Colossal Cave Wednesday, Jan 10 2018 

Colossal Cave

Colossal Cave

In 1934 the Department of the Interior placed the Colossal Cave Mountain Park on the National Register of Historic Places. From 1934-1937 Civilian Conservation Corps workers added a floor and lighting to Colossal Cave. This 2,400 acre county park is located in Vail, about 14 miles south of Tucson. Tours, gift shop and cafe are operated by private enterprise. Yesterday we traveled from our campsite in the Tucson/Lazydays KOA to visit the Colossal Cave for a one hour tour. We toured the Living Room, Crystal Forest, Drapery Room, Great Fault Room, and Hill of Time. The cave maintains a consistent 70 degree temperature year round.

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V-Bar-V Heritage Site Tuesday, Jan 2 2018 

Beaver Creek Rock Art Style Petroglyphs

Beaver Creek Rock Art Style Petroglyphs

On New Year’s Day we traveled with a neighbor and visiting friends from Ohio to the V-Bar-V Heritage Site  located not too far from the I-17 exit for Oak Creek south of Sedona. The Southern Sinagua farmed in this area from 900-1400. During this period they used indirect percussion, using one rock to strike another in a chisel-like manner, to create some 1,032 petroglyphs that are likely related to a solar calendar tracking equinoxes and solstices. This Beaver Creek Rock Art Style represents the largest known petroglyph site in the Verde Valley. In 1900, this land was homesteaded by the Benjamin Franklin Taylor family. In 1927, several small ranches merged and started using the V Bar V brand. In 1994, the site was acquired by the Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest through a land exchange. We attempted to visit Montezuma Castle, but it was closed?! We stopped for lunch in Jerome which was packed with visitors. We enjoyed an interesting outing on the first day of the New Year.

Phoenix Zoo: December 2017 Thursday, Dec 28 2017 

Hungry Giraffe

Hungry Giraffe

We took advantage of mid-70 degree temperatures to visit the Phoenix Zoo this afternoon. We were not alone.The parking lot was fuller than usual as well as additional tourist buses. Several visitors wore Penn State tee-shirts so we can guess that they are here for Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl. A giraffe was feeding near an observation tower. The collared peccaries, javelina to us, were active. The Chilean flamingos lined there pool for nice reflections. With a dark blanket covering his head, Bess, the mother orangutan, looked like a Star Wars character while munching on the remnants of a Christmas tree. A female mallard posed for a picture as did a pink-backed pelican. Another great year of visits at the Phoenix Zoo.

Scenic Trail Saturday, Dec 23 2017 

Crested Saguaro

Crested Saguaro

Today we visited the McDowell Mountain Regional Park north of Fountain Hills and hiked the 3.5 mile Scenic Trail which joined the Pemberton Trail for 0.9 of a mile to return to the parking area. The low point on this trail that meanders through Sonoran Desert washes is 1,746 feet and its high point on a Lousley Hills ridge is 2,003 feet. Four Peaks can be seen to the east from the ridge. There were several interesting saguaros along the way including one with a crest. We didn’t see any other hikers, but this trail is a popular one for mountain bikers.

We stuffed ourselves for lunch at the Red Rock Buffet in the Fort McDowell Casino. We learned that “During the early 1990s several tribal casinos, including Fort McDowell, operated in Arizona.  In accordance with the provisions of the federal 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the tribes were waiting to sign gaming compacts with the state government. However, at the time the State Governor opposed Indian gaming and called upon the U.S. Attorney’s Office for support. Unannounced raids by FBI agents on five Indian casinos were ordered. At first light on May 12, 1992, agents invaded the Fort McDowell Casino seizing the community’s 349 gaming machines, loading them into moving trucks. Community members witnessing the raid took immediate action. They called other community members, tribal leaders and the news media. Using every available car, truck, and piece of heavy machinery, a blockade of the casino access road was organized. Violence ensued, including a three-week standoff between the tribe and government. The Arizona Governor was ultimately persuaded to sign a gaming compact with the tribe, thus paving the way for Indian gaming in Arizona. May 12 is now a tribal holiday.” And, May 12 is my birthday!

Glendale Glitters Christmas Festival Friday, Dec 22 2017 

Glendale Glitters

Glendale Glitters

A Phoenix area friend suggested we travel together to see Glendale Glitters, 1.6 million LED lights illuminating sixteen blocks of Historic Downtown Glendale. The Velma Teague Library, named after Glendale’s first hired librarian, is a center piece for the light show highlighting decorated palms trees. We spotted a horse-drawn carriage waiting for a hire, a Santa sitting on his motorcycle with a child on his lap, and a woman wearing an elaborate outfit enticing visitors to her shop. On weekends through January 9th there is a schedule of entertainment. We passed a young man playing an amplified guitar. We enjoyed German food at Haus Murphy’s. Glendale Glitters is an interesting seasonal attraction.

Longview Trail Revisited Tuesday, Dec 19 2017 

Longview Trailhead

Longview Trailhead

With temperatures in the mid-50s and a cloudless blue sky, today was a perfect day for a hike on the Longview Trail. The trailhead is at the intersection of Williamson Valley Road and Pioneer Parkway. This segment of the Prescott Circle Trail, which passes through juniper scrub and grassland, opened in October 2014. It has an elevation change of about 475 feet, with a low of 5,419 feet and a high point at 5,547 feet. After hiking its 1.78 mile length, we connected with Pioneer Park’s 10K blue trail which we followed for about .2 of a mile to the tunnel. To the west there are views of Granite Mountain. To the east Willow Lake and the Granite Dells are framed by Glassford Hill. Prescott is a great place for hiking.

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