A View From The Top

The Brins Mesa Trail led us on a 500 foot climb.
A chiseled red rock stairway appeared.
After 1.5 miles of climbing, we reached Brins Mesa and a 360 degree view. First, we looked back at where we’d come from. That’s the town of Sedona in the distance.
Then we turned around to view the landscape well beyond our trail.

We followed the Soldiers Pass trail, dropping down to connect with the Jordan trail and then Cibola Pass, leading us back to the parking lot. Above are some of the spectacular sites we saw. Although we got an early start, the trail down was crowded enough to be just a little frustrating in spots. Our advice: Set your alarm if you have to…the earlier start, the better!

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The Strawberry Schoolhouse

The Strawberry Schoolhouse teaches us about the past.

Located high above the Verde Valley in the community of Strawberry, Arizona, stands the little one-room Strawberry Schoolhouse. Built in 1885 out of pine logs, it was added to the National register of Historic Places in 2005, and remains one of the oldest standing schoolhouses in the state.

A notice on the schoolhouse door informed us that tours could be arranged by appointment.
The locked door didn’t stop us from peeking in the windows.
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Clarkdale’s Copper Collection

The Arizona Copper Art Museum contains a jaw-dropping collection of copper pieces.
The museum is located in the old Clarkdale high school building, built in 1928.

The little community of Clarkdale owes its existence to the copper mining industry. It was a true company town, founded in 1912 by William A. Clark, owner of Arizona’s largest copper mine. Although the good old days of the copper mining industry are long gone, the Arizona Copper Art Museum continues to celebrate the very thing that put Clarkdale on the map. Housing over 5,000 pieces of copper art from the 1500s to present day, it certainly exceeded our expectations! The old high school has quite an interesting history of its own. This is a not-to-be-missed treat!

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Boynton Canyon Vistas

A short path off the main trail led to a vista point.

We normally prefer circular hikes that allow us to avoid retracing our steps, but there was only one way out of Boynton Canyon…at least only one safe way out. We followed the dusty red trail in until it dropped us down into the forest, beneath a cover of evergreens. Climbing began toward the end of the trail where we scrambled up a narrow channel of boulders, emerging onto a large, smooth rock outcropping, scattered with handful of other determined hikers enjoying the view.

A lunch spot with a gorgeous view greeted us at the trails end.

I try to remember to stop and look up every so often when hiking rather than carefully watching where I put my every footstep. The views were on our return trip were incredibly rewarding.

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Montezuma Castle National Monument

The Verde Valley was once home to the Sinagua people – pre-Colombian cliff dwellers.

We took the day off hiking to explore several sites just a stones throw from our RV park. First stop: Montezuma Castle National Park where the cliffs hold the history of the Sinagua people, cliff dwellers who populated the area from 1100-1425. We thoroughly enjoyed the park, but were glad we arrived early. The relatively small parking lot filled quickly.

Montezuma Well is a natural wonder.

Our next stop: A natural limestone sinkhole surrounded by lush vegetation. Montezuma Well appears as an oasis in a desert setting. An incredible 1.5 million gallons of water bubble up each day from this natural spring so it’s easy to understand why the waters have been used for irrigation since the 8th century.

These are just a portion of the 1,032 petroglyphs covering the rock wall.

Our third and last stop was the V-Bar-V Heritage Site, home to the largest collection of Sinagua petroglyphs in the Verde Valley. It was a pleasant stroll out to the site where a ranger was ready and waiting to provide a history and explanation of the ancient art.

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Red Rock Thrills

This was the high point of our hike.

The HiLine trail took us up, down and all around Cathedral Rock, connecting us with the Baldwin Trail and then to the Templeton Trail, an 8-mile Loop that took us back to where we began.

Feeling small among the rocks near Sedona.

Back on the valley floor after circling Cathedral Rock.

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Sedona Circular Hike

Bell Rock is one of the iconic must-see formations.

To secure a parking spot, an early start is mandatory for any of the Sedona area trailheads. The Big Loop Trail, Courthouse Loop Trail and part of the Llama trail led us around 8 miles of spectacular scenery.

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Tucson – Parting Shots

After three crossings in less than half a mile on our Sabino Canyon hike, Reg finally gave in and simply waded across the creek, shoes and all.


This big horn sheep proudly posed for a crowd at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, while I posed with the resident vulture. A combination zoo, botanical garden, natural history museum, aquarium and art gallery it’s an attraction not to be missed.

Tubac was established in 1752 as a Spanish presidio and was one of the stops on the Camino Real (the “Royal Road”) from Mexico to the Spanish settlements in California. Thanks to our RV Park neighbors, full-timers Bill and Heidi, who mentioned the charms of the tiny town, we managed to squeeze in a visit on our last day. Now a thriving artist colony, shopkeepers are a trusting lot. On the door of one closed shop (center left) were instructions to drop cash or checks through the mail slot for any purchase of wares displayed outdoors.

The Pima Air and Space Museum entertained us for several hours with nearly 300 aircraft spread over 80 acres. Tram tours are offered, but not required, for the outdoor displays. Indoors, numerous volunteers are scattered about to answer any and all questions.

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If You Were A Cactus…

This was Reg’s favorite Saguaro from our outing today.

I’m fascinated with the desert saguaro cactus. Thousands upon thousands are spread across the Sonoran Desert, each one as unique as a human fingerprint. And since I brought up the comparison, I thought you might like to see the chart I found at The Saguaro (east) National Park Visitor Center.

This fun chart explains just how long these slow-growing saguaros live.

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Arizona Desert Super Bloom

We’re calling Tucson, Arizona home for a few days while we explore all the area has to offer…and hopefully enjoy some warm southwestern sunshine.

Luck was with us as Reg backed the Mini into one of the nicest spots in the RV Park.

Our first stop: Saguaro National Park, home to the iconic Saguaro cactus featured in so many of your favorite westerns.

The western side of the park claims a much more dense Saguaro population.

After a quick stop at the Visitor Center, we found ourselves armed with a trail map and directions to the Sendero Esperanza Trail which would lead to what the ranger described as, “The best wildflower showing in years…a desert super bloom.”

As we climbed higher along the trail we reached the poppy fields where acres and acres of bright orange petals were strewn across the hillside. The desert bouquet also held red, yellow, purple and white blooms of all shapes and sizes. I gave up trying to capture the scene on film and simply enjoyed.

This trailside rock offered us the perfect picnic spot.

As the trail snaked uphill, we climbed out of the flower fields toward the top of the ridge. Our map indicated a picnic table that we thought would be the perfect lunch destination before our journey back down the hill, however it proved elusive.

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