Thursday and Friday, November 16 and 17, 2017 (Boondocking Site, Sedona, AZ)

Thursday Deb and I had a girl's day, leaving the guys to do "their thing" while she and I go on a day trip to Prescott for a little shopping...and as it turns out, some sightseeing too. It was about 9:15 when we bid farewell to our guys and hit the road, making a stop at Fry's in Cottonwood to stash a couple of bags of garbage in a can and then fuel up the car (oh, the trials and tribulations of boondocking....what to do with your garbage! At lease we bought gas there).

It took us about an hour and a half to reach our destination...a little longer than expected due to road construction. But we made it to Costco...whoo hoo...time for some shopping! We took our time shopping and then filled the back of Deb's car with our purchases...we even had a nice fellow help lift a rather heavy box from the cart into the car.

Next on the agenda was lunch...a quick search on google and we found a nice spot close by...The Finn fit the bill perfectly. We had a lovely table by the window...with a view of the surrounding Prescott valley...(thanks for the pictures, Deb!)...

We both ordered dishes that were delicious and reasonably priced...but I must admit the salad I ordered wasn't exactly what I was expecting. "Heirloom Tomatoes and Burrata" Topped with micro basil, local olive oil, and aged balsamic (Burrata is a creamy style of mozzarella.)...and some tiny slices of tomato with 2 blobs of mozzarella with olive oil and balsamic drizzled over it is exactly what I got. Don't get me wrong, it was delicious but I guess I expected a little more substance to the salad, in addition to the tomatoes and mozzarella. Deb had Caprese Flatbread that looked yummy and she really enjoyed it.

Instead of going back home the way we came, we decided to go back through Jerome, completing a loop. On the way was an area Deb wanted to check out...the Granite Dells at Watson Lake. Ray has heard about the area and wants to photograph it. Looks like an interesting area and is definitely on the list for "next time".

We stopped at a pull-out overlooking the lake...
And then drove down into the park, stopping at the boat launch area for pictures...
The Granite Dells is a geological feature north of Prescott, Arizona. The Dells consist of exposed bedrock and large boulders of granite that have eroded into an unusual lumpy, rippled appearance. Watson Lake and Willow Lake are small man-made reservoirs in this formation.


It was a very interesting area....definitely worth spending some time at to explore.

We took highway 89A, that weaves its way up over the mountains, through Jerome and down into Cottonwood. It's quite the road but a beautiful drive...I spent a good portion of my time with the window down snapping pictures...


The colourful red rock cliffs and Cottonwood are in the hazy distance...
We stopped at a scenic viewpoint for more pictures...


 Jerome...
Located high on top of Cleopatra Hill (5,200 feet) between Prescott and Flagstaff is the historic copper mining town of Jerome, Arizona. Once known as the wickedest town in the west, Jerome was a copper mining camp, growing from a settlement of tents to a roaring mining community. Four disastrous fires destroyed large sections of the town during its early history, resulting in the incorporation of the City of Jerome in 1899.

(Today) Jerome is an enchanting town, and a photographer’s paradise. From its external appearances it hasn’t changed much in nearly 100 years. Many of the buildings used by present-day business folks are those built after the fires of 1894 and 1899. A number of the buildings have been restored and more are planned for restoration. Due to the 30-degree incline of the mountainside, gravity has pulled a number of buildings down the slope. To the delight of some, one of those buildings was the town’s jail. Those buildings still standing make for interesting visiting and with a little research you can find their historical significance. One notable section is the “Cribs District.” You will find this area across the street from the English Kitchen, in a back alley where all the buildings were  part of Jerome’s ill-famed “prostitution row.”

Steve and I visited Jerome while in the area back in November 2011 and I'd love to visit it again...that will have to be put on the list for "another time". If you are ever in the area, a visit to this quaint little community is a must!

Arriving back home, it was now time to unload the back of Deb's car and find room in our rigs for all of the "stocking up" we both did.

Once that was done, we all sat outside chatting for awhile before going back into our rigs for dinner. Sounds like the guys had a very relaxing day. Well, Steve might beg to differ...I don't think he considers spending the day editing pictures very relaxing!

We had a fabulous sunset...


We woke Friday morning to cloudy skies...a definite change in the weather for today. It was a dreary cloudy day with a high of only 19C/66F and a bit of rain...not much thank goodness as the ground here gets very mucky when it rains. As a matter of fact, you don't want to be here in heavy rain because you're likely to get stuck.

So today ended up being a great "catch up day". After our two hour coffee start to the day, we did our resistance exercises, showered, had breakfast and cleaned up the kitchen. Steve did manage to get the back of the truck swept out and the quads loaded back in before the "sprinkling" started...so that was a good job done.

As for me, I worked on blogs all day...Steve had managed to get all of the pictures ready yesterday, so now it was blog time for me!

While I was doing that, Steve did some research on the area(s) we plan on heading towards over the next week or so. We have been here for a week now...amazing how fast the time slips by when you're having fun!



Wednesday, November 15, 2017 (Boondocking Site, Sedona, AZ)

Wednesday was another sightseeing day! We all piled into the car just before 9:30 and headed along the forestry road towards the colourful cliffs of Red Canyon and the Palatki Heritage Site. In the Hopi language Palatki means 'red house'.

You can see a person standing at The Grotto...


We arrived at the site just before 10:00 and after parking (and marvelling at the beauty of surrounding red rock), we started on the trail towards the Visitor Centre. The website says to call to reserve space for the tour as space is limited to ten visitors at a time, however, Ray was unable to get through when he tried calling (so we decided to just go). We were met by Tom, who said that there was room for 4 on the next tour at 10:15...perfect, what luck!

The Palatki site has a set of ancient cliff dwellings in the red sandstone cliffs, built from 1100 to 1400 CE by the Sinagua people of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples. The cliff dwellings were built under south-facing overhangs for shelter and winter sun. The Sinagua people planted crops and made pottery in the area. Palatki and Honanki, another nearby archaeological site, had the largest cliff dwellings in the Red Rock formation area from 1150 CE to 1300 CE.

Our group (of 7 once Deb and I come out of the visitor centre) waiting with Tom, our guide...

Once we were all ready, we followed Tom onto the trail. He stopped a number of places giving us lots of information. The wall of rocks used to be the barn.
In the 1920s, Charles Willard discovered the abandoned site and built his homestead nearby. He planted an orchard of 2,000 trees (some of which still stand on the site) and put in a vegetable garden. His home is now the visitor’s center. While the house was being built, Willard lived in one of the stone dwellings just beyond the house.

The dark marks on the cliff side is from waterfalls...can you imagine how beautiful that must be?

From here we can begin to see the cliff dwelling ruins behind the trees...
Then we came to the more difficult section of the trail up to the ruins...

Palatki consists of two separate pueblos, suggesting two family or kin groups may have lived here, one in each pueblo. 

The valley below for growing crops...
Panoramic view. Steve likes the Lightroom editing program for stitching photos together...


Our tour guide Tom on the left. Archaeologists think there were a total of 16 rooms...
Looking up above the dwelling ruins...
Those holes would have had wooden poles inserted into them perhaps for flooring or something else...
The circular shield-like pictographs above the eastern pueblo have been interpreted by some archaeologists as being a kin or clan symbol.
Panoramic view showing the cliff above the dwelling ruins...
Steve now see's an Apes face in the cliff but nobody noticed it on our hike...too funny!

Steve hamming it up as we head back down the rocky trail...thanks for the picture, Ray!
We're now on the trail that goes to the Grotto alcove sheltering the petroglyphs and pictographs from every native culture to ever occupy the Verde Valley....

Steve also said he now see's an image in the shaded underside of this rock...
Arriving at the Grotto...
We were met by another park volunteer who would tell us about the pictographs and petroglyphs. Unfortunately, I can't remember her name. Steve wondered why this spot wasn't used for cliff dwellings and she said a waterfall cascades into here during heavy rains...

This area is covered in petroglyphs/pictographs from throughout the ages including some from the Apaches...
Mountains with perhaps the sun or moon above...
Bottom right they thought would be an Elk...

A waterfall coming out of the mountains. There are apparently 7 of them here and a previous visitor pointed out to a tour guide that there are 7 shown on the pictograph...
Our tour guide said archaeologists think these show the animals spirit leaving. Steve said he thinks they had gas! Thinking about it now Steve thinks maybe they depict Skunks? We've seen lots of dead ones on the highway coming here! Who really knows what they were blogging about back then. LOL!



A Desert Tortoise on the right...

Apparently the idea for Princess Leia's hairstyle on Star Wars came from pictographs like the one on the bottom left...interesting!
These pictographs turned black from all of their fires in this spot...

Since we were the first tour group continuing around to check out the stone cabin, it was suggested we tap our walking sticks on rocks as we go...just to let the snakes know we were coming...
The farmer lived here for 2 years while he built his house which is now the Park Visitor Centre...

Looks cozy...


Looks like an Owl sitting up there...
Time to head back to the car...

Now we are on our way to Palatki's sister site, Honanki Heritage Site...



These Pink Jeep Tour vehicles come in from Sedona...
Campsite next to the road...
Honanki site is much bigger. At the time it was inhabited, from 1100 AD to 1300 AD, it was the largest settlement in Red Rock Country. This entire period of Sinaqua culture was named after Honanki. One of the beams recovered from the ruins was tree-ring dated to 1270 AD. Same as with Palatki, Honanki is surrounded by pictographs and petroglyphs from different time periods, some from 2000 BC. Every culture that inhabited the site has left their mark, without disturbing any of the drawings from previous tenants. Honanki was last inhabited between 1400 and 1875, by Yavapai and Apache people, who also contributed their pictographs.
After signing in at the gate, we were given a little information about the trail from the lady manning entry and sent on our way. It seems if you want an actual tour of these ruins, you must go on a "Pink Jeep Tours" tour...
The cliff dwelling ruins just above the trees come into view from here...
 A close up...








These structures would normally have a smooth mud surface but over time the elements expose the rocks

Another clan symbol...


Looking above the cliff dwellings...



Me peeking around the corner...





The Honanki ruins were much bigger but for me something was lost not having a tour guide like we did at Palatki. Pretty darned incredible, just the same though! We saw several other OHV trails on the way there and you can ride your ATV's to either of these sites. Too bad mine is out of commission! The road was rough especially the one to Honanki.

We were back  home around 1:30ish...time to relax for a bit before starting the party...it's Ray's birthday today. We started with champagne...
Steve grilling the pork skewers Deb made...
It was an appetizer party. Deb also made this wonderful baked brie and phyllo pastry with cranberries and bacon. My contribution was a veggie plate and I was going to serve chicken wings...but everyone was too full...so they will be served another time. Lots of food and adult beverages were consumed!
All while sitting around the campfire...
The end to another awesome day...Happy Birthday, Ray...so glad we were able to celebrate with you!