Friday, October 5, 2018

Postcards from Prescott

We've been in Prescott for over three weeks now. We're grateful summer seems to be over and the daytime temps are now in the 60's, making our daily hikes really pleasant. Hurricane Rosa came through and drowned some parts of AZ but Prescott only got enough rain to keep the dust down for a little while.

We remain in a holding pattern on the house search, waiting for something interesting to come on the market. We've discovered that it's pretty easy to find a good sized lot and home, at a good price, with excellent RV parking out in Chino Valley, about 10 - 15 miles north of Prescott...we just don't know if we want to be in Chino.

Here's a look at some of what we've seen and done in the past week or so...

We love having access to the granite fields of Watson Lake right from our RV park (Point of Rocks RV).
We goof around on the boulders every single day!

I'd seen plants that look like wild grapes on every hike near water
and finally found proof that's what I was seeing!

We've been listening to cicadas ever since we arrived in Prescott.
They are usually high in the tops of the trees, I finally got a good look at one!

They sure are noisy, but we've gotten used to the sound.

Morning warm up.

Another morning sun bather.

Reflections on Watson Lake.
They are having a pretty serious algae bloom right now.

We hiked some of the new Storm Trails on Hans' birthday.
Here's a terrific resting spot on the Easter Island trail.

Boulder Creek still had some monsoonal moisture in the rocky sections.

If this Black Tailed rattlesnake had not warned us of its presence we'd never have seen it in the brush off trail.

Once we'd located the snake we were able to spend several minutes admiring it from afar.

Beautiful colors.

Hans had a tasty birthday dinner at the Barley Hound.
The free birthday bread pudding was incredible!

Fabulous fins on the Constellation trails.

Snake on a big old oak tree.

There are thousands of Acorn Woodpeckers in this area so I was surprised to see a Red-naped Sapsucker.

My dad stopped by for a few nights on his way home from his summer in Alaska!

That's the latest from Prescott!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Quartz Mountain, Temporary Streams and Camouflaged Critters

Our second week in Prescott has been filled with hiking (as usual) and exploring various neighborhoods to learn what parts of town we'd like to live in. We've looked at a few houses but none have been The One. Now it's a waiting game to see if anything interesting comes on the market.

Hans has also played pickleball a couple of times at the outdoor courts at Pioneer Park where there are eight brand new, dedicated pickleball courts with plans to add four more. We like that Prescott takes their pickleball seriously!

One of the more interesting hikes we did this week was a six mile out-and-back hike to Quartz Mountain, aka White Spar. From the Aspen Creek trailhead we took pretty forested trail #48 to sunny exposed trail #9415, to #9415A which got us up onto the unique quartz formation.

The entire top of this small mountain is quartz!

Terrific views of Prescott while standing on all that quartz.

This photo captures maybe a quarter of the exposed quartz.

Milky white quartz and spiky cactus.
I'd love to see the cactus blooming against the quartz!

Horned toads seem to be abundant in the Prescott area...but are hard to see unless they move!

We enjoy hiking from the Williamson Valley trailhead and one day decided to hike trail #308 as far north as we felt like going before turning around and finishing up with a loop back to the TH via trails 345 and 347...about a 5.5 mile hike.

As we headed north on trail #308 we crossed Mint Wash and entered terrain burnt in the 2013 Doce Fire. Granite boulders became part of the landscape and, much to our surprise, we came to a small stream flowing down the mountain.

Once the stream hit Mint Wash it quickly disappeared into the sand. An old timer on the trail told us this stream usually only runs after a good snowfall or a heavy monsoon season like they had this year. What a delight to find water in the high desert when you least expect it!

From the Williamson Valley TH we cross a meadow lush with monsoonal grasses, watched over by Granite Mountain.

Here is the same area in April 2018, after several years of drought.

Approaching the burn zone: layers of green grass, skeletal trees and blue sky.

A seasonal oasis in the high desert.
The old timer we met on the trail said he once saw dozens of baby snakes in this pond, we only saw tadpoles.

The stream abruptly disappears into sandy Mint Wash.

We saw many signs of life around the stream.

Camouflaged toad.

We're still experiencing unseasonably warm temps so more forest hiking is in our near future, but if the weather guessers are right things will get a little more comfortable next week and maybe even a little bit wet...we shall see.

Acorn woodpeckers are abundant in the Ponderosa forests.

Not something you see every day...

...but when driving through the big valley north and east of Prescott
there's a good chance you might see Pronghorn in the open prairie.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

It's Great To Be Back on Natural Trails!

We left San Diego and the relatively cool coastal zone on September 10th and spent one night in Yuma, AZ at our awesome moochdocking site at my sister and brother-in-laws place. The only drawback was the 109 degree heat in the desert. We were grateful for the 50amp electrical.

We made it to Prescott the next day and are happily set up in a sweet site backing up to giant granite boulders at Point of Rocks RV Campground. Though we've stayed at this RV park several times before, we'd never stayed in site #62. It's a great site, we have wonderful privacy and access to the granite boulders...but it was challenging to get into with our big fifth wheel, some tree trimming was required, as well as a little roof repair.

It's a little dark, but that's a 5 ft long gopher snake that Rosie is eyeing!

We've enjoyed hiking almost every day since we arrived. It's wonderful to immerse ourselves in nature on dirt trails after months of urban walking.

Prescott takes their trails seriously, there's currently over 80 miles of trail within and adjacent to town, and more being built all the time. The trails are well marked and well engineered. Check out the excellent "Birth of a Trail" video on the Prescott Trails website.

We've previously visited Prescott in the spring when the area is rather brown and dry, so it's nice to see it all greened up from the heavy monsoon rains they've experienced this summer.

Walking through a lush green meadow near Thumb Butte.

A giant grub found on the trail...I think it's going to be a scarab beetle.

It's been hotter than usual for our first week in town so we did an easy hike around Lynx Lake one day. The trail around the pretty lake is only 2.3 miles but if you throw in a walking tour of the two adjacent forest service campgrounds you can get a decent, easy hike in that's mostly shaded.

Lynx Lake

There are numerous seasonal creeks in Prescott that probably only run during monsoon season. We've been happily surprised to see a trickle of water remaining in several of the creek beds we've hiked past lately.

Mint Creek flows sporadically even though it hasn't rained for a couple of weeks.
We love how green everything is right now!

It hasn't been cold enough for fall color yet
so I think these bright colors are some of the monsoonal growth going through their normal color cycle.

If this horned toad hadn't moved I never would have seen it!

Granite Lake is really only big enough to be called a pond but it sure is pretty,

Especially when it's covered in these delicate little lily flowers.

With temps getting up in the high 80's and low 90's each afternoon we've been getting on the trail well before 8am to beat the heat and have had no problem finding forested trails near town.

Vibrant, feathery grasses add texture to our hike.

We were worried that Rosie might be bummed to move back into the RV after having the run of a whole house all summer, but she seems to have taken the change in stride.

No, we didn't let her touch the praying mantis!

We have a great sunset views from the boulders right behind our RV.

That's it for our first week in Prescott, we've got several more weeks to go. We're doing a little house hunting while we're here but inventory is low, especially when RV parking is a requirement.  Wish us luck!