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!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Wrapping Up Five Months in San Diego

It's amazing that my last blog post was on April 30th...I've really enjoyed the break. Our summer in San Diego house sitting for my dad is drawing to a close and so is the blog hiatus. We've kept pretty busy with projects around the house, lots of urban walks, visits with friends and family.

Here's a look at some of the fun we've had this summer. There was a Mother's Day group hike at Volcan Mountain.

A gray morning...
...that got grayer as we went up...

...but cleared for big desert views at the top!

There was a Port of San Diego sponsored evening concert that included music by the awesome Alvino and the Dwells and a float-by of the San Salvador, an historically accurate replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's ship that landed in the port now called San Diego on Sept, 14, 1542.

San Salvador floats past the concert and even shoots their canons!

One of the best parts of house sitting for my dad was the opportunity to garden all summer long.

Rosie LOVED hanging out in the yard with me.

My mom was an avid grower of cymbidiums and they bloomed profusely this summer.

The old lemon tree went crazy.

The avocado tree was loaded too.

We hiked in the local mountains a couple more times before it got too hot.

Keeping our distance from the airplane monument because it was full of bees!

Chaparral covered hills, Pine Creek Bridge and the marine layer to the west
seen from Airplane Ridge in Rancho Cuyamaca State Park.

A picture perfect day at Big Laguna Lake.

I loved every phase of the garden this summer!

There were a couple dozen incredibly delicious apricots.

Two of six apples that grew on this spindly young tree.

This former fish pond became a garden and went from this...

....to this over the course of the summer.


It's scary that the ocean temperature is rising pretty dramatically...San Diego recorded its warmest water temperature ever this summer: 78.6 degrees on August 2nd. Also scary is the fact that sting rays come in to shore when the water is warm so there was a record numbers of stings this summer.

Despite the sting rays we did take advantage of the pleasant water temps to swim a few times, doing the sting ray shuffle of course! There were also numerous walks with feet in the ocean.

A lazy day at Ocean Beach.

An evening walk in the river channel along Dog Beach included crab and skate sightings.

Another stellar day, this time at Pacific Beach.

We even attended the big, beautiful wedding of Hans' niece, Kelly to her long time boyfriend Michael.

The bride and groom with her immediate family.


Balboa Park is a great place to walk on warm summer nights.

Happy hour sighting at Fathom Bistro.

We're not sure how Rosie is going to feel about moving back into the RV, she has loved all the room to roam in the house and hanging out with me in the yard. Fortunately we'll be spending the next month or so in Prescott with some great places for Rosie to get out and explore. We are really looking forward to being back in a small town (compared to San Diego!) and having real trails close by.