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Life After Wildfire

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The Yarnell Hill Fire burned throughout the week, and flags remained at half-staff throughout Arizona. As we hiked through Lockett Meadow, it was not hard to think about the sense of loss that will remain after the press attention subsides.Life After WildfireThe Schultz Fire, Arizona’s largest wildfire in 2010, burned over 15,000 acres. The eastern slopes of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff still show fire damage.Life After Wildfire Sunset Crater is in the distance. Monsoon clouds overhead, but not enough rain here.Life After WildfireThe trees are still fragile.Life After Wildfire The aspen grove of the Inner Basin had been spared because the firefighters worked so hard to save it.

Man-made damage takes many shapes.Life After WildfireSometimes it can be whimsical.Life After WildfireNature can keep you guessing.Life After WildfireA wildflower on the path.Life After WildfireNote to self:  come back when the leaves change.Life After WildfireThe hike was a steady uphill climb, making the return trip a downhill jog. Life After WildfireDon’t be fooled:  there were other hikers who had come from as far away as Phoenix to escape the summer heat (110 degrees F).Life After WildfireBuster, cooling off before getting back on the trail.Life After WildfireClouds moved overhead, as an afternoon monsoon threatened anything from a light shower to a flash flood. Luckily we made it back to the car without being rained on.

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The Buzz

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We didn’t need to stay up for the local network news to hear about the forecast of Santa Ana winds:  people had been complaining about sinusitis and migraines for days. Even so, the garden needed to be prepared for planting.

We had done some initial clearing, but it was time to get to work.

We had done some initial clearing, but it was time to get to work.

Bees in the Asian pear tree happily ignored me.
Bees in the Asian pear tree happily ignored me.

The guinea fowl, out and about.
The guinea fowl, out and about.

The apple trees, waiting for bees.
The apple trees, also targets for bees.

Bryon, setting up the tiller.

Bryon, setting up the tiller.

A dust bath.  What's not to like?

A dust bath. What’s not to like?

Okay, thoughts of spring are starting to occur ...
Okay, thoughts of spring are starting to occur …

A little sweat equity.

A little sweat equity.

The girls were let out for a little free time. One of the guinea fowl is eyeing the pile of cilantro Bryon threw over the garden fence.
The girls were let out for a little free time. One of the guinea fowl is eyeing the pile of cilantro Bryon threw over the garden fence.

One of the girls, getting some sun. We kept an eye on the two hawks circling overhead. Soon they headed back into the coop--and the safety of routine.

One of the girls, getting some sun. We kept an eye on the two hawks circling overhead. Soon they headed back into the coop–and the safety of routine.

The garden, now (almost) ready for planting.

The garden, now (almost) ready for planting.

Bryon, giving the chickens a few treats.

Bryon, giving the chickens a few treats.

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Super Sunday

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Today while most of America prepares for a national ritual of great importance Bryon and I ventured out to the garden for the first time since we came home from vacation. The orders from the seed catalogs had arrived, and it was time to make a tentative start to getting ready for spring.

There are still a few goodies to be found before tilling.

There are still a few goodies to be found before tilling.

Onions, auditioning for soup. Or quiche. Or salad ...

Onions, auditioning for soup. Or quiche. Or salad …

The Asian pear tree is beginning to bloom.
The Asian pear tree is beginning to bloom.

Harvesting leeks.

Harvesting leeks.

These are incredibly aromatic. We've had great soup from leeks like these.
These are incredibly aromatic. We’ve had great soup from leeks like these.

The last of the peppers, dried by the sun.
The last of the peppers, dried by the sun.

More onions.
More onions …

Sorrel, also good for soup.
Sorrel, also good for soup.

Beans. A coda.

Beans. An epilogue.

Lemons, a winter treat.
Lemons, a winter treat.

The blood oranges from this tree are tart (and slightly sweet) but not bitter.

The blood oranges from this tree are tart (and slightly sweet) but not bitter.

The peppers have made themselves at home here. I suspect we shall have many more this summer.
The peppers have made themselves at home here. I suspect we shall have many more this summer.

Lemons may be a winter treat but they bring a hint of spring's promise.

Lemons may be a winter treat but they bring a hint of spring’s promise.

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West Fork Trail

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“It’s a good day for a hike.” Bryon got behind the wheel and we headed toward Sedona. Since we had to be back in town for business later in the day, it had to be nearby and/or quick. The West Fork Trail was perfect!

We pulled off the road so I could take this picture. West Fork Trail is just down the road from here.

We pulled off the road so I could take this picture. West Fork Trail is just down the road from here.

Apple and pear trees in the orchard, waiting for spring.
Apple and pear trees in the orchard, waiting for spring.

Ferns carpet the orchard floor, which is also covered with snow.

Ferns carpet the orchard floor, which is also covered with snow.

Don't be fooled by the sun--it was cold out here.
Don’t be fooled by the sun–it was cold out here.

Remains of an abandoned house. Other walls are covered with ivy.

Remains of an abandoned house. Other walls are covered with ivy.

Heading toward the trailhead.

Heading toward the trailhead.

After seeing sun and snow in the orchard, I did not expect to encounter a wall of ice as we started walking down the trail.

After seeing sun and snow in the orchard, I did not expect to encounter a wall of ice as we started walking down the trail.

Bryon, not easily dwarfed by the surroundings.

Bryon, not easily dwarfed by the surroundings.

The water was clear and cold.

The water was clear and cold.

Down the creek the ice was thick enough for us to cross from one side to the other.

Down the creek the ice was thick enough for us to cross from one side to the other.

Crossing the creek on the trail the second time we came here.
Crossing the creek on the trail the second time we came here.

Did I want to look through a macro lens or a wide angle one? Luckily I did not have to choose just one.

Did I want to look through a macro lens or a wide angle one? Luckily I did not have to choose just one.

If you look carefully you can see that beavers have been here--the gnawed branches give them away.

If you look carefully you can see that beavers have been here–the gnawed branches give them away.

Pine trees and yucca plants, an unlikely winter pairing.
Pine trees and yucca plants, an unlikely winter pairing.

It's hard not to keep looking up at the cliffs along the way.
It’s hard not to keep looking up at the cliffs along the way.

The view from the start of the trail (or the end of it).
The view from the end of the trail (or the start of it).

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Follow That Vortex!

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Sedona is known for its cluster of vortexes (vortices?), or sites of energy concentration. Those who come to Boynton Canyon may seek the Kachina Woman or the spires. Bryon and I were not so ambitious:  we pointed to the red rocks in the distance and decided, “Let’s go that way.”

At the start of the hike, we crossed a dry creek bed. During summer monsoons, this could flood.

At the start of the hike, we crossed a dry creek bed. During summer monsoons, this could flood.

Desert plants coexist with pine, even in the snow.

Desert plants coexist with pine, even in the snow.

As we headed up the mountain we could see the sandstone layers of the mesa.

As we headed up the mountain we could see the sandstone layers of the mesa.

Is the Kachina Woman here? We don't see her.

Is the Kachina Woman here? We don’t see her.

Small stone formations mark the path to follow. I don't know who built them.
Small stone formations mark the path to follow. I don’t know who built them.

One of the neighbors came through. Deer perhaps?

One of the neighbors came through. Deer perhaps?

The spires are on the right.

The spires are on the right.

Getting close to the base of the cliff.
Getting close to the base of the cliff.

Distant mesas.
Distant mesas.

Under the cliffs. I think we're about half a mile from Devil's Bridge at this point.

Under the cliffs. I think we’re about half a mile from Devil’s Bridge at this point.

Sheets and layers of rock.
Sheets and layers of rock. At this point, I couldn’t tell you whether I had encountered a metaphysical phenomenon. I only knew that when I looked up, my head began to spin.

Getting up and back may have made my head spin, but the views were worth it!
Getting up and back may have made me almost dizzy, but the views were worth it!

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Walnut Canyon

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Even the ranger admitted that the name of the trail is somewhat of a misnomer:  “They call it the Island Trail, but it’s shaped like a peninsula.”

Here's what we saw as we headed into the canyon.

Here’s what we saw as we headed into the canyon. The Visitors’ Guide is on the right.

Desert plants surviving in the snow.

Desert plants surviving in the snow.

I can only imagine the classified ads for these places:  "1-3 BR, Great views. Must see to believe. Call for appointment."

I can only imagine the classified ads for these places: “1-3 BR, Great views. Must see to believe. Call for appointment.”

"... a stratum of rock, softer than those above, had been hollowed out by the action of time ... The overhanging cliff made a roof two hundred feet thick. The hard stratum was an everlasting floor. Thus the houses stood along in a row; like the buildings in a city block, or like a barracks."-Willa Cather, on a visit to Walnut Canyon in 1912

“… a stratum of rock, softer than those above, had been hollowed out by the action of time … The overhanging cliff made a roof two hundred feet thick. The hard stratum was an everlasting floor. Thus the houses stood along in a row; like the buildings in a city block, or like a barracks.”
-Willa Cather, on a visit to Walnut Canyon in 1912

Heading down into the canyon.

Heading down into the canyon.

One of the dwellings.
One of the dwellings.

Mormon Tea. This plant is a member of the ephedra genus and was used by native tribes as a beverage and medicinal tonic.

Mormon Tea. This plant is a member of the ephedra genus and was used by native tribes as a beverage and medicinal tonic.

The trail was partially closed due to weather and safety conditions. However, we were able to look inside.

The trail was partially closed due to weather and safety conditions. However, we were able to look inside.

The view from inside.

The view from inside.

Bryon, who is 6'5", provides a sense of scale.

Bryon, who is 6’5″, provides a sense of scale.

A view across the canyon.
A view across the canyon.

As we made our way back up the path I thought of Willa Cather and the tourists who had come a hundred years before us. They had been more adventurous to come this way, unencumbered by modern conveniences, untethered by technology. Even so:  we had nothing on the communities who had lived here hundreds of years  before us. Their great grandchildren had long since died or moved on. I understood why:  as soon as I made the vertical climb back to the Visitors' Center, I had to stop and rest before crawling back to the car.

As we made our way back up the path I thought of Willa Cather and the tourists who had come a hundred years before us. They had been more adventurous to come this way, unencumbered by modern conveniences, untethered by technology. Even so: we had nothing on the communities who had lived here hundreds of years before us. Their great grandchildren had long since died or moved on. I understood why: as soon as I made the vertical climb back to the Visitors’ Center, I had to stop and rest before crawling back to the car.

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Wupatki National Monument

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It is possible to visit all of the pueblos in a day, but we made two trips so we didn’t feel rushed. This is an even better idea if you want to visit in the summer and have the time. Bryon suggests that, because the days are longer, visit some of them in the morning, spend lunch in Flagstaff, and come back in the afternoon when it’s a little cooler. (Keep in mind that the Visitors’ Center closes at 5:30 p.m.–at least during the winter–so plan accordingly.)

Approaching the pueblo.

We started our visit at the Wukoki Pueblo, which was an easy hike.

"Do they mean, 'No papooses allowed?'"

“Do they mean, ‘No papooses allowed?'”

We started our visit at the Wukoki Pueblo, which was an easy hike.

The back side of the pueblo.

What you can see from the top of the pueblo--across the street, if you will.
What you can see from the top of the pueblo–across the street, if you will.

The afternoon sun was beginning to set, and it was going to be cold(er) soon.

The afternoon sun was beginning to set, and it would be cold(er) soon.

Weathered sandstone formation.
Weathered sandstone formation.

Check out the view from this one.
Citadel pueblo:  check out the view from this one.

Here's what you see from the Citadel Pueblo:  a huge limestone sink. A professional basketball court and sideline seats could easily fit inside it.
Here’s what you see from the Citadel Pueblo: a huge limestone sink. A professional basketball court and sideline seats could easily fit inside it.

Here's a view from the Lomaki Pueblo.
Here’s a view from the Box Canyon Pueblo.

One of the rooms inside the Lomaki Pueblo.
One of the rooms inside the Box Canyon Pueblo.

Box Canyon Pueblo

Box Canyon Pueblo.

Even the plants seemed timeless.

Even the plants seemed timeless.

Wupatki Pueblo is the largest pueblo in the monument.

Wupatki Pueblo is the largest pueblo in the monument.

There are several parts to the pueblo complex.
There are several parts to the pueblo complex.

Desert foliage.
Desert foliage.

"Don't touch the pottery!" We saw more warnings than pottery.

“Don’t touch the pottery!” We saw more warnings than pottery.

The sun was starting to set. We needed to head back to contemplate (read: make) dinner.
The sun was starting to set. We needed to head back to contemplate (read: make) dinner.

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Sunset Crater

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Armed with a national parks pass, we set off to see how far we could go. Arizonans looking for winter sport amusements were heading for Snowbowl or Wing Mountain.  Bryon and I wanted only a break from the excitement of getting our older son moved into a larger apartment so his younger brother could join him and start college. After a few days of wrangling with the registrar’s office and the apartment manager, why not blow off some steam at the nearest volcano?

This part of the trail is on the southwestern edge of the Sunset Crater above the Bonito Lava Flows.

This part of the trail is on the southwestern edge of the Sunset Crater above the Bonito Lava Flows.

As we predicted, we had the place (almost) to ourselves, encountering two families with children and a Forest Service ranger making her rounds.

It's hard to estimate how deep the snow is at any one point.

It’s hard to estimate how deep the snow is at any one point. Our estimate was between six and twelve inches.

Southern face of the Sunset Crater.

Southern face of the Sunset Crater.

We saw no animals during our hike, but we knew they were there.
We saw no animals during our hike, but we knew they were there.

A cinder cone forms during the early stages of an eruption as magma rises upward through a central  vent. As the gases in the magma are released, the solid components of the magma land around the vent and form a cone.

A cinder cone forms during the early stages of an eruption as magma rises upward through a central vent. As the gases in the magma are released, the solid components of the magma land around the vent and form a cone.

A late-night errand?
A late-night errand?

Southern side of Sunset Crater, on the Lava Flow Trail.
Southern side of Sunset Crater, on the Lava Flow Trail.

Cinder cones come in various sizes and shapes.
Cinder cones come in various sizes and shapes.

Hikers are no longer allowed to go into the crater because the traffic would cause the sides to erode.

A view from the northwest side at the Cinder Hills Overlook. Hikers are no longer allowed to go into the crater because the traffic would cause the sides to erode.

It was an easy hike. If you’re in the Flagstaff area, grab your camera and check it out.

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Day Trip: Jerome, Arizona

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“Hey, let’s go to that town where that guy from that band who started a winery …”

If that doesn’t ring a bell with you either, don’t worry:  we had to consult the Font of Knowledge (i.e. Google) for something more specific. All we had to do was program the Garmin, and we were ready to go.

Shops in Jerome.

Shops in Jerome.

We left most of the snow behind in Flagstaff and decided to recharge before hiking around the town.

The view from Main Street.

The view from Main Street.

The Flatiron Cafe had opened that day under new management. Thanks to Jen and Amy, we enjoyed two lovely cups of cappuccino and some fresh carrot and ginger soup.

A yummy cappuccino.

A yummy cappuccino.

Happily resuscitated, we headed back out to explore.

Across the street from the Flatiron Cafe we found the House of Joy. This former brothel (and restaurant) currently operates as a boutique but was closed when we visited.

Across the street from the Flatiron Cafe we found the House of Joy. This former brothel (and restaurant) currently operates as a boutique but was closed when we visited.

We found Nelly Bly, a shop that sells kaleidoscopes and art. Just think–over a hundred years ago, kaleidoscopes were considered cutting-edge home media.

A view from a kaleidoscope at Nelly Bly.

A view from a kaleidoscope at Nelly Bly.

More cool stuff at Nelly Bly.
More cool stuff at Nelly Bly.

Glass art from--where else?--Nellie Bly.
Glass art from–where else?–Nellie Bly.

There were many shops and galleries to enjoy, but we were only able to preview a few. This place is worth a second (and a third) visit.

More cool stuff from local artists.

More cool stuff from local artists.

A reminder that Jerome is an old mining town.
A reminder that Jerome is an old mining town …

... that is home to a lively artists' colony.
… that is home to a lively artists’ colony.