Blue Ridge

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Crazy!  Last year I wrote about Blue Ridge Reservoid  (https://kritterspaw.com/2018/08/14/blue-ridge-reservoid/), as it had no water in the Blue Ridge Reservoir.

With all the snow we had this year… it’s now overflowing.

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Fallen logs litter the waterway from all the downed trees, and the water rises above the boat ramp.

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I look forward to the spring flowers, lunch outings, and camping amongst her many tall pines, soaring eagles, and nesting blue heron.  Nature does work in mysterious ways.

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Bull Pen

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While I have come to appreciate our brisk winters and beautiful snowfalls, sometimes it’s just pleasant to get ‘off the mountain’ and get a change of scenery.   I suppose it’s true for anyone… even those who already live in a place other people come to vacation.  One needs to get away and feel the buzz, new inputs, and varied vantage points.

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Ours came this week via dropping off the mountain just north of Camp Verde to Bull Pen Recreational Area.  Arizona is certainly full of hikes and trails, streams and waterways.  We could have gone out to a restaurant for lunch, or shopping for things we don’t need… but instead we opted for a picnic with a view.

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We live on the ridges above Clear Creek making for excellent views of both East Clear Creek and West Clear Creek all along the lengthy traversing creek.  While most places requires quite a hike down hill (and back uphill) to view the creek, Bull Pen is easily accessible by dirt road.  And an excellent spot for a brief getaway picnic.

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Sedona, AZ

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We did an overnight in Sedona and enjoyed this amazing overlook from our campsite.

We ooh’d and aah’d along oak creek (https://kritterspix.com/2018/10/30/oak-creek-sedona-az/)  and saw our first ring tail cat in the wild (see post ….https://kritterspaw.com/2018/10/30/ring-tale/).

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Words just don’t do it justice.  Hard to top this trip.  Where will we head next?

 

Grand Canyon North Rim, Point Sublime

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While at the Grand Canyon North Rim, we decided to take in Point Sublime, another overlook we had never been to.  The map shows it’s only 17 miles… so we figured it would take maybe an hour to get there.  NOT!!

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We stopped at the Backcountry Office to get our Permit to camp there.  The Ranger told us that we should take the long way for our truck, instead of the shortcut for short wheel base Jeeps.  We had no idea the trek would take almost 4 hours.

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The dirt road is not well marked, and the rough map is difficult to follow.  The drive along the way is lined with aspens and a gorgeous drive.

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The turn at Kanabownits was basically the last sign we saw.  We turned around once, but decided to stick it out.  The road along the way was worth the drive… we were anxious to see the overlook.

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At the end of the long drive we were rewarded with a stunning vantage point.  We set up our camp as we took in the views we had all to ourselves.

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Photos just don’t do it justice.  It was worth the price of admission (free!).

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Grand Canyon North Rim, Cape Royal

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Admittedly, I have been to the North Rim more in the last couple years than I have in my whole life.   But, oddly, I have never been to the ‘popular’ out of the way overlooks.  In part, I imagine that is so because National Parks are notoriously dog unfriendly.  Thus, we tend to camp outside of the actual park and get awesome views without the crowds.

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But this time, we took the occasion to do Cape Royal (above) and Point Imperial (below).

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What stunning overlooks!  The weather graced us with mostly blue sky with minimal clouds.  But we made due with what we were given and captured some images for the archives.

 

Big Lake, Greer AZ

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There are a number of little lakes around the Show Low / Heber area in northeast AZ.  Originally named, Big Lake is one of the larger lakes, with multiple camp grounds, and boat rentals that make up this Recreational Area.

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There are signs everywhere to be aware of bear… but we didn’t see any, only Journey who enjoyed a dip in the water during the water summer sun.

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We did see some antelope which is always a treat, along with the occasional deer and elk.

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Cinque Terre, Italy

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We have been told by a number of people that we just HAD to go to Cinque Terre… that we would absolutely LOVE it, as it is one of their favorite places.  So when we decided to go to Provence, we tagged on some time for Cinque Terre.  You can see my photos of Provence here……   https://kritterspaw.com/2018/06/04/south-of-france/.

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Cinque Terre, literally translates to the 5 villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.  We spent 3 nights in Riomaggiore and 2 nights in Vernazza so that we could photograph sunset / sunrise in both.

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Cinque Terre is certainly an oft photographed place, so many images have been seen and overdone.  But it is still made up of beautiful villages cut into the hillside.

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The hikes between the villages are the thing to do.  But unfortunately, the hike between Riomaggiore to Manarola and Corniglia are both closed (and have been for 7 years since the floods in 2011, with no apparent signs of it ever re-opening).  So we wound up taking a train to Manarola to photograph instead. We found Manarola to be our favorite of the villages as it was the quietest and had several different vantage points to photograph.

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We hiked from Monterossa to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia trails.  We also liked Corniglia, as it was a very quiet peaceful place (as much as that is possible for Cinque Terre).

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The views from the hikes were stunning, and starting early proved to be the trick to stay out of the crowds.

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Vernazza on the the other hand (along with Monterosso) were our least favorites.  While Vernazza was photographic enough, it was stupid crowded.

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Though the views were beautiful from Vernazza, as you can see below.

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The real story is what we tried to stay away from, and what we didn’t take photos of… the hoards of people.  I could never in good standing recommend Cinque Terre to anyone.  We love great scenery and taking in the true culture on our travels; meeting the people and understanding their way of life; and immersing ourselves in the places we travel to.  Cinque Terre was ‘ruined by Rick Steves’ which we heard more than several times.  We were astonished at the gross volumes of tourists flooding the streets, bumping and shoving each other to get to the next souvenir shop.  I saw no cheese shops, sausage shops, or charming hand crafted goods – not that we spent any time fighting the crowds or souvenir shopping.

We sat on a pillar and watched the spectacle that has become Cinque Terre…. and we watched an elder Italian man do the same.  The disbelief and awe in his face was telling.  We talked to a shop keep in a food market about it.  The life was drained from his face.  He said this isn’t even bad… it’s much worse in August.  We were astonished and horrified.  Someone nerfed me out of the space I was standing in because they wanted to get a selfie photo of themselves at the space I was occupying.  Selfie sticks were outreached everywhere, people walking with their heads in their phones, and their hurried rude attitudes to ‘see the place’ in their allotted time.  Not for us.  This is not the travel we aspire to do.

Beautiful, yes… but not in the parts that as much as we tried to avoid, which were unavoidable.  We cannot contribute or participate in this sort of sea of humanity, once charming, now ruined by tourism.  Such a shame to see… truly sad.