Tag Archives: AZ

It’s hikin’ time in Prescott, AZ.

IMG_0786Almost any time of year is a great time for hiking in Prescott. But springtime is especially nice. The temperature is in the sixties, the sky is a bright blue with puffs of white clouds, and signs of new growth are visible everywhere.

A trail I would recommend to you is the Granite Gardens. I call it 1.2 miles of awesome! To reach the trailhead, drive north on highway 89 through the Granite Dells to Granite Gardens Drive. It is across from Granite Gate Senior Living. From the parking area, walk east and use the bridge to cross Granite Creek. The beginning of the trail will be on your left as you walk up the road and goes sharply up. As you reach the crest of the hill and go over the top, you will have an excellent view of a small dam. It was used to divert water into a pipeline that carried water to the Chino Valley Irrigation Project. Another dam farther downstream provided water for a freshwater swimming pool at the Dells Resort. My mother has many memories of that pool. I think I might have gone there with my aunt and uncle as a child, but I don’t really remember it. The pool was closed in 1971.

IMG_0285Continuing along the trail, you will come to a stairway. Reaching the top, you will enter the majestic granite portion of the hike. Following the white dots across the rocks, you climb over and down the granite face.

 

 

 

IMG_0320From there the trail leads to Castle Rock. Views are spectacular in every direction as you continue along this loop of the trail.

On the next part of the trail, we became a little lost, but were glad we did. Otherwise, we would have missed the room built into the rock. The metal door said, “IMG_0302Do not come in,” but who could resist?

As the trail continued, we climbed up the side of what is called the Rock Stacker. It didn’t really take a great deal of imagination to figure out why it was called that.

From there, the trail led to an underground grotto. Giant boulders were wedged tightly into a crevice. The trail took us under the boulders, any one of which could have easily crushed us to death, had they not been so firmly in place. For part of the trail we had to squeeze between some rocks.  It was a daring adventure that no one should miss.

IMG_0334After wiggling our way out at the other end, we were treated to more spectacular views of the granite rocks as we climbed back down. From there, we walked across a meadow and back to the creek. We left our little refuge and returned to civilization, still amazed at all that we had seen on the short but incredible hike.

Living in Bluesky

 

IMG_0211

“The Bluesky Chamber of Commerce brochure boasts 273 sunny days each year. Nestled in the central mountains of Arizona, Bluesky has the ideal climate. Residents enjoy temperatures ten to twenty degrees cooler than the desert cities and four picture-perfect seasons. Even on rainy days, the clouds are not able to hold on for long but are soon pushed out of sight by the bluest blue sky imaginable. Yes, there are snowy days in the winter, but by three in the afternoon, the snow seems to have vaporized into thin air, without even a trace of mud to indicate the ground had once been covered with a powdery blanket of white.” (From Seven is a Perfect Number)

It may seem that Bluesky is too good to be true, but actually that is a fairly accurate description of the climate here in Chino Valley, Arizona.  When people who have never been here think of Arizona, they often picture a vast desert with saguaro cactus and rattle snakes. In fact our state has much more than that to offer. Here in the central mountains, we have tall ponderosa pines, grasslands, and chaparral.

Bluesky is actually based on Prescott Valley, Arizona of the 1980s. When we moved there in 1983, it was a very small town with just a few thousand residents. Nearly everyone lived on a dirt road and our mail was general delivery.  My son, who was twelve at the time, was in heaven. He roamed far and wide, discovering Lynx Creek and an old house that he called “the castle.”

Most travelers hurried through Prescott Valley on their way to Prescott. One landmark they would have seen was a boat house, a strange sight on the prairie.  A popular place was the Jack Ass Bar. Prescott Valley was originally named “Jack Ass Acres,” because of the wild burros that roamed there at one time. When we moved to Prescott Valley, pronghorn antelope shared the grasses in the middle of town with the Fain’s cattle.

Bluesky is a more developed version of Prescott Valley. The streets are paved and there are sidewalks. The pond that was at the end of our street became Holiday Lake in the Handy Helper books. Michael, my son, spent much of his time at that pond, collecting specimens and bringing them home. His sister’s splash pool was filled with dirty water and held his collection.

While the Handy Helpers could live in any town in America, I’m glad they live in Bluesky. The people there look out for one another. The Handy Helpers are welcomed and encouraged to pitch in and do their part.

I named the town Bluesky in honor of the splendid backdrop God paints for us every day here in the central highlands. But there is more. I like to think of blue sky as a metaphor for second chances. It reminds me of a slate being wiped clean so that we can start over. In A Rocky Start, Amber tells Spike, “. . . forgiveness is a gift that is freely given, not because we deserve it. But to accept forgiveness,  we have to forgive ourselves first.” That’s what blue sky means to me. We all make mistakes and come up short, but we have to forgive ourselves and start over.

The Handy Helper series is available on   amazon.