Exploring My World – V bar V ranch

These are some of the 1032+ identified petroglyphs at V bar V ranch. The historical site is located right off I17 at the southern exit to Sedona. It’s east of the freeway by about 1 mile.

The V bar V was one of many ranches in the area. The family preserved the petroglyphs and donated the land. Red Rocks pass (same pass used around Sedona) can be purchased here. Its a level trail that is about 1500 feet from parking lot to petroglyphs. Morning sun will get you best pictures. And don’t wait till afternoon the hours are limited. They are open Friday thru Monday, 9AM to 3PM

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This a Good Time to go Somewhere

My wife and I have a traveling problem. While I’m working, time and money are always a complication. Fortunately, there are airline price wars that have started. Of course, to where? Hawaii, Mexico, and Florida have great plane ticket prices. But Frontier and Spirit are pushing deals all over US.

Ok. I’m off to Puerto Vallarta. All inclusive, oceanfront room with air for about $1500 (5days/4nights) for 2 in a 3 star place. Last week the airfare was over $500 a piece! Why Puerto Vallarta? Price, swimming beach, never been there, really warm around Halloween,…

The original idea was Cabo San Lucas or Cancun. These were between $1600 to $1800 for 5 nights. Cabo offers less choices and no swimming beach. But plenty of water available with tours. For some random reason the flights arrived late and left early. Which costs you beach or excursion time! Tourism requires a little pre-planning.

But if you live East of Mississippi River, you can get great deals. Mexico a thought..Try planning a flight to Atlanta, Miami, or Tampa than find a vacation package from there to Cancun, Riveria Maya or Cabo San Lucas. When I lived in Ohio, a $70 flight & $90 hotel to Atlanta saved $500 on trip to Cancun. Of course New York or Chicago may offer deals as well.

If you lack passport or think speaking the local’s language is necessary, St Pete Beach has good fall prices for hotels (compared to Spring rates). Tampa had a nice sized airport and car rentals aren’t bad to deal with. Florida stays warm and had less tourists in fall.

Hawaii flights were $555 a piece to Honolulu (fron Pheonix, a moderate priced airport). Hotels are plenty but lower price means walking to beach a few blocks. I found decent rated Aston Waikiki Circle hotel that was $160/night (but $25 resort fee/night). Reviews tell of ocean views from most rooms. Waikiki hotels all have parking issues with added fees and available places. You should try to reserve a parking place before you get there! Yes, I’m serious. 750,000 people wedged between an ocean and three mountains makes space a premium. The beach will make you forget this. You can walk to a lot of shopping and restaurants. Maybe plan daily car rentals for trips out. Plan to get up at 6 AM to get tickets for a specific time to your Pearl Harbor or buy tour online before going to Hawaii.

Recently, traditional airlines have decided to take on the budget carriers for fall. If you thought about a trip somewhere, look this weekend. Sunday is not best day to price check airfare. Try Saturday or Monday mornings or afternoon for best prices and choices. Budget carriers have all kinds of deals. It may be Frontier thru Denver, for example, but the rates to smaller airports can be cheaper than gas to drive. My in-laws paid $79 for both to fly from Atlanta to Pheonix on Frontier. Tickets were bought 10 days in advance. So last minute maybe available cheap.

Enough reading, get out there! The world is waiting to show you something. Don’t let someone else steal your memories!

Meteor Crater- Exploring My World


What happens when a 150 foot wide chunk of Iron and nickel drops in on the Earth? You get a hole a mile wide and 500 feet deep! Welcome to Barringer Crater, aka Meteor Crater.  The crater is located 40 miles East of Flagstaff, AZ.  Its right off of Interstate 40. 

This is the windest place North of Antarctica! There is a steady 30 mph wind and it gusts well above that. But its the easiest to visit and best preserved crater around.  Most craters are eroded by water, in Northern Arizona not much of a problem.

There are three observation areas set up along the rim. Two are slightly below the rim. There is no access within or to the bottom. You get a fairly young (50,000 year old) feature that all the hallmarks an impact crater.  This is what the Moon surface is coveted with.  The astronauts actually trained here before going to the Moon.

There’s a movie telling the story. There are guided tours subject to weather.  The have a small display of other impact craters, meteor types, and video simulaions. You can put your hands on a 1400 pound piece of the meteor responsible for this whole thing.  

If you are in the Flagstaff area, its worth a stop even at $18/adult. This is a good add on to Sunset Crater or Wapitaki trips

Exploring My World – Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake is located 20 miles Northeast of Mesa, AZ.  It’s has a marina and several boat ramps.   And three roads into the area.   There are marked trails for hiking, atv’s and horses. This is part of Tonto Forest area and daily passes are sold off site year round in places like Ft McDowell, Mesa, and Jake’s Corners

And being there at the beginning of March, there are wildflowers. The area is loaded with cacti and cholla.

California Poppies
Wild Lupine
Globemallow

Roosevelt Lake-  Exploring My World 

An oasis in the High Desert. This impounded lake is surrounded by mountains and the stately Saguaro cacti.  Located about an hour and a half out of Pheonix this is an unbelievable drive and set of short hikes.


Of course,  those with a boat it’s prefect.   I have only an inflatable kayak…  The wife is funny about going out on a lake 350 feet deep in an inflatable craft.  There are 3 boat ramps and they are about 120 get wide and quarter mile long.   You can drive down them in a car,  just stay out if the way. 

There are several roads (some paved) that lead to the water.   I mean to the waters edge.   Which means be careful because you are alone here for the most part.   But several places give you the chance to be alone.   The Saguaro cacti are plentiful.  The views great on grey days.  
I can tell you there are cliff dwellings in a National Monument but they close at 4pm.  I missed out today.  


The Saguaro cacti take 75 years to start is first “arm”.  The one above is probably in the 200-250 year range.   It’s maybe 25-30 feet tall. 

Boyton Canyon Sedona – Exploring My World 

A grey day in Sedona looks better than a good day other places.   A few miles west of the “Y” in Sedona is Dry Creek Road this leads to a bunch of trailheads.   But for those who don’t want to walk in cold weather these pictures are all from the road. 

If you hike stay on the trails and bring a friend.  There are a ton of exposed areas.   There were a few puma (mountain lion)  prints asking my little solo hike.  There were people at the trailhead on my return telling me this is bad place for heat illnesses.   Bring water! 

Oak Crek Canyon -Exploring My World 

There are trails everywhere here outside of Payson, AZ.  This is a stab in the dark hike.  I left with no more than a distance and direction.  The trail offers solitude. 

 The forest like most in the area have Ponderosa Pines, Alligator  Cypress, and Sycamore through out the hike.   The forest is open with tons of natural light.

While there were plenty of hoof prints from elk, wildlife around 11 AM was missing.  But I did have a butterfly pose for me (actually sipping minerals out of wet soil).  I’m not used to seeing them in November.  Or as below, a wildflower.

The trail crosses a highway and continues as multiple trails to a small creek and a pasture, or across the state if you keep following the White diamonds.  But I stopped at the meadow.  Very relaxing but not for nature watching during the middle of the day

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park – Exploring My World 

This gorgeous piece of travertine has a 183 feet high bridge carved by this passive looking stream.  Its located about ten miles North of Payson, AZ  off  AZ87.  The State Park is a nice ride off the highway that ends in some hairpin turns.  The park is fairly small none  of the four hikes being longer than half a mile.  

The bridge is tall enough that you need to drop 200 feet in a fairly quickly manner.  Railroad ties make stairs in places to make it easier.  The view above is from Gowan trail, it is the easiest way down. You can make it to the bottom where a misty waterfall will get you wet if you stand there long enough. Above you are plenty of swallows that make nests inside holes in the travertine above you.  Benches are there for the return trip.

If you wish to rock hop a little you can get about 100 feet into the tunnel safely.  The rocks are highly polished and can be wet bring really good shoes.  The views are spectacular.  

Now every tunnel had two sides!  Above and below are the other views.   The second trail is Anna Mae trail.  It has the same drop of 200 feet but is much shorter like 500 feet!  At the bottom you aren’t able to see the Bridge.  So you rock hop.  It’s not a difficult “path” but good shoes, knees, and ankles are required.  There is mostly uneven smooth rocks that are in the creek.  It’s worth the challenge.  Below you can see the misty waterfall back light from the morning sun.


The Pine Creek Trail  is a half mile of Creek that means very little trail and lots of these cataracts.  It’s a nice view and super quiet for most part.  It starts with Anna Mae Trail, and is a collection of arrows on rocks and trees that meander side to side.  This is a half hour of looking for the best foothold.  Below was my prize picture.  Kind of Dragon like thing made from a tree trunk still in the ground.   I don’t know what happened to the tree but it wasn’t pretty.

Finally, they advertise a Waterfall trail.  Uh, not much to see here.  You do get a fern choked “waterfall”, meaning water drips a lot from above.  There is no cascading.  There is no sound of a traditional waterfall.  So either do this first or last when splashing with water will cool you off.

Shoo-fly Ruins – Exploring My World 

A first blush these aren’t the ruins you go to visit.   Actually this is what find look like before they are cleaned up and repaired and signed.  The rock outlines and fences spread out across 4 acres here.   There are changes in styles of rooms and positioning with other rooms.  Over four hundred years people lived here.   They used rocks as foundations and covered them with branches or skins and wooden frames.  

In the picture above, the sapling pine sits where a door was.  There is an oval ring where a house stood about 1150 AD toward the end of their stay here. 

It’s on the Houston Mesa Rd off of North Arizona 87.  There’s a weird feeling to the place.  You could spend more time here than you realize. 

Water Wheel –  Exploring My World 

If you are in the Payson area and have some time to kill.   Here are little gem.  Its about 20 minutes from Home Depot off a road called Houston Mesa.  The road has a gorgeous view of the Mogollan Rim.  There’s even a sign for Water Wheel parking after your cross a large concrete bridge.

The hike was about 1 1/4miles that I did.   You stay along a tributary of the Verde River.  Our experience of the first features is a Box Canyon which terminates with a sixty foot ribbon waterfall.   The sides of the canyon are polished granite.  The same water below has ride high up these walls and across to smooth the granite. 


As you get closer to the end you’ll notice a second ribbon waterfall on the right.  Those liking to rock hop you can get to the falls fairly easily. 

At the top of the Box Canyon,we have a much more open landscape.  Plenty of water flows from multiple sides.  Willow trees mix in with Sycamore and pines.  There are several cascades that wind around close to the waters edge.  They call out to you.   I took advantage of dry conditions to explore at least 15 different cascades and third waterfall about 20 minutes from the end of the box canyon.  The hike is probably closer to moderate with notrouble a lot of shade.  Bring water or drink well before and after.

There are critters calling this home.  The tarantula here is about three inches long and blends in really well.  Several small lizards run rock to rock.  I even saw a butterfly in November.  There were few  birds.