Gone Away / Tags
Contact Followers

Outdoors

Ramping up the Camino prep

Ramping up the Camino prep

— Now that I’ve been home from Mexico City for almost a week, I’ve begun ramping up my preparations for the Camino de Santiago, which I anticipate starting just after Easter. Specifically, I’ve been hiking more. Although I want to work out my walking muscles and increase my stamina, I’m not trying to create a typical week of hiking — partly because I have other things to do while I’m home, and partly because I don’t want to leave everything on the hills near Phoenix and not have anything left for the Camino.
Sunrise selfie

Sunrise selfie

— Notwithstanding the nasty weather in Phoenix earlier this week, it’s hiking season here again, at least for me. I like to start my hikes really early in the morning. I don’t wait for dawn. I prefer to get underway at the beginning of civil twilight. Sometimes I start even before that. One of the great things about getting an early start is seeing a sunrise along the way. On a recent hike at Shaw Butte a couple weekends ago, the sun was just coming over the horizon at the same time I was reaching the high point of my trail.
The last bit of fall foliage colors in Ipswich, Massachusetts

The last bit of fall foliage colors in Ipswich, Massachusetts

— Before leaving for this trip to New England, some of my coworkers asked if I expected to see any fall foliage colors. I told them I thought I’d be too late in the season to see any of the colors. As luck would have it, I was wrong by just a few days. A week ago, on an overcast Monday morning, Kathryn and I stopped our car just up the street from where we’re staying with family and snapped a few photos of the trees lining the way.
Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast.

Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast.

— After my last post from about 24 hours ago, it may come as some surprise that this post is being written from the couch in our living room in Phoenix while rain is pouring outside the open front door. Plans escalated quickly throughout the day yesterday. First, our planned trip to Prescott — the city Kathryn and I had never visited together — was called off after realizing just how long the drive would take from Cottonwood.
Safe arrival, nice dinner, and an early morning hike in Cottonwood

Safe arrival, nice dinner, and an early morning hike in Cottonwood

— We arrived at the campground yesterday early enough that the ranger station was still open. That’s quite unusual when we arrive on a workday. Kathryn and I have a rhythm of who does what we we set up our campsite, so we had everything as we wanted it within the hour, well before sunset. Our campsite at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona. After setting up the campsite, we took a break for a few minutes and then, since both of us had eaten early lunches, decided we were ready to head over to Pizzeria Bocce for dinner.
A very special Cottonwood camping trip starts this afternoon

A very special Cottonwood camping trip starts this afternoon

— To celebrate an important milestone in our marriage, Kathryn and I are spending three nights in Cottonwood this weekend, camping at one of our favorite Arizona state parks, Dead Horse Ranch. We’ll leave after work this afternoon. The car is already mostly packed. Only a few last minute items remain. Scene from a previous camping trip at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona. There’s a slight amount of rain in the forecast, but not enough that it should get in the way of setting up our campsite.
Sunday morning sunrise hike at Pima Canyon in Phoenix

Sunday morning sunrise hike at Pima Canyon in Phoenix

— Kathryn has been petsitting for the past ten days or so at a home in another part of Phoenix, about a thirty-mile drive south from our own home in Phoenix. Last night we spent the night there together and woke up in time for a sunrise hike at nearby Pima Canyon, an area in the South Mountain Preserve. It was a relatively easy yet enjoyable hike. We started at first twilight at the Pima Canyon Trailhead and walked up the Dirt Road Trail until it ended.
Surprisingly, a sunrise hike in Phoenix never gets old for me

Surprisingly, a sunrise hike in Phoenix never gets old for me

— It’s getting to be about that time of year again, where every weekend hike in Phoenix could be my last before October. On those hot Phoenix summer weekend mornings where the outside temperature is 90 degrees before I’ve finished brewing my coffee, I don’t hike. I either go to the gym or, more often, stay home and get fatter. This morning, however, was a May blessing. It was about 70 degrees when I woke up, falling to about 68 degrees before I left the house.
Camping with a fake but pretty propane fireplace

Camping with a fake but pretty propane fireplace

— Before our last camping trip, Kathryn got on the interwebs and found us a nice, portable propane fireplace. We had looked into this idea before, but most of the fireplaces we found in the past would have taken up half the trunk. This one was a bit pricey, but it’s smaller than our cooler. Since we camp with a small, one-gallon propane tank that we use mainly for cooking, I was worried the fuel might not last an entire evening.
Sunrise over Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood

Sunrise over Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood

— The downside of crystal-clear blue skies is they produce some rather unspectacular sunrises and sunsets, mostly involving changing shades of blue. However, when we woke up on our last day of camping in Cottonwood, there were just enough clouds on the horizon to give the sunrise a little bit of color. The car in the photo is not ours. Just before sunset the previous evening, a camper arrived to take the neighboring site in a campground loop that had been otherwise nearly empty since noon.
A perfect weekend with no television, camping in Cottonwood

A perfect weekend with no television, camping in Cottonwood

— Kathryn and I have been in Cottonwood, Arizona, since Friday afternoon, enjoying a rare three-day weekend of camping at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. It has been gorgeous weather for tent camping, with crystal-clear blue skies, an occasional light breeze, and high temperatures in the 70s. Yesterday morning we did a five-mile hike in the adjacent Coconino National Forest, heading in the direction of Sedona. We then maintained our tradition of enjoying a meal at Pizzeria Bocce, although this time it was a three-course lunch rather than a dinner.
Sunday morning hike at Shaw Butte, Phoenix

Sunday morning hike at Shaw Butte, Phoenix

— We’ve had a relatively wet winter this year in Phoenix, and the desert vegetation is greener than I’ve seen it in a long time. Kathryn and I went out yesterday morning for a routine exercise hike at Shaw Butte, and she couldn’t help but grab some photos on the hike back down. (Photo: KG7NRB) The camera is facing roughly north-east, as the 7 am shadows attest. Our home is somewhere among the suburbia in the top-left quadrant of the photo.
Pizzeria Bocce, our Saturday dinner ritual in Cottonwood

Pizzeria Bocce, our Saturday dinner ritual in Cottonwood

— Saturday dinner at Pizzeria Bocce has become something of a ritual for Kathryn and me when we camp in Cottonwood. It started as an accident. On one camping trip, we mishandled some of the food we brought along and decided to toss it and go out to eat. We ended up at Pizzeria Bocce, and we’ve been going there ever since. Dining at a slightly pretentious pizzeria with a wine bar may not seem much like camping, but we’ve had an enjoyable meal every time we’ve eaten here.
Yet another beautiful morning in Cottonwood

Yet another beautiful morning in Cottonwood

— We’re enjoying yet another beautiful morning camping in Cottonwood. We’re halfway through our first cups of coffee as the rising sun fills the valley with daylight. Our new tarp The gazebo we had earlier this year failed on our last camping trip and found its way into a local dumpster. Over the summer we replaced it with the tarp and poles you see above. It was a whole lot easier to set up, is much lighter, provides about forty percent more shade, and looks cooler.
Another beautiful morning

Another beautiful morning

— It’s another beautiful morning in Cottonwood. Kathryn and I have had our first cups of coffee, and Kathryn is busy taking photos of the crescent moon. The first signs of twilight are appearing on the horizon, with sunrise expected in about 45 minutes. It’s cold enough for sweatshirts and jackets, but not cold enough for hats. From our campsite we can see the lights from the town of Jerome and the cement plant near Clarkdale, with the town of Cottonwood spread out below us.