Archives for posts with tag: Grand Canyon

I’m finally back on the road.  This time I’m posted up on top of the Mogollon Rim, right near the General George Crook trail.  The history books tell us it was constructed under the direction of General George Crook in the early 1870’s as a supply/tactical road joining Fort Whipple to Fort Apache a couple hundred miles apart.  This route is still visible today, in many parts, and I’m sitting right next to it.

Every morning I walk the trail with my coffee and dogs, and as I do, my mind whooshes back in time to when this trail was a well-traveled thoroughfare.  The “Wild West” was in full swing and the Civil War was still fresh in everyone’s mind.  Arizona had just recently become a territory and was, by all accounts, still a very primitive landscape.

It’s easy to romanticize the era of the cowboy, even if it only lasted a couple of decades.  But the truth was that life was still very hard back then, especially in a region so remote.  The Apaches were on the warpath.  This was, in part, why General Crook was even in the area, to subdue the restless natives.

I am about half way through a book about the original colonies right now.  By the end of the 19th century most of the native peoples in the east were already subjugated.  But not in Arizona.  In fact, “The Apache Wars” were just getting started.

20170511_172657Anyway, I’m here in my camp right next to the trail.  I’ve got a commanding view of the foothills below.  Every now and then a car drives by, but for the most part I’m out here alone.  I wanted to post up closer to the AZT, but I’m also bound by the need for a good mobile signal.

Camping in a travel trailer is really different from the camping I used to do.  In fact, I almost don’t consider this “camping”, rather it’s “staying in a trailer in the middle of nowhere”.  I don’t know why I have this bias toward RV camping, it’s not really fair.  Most of my camping in the past was while backpacking.  Even when I “car camped” I still had a tent.

Also, I’m so close to the the rim road that if I’d passed by this camp back then I’d most likely think to myself “why even come out here if you’re going to be that luxurious and close to the road”?  Heck, I might take my tent and sleeping bag a mile or so into the woods just so I can pretend to be in a remote area.

Until then, I’m going to sit here in my “office” and roast weenies over a fire.

I know what you’re probably thinking…”isn’t Arizona “hell-oven-Africa” hot in the summer?”  Well, the answer is “yes and not really”.  The yes part applies to the lower elevations, in the middle of the day, while in the sun and not near any water; the “not really” means that there are myriad ways to avoid that oppressive “dry” heat.  I’m a native of Arizona and my family has been in this state since the 1880’s AND I happen to be a heat-wuss, so I know what I’m talking about.

Before I get to my list I want to mention two words that make Arizona even possible: air conditioning.  Seriously.  I love history, particularly frontier history; when I think of the pioneers I’m struck by how hearty they were as a people.  Think about it…they didn’t have AC, their cell reception was probably worse than T-Mobile (maybe), they were being hunted by other people and to top it all off they had to do all of this in wooden underwear.  People today, by comparison, are so soft.

Air conditioning makes being in the desert possible, for us marshmallows.  But there are other ways to enjoy Arizona while being outside.  So, without further ado, here’s my top 5 ways to enjoy our state without spontaneously combusting like a Spinal Tap drummer.

NUMBER 5:  Swimming Pools.  If you come to Arizona and book a room at a hotel or resort without a pool then you deserve to sweat your crotch off!  I’m not sure how hard you’d have to work to find a place without a pool but I’m sure there are some seedy places that don’t.  The Arizona heat only really sucks when the sun is at its peak AND you’re in the direct sunlight.  Yes, 110°F is still hot, but it’s the combination of heat and sun that’s the killer.  Factor in a swimming pool and a cabana boy or girl and you’ve got the makings of a great afternoon.  Too warm, jump in the water.

Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

Mother of Pearl swimming pool at The Phoenician Resort & Spa

NUMBER 4: Animal Activity.  During the summer the animals come out to play at night.  In fact, it’s so prolific that we even have a stargazing & night-vision tour that you might want to consider.  You can’t get the night-vision portion during the winter because the animals are hibernating.  But at summer you’ll see coyote, javelina, Jack-hares, and snakes (don’t freak out, seriously…they want nothing to do with you).  In fact, there’s a statistic about who gets bit the most: males between the ages of 18-35, drunk, bitten on the hand, and a low “TTR”.  TTR stands for “tooth to tattoo ratio”.  Ladies, you’re safe!

NUMBER 3: Less Traffic/People.  Every November the population in The Valley increases by about a billion people.  Most of these people are what we lovingly call “snow birds”.  These are the seasonal visitors that descend upon our city with their motor-homes and basically clog up our roadways, shops & restaurants.  Don’t get me wrong – we make our living serving these guests; and I love people, just not when they’re driving.  But during the summer our population literally drops by thousands of people…and they’re not on the roads.

NUMBER 2: High-elevation activities.  Most people don’t realize that Arizona isn’t all desert.  In fact, we have a mountain that’s over 12,000′ tall.  The south rim of the Grand Canyon sits at 7,000′, and the north rim even higher.  The town of Flagstaff, one of our lesser-known gems, is a hub of adventure and activity and also sits at 7,000.  Their record high temperature was in 1973 and it was only 97°F, and considering it’s a “dry” climate it’s downright beautiful.  There are also other high elevations throughout the state so don’t think that coming to Arizona during the summer is going to cause you to catch fire.

Flagstaff

Flagstaff, Arizona

NUMBER 1:  Resort Discounts.  Because the entire world knows that even Satan has a summer home outside the Sonoran Desert in the summer the local hotels and resorts cut their room rates embarrassingly low.  They used to just close for the summer but lately they figure that some revenue is better than no revenue.  You can book a room at a high-end resort, in the summer, for about the same cost as a Bate’s Motel in the peak season…almost.  Factor in the premium level of service and the manicured pools and grounds and it’s a no-brainer.  Perfect time for a family get-away.

Well, that’s just the top 5 reasons to visit Arizona in the summer.  There are more but I know your attention span is at it’s limit right now.  In fact, if you’re still reading this then I’m amazed and honored.

See you outside.

The last time I wrote I told you that I’ve decided to be a rich and famous travel writer.  I remember listening to a motivational speaker (that didn’t live in a van, down by the river) and he said that speak in the present tense when you speak about dreams.  For example, don’t say “some day I’m going to be a millionaire”; instead say “I’m a millionaire, the money just hasn’t made it into my bank account yet.”

So, I’m a rich and famous travel writer, it’s just that the money isn’t here yet and nobody knows who I am (except for my friends but they’re certainly not going to pay me to write shit; maybe to shut up, but that’s a different blog). I just need to travel and write.  My plan for the summer is to take my travel trailer around the state, to higher elevation cities, and write about what there is to do and places to eat.  Done deal, right?

Well, the “travel” part is proving to be a challenge.  You see, I discovered that a skylight in my travel trailer was cracked, and as a result it leaked…into my shower (yay) and vanity (boo).  So, I bought a replacement skylight and removed the old one.  Only to discover that there was some pretty significant water damage to the substrate.  I learned that word, “substrate”, after watching about 20 YouTube videos about how to repair RV roofs.  I discovered that this is an easy project as long as you’re handy and have tools.

I have a backpack and a bong.  I have a few tools but I’m better at watching professionals use them than I am at using them myself.

But I’m going to learn.

It’s part of the new “me”, and shit.  Yep, I’m trying to grow up and learn how to actually do things other than run a business.  I’m almost 50 so there’s time.

Anyway, my plan for the next few works is to learn how to replace rotten wood and resurfacing my travel trailer roof.

So I got that going for me, which is nice.

Full disclosure, I saw someone else’s article about this topic.  It wasn’t about Arizona, so I figured it was OK to pirate their idea.  Also, I keep posting on Twitter that we’re #stillwearingshorts.  So, I decided to put my blog where my mouth is and let you know how to prepare for the grandeur that is Arizona.

First, you need to know that Arizona isn’t all desert.  In fact, Arizona is home to almost all of the world’s biomes.  The only one not strictly represented is a Tropical Forest.  What does this mean?  It means that we have an amazing diversity of weather and temperatures.  In fact, as I write this (February) I could go skiing in the morning, and by late afternoon I could be enjoying a margarita while soaking up the sun, poolside.  I’m not sure I’d want to jump in the water unless it was a heated pool, but you get the point.buddabeachbeauty1

What this means is that, depending on where you plan on visiting, your attire will need to be as diverse as our topography.  Most likely you’ll be flying into Phoenix-Sky Harbor and staying a day or more.  You might also be planning to visit Sedona or Grand Canyon. The more informed you are the higher the probability you’ve also included Tucson or Flagstaff to your itinerary.  If you’ve consulted with a local professional, such as (ahem, me) 360 Adventures then you’ll come up with ideas such as visiting Tombstone, Bisbee, Page or even the Navajo/Hopi reservations.

For the purposes of this amazing and omnipotent blog let’s suppose you have those locations in mind.  I’m also going to assume that you are going to be participating in activities OTHER than golf, shopping and a spa visit.  You’ll be hiking, taking a culinary tour, going on a balloon flight, or even trying something adventurous like canyoneering or doing an ATV ride.  Yes – I’m shamelessly suggesting you let us plan your vacation; you won’t be sorry.dsc_2284

OK – so you’ve trusted us with your memories of a lifetime.  Let’s get down to planning your attire.  Because the elevations, average precipitation, terrain and hours of sunlight differ greatly in these locations you’re going to need, at least, one of everything in your wardrobe.  I’m not kidding – you’re going to need stuff for when it’s warm, like skirts/shorts, blouses/t-shirts, hats and sunglasses.  If you’re staying at a resort then you might even need a swimsuit and flip-flops (the higher-end resorts do heat their pools).  For a night on the town in The Valley you’re also going to need a light jacket.

For your trips up north you’re going to need pants, heavier jackets and possibly gloves.  This year we had some pretty good snow storms so you might even want to consider moisture (sorry ladies) barriers, especially if you decide to play in the snow.  A visit to the Grand Canyon will take you to 7000′ and it’s actually darned cold, unless you’re from the Arctic Circle or Siberia then it’s merely chilly.

I think what catches people off guard most is that when they are in Scottsdale or Phoenix, during the “winter” and spring, that it’s actually chilly.  Another thing to remember is sunscreen.  Seriously – we aren’t called The Valley of the Sun because we’re trying to sound cute.

Something that most people forget is close-toe, athletic-type shoes.  If you’re going to be doing any of the adventures I mentioned above then you’ll be participating in nature.  There’s a saying – everything in the Sonoran Desert either sticks, stings, bites or eats meat.  Be prepared.

Most of all  you want to bring a sense of adventure.  Sure, we have hundreds of golf courses, some of the best galleries & shops in the world, and you can’t drive for 10 minutes without seeing a spa of some type.  But you can get that anywhere.  What you can’t get is a world-class mecca of outdoor adventures that include snow and sunshine anywhere else like you can in Arizona.  At least not with Mexican food.

See you outside.