Senator Highway

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John and I have traveled a lot of the back roads of Arizona.  But this road trip was a first for us.  We took the back road between Prescott and Crown King, called Senator’s Highway.  There are many ways to get to Crown King, some easier (via the freeway), some harder, like the nasty notorious back road – which I hope never to take again!

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Senator’s Highway is the old stagecoach route built in the late 1800’s.  It was the road that connected the many mineral mines like Bode Mine, Bradshaw Mine, and Crowned King mine.

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Arizona actually had 4 capitol cities before settling on Phoenix as it’s permanent capitol.  Back in 1864, Prescott was it’s capitol…. then in 1867 it moved to Tucson… in 1879 back to Prescott… until finally moving between Prescott & Tucson to Phoenix in 1889.  The old Senator’s Highway connects Prescott all the way to Phoenix.

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This old two track stage coach road is a seemingly endless meandering, incessant switchback of a road.  It took us 5 hours to get all of the 37 miles between Prescott and Crown King, and that was in our modern vehicle.  There’s a story that airplanes overhead can see the road at night because of all the glittering glass left over from the broken booze bottles that passengers would throw overboard when they would get liquored up for the tortuous trip.

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Not only does it host gorgeous views and grand vistas, it is also home to one of the oldest still standing stage coach stops, Palace Station.  Palace Station is still used by the Forest Service as quarters – off limits to the public.

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While it was a slow going road, it was well graded and a beautiful drive, well worth the trip… and a wonderful day’s adventure.

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Grand Canyon – South Rim

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We just got back from the Grand Canyon – South Rim hoping to get some great storm cloudy pix.  It’s difficult if not impossible to schedule a trip around a storm, as getting reservations at the Canyon can be it’s own difficult task.  But we managed to get last minute reservations in one of their old ‘rustic’ cabins.

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A storm was predicted for the days we were there… but today’s weather forecasters are often wrong.  Furthermore, it’s hard to say if upon a storm one will get awesome clouds and interesting sky, or complete whiteout and washed out gray skies.

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The afternoon we arrived brought snow almost immediately.  The next day we were socked in and you couldn’t see the Canyon over the edge…. so I was glad I got the shots I did when I did.

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The day it snowed all day, we had hoped to get to see Hermit’s Rest, a Mary Colter building 7 miles off the main Grand Canyon loop.  Unfortunately, the road was closed due to all the snow we were having.  We got about 8″ in the day we were there.

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Going to the Grand Canyon is like touring the world…. people of all nationalities wander with you taking in the magnificent sights of the ‘big ditch’…. even in the snowy winter.

While we were out driving in the snow, we passed no less than 3 tow trucks towing multiple cars that had careened off the ice.  It was like a ice rink with rental cars as bumper cars, skidding into trees and into each other, many of whom had no doubt never before seen snow.  Roads were blocked with tow trucks clearing the way, making it impassable everywhere.

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We found these elk watching the traffic go by… munching the afternoon away after a short clearing.

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Check out my pix … here…. of Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower.

 

 

 

 

Buck Personality

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The more I study the animals, the more I am convinced that they each have their own personality.  The males of the species are much more spooky, while the females are more docile.

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We caught this nice little buck enjoying the day after a recent snow storm.  He was soaking up the snow looking for food and water.

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He seemed very content, and not in a hurry to get anywhere…. and I was happy to watch him and take it in.

 

 

 

Mossy Rock Wall

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If you have followed a number of the posts on this blog, you would find that we have been doing front yard ‘landscaping’.  We built a paver stone pad for our corn hole games… and then got completely carried away and built a pizza oven.  You can see the posts on that here (Part 1), here (Part 2) and here (Part 3).  If you take a look at these, make sure you click on the videos to see the videos – the best part 🙂

To complete this section of the yard we decided to build a little pony wall and ‘decorate’ it with solid rock face made from mossy rocks we would collect in the forest.  Little did we know when we took on this project how much work it would really be!

Once we dug and poured the footer, laid the block wall and filled it with concrete we were ready to begin the real work!

First we collected a number of trailers full of hand selected flat mossy rocks from the woods.

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Then we carefully put a large rock base layer along the bottom.

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We chiseled rocks that were too roundy or large, down to a more flat even size.

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And proceeded to build up the wall with stone.

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Because they were such large stones we used screws anchored in the wall to hold them in place, mortared the back side, and used large metal ‘sticks’ to clamp them in place while they dried.

We worked side to side every day, picking the perfect rock to fit into its given space, trying to maintain as small of grout lines as possible.

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When all the rocks were in place, we used die to color our grout and custom applied and finessed the grout between each rock.

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Finally we made a cardboard template for the rock top.  The rock top will be custom cut to our template from rock we pick from the rock quarry in Drake, AZ (about 3-4 hrs from our home).

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Whew!  A lot of hard work pays off with a beautiful detail wall.

Milk Ranch Road

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Just off the Forest Road 300 is an obscure road marked FR 218:  Milk Ranch Road.  Along it are magnificent overlooks of the Mogollon Rim below.  One can find an open spot in the woods or down a long rocky rough road to be rewarded by this great expanse.

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If you’re lucky you’ll be blessed with amazing skies, puffy clouds, and remarkable sunsets and sunrises.  If you’re not, just enjoy the view, a nice picnic and peaceful, relaxing visit.

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For more from this trip and Lessons from a Squirrel check out my post HERE.

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?