Saturday, June 24, 2017

17 December 2017 Hudson Parks

There are days between mid November and mid January where the sun never really appears and what light there is goes away quickly. Since they are a short drive away, we decided to spend the afternoon at Hudson Parks.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

10 December 2016 Tree Day

We missed the first snow of the season while we were in Arizona. We didn't miss the second. This morning it was tree day. There was more than enough snow to put us in the holiday mood. :)

We took a few spins through the Frasier firs and quickly had the perfect tree for us.

With the tree picking done, it was time to head inside for doughnuts and apples.

Monday, June 19, 2017

26 November 2016 Buckaloons

We pass by Buckaloons quite often, but rarely stop for a walk. From spring to fall this is a fee area. It makes sense to charge a fee for visitors camping or putting a canoe in the Allegheny River, but paying for a short walk keeps us and most visitors away. In the non-fee months, the crowd of vehicles by the gates keep us away. On this grey, holiday weekend, the front gate was void of all visitors so we made a rare stop. The empty trails made for a quiet pleasant walk.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

25 November 2016 Brush Hollow

We were back in Pennsylvania hoping for trail time near home. The holiday weekend is often questionable for hiking since the days are short and the weather often ranges from cold and rainy to much colder and snowy. Some of these Thanksgiving weekends are magic with a last blast of warm weather sometimes joined with a little sun. Still we hike, despite the weather since the short days of December will limit our time on the trail until Christmas.

The day wasn't sunny, but the temperature was higher than could be expected this time of year. Happily, the trails were not rain-soaked. Brush Hollow is a super place to spend a day on a holiday weekend, especially a dry one.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

21 November 2016 One More Fire Alarm

I travel a lot. I can remember four fire alarms at hotels. I have hated each one. This one at 3am was no exception. It was the second of the year. Both of them came on nights before early flights. :(

20 November 2016 One Last Day in Arizona

It was the last day in Arizona for us and our journey for the day was to travel from Flagstaff back to the hotel in Phoenix. We started our day exploring a bit of the desert areas off I17 with Ali making certain we didn't stray too far from the highway. There were plenty of caches listed but we had more than a few unsuccessful hunts on the day.

Shooting things and leaving trash in the desert seem to be the main hobbies for some visitors. Navigating the terrain means keeping your eyes open for rattlesnakes and broken bottles left behind from the shooting. While looking for the hazards, there is a lot of desert life to observe.

Angelita Daisies are popular in southwest gardens where they can form large, low-maintenance clusters. I enjoyed seeing them much less dense in natural surroundings.

The native tribes relied on juniper berries and pine nuts for nutritional sources. Both were present on our walk.

Pinon trees yield nuts only every 3-4 years. We were lucky to spot a number loaded with nutritious pine nuts.

It's a rough world out there.

Our next stop included two climbs, one to a great view and one to a ruins site.

Taking in the long view

The rental car looks small from up here.

Ruins at the top

A cave dwelling in the side

Looking Inside

Our next stop on the journey south was Montezuma Well. The geologic feature is a huge limestone sink hole. The sites also included nice rock faces, ancient dwellings, lush vegetation and ducks.

Above the Sinkhole

Looking across at the dwellings

Looking down on lots of ducks including these widgeons

Bufflehead enjoying the rain.

The water flow created an oasis to walk through.

There is a path to walk beside the ancient structures.

Our last visit of the afternoon was a cold, wet stop at Montezuma Castle. The structure pre-dates the arrival of Europeans in the Americas. We stamped our NPS passport and checked out the exhibits indoors before making our way to the trail. Despite the weather, the center was really busy.

There are still openings visible for the many rooms on the lower level. It's amazing the think that until 1951, the US Government allowed visitors to climb to the entrance by ladders and freely explore the fragile remains.

The trail at the site was dotted with eye-pleasing sycamores.

It was time to go home and return to the real world. It was amazing while it happened.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

19 November 2016 Sunrise... Us?

We are not morning people. Years ago a friend joked about my love of sunsets and reminded me there actually are sunrises. We decided a place as special as the Grand Canyon deserved an early morning look. It was worth the effort. ;)

We not only made it out early. We made it out early on a very cold morning.

The shadows and light made quite a show. After celebrating the sunrise, we checked out we had a few more adventures in the park before our turn south. We spotted a few more century plants which had bloomed as a last act of a long life.

We stopped at the park headquarters where Ali stamped our NPS passport then took a walk around the south rim near the headquarters. Despite a chilly morning, the park was crowded on a Saturday. I can't imagine the sea of people in warmer weather.

Our last stop in the park was the Desert View Watchtower. We enjoyed the inside of the structure and made the climb to the top for some last wonderful views.

On the way to the Grand Canyon, I noticed Red Butte and a cache hidden there. We interrupted our return to Flagstaff for a hike to the top.