Payson, Arizona, Part Two

Payson, Arizona, Part Two

The Payson visitor center and Payson Ranger District office loaded us up with so many pamphlets and maps I knew we’d never see it all in the week we had allotted. The following are sights we managed to fit into our schedule from October 6 – 12, 2019.

Pine, Arizona

A 20-minute drive from Payson on scenic route 260 takes drivers along a road with wonderful views of the mountains and forest, past the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park (more about the park later), and into Pine, Arizona. Four Mormon families established Pine in 1879. The 2010 census showed approximately 1,963 residents. This compares to Payson, which had a population of 15,301.

“Open house” signs enticed us to follow the arrows. We weren’t in the market to buy, just playing lookie-loos. A family of elk crossed the road in front of us so we stopped to wait for them to pass. Another car came up behind us. They didn’t have patience for the elk and drove around. We could almost hear the epithets they hurled our way as they zoomed by. Where we live, we stop for deer and wild turkeys on the road. It’s better than running into them and wrecking our vehicle.

The elk made it safely across the road

Strawberry/Pine Fall Festival

After touring the house, we found the main road lined with trucks and cars, and people walking around. “Oh, look. Kettle corn,” we said in unison. The popcorn vendor wasn’t sure what was going on, but the banner across the road advertised The Strawberry/Pine Fall Festival, so we walked down the street, peeked in a few antique and craft stores, and cruised the vendor booths. The limited storage space in the fifth wheel prevents us from buying stuff while traveling. I did splurge on a few bookmarks, though.

Judy Bottler had photo bookmarks for sale at the Strawberry/Pine Fall Festival

Three miles further north is Strawberry, which is even smaller than Pine. They claimed 961 residents in 2010. Many of the houses, cabins, and cottages in both Strawberry and Pine are vacation homes or rentals, which increases the population at times.

Strawberry, Arizona

In Strawberry we stumbled upon the oldest standing schoolhouse in Arizona. District #33 in Strawberry Valley was established in 1884 and still stands in the same place where it was built.

Strawberry School House

Besides a school, the building served as a meeting place, social center, and a church. Closed in June of 1916, by 1961 only the log frame remained.

School bell

On August 15, 1981, the Pine/Strawberry Archaeological and Historical Society dedicated the structure as a Historical Monument after they renovated the school. It is open to the public from May through mid-October on weekends and holidays. https://www.pinestrawhs.org/schoolhouse.html

Furnishings inside the schoolhouse

Driving through Strawberry, Pine, and even Payson, we noted homes hidden among shrubs and trees. This is what Paradise, California, must have looked like before fire wiped out the entire town in November 2018. Only a few residents in these communities had protected their homes from fire. Did most of the occupants not get the memo to create a defensible space zone around their home, or did they choose to ignore it? I could easily see how the entire communities of Strawberry and Pine could go up in smoke. I wish them well and pray it never happens.

Pine View Loop Trail

The Pine View Loop trail wraps around a hill for 2.8 miles. Wandering through piñon and ponderosa pines, and alligator junipers, Jon made it without trekking poles along the up and down trail with occasional switchbacks. This was his longest hike yet after his sciatic pain had disappeared.

Jon ditched his trekking poles for this hike.
This is the bark of an alligator juniper

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

After thirty years on the State Parks Board priority list and a few approvals by the state legislature to purchase the land, lack of funding delayed natural bridge becoming a state park. The board finally purchased the 160 acres on October 1, 1990, and the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park held its grand opening celebration on June 29, 1991.

Tonto Natural Bridge

Believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world, the 400-foot long tunnel contains turquoise pools fed by a natural spring. The park offers several short trails making this a perfect place to bring young children.

Watch for slippery rock

We managed steep hills and a scramble over huge boulders and rocks along the Anna Mae Trail. The trail ends at the cavern under the bridge.

The trekking poles came in handy on the boulders and slick rock

While working my way over the boulders to reach the opening, I passed a woman sketching on a pad. We spoke a few words and I found a spot to sit and take photos. A few minutes later, the woman, Kathy Mann from Canada, asked if she could use my camera to take a photo of me sitting on the boulder.

Photo taken by Kathy Mann with my camera

Without thinking, I handed over my Sony and turned my back. After several minutes, I turned around to see if she was still there. She said, “Just a few more.”

I’m used to taking photos, not modeling for them, but if I could help an artist in her work, I was glad to do it. I sent the photos to her a few days later and hope to one day see her creation. Her paintings emote a sense of calm and peace. If you are interested in seeing her work, go to kathymannfineart.com.

Waterfall Trail is about 300 feet long and ends at a waterfall wall. A walk down approximately 120 steps takes visitors to an extremely narrow and short space to view water flowing out of the side of the cliff. More than five people created a huge crowd, making it difficult to maneuver. Kids will most likely enjoy the cool spray from the falls on a hot day. For us, it was a disappointment.

“But, I want to stay here where it’s cool.”

The short trails to the third and fourth overlooks provided additional views of the bridge. At the fourth overlook, Jon pointed out the hole in the walkway where you can look through the grates to see the water from the bridge top. It wasn’t that spectacular, but at least it was something different.

The backside of the Tonto Bridge, or is it the front?
The Gowan Trail was closed to hikers
Through the grate at the top of the bridge

Mogollon Rim

Mogollon Rim (pronounced mōgə-yōn, mo-go-yawn, or muggy-on, depending on your source) is a 200-mile geological formation composed primarily of limestone and sandstone. It runs across Arizona from northern Yavapai County in the west to the New Mexico border in the east and forms the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau in Arizona. Piñon pines, junipers, and ponderosa forests abound on the plateau.

Mogollon Rim

North of Strawberry is Arizona Forest Road (FR) 300, a dirt and gravel road that skirts the Rim for 43.3 miles from State Route 87 to State Route 260. FR 300 intersects with the General Crook Trail, a historic wagon route used in the 1870s and 1880s to provide logistical support for General George Crook in the U.S. Army’s war against the Apaches. Since we started our day too late to drive the entire route, we settled on checking out a few spots on the west end to get a feel for what the road had to offer.

A little bit of fall

Land south of the Mogollon has an elevation between 4,000 and 5,000 feet while the plateau rises to 8,000 feet.

We saw plenty of trees with their tops loped off

The forest is the last place I’d expect to see a typewriter. But there it was as if someone staged it just for me to come take a photo.

This typewriter has seen better days

Another day we drove out to the east end where parts of the rim are visible from the highway without driving on dirt roads. The visitor’s center had already closed for the season so we snapped a few pics and climbed back in the truck.

The valley below Mogollon Rim

We stopped in at The Tonto Creek State Fish Hatchery located 21 miles east of Payson off Route 260 on Tonto Creek Road. Although the visitor center had already closed for the season, the building was open.

Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery

Displays inside gave information about how the fish eggs are imported from other hatcheries and grown at this facility. The Work Projects Administration (WPA) originally built the hatchery in the early 1930s for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

I think they need a new life ring

The hatchery’s expertise is hatching and growing trout eggs to three-inch fingerlings and nine-inch catchable fish. Once matured, approximately 165,000 rainbow trout, 400,000 brook and cutthroat trout, and 150,000 Apache trout are stocked in Arizona waters.

Stream at the watershed

That wraps up our time in Payson, Arizona. For those who can’t take the Phoenix heat in the summer, Payson seems to be a good place to cool off and enjoy the Rim Country great outdoors.

As our time in Payson ended, we turned our focus on Phoenix and visits with family and friends.

Safe Travels

Payson, Arizona, Part One

We left the nearly 100-degree temperatures in Gila Bend for cooler weather in Payson, Arizona, on October 6, 2019. When our escort led us to the rear of Payson Campground and RV Resort, we cheered. Another week without freeway noise sounded good to us. The dusty roads and campsites surrounded by tall hedges and trees made us feel like we were in a National Forest campground.

Campsite at Payson Campground and RV Resort

Green Valley Park and Lakes

One of the highlights of Payson is the Green Valley Park and Lakes. The 45-acre property is home to the Rim Country Museum, the reproduction of the Zane Grey Cabin, and the Haught Family Cabin. Anglers are welcome to fish the well-stocked lake, sailors with non-gas powered vessels are invited to glide across the calm waters, and bird lovers will enjoy the waterfowl that live in the area or visit during their migration.

Green Valley Park Lake

Walkers, runners, and parents with children in strollers find the 1-mile concrete trail around the large lake and the amphitheater a great place to enjoy a bit of exercise. Children even have access to a playground.

Green Valley Park

The amphitheater is used for the 4th of July and Memorial Day events, summer concerts, and as we found out during our visit, the Annual Beeline Cruise-In Car Show.

Green Valley Park amphitheater

When we heard about the car show, we didn’t expect much. Cars had arrived from Phoenix and other Arizona locations as well as from neighboring states. Someone made an announcement over the PA system that this year’s event was the largest ever. They had slots for 225 cars but ended up with over 240. Fortunately, the group was able to accommodate everyone who arrived. Jon and I spent about two hours gawking at the classic cars and snapping photos.

If you’re not interested in photos of classic cars, just roll on down the page.

The Halloween Roadster
Ah, there’s the boy that made the music play, skulls rattle, and dog bark.
Delivery sedan
Mad Max car
Chevy Apache stepside pickup
Family picnic time
1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Country Club Convertible
At the Carhop
My first car was a white two-door 1970 Datsun 510 with a black vinyl top. I wanted the butterscotch color, but it wasn’t in stock. Fifteen years later when I could afford the aftermarket paint job it was time for a new car.
1980s icon Bob’s Big Boy
Jon owned a blue 1963 Volkswagen bug with a ragtop moon roof.
Payson’s first firetruck. The museum is taking donations for a restoration project.
Jon also owned a Metro after he crashed his 1955 Chevy
I don’t think this Jeep spends much time 4-wheeling

Taking photos with someone proves that photographers put their own personal spin on their photos. Jon took pics of the cars with their hoods up, showing off the power plant and/or the wheels and tires, while I took pics of quirky autos like the Mad Max, the Halloween Roadster, and Carhop.

Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin Tours

 The Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin are only viewed through a docent-led tour. Sadly, no photos are allowed inside the museum or cabin, and the museum’s website does not contain any photos. Only people lucky enough to travel to Payson and take the tours get to see the wonderful displays and artifacts inside. It is a small space, and I understand they need to limit how many people enter the museum. However, it would be nice if they shared their images so more people can enjoy the exhibits. Perhaps someday they can record a tour or take photos to post on their website.

The first National Forest Ranger building. Through the door and window are displays of objects used years ago.

The displays included artifacts and stories about ancient civilizations that populated the Rim Country, continued with early settlers, the June 1990 Dude Fire that took the lives of six firefighters and destroyed the original Zane Grey cabin, and a feud deadlier than the Hatfield-McCoy feud. The Pleasant Valley War (also known as Tonto Basin Feud, Tonto Basin War, or Tewksbury-Graham Feud) racked up an estimated death toll of 35 – 50 from 1882-1892, while 13 people died during the Hatfield-McCoy feud. For those interested in learning more, Wikipedia has detailed information on the conflict, and Zane Grey based his novel entitled To The Last Man: A Story of the Pleasant Valley War on the war.

Reproduction of Zane Grey’s Cabin

Through architectural plans, the historical society was able to recreate the Zane Grey hunting cabin. The structure contained one large room that served more like a meeting room than a place to sleep and cook. In fact, there were no facilities for cooking and sleeping. The hunters must have cooked and slept outside in tents.

Zane Grey Cabin replica

The docent-led tour of the Zane Grey Cabin included historical background of the author ‘s life, his time in Rim Country, and his career as an author. Grey’s books line the shelves and his typewriter sits prominently on the desk. Apparently, years after Grey’s death, his wife was cleaning out and giving away belongings. She gifted the typewriter to a young man who worked for her. He kept the typewriter safe for many years until one day he arrived and donated it to the museum.

The Haught Cabin

The Haught cabin is also on the premises at Green Valley Park and Lakes. Imagine living in a 10’ by 18’ dirt-floor cabin without windows with five children and a mother-in-law. That is what Sarah Haught did after she and her husband Henry arrived in the Arizona Territory from Oklahoma in 1897. Territorial settlers sure were hardy folk.

Haught Cabin
The cabin is staged inside as if only one person lived there, not eight. Did hammocks hang from the walls?

When the nearby spring dried up, they took apart their little cabin and moved it to Little Green Valley where they settled next. Years later, Henry and Sarah’s daughter continued the family tradition by living in the log cabin with her husband Henry Garrels and their 5 sons. When Larry Hammon acquired the property in 1999, he contacted the Rim Country Museum to see if they were interested in relocating the structure. Again, the cabin was dismantled and then rebuilt where it now stands next to the museum.

Restaurants

While in Payson, one must eat, so we tried out a few local restaurants. We stopped in for lunch at Miss Fitz 260 Café. I had a cheeseburger with potato salad (with bacon, yum), and Jon chose chicken fried steak. We both enjoyed our meals with Arnold Palmers.

We felt privileged that Duza’s Kitchen had room for us at lunch. The comments about Mensur Duzic, the owner and executive chef, and her restaurant in Phoenix were glowing, and previous customers promised a drive to Payson for her food. The turkey, bacon, and avocado sandwich on Asiago bread was delicious.

Duza’s Kitchen
Mensur Duzic is the woman on the left

Fargo’s Steakhouse was the perfect setting for celebrating the one-year anniversary of my surgery and Jon’s pain-free back and recovery from Bell’s Palsy. The menu offered so many choices that they are sure to please everyone’s palate. We enjoyed good food, great service, and best of all, spending our special day together.

Fargo’s Steakhouse has much more than steak

That’s enough for now. Stay tuned for next week’s post when we venture outside the city limits.

Safe Travels

Respite in Gila Bend, Arizona

Peace and quiet and wide-open spaces are what we needed after the big city sights and sounds of San Diego. Although temperatures approached 100 degrees, Gila Bend KOA seemed like the perfect spot to get away from the ants that invaded our coach and the roar of the freeway outside our bedroom window.

The Ranch House at Gila Bend KOA

We checked in at Gila Bend KOA on October 3, 2019, for a three-night stay. This RV park has been our go-to campground whenever we pass through the Sonoran Desert. Each year we arrive anxious to see what improvements the owner Scott Swanson has made since the previous year. A major street resurfacing project was underway when we arrived, closing off the main road. Our escort led the way along an alternate route to our site. This was the best site we have ever had at this campground.

Our campsite at Gila Bend KOA

A new gate at the entrance prevents people from entering that do not belong. Unless I missed it during our last visit, the Solitary Confinement shelter was a great addition for folks who want to enjoy a little solitude.

Step right in for your solitary confinement

Chairs have been placed inside the two cubicle-like spaces with a view of the usually dry creek lined with palo verde trees. Don’t even think about talking while cocooned in solitary,  it’s not allowed. And pets and loved ones must stay at home.

View from the Solitary Confinement

Patio and fireplace behind the Ranch House

Although Gila Bend boasts a Dollar General, Family Dollar, and a Carniceria, for shopping we prefer to drive to Buckeye for our groceries. The Butcher & The Farmer Marketplace had everything we needed under one roof.

The Butcher & The Farmer Marketplace in Buckeye has everything you need

We took Old US 80 to Buckeye, a scenic route that winds through farmland, around lava flows, and past The Co-op Grill.

They went thataway

Operating farms and dairies and smaller ranchettes also lined the road. Dotted here and there were a few properties that appeared abandoned.

Acres of cotton fields
A cotton blossom

The highlight of the drive is the Historic Gillespie Dam Bridge and Interpretive Plaza. Unfortunately, someone had removed the interpretive part of the plaza leaving only the sign supports. Never fear, Wikipedia to the rescue to fill in the details of the artifact’s history.

The interpretive Plaza lacked information signs

The concrete gravity dam on the Gila River was constructed during the 1920s for irrigation purposes. In 1927, the steel truss bridge opened to traffic and incorporated into the highway system as Route 80.

View of Gillespie Bridge

It carried US 80 traffic until 1956 when the bridge was decommissioned. On May 5, 1981, the bridge earned its spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The bridge across waters

It carried US 80 traffic until 1956 when the bridge was decommissioned. On May 5, 1981, the bridge earned its spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The ramp to the overlook

Following extreme rainfall in 1993, a portion of the dam failed, remnants of which can be seen from the road.

Gillespie Dam

Driving through Buckeye we noticed the school looked like it had been recently renovated. Across the street stood a two- and three-story brick building that housed the city offices and chamber of commerce. It all seemed too fancy for such a small town until I learned the population approached 69,000 people, about 10 times what I thought, and was the fastest-growing town in the US during 2017.

Buckeye city offices
An homage to the cotton industry
Garden behind the city offices

Before we left Gila Bend for cooler climes in Payson, Arizona, we drove east on Interstate 8 to see if any progress had been made at Big Horn Station since our visit in February 2018. Our post, dated March 3, 2018, titled Gila Bend and Ajo, Arizona,  here provides more detail of the historic property.

Not much improvement happening at Big Horn Station

Refreshed from our respite in Gila Bend, it was time to move on. Payson, here we come. But before we go, here is a sunset photo.

Can there ever be too many sunsets?

Safe Travels

Fall 2019 – Finally, On the Road Again

We leave our 2014 adventure in the past and zip forward to September 2019. That’s right, we’re back on the trail. After a false start in the spring, followed by doctor appointments, an MRI, physical therapy, spinal injections, and medication, Jon is pain free as of three weeks ago from the date of this post.

Packed up, hooked up, and buckled in the truck, we drove into the sunrise on September 21. With smiles on our faces and adventure in our hearts, we headed for San Diego for a week not daring to venture too far from home in case the sciatic nerve monster attacked again.

Often, we only make one stop when driving to San Diego. Breaking up the 9-hour 467-mile drive with two one-night stays seemed a good idea. We pulled into the Mountain Valley RV Park, in Tehachapi for the first night.

Campsite at Mountain Valley RV Park

This park offers water and electricity at the sites and a dump station. The lack of train and freeway noise and the glider port next door are benefits we find hard to pass up. Of course, the hurricane-force winds at certain times of the year would see our rig driving by.

Towplane

That was not the case this time. During this visit we caught the glider port in action. I looked on with longing as we watched the small plane pull its glider into the sky, circle around the mountains, release the tether, and fly back to port. A bit later the glider silently made its way to the runway.

Sailplane preparing for take-off

Since I was a kid, I have dreamed of taking a ride in a glider. The low risk of injury or death associated with gliders has not yet convinced me to climb into the cockpit. I did grab a rate chart for future reference, though, to keep the dream alive.

Towplane pulls a sailplane

A free night is always welcome, and when combined with visiting relatives, it is even better. Jon’s brother ensured we could stretch our rig in front of his house for the night in Fontana, California. A stop in Fontana also meant a trip to Ontario for a half-order dinner at Vince’s Spaghetti. Vince’s has been a Todd family favorite since Jon was born. Sadly, there are no pictures to share. I really need to remember to take photos of people.

No matter how many times we pass under the West Lilac Road Bridge on Interstate 15, I’m always overcome with amazement at the engineering that supports its 3.79 football field length across the span.

West Lilac Road Bridge

It stirs something inside of me that I cannot explain with words. I imagine Fred G. Michaels and John Suwada, the designers, sitting in a café drawing several designs on napkins. When they selected the image that would become the bridge, did they experience the same emotional reaction I do when I see it in person?

We arrived at San Diego RV Resort on September 23, 2019, for one week. Although it has its drawbacks (freeway noise and ants), we like this RV resort for its friendly staff, cleanliness of the park, convenient location, and price. Rates for RV sites close to the beach start at $70.00 for a parking spot with no hookups and can go over $300.00 per night for a supersite. And good luck securing a reservation during certain times of the year.

Visions of a relaxing week in San Diego with time to write, work out, and hike turned into a let’s-go-here-and-there adventure. A walk around Lake Murray gave Jon an opportunity to test his walking distance.

We knew he could get through the grocery store without stopping and having to rest. How far could he make it along the 5.9-mile out-and-back path, was the question.

Lake Murray Padre Bay view

Waking up the next day with shin splints and sore ankle muscles revealed the two-mile roundtrip as a starting point was sufficient.

Saluda, or Lake Murray Dam

Now the hard work began to strengthen the muscles that had gone dormant during the sciatica flareup and increase his stamina.

Lake Murray views

A friend from high school and I arranged to meet in Ocean Beach for lunch. We met Suzie and her husband Dan at The Old Townhouse Restaurant for a good meal and conversation with great people. Of course, a walk on the pier for a photo opportunity was in order after our meal and before we parted ways.

Susie and me on the pier. Unlike me, Susie is always on the hunt for photo ops.

Balboa Park is one of our favorite haunts while in San Diego. Creatures of habit that we are, we ate at The Prado and watched Turtle Odyssey at the Imax theater in the Fleet Science Center.

Did I forget to mention Jon woke up with Bells Palsy the day after his back stopped hurting? Poor guy walked around with a crooked smile for three weeks.
Okay, I guess a little spout of water on top of my head is better than the large one.
Botanical building and lily pond at Balboa Park
Spreckels Organ and Pavilion at Balboa Park

We couldn’t pass up a chance to see the Blue Angles in action. We didn’t have time to view the entire airshow, so at Doyle Community Park we managed to catch a glimpse and take a few shots and movie clips. I never tire of watching their performances and hearing the screaming jets. For some reason, my eyes turn blurry every time. I blamed my tears on the heavy mist that appeared as soon as the planes came overhead.

Blue Angels

En Fuego Cantina & Grill satisfied our craving for Margaritas and Mexican food. Sitting on the patio and catching a glimpse of the ocean now and then was a treat.

En Fuego Cantina & Grill Patio
Son Kevin with what looks like a scowling Jon…seriously he was trying to smile

Kevin has lived in San Diego for 20 years and never once stepped foot on the Star of India, so we staged an intervention. First, we took advantage of a snack at the Lane Field Park Market. All types of food are offered as samples and to purchase. Bring a blanket to spread out on the grass under the umbrella shades and munch away.

Kevin and Bailey hiding from the sun

Across the street is the Maritime Museum of San Diego where the Star of India calls home. She is listed as both a California Historical Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

Star of India at Maritime Museum of San Diego

According to the museum, she is considered the oldest active sailing ship. The iron-hulled ship was launched in 1863 carrying the name Euterpe. The ship’s history includes damage from a collision and cyclone in India.

Ropes and winch

Besides her voyages to India, the ship was used as a cargo ship and later as transport for emigrants to New Zealand, Australia, California, and she also sailed to Chile.

Galley of the Star of India
Captain Kevin at the wheel
The bunks would have been too short for me
Star of India mast

Several other ships are docked at the Maritime Museum. They include the steam ferry Berkeley, steam yacht Medea, HMS Surprise, and many others.

Bailey took time out to take care of business
Detail of stain glass
Inside the Berkeley steam-powered ferry

A visit to Costa Brava in Pacific Beach for tapas for lunch topped off our days in San Diego as we said goodbye to Kevin and Bailey. Thanks, guys for a wonderful week. We enjoyed spending time with you.

Bailey is the master selfie taker

Next stop, Gila Bend and Payson, Arizona.

Safe Travels

 

 

Quincy and Graeagle in Plumas County, California

Exploring new territory is our favorite type of adventure and Plumas County in California was a place we had yet to explore. So, on October 4, 2014, we headed north from Yosemite along State Route 49 to Interstate 80, and then north on State Route 89. We had often passed State Route 89 near Truckee, when driving to and from Reno, Nevada, and wondered what lay beyond the thick forest. We were about to find out.

We selected Pioneer RV Park in Quincy as base camp for four nights.

Campsite at Pioneer RV Park in Quincy, California

James H. Bradley, one of the organizers of Plumas County, donated land for the county seat that would become Quincy. Bradley had named his farm in Illinois after John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) and decided that name was just fine for the new town in California. In 1858, the town was formally recognized. The estimated population for Plumas County in 2018 was 18,800, of which about 1,900 people lived in Quincy.

We began our exploration at Buck’s Lake on the Oroville-Bucks Lake Road. Surrounded by the Bucks Lake Wilderness and Recreation area, residences, and resorts, visitors can enjoy fishing, camping, hiking, and water sports during the spring and summer months.

Old fishing cabins surround Buck’s Lake

When winter descends on the valley that sits at 5,200’ elevation, the snowmobiles and snowshoes came out to play. Several campgrounds accommodate both tents and RVs in Plumas National Forest or in private campgrounds. Only a small number of full hookup sites are available.

Buck’s Lake
Buck’s Lake Dam

Our next stop was Thompson Lake where the trees showed off their yellow and gold fall colors.

Thompson Lake

We hiked around Gansner Park where the green grass and shade from the tall pines made for a pleasant stroll. Overall, the park was in good order, except for the tennis courts. It looked like they had been abandoned for several seasons.

Gansner Park
Abandoned tennis courts at Gansner Park

The next day we headed out to the Cascade Trailhead. The Spanish Creek flows next to the trail and leads to five small falls. The trail was originally built to transport water for hydraulic mining and used as a supply road for the Western Pacific Railroad. Fall had surely made its way into the canyon.

Fall marches on
Cascade Trail
Spanish Creek
One of five short falls
Angel wings or a heart?
Spanish Creek
More fall colors
Purple daisies look more like it’s spring

The Union Pacific railroad runs through the canyon. I had seen the tunnel high up on the canyon wall.

Union Pacific train tunnel

Then the roar and thunder of a freight train grew in intensity and soon there it was chugging away and disappearing into the tunnel.

Union Pacific train was right on time

We moved our base camp to Movin’ West RV Park in Graeagle to explore another area of Plumas County. Once a company mill town, recreation now drives Graeagle’s economy. With a championship 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, nearby Plumas County National Forest and lakes basin and the Plumas Eureka State Park, visitors have plenty of activities to enjoy during their stay.

The Plumas Eureka State Park museum was closed when we arrived, which should have disappointed us. Instead, we managed to learn about the artifacts while wandering around the exterior grounds and examining the old gold-mining equipment and buildings. Although it would have been nice to have a docent tell us the history of the place, we were able to grab enough information from reading the signs, which told each object’s story.

Welcome to Plumas Eureka State Park
No one home at the museum
Mohawk stamp mill
Trestle
Stone wheel
Metal Wheel
This Huntington Mill was used to crushed gold-bearing ore for processing
Replica assay office
JT inspecting the antique mining equipment

Fall had definitely descended upon the Madora Lake Loop Trail.

Madora Lake Loop Trail
Hmm, does he want to go through there or not?

We finished our exploration of Plumas County at the Plumas National Forest Lakes Basin Recreation Area. The lush forest, crystal blue lakes, and fall-inspired scenery was the perfect setting to close out our adventures. We selected the loop trail that skirted Big Bear Lake and passed by Little Bear Lake, Cub Lake, and Silver Lake.

Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake
Little Bear Lake
Silver Lake
Standing among the undergrowth
Put down the camera and come on
Bear Lake and Long Lake Trail
Jeffrey Pine
Time for a break
Decaying log

Putting together these past posts has made me homesick for the thick forests, alpine lakes, and trails. I want to lace up my shoes, sling my camera around my neck, and walk the trails exploring new territory.

Jon’s back has been pain free for almost a week as I write this post. Now comes the slow process of avoiding another flare up and regaining strength and stamina. However long that takes, I have hope that one day soon we will once again climb mountains and sit along an alpine lakeshore eating our lunch.

Safe Travels

 

2014 Carlon Falls and Yosemite

Our 2014 adventures continued with a trip to Yosemite National Park for a few days in September. Our son and his better half met us there for some hiking and fishing. Yosemite, like most of the nation’s parks, requires reservations several months in advance. Luckily, Yosemite Lakes RV Resort had space for us. Although it was only 5.5 miles from the entrance, it was another 19 minutes to reach the valley.

View from our campsite at Yosemite Lakes RV Resort

Carlon Falls

We chose the Carlon Falls hike as our first activity. The trail to the falls is 2.8 miles roundtrip from the trailhead and travels through Yosemite National Park Wilderness. Six years after the August 2013 Rim Fire, the park’s website still warns of danger trekking through the burn area. Loose and falling rocks, and trees weakened from the fire and drought, could cause injury or even death to unsuspecting hikers.

Approaching the Yosemite National Park Wilderness gate on the Carlon Falls trail

In 2014, we found the trail well marked as we passed through burned-out logs and fire scared tree trunks and then we entered a lush green forest and underbrush. The south fork of the Tuolumne River meandered through the rocks and vegetation as it made its way toward the main river.

One year after the 2013 fire, these little seedlings had sprouted among the charcoal debris. I wonder if they survived the remaining drought and harsh conditions.

Little sprouts vying for survival in the ashes

The trail seemed to disappear just short of the falls, blocked by huge boulders.

The holes in the granite reveal a powerful river compared to what we saw.
Kevin navigates the boulders with ease
No, this isn’t an ad for Arrowhead water, just a cute pick of Bailey
JT sizes up a fish he saw

I wasn’t quite as quick to scramble over the impediments as the others, especially with my pack strapped to my back and a camera slung around my neck. I’m not so sure it was worth it given our visit was in the fall during the middle of what turned out to be a seven-year drought.

Carlon Falls

Images of the falls online show a wall of water rushing over the granite wall and mist rising from the pool. During our visit, it was not such a spectacular sight due to the drought, but it was peaceful back there. With birds flitting among the trees, squirrels scampering about, and the water tumbling over the granite wall and gently splashing into the pond, it was the perfect respite after the boulders.

Fishing

Fishing is not allowed in the Park, but at the Carlon Falls parking and picnic area, there is access to the south fork of the Tuolumne River. The gang grabbed their gear, baited up, and stood back to wait for the fish to come and take a taste of whatever goodies covered up the hook.

Fishing is not my thing. I just can’t bring myself to hurt the rainbow-striped critters, so off I trotted up and down the stream looking for interesting artifacts to photograph. Here are a few things that caught my eye.

Obviously, the water runs deep enough at times to erode the soil from these tree roots
A granite wall keeps the water in check
Layers upon layers upon layers of graffiti, modern-day petroglyphs, on the bridge support
Raindrops cling to branches after a short rain
Poisonous or edible? I’ll leave it for the bears.
Lichen growing on a downed tree limb
A bridge over peaceful waters
Watch your step across the reflecting pool
Let’s see. One, two, three, . . . Perhaps 30 years old?

When I returned from my photo walk, the gang had caught enough trout for a small dinner feast. I may not like to fish, but I sure do like to eat them.

Yum, dinner!

Yosemite

Tunnel View Overlook

On June 30, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill creating the Yosemite Grant, which was turned over to California to operate. The area surrounding the grant became Yosemite National Park in 1890.

From left, Jon Todd (my hubby), Bailey Bishop (Kevin’s better half), and Kevin Todd (my son)

Seeing damage caused by overgrazing and other commercial activities in and near the park, John Muir, among many other conservationists, lobbied President Theodore Roosevelt to have the federal government take control of the grant and expand and protect the park. Three years later, Roosevelt signed the bill that accomplished the conservationist’s goal.

Site of meeting between Muir and Roosevelt
Jon, Bailey, and Kevin with El Capitan in the background
Half Dome, of course

With limited time to visit Yosemite, we selected a one-way bus ride to Glacier Point and a hike down the mountain on Four Mile Trail. I was concerned my knees might falter on the 3,200′ downhill slope.

We joined the crowds along the paths and overlooks around the visitor’s center to marvel at the breathtaking views.

View from Glacier Point overlook
Half Dome in the shadows
The ancient art of marking up an object with petroglyphs and pictographs lives on in modern times
“Come on, everybody, here we go.”
Rear of Half Dome
“Look at this great pic I took.”
Way down in the valley there are roads and vehicles and buildings. At this distance, they fade into the scenery.
Never can take too many pictures of Half Dome
Nevada Falls
Gnarly tree stump
“Yes, dear. You’re so strong and handsome.”
Four Mile Trail continues around the giant granite slab
A fern finds a perch
First sign of fall

My knees held up during the hike thanks to the switchbacks that eased the descent. We all were glad to come to the end, visit the restroom, and head back to our vehicle. I’d sure like to try hiking up the trail someday.

Safe Travels

154th Scottish Highland Gathering and Games 2019

Each Labor Day weekend, tartan and kilted-clad folks descend on the Alameda County Fairgrounds for the annual Scottish Highland Gathering and Games. Labor Day 2019 marked the 154th year of celebrating Scottish heritage in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Caledonian Club of San Francisco has continuously run the annual games since its founding on November 24, 1866. From their humble beginnings as a picnic with a few athletic events, the games have marched through the years with never a break. Two world wars and the 1906 earthquake could not stop the dedication of the club to celebrate their heritage. The Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, California, has been the home of the games since 1994. It is one of the largest ethnic festivals in the United States.

My grandson Jackson and I began our visit soaring above the crowds on the sky ride to get our bearings and catch a glimpse of the festival from a birds-eye view.

The Sky Ride

Colorful canopies and chairs lined the area where the pipe bands gathered for practice ahead of their competitions.

Band members set up for practice

The concentration of 30 or more bands created a cacophony of sound that was actually more soothing than expected. The addition of drums that accompanied the pipes sent vibrations through my chest, stirring memories of standing on the curb watching parade marching bands pass by.

Pipes practicing before their competition
Pipe band performing in the competition

Food vendors offered American and Scottish dishes as well as the typical festival fare like funnel cakes, kettle korn, beignets, and waffles. Fancy a bit of alcohol? Step right up to the World of Beer stand, grab a pint of Guinness, or enjoy a sampling of some of the finest scotches, bourbons and whiskeys.

Food vendors galore
From hamburgers to haggis, this festival has it all

I opted for a Shepherd’s Pie for my lunch. Jackson ordered Teriyaki chicken. After a few bites he said he couldn’t eat any more Asian-type food, so he fed his meal to the trash can instead of his tummy. Maybe he was still full from the french toast at breakfast.

It was overwhelming to look at the schedule and choose which activities to take in so I let Jackson lead the way. Our first stop was the Living History section. We sat in on a presentation by Mead and Meadow Crafters Guild where we learned about the plants and herbs that treat itching, migraines, and fever; how the lowly snail helps reduce scars while healing and that sphagnum moss is a natural antibiotic that can be used to pack wounds.

Mead and Meadow Crafters Guild

Other groups demonstrated different weapons used to either protect the queen and her entourage or guard against invading marauders.

Chainmaille and spears on display
Helmets and daggers
“Swords, here. Get your swords.”

This fellow demonstrated using a chain like a whip. I never knew a chain could mack a sound like a whip until the man swirled the chain around and around over his head and snapped it so hard it made a loud crack. Imagine the ripping of flesh as the chain slices through an arm, a leg, or a face. Yikes! Grab me some sphagnum moss to mop up the blood.

Whipping up a chain

One group gave lessons on sword fighting and another group offered archery lessons, for extra fees, of course. We found a shady spot to watch the sword-fighting lessons for a bit.

“Okay, you hold your sword straight out and I’ll try to hit it.”

Then we ventured over to the Sheep Dog Trials. We both found it fascinating to watch how the handler and the dog worked together to corral the sheep. Most of the time the three sheep stuck together like Velcro, but occasionally one of them would go rogue and rush back to the safety of her pen, her 60 other friends, and food.

“Good little lambs, follow me.”

Jackson takes a break under the misting canopy.

“Om, om, om.”

Mary Queen of Scots was in attendance with her entourage, brought to you by St. Andrew’s Noble Order of Royal Scots along with a group of nobles, the Royal Scots, stating their allegiance to the Queen. They also take strolls through the grounds throughout the day.

Mary Queen of Scot’s chalices and other artifacts
The Royal Scots

When the sun and heat reached a level that was too hot for comfort, visitors moseyed on over to one of the 6 stages where live bands played traditional and Celtic music, inviting guests to dance.

The band Tempest

Highland dancing was another favorite of visitors. Oh, my. Such energy they had as they stomped their feet in complicated steps and swung their partners around in a circle, all while belting out the words of a song.

Energetic dancers

The Gathering of the Clans was another place for visitors to keep cool and learn about their Scottish heritage at one of the 100 booths. The shady walnut trees provided plenty of respite from the sun.

Gathering of the Clans booths

While walking to the Gathering of the Clans booths, one must stop and gawk at the British automobiles.

British cars on display

Although not a large collection of vehicles, I found the Morgan +4 and its baby of interest. The Morgan Motor Company began operations in 1909 and still makes the +4 today along with three other models.

Morgan +4 and baby Morgan

The three-wheeler in the following photo was also produced by the Morgan Motor Company from 1932 to 1952. A new model is also in production.

Morgan 3 wheeler

Another alternative to cooling off is to explore the commercial buildings where all manner of Scottish goods are available for sale.

The commercial buildings filled with gifts, clothing, jewelry, food, and so much more

Need an outfit to wear? The selection ranges from the fancy dresses for royals to everyday wear for the merchants and servants. Wool kilts, sweaters, scarves and all the paraphernalia that goes along with the costume. Or maybe pirate attire is more to your liking. Craving shortbread cookies for that taste of the old country? Vendors had plenty of choices to select from.

And what would a gathering and games be without the games? Weight for distance consisted of 14, 28, 42, or 56-pound metal ball at the end of a ring and chain with the goal of flinging it the farthest.

Weight for distance

Putting the stone is similar to American shot put events. Men use a stone that weighs 26.6 pounds while women use a 16-pound stone.

Putting the stone

Eight teams competed this year in the five-a-side soccer event.

Five-a-side soccer

Other athletic events included weight for height, the Scottish hammer, and tossing the caber. Highland dancing competitions were also held.

The Scottish Gathering and Games truly has something for everyone from young to old no matter their passions or ancestry. For a fun time, visit a Scottish Gathering and Games near you.

Safe Travels