When I decide to post, I guess I post a lot.
Remember, click on a picture if you want to see a bigger image.
Patty O'Donnell, my series character, grew up on a ranch in the east central part of Arizona. The area is north of the towns of Springerville and Eagar, sister communities that lie at a point where the highway heads up into the White Mountains. Patty's family heads into Springerville when they want something they can't get in North Fork, the fictional town they call home.
Springerville city limits. We noticed that towns in this part seem to incorporate a lot of area where no one is actually living.
Springerville is in the Round Valley, a nice green area where Basque shepherds watched their flocks in the second half of the 1800s. If I'm remembering correctly, they get a lot of runoff from the mountains.
North of the Round Valley is a vast area called the Springerville Volcanic Field.
This is an area of wide pastures
and volcanic domes,
and it's difficult to get a feel for the scale of the place from photographs. Trust me when I say it's awe-inspiring. For a sense of perspective, though, here's this...
If you click on it and look at a bigger version, you can see how tiny the road gets, and how big the dome ahead is, farther beyond it. We saw some domes with dark scars on them. Apparently some people mine them for cinders.
There are just over 400 domes in the Springerville Volcanic Field. Yes, someone actually counted them.
Some pastures have areas that look as if a vast herd of cattle all decided to take a dump in the same place.
These are, in fact, basalt outcroppings. On some ranches, these are fenced off, and on others they aren't. One wonders what this does to cows' hooves.
Scientists used to believe that the Springerville Volcanic Field was millions of years old, and that the volcanoes were extinct. More recently, they understand that the field ranges from 300,000 to 800,000 years old, and that there's a reasonable chance that it might erupt again. The youngest parts support grassland and a few shrubs.
The older parts support grass, more shrubs, and some trees.
The ranch Patty's family runs is on both types of land.
This area's elevation is in the 6,000-7,000 foot range, and has a climate that is milder than you might expect for Arizona, with summer highs averaging in the 80s, and lows averaging in the 50s. They can get snow in the winter. It is quite arid during the dry seasons. It had not been long in the monsoon season when we were there, so things hadn't greened up much.
I'm switching the comments back on, but if all I get is spam, they'll go back on moderation. Just don't have time to clean the comments out on a daily basis.