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

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

A Hidden Gem in the Desert – Three Dunes Trail

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

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

https://golakehavasu.com/activity/hiking/three-dunes-trail/

Exploring Pilot Rock Trail

Serendipity ~ finding something good without looking for it

Last week while hiking in SARA Park, I chatted with a Minnesota snow bird about another trail in the area. Based on Minnesota Mans instructions, I set out Wednesday to hike and explore the 7-mile round trip to Pilot Rock.

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Everyday starts with a sunrise, but it’s what we do before it sets that matters ~ K. McGraw

The sun rises late in Arizona, 7 a.m. actually, but the day is mine and as a slow-moving wanderer, I’ll need the hours to come full circle.  With plenty of water, snacks, and sandwiches in my pack, I’m good to go.

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If you come to a fork in the road, take it ~ Yogi Berra

Within SARA Park, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has numerous side trails, including paths for off-road bicyclists.  I am so grateful for the trail markers pointing the way, because without written instructions, my memory rarely serves me well.

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From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere ~ Dr. Seuss

I happened to wander off path and discovered  this circular pattern on the desert ground ~  in the middle of nowhere. I believe it’s water-created, but sometimes funny things just can’t be explained.

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Time flows away like the water in a river ~ Confucius

I’m hoping the sight of water means I’m getting closer! Pilot Rock was once used by steamboat pilots for navigation on the Colorado River.  At the end of the trail, there’s a mini lighthouse and BLM site that serves modern-day boaters.

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A cache of water for a thirsty desert traveler.

I took the signs word for it that there were water bottles below ground. With all the paths out here and the lack of signage, it is very easy to get misdirected. The good thing is most trails intersect; you just don’t want to run out of water with the extra walking.

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I want to live, I want to give, I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold ~ Neil Young

Minnesota Man mentioned an abandoned mine; a good sign that I’m going the right way.  The Arizona desert is full of old mines, and for safety’s sake, this one has been filled in.

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What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us ~ Henry David Thoreau

Resting above the mine is an old metal chute, left behind by a previous prospector. I can’t imagine working in the middle of nowhere, exposed to extreme temperatures. It takes a certain type of person to be a prospector in the desert.

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Wisdom from a rock ~ never take your life for granite :0)

I’m finding all sorts of interesting things during today’s journey.  As I went to take a step, the layout of the layers of sediment in this rock caught my attention. My niece saw a wolf in the pattern, and I see an alligator. I can only imagine the age of this rock.

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It’s better to burn out, then to fade away ~ Neil Young

Decisions, decisions ~ up and over a ridge or down the wash? I chose the easy wash walk and came upon what I think is an old oil can, bleached by the sun and tumbled by the dirt and stones. I’m sure stumbling across some interesting things today.

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When life puts you in tough situations, don’t say why me, say try me ~ Anonymous

You’ve got to be tough to survive in the desert. I did not notice the spine-laden camouflage on this prickly bouquet until getting up close and personal. Can you see the “teeth” in the flowers opening? I can almost hear them jeering, “just try me.”

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A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it ~ Ray Davis

Are we there yet, are we there yet? I can see the river, just not a clear path to get there. In the desert, sometimes choosing the easy path ends up being the inaccessible (but interesting) path.

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Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost ~ Erol Ozam

Although my attempt to find Pilot Rock was unsuccessful, in the end I was rewarded with a view of a hidden cove with rippling water and a graceful natural arch.

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Sometimes the best paths we take are wrong turns ~ Jay Long

With dwindling water and tired feet, I decided to head back to the car and head home. I’m determined to return next week and find Pilot Rock, this time with written directions and a trail map.

Although I got off-track today, my detour yielded unexpected discoveries. After coming across some pretty cool stuff, I think that today, my best path was a wrong turn.

Up, Up, in the Air ~ Arizona Snow Bowl

I love the feeling of fresh air on my face and the wind blowing through my hair ~ Evel Kneivel
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Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

The air is crisp and the aspens are turning golden, Fall is here in Northern Arizona. It’s was a perfect time to escape the last of the desert heat and head to Flagstaff for a scenic chair lift ride at the Arizona Snowbowl.

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Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree ~ Emily Bronte

All along the roadside from September to October, the aspens turn blonde. After observing the dry browns and greens of the Mohave desert all summer, I enjoyed experiencing the change of the seasons tremendously.

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As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen ~ Winnie-the-Poo

As a birthday gift from my hubby, I chose to ride the chair lift at the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort. For a small fee ($15.00 online), you can take a scenic ride to the top of the San Francisco Peaks, jump off at 11,500 feet, and hop back on for a ride down.

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She wasn’t given wings to see the world from a tree ~ Atticus

You know some girls they want Cartier* and some girls they want cars………….. but this girl for her birthday, just wants to reach the stars. I decided awhile back to forgo birthday gifts in lieu of adventures ~ I’d rather live life and experience the world than collect material things.

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Some old-fashion things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. This little girl kept doing her thing as we floated by ~ she didn’t even acknowledge our existence as we passed.

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Somewhere on your journey, don’t forget to turn around and enjoy the view ~ Anonymous

Enjoying the view from 11,500 feet.  Although you can jump off at the top, we didn’t. It was a chilling 35 degrees and the hubby couldn’t stop chattering.  Although the season ends in a few days, If you decide to go, wear something warm and bring a blanket ~ it is a lot colder going down than up.

Here’s a link:  https://www.snowbowl.ski/

*partial lyrics taken from “Some Girls” by the Rolling Stones

 

 

 

 

 

Cathedrals of Time ~ Sunset Crater & Wupatki Nat.l Monuments, Arizona

“Ruins are the cathedrals of time” ~ Marty Rubin

Winding up our summer travels with the grandson, we set out for one last hurrah to Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument before returning him to his Mama in California.  We originally planned to RV in Sedona, but 25 miles out, our A/C failed. Naturally, with triple-digit weather, we returned home and made plans to visit Flagstaff.

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Advice from a volcano and a Grandma: go with the flow and have a blast!

 

Sunset Crater Volcano was decreed a National Monument in 1930 by President Hoover after a Hollywood film company planned to detonate explosives on it exterior for a movie. Thank goodness for public outcry and a concerned president for saving this beautiful, historical and interesting land.

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Each time a volcano erupts, life begins anew ~ NPS

Sunset Crater is located just outside of Flagstaff and is the youngest in a string of volcanoes related to the nearby San Francisco Peaks.  I’ve passed the exit for this monument many times during my I-40 travel and never thought to stop and visit.  

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Exploring the 1-mile Lava Flow trail

Due to severe erosion from past volcano-climbing visitors, you can no longer climb to the top of Sunset crater, but you can climb the nearby Lenox Crater and Doney Mountain cinder cones. We considered the 1-mile Lenox Crater trail, but with extreme humidity and a steep ascent, we opted to explore the 1-mile Lava Flow Trail instead.

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The grandson checking out a hornito, or spatter cone alongside the trail.

Spatter cones are one of the main types of volcanic type landforms and are made from lava that was ejected from a vent [worldlandforms.com]. Don’t I sound scientific, ha, ha! We just thought it was cool.

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“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek” ~ Joseph Campbell

Oh, darn, access denied! At one time this ice cave could be visited, but it closed after a partial collapse of the lava tube. I’m discovering Sunset Crater National Monument is quite interesting and educational.

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“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure” ~ Rumi

Keep driving the 35-mile dual park loop and you will reach Wupatki National Monument. Wupatki is abundant with ancient dwellings dating back to the 1100s, including the above Wukoki Pueblo.

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“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens” ~ Carl Jung

Surprisingly, you are allowed to walk upon the ruins. The short door ways are more for protection and don’t depict the occupants height.  For me personally, these are the largest and most well-preserved relics that I’ve ever visited. I’m so impressed with this park!

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“A storm was coming, but that’s not what she felt. It was adventure on the wind and it shivered down her spine.” ~ Atticus

The day turned stormy and humid; but the thunder and lightning did not deter us from continuing our travels. While the hubby opted to stay in the car, the grandson and I had no qualms about getting wet or dodging the lightening ~ it was an adventure on the wind.

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Wupatki Pueblo

The park was named after this antiquity, the Wupatki Pueblo. Thought to have housed over 100 people, these remains are one of the larger villages dotting the parks massive landscape. The Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo are descendants of the original dwellers.

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“Modesty is the citadel of beauty” ~ Demades

Atop the Citadel Pueblo. The lightening was getting a little too close, so the grandson headed back to the car. If you take the time to look,  you can see an array of pueblos in the distance from the Citadel.

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The landscape in the park is so diverse; we walked through pine trees at Sunset Crater, then desert at Wupatki.  In the distance are San Francisco Peaks, which are on my must explore list.

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Regrettably, I ran out of battery prior to arriving at the Lomaki Pueblo and left my spare at home.  Lomaki has a .5-mile walking path that leads to multiple dwellings sitting above a dry box canyon. It’s desolate, but I really got a feeling of community here.

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I truly underestimated the wow-factor of Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monument.  Many times we bypass those little brown signs on the side of the freeway directing us to the lesser-known monuments or historical places of interest for the more renowned national parks. If you’re ever in the Flagstaff, AZ area, stop and check out these monuments, it is worth your time.

Urge for Going

“She’s got the urge for going, So I guess she’ll have to go…”  – Joni Mitchell

I heard this beautiful melody on the radio recently, and although inspired by wintertime, I found it quite relevant to my migratory nature and love of wandering. Here’s a link if you’d like to listen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvSvTRhAJxg

Thanks to the Adventure group I joined, I discovered a wonderful new place to get “going.”  Cattail Cove State Park is located between Havasu and Parker, Arizona, and offers some nice hiking trails.

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Whyte’s Retreat Trail

The one and half mile Whyte’s Retreat trail follows the Colorado River shoreline winding in and out of coves and ending at the BLM campsite of the same name. Gorgeous!

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Wayne’s Way with the state park in the distance

The more strenuous Wayne’s Way and Ted’s trail lead up and down through desert hills and shallow gorges. A section of Ted’s trail runs through a wash with bluffs on both sides and includes a few dry “waterfalls” to scale.

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Grow where you are planted

I’m always surprised what can grow in areas where climates and conditions are harsh. So wherever you are today, adapt, grow and bloom where you are planted.

Sandra