Thursday, April 6, 2017

Pinnacle Peak

Our hostess's cactus solar light. I want one
On my running trail yesterday, a sharp contrast to my run here today: cold, rain, gloom,wind
We had breakfast yesterday at some mall that either was made from an old mission or was constructed to look like a mission
pretty yellow vine hiding under the bouganvillea
The side of Pinnacle peak was bright yellow due to calendula and Mexican poppy
With his tail, he was 2 feet long. Sort of ugly. We saw a rattlesnake too. Will post Steve's pictures later in the week
on our way up
I love these pale green cholla blossoms

my favorite cactus blossoms
sculptures in Scottsdale

We are back arriving on a red eye at 6:30 am. Despite a total of 2 hours of sleep, if that, I don't feel too tired but I am sure I will crash soon.

The Blogger app for iPhones sucks. It is easy to add photos but I can't add a title more than a word. If I type text and don't save it after every word, the system crashes and all is erased. I will eventually get around to editing all those photos I posted.

We flew into Phoenix and immediately drove down to a section of the Saguaro Nt'l Park NE of Tucson to stay down a road that resembled a rocky wash to our inn which was very charming. I wish we stayed there longer. The innkeepers were very nice; great breakfasts, lots of birds and gardens, lots of art. Since it was so far from light sources or anything, very starry nights. I would run on very primitive roads in the morning with sketchy footing but it was so beautiful. We met up with Steve's cousin twice; once at our inn and another time for a steak dinner (not my choice!!!)in downtown Tucson.  I loved the desert museum staying more than an hour in the hummingbird aviary. There were nests of baby hummers; need Steve's photos to show. The year round hummer is the Costa which is small like the hummers here but the male has a very large violet gorget, very striking. We saw just a few hummers at the inn but saw lots of woodpeckers, thrashers and a hard to spell and pronounce pyrrhuloxia, similar to a cardinal. Some guidebook I read said one has to be deaf and blind not to notice the gila woodpeckers. Yep they were all over. Also the javelinas came to the back patio several times which are big enough for my iPhone to capture.

I thought I was careful with the sunblock but missed an area around my lips, an area about an inch around. It turned beet red and burned. It has somewhat healed but now is purple and scabby. I look pretty bad as if I ate jam and left most of it on my face. It made me self conscious most of the trip as I thought people were thinking; why doesn't she wash her face.

I am crashing.

Today is the next day. I did not take a nap but fell asleep shortly after 7 pm not to get up until 12 hours later. Fortunately the forecast snow of 1-3 inches did not show.

Aside from our hikes in the desert, we visited an old mission whose photos I posted earlier. I was sad to leave the inn but bought some Balinese art (the owner is from Bali) Below is a fish eye view of our room
We drove the boring drive between Tucson and Phoenix. On to Old Town Scottsdale, the most western town in the US (??have no idea what they mean by that) All full of gardens, sculptures, beautiful fountains, flowering trees. We ate lunch at a good Mexican restaurant and stopped for some hazelnut-fig gelato ( I am now back on my regimen at home, too afraid to weigh myself). On to our Air B&;B in a fancy condo complex not far away. Our hosts are a young couple who had all sorts of snacks and fancy toiletries for us. The best feature was a pretty outdoor complex with lots of shaded areas to lounge and picnic plus the  hot tub and pool. Steve picked some stuff up at an Italian deli and we had a great night. There were bikes that were provided to go on the nearby 12 miles of trails though I opted to run and Steve used the fitness center.

On to Sedona the next morning eating lunch at a fancy resort in the mountains the couple had recommended. Alas it was cold and rainy and we could barely see the red rock formations. It cleared up a bit so we could see the red rocks but by the time we drove through Oak Canyon, it started to snow. We stayed in the most north part of Flagstaff getting into a huge traffic jam (for a town of 50,000). It was snowing very hard then freezing rain. It was too slippery to go back to town for dinner so we ate the snacks provided. I thought we would have the whole apartment to ourselves but no, I failed to read that we'd have to share our space with a 20 something son who fortunately wasn't there much. This really annoyed Steve. Plus we couldn't go out so he was extra grumpy blaming me for everything. We had to borrow a snow brush and wait along time for the ice to melt the next day for our drive to the Grand Canyon. It was pretty driving through a Ponderosa Pine forest (so, so different from the desert) with the trees laden with snow. The main road was clear. The canyon still had snow on it, what we could see of it as it was foggy too and much colder than predicted. Steve had not packed gloves (he needs them if it below 55 and it was in the 30s). The sun did come out. To see the attractions around the Grand Canyon Village, you need to take their buses as they don't have enough parking. The buses run quite often. Seeing the Canyon put Steve in a much better mood.

In the buses, the first few seats are reserved for the handicapped and the elderly. Some young dudes boarded in front of us and sat down in the seat. The driver immediately popped up and said the seats are for them pointing to us. I said it was OK. We were certainly capable of walking a few extra feet. Is it so obvious that we are elderly? Do we look infirm?

It made me nervous seeing people teetering on the edge of the canyon and hopping from rock to rock. One false move and it's a long way down. Steve got too close to the edge for me to relax. A few people die each year from falls though more people die of heat exhaustion there. They go down to the canyon bottom where it is very hot in the summer without enough water. It probably wasn't a problem the days we went as it was in the 30s when we got there the first day. We stayed until after sunset asking ahead of time for the best vantage point. The best would involve several busses and I didn't want to go through the mountains so late. We did a few hikes along the rim trail in between bus rides and ate at Bright Angel Lodge which wasn't so expensive as I feared . It was a nice, exhausting day. We did not have time to see the eastern part of the park so we came back the next day.

For 2 of the days in Flagstaff, I got up early to run. On the 2nd day, I found their extensive sets of trails. Even though we were at 7150 feet, I felt fine, though no shorts could be worn there. Since food is so expensive as is gas near the Grand Canyon, we bought supplies in Flagstaff for a picnic lunch. We took a different road which would cross part of the Navajo Nation, which does observe daylight savings time. Also drinking, buying and even transporting alcohol is strictly forbidden on their land. We didn't stop there at all not even at the scenic turnouts as usually there were ramshackle stands to sell trinkets. But before we went too far, we stopped at the Sunset Crater National Monument (going to use our National Park Passes for all they are worth). I listened to a ranger talk about different types of volcanos while Steve stalked Stellar Jays and Abert Squirrels. The small but high mountain range nearby, the San Francisco Peaks  of that we had a good view as long as it wasn't cloudy, were old volcanos but Sunset Crater is a new one popping out of the earth just 900 years ago destroying a good part of a Zuni settlement who all left as the ground there was so trustworthy. But volcanic ash is good for mulch so Hopis moved in instead. The volcanic area is the largest in the lower 48. I had not heard of it. There were miles and miles of lava flows. I posted photos of it previously but I couldn't capture how black it is.  900 years isn't long to decompose it. Also pumice was all around. This park was linked with another park full of the Hopi ruins. They left about700 years ago, who knows why. Europeans hadn't shown up yet. We went from Ponderosa forests to a stark area called the Painted desert where the ruins, made of bright orange adobe, were..

Back to the Grand Canyon only to the eastern part that you can drive to the various viewpoints as they are quite far apart. We found a good place to view the sun set, Moran point. Again, fellow tourists made me nervous hopping from rock to rock.

On Monday morning, we stopped in Flagstaff near the university to eat breakfast at a coffee roasting place.  Boy did I want more than a crumb of Steve's cheesy bacon biscuits. I stuck to my yogurt fruit bowl. Sigh. We back tracked through Oak Canyon, now sunny stopping a bit for photos. We climbed high above Sedona for some view point shots. There was a big parking lot for a certain vortex which presumably causes all sorts of magic. We took an alleged scenic loop that was not too scenic mainly because it was the wrong time of day. All the red rocks were in shadow. On to yet another Hopi ancestor pueblo near Clarksdale.  Again ,it was about 700 years old and then abandoned some 200 years later. On to the most vertical city in the country: Jerome, which is built into a side of a mountain. The plain containing the pueblo and Clarksdale was at 2500 ft. Up 1500 feet to Jerome which was a copper mining hub built for miners. Lots of old brothels such as House of Joy. When the copper was finished, it was a ghost town until artists took over. Now it attracts tourists. We ate outside high above the city. To get to another block, one climbs steep stairs. I stopped at a coffee place where the woman made an elaborate display to make my coffee. Very good. On to even higher ground before dropping down to Prescott. In the valley, cattle grazed but among the cattle were at least 50 antelope. Should have stopped for a photo.

Outside Phoenix were warning signs of congestion due to the final Four being played that night in Glendale, which is in the southwest corner. Fortunately we were headed to the Northeast corner. We went to our nicely landscaped Air b&b full of color and artwork. The hostess did not show up for another hour or so. Steve picked me up a salad at build your own salad place nearby and we had a pleasant evening.

Steve said he could live in Scottsdale. Yeah, it would be nice Oct-May but then we'd have to stay inside. I was impressed with the extensive Scottsdale park system and how nice everything looked. I checked out our hostess's house on Zillow; she paid  about 25% more than what she would in Ann Arbor for the same house but her taxes are so much less. After my run Monday, off to a great breakfast place where I could not pass up shrimp and cheesy grits. No wonder I worried about the scale one week later. We did hike a lot and then on to a nearby town of Carefree where they have extensive, free cactus gardens. We had a long day Tuesday waiting for our 11:30 pm flight (that didn't leave until almost 1 am with no explanation from Delta other than there was bad weather in Atlanta. Well our plane just went back and forth between Detroit and Phoenix so that didn't make sense. Both had reasonable weather . More hiking, more sight seeing. On to an Italian restaurant we found on our first time there. I couldn't pass up their roasted artichoke lasagna. Guess where they got their gelato? Fennville, Michigan (where we stayed the last night of the Michigander last year and had that gelato). We waited for a while in yet another park. Our hostess said we could spend the entire day at her place if we wanted but she is far from the airport.

And we almost died. We were leaving the nearest Costco to the airport as the sun was setting but the street lights weren't on. Steve was trying to make a left but discovered he turned directly into on coming traffic and we couldn't cross the median to get to the other side. Scary. We lived with lots of enraged honking at us.

That was our vacation. 


Elephant's Child said...

Ouch. You really aren't kind to your poor face.
Sleep well.

Anonymous said...

Several friends go to Scottsdale every year for two months. Our winters are so deary. Kris

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Scottsdale was much nicer than I imagined. I just assumed it would be mainly for golf for rich retirees but it has miles of bike lanes and trails in its many parks. All the streets were nicely landscaped. I don't blame your friends even though I suspect our winters are worse.


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