Smokey Rim

It’s hard for me to imagine that this was our first trip to the rim this year.  It’s June already, and we just haven’t found time.  Life sometimes just gets away from one.

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Unfortunately another deterrent has been that much of ‘our’ rim has been closed due to a local fire…. WAY TOO CLOSE to home.  Only 20 miles away, this one was a scary one.  It was more the area that made it difficult for firefighters.  The rim is very steep with a lot of dead and down, fallen pine needles and thick dry forest due to years of Forest Service policy of no-burning.  This particular steep area can’t be reached by fire fighters, so all they could do was hold it back and try to avert it from cresting over the ridge.

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The good news of it is, that it had top priority in the Southwest, which meant that it got all the resources they needed.  Local control was handed over to the Feds, as they brought over 1200 firefighters, helicopters, and planes to douse it out and work the fire lines.  The comforting fact was that they were clearly working it hard… we had regular meetings held locally by the Forest Service to give us status reports and answer any questions we had.   It is now, thankfully, completely under control… and smoke is dissipating.

So we thought we’d make a trip to the rim – at least the outskirts of the area that isn’t closed – to see if we could get some pix.

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The animals were out if force, seemingly enjoying the nice day just as we were.

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We couldn’t actually get close enough to the fire to see any smoke, other than that on the murky horizon.  But we enjoyed a very pleasant and relaxing day out – and wondered, what has taken us so long?

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Best of 2016: Honorable Mentions

I wrote about my Best of 2016 photos here.  What a fun and enlightening experience going through all my 2016 photos was.  I feel super fortunate that I had enough good photos that I can do another Top 10 via this Honorable Mentions post… these were the ones that DIDN’T make the cut.. and a lot left that didn’t make Honorable Mentions.  Must mean it was a great year.. and it was.

So here are the second Top 10 photos of 2016… check it out.

fallsprayPSi.JPG1.  South Oregon Coast

moonboatPSi.JPG2. Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

powell rvr closPSi.JPG3. Lake Powell,  Utah 

rok-treerefltni.jpg4. Mogollon Rim,  Northern Arizona

twinsnowtreesPSi.JPG5.  Happy Jack, Arizona

j beam lookPS.jpg6. Canyon X, Page  AZ

fencegrassPS.jpg7. Lockett Meadow, Arizona

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8. Baddeck,  Nova Scotia

fogreflctnPSi.JPG9. Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

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10. Happy Jack, AZ

Check out the Best of 2016…. here.

What do you think?

Snow Birds

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We recently had a wave of 3 snow storms which all together yielded about 2′ of snow.  The birds huddled under branches to keep out of the intense snow blasting sideways with the strong winds.  You can see more of my Snow Animals on my photo blog…. here.

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The drifts piled high where the winds swept them against trees and boulders.  But it didn’t deter the big animals from trudging through.  We saw more than one limping as a result of tripping over unseen rocks and uneven terrain.

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It amazes me the treks these animals must take on a daily basis going from hither to yon incessantly.  It’s a tough life in these mountains and woods with their treacherous inclines and rough canyons.

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Leaf Peeping

forestcolorPSi.JPGFall cometh early to Northern AZ.   I have told anyone that would listen, winter is coming.  It’s getting cold early and fast.  We’ve already had overnight lows below freezing.  So with it, the leaves are popping.  We have been out several times to see them, and plan on several more trips.  I think October 1 is the earliest I have ever seen this abundance of color.  Usually it’s not until at least 2nd or 3rd week of October.  My guess is by then we’ll be taking photos of snow instead of leaves.

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But we’re loving it.  The beauty is incredible.  I don’t know how I every lived in the valley without getting the 4 seasons.  I’m addicted… and love it.

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Talk about photographic fodor.  The color variations and possibilities are stunning.   We packed a lunch and had an amazing view amidst the burst of color we found ourselves in.

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Fantastic!

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A Year in the Grand Canyon

Every once in awhile you come across something you really want to share.  Point in case, my friend, Dave.  Dave, is like my dog… in a good way (I do love my dog, Journey, by the way, and Journey adores Dave – she has good taste.).  I mean that in the way that he has never met a stranger.  Everyone he meets is a friend.  He’s affable, friendly, talented, intelligent, and kind.  He’s one of those interesting people that you just love to know, and someone I am super proud and happy to call my friend.

But this isn’t a plug for Dave… not really.  It’s a plug for his book. You see, Dave is quite the aficionado on the Grand Canyon.  He has been down the Grand Canyon over a year. And by that I mean IN the Canyon OVER 365 days.  Pretty impressive.  In that time he has had quite the many experiences.  We are very fortunate that Dave heeded the advise of many who know him to write them down and publish them in a book.  He finally did.

His book, A Year in the Grand Canyon, is a collection of those adventures.  It reads like stories around the campfire.  It’s engaging, inviting, fascinating and intriguing.  It’s one of those books you just can’t put down.  It’s a man’s tales of life through passing through the Grand Canyon and it’s many lessons it teaches.  It’s fun, dead serious, and entertaining.

He got an impressive endorsement from none other than the famous Arizona story teller himself, Marshal Trimble who gives it a glowering review:

“Dave Elston’s passion for spending time in the beautiful Grand Canyon wilderness has produced a series of riveting stories that makes it a must read for anyone who’s ever been bitten by the “Canyon Bug.” His quest to spend 400 days in “Natures Grandest Architectural Masterpiece” over a period of years turned him from a green novice into an experienced veteran.

Elston’s stories also provide many important lessons in survival. Nature can be very unforgiving. The vicissitudes of the wilderness including the capricious elements, ankle-twisting terrain, lack of preparation, not understanding one’s limitations, and a myriad of others have endangered or cost the lives of many who fail to give it proper respect.

This book should be on the shelves of anyone who’s ever hiked the challenging trails of the Grand Canyon or ever wanted to.”

I don’t recommend a lot of books.  In truth, I don’t find the time to read a lot.  But this book is hard to put down, and a great read, one I highly recommend.  Check it out..

A Year in the Grand Canyon, by Dave Elston

It is published by Vishnu Temple Press, Flagstaff, AZ . Online orders can be made at vishnutemplepress.com. The price is $15.95, and the book will ship around mid-August. If you would rather have an e-book, it will be ready by the end of August. Both versions will soon be on Amazon as well.

Order yours today.

I’ll take Flagstaff over Sedona

Blasphemy, I know!  Sedona has stunning views, no doubt.  But there is something real and genuine about Flagstaff.   What’s not to like in city that is littered with start up breweries and coffee roasteries.  Flagstaff has more boutique breweries (NOT affiliated with any big beer company) than anyplace I know.  Let’s see there is Beaver Street Brewery, Flagstaff Brewing Company, Mother Road Brewing Company, Lumberjack Brewing Company, , Darksky Brewing, and Wanderlust Brewing Company.  That’s SIX small breweries.  You don’t have to like beer to understand that there is a mentality and state of mind that comes with small breweries.   The people are free birds, a little hippi-ish, and proud of their passion and want to share.

It doesn’t stop with breweries…  Flagstaff is home to not 1, but 2 Farmer’s Markets weekly PLUS a Farmer’s Market store PLUS an Urban Market every 2nd Saturday.   It has SEVEN coffee Roasters spread across it’s charming but condensed small city.  Now maybe that’s common in big cities… but it’s unheard of in such a small town.   This entrepreneurial mindset demonstrates the passion that Flagstaff residents exude and want to share with their community.  It’s not out of sense of making big bucks or charging high prices, but moreover sharing the products they care about and are proud of, with their community.

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While Flagstaff may not be have the stunning landscape that Sedona has, it makes up for it in character and the great outdoors.  It’s filled with walking paths, trails, hiking areas and National Forest.  It’s a great place to camp, hike, forage and enjoy the abundant wildlife and unburdened (no fee) forests.

It also DOESN’T have the high prices, ticky tack souvenir stores, floods of tourists, or hoity toity-ness that define Sedona.  You don’t have to pay to park on the side of the road (like in Sedona) or fight the insane traffic to get from one end to the other (though Flagstaff has it’s fair share of traffic – unfortunately).

Did you know that Sedona has the only McDonald’s in the world with a turquoise arch (rather than the standard yellow)?  The Sedona city council deemed the yellow McDonald’s arch ‘too garish’, despite the fact that many business (including Hertz) have yellow logos along the same street.  That’s Sedona.  Flagstaff’s McDonald’s arch is yellow.  Need I say more?

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Mountain Snow

My friends in the Phoenix are all talking about the torrential rains they are having.  The storm this week has given us some much needed precipitation… all in one week.  While Phx is dealing with their large volumes of rain… we GOT SNOW!

 

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Our local ski resort, Snowbowl, is reporting the best year in a decade, with up to 100″ of snow!  55″ this week alone.  Flagstaff is reporting 30″ this week, and here in Happy Jack we probably got about 16″ this week.

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Our dog, Journey is loving it.  What is it about snow and pets… they are like little kids …. oh boy, oh boy… SNOW!journey snofac_Ssi.JPG

Totally fun to watch.

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