Yikes, We’re Listing…

 

Since we have been back in Anacortes it feels like I have made a hundred trips to the store. And there has been an Amazon delivery of the day. I have never provisioned the boat for a two month cruise and my motto is more is better!!!

 

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That’s one full little cart!

 

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Hmm, ordering two-stroke oil via Amazon may not happen again even though it was such a great price. Good news is they were awesome and refunded us for the damage gallon.

 

 

 

Wally gave me strict orders not to put all the heavy stuff on the starboard side of the boat but I can only do so much with the space I have. It’s not my fault the best place to store 3 ½ cases of wine is in the starboard side lazerette. It’s also not my fault that the galley is on the starboard side and that’s where the huge under counter storage area is.

 

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This space is actually quite big 24 in x 24 in and 16 inches deep. I use small plastic tubs and wire baskets to create a layering system. These are staples that I need access to frequently and yes, the Mac Nut Chocolate Carmel’s are on the top for a reason!

 

I did manage to store all our beer in the guest stateroom locker, which is on the port side along with 10 lbs of coffee beans so that made him happy! Yep, I aim to please!!!

 

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Good thing there are no guests leaving with us… That big green container is one of three holding cat litter.

 

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Repackaging the 5 lb bulk bags into 1 lb bags. Love Walla Walla Coffee Roasters!!!

 

RVing is so much easier as you are never that far from a grocery store or a restaurant. I typically, shop for about 5 days when we are on land but since we are going so far north on the boat this year I had to come up with a provisioning plan. Trust me, we will be taking advantage of every marina pub or restaurant we can find too!

Using an excel spreadsheet really helped me get my head around what I needed to purchase. I geeked out and create formulas to calculate how many meals to plan for, how much pet food to buy, how much cat litter and most importantly how much wine to load on board. Can’t you buy wine in Canada one might wonder and yes, that is true. North of Nanaimo the choices get quite limited and unfortunately I don’t like Yellow Tail or Black Box Wine. Call me a wine snob, but hey I like what I like, so what ever!

 

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I am usually not a canned vegetable fan but for this cruise I wanted a backup option if I can’t find fresh veggies,.

 

Buying all the stuff is one thing but remembering where the heck I put it all is not being left to my good memory! In addition to using my Paprika app which has a groovy pantry feature, I geeked out some more on the excel spread sheet and created columns for where the items were stored and coded it with the location. Now all I have to remember is what the code means!!! Was GF galley frig? What is FF?? Oh yeah, that’s the flybridge frig Leslie!

 

The biggest food challenge on the is cruise is going to be getting and keeping fresh produce. On our recent 10 day shakedown cruise, I cooked through all of our fresh veggies. There are a few small stores in the Broughton Islands but keep in mind everything is brought in via boat or float plane. Timing is everything…get there right after the boat shipment arrives and the choices can be pretty good. Get there the day before the boat shipment arrives and you might score a few bruised apples and an old head of cabbage.

We have a decent sized refrigerator in the galley, an ac/dc freezer-refrigerator on the flybridge and a huge cooler. All of which will be packed when we headed out. I have one final Costco run to do and that will conclude the provisioning.

I made some of our favorite condiments and froze them in flat bags so they stacked evenly in the freezer. Pesto, Cilanto Sauce, Chimmichuri, Smoked Red Peppers and even some fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. The key to getting the most mileage out of the freezers is to have things as flat and uniformly shaped as possible.

 

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He’s in his own storage dilemma hell!!!

 

Not only do we have to have food but the list of non-perishables is huge too. Seriously, I can’t believe that I found room for the Costco size package of TP and paper towels in addition to extra dish soap, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, shampoo….yikes, that’s why we are listing.

Oh, and don’t forget all the spare boat parts, belts, oil filters, fuel filters and tools. Plus the toys…2 kayaks, fishing gear, prawn traps, crab traps, the electric pot puller (which better not be on the starboard side or some guy is going to catch hell).

 

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The underbed storage area is now full…so it must be time to go!!

It’s Not Always Smooth Seas…

A big part of plotting our cruise course is understanding what the wind, tides and currents are going to do before we head out. Wally  is our designated weather man and gets to make the final call on go-no-go. He usually checks the weather the night before we want to head out and then again in the morning, looking at both where we are and where we are headed. It’s amazing how different the weather can be just a few miles away.

He uses a NOAA app, a Windy app and the local area reports to help him make a decision.  Wind and current can cause standing wind waves which creates a very uncomfortable cruise. Couple that with a bottom that has pinnacles and it can really get ugly quick.

We knew it would be a bit “snotty” out there today and we would have a wet ride. But based on the winds speeds and wind direction, the “Weather Man” said it was a go. FYI, snotty is definitely a nautical term!!!

 

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The Beach House has custom under hulls and a hull extension that make her run a bit smoother through rough water. These customization take some of the roll out which makes for a less uncomfortable ride.

 

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Point Lawrence at the NE corner of Orcas Island is well known for being a place that gets ugly if the conditions all come together. Today was no exception and I would rate it a three out of ten on the ugly scale today! Yep, we have been through much worse.  I knew Bentley and Sucia might be a bit worried so I sat with them in the main cabin. They did just fine in case you were wondering.

 

 

Make sure your sound is turned up for the full effect on the video. You might notice that the waves are mainly hitting the starboard (that’s the right side for all ya landlubbers). That is because the wind is coming from the south, which we are open to as we cross the north end of Rosario Strait. Because of the distance and size of this area, on windy days the waves really fetch up. Once we crossed the strait and got past Sinclair Island the water got smooth again.

The rest of the cruise was uneventful and we motored around Guemes Island to avoid that rough water all the way down to Anacortes. Had we turned right at Point Lawrence and came down Rosario Strait or came down Bellingham Channel the water would have been hitting us on the bow and we would have been pounding through those waves for the last 45 minutes of our cruise. NOT FUN…

 

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Now that’s better….smooth as a pond again as we motor down Guemes Channel towards our marina. Boy, do we have a salty boat after that crossing!!!

Karma…

 

Some kinda karma going on. We snagged another princess spot on the dock at Sucia Island today. I am three for three on the docking and dock spots!!

 

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This leads to the question…do you believe in karma?

kar·ma
noun
  1. (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
    • informal
      destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

Well, I am not a Buddhist but the principles sure speak to me so I can honestly say I do believe in karma. More along the lines of be a good person and good things will come your way. Be kind and kindness will come your way. Be gratefully and practice active gratitude.

 

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That said, I was sure happy to motor into Fossil Bay at Sucia and get the Beach House snugged up to the dock. Working on my docking skills with an audience, of mostly men BTW,  is a bit nerve-racking. Thankfully the young couple that roared into the bay ahead of us, kicking up a big wake in their smaller boat were kind and grabbed our dock lines from Wally as I inched us over to the dock. Yes, they redeemed themself’s with that act of kindness!

 

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Taking a Walk on the Wild Side…

Jones Island Marine Park is truly one of the gems of the San Juan Islands. We were thrilled to motor up and find the dock wide open on Thursday morning so we gleefully put in our moorage registration for the maximum stay of three night.

 

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On the dock at Jones Island looking Northeast with Orcas Island to the left.

 

This popular 188 acre island is accessible only by boat and is dedicated to campers, kayakers and boaters. It even has ADA access and camping sites – how’s that for cool!!! Like many of the state parks in the San Juans the island has composting toilets and drinking water but you do have to pack out all your garbage.

 

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What a primo campsite!

 

We love the four miles of hiking trails that ring the edges of the island and take you wandering through the interior forest. Jones has a wild, natural feel and our hike on Friday was definitely a walk on the wild side as low pressure front had moved into the islands.

 

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Following the coastline, the wind was howling on the south and west sides of the island and the water white capping. A perfect day to be tied up to the dock and this was great way to spend the morning, wandering the island.

 

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Luckily, the wind today wasn’t nearly as ferocious as the big storm in 1990 that tore through the San Juans and left Jones Island littered with thousands of downed trees. The park service had to close the island during the 1991 season to do major cleanup and restoration of the outbuildings, campsites, dock and trails. 90 to 100 mph winds did heavy damage on the north end of the island and the trees were strewn like toothpicks.

 

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There was much controversy about how much of the timber to remove and for the most part, the trees have been left where they fell, to become part of natures natural renewal process. On past visited we have seen numerous pileated woodpeckers doing their thing on the old, rotted timber.

 

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Today, the ghostly remains of the storm are still evident as you hike through the forest which is littered with the downed, moss covered trees. The canopy of the forest has returned and the deer, raccoons and many species of birds that call Jones Island home seem to be thriving.

 

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Back at the Beach House, we hunkered in for a rainy afternoon. Choose one of many boat projects to tinker at or make some banana bread? Hmm, banana bread won hands down!!!

 

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Three Lost Lures and One Rockfish….

It certainly wasn’t our most productive fishing. Seriously, I thought I had forgotten how to jig the bottom for fish but realized after three lost lures that it was just one bitch of a drift. Plus, I got up early for this bad treatment by Mother Nature.

 

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I know Bentley…three lures and no keepers!!!

 

The water was deceptively calm on top but the bottom was raging. I did managed to catch one really nice rockfish – sorry no picture – but I really did catch it. We let it go quickly to ensure it was still viable.

Unfortunately, most of the San Juan Islands are in a Rockfish conservation mode as the WDFW has allowed the area to become overfished. Too little to late, in my estimation but the battle between us piddling recreational fishers and the Commercial Fisheries and the Indian Fisheries rages on. Personally, I am happy to give up the Rockfish if it means a come back for the species.

After multiple attempts to find the perfect drift, my coffee was cold and the fuel line connector on the Whaler just couldn’t stay connected so we both agreed it just wasn’t happening for us today.

 

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This is an exact replica of the rockfish I couldn’t keep..well, except mine was bigger of course!! (photo courtesy of WDFW)

 

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Turn Point off Stuart Island can be a great fishing area and often a great place to see Orcas Whales.

 

Never fear, I had a plan for dinner. We still had over a dozen spot prawns in the frig that were begging to be eaten. Don’t lose hope Bentley!!!

 

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Indian Curry Shrimp over Basmati  Brown Rice.

 

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Dinner was kitty approved! 

 

A Lazy Day on the Beach House

Everyone needs a lazy day occasionally…even retired people! We have been going petal to the metal getting the “Houses” ready and put away so a lazy day was just perfect.

 

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Wally is a great breakfast chef…love his garnish. So pretty and delicious too!!!

 

After a late breakfast of leftover paella with a poached egg, we took an easy  2.5 mile hike. Added the 130 stairs on the way back for a cardio boost.

 

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That is only the first half of the climb.

 

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I giggled when I saw the sign posted on the outhouse door. I mean, sometimes fireworks just happen in the outhouse…hee-hee!

 

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The hike we did loops around both sides of the island so you will see Prevost Harbor, where the Beach House is on the dock and Reid Harbor.

 

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The rest of the day was spent on the dock puttering, cleaning some windows, reading and testing a cellular booster. Oh, and there may have been a nap too!

 

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Not many people here in Prevost Harbor today. Quiet and serene.

 

Wildlife spotting was also good right from the dock…two adult Bald Eagles, a juvenile Bald Eagle (likely their offspring from last year),  five brown turkey vultures who dropped by to check out the campsite fire pits on the bluff and some pretty swallows.

 

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Spotted this kelp crab on the dock pier post. Funky looking dudes!

 

Continuing on the lazy trend, dinner was grilled turkey burgers with arugula and grilled asparagus. Who said simple can’t be delicious.

 

 

 

Prawning at Stuart Island

We awoke to a cool, overcast but windless morning. Breakfast was a fresh morel mushroom frittata with potatoes along with some really awesome freshly ground Guatemala coffee from Walla Walla Roasters.

After a nice walk, it was time to get serious about getting the shrimping gear ready to go. The afternoon tide was favorable for about 45 minutes and Wally had scoped out a potential spot to drop the shrimp pot in New Channel near Stuart Island at a depth of about about 350 feet.

The afternoon was damp and drizzly so I felt obliqiged to give up my seat on the Whaler to a new friend Brian from our our marina that we ran into at Prevost Harbor. He was excited to get out and try some shrimping so who was I to rain on his parade.

You might have figured out that I love to cook and was plotting paella for dinner before the prawns were ever in the trap. The fingers crossed trick worked and before I knew it they were back with enough Spot Prawns for a paella and at least another meal. WOO-HOO!!!

 

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These beauties are the actual spot prawns minus their heads.

 

It’s important to remove the heads as soon as possible.  Almost immediately after death, an enzyme in the prawn’s head is released through the body causing the flesh to soften.  Removing the head is quite easy, but it may make some people squirm.

 

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And this my friends is the heads…

 

You may wonder why I get so excited about the heads??? Well, this is what makes the incredible broth that is the backbone of the paella. The recipe is so simple…

Take the prawn heads, a couple of bay leaves and a sprinkle of Old Bay if you got it, cover it all in water and simmer until you get tired of the whole mess. I strain the broth through a seive and some coffee filters, return the heads to the sea and VOILA… you are left with the perfect broth for paella, soup, risotto or perhaps shrimp and grits. Sky is the limit or your imagination.

Paella takes a bit of time so we feasted on some great cheese and wine, BS”ed with our friend Brian and eventually chowed down on Spot Prawn Paella with Olympia Provision Chorizo and Smoked Mussels along with a Arugula Salad.

The afternoon drizzle broke into a beautiful San Juan evening …. Not sure it gets much better!

WOOHOO…..

FINALLY, the BeachHouse is off the dock and underway. It is so good to be back on the water and bonus points for such a absolutely beautiful afternoon! The water is like a pond… nice way to start off!

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Stuart Island here we come!

It’s a Wrap….

Wow, the winter season on the Road House is officially a wrap. We are back in Anacortes getting the Beach House ready for a three-month cruise to the Broughton Islands in British Columbia, Canada. I truly got so far behind on blogging that I finally decided just to skip ahead and write this winter season summary.

 

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The winter/fall season started off with a mechanical issue that had us idling in Twin Falls for five days but once we got on the road again the Road House ran like a champ.

This season we were more stationary and spent longer periods of time in places but the big difference was how many friends and family we connected with or joined us along the way. It’s was certainly a social season and we made so many new friends especially during our 3 1/2 month stay at the Outdoor Resort Palm Spring (ORPS).

Our path was a zigzag across many states and some states we went thru twice. The “Birthdays Rendezvous” kicked off the season. Our friends the Millers glamped with us in Moab where we hiked at Arches National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. Tom and I have birthdays within days of each other and we have come to meet and celebrate all of our birthdays in late October. I love this tradition!!!

 

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From Utah, we headed over Santa Fe New Mexico to rendezvous with our Boxer loving, RV buddies the Carmichaels. Good food, long walks and evening fires in the resort chimaera with these wonderful friends were highlights of our 12 days at the Santa Fe Skies RV Resort.

 

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From there, we headed back to Mesa, AZ for a short stop to see friends and then on to Palm Springs, CA for the next three months. Our time in Palm Springs was really busy, yes mostly socializing…seems that is our new hobby!

My cousins June and Matt from Kentucky visited for a week over Thanksgiving and we had a blast touring the area with them, trying some new restaurants and playing silly games like “Redneck Life”. If I recall there was a fair amount of wine consumed as well!!

 

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Pretty dang nice weather for Thanksgiving …we were able to have our turkey feast alfresco.

 

There were five more rounds of visitors during our time in Palm Springs. In between all of the fun visitors our time was filled playing pickleball and meeting new friends at the Outdoor Resort Palm Springs (ORPS). We really fell in love with this beautiful RV Resort, so much so that we bought a lot and will be returning again in November for at least three months. We also have some long time Portland friends who are now desert dwellers in the area so it was great to spend time with them.

 

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Our backyard at ORPS

 

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We also did a road trip to Texas with friends in the car with no pets. Bentley and Sucia stayed home in the coach at ORPS with a their new BFF Serena. Yikes, no pets for a almost 2 weeks. Plus we stayed in a condo with a king sized bed – sweet!!! It was like a real vacation!!!! We explored Texas Hill Country, ate a whole lot of BBQ, spent a day exploring San Antonio. The grand finale was New Years Eve with friends in Austin where is snowed…seriously! It was so cold all the musically events in the waterfront park were cancelled but we saw all the fireworks from our warm hotel room in downtown Austin.

 

 

 

The zigzagging continued as we headed to Gold Canyon, AZ in March. We stayed at Gold Canyon Golf and RV Resort for a month where we had plans to meet up with some Washington boating friends. As it turned out, some new friends that we met at ORPS were also going to be in Gold Canyon at the same time – small world for sure!!

 

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Another fun surprise was when our Portland wino/cooking pals, the Smith’s flew down for a long weekend and stayed in nearby Gold Canyon. Hiking, birding, good wine and some cooking filled our time together.

 

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In April, all the smart folks started heading out of the state to cooler climates. We didn’t fall into the smart category and stayed another month in Mesa, AZ at the Tower Point RV Resort. I had planned to visit my Mom in Kentucky and attend a family reunion in late April so my flight plans were booked out of the Mesa Gateway Airport. I was feeling so smug about scoring an inexpensive, nonstop flight from Mesa to Louisville until the sustained 95 degree weather was forecasted. Seriously, round trip and nonstop for under $200…it really was a score!!!

To beat the heat, we took a few day trips to cooler regions of Arizona. We spent one day exploring the Flagstaff  area and another at the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.

 

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We also had fun exploring the nearby community of Gilbert where we really enjoyed the great farmers market, lively restaurant scene and the totally awesome nature preserve.

We now agree that we won’t be staying in Arizona or any place else that routinely gets in the mid to high nineties as early as April. Not that there was any lack of things to do but when it starts getting that hot, most everything that we enjoying doing, oh, like being outside isn’t that enjoyable.

 

 

On a positive note, I had a great week in Kentucky with family. It was a marvel to see that much green after months in the desert. Louisville is a beautiful city, with great restaurants and a lively arts scene. I did manage to eat some good BBQ while I was there too!!! Did I say that it was lush and beautiful with perfect 75 degree days??

Once I landed back in the land of HOT, we had a great 26th anniversary dinner in Gilbert with our friends the Millers, then we hit the road in search of cooler temps the next day. Out drive took us through Needles NV, Bakersfield Ca with a two day stop in Lodi CA for some wine tasting. Gotta have some fun along the way! After Lodi, we drove to Medford spent the night, then on to Portland where we stayed for 5 nights.

 

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Our stop in Portland was a whirl wind of eating, drinking and more socializing. Are you are seeing the trend here??? It was great to reconnect with friends but our time went by all too fast and we didn’t get to see everyone we had hoped to see. Next trip through we will definitely stay longer. Portland feels so comfortable but doesn’t feel like home anymore despite having so many friends there.

 

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The Raod House all tucked in at the Desert View RV Park in Needles, CA.

 

So, here we are back in Ancortes with a long list of things to do to get the Beach House ready for the marine highway. Wally is all things mechanical right now while I am all about the provisioning, cleaning the exterior of the boat and getting all of registrations, tags and coast guard paperwork updated. We are jazzed to be cruising as far as the Broughton Islands in British Columbia this summer and will try to post whenever we have a decent cell connection.

 

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Definitely not desert landscaping!

 

Hoot Hoot…Our plan is to get off the dock the first week of June for a shake down cruise – so far all systems are GO!!!

 

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Staying Cool in Flagstaff

What do you do when it’s 96 degrees outside???

  • Stay inside with the AC on – Boring!
  • Head to the mall for a retail intervention – No Way!!!
  • Hang at the pool and lounge in your floatie – Hmm, not a bad idea.
  • Take a road trip somewhere cooler – BINGO!!!

The forecast in the Phoenix Metro area was hot, hot, hot a couple of weeks ago with two days being in the high 90’s so the idea of spending a day somewhere cooler was appealing. We would normally have been on the road by now and out of hot Arizona but a trip back to KY to see my Mother and attend a family reunion is on the agenda for late April. I found a ridiculously inexpensive flight, nonstop from Mesa Gateway airport to Louisville on Allegiant Air some months ago so we were locked into staying in the area until my return. So buck up and get through some hot days was my mantra but geez, there were a lot of them on the horizon.

After looking at a heat map, Flagstaff at 6,910 foot elevation was offering up a 74 degree day and three national monuments that we had not seen. SOLD…we even got up early – 6am early – which we rarely do anymore, to pick up our friends in Mesa and get on the road. It’s about 175 miles to Flagstaff from Mesa but all easy freeway driving.

Not only does Flagstaff offer some great outdoor excursions, it has a charming, vibrant old downtown area with loads of great restaurant choices. If craft beer is your thing, you will be right at home in “Flag” – as the locals call it! We had some good grub and brew at the The Lumberyard Brewing Company.

 

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The historical downtown area has some really cool old neon signs.

 

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The county courthouse has been beautifully restored.

 

Flagstaff’s early economy was based on the lumber, railroad, and ranching industries. Today, the city remains an important distribution hub for companies such as Nestlé Purina PetCare, and is home to Lowell Observatory, the U.S. Naval Observatory, the United States Geological Survey Flagstaff Station and Northern Arizona University. Flagstaff has a strong tourism sector, due to its proximity to Grand Canyon National Park, Oak Creek Canyon, the Arizona Snowbowl, Meteor Crater, and historic Route 66. So much to do here….

 

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Love this old sign…the inside of the hotel is just as nicely restored.

 

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The Weatherford Hotel has survived since 1887 and has a  great story.

 

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Right off the historical Route 66, old town would be a great place to stay if your’e planning a visit.

 

Yes, seriously there is a ski area in Flagstaff which we were tempted to check out but the idea of being that cold wasn’t that appealing. Instead, we drove straight out to Walnut Canyon National Monument and did the 1 mile Island Trail hike.

More than 700 years ago Walnut Canyon was a vital pueblo community and this 4 1/2 mile long canyon has over 200 caves. We hiked the Island Trail that leads you back in time and highlights 25 cliff dwelling rooms along this part of the canyon with more being visible across the canyon.

 

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Can you see all the dwellings along the ledges?

 

While not a long hike, this trail takes you down 240 steps and back in time when you can imagine a thriving pueblo community who’s cave dwellings ring the canyon walls. Going down was a piece of cake but coming back up was a bit of an aerobic workout considering we were at almost 7,000 ft elevation.

 

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Sinagua is Spanish for “without water”. By living in such a dry region the Sinagua were believed to have become experts at conserving water and dealing with droughts. Walnut Canyon was supplied a vital water resource and was 350 feet below the canyon rim. Now that’s a hike and no nice steps either !!! The Sinagua were also believed to have been active traders that stretched to the Gulf of Mexico and even as far as Central America.

 

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These resourceful people built their homes under limestone ledges, deep within the canyon, taking advantage of the natural recesses in the limestone cliff walls which were eroded over millions of years by flowing water. 

It is thought that the Sinagua left around 1250 CE because of fear of neighboring tribes or droughts, of course no one knows for certain but they left over 80 cliff dwellings behind.

 

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After lunch in town, we headed back out to explore the Sunset Crater National Monument and the Wupatki National Monument which are not far apart. Truly this area deserves more than the 8 hours we spent touring so if you do plan a trip here just know you can see all three monuments in a day but why not stay a few days and enjoy the ambiance of “Flag”.

 

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There are some great hikes at Sunset Crater and the geology is fascinating.

 

A major population influx began soon after the eruption of Sunset Crater in the 11th century (between 1040 and 1100). The eruptions covered the area with volcanic ash which is believed to have improved agricultural productivity and the soil’s ability to retain water. This area supported crops like maize and squash which were raised from the arid land without irrigation. 

By 1182, approximately 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo but by 1225 this site was also abandoned. It would be fascinating to how what happened in this era that caused so many of our ancient people to simply disappear.

 

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The ruins of a “Tall House”.

 

At one time, there were many settlement sites scattered throughout the monument  which were built by the Cohonina, Kayenta Anasazi, and Sinagua. Wupatki was first inhabited around 500 AD. Wupatki, which means “Tall House” in the Hopi language, is a multistory Sinagua pueblo dwelling comprising over 100 rooms and a community room and ball court, making it the largest building for nearly 50 miles. Nearby secondary structures have also been uncovered, including two kiva-like structures.

 

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So much history here in the SW … I often leave an area with way more questions that I will ever have answers but that’s what makes traveling so compelling.