Friday, February 27, 2009

Plein Air Painting


Plein air painting has its plusses and minuses. Getting something from real life is always better than trying to recreate something from a photo. But we all know there are problems associated with painting outdoors. There is the wind blowing over your easel and your canvas lands in the dirt. There's chasing the shadows or the tide. There's dealing with people and traffic. There's trying to paint with the sun in your eyes or directly on your pallette or canvas. Etc, etc. I added another one today when we went to Midgley Bridge to paint, falling into a canyon. Check out the photo. To get a good view of the bridge, I had to set up fairly close to the edge of the cliff. I was not dangerously close, but I didn't have much room to back up to check out my progress. I did get a queezy feeling in my gut if I got too close to the edge. I was trying to block things in as quickly as possible as the shadows change quickly on the rocks and I wanted to get away from the edge.



Jerome had its own set of problems. Jerome is a former mining town not far from Sedona. It has tons of great locations to set up and paint. There are also tons of people, lots of traffic passing through and, depending where you set up, lots of dog poop. Here is a photo of "downtown" Jerome and the quick underpainting I did. Using the reference photo I should be able to finish this one. I was mainly working on perspective and can see a few changes that need to be made. I started another one (while waiting for Peter to finish his 4x4 foot canvas) that is off to a pretty good beginning.

I plan on returning soon to paint more buildings plus there is an old "gold mine"/junk yard where you can find lots of abandoned old cars, trucks, buses, etc to paint. I'm looking forward to that.

Another day another ruin...


On Wednesday, we decided to check out another one of the many ruins in the area. It is called Honanki. It is another site occupied by the Sinaqua Indians about 1100 years ago. It is not in the same condition as the site of Palatki and it does not have a guided tour, but in some ways it is more interesting. There are perhaps a dozen remnants of homes nestled under the overhang of the cliff walls. You can walk along a short trail to go from home to home. There are also many pictographs that are hundreds of years old, as well. The trail up to the ruins was not as steep as Palatki as it winds through the brush and over and behind boulders to end up at the cliff dwellings. There is a very pleasant walk back to the parking lot.


Judy said that when I quickly agreed to go to Honanki, something else must have been up. In one of my off-road guides, I read that there was a Jeep trail next to the outhouses at the ruin. The person at the information booth said it was a well marked, relatively easy trail if one had enough clearance. That's all I had to hear.

This trail led up and down through the rolling hills around the red rocks. It had enough excitement to get the blood flowing and some unbelievable 360 degree views of the area. It led through some cattle ranches so there were plenty of cattle sitings. The guide said there would be some difficult sections and, once again, we thought we had gone through the difficult stretches when we actually hadn't. This photos shows what looks to be a difficult section, but actually was a breeze.

As we got further along this trail, we finally came to the more difficult part. The trail led over a large boulder and down into a dried creek bed. On the other side of the creek bed we could see a pile of rubble leading up a hill, but no real discernable trail. The rocks were pretty large but there was enough room to snake our way up the hill to find the dirt path.

This was a fun trail as there were great views, some easy parts and some difficult parts. Despite what the person at the information booth said, we saw no trail markers anywhere. We just kept taking lefts at all the forks in the road and made it back to civilization intact.


As mentioned, there were lots of cows out there. There were barbed wire fences that kept them on the ranch and the cattle crossings on the roads kept them from roaming down any streets. They seemed used to people and just stared at us and then slowly walked into the brush. What do you think these two are thinking?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Painting the town.

The past few days, I joined Michael Chesley Johnson and a couple of his students in painting some of the beautiful landscape in the area. This week, Rob and Peter, both from Canada are participating in Michael's mentoring workshop. I will join them on a day to day basis. Rob and Peter are both oil painters. Rob is from Winnipeg and Peter is from Newfoundland. They were glad to get out of the "great white north" and into the comfortable Arizona weather. It is beautiful here now.

On Monday, we set up in a field at the base of Bear Mountain. We had a number of different vistas to choose from. Look in any direction and there was something to paint. We all were relatively close to each other so that Michael could visit us from time to time to offer his critique and/or suggestions. That was very helpful. Here are Rob and Peter set up at the base of the mountain.

On Tuesday, we decided to spend some time at Red Rock Crossing, where the icon red rock formation known as Cathedral Rock can be viewed. I'm sure some of you have seen pictures of this formation before. Normally, the creek that runs by it is fairly calm, but melting snow in Oak Creek Canyon has caused the creek to rise quite a bit. Here's Rob with one of his large canvases at the edge of the creek. You can see the rapids in the water. The rocks were backlit in the morning so one had to block in the shadows quickly so as not to chase the sun. In the afternoon, especially late afternoon, these rocks are flooded with light.


Michael paints with us. We can either watch him while he gets in his under painting (he allows about 30 minutes for that phase) or we can paint ourselves. As Michael gets to each phase of his painting, he will take a break to visit each of us to check on our progress. This is very helpful in getting us to the next phase too. We have enough time to just about finish a painting or, at least, get it to the point where we should let it sit for a bit. At Cathedral Rock, Peter was working on such a big canvas that the rest of us had time to start on a second painting. Here are a couple of rough photos of my work so far.














Tomorrow we will go to the town of Jerome, an old mining town hung off the side of the Mingus Mountains about 2o miles away. There should be great opportunities there. I'm really looking forward to it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Broken Arrow Trail


Saturday morning we decided to take the Jeep out on another adventure. One of the most scenic trails in all of Az, according to our Off Road book, is the Broken Arrow trail that leads to a place called Chicken Point. We had been there before on a hike and had seen the Pink Jeep tours driving over the red rocks so we decided to give it a try. The first thing you run into is a wall of rocks at the very beginning of the trail. This is meant to discourage people in their rental cars from getting in over their heads. Once you get over that obstacle, you soon find yourself on a huge slab of red rock. We got out of the Jeep as we had the place to ourselves for a few minutes and we strolled around.

From this spot, there are great views into the canyon and then panoramic views across to the red rocks around Sedona. We were there in the morning, so the sun was shining on the formations towards Sedona and the rocks in the canyon were back lit with lots of nice shadows.


The guide books rate this trail a 7 of 10, mainly because of a very steep, ledgy slickrock hill. The trail itself is one-way and this stairway is near the end. You pass this end of the loop when the trail becomes one-way. You are advised to walk up part of the stairway to determine if you want to continue or not, because you will need to exit the trail by that stairway. Onward we plunged.

A bit further there is a side trail to a large sink hole called Devil's Dining Room. There is another such sink hole in town called the Devil's Kitchen. The sink holes are caused by water leeching thousands of feet down into the soil and finally eroding a layer of limestone deep under ground. Once the limestone leeches away, there is an empty space that needs to be filled. (Nature abhors a vacuum). The ceiling of that hole collapses, then the ceiling of the hole above collapses, and so on and so on until the last ceiling near the crust of the earth collapes causing the sink hole. Got that? This one is about 100 feet deep and you can see all the many layers that make up the red rock formations.


We left the Devil's Dining Room and ventured further up the trail. Soon we encountered a 4WD club called Flagstaff4Wheelers and decided to follow them. They seemed to be up to no good. We were the last of a parade of 13 Jeeps that made their way to Chicken Point where we were treated to a great view towards the Village of Oak Creek. From there we tagged along as they went to "play" before they were to head out for another trail.





As the trail was One-way, I had to follow them.

The first playground was up a slickrock, around the very top of a rock called, The Roundabout, and then to the exercise of climbing the rock in the photo on the right. Believe it or not, I made it up this rock with relative ease. I just put it in 4L and let it crawl. I had to goose it a bit a couple of times to get over the first few boulders, but once I had all 4 wheels on the big boulder, it went smoothly. The path I took was a bit different than the guy in the photo. I went up the light grey path where the two guys are taking pictures.

These guys were mostly young and crazy, except for their leader who was not young but was crazy. He wasn't satisfied with his playing until he just about got wedged in a groove between two boulders. He got out of this without a tow. Needless to say, I didn't try this particular stunt.


video

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Ramblings...


Some more things I just want to remember for myself...
We are starting to get into a bit of a routine. I am trying to do some painting in the morning and then, when the sun comes up over canyon walls, we will take our lunch and go for a hike.
I think I am finished with my view of Sugarloaf Mountain, on the left. I blocked in the painting from the same spot as Michael's pastel, below, and took a reference photo for the shadows, etc. I modified the original a bit and tried to follow the lights and darks from the photo. I'd say I'm done, at least for now. I'll let it percolate a bit and see if it needs anything else later.

I've got a couple of other paintings that are near done and I started another one yesterday morning.



But, yesterday, we decided to check out Palatki ruins. These are ruins that are built into the canyon walls and date from 900 years ago. They were inhabited by the Sinaqua (spanish for "without water") for a couple hundred years. There are lots of these ruins, in various condition, around the area. There are also pictographs that have been carbon dated to be 12,000 years old. I think I heard that correctly. It is a bit of a climb to get to the ruins, see photo.

But, once you get there, it is worth it. The docent was full of great information. He is a retired tennis court installer from Prescott and now works for the forest service as a guide. Most of what you see is the original walls of the home. They have repaired a few things but not much. The stones are held together with mud. The homes were completely sheltered by the overlay of the canyon so they never got wet. Otherwise, the "mortar" would have become mud again and the homes would have crumbled.


Tuesday afternoon, we decided to check out Fay Canyon. In some guide books it is noted as a "personal favorite" so it was worth checking out. They were right. It is an easy hike through a canyon that opens up a bit so you can see both sides. There are beautiful views around every bend in the trail. The trail winds through the canyon for about 1 1/4 miles until it reaches the end in a box canyon. At least, it looked like the end as there were huge blocks of rock that had fallen from the cliff walls blocking the way. At that point we turned around and took in the sites from the opposite direction.

When we left Fay Canyon, we had plenty of sunlight and time on our hands so we (I) decided to take one of the paths that lead off the dirt road for an adventure. We have a Forest Service map and a hand made map from one of the off-road places. So, we found a trail marked as FR152A (Forest Road 152A) and decided to give it a try. The forest service map rates the roads as Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Extreme. This trail started as Difficult and then became Extreme. But, when in Rome...

The first part was pretty difficult. We passed through open areas with lots of cows as well as ruts, rocks and arroyos. There were lots of dried up river beds we had to go down into and climb out of. After a while of struggling along this trail we took a break to enjoy the scenery.

The hand made map had a narrative telling when the Extreme part would begin.(Extreme definition from Forest Service map, "Not advisable for novice drivers. Maximum ground clearance, four-wheel drive, low gears required. Jacks and winches may be needed.") The difficult part ("Warning! Use at own risk", from the off-road map) began after an old cattle pen and loading ramp leftover from old cowboy movies that were filmed here. We hadn't seen the pen but figured we must have missed it somewhere along the way while concentrating on the driving. But, no, all of a sudden we came to the pen. We thought, What? That wasn't the hard part we just went through? Judy suggested we turn back but I didn't want to go over what we had just done, so we forged ahead. This part was much more difficult than the previous section. The first major obstacle to climb was a hill with huge boulders in the middle of the trail. The thing to think about in off-roading is making sure you can clear anything, so you try to get your wheels on high points so the under carriage clears the rocks. I drove up the side of the path with the left wheels on the slant of the path and the right wheels on the rocks. It was the first time I thought we might roll the Jeep. But, we recovered and made it to the next challenge.

There were many such challenges and I didn't think it could get any worse until we hit a very steep downhill into a riverbed. The map comment said, "..drops into "the gulch". Take a moment on each side of the gulch to appreciate what you are about to do and/or what you just did by driving through it." I'll add that this off road outfit rents the dune-buggy type 4 wheel drive vehicles. So, we took a second to appreciate what we were about to do. I thought this had to be "the gulch". But, wait.

Anyway we "serpentined" our way down the slope and started up the other side when I saw a Jeep from Pink Jeep in my rear view mirror. I felt better knowing that if we had any problems, another Jeep might pass by within a day or so. We had water and trail mix. I pulled off the path and let the Pink Jeep pass me. I thought I could profit by taking the same route, but they have bigger tires and more clearance than my Jeep so they don't have to be as picky abut the path. I kept it in sight so I could beep my horn for help if something happened. It was only 50 yds ahead of me when it stopped and then it dropped out of sight, bouncing from side to side as it disappeared from view. I got to the top of the hill and saw it picking its way down a slope that must have been 60 degrees with a equeal climb out on the other side. I had to follow as I was getting a bit nervous about being abandoned out there.

Once again, I made my way down the slope with Judy calling out the navigation over the boulders. There wasn't much room to maneuver as there was a wall on the left and a cliff on the right. I didn't think we would get hung up as it was so steep that I thought, even if I hit bottom, the momentum would carry me downhill. We only bottomed out a couple of times. Needless to say we made it. This was the famous "Gulch" from the map. I stopped to take one quick photo of the gulch before chasing down the Pink Jeep. I didn't want to stop for too long and lose sight of any potential resuce vehicle.

We caught up to the Pink Jeep as they took a break at the top of a trail to take in the panoramic view. We stopped for minute to catch our breath and then took off to finish the trail. The remainder was still difficult, but compared to the Gulch it was a piece of cake. When we got to the end, I pried my hands from the Steering wheel and Judy said, "I'm ready for a cappuccino." We both said that we need to take that trail again before we leave.

On the way back to Sedona, we took some photos of the big western sky. This is an expansive view we don't get to see too much in New England.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Notes from the back of an envelope...



Judy has been hankerin' for DQ since we hit the road a few weeks ago. Believe it or not, there is one on the windy road to Flagstaff in Oak Creek Canyon. So we decided to try a hike in a place called the West Fork to earn a sundae at DQ. The road climbs out of Sedona so the altitude is much higher than here so there is much more snow. The picture on the left gives you an idea of the scenery in the canyon. Double click on it to get the full effect. We didn't make it too far as there are a lot of creek crossings over logs and stones that are covered with ice and snow. We'll try it later in the season when it dries out a bit. There is a Zane Grey book about this canyon, The Call of the Canyon.


People have been asking what the house is like. We are pleased with it. Here are some pictures.
Here is the living room. We rearranged the furniture a bit to watch tv. Also, bought a cheap lamp for reading at night.


Here is the wonderful fireplace that we have used a couple of times. It adds a nice touch to the place. There are skylights above the beams with some overhead lighting, as well.
Here is a view of part of the kitchen and the dining area. Very bright and comfortable.


Here is my indoor studio. (Don't worry, Dave, everything is protected). I plan on being out more once the weather is more predictable.
We are in a nice, settled neighborhood. Very quiet. We can walk to most stores.
Dave Matthews, our landlord, has done an excellent job making his home comfortable for us. There is light pouring in from the many windows. There are french doors leading to back deck from the dining area and the master bedroom. All is well maintained and neat as a pin. The kitchen is well equipped so Judy is happy. Dave put in a DVR for us so we can tivo but I miss my big screen tv. Actually we are doing a lot of reading and planning on looking for a good jigsaw puzzle to start. Ah life is simple and good out here...Don't remind me about IRS or bills!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weekend...

On Friday, Michael Johnson invited me to tag along with his workshop group as they were going to tackle Sugarloaf Mountain. Michael runs a "Mentoring" workshop where he paints with his students and offers help as needed. See his web page for more details. The students stay with Michael and they share meals together. So, there is time for critiques and general art discussion. There is also plenty of free time for them to enjoy the area on their own.



Michael was working in pastel that morning, so I mainly watched to see how he did things. He had a sheet of pastel paper taped to a panel with a sheet of glassene taped to it so it could cover his work. He used a 5x7 matte to trace on his sheet and then taped that off. We were looking at the shaded side of the mountain and the light was changing very quickly. He did a quick sketch to get the correct lights and darks and then had to work quickly to get things blocked in. Within an hour, he had a pretty complete work that he could finish in his studio or use as a study at a later date. (See Left)




After a while, I set up and blocked in a small oil painting which I am working on now.

He then demo'd the use of a pallette knife to do a small work. Ann Gorbett would have loved it. I did. It looked great. (See Right) He worked very quickly and layered in lots of paint. I promised myself I'd go out and pick up a pallette knife or two.


Thanks for including me, Michael.

Saturday morning, Judy and I decided to climb Sugarloaf. It is a fairly easy trail of only about a mile but it gets a little more difficult as you get towards the top. Judy got a phone call from her friend Lisa while on the trail. I tried to take a photo of how technology can keep up with us anywhere, but technology failed me. My camera battery was dead. I got that "I told you so." look from Judy as we both knew that I had a freshly charged backup battery on the table back at the ranch. Once you get to the top it is really worth it. I'll get some photos at a later date.

Later on Saturday, we drove to Camp Verde, about 40 miles away, for their Wine, Pecan and Antique festival. It was pretty folksy and I'm glad I went. It was held in the Community Center with local bands playing in some of the other town buildings. The admission got you into the antique fair and 6 "tastings" (plus a souvenir glass). We, mostly me, were able to taste a number of wines from Arizona. They weren't bad, but we didn't buy any. They were fairly expensive, $20-$35. Judy wanted to buy a pecan pie but we saw that they were being sold by the local super market, Bashas, so we took a pass. (We did manage to eat one slice, though)

But, Camp Verde is the site of a military camp dating from the 1870's. For $3 each, we toured the buildings and talked to one of the guides who gave us a demo of loading and firing a replica of a Civil War rifle. A "fast" soldier could load and fire 3 times in a minute. They had to rip open a cartridge with their teeth (teeth was one of the few requirements of soldiers), pour the powder down the barrel, jam the torn paper down and then put in the ball and finally, replace the firing pin to ignite it. He said they found a rifle at Gettysburg with 20 rounds jammed into the barrel.
They figured the soldier was too nervous and forgot to replace the firing pin. He just kept jamming more ammo in his rifle. The rifle would have exploded if he had fired it.

They also had some precision horsemanship drills performed by the Buffalo Soldiers brigade of Arizona. It was pretty impressive to get those horses to act in unison like that. All in all a pretty good couple of days.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Weather Reports

I've mentioned that the weather here has taken a turn for the worse, but that is relative. I snowed the other night but really wasn't much of a problem, although we heard today that school had been cancelled. Here is a picture of the rain in Sedona with some of the snow in the higher elevations.

While we were at the movies we got a couple of inches of wet snow. Saw Slumdog, go see it! Plus, if you buy a large popcorn, you take the bag home and get a free refill the next time. I'm there. But, I digress. The snow looked great in the morning. One thing that I found pretty interesting, which you may or may not, is how our dry arroyo filled up. Behind our house there is an arroyo that separates our neighborhood from the one behind us and is active when there is runnoff from Oak Creek. It has been dry since we got here. The other day, I looked in our back yard to the left and saw that there was water rushing through it. I quickly looked straight ahead and saw the beginning of the flood as it came through and saw the wave cut its way towards the right. So, we actually saw the "flashflood" as it began and made its way down the creek bed. It wasn't really much of a flood, but I thought it was cool to catch it happening. Not sure I described it well, but maybe you get the picture.

Anyway, when the sun does come out on the snowy red rocks, the sights are pretty mazing.

BTW, for you artists in the crowd, I added Michael Chesley Johnson's blog to this blog. There is a lot of good stuff about plein air painting.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Roast Javelina anyone?




Pulling into Bill's driveway the other day, I spotted some action in the bushes. I waited a minute a couple of families of javelinas/peccaries/sangliers/wild pigs came strutting out across the path. I guess they do a number on the foliage in the yard.

I read in wikepedia, so it must be true, that one way to tell the difference between these similar mammals is by examining their tusks. So, if you ever encounter one in the wild, just get it to say, "Ah!" and you determine where it came from.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Added a photo and video

I added a photo of some rock steps and a brief video to the Scouting out locations post below.

Secret Canyon

Yesterday afternoon, Judy and I went out with Bill and Sarah on another hike on a trail off of Dry Creek rd. It is called Secret Canyon. The first couple of miles on the trail are fairly easy so Judy had no problem. Bill and I went a bit further into the canyon before turning around and catching up with Judy and Sarah. Bill and I turned around near where the Dave Miller trail goes up to the top of one of the mesas. Dave was a local forest guy who disappeared on a hike a few years ago without a trace.

Anyway, I was looking for good spots for painting. There are plenty of good views but not always enough room to set up an easel or to step back to see the work in progress. Plus I was looking for places close to the thrailhead so I wouldn't have to walk too far with my gear. OK, I'm lazy.




We are expecting a few days of rain, so the Dry Creek rd may be impassable later on in the week. It is already in pretty bad shape. And the Dry Creek may have a lot of water in it too. We'll see. Here is another shot of the creek with some reflections.







Of course there are always places to get these great panoramic views. This was taken late in the afternoon.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Photos.....

BTW, you can click on the photos to see them in a larger size. The latest ones are pretty big, some of the earlier ones are smaller images.

Scouting out locations

Yesterday, my new set of pastels arrived. In case you don't know, the set is made up of a bunch of little chalky sticks. There are 80 different colors in the set. The trick is finding the right color to match what you are seeing. So, I got a little energy and decided to scout out some painting locations. One potential spot was on a trail off of Dry Creek rd. So we took the Jeep out for a ride in the late afternoon. I will be painting next week with Michael Johnson and this is one area he wanted to check out. There are a lot of great spots and plenty of places to pull the Jeep off the trail. Couldn't this picture be an ad for Jeep Wranglers? The book we have mentioned a side trail that was more difficult that led to an old cabin. So, when you see a fork in the road, take it. The first part was just a dirt road, then we hit Dry Creek, which wasn't dry, then had to go into 4WD low to rock crawl up the other side of the creek to an overlook where the cabin was. It was a blast. Only scraped bottom a couple of times. Here's a video of the climb. videoIt doesn't really do it justice. But the picture below shows it's not always about the red rocks. We'll go back in the morning this week to check out the scenery in the early part of the day.

Finding the Indian ruin

On Thursday, Bill Sullivan and I went looking to find the trail to the old Indian ruin nestled in a cave up one of the mountains. We had been there before but the trail isn't easy to find. I wanted to go with him one more time so I could find the trail without him. I think some of you have seen the pictures of the remnants of the small adobe home before. It is really something. Most people respect the ruin and leave things intact. Sometimes people find little shards or arrow heads and just leave them on the bricks for others to see.



Anyway the trail up was more strenuous than I remembered or maybe we went at a faster pace than before. You have to follow a marked trail until a certain point when you look for an animal path ("where the old schoolhouse used to be"?) that is not that obvious. It is not marked at all. Once you work your way through the smallest hint of a path, you cross a dry creek and then find a trail that leads straight up over lots of slick rock. You have to be careful of cactus too. I slipped on a rock and banged my hand against a prickly pear and got about a dozen spines in the back of my hand. Most came out easily but a few needed a good tug. When we got to the top, it was well worth it. I love the picture, above, of the overhang we have to walk through. That's Bill walking along. You can see the dark spot in the distance where the cave is. Getting from the overhang to the actual cave is an ordeal too as you have to climb over/under manzanilla trees and roots and go hand over hand up a couple of rock faces. It makes coming down a challenge too. What a treat when you are there. Looking out over the valley is breathtaking.
We got back to Bill's place to have a beer and watch the sun set over the Fin. Those are the real colors.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thought I'd post another picture from Schnebly Hill Rd.


On our first little road trip on Monday, we drove up Schnebly Hill rd in Sedona. It is only open halfway to its endpoint at this time of year, but we got some great views of the area anyway, see above. Schnebley was one of the original "founders" of Sedona and wanted to name the town after himself. The Postmaster said the name was too long so he named it after his wife, Sedona. Of course there had been many Indian tribes inhabiting the area for centuries before the Spanish and Americans showed up.
On the way up the hill I noticed a hiker I thought I recognized walking his dog. Sure enough, it was Michael Johnson, an artist I had met at the Sedona Art festival in October. He and his wife, Trina, are in Sedona for a few months and he will be conducting a number of workshops. Check out his website (http://www.michaelchesleyjohnson.com/ ). I hope to get out painting with him from time to time.

Crown King to Prescott


Yesterday, we took a long ride through the mountains of Central AZ to visit a couple of old mining towns. We started at the Bumble Bee exit from the highway and drove 15 miles on bumpy dirt roads to the first town of Cleator (top). It was a mining town of the early 1900's. Jimmy Cleator was from Isle of Man and went to sea as a 12 year old and ended up in Arizona at 30. I love those stories of people setting out for some place unknown and settling in these ungodly places. He bought into the mine here, then when he and his partner split up, he got the town and named it after himself.

Then more dirt, rocky, dusty roads to Crown King, (bottom photo), another old mining town. On the way we could see the remnants of railroad trestles and drove through cutouts in the mountains where tracks used to be. This town has about 100 year round people, a general store and a saloon. There is a one-room school house from K-8th grade with a total of 6 students. 4 were home with the flu when we stopped by. Guess they don't have flu shots in Crown King. The woman who ran the General Store was from Worcester, MA. She had moved to Phoenix 12 years ago and used to camp nearby, so she moved to Crown King 6 years ago. Pretty isolated place. It took us 2 hours to drive the 26 miles from highway to get there.

After that we headed to the town of Prescott through the Bradshaw mountains. Lots of rocks and fallen limbs in the dirt road. When they say "Watch out for falling rocks"( which they don't)they are not kidding. We had to drive over/around lots of them. Then the "trail" goes into a pretty wooded area where we ran into lots of snow and ice on the road. It was fun blasting through the snow/ice/mud. We drove through Crooke's Canyon. Crooke was a famous General who was put in charge of subduing the Apache, Navajo, etc in the southwest after having served in the same capacity in the plains. I'll post some photos of that trail a bit later.
During the day we encountered a lot of altitude changes. At the beginning we were at about 3500 feet above see level (metric people will have to make the conversion) where Saguaro cactus can grow then we went higher where we find prickly pear cactus, aligator junipers and creosote trees then up to 6000+ feet where we encountered the snow and the ponderosa pines. It is very interesting to see the vegetation change with the altitude changes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Settling in


Even tho we are in a relative paradise, normal life must go on. I had my 12000 mile checkup yesterday in Cottonwood. We've put 3096 miles on the Jeep since we left home. Did some shopping to stock up the fridge and waited for the Cable Guy. Problems with cable exist everywhere. The guy did show up on time but left before things were really working. He said it will take a little while for the program guide to show up. 4 hours and 2 phone calls later it still hasn't shown up. I gotta wait for the cable guy again.

We drove up to the Sedon airport which is on the mesa behind our place. See photo. One of the best views of the area. That's Coffee Pot rock just above my huge head.
Today, we plan on taking a ride on the Schnebley Hill trail which is only open halfway until spring. Tomorrow, it is supposed to be great weather so we will take a backroad tour of some old mining towns near Prescott. I'll take a few photos.

Just so you don't think it is beautiful here all the time, we expect rain/snow starting friday for a couple of days. If my pastels arrive by then I'll have something to do indoors.
BTW, that was a great Super Bowl game the other day. Pretty exciting considering we had no real rooting interest in the game. Lots of big plays and action. We didn't really see the commercials but I've seen another one of the eTrade baby talking about his golf game. Those are really clever.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Gotta unpack now.


Finally made it...


We we finally made it. As expected, we didn't sleep too well so we got up early and were on the road by 6:15. The sun coming up behind us was blinding in the rear view mirror. I had to wait til an approaching truck threw a shadow on the Jeep before I could see anything. I stayed in the right lane until I had better visibility. Lots of casinos along the road that do pretty well with all the trucks going through. Saw some really long trains too. Despite the fact that we are crossing on an interstate, the scenery is still pretty beautiful. Not something one can see too many other places.


We finally got to the cutoff for Oak Creek Canyon about 11:45 and then made it to our place by 12:15. It is better than the photos we had. It is in a little neighborhood with a dry arroyo behind it. There are some nice trees in the yard and it occured to me that we will see them blossom before we come home.


Well, off to Bill and Sarah's house for the Super Bowl. Seems funny to be going in to watch a game on such a bright sunny afternoon.


Judy has her Terrible Towel and I am rooting for Curt Warner.


Ciao

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