Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tio Jose's Visit To Arizona

Last week Natalie's tio Jose came out to visit for a couple days. There were lots of things we would have liked to do (like hike The Flatiron) but we didn't have the time because his trip was so short. But on Friday we were able to get out and do two hikes.

Saturday morning we woke up early and went up Camelback Mountain at the crack of dawn. It was a nice hike. Early in the morning the weather was perfect, the mountain was green, the wildflowers were all blooming, and the cacti about to go into full bloom any week. At the top, far off in the distance, I saw a stripped tail. I thought it was a raccoon. Then I saw it again, and closer. It was no raccoon. I started Googling what could be in the area and found a ringtailed cat. 20 minutes later I was able to get a picture of one on the run. I had no idea we had anything like this in Arizona. It was pretty cool.

On the way down the mountain we ran into the biggest sissy boy I've seen in a while. There was a kid probably around 17 years old with his brother, under 10. There was a Chuckwalla on the rocks where he had to climb up. I heard him yell "That's a big lizard". He was standing 15 feet away and didn't want to get any closer because he was afraid "It was going to attack him". Watch out for those attacking lizards! His little brother walked right past it, while he had to go around. What a wuss. In Florida we played with gators. I got up close and took a picture of the Chuckwalla. I almost became it's lunch. I am lucky to be here today writing this blog after my encounter with Tyrannosaurus Chuckwalla.
After our hike up Camelback we went home and relaxed for a bit before going to The Lost Dutchman with Adriana and Tia Fioly. At the beginning of the trail I was showing everyone a Cholla Cactus and I got stuck real good. I was pulling and pulling and the spine wouldn't come out of my finger, it took a minute or two to finally get it out. Of course Tia couldn't do too much hiking so shortly after this  Tio Jose, Adriana, and I went on our own hike. Right at the bottom of The Flatiron trail we found a lot of wildflowers growing. Not exactly what people think of when they hear the word desert. All of the cacti had buds ready to open any week and I can't wait to see the desert in full bloom. So I will be planning a camping trip at Lost Dutchman sometime in April.

During my walk around The Lost Dutchman I got a text from a friend at work. He had recently told me he found a second job. I had sent him my resume a couple days earlier looking for a second job as well to pay off some bills. Finding a full time job isn't nearly as challenging as finding a part time second job but apparently when you know someone it makes all the difference. He told me he got me a job working with him. No interview or anything. So now I have a second job, mostly working from home, bringing in some extra cash. Met the company's president and filled out the paperwork yesterday and ready to start next week.
The ringtailed cat

Downtown Phoenix
A Chuckwalla
Ocotillo flowers
Ocotillo starting to bloom. Soon the plant will look like it's on fire.
Cholla Cactus getting buds

@ The Lost Dutchman State Park

Adriana picking some Golden Poppies.

Monday, March 18, 2013


This weekend we decided to go up to Sedona for a weekend. I get three day weekends, we had some Hilton Honors points to burn, and Natalie's aunt is in town for a couple weeks on her first trip to the US west coast. This was the perfect trip because Natalie's aunt can't do all the walking like we can and in Sedona you can see a lot by car.

So Friday morning we started the drive up to Sedona. We got to Red Rock State Park early in the afternoon. To my disappointment when we got there I realized that I left my batteries for my camera charging at home. I thought for sure I had grabbed them but I didn't. I was surprised that the visitors center didn't sell batteries (poor management). I thought I'd buy one of the souvenir flashlights and take the batteries but then I looked closely and they were AAA. So we had to make due with our Samsung S3 phone cameras for a couple hours until we could buy some batteries.

This was a nice park. Eight miles of trails and pretty nice views. We couldn't hike a lot of the trails because Natalie's aunt wouldn't be able to but we were able to walk the ones of mostly flat ground. They have an old house on the cliff, the House of Apache Fires, that overlooks the entire area. I took Adri up there first while Natalie stayed behind with her aunt. Then I went down to get Natalie and take her up there. We had to run down the hill when we heard Adri screaming bloody murder for us. I guess she didn't like being told no when trying to walk by a dried up creek bed.

After Red Rock State Park we drove over to the Sedona Airport. I had heard that there are some good lookout points there that don't require walking. We drove right past the buttes at the bottom of the road since the parking was full and went right up to the top lookout. We spent about 15 minutes up there taking pictures until Adri had a meltdown and we had to leave for dinner.

After dinner we made one last stop at the Church Of The Rock (Chapel Of The Holy Cross), one of the seven wonders of Arizona. When we got there we noticed signs everywhere that said no stopping, no parking, etc. So me being a good American, I drove back down street and parked where it was legal and made everyone walk up.  Well when we got back up there a bunch of people showed up and started parking their cars all over the street, illegally, and taking pictures. Looks like I'm either the only one that can read or the only one that obeys laws.  We got there right at the perfect time of the day, right as the sun was setting. I wish all my pictures of Sedona had been at Sunset because the rocks glow red and orange but unfortunately I couldn't be everywhere at once. So the pictures with the best lighting are the ones I got from Church Of The Rock

The next morning Natalie and I left Adri with her aunt and we went on a hike. The plan was to do the Schnebly Hill Trail (named after Carl Schnebly, he named the city Sedona after his wife) since it has really good views all along the path and a really good lookout of the entire area from the top. When we got there we quickly learned that the website we read was a little off saying that you can take a sedan to the trailhead. It's four miles of off-roading and I wasn't about to take my Civic down that road. So we turned the car around and did the Huckaby Trail instead.

The Huckaby trail was alright. When I say that I mean compared to trails outside of Sedona it has excellent views, compared to other local trails, it's just alirght. There were decent views of the city and all the buttes around. The trail wrapped around the mountain and went all the way to the bridge. When we got to the bridge we had to stop because the river was to high to boulder hop across and I wasn't about to wade across. It's only March and it's still way too cold for that. Plus there was a giant snake that chased Natalie and almost gave her a heart attack. So this is when he turned and headed back. On the way back I found a really good bear or mountain lion print in the dirt. I'm no print expert but it was too big to be a dog and from the picture I can't tell if it has four pad marks or five. I had noticed several since we left the parking lot but this one was deep and had big claw marks. It scared Natalie real good. She's still a noob at the outdoors and is still afraid of animals. Not far from the print we could see a tree that was shredded, most likely by a bear.

After our hike we took a quick nap and then checked out of the hotel. We first went to lunch and then headed over to the buttes under the airport. One of the locals said this is a great spot to take pictures at sunset. I thought the overlook that we went to the day before would be better since it's higher but I sure was wrong. The view from the buttes was amazing. An almost 360 degree view of the area, with one small butte blocking it. At the bottom of the trail some random strangers came over and told us where a good spot was for pictures and told me they wouldn't recommend me going to the top with Adri. They obviously way under estimated me. This was nothing compared to carrying Adri up the steep path with loose rocks at Papago. I took the easy way up to the top and then took the rock climbing path down. Natalie was nervous the whole time but I'm a professional. Like I said, this was easy compared to Papago.

After a few pictures here we found a park with a good view of Chimney Rock where we let Adri run around and get tired. They had this tractor toy there I thought was pretty cool. Adri liked it for about two minutes and then moved on. I was surprised she didn't stay on it longer considering how much she loves to play with dirt.

Our last trip before heading home was to the bridge at the end of the Huckaby Trail. Driving there we could see the mile long line of stopped cars trying to get back into town. We knew it was going to suck getting back but it was too late to turn around at this point. We drove over the bridge and parked at the end of the Huckaby Trail, on the opposite side of where we stopped earlier, and walked around for an hour and took some pictures. There were some pretty amazing views from the bridge. You can't really tell from the pictures but it's really high up and if you go right to the rails it's a nice drop straight down. Adri had some fun throwing rocks over the side and watching them fall down to the river.

On the way home I decided to take 179 to the 17 instead of the 89. I was convinced that Google is wrong saying that 89 is quicker plus I wanted to see what was down the 179. Well not only is the 179 shorter but a lot of the good formations to see along the way. There were at least half a dozen vista points to stop at along the between the city and the 17. Unfortunately the lighting was bad because we had a storm coming in behind us.

Pictures from Red Rock State Park
At the end of this trail you can see the House of Apache Fires.
Funny I don't remember getting felt up during this picture.

Adri looking at the creek.
I think that is Cathedral Rock.

We got to this dried up creek bed and the dirt was so red. Found this random red rock right in the middle of it.

From up top by the House of Apache Fires.

Part of the House of Apache Fires.

Pictures from Sedona Airport

Pictures from Church Of The Rock

Saving this picture for the dating years. Adri loves picking her nose.

Pictures from Huckaby Trail

Natalie needed a little support.
Cathedral Rock

The bridge

Bear tracks?

At lunch. The food was ok, but the view was amazing. Every window had a nice view. Now all the need is a rotating deck up top.

Buttes below the airport.

This is where I climbed down with Adri.

The Playground

Chimney Rock

At the bridge

Driving back, this is at Cathedral Rock.