January 29

January 29

Take A Hike; A Little Something For The Ducks

We decided to take a day off today, partly because the weather is going to be rainy for the next couple of days, so we wanted to go for a walk and put in some reading and quilting time respectively. After breakfast, we dug out the walking poles and hiked a trail that begins at the edge of the campground and follows Oak Creek for about a kilometre. It is part of a bird sanctuary. Apparently over 100 bird species have been spotted here, although all we saw was ducks, the heron, and a couple of smaller birds we couldn’t identify. It was very pleasant.

This was how a large part of the afternoon was spent:

Quilting al fresco

Quilting al fresco

The quilting activity attracted the notice of a very nice older couple from Seattle, who are visiting friends and family in the area. We will probably go to Saturday night Mass with them, then have dinner together at the restaurant we ate at last night.

These two came to see if they could help, but they settled for bread instead

These two came to see if they could help, but they settled for bread instead

"So I went into this bar, ordered a double whisky and told the bartender to put it on my bill"

“So I went into this bar, ordered a double whisky and told the bartender to put it on my bill”

About 4:00 the clouds and rain rolled in, so we headed for the clubhouse, watched some TV and cooked supper in the kitchen facilities. The rain is supposed to continue for the next two days, so we’re not sure what we are going to do yet.

 

January 28

January 28

All Aboard! Better Than Brad Pitt

As mentioned yesterday, we drove up to Clarkdale to take a train tour up the Verde River Canyon, a 4-hour round trip. The weather was warm and sunny, and the scenery was spectacular. A couple of bald eagles were spotted, which got everyone excited except for the Vancouver Islanders, who thought “Eagle Shmeagle, come to the Comox Valley sometime!” For every train passenger car, there was an outside viewing car, which is where we spent our time on the way up to Perkinville. On the way back, we relaxed inside, listening to the recorded commentary, along with every song ever recorded containing the word “train”. For the Canadians aboard, they even played “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” by Gord Lightfoot. The only thing that marred the experience was the last song, “God Bless the U.S.A.” I couldn’t seem to find anything about trains in the lyrics. Anyway, here are a few photos:

Our train car

Our train car

An ancient Sinaguan cliff dwelling

An ancient Sinaguan cliff dwelling

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The Three Monkeys (dead centre of picture)

The Three Monkeys (dead centre of picture)

The Budweiser Frogs (left centre of picture)

The Budweiser Frogs (left centre of picture)

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After we returned to the campsite, we decided to walk up to the rather nondescript restaurant at the top of the hill leading down into the campground. It is perched over the river and is aptly named the “Up the Creek Grill and Bar”. We had driven past it every day and noted that there was always a ton of cars parked in front. Appearances are definitely deceiving; it was very nice inside, with quite a varied menu, and we had some of the best food we have ever had (how can you not like a place that features a dessert named “Better than Brad Pitt”?) We had a chance to chat with the chef, who has never taken a cooking class in his life and is also a concert pianist. What a hidden jewel this place is! A perfect end to a great day.

 

January 27

January 27

A “Darwin Award” Winner; This Is Why We Like It Here

We drove into Sedona today and took the back-to-back trolley tours we took four years ago with Mickie, Brian and Cindi, which take you in two different directions out of Sedona proper. The scenery is just as spectacular the second time around.

Our guide Erin related the tale of a famous bear hunter in the area named Robert Wilson. When a rancher or farmer spotted a bear, they would call Robert, who would come out to track and kill it. On one particular occasion, a rancher reported seeing a large grizzly. Unfortunately, Robert had sent his regular bear rifle to Prescott for repair, so he set out after this bear armed only with a .22 rifle and a hunting knife. He didn’t come back, thus earning a Darwin Award for effectively removing his “poor decision-making skills” genes from the gene pool. Nonetheless, apparently this qualifies you to have a local mountain named after you.

After returning from the last tour, we drove over to the Library to see the Quilt show, then drove up a windy road to the Sedona Airport, which is set on top of a mesa. The following pictures of the view from up there will hopefully give you some idea of why we like it here so much:

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Tonight is Italian night:

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Tomorrow we are booked on a train trip up the Verde River Canyon. The weather is supposed to be nice, so we are looking forward to it.

 

January 26

January 26

Heron And A Journey Into History

We woke up to see this handsome fellow searching for breakfast in the creek. The first picture below was taken through the back window:

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Since the day was a bit cool and overcast, we decided to pay a visit to a couple of archaeological sites we had discovered during our museum trip a couple of days ago.

Our first stop was at the V Bar V Heritage Site. Operated by the Coconino National Forest, it is the largest petroglyph rock art site in the Verde Valley, as well as one of the best preserved, and has only fairly recently been discovered. The Sinagua Indians created over 1,000 images here between A.D. 900-1300. Several of the images operate as a solar calendar to determine ceremonial and planting times. It was discovered by the owners of the V Bar V Ranch, which was once a thriving cattle operation:

(Click on any image for a largerĀ  version.)

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The chimney is all that remains

The chimney is all that remains

A bit of info about the “calendar” section of the petroglyph wall:

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Here is the actual section; the rocks in the large crack occurred naturally, but were reshaped by the Sinagua to make the sun’s shadow cross certain points or symbols at the equinoxes to indicate planting, harvesting and other ceremonies:

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The symbol in this picture represents the Verde River, and a topographic or aerial map overlaid on it fits it exactly:

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The volunteer giving the lecture (about an hour long) is both highly knowledgeable and passionate about this site; he has actually made several weapons (spear, bow and arrow) from the same materials the Sinagua would have used. Quite a remarkable guy. There is much more to the history of this place (I encourage you to Google it if you are at all interested). It certainly gives one food for thought, and will become another of our best memories.

We stopped at a little picnic area just outside the site and made some lunch, which we ate at a picnic table beside Beaver Creek. We then drove about a half-hour to Tuzigoot National Monument, which is an ancient pueblo built by the Sinagua. It is on a hilltop and consisted of 110 rooms, including second and third story structures. The first rooms were built around A.D. 1000.

Here is a representation of what it might have looked like:

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The following give you an idea of what has been excavated and reconstructed;

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In reality, there were no doorways; access was by ladders through a hole cut in the roof

In reality, there were no doorways; access was by ladders through a hole cut in the roof

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This Monument is of particular interest, because current thinking is that, were it to be discovered today, excavation and reconstruction to the extent that it exists now would probably not occur. Excavation exposed the materials used in the orginal construction to the elements, eroding them. Although the reconstruction has used those original materials, maintenance has become an ongoing problem. In addition, today there is a heightened sensitivity to the concerns of the Sinaguan descendants such as the Hopi Indians who still inhabit the area north of here.

We returned to the campsite around 5.00 after a full day.

 

January 25

January 25

Mass and A Good Move; Starry Starry Night

On the way to our new home at Page Springs (about 15 minutes south of Sedona), we attended 9:00 Mass at Immaculate Conception, which has a capacity of over 1900 people. Very nice priest and a very nice church:

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After Mass, we checked into the campground. It’s quite small, with very few people here, but it’s quite a little gem. Our site is 10 feet from Oak Creek, and the place sports ducks, herons, javelinas and a feral cat; who could ask for more?

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We drove into Sedona for the afternoon under a blue sky and a comfortable temperature. We walked up and down the main street, and felt compelled to buy another candle (this is definitely the last one; of course, we said that last year.) We stopped in at our favourite Mexican Cantina for beer and tacos, then paid a visit to the lovely quilt shop we found last year. We returned to the campsite to rest for a couple of hours before heading out to a star-gazing tour.

It took nearly an hour to drive out to where the telescopes (12-inch) were set up. It is an area south and east of Sedona, well out in the back of beyond, to try and ensure the least possible light pollution. The sky was mainly clear, although some cloud cover was starting to come in. It was cold, but not freezing, and we had dressed for the occasion, although chairs, blankets and even down parkas were supplied.

We were divided into two small groups, and then spent the next hour and a half watching our guide Trevor, who was very knowledgeable, use a laser pointer to outline constellations and significant stars, along with describing the mythology behind them. We were then able to look at these objects through the telescope. We had a good view of Jupiter and could clearly see two of its four moons (one was behind the planet). We also had an excellent view of the moon and could see the Sea of Tranquillity, site of the first moon landing. It was a great experience.

We went to sleep to the soft calls of an owl in a nearby tree.

 

January 24

January 24

Button, Button, Don’t Touch the Button

The button on the thermostat which controls the temperature, that is. We had it set for 65 degrees Fahrenheit (the outside temperature dropped to -5 Celsius last night), but at 2:00 in the morning, Jeannine decided to adjust the temperature. The first thing I knew about it was hearing “beep, beep..beep, beep, beep”, followed by “Oh no, I’ve done something wrong”. Long story short, I wound up having to reset the system (this entailed 20 minutes of searching search the manual for the correct procedure). My return to bed was greeted by a small voice saying “I’m really sorry”. All part of the RV experience!

We awoke to a bright sunny day, and decided to do some laundry before heading in to the town of Camp Verde.

 

January 23

January 23

Not Quite As Advertised

We left around 9:30 and arrived at Camp Verde in mid-afternoon, after a grocery stop just north of Phoenix. The “resort” advertises a pool (not open), a clubhouse (closed because “some things are being done to it” , although we saw no evidence of that), and Wi-Fi (“sorry, no Wi-Fi here”). Did I say that the temperature will be cooler? Major understatement; it drops below freezing at night, which is not unusual for high desert country at this time of year, but you have to disconnect your water at night and run off your fresh water tank, a minor inconvenience, but when it is combined with no clubhouse, no pool and no Wi-Fi, it resulted in a decision to only stay here for 2 nights instead of 7, and to move to another resort closer to Sedona for the rest of the week.