Kartchner Caverns Sunday, Oct 25 2009 

Kartchner Caverns State Park

Kartchner Caverns State Park

In 1974 Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts discovered a pristine, living cave beneath the Whetstone Mountains.  After exploring the unique features of the cave, they informed the land’s owner’s, James and Lois Kartchner of its existence in 1978.  Over the course of the next ten years, they worked to preserve it, resulting in the State of Arizona purchasing it as an Arizona State Park.  The seven-acre cave system was opened to the public in 1999.  On Saturday we took the Big Room guided tour which featured canopies, coral pipes, helicites, rimstone dams, stalactites, and stalagmites.  This tour is only available October 15 through April 15 because during the rest of the year 800-1,000 female bats use the Big Room for giving birth to their young.  Unfortunately, cameras are not permitted in the cave.  Plan a trip to see for yourself the colorful formations of the Kartchner Caverns State Park.

Take a Hike! Tuesday, Oct 20 2009 

Highlands Center

Highlands Center

The Highlands Center for Natural History and the Prescott National Forest co-sponsored the second annual “Take a Hike!” A hiking stick and specially designed medallion with an impression of Thumb Butte are being offered to those who complete eight of twelve hikes by November 28th.  Six of my eight hikes were new to me.  I had previously hiked the four-mile Garden Grove loop on Thumb Butte, the only trail identified as strenuous from my selections, but saw it anew by walking counterclockwise.  The three-mile moderate Cold Springs Trail, located about 1.5 miles after the blacktop ends on Copper Basin Road, was less enjoyable than most of the other hikes because of high winds on our visit.  There was no wind when I hiked on the Aspen Creek Trail, located directly across from Cold Springs.  Shortly after leaving the dirt road, a fawn and three deer crossed the trail and blended into the hillside.  Oak leaves added color to this moderate 4.4 mile hike and smoke from a prescribed burn in the Prescott National Forest added interest.

Smith Ravine Trailhead

Smith Ravine Trailhead

The first part of the 2.6 mile moderate Smith Ravine Trail, off Walker Road, winds through a burn area.  We hiked beyond the identified end point in order to take in the views of fall colors and an expansive valley.  The 1.4 mile Gold Pan Trail, also located on Walker Road, was considered easy, but the elevation increases were noticeable after hiking the Smith Ravine Trail earlier in the day.  We rewarded ourselves on this beautiful blue sky day with prime rib sandwiches and spaetzle with onions and pepper jack cheese at the Lynx Lake Cafe!  The 3.5 mile Hokaygon Willow Trail, located southeast of Granite Mountain off Katahn Drive, was a more exposed trail than our others.  We spotted scat, possibly from javelina, on the trail in four separate locations.  I completed my eight hikes by walking the easy one mile Lynx Ruin Trail again and discovering the unique geologic features on the moderate 1.5 mile Highland Trail.  Lynx Creek, one of the most productive gold streams in Arizona, even had water.  Now I have a walking stick!

Las Vegas Get Away Sunday, Oct 11 2009 

Las Vegas Skyline

Las Vegas Skyline

This weekend we took a one hour flight to Las Vegas to offer support to a family member going through a difficult time.  We visited the Fremont Street Experience during the middle of the day, which I’m sure isn’t as colorful as at night, where we watched a spray paint artist do his thing.  Some of the Neon Museum’s outdoor displays portray the area’s unique history.  On Saturday night we walked the Strip from the Luxor to and around the Miracle Mile where we found a restaurant for dinner.  The Strip is much more developed than it was during my last visit fourteen years ago, but offered less free entertainment.  We watched Hawaiian dancers gyrate to the beat of drums with willing tourists and observed from a distance some of the water and light show in front of the Bellagio.  Undoubtedly, the recession has impacted this previously fast growing city.  Nevertheless, there were still plenty of regular folks strolling the sidewalk and gambling in the massive casinos.  The clubs are a new development where we found large groups of young people lined up to wait for more than an hour to get in.  The later it got the more adventuresome the outfits of some young females.  We spent some hard earned cash on this short trip but didn’t contribute to any one-armed bandits.

Wynton Marsalis Monday, Oct 5 2009 

Yavapai College sponsored the “Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis” as one of their community events.  The orchestra is composed of fifteen versatile jazz soloists and ensemble players (although one trumpet player was ill and unable to perform in this concert), including Wynton Marsalis as music and artistic director and, of course, trumpet.  On piano, Dan Nimmer displayed amazing technique.  Normally there isn’t much to comment on a bassist but not so with Carlos Henriquez who provided solid sound support in addition to an awesome solo.  Ted Nash showed his versatility by playing saxophones, clarinets and flutes; Victor Goines played saxophones and clarinet; Joe Temperley baritone and soprano saxophones and clarinet; Walter Blanding played both tenor and soprano saxophones and clarinet; and Sherman Irby completed the saxophone section which played a memorable piece near the end of the performance.  Chris Crenshaw, Vincent Gardner, and Elliot Mason on trombone.  Ali Jackson Jr. kept the beat on drums.  All of these performers provided a wonderful afternoon of music in Prescott.

Folk Music Festival Saturday, Oct 3 2009 

Folk Art Festival

Folk Music Festival

Sharlot Hall Museum hosted the 31st Annual Folk Music Festival this weekend.  Some 120-150 musicians performed in  approximately thirty minutes gigs across four stages.  The amphitheater was decorated as a barn, the gazebo decked out in fall colors, the Showcase stage a bordello, and the Blue Rose Theater a front porch.  We listened to the following performers  Don Cheek, In-Folk-us, Whistle Stop, James Cowden, Wick ‘n Cole, Lindsay Dragan, and Halfway Home.  Workshops were taking place in the exhibit hall, Sharlot Hall building, transportation building, and ranch house.  As we strollled from one venue to another, musicians were practicing on their banjos, dulcimers, fiddles, guitars, harmonicas, harps, mandolins, and ukuleles in any available spot.  By the way, the rose garden was magnificent on this clear, but cooler, fall day.