July 23, 2013

red rocks of sedona

Bell Rock near Sedona Arizona
Bell Rock (near Sedona, Arizona)
There are some great places to explore not far from Prescott. One day this May, we drove to Sedona. I have long wanted to go to Sedona (years before moving here was ever a thought!), so it was a welcome day trip.

We were enchanted with each new rock formation we saw on the way to Sedona. We oohed and ahhed every time we turned a corner! It was stunning. So different than anything I have ever seen.

Uptown Sedona reminded me of a crowded seaside town on a summer weekend, but without the fog or beach nearby. We weren't there to browse the shops (at least not this time), so no matter. We got over to the west side of town and ate lunch at Picazzo's. I'll tell you, I look forward to eating there again next time we visit, yum! (the meat ball appetizer is delicious, and the berry-licious salad is the best salad I have ever eaten!)

driving up to Sedona

Next we drove out Dry Creek Rd. We walked a little of the trail below the north side of Capitol Butte (if I have my rocks right!). We examined rocks, spotted a lovely butterfly, and noticed the dirt is like red sand. Then we drove farther out into Boynton Canyon to see more beautiful views.

Steven and I examining rocks (near Capitol Butte)

Boynton Canyon near Sedona AZ nature photograph copyright Jennifer Kistler 2013
one of many wonderful views in Boynton Canyon

But just looking at these great rocks wasn't enough for some of my family, Steven wanted to really get up on one, or he wasn't going to be happy! We did go to Sedona for the rocks, so we went back to the parking area at Bell Rock on our way out of town. The guys hiked partway up Bell Rock while I waited and watched from below. We plan to go back at another time of year when it is not so hot, and do it again.

the guys partway up Bell Rock

July 19, 2013

respect, sorrow, and gratitude for nineteen heroes

So, while I would like to just live in my own little peaceful bubble this summer, life just doesn't always work out that way. But before I go any further in this story that I feel compelled to tell, I just want to tell you that for my next post, I'm planning to quickly share a few photos from our first visit to Sedona back in May (when I fell behind on my blog). It was a place I had long wanted to see, and we definitely plan to go back!

Just after the Doce Fire got under control and our area felt safe again, the Yarnell Hill Fire broke out (southwest of Prescott). As we oohed and ahhed at the lightning out our front windows, we noticed the wind shifting several times. It was so very sad to learn later that evening that nineteen firefighters from Prescott (the Granite Mountain Hotshots) had perished during that very time.

The loss hit Prescott very hard. So many people knew them, or knew somebody who did, or (including us) were just plain thankful for them after their hard work on the Doce Fire. Vehicles had been driving around town with "thank yous" written on their back windows to the firefighters. They were heroes here.

The following week was Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo (running all week), Fourth of July, and the Frontier Days Parade. The whole week's activities became opportunities to honor what are being called The Fallen 19 (AKA The Prescott 19 and The Yarnell 19).

It was also a week of many firsts for us in our new hometown. Wednesday we attended a performance of the Rodeo. Thursday we watched Prescott's city fireworks display. Best fireworks I have ever seen! They really know how to do it.

one of many equestrian entries in the Prescott Frontier Days Parade

Saturday July 6 was the Prescott Frontier Days Parade. It turned out to be a 2.5 hour parade, by far the longest I've ever watched in person! It had a wonderfully genuine, "down home", old west flavor, and I was thrilled to see so many horses! It had also turned into a huge tribute to the fallen firefighters. More entries than not honored them with signs, flags, purple ribbons, and so on, and drew repeated applause from the spectators. By far the most touching entry featured nineteen riderless horses, each with firefighter boots in the stirrups and a sign with the name of one of The Fallen 19. The respect, sorrow, and gratitude for these heroes was palpable.

The fence of the Hot Shot crew's station (three sides of the property) is covered. We recently drove by again. Finally there was not a crowd, so we parked and walked the whole fence while thunder rumbled overhead. The sun and thunderstorm rains are taking their toll on some items, and there is talk of the city creating a permanent home for the contents of this "impromptu memorial". But even though the flowers are faded and some signs are lying on the ground, you can feel so much emotion, it is humbling.

part of the fence at the station of The Fallen 19

July 12, 2013

fire on the mountain

a DC-10, one of the fire planes
I have never been anywhere even sort of close to a wildfire before, until Tuesday June 18 when a fire broke out near Prescott, Arizona ("everybody's hometown", including ours as of this year). The Doce Fire started in a rural area and quickly spread to burn thousands of acres by the end of the first day. Billowing brown smoke filled the northwest part of the sky in the afternoon, and made for a very disturbing sight. By nightfall, the fire had moved up one side of Granite Mountain, crested it, and was moving down the side we can see from our neighborhood.

We are near the small local airport, which is usually busy with small planes (many of them for training related to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University). The firefighting planes were rumbly and loud, and went right over us after take-off. (only the DC-10s were too large to land here.) The planes themselves were very cool to see (especially the shiny converted old war plane), but if we managed to relax and forget about the fire for a moment, they reminded us of reality again soon enough. While we did not appear to be in any danger, it was hard to get on with daily life while a huge fire was raging with 0% containment only 5-6 miles away. That first day was really something, and here are my few humble photos of it:

Granite Mountain in the distance, taken from Pioneer Parkway (about 2pm)

Granite Mountain from different view

the sky behind our house, the afternoon of June 18 2013

view from our neighborhood of Granite Mountain the first night

For days, life seemed to revolve around the fire. Now I can better empathize with those who have been close to a fire like this! We are very thankful for the hundreds of firefighters, fire plane pilots, and other support people who worked so hard to get this fire under control. The fire came right into the backyards of some houses farther out of town, but none were lost.

July 3, 2013

summer so far

little lizard outside studio window
Our summer so far has not been busy in the sense of scheduled activities (and I like it that way). Mostly it has been pretty mellow which is so very welcome! Ahhh. But life manages to be distracting anyway, so my blog has been quiet. The end of May, I was preoccupied with all the stuff that the end of a school year brings with it. Then in June we lost two computers within 24 hours (thankfully I only lost my email). We're back up and running now, but I'm having to learn Windows 8 and Photoshop Elements 11 (after Windows XP for many years, and my beloved PSE 5) which is, uh, interesting. I was only planning to learn Dreamweaver this year. Guess it will keep my brain young!

Summer so far has been different, to put it one way! It has included:  Above-historical-average temperatures, with most of sunny June in the 90s and some 100+ degree days. Father's Day morning exploring Granite Basin (want to go back when it's cooler). The Doce Fire, which once it spread was only about 5 miles from our neighborhood. A scorpion in the garage (thankfully dead from the perimeter of pest spray, but still creeps me out!). Kids playing Minecraft. And LEGOs. And water gun fights. And watching the first thunderstorm of the season, which was exciting, but followed shortly by the tragic news that almost our entire local Hot Shot crew was killed in another area fire (these guys, and all the other firefighters, are heroes to our town especially after the Doce Fire).

We are still seeing lizards, bunnies, and quail outside (and occasionally a road runner, so cool!). And apparently, even when you're 10 and 12, bubbles are still a lot of fun when it's hot and you're bored!

one day the boys took turns making bubbles...

...and catching bubbles

the wild bunny that still delights us every day