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?

 

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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.

 

 

 

Bartlett Lake

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You know, I live in Arizona, and it still astonishes me the delta in temperatures and climates in a mere 3 hours.  I do believe the delta is getting larger as time goes on.  It used to be 20F, now it borders on 30 – 40F difference between northern AZ and the Phx area.  When we left our home in the mountains it was snowing, 20F with 4 inches of snow on the ground.

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When we arrived at Bartlett Lake, outside of Carefree, AZ, just 3 hours south, it was 78F, and people were in shorts and t-shirts.  Crazy!

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We soaked up the sun before heading back to our cool climate.

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Mary Colter’s Watchtower

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All the sudden I am fascinated with Mary Colter.  While she is a figure from our past (born 1869), I find her a fascinating character.  When her father died at only 53 (who refused her pleas to go to Art School), she struck a deal with her mother that she would use what little money he left to pay for her to go to school.  She would then get her education and become a teacher to provide monies for her mother and young sister.  Her mother agreed, and Mary moved her mother and sister from St Paul, MN to California to go to the California School of Art and Design.  There she got her architecture degree in 1890, and as promised got a job teaching to support the family.

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By 1902 she was hired by Fred Harvey to design a style of architecture that would become known as Rustic National Park, used by most National Parks to follow.  Her association with Fred Harvey lasted for 48 years.  Many of the Fred Harvey buildings she was associated with have been since demolished by the railroads.

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But the Grand Canyon remains the single largest treasure trove of Mary Colter works , including the Lookout Studio, Hopi House, Hermit’s Rest, and the Watchtower, all of which continue to thrive and entertain… albeit, unfortunately as gift shops today.

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One of her last ‘masterpieces’ was the Watchtower at the Grand Canyon-South Rim.  It was built in 1932.  It was modeled after several Indian towers, mostly all already in ruins.  She wanted a tower that could serve as a spectacular vantage point to take in the awesome Grand Canyon vistas.

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But she wanted it to last… so she had it built with a concrete and re-bar support structure on top of which the ‘boys’ had to cull the landscape to find the individual stones from the natural environment to plaster on the exterior.  Individual stones would pop out to cast eclectic shadows, and different styles and designs from different tribes made up the exterior.

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The inside was painted by the then well known Indian painter, Fred Kabotie, based on ancient drawings provided by Colter to assist in the decorations.

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It is a fascinating building, and largely intact from the original tower devised by Mary Colter… though one can no longer go onto the roof, and glass window panes have been added for safety reasons.

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If you find yourself at the Grand Canyon – South Rim, don’t miss the Watchtower, as it is a fascinating piece of living history outside a stunning landscape.

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See more Grand Canyon – South Rim photos … here.