Sunday, 19 September 2010


From 104F sunshine, cloudless blue skies, swimming pools, ice cold beer and margaritas to rain, fleeces, woolley slippers and hot chocolate. Yes, we're home!

As to which we prefer, what do you think?

Have fun, we are!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Tucson, Arizona

We arrived in Tucson about a week ago to have some warranty work done on the Cougar, it is all done with one exception which hopefully will be completed soon.

Since arriving we have just simply crashed out, our days have flown by in a whirl of swimming, reading, swimming, reading, ice-cold beer and margaritas. Sometimes life is tough!

It's the end of the monsoon season and the weather has been very hot over 100F most days, as you can appreciate the ice-cold beer and margaritas are essential!

We fly home soon and looking at the weather forecast I can only say, brrrrr! I think we might need to find our thermals!

Have fun, we are!

28 August, 2010 Wilderness Train

The Verde Canyon Railway travels along the Verde river valley from Clarkdale to the ghost town of Perkinsville.

We travelled in the first class Flagstaff carriage which was very comfortable, part of the service included complimentary champagne, (I just love champagne) snacks and brownies. I have to say the brownies were to die for.

Each carriage had access to an open air viewing car with knowledgeable attendants.

Not far from the depot there are Sinagua cliff dwellings visible from the train.

Further along there is a bald eagle nest high on the cliffs above the river, the eagles are called Black and Decker. Our attendant said it was getting more and more difficult to see and she was right we never did manage to find it.

The train also went past the entrance to the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness, the area is wild, remote and full of mysterious tales, Indian dwellings, petroglyphs old mines and lost gold mines. Apparently the lost gold mine was found by conquistadores who were picked off one by one by the Apache, two survived and escaped but the mine was never found again. Hmmm now where did I put that gold panning sieve...........

The journey ends at Perkinsville which was once a railroad depot. In its heyday about 10 families lived and worked there, once the railroad switched to diesel locomotives and the water tower was no longer needed it became a ghost town.

The water tower is no longer there as during the 1960’s some scenes from the western ‘How the West Was Won’ were filmed in Perkinsville and in one scene the water tower was blown up. Although rumour has it that this particular scene was never used and ended up on the cutting room floor. Ooops!

The railroad was a wonderful way to see the wilderness area and this was another day we missed the afternoon thunderstorms.

Have fun, we are!

27 August 2010, Red Rock State Park

Another lovely sunny day and we took a drive to Red Rock State Park on the outskirts of Sedona.

The park has several trails of varying lengths and difficulty and we headed for the Eagle Nest Trail.

The trail starts out from the visitor centre and heads down through the trees before crossing Oak Creek

and joining the Kisva Trail. From there the only way is up!

There are some fabulous views of Cathedral Rock, although I have to say it looked nothing like a cathedral to us. Maybe at another angle? Who knows?

and lots of the red rocks around Sedona as well as views of the House of Apache Fires.

House of Apache Fires was built in 1947 by Jack and Helen Frye who owned the Smoki Trail Ranch 286 acres of which is now Red Rock State Park. Jack Frye was the President of TWA Airlines during WWII. The name originated because while the house was being built the fires of the Yavapai Apache workers could be seen in the valley below. The house is currently in need of repair and so is not open to the public.

Our trail ended as we re-crossed Oak Creek at Black Hawk Crossing and headed back to the truck.

Nasty black clouds loomed on the horizon, but we missed the storms unlike Flagstaff that suffered a severe thunderstorm and a deluge of rain.

Have fun, we are!

26 August, 2010 Montezuma Well

Montezuma Well is a limestone sinkhole fed by warm natural underground springs.

The remains of 800 year old Sinagua Indian villages that once surrounded the well are littered across the site

and cling precariously on the cliffs inside the walls of the well.

The Swallet Ruins are inside the well near to the water
and are daubed with now historic graffiti, I didn’t actually find one that said ‘Kilroy was here’.

Water from the sinkhole takes about 7 minutes to flow about 150ft underground through a underground stream called a swallet and come out on the other side of the mountain.

Even today scientists don’t know the source of the underground springs that supply the well.

The water flows out in a hand carved limestone irrigation canal created by the Sinagua to take water to their fields.

It must’ve taken a lot of hard labour to create this canal.

Why this apparently fertile area was abandoned in the early 1400’s is a still a mystery.

Have fun, we are!

26 August, 2010 Fort Verde State Historic Park

Fort Verde State Historic Park is just off I17 and is one of the parks that the State of Arizona closed because of its budget shortfall. The park is now run mostly by volunteers and is only open Thursday to Monday.

The fort was the base for General Crook’s US Army scouts. There are only about 3 or 4 original buildings left as once the fort was closed the buildings were sold at auction and the wood reused.
I think this was one of the original buildings.

This is the Commanding Officers Quarters.

Have fun, we are!

Monday, 6 September 2010

21 August, 2010 Old Route 66, near Williams, Arizona

Part of old Route 66 runs parallel to I40 from Williams to Transwestern/Bellmont.

In places the road is paved and in places it’s a good dirt road.

The drive takes you through the Pitman Valley, through the forest past the Oakhill Snow Play area and up to the picnic area at Garland Prairie Vista. It’s still a nice picnic area but the view has disappeared behind tall pine trees.

At Parks there are the ruins of what was probably once a thriving business

and also the Old Parks Store which has been and still is in operation since 1906.

From Parks you can hike a now unused section of Route 66 that takes you almost to the top of 49er Hill, which was the highest point on the entire highway. Traces of the old pavement still exist under the grass.

This was a really bad hill to climb in the winter. From there the road goes down into Brannigan Park a lovely wide meadow. It is private land and after Route 66 was built the landowners built cafes and stores for travellers, some of the ruins are still there.

It’s a lovely drive, much nicer than I40, so at the end we turned around and drove back the same way stopping at the Old Parks Store deli to get lunch, then drove to the picnic area at the Garland Prairie Vista. The sandwiches were huge and absolutely delicious.

Have fun, we are!

21 August, 2010 Laws Spring and Beale Wagon Road

Laws Spring is on the National Register of Historic Places and was an important water source located just off the Beale Wagon Road. The site was also important to Native Americans and there are pictographs on the rocks around the spring.

The Beale Wagon road was surveyed in 1857 by Lt. Edward Beale who was sent by Congress to explore Northern Arizona and find an overland route to California. Among the expedition were 20 camels as part of an experiment to see if camels could handle the American desert. A good route was found which was developed in 1858 and 1859.

The forest service and local historians have located and marked about 75% of the original wagon road.

We set off on a lovely sunny morning and took CR 74, a nice paved road that turned into a good dirt road with campsites all along the road. About 7 miles along we took a right along FR 141 before heading north on FR 730.

FR 730 was another good gravel/red dirt road, although there were a couple of teeth rattling sections, with yet more campsites along the way. Most were group camps, but there were a few RV’s on their own. Not sure I’d like to camp just the two of us in the forest, it would creep me out at night, I'd half expect Yogi and Boo Boo to come knocking on the door!

There were some fabulous views and some lovely prairies full of wildflowers, the further we got along the road the more water there was on the sides of the road.

In one place we had to detour around a flooded area.
Further along we turned onto FR115, which was a much narrower red dirt road but we didn’t follow it for long before taking a left onto FR2030. FR 2030 was an even narrower road that dead ended in a parking circle by the Laws Spring and Beale Wagon Road Trailhead.

Donning our boots we followed the short trail through the rocks down to the spring. The perennial spring is a beautiful spot and was full of water.
We continued a little further and came to the Beale Wagon Road which is marked by wooden posts with camels on them and cairns along the way.

The wagon road wasn’t very clear maybe it was all the wildflowers, we walked to the first cairn and then headed back as we hadn’t planned on a long hike.

Besides which the forecast was for isolated thunderstorms and there were some nasty looking black clouds heading our way.

As we walked back past the spring and through the rocks, we found the pictographs, there were quite a few and once we’d seen one we found more.
It was a lovely spot and well worth the drive.

As for the camels, Lt Beale loved them and the cowboys absolutely hated them, at the end of the expedition they were turned loose and the last one was sighted in 1934.

It never did rain.

Have fun, we are!

20 August, 2010 Terror in the skies!

Okay, so maybe 50ft isn’t particularly high, but it feels like it when you’re dangling from a wire as you slowly travel over the tops of the pine trees 2,000ft to the top of Mount Agassiz in Arizona Snowbowl.

The 6,450 ft scenic skyride (ski lift) travels 2,000ft to the summit of Mount Agassiz at 11,500ft this is the home of black diamond ski runs where the only way down is vertical!

There are some fabulous views from the summit

the high ridge on the horizon of the photograph below is the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

During the summer the skyride takes 25 minutes to travel to the summit, in the winter it goes twice as fast.

It was a little scary getting back on, especially as there was a sheer drop within a few feet!

The views on the return journey were amazing, but guess what I didn’t take any photographs I was too busy hanging on for dear life!

We had a great day but, I think I prefer the nice fully enclosed gondola in Telluride!

Have fun, we are!

19 August, 2010 Dog Town Lake

After a bug free lunch, we headed into Williams, along 4th street which then turns in County Road 73, the Perkinsville Road, past a reservoir and up into the mountains.

After a few miles, we joined a different section of FR 141 for more red dirt driving through the ponderosa pine forest and more beautiful prairie views.

We took FR 132 to Dogtown Lake and parked on the day use parking area before taking the trail around the edge of the lake.

Just as we were starting the hike there was a huge flash as a massive bird dived into the lake, scooped up a fish in its talons and flew away. It was so fast we didn’t have time to take a photograph.

The trail, surprisingly no bugs even though we were by water, runs round the edge of the lake.

After following it for a while, we came to a water filled inlet far too deep to even think of wading across.

We climbed up into the forest and followed the inlet inland as we did we startled a deer that bounded off further into the woods. At one point we came to what looked like a sheer rockface we found a way through and carried on, eventually arriving at one looked like a boggy, rocky section, which luckily was dry, so we could get across.

Once on the other side we followed the inlet back to the lake and climbed down again to walk beside the lakeside.

Further along we met a couple who had come across in their boat to do some fishing, we chatted to them for a while and they very kindly reminded us that there were bears in the woods! I was trying not to think about that!

After another slight detour round another smaller water filled section and we got to the other side of the lake and started on our way back.

The edge of the lake was filled with wildflowers and because the water was high parts of the trail were covered with water.

We arrived back at the parking area where we sat and admired the view for a while.

Luckily no bears on the way!

Have fun, we are!