Looking for Fall in Arizona...
O.k., I'm warning you now that this may be long, if only because of the photos. Last weekend we went to northern Arizona with a few friends (you'll see them here) . My mission was to find & take a few pictures of fall colors and have a few relaxing days with our friends after a couple of very busy months. That's all I cared about. Of course, along with around 300 photos came lots of laughs, a great time with friends and some excellent photo ops with them as well.
On Saturday, everyone inadvertantly dressed perfectly for scrapping, except Andy, who apparently didn't get the subliminal message that it was "blue" day. For those who don't know it, us scrap-bookers love it when everyone's colors coordinate in pictures. It just makes picking out our color scheme for our pages so much easier. The other thing that was way cool was the fact that the blues looked so nice against the earthy backgrounds. Some of these pics are from Saturday (blue day) and some are from Sunday, but I love them all!
So besides the people who shared the weekend with us, let's talk about where we went & what we saw. We really covered a big chunk of the state in just two short days, but it didn't feel rushed at all. Here's where we went...
We started at our house in Phoenix, then to Scottsdale where we jumped into Jay & Sharon's van, then to Payson, (note, if you click on either the Satellite or Hybrid buttons when you get to the map, you'll get a sense of the terrain) where we met up with Andy & Julie at the hotel. Once we were all togetherin one van, we drove to the Horton Creek Trail, outside of Payson, (which was a recommended spot for fall color). We did some hiking and had a delicious picnic lunch. There was a little bit of color to help satisfy my mid-western cravings, as you'll see in the pics.
We also drove through the little village of Christopher Creek, then headed for the Mogollon Rim, Forest Lakes and Woods Canyon Lake on Saturday.
We also made a quick stop to check out Camp Tontozona which is owned by ASU. Since Sharon is an ASU employee she wanted to see what it was like, with the thought of maybe renting a cabin there sometime. The pumpkin photo was taken on the field where ASU Sun Devils do their pre-season football camp.
After a perfect day we drove back to Payson and had dinner at a great Italian restaurant called Cucina Paradiso in Payson. The desk clerk at the hotel said that it was the best food in town and when we arrived, Terry and I realized that we had eaten there before. It really was a wonderful meal and we would highly recommend it if you're in the area. Andy had to teach Sunday School in the morning, so he & Julie left to drive home after dinner.
On Sunday we headed out with Jay & Sharon and were the first guests to arrive at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.
One of the first things we saw was a little family of javelina grazing near the parking lot. Even though they're essentially wild pigs, they were kinda cute.
Now in order for you to get the true perspective on this awesome natural formation, I need to include several shots. Hope it's not too boring...but unless you see several angles it's hard to understand the massive size of the bridge. Look closely and you'll see Jay's bright yellow shirt and some other people in some of the shots to give you an idea of the scale. The one that looks like it's raining is from under the natural bridge looking out at the water coming down from above. It was beautiful!
This last pic of Jay and Sharon was taken at a waterfall just a short distance from Tonto, in the same park.
After some good hiking at Tonto we drove thru Pine and Strawberry (both small towns). While we were driving through Strawberry we talked Jay into going down one of the side roads to see a B & B that Terry and I had stayed in for a couples' retreat a few years ago. He wasn't happy about the fact that part of it was gravel road, but once we got there he put on his "realtor" face and was very friendly with the owner of the B & B. It's called "Up the Creek" and is really quite a nice place. The host acted like he remembered Terry and I, but I don't think he really did. He was a nice guy though and showed us all the changes they'd made since we were there last. This is definitely another recommended place to visit if you get up that way. I'm trying to figure out a way that we could buy a cabin or even a lot to eventually build up there some day. It's much less crowded than some of the other small towns and actually an easy (less than 2-hour) drive from Phoenix.
After that side trip we drove thru Camp Verde to Sedona to check out the fall colors there. We wandered through Oak Creek looking for a place to stop and take some pictures and eat a late lunch/early dinner. Since we were craving a GOOD hamburger, we asked a few teenagers in one of the little stores along the highway. They recommended the Oak Creek Brewery & Grill back in Sedona at Tlaquepaque which was another place we'd been before. We all got tasty hamburgers which hit the spot! We also stopped by Starbucks so Jay could get coffee for the ride home and I discovered their Carmel Apple Cider. mmmmm, it was a delicious reminder of fall in a cup!
So I could go on and on and post literally dozens more photos, but I won't bore you any more. I will say that all day on Sunday I kept thinking about the fact that Andy & Julie weren't there and how sad she would be that she didn't have a chance to see these places and take pictures of her own. Sorry Julie! We missed you guys.
So, until we go down the road again, I'm leaving you with a shot of Terry and I in Oak Creek Canyon and just a taste of the fall colors there.