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This is what many people think of when they hear the name Arizona.
This is also Arizona.
Those lightish trails running down the mountain are ski runs. No snow since it was in July, but in the mountains they do get snow.
And this is proof that it actually rains in Arizona.
So, what were we doing in Arizona last summer? Basically, it was a research trip. My main character, Patty, grew up on a ranch in an area near the real-world towns of Springerville/Eagar, and I'd long had in mind how the place should look, but thought it would be nice to go see what it felt like and sounded like, and yes, what it looked like. (I was, in fact, completely wrong about how it looked. Glad we went.)
We arrived on July 4th at Lymon Lake State Park and quickly set up our tent. We were proud of how easy it had been to set the tent up and stake it down...until the winds came up, yanked up the stakes, and threatened to send our tent tumbling across the crowded campground. After a quick scout around, we determined the best spot to set up was on an awkward slope to one side of the picnic shelter in our site. With the wind blowing, we had to clear the ground of large rocks and stake down the ground cloth for under the tent before we could stake the tent down again. This meant one of us had to fight the wind to keep the tent from blowing away while the other fought the wind to keep the ground cloth from taking flight while it was being staked down. One of the rangers came by and showed us how to tie off to big rocks to anchor the tent, which we hadn't done because we hadn't known it was allowable. This comes up again later. It took us an hour or better, fighting the wind, to get the tent set up where it would be for the next week.
Pretty much every site in the campground was taken that night, so it was pretty noisy with people getting drunk and celebrating, though we didn't have to contend with noisy fireworks because of a burn ban. It was not the most comfortable night. With the slope of the ground, I had to be careful how I moved on my air mattress because it wanted to tip me off. My husband's mattress was on a slightly more level place, apparently.
Springerville Visitors Center and Museums.
Over the next few days, we visited Springerville repeatedly for meals and a brief driving tour. A couple of our favorite places were:
Booga Red's had the best Mexican food in town, in our opinion. Tried a number of places, but liked that one best.
Visited Java Blues for a few meals, and for pie breaks. Really liked it.
Also drove up to the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert national park. If you've never been there, you should go if you're ever in Arizona. Photos don't do the colors justice.
Made our way down to Phoenix for a night. If there's a Hard Rock Cafe in driving distance, my husband will want to go there. Also got to have dinner with Cathy of Kittling: Books and her husband Denis. We had a really wonderful time visiting with them. Denis grew up in England and had a lot of interesting stories to tell, and the two of them together have had a few adventures exploring their adopted home state.
Spotted these along the way to Phoenix. Not sure what they are, but they added some nice color to otherwise sunbaked land.
To be continued in next post...