Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

When my daughters were young, Halloween was my favorite holiday. It's free of the stress of Christmas and even Thanksgiving with that cooking nightmare. The girls would decide what they wanted to be and we made a costume or sometimes got a second use out of a dancing costume. It was all fun and exciting.

Somewhere along the way, I lost some of that creative spirit and I can't remember the last time I actually wore a costume for Halloween. This year the ladies involved in the Christmas stocking project put on a Halloween party. Each attendee was asked to bring something to put in the stockings which are destined for the homeless children in the area. Granola bars were suggested - good, but also with some nutrition. It was a rousing success.

But back to my costume. A couple of weeks ago, Ron and I went to Goodwill to see what they had to offer. I found a dress that I think was supposed to be a witch, but I decided was a spider. When I showed it to Ron, he suggested that if I added a mourning veil, I could be a 'Black Widow'. Isn't he clever?

Here I am in all my finery.

Here's a closeup of the sleeve. Cute, huh?

And what was Ron, you ask? Well, he went as a resident of an over-55 community.

Here's a closeup of the veil. Even with bobby pins, I had trouble keeping that spider on straight.

Here are Storm and Fern to welcome us. That's when I realized I was supposed to dress as a gypsy. Sure, I knew the theme was a Gypsy Encampment, but somehow I just forgot or ignored it.

What the heck are these ladies squirting on the bread?

Thank heavens - some more non-conformists - our good neighbors Linda and Steve.

And Sue and Joe from across the street came as a witch and 'King of the Gypsies'. Joe won the prize for the best costume with his creativity.

Here's the king surrounded by all his minions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


We tried to wait out the cloudy weather, but when we heard it was going down to 41 at night, we high-tailed it out of Sedona and back to Mesa. And we realized anew why people come to the Phoenix area. The skies are blue, the weather perfect, no mice (like the one that tried to build a nest on top of the generator.) At least we hope he didn't ride all the way home with us. Ron set a couple of traps just in case.

Between rainclouds, we did fit in a couple more hikes. One, the Lime Kiln trail, passed right through our parking spot. We understand it goes from Cottonwood to Sedona, about 15 miles. I followed it towards Sedona down to Dry Creek, obviously a misnomer at this time. How about that red water?

Ron found this guy along the way. He was only about two inches across, but I guess it was a tarantula. Anybody know for sure?

I liked the look of these silvery plants.

Another reason we left was it just got too noisy. A 40 foot trailer load of cattle showed up and once they were unloaded, the cattle mooed nonstop for 24 hours. I don't know why they were so upset, they're free range cattle. The ones behind the fence are the ones who should be angry. (Another picture out the front window of the RV. I wasn't going out there - those cows are big!)

One last hike - Margs Draw in Sedona. It was an easy two miles each way and provided views of the red cliffs and Mogollon Rim.

It passed right by Snoopy Rock. See him? He's lying on his back with his feet to the right and cute little nose in the air.

Sedona is just so gorgeous and there are several other hikes we wanted to do, but you have to leave something for next time.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Two Hikes

It continued to rain off and on all day today so we drove into Cottonwood and went to their impressive health food store, Mount Hope Foods. Ron had his choice of creams and gels containing arnica which he uses on his knee when it hurts. I loved their selection of bulk foods and got oat bran and flax seed. And best of all, they have people there who know EVERYTHING and are willing to share that knowledge! Then we hit three thrift shops - always a favorite activity. Spent all of three dollars and had fun looking. Anyway, with this post, I'll actually be caught up, although since it's supposed to clear up overnight, I'll immediately fall behind again. Here are a couple of hikes that we did several days ago.

Sedona is known for having lots of hikes, so we asked for recommendations from the friendly visitor center, where you can get information on everything we've done during our stay.

The volunteer said her favorite was Fay Canyon, so off we went. This is a shot from the parking lot - it certainly was beautiful.

It was a good hike for a warm day since it wound along the bottom of the canyon among the junipers and oaks. I thought this rock on the right looked like an old fashioned Dum Dum lollipop.

About halfway down the 1.1 mile trail was a side trail to an arch. Oooh, an arch! I had to go. From the main trail it just looked like a cave (and inaccessible.)

Up I went and as I got closer, I could see the light behind the arch.

Now all I had to do was scramble up over all these loose rocks. It doesn't look like it, but this part was really steep.

I made it! I could have used a step ladder to frame my shot with the arch.

After carefully making my way back down, we continued to the end which was kind of a disappointment. I understand if you do some more scrambling, there is a nice view, but I was finished with that for the day.

Another day we decided to try the Teacup Trail, which I highly recommend. Luckily it was a cooler day, because this one is all in the sun. Right from the trail head it was lovely.

This little guy was sitting on one of the trail markers to point the way.

The trail went around Sugar Loaf Mountain and after about a mile we came upon this stunning view.

Can you imagine living here? We met several people on this hike who do and they love it. Even the tourists don't seem to bother them.

At this point the trail headed sharply downhill and curved around the base of Coffeepot Rock on the left in the picture. (By the way, there is no teacup on Teacup Trail.)

We elected to turn around and take the Sugar Loaf Loop back. This trail goes up Sugar Loaf Mountain. Although that sounds impressive, the mountain is only about 200 feet high, but what a difference that makes. There are 360 degree views over all of Sedona. Afternoon would be the best time for pictures, though. In the morning some of the cliffs were in shadow.

There's the car right in the center of the picture.

Here I am at the top with Chimney Rock and Thunder Mountain in the background.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Heritage Sites

We've had some bad weather the last couple of days - lots of clouds and intermittent rain. But since I'm behind on the blog, it gives me a chance to catch up. One day we took the poor little Saturn where it wasn't meant to go and visited the Palatki and Honanki sites. If you go, Palatki requires reservations, although it's mostly because of their limited parking.

Looking up from the parking lot, I was immediately concerned. The path obviously led right by the section of rock that had fallen down. My first question was, "Did that just happen?"

After being reassured by the volunteer in the visitor center, we made our way up to the alcoves.

This site is known for its impressive collection of rock art dating over thousands of years of various inhabitants. If you look carefully, this picture shows some dark lines, dated from 1000 BC which have been covered with pictures done by the Sinagua people about 2000 years later.

Always the skeptic, I wondered how drawings could last 3000 years. The docent explained that these alcoves are completely sheltered from the elements.

My favorite was little Buffy here. Actually the Hopi women of marriageable age would wear their hair in a butterfly whorl style. Perhaps this is depicted here.

We were told this rock art were done by the Sinagua and were darkened by fires built by the Yavapai and Apache at a later date. (Sorry for the blurry picture - I must have moved the camera.)

We were unable to see the ruins at Palatki because the trail was closed. It seems they had heard some creaking of the rocks and were afraid it was dangerous. Ah-ha! I knew it looked scary.

On a more modern note, in 1924 Charles Willard bought the property, decided the natives had a good idea and walled in a section of an alcove.

It was surprisingly spacious and he lived in it for a year until he built his ranch house. (No, that's not Mr. Willard's ghost, just Ron with his inner light.)

Since we had already gone 6 miles on a passable dirt road, we thought we should go 4 more to the Honanki site. There were sections where I would have turned around, but Ron is fearless.

Honanki was well worth the effort and we enjoyed the opportunity to see the ruins. It always amazes me to think about how these people lived. I won't even sleep in a tent!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sedona Sights

One day we decided to do a driving tour and check out some of the gorgeous red rock formations that make Sedona so special.

Our first stop was up at the airport. I don't know of any other city that has its airport on top of a mesa, but it makes a lot of sense.

Sedona is a very artsy town. When we stopped at a viewpoint on Schnebly Hill, there was an art class in session. I am in awe of artists since I have no ability in that area. However I can see how they would be inspired with views like these.

I'm not sure if this is mainly a church or a tourist attraction, but it is pretty cool how they built it to blend in with the cliff.

The rocks are a feast for the eyes.

This is Bell Rock - one of the energy vortexes that Sedona has made famous. I didn't feel any energy boost, but maybe I was too far away.

Cathedral Rock is probably the most famous landmark and also a vortex - a 'hot spot' of natural energy. Again, nothing, even when Ron and I climbed it a few years ago. Maybe we're just hopeless.

As you can see, we've been having some cloudy days and even a little rain. But so far it hasn't interfered with our plans.

Friday, October 15, 2010


What a gorgeous place! The surrounding colorful rocks are just amazing. I bet the natives hate having so many tourists, but I guess if you choose to live in a tourist destination, you have to put up with that. I do have one complaint - it seems there are charges for everything. First there is a Red Rocks Pass that you must have to park at any trail head. Luckily the Golden Age Pass covers that one. But the best views of the famous Cathedral Rock are at pay areas and we even had to pay for the hike we did yesterday which really shocked me. I know, I'm just cheap, but how do you think I retired at 49?

Yesterday we began where all good tourists should begin - at the visitors center. Although we had both been here before, we always need more information.

Then we headed up 89A through the lovely Oak Creek Canyon ending at the overlook at the top of the canyon. This was the best I could do for a picture looking into the sun. I guess early morning would be better and it was about noon by the time we arrived. If you look closely, you can see smoke caused by controlled burning in the canyon.

This is the last section of the road where you jump up the Mogollon Rim.

Since we were already up the hill and less than 20 miles from Flagstaff, we drove through the Ponderosa pines to town for lunch.

On our way back down the canyon we stopped at the West Fork trail head to check it out for a hike. This is where they charged us to park, forcing us to hike even though we weren't really prepared. We had water bottles and hiking sticks, but no packs.

The beginning of the hike passes through an old homestead, but I don't know anything about the people who lived there. I think there was a trail guide you could purchase, but . . .

Anyway, it was obviously quite a place. This is just part of the main house.

I hope the view out the window was better back then.

It's good we had those hiking sticks since there were several stream crossings. Unlike our friend Lloyd, balance is not my thing.

Honestly it wasn't the most interesting hike, although it was cool on a hot day. We turned around at this pretty spot.

And on our way back, we spotted this mummy rock.

Continuing our drive back down the canyon, we stopped a couple times to admire late afternoon light on the colorful cliffs.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Short Trip

Ron and I decided to get out of Dodge (or Mesa) for a couple of weeks. Although the weather is getting cooler, it's still in the 90's so we headed up to 4000 feet around the Cottonwood/Sedona area. Ahhh, it's about 10 degrees cooler.

We're parked on National Forest land midway between the two towns (off 89A, along 89B, for those who are interested.) Here is the view out our front window.

Farther along 89B is one of the most gorgeous parking spots ever, but unfortunately, somebody is in it! How dare they?

But that's okay, we get the entertainment of watching the cattle come to the water tanks. ('No Hunting' - yeah, I guess!)

They're not exactly Texas Longhorns, maybe these are the lesser-known Arizona Longhorns.

Look at this poor guy. I wonder how that happened.

This is a popular area for ballooning. I took this out the window one morning.

We visited the nearby Tuzigoot National Monument where the Sinagua built on this hill about 1000AD. These ruins have been 'stabilized' which basically means 'rebuilt'. I'm torn on my opinion of this process. What we're seeing is not original, but a pile of rocks wouldn't be nearly as cool looking.

From the roof of the highest room, you can see that they expanded down the hill as they needed more room. You can also see some of the surrounding fields and the Verdi river. This seems to be a perfect spot for an agricultural community. Like so many other such places we have seen, the Sinagua inexplicably left this place in the early 1400's. At its peak, the site housed perhaps 250 people in its 110 rooms.

We also visited the fanciful town of Jerome for a nice lunch. Jerome began as a copper mining town in 1876, but is now mostly know for tourists. It hangs on the side of a mountain with some interesting hairpin turns in the road passing through. Don't try driving it in an RV (like our friend John did.)

Actually this is not one of the hairpin turns since both roads are one way, but just an example of the multi-level town.

We ended with an evening stroll up our little gravel road.