Social Distancing: Petrified In Arizona

Carolyn took the month of June off from work in what Southwest refers to as Emergency Time Off. What that amounts to is that you receive a small portion of pay for helping the company reduce labor cost during the COVID-19 pandemic. The best news is we get the whole month together to do things we might not normally get to do. (I’ve been furloughed since March) So lots of reading, organizing, some cleaning (not much), and of course some hikes.

Fathers’ Day weekend consisted of us holding our big yard sale in Payson. It might be a pain but still lots of fun and Jordyn came up and helped us out. For Fathers’ Day we hiked along the Arizona Trail on a section south of Pine for about a nine mile roundtrip. The reward after was a stop at the Pinewood Tavern for some pork nachos and a craft beer. Good stuff.

Since we were staying at our old home in Payson and Carolyn’s mom is there for the summer to get out from the heat and do some social distancing away from the city. It was decided that we would take a road trip to Petrified Forest National Park, the Painted Desert, and stop at an Arizona State Park, Lyman Lake. We packed up the cooler with lunch and waters, took our dog Roxy, and off we headed on a Sunday morning. Our drive took us up through Heber and towards Holbrook. We entered at the south entrance and proceeded into the park for some hiking and exploration of areas that I’ve never been to. Due to COVID-19, there were very few visitors so social distancing was a breeze. We ended up hiking three shorter hikes to give us a taste of the area and it did not disappoint. Our hikes included Giant Logs, Long Longs, Agate House, and Puerco Pueblo. These hikes are fairly flat and easy so all of us, including Roxy, were able to get out and enjoy.

To see so many petrified trees, interesting rock formations, petroglyphs and ruins, and all of the history in the area was exhilarating. Our drive took us to the north entrance by the Painted Desert area where we stopped for our picnic lunch.

After our stop, we got back in the car and headed over to Lyman Lake. This was another stop that we had never been to before. The lake is formed from a dam along the Little Colorado River and it has nice campgrounds, boating, swimming, and some hiking. We took another couple mile hike to some more petroglyphs before having our celebratory Arizona State Park craft beer brewed by Arizona Wilderness. They are a brewery that has that outdoor Arizona theme and they teamed up to brew a pale ale where some of the proceeds go the state park system. So it was appropriate to have one at Lyman.

We got back on the road in time to head home and watch the second episode of the new HBO series, Perry Mason and the premier of I’ll Be Gone In The Dark. Both of these shows are really good and it was a great way to end a great day road trip.

I’m not sure why I have never been to the Petrified Forest, but Carolyn and I want to go back. There are many beautiful trails and things to see so we plan on revisiting where we can spend some time down off the beaten path. The park is clean and unspoiled, has few travelers (think social distancing), lots of history, and the petrified trees are something else. The Painted Desert area has some decent hikes as well so it might take several trips. The entrance is about 120 miles from our front door in Payson. I’m thinking that Fall might be a good time to get petrified again. But in the meantime, our next stop is Sedona.

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Social Distancing: Back to Arizona

The day has come come to start heading back to Arizona from our social distanced times in Southern Utah. But first coffee at a lively upbeat coffee shop that isn’t too far from our hotel–Feel Love Coffee. The Riverside location has a yoga/pilates type of studio as part of the shop and it is hopping with music and pounding of those working out. Fun eclectic place with good breakfast food and coffee plus outdoor seating. I was feeling the love and if you are ever up that way, make sure to check it out.

As we head out of St. George and on to Hurricane, we have decided to take the long way home going back to Kanab and on to Page, AZ so we can stop by Horseshoe Bend since I had never been. South of Kanab, we drive into AZ by Colorado City, a town with an infamous past built on polygamy. We wanted to check out the local brewery, Edge of World Brewery, but they are closed on Wednesdays. Who would have every thought that Colorado City would have a brewery? The times they are a changing. We continue through Fredonia, AZ and head towards Kanab.

Big Al’s Burgers is on my mind with a big buffalo burger just waiting to be devoured. We have arrived around the end of lunch time and once again the place is jumping. We grab the buffalo burgers to go and head towards Horseshoe bend. By the time we arrive, I have developed some nice stains on the front of my shirt. Trust me, well worth the stains.

Due to COVID-19 very few tourists are at Horseshoe Bend. Per Carolyn, the trail has been changed and is wheelchair accessible–a mile in and a mile out. The view is beautiful but in my opinion, but it is not something that overwhelmed me.

I guess I have become accustomed to having strenuous hikes to beautiful views so I was it was a bit of a let down for me. I am still glad to have visited and to have seen the view so I’m glad we visited. I did learn a new toilet technique by using the restroom at the Bend. I was so thankful to obtain new knowledge to day while using the Horseshoe Bend facilities. The things I learn while traveling.

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How to use a toilet in the USA.

Back on Rt 89A, we head towards Flagstaff with a new change in our plans; we are using the Hilton Team Member rate to stay at the Doubletree by Hilton Flagstaff so we can relax and visit a couple of our favorite breweries. First stop is Mother Road Brewing Company.

Mother Road is always an interesting stop. They have a great outdoor patio seating area, good food, and good beer. While hanging out enjoying our time, we are told that Flagstaff is participating in the statewide curfew that has been put into place due to rioting and protesting the George Floyd death, and not COVID. The Conserve and Protect Kolsch is easily a favorite of ours. We have an appetizer with our beer and walk on over to Lumberyard Brewing Company in an attempt to beat the clock for curfew.

We arrive to total chaos as Lumberyard has not figured out how they are going to do things in a social distanced manner. We have to leave our number as the bartender describes a 30 minute wait even though there is not many there. He recommends a place across the street for beers while we wait. As soon as we order a beer at the new place, we get a text that lets us know that our table is ready. That 30 minutes turned into 10 minutes. We get back to Lumberyard to stand in line with 15 others (non social distanced) as we rotate one by one past the bar to order drinks and then be delivered to a table. The Hazy Angel is very tasty and a favorite of ours. Im hoping they have figured out a better system because what they were doing did not work well at all.

Out we go, racing the clock in our walk back to the hotel to beat curfew.  Our journey back to Phoenix has taken an intentional detour and delay as the coolness of the mountain town is a nice respite from the heat of the Desert. It has been a great start to Carolyn’s emergency time off month from Southwest with our six day road trip. Many miles were hiked and many new eating and drinking places discovered and in some cases rediscovered.

Carolyn and I head into sleepy land with talks of what lies ahead and where we are headed for our next adventures but first some rest.

 

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Social Distancing: Snow Canyon State Park

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Our free breakfast at the Garden Inn wasn’t too exciting. With the COVID restrictions, no options but it came with the room. Our destination today is Snow Canyon State Park. The entrance is about 12 miles from our hotel and we have ambitions of hiking several trails today. The expected high is 97.

Upon arriving, as we are driving to our first destination, we see a desert tortoise crossing the road. That was a first for me. Many had stopped to take photos so we avoided the crowd and drove on. Carolyn has found and created a loop route for us that will take us on the Lava Flow Trail to West Canyon Road to Petrified Dunes to Butterfly and back on a section of Lava Flow. It is a very ambitious start to our morning. Sunny, hot, sandy trails, over the petrified dunes makes for a spectacular loop. The lava field is interesting and includes some lava caves that some climb down and explore.

The petrified dunes are amazing. I have no idea how they were formed but it is a beautiful trek across the sandstone that includes some slippery areas.

Our hike is approximately 4.25 miles with elevation gains of 520 feet. We only see a couple other people on 2.5 hour adventure hike. Just beautiful. When finished, we decide to take a break and drive around ending up for a beer and a couple snacks at the Xetava Gardens Cafe located in Kayenta Art Village. The whole area is a high end residential area with sustainable types of building projects. It is something else to see, how many of the houses are built close to the ground and hard to see. The Brussel Sprouts are amazing and I honestly say that I have never, ever had a better iced tea. Sitting out social distanced on the patio with great service and great food is hard to beat. It was also our first taste of Rogue Ales Honey Kolsch. Carolyn has now found her favorite. It is refreshing and one can taste the honey.

Next stop is Costco, why because I love Costco and I always try to stop in different ones on my trips. Big and I mean big. Clean and well kept and we end up with nothing just walking around with our face mask on. People in Utah seem to honor the request without complaint. We head to the state liquor since they sell the Rogue Honey Kolsch and I just happen to find a bottle of bourbon that was a bit hard to find this year in Phoenix–Henry McKenna Single Barrel. This will become my souvenir for the trip. We head back to the hotel to quickly refresh and figure out where we are going to grab some local grub before returning to Snow Canyon State Park.

The local stop for our togo dinner is Larsen’s Frostop Old Fashioned Drive in. Larsen’s has been around in St. George since the mid 1960’s and it is a genuine throwback to the way folks used to dine at a drive in. It is a real small chain that started somewhere back east in the 1950’s. We grab a couple burgers, fries, and onion rings and head back to the park for an impromptu picnic. Beautiful setting at a great campground with picnic tables, clean restrooms, and beautiful scenery. We enjoy dinner and a Rogue Honey Kolsch and decide to go do several more hikes to work off those calories.

First stop, White Rocks Amphitheater trail. It is about a 2 mile roundtrip with few around.  We get 200 feet of elevation since we climbed up some of the amphitheater for some scenic views.

Very different color of the rocks. At the amphitheater, you feel like you are at some Caribbean beach as there is plenty of deep white sand to roll around it. Nothing spectacular but worth the visit. Back at the car we head to the north exit of the park and drive down State Route 18 to the Paradise Canyon area. We embark on our last hike of the day The Chuckwalla Trail. Once again, we hike a total of a couple miles out and back at dusk. Not many hikers as we enjoyed the solitude as the sun went down. The trail leads to many other options but of course we have run out of time and are heading back home on Wednesday.

I am so impressed with the Utah State Park system. All the facilities we have seen are clean, well maintained, and plentiful. I am already thinking of return trips to tackle more hikes in more parks. We drive back to the Garden Inn with Carolyn telling me that we are going to eat breakfast somewhere different in the morning. We have a long drive ahead so while the news displays unrest throughout the country, we rest in St. George.

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From Zion to St. George: Socially Distanced and Socially Shamed (I’m A Pepper)

June 1, 2020

Out of bed, get some coffee from our favorite coffee place in Kanab, Jakey Leigh’s Coffee Shop and Bakery. Ready to get out on the road and head to Zion National Park via the Mount Carmel Junction traveling east to west. The toll booth has no workers since Zion is technically closed but roads are open. It is always disappointing when I don’t get to use my lifetime senior parks pass. I like to show it off but not today as entrance is free no matter where you enter. This route is quite impressive and beautiful. Traffic isn’t too bad and our trip into Springdale only takes a little over an hour. As we approach the road to Angel’s Landing, cars are parked everywhere due to closures. The visitor parking lots are, for the most part, vacant. The COVID 19 closures in someways has been helpful for us. Most trails are closed but you could do the Narrows with a guide. No buses are running due to social distancing requirements. What a difference then last summer.

The Watchman Trail from the Visitor’s Center is open and off we go. This trail is heavy trafficked but still less traffic then a normal summer day. Fairly strenuous with a healthy elevation gain of 650 feet over the 1.5 miles (3 mile RT) to the end of the trail. We have gotten a late start and it is hot. The views are magnificent and it is fairly easy to be social distanced the further we go since most people are done for the day due to the heat.

I’m less spry to day after the hiking workouts from yesterday so our time is about 1:20. We took our time enjoying the scenery. This trail is overlooked by the adventurers but I liked it. You are over Springdale and have great views out towards the Angel’s Landing areas. There is little shade so sunscreen is essential. Once again we see some that have no water, hiking in their flip flops. It is always amazes me that many do not understand the rigors of hiking in the heat and footwear is often overlooked.

The end of the hike leads us back into the parking lot out the entrance and into one of my favorite breweries, Zion Brewery. Probably one of the most scenic locations for a brewery in the US. We split the Elevated Elk Burger and some fries. Good stuff. If it had been dinner time, there is no doubt I would have eaten the Buffalo Meatloaf that I enjoyed last summer on several occasions. No lunch would be complete with out us having a brew. Their Juicy, a New England Style Hazy IPA, is delicious. We were social distanced on the patio.

Next stop is St. George. The road to St. George from Springdale is very scenic and you travel through Hurricane, a nice small town. Many scenic places on the road so our travel is enjoyable. Once arriving in St. George, we check into the Hilton Garden Inn, shower up, and head to St. George’s first brewery, Silver Reef Brewing Company. They are located in a warehouse area and unbeknownst to us, they didn’t have a tap room and only sell beer by the can. The owner was there, so we got an impromptu tour of the facility and all the plans he had to turn it into a full service brewery and tap room with a restaurant. COVID 19 had done a number on his business since many of his kegs get delivered to Las Vegas casinos. Very interesting gentleman and we were happy to enjoy his stories and some of his rootbeer that they brew as well. They also do wine and liquor. He was proud of being the only place in Utah that has a winery, distillery, and a brewery. He gave us some suggestions on St. George, we bought a variety six pack and back to the hotel.

We take a Lyft from the hotel to Historic Downtown St. George. Very well kept, and we arrive and get dropped off in front of a protest that has probably 40 individuals with signs of all types referencing Black Lives Matter. They were very peaceful and stayed on the corner in front of a Zion’s Bank.

Our first stop is the Station II Bar, but they weren’t currently serving food so he sends us across the street to George’s Corner Restaurant. He raves about the lamb burger and that sounds right up my alley. They have just opened and seating is limited but we get social distanced seating at the bar and had a great meal and our server/bartender was fantastic. Lots of history in this old building that has maintained its character but renovated to have a good experience. The lamb burger is fantastic. I still have dreams of eating that burger. It really connects with the senses.

Upon finishing our meal, we note that the protestors are no longer around and we head back to the Station II Bar. This is really new and was opened by the Zion Brewery. A former fire station converted into a taproom that has some game room areas and some awesome places to hangout. We decide to sit at the upstairs outdoor patio and sip on a cold one. Great concept and should be a winner once this COVID-19 fades.

It’s after 9:00, and Carolyn believes that we should just walk back to the hotel since it is only 2.3 miles, comfortable outside, and we are in St. George so it should be ok and uneventful. We walk by some old homes on Main St and it’s nice, quiet, and a nice time to reflect on life. We are about halfway into our walk when we cross at a stoplight and as we reach the other corner, a passenger in a pickup truck stick their head out the window and yells, “Dr. Pepper is for pussies, bitch!

I’m shaking my head thinking did I really hear that? Carolyn is as stunned as me and can only go “oh, I see, it’s the shirt“. Yup, I was wearing my free Dr. Pepper shirt this evening in my casual mode not realizing that it would set some local guy off. Welcome to St. George–not. In some ways it was funny, but it sure was a strange welcome to St. George.  I suppose not all people like Dr. Pepper, but I own the shirt because it was free from a promotion. I’ve been socially shamed for being a “pepper”. Continuing on, we were more cautious as we finally arrived at the Garden Inn around 10:00 ready to go to sleep and prepare for another hiking adventure on Tuesday.

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The Offending Shirt

So I guess I’m a pepper, are you a pepper too?

 

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Social Distancing: Hoodoo You Love–Part 2

May 31, 2020

Today’s journey will take Carolyn and I to Kodachrome Basin State Park a drive of close to 100 miles up Route 89 and across Scenic Route 12 to Cannonville. Our first stop is in Hatch for some breakfast where the vacation races had an ultra marathon and other trail running events on Saturday. We watched some of the competitors hobble around after yesterday’s event. They were beat up but it must have been a scenic run. We ate breakfast at the Hatch Station and it was interesting to talk to the older lady running the place who stays and works there every summer and lives in Sun City area but once lived in Pine, AZ. Just some small world stuff and fun to hear the stories.

Back on the road we head to Tropic to grab some coffee from the Bryce Canyon Coffee Co. Great little place along the way. Really beautiful little town along Route 12. We turn south in Cannonville and head to the Kodachrome Basin. It is bright and beautiful. Lots of red rock and some fascinating spires to view. It is like an old western and we are right in it.

We hiked the Panorama Trail Loop (Long) that’s about 6.5 miles and around 650 feet in elevation gains and our total time was around 2.75 hours with plenty of stops to take in the scenery. It was hot and we saw very few people on the trail. We hiked some of the side trails including Cool Cave where we chat with an older couple from Texas who travel and hike frequently. They travel pulling a camper during the spring and summer and park in some nice areas. Most interesting conversation sitting in a cave (rock overhang) about all the unrest and COVID 19. It was a nice social distanced hike.

Kodachrome is fabulous with very nice camping areas and the facilities and office are in top shape. The rangers were friendly and helpful. We were genuinely impressed and I could see myself doing some camping in that area. The rock formations are interesting and the terrain is ever-changing. The red dirt reminds me of Sedona.

Getting back in the car, we start heading towards Kanab. As we approach the Red Canyon area we just make a rash decision to head out on another hike. We have passed the Red Canyon area of the Dixie National Forest on Route 12 several times and it is so beautiful that this time we stop and look for a hike. I’m feeling a bit of an adrenaline rush so we decide on another strenuous hike that takes you past some Red hoodoos that are beautiful. The Golden Wall/Buckhorn Loop with Castle Bridge added on. We ended up hiking 5+ miles with over 1000 feet in elevation gain. This hike was magical and we never once encountered anybody out on the trails. This was not only social distanced but it was social isolated. Trails are well maintained and the scenery is incredible. Our journey took us about 2:20 with plenty of stops to take in the views. There are even points that become very narrow on the trail so we had to be careful as the surface can be slippery.

There is so much to see and so little time but I wouldn’t mind coming back here and exploring some more. This area also has some nice campgrounds that were actually full. It was a great hike to end our day before getting on to Kanab.

Tonight’s dinner is another walk in Kanab to Escobar’s Mexican Restaurant. Big Al’s is closed on Sunday. With the COVID 19 concerns the number of workers is limited. We get to sit out on a patio social distanced from most. It wasn’t the best night for food but I understand it is a tough environment to be in the restaurant industry. Service was off and the food wasn’t quite up to the standards that we expected. But no complaints, I just glad to be hanging out with Carolyn, discussing what tomorrow will bring since our time in Kanab is ending. Our plan is to drive to Zion National Park before heading to St. George and a two night stay to explore an area we have never been.

Last year we were fortunate to spend some time in Zion with a stay at Springdale, a beautiful small town. Marching to Zion (Experiencing life in Zion and Bryce National Parks)

So I must ask, “hoodoo you love”?

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Social Distancing: Hoodoo You Love–Part 1

Saturday, May 30, 2020

After a good sleep at our Kanab Hampton Inn, breakfast is a must before getting back on the highway and heading to Bryce Canyon. A walk down the main drag takes us to Jakey Leigh’s Coffee Shop and Bakery. COVID 19 has kept many places in the area closed but I’m hankering for some eggs and this place has more then baked goods so after a couple eggs over easy, I’m good to go.

Down 89 and over to scenic Route 12 never disappoints. Another 80 mile drive with a later then expected start due to my slowness in the morning. By the time we arrive, there are clouds gathering and looks like a strong chance of rain. Even thunderstorms are in the forecast. This Park is completely open for business (no buses) and the crowds are not there. This was a perfect time for us to come and visit. Easy entrance and easy parking at the Trailheads.

Carolyn and I have decided on the Wall Street and Queens Garden Loop to Peekaboo Loop (Figure Eight Trail). Once we get down the Wall Street section, hikers are few and far between. We are social distanced and isolated. The hike is spectacular and just might be my all-time favorite. Last year we hiked the Fairyland Loop Trail at Bryce and that became my favorite but this loop is incredible as well. I should point out that Bryce has become my favorite park. It just has things that you can’t find anywhere else and the hoodoos are ever-changing and spectacular.

As we enter the depths of the canyon, the clouds are really building and that sense of urgency of not being stuck in the canyon during a thunderstorm builds. We can hear the thunder and the anxiety starts to build in our minds. The rain comes as we complete the lower portion of our figure eight and climb towards Queens Garden. Soon we are looking for shelter and hide under a ledge on the side of hoodoo that gives us a bit of shelter from the rain and the lightening that has now lit up the sky. It has added some time to our hike as well as anxiousness, and added thrills. I must say it is exhilarating to be stuck under a hoodoo with rain and lightening and thunder all around. Eventually the rain turns soft and the lightening moves on and we finally reach the top. Our total time is three hours with the delays climbing some 1600 feet in elevation gains over the 7+ miles of hiking.

Back to Kanab we head, hungry and thirsty. Upon arrival we decide to try out Big Al’s Burgers. What a gem. It is an old school type drive-in burger joint that is packed with people waiting to pick up their orders. We go for the buffalo burgers, me a double and Carolyn a single. We grab and go and head off to a Jacob Hamblin Park for our dinner. It is a beautiful park with few in attendance and plenty of picnic tables. What a gem. Oh, and those burgers are fantastic. Burgers and juicy hazy IPA from the Moab Brewery makes for a great dinner.

After the fact, I learn that A.J. Cook from Criminal Minds was also grabbing a burger at Big Al’s on Saturday. You know it has to be good. How cool is that? (No mask and no social distancing.) Great customer service from the guy on the left. He’s quite the worker. From Big Al’s Facebook page: 101410490_3382351755132751_4773636058199883776_n

The Southwest Utah journey and more of the hoodoos I love continues with another day in the books and more adventure straight ahead.

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Isolation Blues: Into The Great Wide Open Part–2

Friday, May 29, 2020

Coffee is essential for another long day of traveling and hiking. Once again we trust our front desk agent, who probably has never drank a cup of coffee, to give us a recommendation. She sends us to Sunny Creek Coffee, a little trailer located in the parking lot of some office space. What a gem. The coffee is fantastic and Carolyn raves about the Orange/Maple Latte. We grab a breakfast burrito and off we go.

We have a 2.5 hour drive and some 140 miles to go to get to Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail. My procrastination gets us started later then we should but we arrive mid morning to a packed parking lot and it is warm. It was a hike where you walked through deep sand so that part was difficult in many ways. It was crowded with many Utah families out to hike to the Falls and then go swimming. Many family units with little children and dogs. Some had resorted to carrying their dogs on the way end. Many had little water and were in flip flops. It reminded Carolyn and I of our hikes to Fossil Creek where hikers were unprepared. From our car we hiked around six miles RT and a tad over 1000 feet in elevation gains.  Beautiful area but as I said crowded.

When finished we jumped in the car and headed east on Scenic Route 12. I believe that it is one of the most scenic drives in the USA. It is incredible with many views and some narrow lanes that have some drop-offs that are a bit intimidating. We drove all the way to Boulder, UT and grabbed a Moab Brewery beer at a local stop before heading back for our next hike along the Escalante River.

We were off to an early afternoon start on this hike in the heat but plenty of water to walk through. We read that you could see some petroglyphs and some ruins plus a natural rock bridge. We had to cross the Escalante River about four times each direction and it felt fabulous. The bridge was an awesome sight and the petroglyphs which we somehow missed on our way out but found on the way back. Once it again it was disappointing to see that some low IQ folks had marked up the area with their destructive marks on the rocks that just makes one furious.

Tired and hungry, we stopped at Escalante Outfitters for a BLT. Not many places open due to COVID-19. Jordyn had recommended a small drive in Nemo’s but it was closed with no reopening date listed. We stopped in 4th West Pub for a craft beer and the place was clean and they were doing their very best with social distancing and sanitation. Great little place along the road.

Back to the Hampton Inn and Kanab after another great road trip. Takeaways from today include the fact that Scenic Route 12 is the real deal. Beautiful, awesome, whatever superlative you want to throw at the route, it sticks. You can take in some awesome sights without ever leaving your car. Highly recommended for a trip through Southern Utah. We turn on the tv and watch the social unrest occurring throughout many metropolitan areas and we go to sleep glad that we are in some very rural areas of Utah, isolated and isolated from reality.

Next stop on our journey away from protests, rioting, and COVID 19 is a trip down  Bryce. It will be one we will always remember as we return to the great wide open.

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Isolation Blues: The Trials and Trails Of Social Distancing–Part 6

Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” Hans Christian Andersonfullsizeoutput_9ef

Cooped up and getting hot, Carolyn and I head to the Payson area to start off the month of May. Caitlin and Kevin join us for the weekend and we enjoyed the cooler weather, with a backyard evening fire and a hike near Pine. Day is warm but sunshine and freedom, is a good thing. After our hike we head to the Old County Inn for some beer and food. If you ever get to Pine you have to go to there for excellent pizza and some great staff that work there. A former student of mine is one of the managers so we enjoy catching up and the excellent food.

Our next bigger hike is one we have never done, West Clear Creek Trail #17. Just beautiful. We head down a dirt road to get to the trail head at Bullpen and there are quite a few vehicles parked. We would soon discover that most were there not for a hike but a swim in the creek. The area is lush, green, running water, and for us a whole day of solitude. We got a later start then we planned but encountered nobody on our hike out and about four hikers on our return trip. It was hot but you could cool down in the creek if one wants to since you are going to cross it about four times.

On our way back to our vehicle, we walked directly towards the sun and it was hot. Our total adventure ended up at 9.5 miles hiked and multiple memories on a trail that was less traveled on a Thursday. Tired and thirsty, our next stop was Sedona.

We checked in at the Hilton (furloughed guys still get employee rates) and headed to one of  our new favorite watering holes, the Sedona Beer Company. Good local brews, good food (Grilled chicken sandwich was excellent, and a good vibe with good patio seating. Kicking back enjoying life away from the city, socially distancing on the trails and the brewery. We even made some new friends that enjoyed hiking and traveling and who were doing their own staying at home in their airbnb that they owned. Great day and a great evening.

Headed back to the heat and the valley of the sun as restaurants/bars seemingly are coming to life once the stay at home orders were lifted. I’m still out wearing my mask at Costco and other high trafficked areas. Back to the canals for some hot bike rides that now have hardly anybody on them due to the heat.

Memorial Day weekend rolls around and once again Carolyn and I head back to Payson and once again are joined by Caitlin, Kevin, and “Grandma” Carol. Highlights include a nice secluded trail that leaves the Pine trailhead where there were many campers due to the three day weekend. Carolyn, Caitlin, Kevin, and I took off on the Oak Spring Trail and hiked a total of 7.6 miles with an elevation gain of 1040 feet. We never encountered a single person on the trail and had some great views, solitude, and Mother Nature.

Next stop was to the County Inn for post hike beverages and appetizers. This place was packed and no social distancing in sight. Carolyn and I began to plot out our next adventure coming up which was originally taking us to Carlsbad, CA for some r & r time.

Flexibility is key and coming up next is a big break from our stay at home days. As a reminder one must have sunshine and freedom, and don’t forget that little flower.dw7CAwXDToii9KA7kXuwVg

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Isolation Blues: The Trials and Trails of Social Distancing–Chapter 5

Still furloughed but not locked down, I look for multiple ways to keep active during the crisis. Of course I watch some Netflix but in reality I am keeping busy without TV. My book reading has increased as I continue to read some good ones. Carolyn has now been working from home in our small condo so I attempt to find ways to keep out of sight and out of mind. My bike rides to Costco, Sprouts, Safeway, etc have definitely increased as well as just getting out on the canals.

On the canals, I have been entertained by the young ducks who were recently born and out swimming with their mothers.

As I ride along the canals, I have discovered some interesting places to grab libations. OSHO Brewing (Arcadia) located right on the canal has been the benefactor of multiple stops by me. They are always friendly and welcoming plus good price on beers to go, (meaning enjoy on the canal). Further on in the Old Town Scottsdale area, Blue Clover Distillery has had great prices on to go beers for $2.00 up to 64 oz. Smoking deal and a fun place to stop while riding around. SIP Coffee and Beer in Scottsdale also has been a nice stop on my biking journeys with either Jordyn or Carolyn.

On my trips back to Payson, I have returned to my bygone days of walking/hiking and picking up aluminum cans along the journeys. Headed west out of Payson along Doll Baby Ranch road, I am constantly surprised at the number of items tossed out of vehicles along the road. Now I don’t pick up all trash just the cans as I eventually turn them in for a few dollars as a fun way for me to get some exercise and a small reward for that exercise.

The area down to the ranch is quite scenic and I’m sure those that pass my on the road probably wonder what I’m doing dragging around a bag with cans but I’ve been doing these things since the 1970’s. Carolyn has been a good sport and joined me for several days of long walks in the sunshine (think Vitamin D) picking up cans. One of our finds included a Trump for President pin that Carolyn discovered on the side of the road.

After some of these walks, I have been able to social distance sip some bourbon with my Payson friend Mike and sip some Scotch with my friend and neighbor, Sir Andrew Sarcinella. Always fun to discuss life over some good Scotch or bourbon.

Our daughter Jordyn even suggested a walk picking up cans to relive some of her days picking up cans with Dad. That walk took us along a very popular OHV trail close to the East Verde River and we were shocked at the amount of trash left behind from people who used the road for dumping household garbage. My days walking roads has been quite rewarding and fun as the company has been great and getting outdoors picking up some cans has been a great flashback to bygone days. One can only wish that people would have some common courtesy and common sense that littering our great outdoors is a giant travesty. If every one would do their part the obvious would not have to be stated.

Back to Phoenix I go, looking forward to more adventure in the simple things in life. Low cost and low budget is the way it is when furloughed. Coming up some new hikes and adventures as rules are relaxed

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Isolation Blues: The Trials and Trails of Social Distancing–Chapter 4

This isolation thing is in full swing as we approach the second Thursday in April. Carolyn  has made it through another essential work week and we are looking forward to some new adventures. To get our weekend going, Carolyn borrows Jordyn’s bike and we head off down the canal into Scottsdale and over to Goldwater Brewing Company where we pick up a crowler (canned growler) of their famous Desert Rose a Cactus Kolsch to enjoy later in the week. We cruise around enjoying the ride and stop on our way back down the canal at O.H.S.O. Brewery and Distillery. It is a fun stop along the canal and we order some beer and a turkey burger. They informed us that happy hour prices were in effect and the place seems to be doing quite well and weathering the COVID 19 storm. Our beer of choice is the Popcycle Blonde, a Lemon-Raspberry Golden Lager. rRY+uKspRt6346KP5YU4zgIt is quite refreshing and a perfect warm-weather brew. Just sitting on the canal enjoying life watching people pass on by makes for a great late afternoon adventure. By the time I arrive at the condo, I have logged 26 miles on my New Belgium Fat Tire bicycle. As they say, “Shop Local, Drink Local”! We consider that essential.

Friday is hike a different trail for us. This is Good Friday and I’m hoping to make it a Great Friday. Carolyn and I head north on I-17 and are pleased that there isn’t much traffic. Go figure. Our first stop is along the interstate for a small loop trail hike, Richinbar Mine and Pueblo Trail, located in the Aqua Fria National Monument that promises us some petroglyphs by the canyon. A bit over 2 miles relatively flat but once again completely social distanced since there is only one soul we will see on our hike.

You can walk further to check out more of the mining type ruins in the area but we were content to see a few of the mines and ruins that are right off the eastern most part of the trail. The canyon is very scenic and you can spot the Aqua Fria River. Talk about just a fun time being together being able to relax and take in different scenery along the way. The petroglyphs are not disappointing.

On our way back we encounter one elderly person who has been sighting his rifle. Very friendly and shows a photo plus tells us about another large petroglyph rock that is hard to find and at another exit. We think we will wait until snake season subsides before we go bushwhacking our way through the tall grass. Great start to our day. Our next stop is a very popular area that has many people around due to easy access to the river and with COVID-19 lockdowns in place, more and more people trying to get outdoors.

The Badger Springs Trail follows a spring to the confluence of where it connects to the Aqua Fria River. You can tell that many come here for swimming and recreating. To get extra hike in, we park our car at the very first parking area and then walk about a mile to the actual trailhead. There are some nice petroglyphs at the confluence. The water is running both in the springs and the river. A great day for some small hikes.

Another fun day of exploring things that we haven’t done before. Once again, water in the desert is always a blessing.

Easter Sunday arrives and I get out on my bike and ride with Jordyn and James through Paradise Valley, across Indian Bend, down the Hayden Greenbelt to Tempe Town Lake and by the time I get back home, I have taken my cruiser 41 miles. That is quite the workout on a single speed heavy bike but glad I did it. For Easter Dinner, Carol, my mother-in-law, has roasted a leg of lamb. Great way to finish out the day with a social distanced dinner by myself since Carolyn is at work.

Still managing to occupy my time with various projects and biking around the area. Coming soon are some observations from my journey on some things I have picked up on. Yes, I can say I have yet to watch a single news conference concerning COVID 19. I get all my fun filled facts from Facebook, sarcasm noted and intended. Yup, I think I have heard all. It is my Friday and Sunday was a coming.

For Carolyn and I, we are going to keep on living our lives and if that means wearing a mask, oh well, but we are going to be outdoors absorbing that antioxidant Vitamin D.

Stay safe my friends but for the love of God, get outdoors and don’t be held prisoner to your physical home. You can still social distance when leaving the safety of your home. Next stop, Payson.

Posted in Arizona Hiking Adventures, Craft Breweries, Cycling, Hiking, Relationships, Road Trip, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment