Archives for posts with tag: Tourism

Well, I’m back at my Mogollon Rim Camp…this is the one that I referenced in my last blog (that was apparently 25 days ago), just next to the General Crook road, overlooking the big Green Valley.  I’d spent the last two weeks camped north of Flagstaff at this easy-access camp and, apparently, didn’t write jack-pooey.

Anyway, I’m about here:  https://goo.gl/maps/138RreCiecu.

Lol…”about here”.  With today’s location technology there’s no such thing as “about here”.  It’s more like “Iamf$#@%!&righthere”.  Every time I come to the realization that I’m so damned track-able, I think about the “preppers”.  These are the people that spend their time planning for the next Armageddon…without knowing what brings about the aforementioned Armageddon.

“You’re wearing camouflage, and carrying a Samsung S8″…

But I digress.

I have to say that I’m really excited to be back at this camp.  The primary reason is because I’m just outside the city limits of Pine.  My new, favorite, Arizona town.  Yea, I love Flagstaff, but they get enough press.  And every time I visit Flagstaff I realize that I can go into town, without having showered for days, and not stick out.  That can’t be good, can it?

Anywhooo…this camp is actually pretty cool…the wind rips up the face of the rim, blowing the dust of the UTV/motorcycle/ATV crowd away from me.  I can see for miles and miles (The Who song just evicted all other thoughts and now I’m singing it in my head) and I have a wonderful trail right outside my hovel that I can play with.

In fact, there are some crazy good trails around here.  All along the base of this huge abutment is the Highline trail.  It traverses about 52 miles from Pine to the 260 trailhead.  Legend has it this trail used to connect the homesteads in the area way back in the day.  It has spur trails that join from above and below, making it easy to create a great loop.

I’m sure I mentioned that the Arizona Trail uses the segment leading out of Pine, eventually ascending near Washington Park…which is right below where I’m camped.  It’s a segment that I have not hiked…yet.  Passage 26 is just over 20 miles, making it a great two day trip, presuming you have a shuttle.  Otherwise it’s a 4-day, out and back trip.

In fact, as I type this I’m wondering if I should beg one of you to join me for a two-day, shuttled adventure…hmmm?

Digressing again.

So, my plan for the next two weeks is to head into town on a few occasions to try other restaurants.  My biggest challenge is going to be avoiding Mi Familia, the local Mexican food joint.  I hear it’s pretty damned awesome!

Let me know if you’d like to arrange for a shuttle/hike…my only real opportunity would be the weekend of June 17/18…just a thought.

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.

Sequioa Log 03302017

Hikers continue to pass through. So do other trail users; mountain bikers, people scouting the trailheads for future endeavors, and even trail stewards doing routine maintenance on the trail. Oh, and Marney, from Chalet Village. Not a day goes by without someone stopping by. The best part is that by now, thru-hikers know I’m here.

But most of the time I’m alone, with Kika and Emmie (backup). The sun has been shining but the temperatures have been sublime. The nights are perfect sleeping temperatures. The wind picks up, usually after noon but they’re not constant. They’re just enough to keep it cool. Every once in a while a ranch truck drives by at about 70.

During the days I’m “at work”. There’s plenty to do but there’s still a lot of “quiet” time. So what I’ve been doing, to break up the day, is to check out the local flora; there is no shortage. In fact, I’m willing to wager that every single hiker that’s hiked this section would agree: this desert is lush!

Not only is the desert wide open out here, it’s a sea of rolling green. Crest a hill and look around, in addition to endless mountain ranges in the distance you’ll see more vegetation than dirt or rock. It’s f’n LUSH I’m tellin’ ya!

Interspersed with the myriad shades of green are reds, oranges, purples, whites . . . and sinews of yellow, weaving through other plants. If you’re up early, you’ll see golden sun-rays illuminating these red-silvery puffs of flowers. It’s truly a kaleidoscope of color!

So, what are these wondrous species? Are they edible or do they have any medicinal benefits? Not that they have to…flowers this beautiful don’t have to do anything more than just BE. Seeing them makes me happy, which in-itself is soul-nourishing enough.  But still, what are these happy plants that make it look like Walt Disney came through with leaky paint cans?

Well, I’m here to tell ya’!  And yes, a couple of them do have edible/medicinal benefit…

Yummy in my tummy

Let’s start with one of my favorites – the banana yucca.  I wrote about this a while ago, but this is one of the sweets of the Sonoran Desert.  The flower buds, fruits and leaf-bases are edible.  The natives would pit roast some parts or they might dry the flowers. For example, they would roast the fruits then remove the skins and seeds.  The resulting pulp was formed into dry cakes.  Then, they might reconstitute them into sweet drinks.  The flowers can be cooked into soups or dried and formed into burgers with acorns.

 Hmmm, that almost sounds good…minus all of the labor involved.

People often ask “how did the natives survive?”  My response is always “they didn’t just survive, they thrived!”.

I once heard a statistic: that of the 3400 species native to the Sonoran Desert, 550 of them are edible.  I admit that I have never verified either of those numbers, but it sounds reasonable enough.  When you start digging into edible plants you’ll discover that there are quite a few…probably 550.

These ain’t one of them…at least not for us.

The Fairy Duster

One of the many species of penstemon

Not sure…Chinese Lantern

Sanddune Wallflower

This is just a small collection of photos from my morning coffee-walks.  There are more, like the Desert Globemallow.  The globemallow is also known as “mal de ojo”, which is Spanish for “bad for the eyes”.  It got this name because it’s one hell of an allergen – it’s pollen strands are long, and when observed in cross-section looks like a star…bad for eyes.
The hedgehogs are starting to flower too.  Pretty soon the palo verdes will explode in yellow, so will the brittle bush.  In just a few weeks you’ll look across the desert and it’ll be aglow in yellow.

I think it’s pretty universal to assume that because it’s a harsh desert that not many plants exist.  Not in the Sonoran Desert though…being the warmest & wettest desert in the world we have quite a few plants.  In fact, this is one of the most bio-diverse locations on the globe.

And if there really ARE 550 edible plants in this desert than it’s not a stretch to think the natives really did thrive.  They sure didn’t know any better.

HOWEVER – I’m willing to bet that none of these edible species tastes as good as a pizza delivered to the trailhead by Old Time Pizza in Kearney, or a burrito the size of a donkey at Casa Rivera’s Taco Express in Oracle.  I can vouch for the pizza…I’ll be chompin’ on the burrito this Friday night.

See you outside…or at Casa Rivera’s

 

I’ve officially been here a week.  It’s been quite a busy trailhead – way more than I’d originally expected.  Well, that’s not true – I don’t know what I expected.  In fact, I don’t remember setting any expectations.  I remember hoping that there would be enough cell coverage to work, and not too hot.  So far, it’s been better than I could expect.

With regards to hikers, I honestly didn’t know what to expect.  My friends Melanie & Bryan had been out here hiking & doing trail magic a few weekends prior and didn’t see anyone.  I hoped that I’d get a couple thru-hikers…I mean, I have all of these supplies just sitting here.

Most of the supplies were intended for my thru-attempt, but as you all know, that didn’t go as planned.  So, I have Cliff Builder Bars, Cliff Bars, pop-tarts, cookies, coffee packets, trail mix & Skittles…hell, I even have some unused, home-made, dehydrated dinners.  All the stuff that a hiker is probably sick of by now.

The thing that has gone over the best has been the oranges.  At the last minute I plucked a couple of bags of oranges and tossed them in my stash.  The wide-eyed looks of lust has come over every single hiker I’ve offered them too…I knew my drug-dealing days weren’t over.  Now, I’m just peddling a different buzz; this time it’s a natural insulin burst as the sweet orange slips into the blood stream.

Anyway, to make a long story less long this trailhead has been abuzz…in more ways than one.  In fact, about 2 minutes ago a swarm of bees passed through…I shit you not.  A loud buzzing noise started getting louder.  By the time I knew what was happening the bees were flyin’ by my open trailer door.  I toyed with the idea that I should quickly shut the door, but in order to do I would have had to poke my head out the trailer.  I opted to just sit tight and hope…you see, bees and me don’t really mix.  Luckily they had bee places to go and bee shit to do so they keep moving.

It’s also been abuzz with hikers.  Yesterday I had two groups saunter in as well as a guy that’s scouting out the trail by bike/truck/motorcycle.  He has this Toyota truck that he puts his bikes in; he drops off the mountain bike, drives a few miles away and parks his truck, then rides his motorcycle back.  Finally, he rides his mountain bike, along the trail to his truck then returns to get his motorcycle.

This group came in pretty early.  They sat for a while and chatted.

Iso, Lee and Beans, on their way out.

Mark and Illona also stopped in…

Well prepared for the desert sun!

Finally, later that afternoon Pirate Two-Sticks and CC returned.  Pirate (real name: Rick Obermiller) has some pretty amazing experience.  This dude is a volunteer park ranger, does trail maintenance, used to be an AZT Trail Steward, and even wrote the geology section in the AZT guide.  He gave me a signed copy!  SCORE!!

 One of the best treats so far has been pizza.  Kearney has a place called “Old Time Pizza”.  They are smack dab in the middle of town.  They are willing to deliver pizza and water to the Florence-Kelvin trailhead.  Anyway, I decided to patronize them because they’re taking care of the hikers.  I had the teriyaki chicken pizza.  It wasn’t bad.  Unfortunately, because I was shuttling hikers, I didn’t get to the pizza until about 45 minutes later.  By then it was a bit cold.  It was still pizza though!

Anyway, I am sure having a great time.  There’s NOTHING to do but hike and get work done…so, as you might expect, I’m getting quite a bit of stuff accomplished.

Well, that’s it for now…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.

“Living the Dream!”

That’s how I answer people when they ask “How are you doing today?”  It happens multiple times a day, to all of us.  When we go shopping and the checkout person greets us.  It happens when that annoying telemarketing call gets through.

I respond like that because, in some ways – I am already doing it.  I also believe that “if you can’t say it, you can’t do it.”  I actually learned that line from the movie Risky Business; Miles was talking to Joel and he suggested that in order to truly live, you have to say “What the fuck” once in a while.  At the end of his speech he said “if you can’t say it, you can’t do it.

So I say “Living the Dream” because responding “What the Fuck” isn’t as refined.  Plus it might set an inappropriate first tone with strangers.

Anyway, beginning in March I really will be “living the dream” because I said “what the fuck!”

How am I already living the dream?

I am the co-owner of an adventure tour company.  We started as a guide company but we’ve morphed into some kind of Adventure Concierge service – we guide and arrange adventures and experiences throughout Arizona.  In some respects – that’s kind of a dream career – to work in the outdoor adventure industry.

I also have been in the kitchen, metaphorically & literally, my whole life.  I cooked with my mom & grandmother growing up; I’ve worked in professional kitchens, from McDonald’s to an elite, fine-dining restaurant out of a 4-star resort.  I LOVE food.  I love to eat food, but I love preparing it even more.

Adventure and food are the things I love most in life.  You can share them with anyone, friends, guests & clients, and loved ones.  Those to are my favorite life experiences other than being in love.  I mean, let’s face it – true love is the most amazing thing ever.  But adventure and food are close seconds.

My point?  I exist in a world full of love, adventure and food.

So, how can it get even better?  Well, because I said “WTF”.  I bought a trailer.  Here are the photos of the inside.

thebedroomThis is a photo of the bedroom. and my office chair.

theofficekitchenandbathroomThis is the office, kitchen and restroom.

Pretty modest, but it has everything I need.

I will be leaving this March to do a boondocking practice run.  I’m going to post up along the Arizona Trail between Superior and Oracle (because there is mobile reception there) and do “trail magic”.  Then in April, after I’ve got my wheels under me, I’m going to start moving north trying to stay in cooler weather.  I’ll travel all over Arizona and maybe even into Utah and Colorado.

But here’s the best part – I will be scouting out new adventures, restaurants, watering holes and camping spots, then writing about them.  That’s right, I just said “what the fuck” I’m going to be a travel writer.

Livin’ the Dream,

AG

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.