Phoenix Zoo: January 2016 Saturday, Jan 30 2016 

African Lion

African Lion

Yesterday, a weekday, we joined the line of mothers pushing strollers entering the Phoenix Zoo. On our walk around the zoo we discovered desert bighorn sheep waiting patiently at a gate for their feeding. The nearby Arabian oryx were already enjoying their breakfast. One of the African lions, located in the exhibit previously home to the Siberian tiger, awoke as we walked by and watched us. In the former lion exhibit, one of the two spotted hyenas rose from slumber and stood above his partner before returning to its nap. We noted a colorful band of red on the underside of a Lady Ross’ Turaco wing. The southern white rhinoceros enjoyed his breakfast. The male mandrill sat near the corner of his exhibit watching passersby. A Hamadryas baboon also kept her eye on us. A cheetah paced back and forth against the side of its exhibit. One of the gibbons kept its head looking away from us as it munched from a hanging bucket. An egret and heron posed for us before we departed after our morning stroll.

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A Pleasant Adventure Tuesday, Jan 19 2016 

We celebrated the Martin Luther King holiday by camping at the Lake Pleasant Regional Park. After setting up our Winnebago Via in site #43 of the Roadrunner Campground, we explored the adjacent Roadrunner Trail. This trail follows the shoreline between the Discovery Center, closed for renovation, and the 10-Lane Boat Ramp where we watched a fishing boat mount its tow carriage. Several sailboats clustered together on Lake Pleasant. Interestingly, this park offers a life jacket loaner station. The water sport rental spot was not in operation. A colorful sunset treated us on our first evening.

Lake Pleasant Sunset

Lake Pleasant Sunset

On Saturday we drove to the Cottonwood Day-Use Area and hiked the 1.2 mile Cottonwood Trail to the north entrance station and then returned to the junction with the Pipeline Canyon Trail. A year ago we visited this park for the first time and hiked the Pipeline Canyon Trail where we saw seven wild burros. Because this regional park is near Phoenix we drove our Lexus to give us more mobility than just our motor home. After our morning hike we drove some ten miles east on Highway 74 to the I-17 intersection for gasoline and lunch. On our return to the Roadrunner Campground we explored a peninsula off the Roadrunner Trail. Even more sailboats than yesterday took advantage of the beautiful weather. Another advantage in being near Phoenix was the excellent television reception that allowed me to enjoy the exciting Cardinal overtime victory over a team I was rooting for not too long ago, the Green Bay Packers. The evening concluded with a sunset reminiscent of an impressionist painting.

Yavapai Point Trail Vista

Yavapai Point Vista

On Sunday, after we watched the morning news programs, we returned to the Cottonwood Day-Use Area and hiked the Yavapai Point Trail. This 1.5 mile hike rises 399 feet to the top of Yavapai Point for dramatic views of Lake Pleasant. On our return trip we encountered about three dozen hikers including a large group from the Austrian Society of Arizona. We extended our excursion by driving west on Highway 74 and discovering that while Morristown has a post office, it doesn’t have much else for the tourist. In contrast, Wickenburg offers multiple restaurants and the Desert Caballeros Western Museum. This museum presents interesting representative paintings and sculpture and offers interesting notes through a self-guided audio system that automatically plays based on ones location with the possibility of more in-depth notes. “Thanks for the Rain,” a sculpture by Joe Beeler that graces the outside of one of the museum buildings, is based on one of the collection’s famous paintings. A special exhibit of desert still life photographs by Wayne Norton suggests alternative views of what it means to be “Western.” A large collection of sculptures by Michael Naranjo explores his inspired work that “All Things Are Possible.” The lower level of the museum allows one to stroll along a circa 1915 Wickenburg street with its hotel, general store, and saloon. A Victorian home features a parlor, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, and laundry. Wickenburg silversmith Victor E. Cedarstaff, according to one display, is credited for creating the Bola Tie and was granted a patent in 1959. Back in our Via, we delighted in yet another sensational sunset.

On Monday we hiked the 2 mile Wild Burro Trail. At the Pipeline Canyon Day-Use Area a chipmunk begged unsuccessfully for a treat. We found evidence of burros on all of our hikes and heard some neighing on one hike, but didn’t see any on this adventure. Yet another sensational sunset surprised us and left us inspired. Lake Pleasant offers a regional park that would surprise those from other parts of the world who don’t understand the unique Sonoran desert.

Willow Lake Trail Sunday, Jan 10 2016 

Granite Mountain

Granite Mountain

Yesterday we hiked a new to us portion of the Willow Lake Trail. We accessed the trail from a mid-point on Willow Lake Drive and headed west and then north almost two miles toward the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary. A snow-capped Granite Mountain was a first for us. We crossed a trail bridge for Prescott’s mile-high trail system with a dedication sign. We learned that “This bridge was constructed on July 23, 2005, in celebration of Mormon Pioneer Day, by 170+ volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” We passed the tunnel leading to the Embry Riddle Trail that we have yet to explore. On our return we found the warmer temperatures resulted in a muddier trail. We are fortunate live in an area with so many interesting trails.

Constellation Trails Sunday, Jan 3 2016 

Constellation Trail Vista

Constellation Trail Vista

Our first hike in 2016 was in the Constellation Trails across Highway 89A from the Phippen Museum of Western Art. We started on the North 40, joined Ridgeback, and returned via Rock Wall and the Ranch Road Shortcut. This series of trails adjoins the Granite Dells. From our out most point we could see the snow-capped San Francisco Peaks. The trails were busy with people walking their dogs or enjoying the day as a family. One woman was wearing colorful patchwork pants. The most unusual was a barefoot lad. Before we departed I snapped a picture of the statue of Chief Joseph in front of the Phippen that included this quote “From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.”