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April 25, 2012 / mrchickaloonbaer

Leaving Verde Valley

April 23, Monday

Our last full day in Arizona, heading out early morning via Highway 87, climbing up the Mogollon Rim.  After driving through the sleepy towns of Strawberry and Pine, we stopped to check out Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. The 3 mile drive in goes down a 15% grade.  It’s a day use area only, with trails over and under Tonto Natural Bridge, formed from travertine (a type of calcium carbonate).  We hiked the trail to the bottom of the bridge, then followed arrows on the slippery rocks, which led us through the 40 ft. tall tunnel and up the rocky creek; pretty spectacular.  Swallows flew through the mist off the top of the natural bridge.

Tonto Natural Bridge

Continuing on Hwy. 87, led us to Payson where we passed an hour at a quilt store, an art shop (What did you expect?) and ate lunch at the city park, beside a lake where mallards, one tough goose and grackles accosted us for food.  Still 90 miles to Phoenix, the road descended through dry mountains to the desert floor.

Highway 87

 Passing the blooming saguaro cacti, the temperature reached 102F.

 We dropped off the car, shuttle bussed to the airport where we picked up the shuttle to the Aloft Hotel.  Jenny wanted  to see the Desert Botanical Gardens. The hotel shuttle driver took us the 3 miles to the garden where many cacti and flowers were blooming.

Desert Botanical Garden

Real Dragonfly

The first hour was fine, thank goodness there was light cloud cover to give us a small respite from the sun at 103F.

Even The Critters Were HOT!

Road Runner

With our Alaskan tongues hanging to the ground we took a taxi back to the hotel, cooled off with a shower and a margarita at the bar, and ate a so-so dinner at the only place close by, “Ruby Tuesday”.  We tucked in early to the sound of jets taking off and the air conditioner.  Phoenix natives don’t consider it hot until it begins exceeding 105F for days on end.

Phoenix Sunset

One Comment

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  1. Anonymous / May 4 2012 11:15 PM

    Payson – my favorite location in AZ. Glad you got in a hike to Tonto Bridge. Next trip. Follow the Houston Mesa road to Washington Park. From there you can hike up to the top of the Rim or hang a line with worm on it in the East Fork of the Verde River – one of my favorite pasttimes. Patti

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