Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bell Trail and Wet Beaver Creek

Arizona is amazing. It is so much more than red rocks, cacti, and three digit temperatures. After a delicious breakfast with KC we stopped off on our way home for a last AZ hike.  Bell trail was chosen because it is just 2 miles off the I-17. 

We did part of the 6 mile trail that borders Wet Beaver creek. There were red rocks, cacti and three digit temperatures but there was also lots of water and small animals like butterflies, birds and lizards. 

We swam in the creek and then continued the drive home with a light coating of red rock silt. 
We love Arizona. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lockett Meadow hike

Fred's new hobby is tree identification, which means that he spends hikes with his nose in a book, which is ironic.  

My uncle KC suggested that we hike Lockett Meadow, which is basically the backside of Snowbowl (where we snowboard).  Unfortunately, due to monsoons and possible flash floods we had to hike 3 miles to get to the meadow when you can usually drive and hike from there.  It was a beautiful hike regardless.
We dragged my 16 year old, 6'1" cousin us. He is not a big fan of hiking but due to our limited time I would not take no for an answer.  He had fun though, or at least I told him that he did.  

Behind us is the Grand Canyon (but it is hard to see in the picture).

Wyatt, you are having fun.  

I love meadows because it means there will be wildflowers and butterflies.  We were not disappointed. 

Wyatt, you are having fun.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fording Sycamore Rim Trail

My aunt Kathy had suggested a hike that she did while her and my uncle were in Flagstaff earlier this summer, before monsoon season.  Since Fred and I had the whole day devoted to hiking we decided to take on the 11-mile Sycamore Rim Trail.  
The only issue was that Flagstaff had monsoon rains for two weeks leaving the trail rather undefined. Almost immediately into our hike Fred was waist deep in murky rain water.  

The Sycamore Rim trail was established in 1979, and according to the Forest Service website was "born of the idea that this environment of ponds, streams, cliffs, and deep canyons were unique, and worthy of preservation in as nearly an undisturbed condition as possible". 

The trail was under water practically the entire time. 

The river that was once at our feet feeds into a deep canyon, the creation of our planets topography at its finest.  

Fred wants you to hike and protect designated wilderness lands (he never stops working).  

The views of Ponderosa pines are spectacular and seemingly endless. 

I made new friends.

The last leg of the hike was spent with our legs in the river once again (this is how we knew we were almost back to the car).  The end of the hike was the most difficult to stay on the trail as it was not well marked but Fred set his compass and we eventually found our way.  
What a beautiful hike.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The aunts go marching two by two

On Saturdays at 9:30 in the morning (during the summer) there is a wilderness/ Jr Forest Ranger presentation at Observatory Campground in the Cleveland National Forest.  The presentation explored many topics such deforestation of the United States after European arrival, historical conservation efforts of Aldo Leopold and presidents like Lyndon B Johnson, current efforts to protect the land along with what everyone can do to help, how to use a compass, how to identify trees... it was very informative.  

The girls, along with the other children, took an oath to protect the forest.  

Great work, Ranger Fred!

After the presentation we continued up the road to Palomar Observatory.  This place is much more than a 'white dot on the mountain' to the girls now, instead it is a big boring dome.  Kathy and I had a great time reading about the history and admiring the telescope but the allure is just not there for young children.  The girls enjoyed looking at pictures in the museum taken with the 200 inch Hale telescope.  The telescope was the world's largest for almost 50 years although now the largest is a 409 inch telescope in Mexico.  But size doesn't matter, scientists continue to collect data here about 290 nights of the year.  They are on the hunt for near-Earth asteroids, distant galaxies and quasars (very bright centers of galaxies where supermassive black holes are located).

There is a 5$, one-hour tour offered where visitors are allowed to enter the ground floor of the telescope.  Ruby would have been bored in one minute so it will be saved for another time.  

The best part for the girls was the picnic we had just outside the observatory.  They climbed trees and rocks for over an hour.  

The Oasis Camel Dairy was our next stop.  Once a month the dairy is open to the public but only twice a year do they allow visitors to feed the camels (they do not want the camels to associate visitors with food).  The event in July is Watermelon Days and in November is Pomegranate Days.  The cost is 15$ for adults and 10$ for children and the money is dedicated to the care for the camels.  They adopt camels that need help or a place to live.  

Huell Howser, Nancy Riegler, Gulliver
In 2005 Huel Howser filmed an episode at the Dairy.

We arrived early so we had a chance to see all of the animals on the ranch.

The turkeys were singing for us.  One would call and they would all answer in unison.  

Nancy's bird show was first part of the day's event.  It is interesting to see the relationship these animals have with their keepers.  

Nancy has had this cockatoo for 38 years.   

We were then told of the benefits of camel products.
Camel dung was used to discover the cure for dysentery.
Camel milk is most similar to human milk, and has lots of insulin which is great for diabetics.  It has antibacterial, anti-tumor and antiviral properties, and is rich in vitamins and minerals.  

The camels have so much personality.  This one reluctantly ate my watermelon but joyfully ate it when the girls fed it to them.   

This is baby Belina, born in May.

It is not my imagination, he is smiling for a picture.  

It was my aunt who found out about the dairy, and I have been eager to go since she suggested it.  
It worked out great that today was Marla and Dan's anniversary so Kathy and I could spend the day watching the girls.  Thanks Kathy!

In the evening the girls were awards pins, patches and other goodies from Ranger Fred.