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April 19, 2012 / mrchickaloonbaer

West Fork Oak Creek Canyon

April 18, Wednesday

The first rays of the sun woke us at 5:30AM.  Early morning finds the high desert at its best, the colors are sharper, the birds are out in abundance and it’s not so hot.  We drove north through Sedona, past fantastical red rock formations and people already out to catch the sunrise.  Sedona appears to be a larger version of Glitter Gulch, even with structures in conformance with the surrounding environment.  We were early and traffic was light, a quick drive through compared to the afternoon return trip.  Ten miles out, is Oak Creek Canyon Park, where we hiked the West Fork Oak Creek Canyon Trail.  The start of the trail led through an old homestead and orchard of maybe blooming apple and cherry trees.  Up the West Fork past high canyon walls, numerous stepping stone creek crossings , oodles of caddis fly larvae and fields of violets.

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Caddis Fly Larvae

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At the of the main trail, we took off shoes and waded around a bend to find deeper water.  It looked so intriguing, off went the britches to slosh through 50 feet of almost cajone deep numbing cold water, finding it worth the effort, the next mile was captivating.

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We startled a deer and a heron, ate lunch in on sun warmed rocks, warming up our cold, cold feet and nursing our lower extremities that had been attacked by a nasty spiky plant, the main objective of the plant to leave thorns embedded in the skin.  Returning, we put on our pants until the deep hole.  We met a fair amount of mostly gray haired hikers on our way back; people start late, and a painted redstart building a nest near the ground right beside the trail!

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 The muscles and joints said we had done our fair share for the day. Where’s the hot tub?  Driving back, we took a right at the Sedona “Y” traveling to Old Cottonwood for those delicious malts, a stop at “Top Shelf Liquors” to view the myriad of tequilas, a stop at “The Cowboy Store” to try on boots, some fit well, but none really popped for us, so home to Camp Verde in mid-80s temperatures.

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April 17, 2012 / mrchickaloonbaer

Clear Creek

April 17, Tuesday

I’ll keep this post short as photos will tell it all: a gorgeous morning filled with birdsong, up at 6AM with the rising sun.  A short drive up Clear Creek, hiking several miles along the creek with blooming flowers and cacti, hawks, doves, flickers; wading across the cold creek past trout hanging out in the deep hole. 

After the hike we drove into Camp Verde to check out the Cowboy Store, trying on used cowboy boots – we did find a pair I am contemplating buying, they would go well with my suit.  

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Cactus Flower

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Clear Creek

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Lizard

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April 17, 2012 / mrchickaloonbaer

Jerome To Camp Verde

April 16, Monday

We depart from Jerome, skies are crystal clear.  We take Route 89 over the top of a 7,000 ft. pass:  a slow, winding drive to the top, leaving the scrub behind, replaced by an open forest of ponderosa pine and juniper, then dropping down to Prescott valley, we had to inquire the whereabouts of the town of Prescott, due to poor signage, certainly not our map reading skills.  We strolled around the downtown square, presided over by the large imposing courthouse, one street dominated by small saloons, the other streets having art and antique stores typical of Arizona.  East to Camp Verde, we had one “must stop” on the way, according to Leigh from Jerome; “Trader Joes”, where prices are less because supposedly they cut out the middleman.  The store was smaller than we thought it would be, fairly busy and we did come away with a good amount of food at a reasonable price.

The 20 miles to Camp Verde on Highway 169 was not a scenic route, through the town of Prescott Valley, a strip mall town that puts Wasilla to shame.  On through scrub brush land, claiming to be part of the Prescott National Forest.  Apparently there don’t have to be trees to be a forest.  We navigated our way through downtown Camp Verde, a slow moving place, then across the Verde River and 5 miles to Clear Creek to the adobe style house rental. It’s a neat place, 10 foot tall walls and flagstone floors keep it cool inside.  A deck overlooks the fast flowing creek (lots of watersheds are dry washes in Arizona) with leafed out cottonwoods and sycamores.  We ate in for dinner and fell asleep to the sound of flowing water.

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Camp Verde Rental

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April 16, 2012 / mrchickaloonbaer

Red Rock Wilderness

Snow In Long Canyon

April 15, Saturday

The storm has ceased – hallelujah!  We headed out early, destination somewhere in the red rocks.  Grayish-white clouds hung over the Mogollon Rim, white snow accentuated the red rock formations.  We chose to drive further up Dry Creek Road to Long Canyon Trailhead leading into a wilderness area, one of the trails in the area that didn’t require a parking pass – us cheap Alaskans – and it wasn’t listed as a favorite hike which equated into less people.  The trail’s elevation gain was gradual, over sandy, red dirt, sometimes through an inch of snow, incredible red rock formations on both sides of the canyon ranging from red to light gray sandstone, sounds of melting snow dripping from the alligator juniper, sycamores and ponderosa pine, sometimes large globs of snow dropping with a thud to the ground, both of us hoping none would land on us. 

Snow In The Woods

Bird song rang through the trees, nuthatches, chickadees, buzzing of hummingbirds, Mexican jays, a hawk calling out, perched on a dead snag.  We went off trail, climbing up through the rocks, finding a notch we could crawl into to look out at breath taking views, then up higher to a perch, where we sat listening to the sounds, soaking up the sunshine as the clouds broke into patches of blue. 

Small tube shaped cacti had red blooms covered with a snow blanket, I snapped over 140 photos for the day and the best part was we only met 3 hikers.  The only downside were the helicopter tours, which came through the canyon on the hour, we thought an abomination in the wilderness. 

 

Driving back to Jerome, we took a gravel forest service road following along the red rock formations, then across rolling, sparsely vegetated hills to the main highway, into old town Cottonwood to locate chocolate malts, which we found at a onetime gas station converted into a soda fountain, decorated in 1950s flavor complete with the music of the era, walls covered in license plates and real old time malts that we could eat outside in upper 60s sunshine.  Next door was a two acre antique store, which we perused tons of old time neat stuff and a heck of a lot of junk, all way beyond bargain prices.  On back to the Blue Moon for long, hot showers, a nap, then up to “Quinces” for a Mexican dinner, and it was hot!  Two large glasses of water, a margarita and my mouth was still on fire.  Stars shone in the first truly clear night of our first 5 days.  Getting the hang of it in Northern Arizona.

April 16, 2012 / mrchickaloonbaer

Arizona Snow

April 14, Saturday

 

Snow In Jerome

It rained, hailed and snowed in Jerome today; temperatures didn’t make it out of the 30s.  Even the cop cars needed a jump.  Word on the street has the blame laid in the lap of the Alaskans.  We made a morning foray to “Quince” for most excellent huevos rancheros, then searched out the library to use the internet services only to find Saturday it is closed, but open Sunday – bunch of heathens, but then books are a good thing to be religious over.  We visited Leigh at her dress shop, showing her photos of Alaska, browsed the artist coop, read books, took a nap, stayed warm.  The good news is this shall all pass tomorrow with temperatures getting back to normal – 70s.  Hallelujah!

 

Dress Shop Mannequin

 

 

April 16, 2012 / mrchickaloonbaer

Red Rock Hiking

April 13, Friday

Red Rock Views

Up at 7, coffee and toast, out at 8, driving some 30 miles to Dry Creek Road in Sedona,  a paved road for a couple of miles past gated brownish adobe style house communities to a forest service road, listed in the book as only suitable for high clearance vehicles.  To an Alaskan, that sounds like a dare, but the book was correct, we weren’t driving the rental on this road!  I had to make the Baer dash into the woods, mostly junipers, a variety of flowers, prickly pear and other cacti, and yes I picked up several stickers in my rush). We walked a mile and half up the rough road to the Devil’s Arch trailhead, then a mile to the arch, easy going for most of it, surrounded on both sides by high canyon red rock walls.  The last part required a scramble up the rocks to the top of the arch, wide enough to park a car, Jenny walked across it. 

 

Red Rock Photo Moment

We were surprised at the number of people we met (pays to go early) walking up the road to hike the trail.  We drove back in the direction whence we came, taking a right to old town Cottonwood, making a stop at the Verde River Park to snack on cheese, chips and salsa, watching fish in the stream and birds in the trees, before checking out several of the stores in old town, a used book store run by an old eccentric motorcycle riding lady, who had eaten king salmon in Fort Yukon.  I found a good map of the Verde area with trails.  Jenny found a clock store next door, where she bought two wind up old time alarm clocks and visited with the oddball owner and other local characters.  There were clocks in the store made out of a diving flipper, one from a canteen, and one a boot to name just a few.  We checked out the Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders with a huge variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegar to sample, purchasing delicious oil to soak the sourdough bread purchased at the bakery next door.  Found our way back through the roundabouts, to the cottage for a dinner of soup and bread out on the deck.  Could have used a hot tub this evening. 

April 16, 2012 / mrchickaloonbaer

Hanging Out In Jerome

April 12, Thursday

Jerome

11 hours of sleep, waking to sunrise on the red rocks, opening the door to listen to early morning birdsong, headed out on a walk on a lower road of Jerome which led us to the Historic Park.  Jerome was built around a huge copper mine, along with silver and gold.  A man named Clark financed the mine, doing it privately; we learned he was incredibly wealthy, right up there with Rockefeller.

 

Top Of 1900' Mine Shaft

One of the mine shafts, 1900’ deep, was partly lit and had a glass cover     one could walk over, kind of eerie. The museum is located in Clark’s mansion with displays of the mining history of Jerome and nearby Clarksdale, mineral displays and a working seismograph and a great view. We followed a gravel road climbing up to downtown Jerome.  We did a bit of browsing of the many art stores, you know Jenny was enjoying herself.  11AM found us at the Flatiron Café for breakfast/lunch outside.   Above us was a 2nd hand store, what more could you ask for, Jenny found herself a “new” corduroy shirt.  I looked at good deals on cowboy boots, but none of them fit.  We walked back to the cottage; Jenny took a side trip to an Artist enclave in the old high school.  I soaked up some rays on the deck, and then we hopped in the car, taking a 9 mile drive west into the mountains on a gravel road.  Cool winds were blowing up high with views of the red rocks, canyons and the 12,000’ San Francisco Peaks.  Back to the cottage, lazing in the bed, reading, Jenny says, “I’m hungry, nothing much in the cottage. Let’s go eat!”   We drove up into Jerome, “Quinces”, the Mexican Restaurant, recommended to us was hopping, packed, okay let’s not go there, “Grapes” also looked full and the Italian place said closed.  Bantering, walking, driving, finding nothing to suit us, heading back to the cottage, past the Italian place, “Belgian Jenny’s” now with an OPEN sign, so it was turn around,  park, walk into a small cafe where two women at a table, said, “Oh, good we won’t be the only ones here!”  To make a long story short, they were teachers from Cleveland, Ohio, the owner, cook and waiter Tom is the president of the Chamber of Commerce, had worked in Alaska, the women from Ohio had been in Savannah last March the same week as us. We all had bottles of Italian wine (Tre Donne), with dinner, got a thorough history of Jerome from Tom, three more people showed up just for the Belgium beer and after conversations diverging off into a myriad of subjects we left 3 hours later at 10PM.  What an evening, to say the least!