Catching My Breath

I have to admit, I really enjoyed reading Karen’s recent post, Snow Hiking. You know, the one about where’s she’s been and what she’s been up to these past few months? And how about her artwork? Seriously, who knew she had such talent?! Definitely not me, but I’ve totally enjoyed seeing her creations.

Just reading her post made me start thinking about my own absence from our blog and why I’ve stepped down for so long. Perhaps it’s just personal therapy, but I feel compelled to write my own account of ‘Where’s Waldo” (or is it Walda?). Maybe some will identify with me and reply with their own experiences. And maybe not. But really, the next few paragraphs are mostly for me, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

First and foremost, I haven’t been doing nothing. I’ve at least been hiking multiple times, cross-country skiing once, and an awesome day of down-hill skiing. And, with the exception of down-hill skiing, I even have a collage of pictures to prove it.

And when the snow dumped and dumped for days, with no relief in sight… we threw down our shovels, kicked it into 4WD, and headed for the middle of nowhere!

Cuz nothing beats FIRST TRACKS!

 

And I’ve been traveling.

A Lot.

Florida, Wisconsin, Washington, Nevada, and more visits to Phoenix than I care to count. 

 

Then there’s that lengthy period of soul-searching, in which I found myself immersed again and again. Not because I’m trying to find myself, mind you. That would be selfseeking, not soul-searching, right? And most of the time I’d be better off to lose myself, as the overwhelming presence of me is usually what is wrong with my life. But don’t worry, I won’t get heavy on you. Suffice it to say, I’ve been reassessing my direction in life. A course-correction, you might call it. A much-needed, and on-going one, at that.

All things considered, it’s been an awesome eight months. And I’m glad to be back!

Happy Trails!
Dee 

In Arizona Santa Rides a Horse, Not a Reindeer

 I love the unexpected experiences I often find on a hike.

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The Watson Lake trail was just part of a great weekend. But before I elaborate on the hike I want to share what happened the night before the hike.

Clutch and I had some friends invite us to Prescott to spend the weekend with them in their wonderfully private cabin located a mile above the town of Prescott.

The first night we attended the 27th Annual Acker musical festival in the heart of downtown Prescott, where thousands of brave souls ventured out in the bone-chilling weather, to hop in and out of shops and bars to hear a wide variety of bands, solo artists, and watch show performers.  Several stores enticed visitors to enter with offering warm drinks, cookies, and seats for those who wanted to stay awhile to enjoy the band featured in their store.

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Each store/bar was a sea of elbows, craned necks, a welcome abundance of body heat, and smiles that exuded the joy of the season! I loved the fact that all donations collected went to scholarships for performing art students. I also enjoyed getting my picture taken with Santa, without having to wait in line at the mall and trying to make my way through a swarm of children. 🙂

The morning after the festival we woke up to these beautiful views and gourmet breakfast!

There is nothing quite like staying in a quaint cabin and being treated like royalty by good friends. Many thanks to Jerene and Norm Watson for one of the most relaxing and fun weekends I’ve ever had!

Now, onto the great hike where I learned a little more about Santa Claus. As we pulled into the trail-head parking lot we saw a group of horseback riders posing for a picture. When I realized these were no ordinary riders I rushed over to get my own picture, but arrived just in time to watch the group disperse. Disappointed yet eager to embark upon a new adventure, I quickly joined my friends to begin our hike. I took several photos as we made our way around Watson Lake.

If you look closely at the picture of myself and my friend you will notice something unusual in the background.

A group of horse back riders from the ” Just Horsing Around” Club were on their special annual trip. This was the group I missed getting a picture of from the trail-head earlier!

Every year they deck their horses and themselves in Christmas garb and hand out candy canes to those sharing the trail, as they make their way to a tree in the wilderness to decorate for the holiday! They invited us to join them in the decorating event. Unfortunately we were not able to, but it was a grand adventure just getting to see this group and hear about their annual tradition. It really made me want to gather up a group of friends and create a fun annual idea! (Still working on it.)

So hurry and get a few good hikes in before Christmas and maybe you will get to glimpse Santa too!

Love unexpected adventures!

Karen

 

Opt Outside

Instead of joining the masses of Black Friday shoppers we opted for a beautiful hike in Picture Canyon!

Click here for: History of Picture Canyon
We chose the loop that would allow us to see the entire Canyon.

My only complaint, besides my broken hand, was the lack of signage. I’m pretty sure we were way off trail several times. But in the end we found all the main sites we were looking for. The first being some well preserved hieroglyphs.


Next a series of small waterfalls. Flagstaff has waterfalls?! Who knew?!


It’s a beautiful Canyon to explore .


Part of the Arizona trail runs through this Canyon. This bridge is located on the AZ trail ( crossing the Rio de Flag).

You can also see my wrapped, braced, and sling resting broken hand. (An unfortunate wild tennis swing incident.) Thank goodness for 2 working legs to allow me to continue exploring the great trails of Flagstaff!


Don’t let chilly weather, or broken hands, stop you from exploring!

Bundle up and enjoy this amazing planet!

Karen

Sedona Hiking

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Sedona is a an endless scenic part of Arizona that attracts people world-wide. The picture above is from a trail called Soldier’s Pass. This trail boasts sites such as the sinkhole called Devil’s Kitchen, 7 Pools, the Tea Pot Rock, and natural rock arches. My favorite shot of the day was of Tea Pot Rock, as I unintentionally caught the “pot” whistling with “steam”.

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Because of it’s awesome temps and weather, Sedona can be explored year round.

This next shot was of the super moon as seen from Lake Mary Road in Flagstaff. It was my first attempt of taking a night picture, and I might say, it wasn’t disappointing at all!

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Happy exploring this amazing planet!

Karen

It’s the End of The World as We Know It

Sounds like a song, doesn’t it? But, no. It’s an absolutely gorgeous sight, set right out in the middle of Nowhere, Arizona!

I can’t honestly say that this stunningly surreal spot is officially called The End of The World; but that’s what the locals call it, so I’m sticking with it. Other than being a tad bit hazy due to the wind kicking up some dust, it was a gorgeous view and definitely clearer than the pictures depict.

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After taking at least 103 photos, we headed back to the car and further on down the road; which, to our surprise, dead-ended after only about a half-mile at a gate marking the entrance to the USFS Lookout Tower.

From this point, it’s boots on the ground only, so we gladly abandoned our car and hoofed it on foot for about another 1/2 – 3/4 miles to the tower. Which I did in my flip-flops, by the way, since I completely forgot to grab my more appropriate shoes that I carefully placed near the door at home so I wouldn’t forget them. Thankfully the road was well-maintained. Though the slightly rocky, steady incline did make me wish more than once that I wasn’t quite so perpetually forgetful.

East Pocket Knob USFS Fire Lookout Tower
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Check out that earth curvature! Proof that we were truly at the end of the world. (Or that I’m a bad photographer)
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A beautiful view of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff AZ

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After spending about 30-40 minutes taking pictures and talking with the Forest Service Ranger, we decided to head back down so we could make our way home before sundown. This time of day is always a great time to see wildlife, and we were hoping that would be the case today. A little treat to top off an already great trip.

We were definitely not disappointed!

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We actually saw much more than this. To include a herd of about 30-40 elk frolicking off the side of the road, hardly taking notice of us as we drove by. Not to mention three other large elk just like the picture above. It was more than we expected and we were thrilled!

And then it happened…

We heard it before we felt it. And when I say we, I mean my husband.

Psssssssst….. Flat tire. In the middle of nowhere. With at least 15 miles of dirt road to go. But thank God for donuts! And for my efficient husband, who had that tire changed quicker than the Dad in The Christmas Story. Less than 6 minutes, from start to finish! And we were back on the road like nothing had ever happened.

To Access:

Take Historic Route 66 west from town (east from I40 E) to Woody Mountain Rd, which quickly turns to dirt and begins SR 231. EOTW 01This is a 23 mile stretch of dirt road that eventually dead ends at the gate to the East Pocket Knob USFS Lookout Tower. A word of caution: there will be other SR’s veering from SR 231 (as you can see from the picture on the left), so be careful to stay only on SR 231 for the entire distance. About a half-mile before the road dead ends, you will reach the holy grail; aptly named, The End of The World. You can camp here short-term, and there is even a ready-made fire pit for you to use. Dependent on current fire restrictions, of course. The road is in very good condition for the majority of the drive, with only about 5 miles of typical dirt road conditions. We drove a car and made it with no problems (except for that teeny-weeny flat) but when we do it again, we will definitely take our truck for a more comfortable ride. And thicker walled tires.

Happy Trails!
Dee