Oak Creek Canyon and Amanda Palmer

After spending several years mostly at home, I’ve been trying to make a point of going out and doing something—anything, really, so this might not end well—on a regular basis. Good mental health and all that stuff. I’ve taken a bit of an appreciation to hiking, though I use that term loosely.

I also consider just going downstairs a hike, so let’s not get wild here.

I had tried to ease into wandering the wilderness a few years ago, but now that I have enthusiastic companions to join me, my interest has been renewed.

My first recent ‘hike’ was through Papago, and you can find those pictures on Instagram or Facebook.

A couple of weeks ago, Clara mentioned going to Oak Creek Canyon in northern Arizona for a hike to see the fall leaves. In Phoenix, there are minimal leaves to change. Or plants that don’t hate everyone.

I was game, and we set the date for October 16th, but realized too late that there was a calendar-related conflict. So we decided to bump it up to ‘immediately’ and went on the 7th. We got a slightly later than planned start, namely because someone (me. It was me.) was across town and hadn’t brought the right shoes. Actual hiking shoes had been on my to-do list but didn’t happen, so it had come down to a choice of sure-to-die shoes and slightly-less-likely-to-die shoes.

Once the latter—and coffee—had been secured, we were off. The weather was nice and Clara keeps me on a steady diet of music I’ve never heard before. We didn’t stop for pictures in Sedona, because you can just Google those and see every view from the road anyway.

You can tell long time residences of Arizona when they ‘meh’ their way through Sedona 😉

In Oak Creek Canyon, it became apparent that despite it being a Wednesday morning, everyone in the entire southwest had the same plan. They were parked in every nook and cranny. We weren’t entirely sure the location of the trail we wanted, which is fine, because it’s a canyon. You’re not going anywhere but one direction.

When we did find the trail, it had been blocked off at maximum occupancy. Instead, we went farther down where the creek was accessible and enjoyed the weather while pondering if the water bugs would bite if I went into the creek (didn’t test the theory, not even for science).

We also met a man with a pug doing his best to hike along with his dad and having a grand time of it. He was friendly and adorable and was apparently on a trip around the area. I did manage enough restraint not to paparazzi the pup. Gold star.

Some of the leaves in the area had turned yellow, but not entirely what we had hoped to find, so we headed into Flagstaff for lunch and a look around.

We had lunch at Salsa Brava, and then strolled downtown, masks in hand. Well, on our faces, as it were. The parking meters had been closed off and posted signs stated parking was free to support local businesses. We checked out a bookstore (of course) and pondered an enormous Biden bus in the street with the driver taking a cigarette break.

In the end, we did find some of the trees we came for.

And sunflowers with bees, but they were a bit difficult to capture without becoming too close acquaintances.

Then it was time to head home. We went back through the canyon and stopped at another location.

Once we were on the road, though, we got boxed in by semi-trucks by the Bloody Basin sign, which is not at all ominous. Traffic slowed to the point where you think, good thing I used that last restroom.

Clara, ever road-trip ready, had An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer prepared. We listened to Amanda yell about ukuleles and Neil Gaiman coo about statues and saucers as we lamented about how much we missed our dogs.

We got in late, but the dogs were ready for their greeting duty. Now would be a great place for a picture of said greeting canines, but it would have just been a blur anyway 😉

The End!

You can find the full set of pictures from the trip on Instagram and Facebook.

In Which I Get Us Stranded in the Desert

Last Saturday, my companion and I had thrown around the idea of going star gazing outside the city, and the place that sprang to my mind was outside Casa Grande. By the time we had finished everything for the day though, neither of us was up for going anywhere that required pants.

Late the next morning, we decided to go for a drive that ended with lunch, and since Casa Grande was in the forefront, that was where we went. Anaya’s [Google photos] is a great restaurant that I had eaten at a couple of years ago and they didn’t disappoint this time either. We opted to go check out the Casa Grande Ruins, which somehow I don’t think I’ve ever visited. In the course of conversation, we decided to drive by a house I had looked at purchasing there but it hadn’t been the right time to move. It would have been a radically different way of life though, and I sometimes ponder if I had moved forward with it. Shower thoughts and all.

That house is just outside of Casa Grande, on a little dirt road, not too far out of town but enough to feel like you’ve reached the end of the world. Perfect.

 

For those unfamiliar with the area, the “dirt roads” are hard packed and in this case, even city maintained. It’s not exactly off roading, and unless it has been raining, those roads are rarely an issue. So with blue skies, we headed out.

The new owner of the house had done quite a bit of work cleaning up the outside—it’s a fixer upper—and as I was imaging the possibilities, my companion asked if the road went through. When I had been out to look at the house, I had only turned around in the driveway, and we were past that point, but I assumed the road might continue.

It did not. It faded out into desert. The road was narrow, surrounded by brush, and as we tried to back the car, it hung. Dust went everywhere.

Uh, oh.

We got out to find the tire was buried. It wasn’t going anywhere.

As it turned out, we had found a pit of sand that was less than a half-car’s length and I, the ever-faithful tour guide, was wildly unprepared for such things.

Oops.

So doing what everyone does in the beginning of every horror movie, I knocked on the front door of the house—yes, the one in the middle of nowhere.

Except not entirely; we could, technically, see the paved road up and back behind the house. If they could see us was another matter.

The new owner of the (my) house, didn’t have any real way to help us get the car out of the sand—we were all trying to avoid having to dig it out—but offered us water and to use his property for shade while we called around for a tow.

My companion, always a good sport (he hangs out with me, after all), was less worried. This is what insurance is for.

As it turned out, because we were technically not near pavement, they would not send a truck. Even though we only needed towed just a few feet to get out of the sand. Even though we could see paved road from where we stood (on the other side of the property).

Nope.

Meanwhile, as we get to know the only person around for miles, he mentions how much he loves living outside of town where no one bothers him.

Except these weirdos on his front porch, clearly.

Anyway, he was very nice as we loitered on his property, trying to reason with tow companies that were actually stranded in the desert and contemplating if we missed enough car payments, would they pave the road to retrieve the car?

Asking the big questions.

Also, as someone who is not the least bit sunproof, I recalled having the sunblock in hand earlier and thinking, Nah, not gonna need this.

Eventually, a small local towing company agreed to come out. Once they arrived, it took them all of ten minutes to pull out the car and we were well on our way again, back to civilization. We skipped the Ruins and headed home, though I have to wonder how often the car wash we stopped in had seen a Cadillac that looked like it had been off roading.

The moral of this story is I should not be responsible with coming up with weekend activities.

 

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