenty,  family to meet up with, and graduations and birthdays to celebrate.

When the temps at home reach 110, I start to ask myself what the heck was I thinking moving to Arizona. But it doesn’t take long for the California crowds, traffic, noise, and pollution to remind me why I left.

So for now, while I am here in the southern half of the Golden State, I will enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Before I return home, I think a morning walk at my favorite park  and a trip to the ocean to dip my toes is in order. It is good to be home.

California, here I come – Right back where I started from
Where bowers are flowers bloom in the spring  – Each morning at dawning
Birdies sing and everything
A sun-kissed miss said “Don’t be late!”  – That’s why I can hardly wait,
Open up that Golden Gate! – California, here I come!


The Last Signs of Spring

I have heard it said, that winter too, will pass, that spring is a sign that summer is due at last. See all we have to do is hang on ~ Maya Angelou


In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt ~ Margaret Atwood

Spring dropped by briefly last week, but with temperatures at 105 and rising, summer quickly took her place. An attempt to grow Persian cucumbers in the back yard has been unsuccessful ~ I give the vines another week of life.

Something will grow from all that you are going through. And it will be you. ~ Unknown

I was surprised to find a peachy blossom sprouting from a cactus that I’d rescued from Lowe’s clearance isle.  Just goes to show, a little water, sunshine, and TLC (tender loving care) can renew a discarded life.


A thing of beauty is a joy for ever ~ John Keats

And last……I was fortunate to find a nesting hummingbird occupying a branch above my favorite park bench. She didn’t mind sharing the tree with me and went about her business preparing for  family.

Sadly, spring has ended here. I’m not looking forward to summer and have plans to get away next month. Until then, I’ll rise early with the sun to walk, then attempt to find  indoor activities to occupy my time.

It’s going to be a cruel summer………..





Red Mountain Volcano

Who lives sees much; but who travels sees more ~ Ibn Battuta


What’s a mom to do on Mother’s Day when the nest is empty and her children live too many miles away to visit? Well, this mama decided to spend the day celebrating the ultimate Mother, Mother Nature, by hiking the Red Mountain Trail.


A stone is ingrained with geological and historical memories ~ Andy Goldsworthy

Red Mountain volcano is a 740,000 year old cinder cone located outside Williams, AZ, off Highway 64 just before the Grand Canyon. The volcano lacks the proportional cone-shape and was forged like a “U.”  Aside from its unusual shape, there’s also a natural amphitheater to explore (think Bryce Canyon) and Hoodoos to prospect.


If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good ~ Dr. Seuss

The Forest Service describes the trail as a gentle, uphill, 30-minute walk from the trail head to the amphitheater. The hubby gave it his best 1st Cav try, but as “gentle” as the trail seems, at this high of elevation, his respiratory issues kicked in, returning him to the car.


Be a lamp, or a life boat, or a ladder ~ Rumi

After following the trail through scrub and pine trees, I came upon the entrance to amphitheater. Upon climbing the ladder, you are transported back in time into a geological wonderland formed by an former-erupting volcano and modern-day erosion.


To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles ~ Mary Davis

A time-created oddity ~ I’m not a geologist and I don’t know much about volcanoes, but the large boulders rising from the ash seemed to be made of lava.


The things that stand out are often the oddities ~ Pierre Salinger

Sculpted by water and wind erosion, these odd-looking hoodoos reminded me of goblins embedded into the cliff. The trail leads you in and out of pillars, slots, and corroding rock walls.


All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware ~ Martin Buber       

Yes, I entered the crack and if it weren’t for a few pesky tarantula wasps harrassing me, I would have kept exploring. My current brand of sunscreen smells like gardenia and  insects seem to love it. Time for a different brand!


If you can’t be in awe of Mother Nature; there’s something wrong with you ~ Alex Trebek     

Wandering around the amphitheater, I felt like I was back in primeval times.  I had the area mainly to myself and saw few people on the trail, both in and out.  It is used lightly, even on a weekend ~ which is a-okay with me.

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Nothing can dim the light that shines from within ~ Maya Angelou

On an ending note, I found these lovely little rocks which eroded from the volcano. I was hoping they were obsidian, but they’re actually crystals from the minerals pyroxene and amphibole. I’m still impressed.

If you’d like to know more about the Red Mountain Volcano, here’s a link to the U.S. Forest Service website that I found helpful. It’s a really cool place to hike and explore ~ I plan on returning this summer with the grandson.




Blooming Saguaro’s!

”Bee” yourself; everyone else is already taken ~ Oscar Wilde

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With the heat setting in, our local park offers a sufficiently shaded walking path for those of us who just must get outside daily.  Last week, I noticed the saguaro’s at the park were preparing to bloom.

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After a few days of forgetting my camera, I managed to remember it on my way out this morning. Summer’s approaching and with temps in the 100’s, the time to walk is limited ~ if you’re not out by 8 a.m., you may as well stay home.

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Saguaro cactus are indigenous to the Sonoran Desert and usually grow in southern half of the state. Here, they’re usually planted for landscaping and decoration, so it was a delight to find a few blossoming at the park.

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After the flowers are pollinated, they mature into pulpy, red fruit providing food for a variety of animals, including humans. The blooms only last 24 hours, but I’ll be keeping an eye out (and my camera handy) for the fruit.

“The flower that blooms in adversity, is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” ~ Mulan

Change of Plans ~ V Bar V Heritage Site

Ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange changes ~ David Bowie

Due to an unexpected heat wave, I cancelled our original plans to tent camp at Lost Dutchman State Park. The thought of sitting, unprotected in the hot sun all day did not appeal to me, so plans were changed. When the cooler fall weather returns, we will try again.


Last year, I learned about the V Bar V Heritage Site from local, fellow blogger, Johanna Massey, and put it on my bucket list for local travel. I love visiting historical sites and learning about the area and cultures of people long gone.



The V Bar V Heritage site is located just outside Sedona, AZ, a few miles after the I-17 and Hwy-179 cross, in the Wet Beaver Creek recreational area. It’s a four hour drive for us, so we lodged overnight in Oak Creek, enjoyed a delicious dinner at Maria’s, then turned in with intentions to visit in the morning.


You may wonder, how an old, turn-of-the century cattle ranch is connected to ancient rock art? Settled in the early 1900’s on an original prehistoric site, the V Bar V passed through a variety of ranchers and was ultimately sold to the U.S. Forest Service in 1995 in order to preserve the area.


The last bit of the V Bar V ranch house, a hand-crafted fireplace. A standing tribute to old-school craftsmen and the workmanship of the past rarely seen today.

DSCN7986Do folks really need to be told not to touch, scratch or disturb? Really?

Based on this signage, I believe if it wasn’t for early private ownership, this area would have probably been destroyed by the public. The site is well-supervised and has a onsite resident so thankfully, the elements are protected.


If you’re a fan of rock art, the V Bar V is the largest known and best preserved, petroglyph site in the Verde Valley area. There are thousands of prehistoric elements dating from A.D. 1150 – 1400 from the Sinaguan people, who occupied the area between 500 CE and 1425 CE.


According to our docent, the crack in the wall was thought to be a portal that allowed spirits to seasonally travel to the San Francisco Peaks and back. This area is considered a religious area and is still used today by local Native Americans.


These are considered to be the earliest of the elements. Plan to spend about an hour and listen to the docent, who is informative and very knowledgeable. Montezuma’s Castle is close by and ‘his’ Well is adjacent to the ranch. Make a day of it and immerse yourself in culture of the past!


You can’t make us mooove!

Ending on a funny note…….The area is still occupied by working cattle ranches, so upon leaving a herd of cattle decided to take a break in the middle of the road, blocking our exit. Of course, they had no intention of ‘moo-ving’ out of the way.

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Our hero driving the cattle across the road

Fortunately, we were saved by this modern-day vaquero, dressed in full cowboy duds! How cool to visit an old historic ranch and then get caught up in a real cattle drive on our way home. Welcome to the wild, wild west! Made my day! Hope you enjoyed.

Taking Steps to Getting Somewhere

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you are not going to stay where you are ~ Unknown


Taking advantage of the cool weather at home with some local hiking

Warmer weather is approaching the desert southwest and I’ve been busily preparing my summer escape from this “too hot to handle” town I call home. With the RV gone and a desire to stay on the road longer, I’ve had to come up with some alternate lodging aside from hotels.

I used to travel off-season, but in order to escape the oppressive, Arizona summers, we’ve become peak season travelers. This not only makes for expensive and crowd-filled traveling, but limits my options.

This summer we’ve decided to stay in state parks and take advantage of the variety of lodging they offer. First, we’ll be “glamping” (fancy tent camping) in New Mexico and Utah. Then it’s off to the Oregon coast and redwoods to bunk in a rustic cabin and yurt.

Photo from the Oregon State Parks website

I’m really looking forward to staying in the state parks this summer. Hotels are nice, and I’m sure we’ll overnight in one or two, but for me there is nothing better than the simplicity of a tent, warm sleeping bag and waking up to the sounds and sights of nature.

It’s been awhile since I’ve tent-camped, so we’re doing a trial run in a few weeks in southern Arizona. I hear the Saguaros will be in bloom ~ I’ll be bringing my camera. Stay tuned for a post and hopefully some awesome pictures on my return.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can ~ Arthur Ashe


A Hidden Gem in the Desert – Three Dunes Trail

If you will come here, you will find a hidden treasure ~ Paulo Coelho


Lovely days don’t come to you, you should walk to them ~ Rumi

Just off Highway 95 near marker 170 in Lake Havasu City, lies a little asphalt rest stop and the trail head to the Three Dunes Trail. Mostly, the trail is an easy wash walk, which narrows into a mild canyon and reopens into a grand wash leading to the dunes.



In every walk in nature, one receives more than he seeks ~ John Muir

After the canyon opens it joins multiple washes.  Watch for landmarks as you continue, as it’s easy to take the wrong wash on the return. How do I know that ~ I missed my turn and had to backtrack because in the open desert, a wash looks like a wash.


My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and my camera is my passport ~ Steve McCurry

Who’d ever think that there are sand dunes in the Mohave Desert? But there are ~ three delightful, little dunes covered in fine, white sand extending over the Colorado River.


No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man ~ Heraclitus

In the distance is the North Dune, which is the largest of the three. If you’re a boater, kayak-er, or even backpacker, Cattail Cove State Park oversees the area and offers overnight camping (fees apply).  This place is a gem!


On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it ~ Jules Renard

No this isn’t White Sands National Park, but the tip-top of the North Dune. The third dune lies parallel, but it’s very modest and inconspicuous compared to its counterparts.

The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of life, the clearer we should see through it   ~ Jean Paul

Seems untouched doesn’t it? Sadly, I picked up a lot of empty beverage containers at the foot of the dunes.  If you come across discarded trash would you consider picking it up/packing it out and/or throwing it away?  If we all picked up just one piece, it would make a difference in keeping our lands beautiful and pristine.


When you have no companion, look to your walking stick ~ Albanian Proverb


Last, I wanted to share the new hiking gear I received as a Christmas gift from my hubby. After ten years of marriage, the man finally knows what I like! I’ve been wanting a hydration system–it’s a must have for desert wandering. Thanks, honey!

If you’d like more information on the Three Dunes trail, I’ve included a link below. I did not consider the trail “moderate” but found it quite easy.  The dunes are fabulous and I believe if you come here, you will discover a hidden treasure.