First Fall

It seems too early, not even in October yet, but there is a definite chill in the air and you can feel winter is coming.  So we decided to do a scouting trip to check out Fall Colors.

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It’s a strange year, as some leaves are just turning from their resident bright green to shades of pale green.  Other maples are in full color and even falling to the ground floor.

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It certainly isn’t in full color, as the leaves are patchy only in some areas.  There’s no denying it though… it has started early, with more to come.  I love the mosaic tapestries that the leaves and tangle of trees weaves.  It’s fascinating to watch this myriad of color dot the landscape.

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It’s always fun and challenging to try to capture this awesome season and convey it’s many splendors.

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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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Northern California Coast

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After all the scenic overviews we had along the Oregon coast, we were a bit surprised by the lack of ocean views along the Northern California Coast.  Granted California has a lot of beach and ocean views… but I’m not talking about San Diego, Mission Beach, or Redondo Beach.  I’m talking about the section from Crescent City, CA to just north of San Francisco.

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This area tucks inland and goes through some very pretty red wood country.  There are a number of ‘alternate routes’ like the Humboldt State Park that are certainly worth doing to get the full exposure to the redwoods… not just highway driving, which is what most of this drive feels like.  While there are small towns in between, they seem to be working towns, run down and dilapidated.  They aren’t the popular tourist towns bustling with people and shops like Sausalito.

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There are the occasional signs that says ‘Coastal Access’ … turn here. If you drive down the long dirt road (and back) it’ll take an hour with no premonition of the view until you get there.  Once you do, it yield beach access to the ocean and beach, but no great views, no jutting rocks.

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The best ocean views along this stretch is between Jenner and Bodega Bay… with the added advantage that you can tuck into the quaint charming winery towns from Jenner.  You can visit Duncan Mills, Guerneville, Sonoma, many more.

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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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First Snow

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I must admit, I never ever thought I could get used to snow.  I hate the cold.

But never say never.  Now that we live somewhere where we have 4 seasons, I enjoy every one of them… including the snow.  There is something pristine and innocent about the beauty and cleanness of snow.

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It hangs on the trees and coats the ground in white fluffy clumps.  If one is lucky, the first snow of the year coincides with the end of fall… and changing of the colors, yielding an intersection of seasons in all it’s beauty.  Check out my Snow Trees post on kritterspix.com.

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