Templeton Trail: Walking In A Frying Pan

Templeton Trail: Walking In A Frying Pan

Today we decided to take it easy since Roy & I hiked 9.5 miles yesterday. We heard that Templeton Trail was easy with some shade. This would be good since it was going up to 110 degrees today.

We got to the trailhead and started down the path and the temperature was a balmy 105 degrees:

The trail started with a moderately steep climb for the first 1/2 mile. When we reached the top, the path leveled off but shade was nowhere to be found ๐Ÿ™

Lots of shade – NOT! The sun was blasting down on us and the sun-drenched rocks were radiating lots of heat up. It was liking hiking in frying pan!ย 

A little further down the trail we found a few bushes, but not much shade ๐Ÿ™

The good news is there were some nice views of the area:

We ended up hiking about an hour and decided to head back. It looked like there was a little shade on the Templeton Trail, but it was another 30 minutes down the road.

Here are few shots on the way back:

Roy is blazing the trail… or is the trail blazing Roy?

I don’t think this trail was easy or breezy ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, today’s hike was an epic fail! So we hung around the condo, relived our fun days back at Michigan and had a nice dinner.

We called it an early night since Roy had to be up at 6am to catch a flight back home.



West Fork Trail (Take 2) Sandy Leaves/Roy Arrives

West Fork Trail (Take 2) Sandy Leaves/Roy Arrives

Sandy Leaves ๐Ÿ™

All things must come to an end! Sandy returns to Milwaukee today and is really excited to get back to work – NOT!

Roy Arrives ๐Ÿ™‚

Roy, my roommate from college (University of Michigan – GO BLUE!)is arriving today! We haven’t seen each other for ~12 years! A long time ago, Roy, his son Max, my son Matt and I hiked across the Grand Canyon from the North Rim to the South Rim (3 day & 2 night).

Roy arrived at around 11am and after a quick brunch we headed out to West Fork Trail with the intention of doing the whole +8 miles.

West Fork Trail (Take 2)

It was slightly cooler today – it was ~100 degrees when we started down the trail. I won’t bore you many pictures from the first 2 miles since I covered that a few blog post ago. However, I can’t resist showing a couple of shots:

Where were a ton of butterflies in the fern garden:


Here is a shot of the swimming hole from our hike a few days ago:

Here is the swimming hole today. Notice anything different”

If you said the kids have got older, I will give you partial credit ๐Ÿ™‚

This massive tree must have fallen down over the last 48 hours.

OK, we are now going past the swimming hole (where we stopped the last time we hiked West Fork).

Here are a few shots:

The canyon walls were getting much closer as we hiked up the canyon:

On our last hike, we had about 4 stream crossings. This time we had many more!

I had to take this picture because Susie would not believe me (or Roy) ๐Ÿ™‚ ) It actually got down to 76 degrees a little later down the path! It was hard to believe that a couple miles away it was over 100 degrees!

Along the way, we asked several people how far to the end and the answers were all over the place. Some said a 1/2 hour, others said 2 hours. It was crazy. It took us about 1 1/2 hours from the swimming hole.

Here we are at the end of the trail and we were ready to head back. However, we decided to go just a little further to see what was ahead.

MAN… did we make the right call!!!!

Just about 5 minutes past the sign, we hit the jackpot!

This was the best part of the hike (NO… we didn’t find a bar there ๐Ÿ™‚ )

The canyon walls came together and the river/stream created a beautiful cove:

At this point, we couldn’t go any further, unless we wanted to walk in the river, so we turned back and started our hike back to the car:

Here are a few shots on the return trip:

Roy to the rescue. Nice of him to hold up this tree for me ๐Ÿ™‚

Much of the trail, after the swimming hole, was in the forest. Note: I wonder if the missing bark is from bears?

Towards the end of the hike, the light was getting quite nice!

At the end of the trail we ran into 2 wedding photo shoots:

After we got back to the condo, we rested and then went out for a well deserved dinner (FYI we hiked 9.5 miles!). We went to a place called Elote Cafe, which was ranked as the 2nd best Mexican restaurant in America by some cooking magazine. The food was outstanding! (I had the smoked brisket enchilada).

It was a great day!



An Off Day

An Off Day

We have been on the go almost everyday!

So today we decided to have an off-day. We did a little shopping, did some wash, hung out at the pool, worked on editing photos, tried to catch-up on my blog posts… WOW! How exciting ๐Ÿ™‚

It is the first day I took NO PICTURES!!!!



West Fork Trail & Timeshare Idiots

West Fork Trail & Timeshare Idiots

Once again, we are expecting a little heat today – like 112 degrees! So we decided to hike West Fork Trail (about 30 minutes north of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon) because it is a somewhat cooler (very shady) hike – according to hiking guides.

On the drive to the trailhead I snapped this pic… I would rather have scotch on the rocks ๐Ÿ™‚ ย (Might be more effective ๐Ÿ™‚ )

West Fork Trail

This was a beautiful trail and I took lots of photos. So enjoy the show!

As previously mentioned, we read/were told that West Fork Trail was wonderfully shady. Well, we started to freak out as we started down the trail… not much shade! (but very picturesque!!)

Here is what remains of the Mayhew Lodge built in in the 1870’s that burned to the ground in 1980.ย During itโ€™s time, famous guests such as President Herbert Hoover, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Walt Disney, Maureen Oโ€™Hara and Susan Hayward all stayed at the lodge.

Luckily, after about ย 5 minutes of hiking in 108 degree heat the trail got real shady and the temperature cooled to a “chilly” 91. Trust me, it was noticeable and really quite refreshing.

The West Fork Trail is about 4 miles long (plus 4 miles return) and includes 12 stream crossings along the way (Oak Creek). Here is our first crossing. Susie gave-up on trying to cross on the stones and just walked through the water (I used the stones). The deepest parts were about 10″. Susie said it was very refreshing and because of the dry heat, her shoes were dry within minutes :

After our first crossing we came to this really fabulous cove (note the people to get a sense of the size of this cove)

Here is Lewis & Clark Susie & Sandy walking up the creek (without a paddle):

The trail changed scenery quite often. Shortly after the cove, we were in a very lush patch of ferns & some massive pine trees. Kind of hard to believe the sweltering desert is just a few miles from here!

The hiking machines ๐Ÿ™‚

Sandy’s fancy new hiking shoes. She was really bummed that she got them dirty ๐Ÿ™

Another beautiful stream crossing:

Note the red sandstone rock & the green algae:

The girls had to move this tree that was blocking the trail ๐Ÿ™‚

At about the the 2 mile mark, we reached the famed swimming hole complete with a stone water slide:

Here is a close-up the “slide” carved by the stream (it was about 18″ deep). The kids were having a blast being carried down it by the water.

At the end of the “slide” was a nice swimming hole:

We decided to stop here, have a snack and then go back.


Here is where I had lunch today – it was very relaxing!

After a 45-minute refreshing/relaxing lunch, we decided to hike back. Here are few photos along the way.

Photographer’s Note: It was late afternoon as we hiked back and the sun was casting some really nice shadows.

Back through the fern garden and the massive pine trees:

Close-up of the pine tree bark:

Just on the edge of the fern garden was a small bunch of flowers and several butterflies and I was able to get some really neat photos of them:

I don’t think I could get any closer:

I moved to the other side of the flowers to have the sun back light their wings, hence the different color:

As we continued down the path we ran into these guys. Apparently an elderly woman slipped on the rocks in the swimming hole and hit her head. They said they were called to get her out. Note the one giant wheel under the stretcher.

Lots of lovely red sandstone rock along the hike:

Lewis and Clark entering the cove again ๐Ÿ™‚

Notice the sun reflecting the water ripples on the rock walls:

A few parting shots as we got to the car:

WOW! That was a great hike (and relatively cool)!

Timeshare Idiots

As we drove back to the condo, we stopped at an area with several vendors selling handmade Indian items. Unbelievably, after hiking for +4 miles Susie and Sandy found the energy to go power shopping. They actually ended up buying several very nice pieces of jewelry.

While they were shopping, I stopped at a “Visitor’s Booth”. I started talking to the lady and she was selling discounts for various tours. For example, a 15 minute helicopter ride around Sedona (normally $100 per person) for $25!

When Susie finished her shopping, I grabbed her to see what tours she would like. The lady explained all the tours and we were ready to purchase when she said those 5 terrifying words “Are you familiar with timeshares?” ย As it turns out, you have to sit through a 90-minute high pressure sales pitch to get the discounts. We politely told her we had no interest. She immediately turned on the “BEATCH MODE” and ripped up the tour brochure and started muttering stuff about us. Not cool! ย TIMESHARE IDIOT!

Luckily we quickly forgot about the incident as we had spectacular views on the drive back. (Windshield Cam = poor quality and bug splats ๐Ÿ™‚ )

When we got home, we had a Limoncello & Diet Pepsi, laughed about the Timeshare Idiot, had a nice dinner, relaxed our sore muscles in the hot tub at the pool and got to bed relatively early.

It was a great day!





Snowbowl, New Age Mecca For Sandy…

Snowbowl, New Age Mecca For Sandy…

Snowbowl, New Age Mecca For Sandy & Limoncello Time!

Todayโ€™s weather forecast โ€“ HOT. Followed by periods of more HOT! Like 115 degrees. So the plan today is to avoid the heat by going to the Snowbowl ski resort and take the chair lift to 11,500 ft (where it should be much cooler ๐Ÿ™‚

But before we could go, I had to replace both headlight bulbs in the car. So I replaced the bulbs while the girls went shopping. Sandy was still freaking out about both bulbs burning out at the same time (even the guy at the auto parts store said that was weird).

New Age Mecca

As we started our journey, we passed this store and Sandy insisted on stopping. She thought it would bring us some good mojo if she bought some crystals (I should also mention that Sandy’s email account was hacked this morning):

So we pulled off and found this on the outside… can’t wait to see what’s inside ๐Ÿ™‚ :

Yes… those are 100% genuine petrified UFO aliens ๐Ÿ™‚

Susie & Sandy in awe of their fabulous selection ๐Ÿ™‚ I wonder if they have any UFO Day Tours?

When I entered the store I was suddenly taken back to the 1970’s as the pungent smell of burning incense hit me. The store was stuffed floor-to-ceiling with new age crap. Here is a small sampling:

I was very disappointed that they didn’t have any power tools ๐Ÿ™

While Sandy was picking out her crystal, I overheard one of the “spiritual guides” (fancy name for a salesperson) consulting with a woman in her 30’s. The customer asked her, “how do I know which crystal to buy?”

“It doesn’t matter which crystal you pick, they are allย  filled with positive energy. Just listen to them and pick the crystal that talks to you” – Salesperson

As Sandy was narrowing her choice, I commented that she would get much better cell phone reception if she held her crystal close to her mobile phone. I quickly followed up with the quip, ย “Can you hear me now?” at which point she started laughing uncontrollably. Everyone in the store was looking at us. Susie left the store ๐Ÿ™‚

Sandy bought her little crystal and as we left the store we passed this wall filled with flyers of “spiritual guides” selling their services:

ย As we headed to the car I noticed the “power of the pyramid” structure to the right:

The girls started their meditation under the pyramid and Susie said she had reached a higher level of consciousness (Sandy got better cell reception):

As we drove to Snowbowl we laughed for a good 20 minutes ๐Ÿ™‚

Snowbowl – Relief from the HEAT!

After driving about 90 minutes, we reached Snow Bowl ski resort:

The temperature was 115 ย degrees when we left Sedona. It was a very comfortable 75 degrees at the base of the ski lift. (FYI the elevation in Sedona is 4,300 ft… the base of Snowbowl is 9,500 feet).

We bought our tickets and quickly got on the ski lift (it took about 15 minutes to get to the top):

A few shots from the ride up the mountain:

Here is a Double Black Diamond run. It was pretty steep:

As we approached the top we started seeing some snow!

The top is 11,500 feet and more importantly it was very cool. The temperature was 65 degree at the top! It was very refreshing.

I wonder if the bathrooms smell like Colorado? ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are a few shots form the top:

Photographer’s Note: There were a couple of challenging factors to deal with for the photos : 1) There was some haze being created by a couple of forest fires (photos below) 2) I had to shoot into the sun (never a good idea) because of the time of day. Bottomline, the photos really don’t capture the beauty of the area.

ย ย 

A close-up of one of the forest fires. Note the fireline created at the base of the mountain (the straight line fire) .

After about 15 minutes at the top (the place was closing) we took the chairlift down. I was a very weird sensation travelling downhill on a chairlift. A few shots on the way down:

Lots of purple/red pinecones:

The end of the ride for Sandy:

There was a very nice scenic viewing area on the drive down the mountain. Here are a couple of shots:

As we approached Sedona, the sun was getting low and created some really nice lighting conditions:

Limoncello TIme!

When we got home we enjoyed a glass of our favorite concoction: Diet Pepsi & Limoncello. If you have followed my other blogs, you will know that I invented this drink during our trip to Rome. You simply put a shot (or 2 or 3) of Limoncello, add some Diet Pepsi, a few ice cubes, stir and enjoy. It is a very refreshing drink. Highly recommended. You should try it sometime.

Exhibit A (Note: I have not stirred the concoctions yet so the yellow Limoncello is still on the bottom of the glass) :



Grand Canyon & Train Ride

Grand Canyon & Train Ride

Grand Canyon, Train Ride, Bandits & Some Bad MoJo

Today we are headed to the Grand Canyon… via the train. We started the day by driving to Williams, AZ (about 30 miles west of Flagstaff) which was a 1 1/2 hour drive. When we arrived we learned that the train company included a “Wild West Show” just before the departure on the train and we decided to join in the fun. Here are a few shots of the act – it was fun:

Susie & Sandy with one of the main characters:

Of course, the grand finale included a good old-fashioned shootout ๐Ÿ™‚

Love his mouche & beard!

After the show we boarded the train:

The train ride was about 2 hours. The good news is they had some on-board entertainment – the bad news is the scenery along the way was pretty boring (hence the entertainment). The scenery was mostly flat high desert:

The onboard entertainment included a guy named Mario who was pretty funny & entertaining. They also had a musician who travelled through each car. He is on the left side of the photo. Sandy was picked to play the tambourine and to lead a conga line:

Susie joined in on the conga line:

Overall it was a enjoyable train ride.

After 2 hours, we reached the Grand Canyon. Here are a few photos.

Flashback – About 15 years ago I hiked across the Grand Canyon (North Rim to the South Rim) with my son (Matt), Roy (my college roommate) and his son (Max). It took us 3 days to make the trek. Look at the picture below and find the green swatch in the middle of the photo, this is Phantom Ranch. We camped there on our last night. In the morning we hiked out of the canyon on Bright Angel Trail (you can see it leading to and from Phantom Ranch. It was a 10 mile hike out of the canyon including a 1 mile change in elevation (Plus it was 115 degrees in the shade). It took us 10 hours to hike out and included +25 switchbacks!!! It was pretty tough.

Here is a close-up of the above photo. If you look closely you can see a hiker on the path.

After walking around the rim, we had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the canyon – it was very civilized!

After lunch we walked around a little more and the sun was just starting to cast a few shadows across the canyon. This makes the view much more interesting. Here are a few more shots before we departed on the train:

The train departed at 4:30pm and included some more entertainment. We had some music from a different guy:

About 30 minutes before arriving in Williams, the conductor made an announcement that he had to stop the train because of some trouble on the tracks. Suddenly, 4 cowboys on horseback (the guys from the Wild West Show) caught up to the train – it was a train robbery ๐Ÿ™‚ Actually they were asking for donations:

After the robbery, the Sheriff showed-up to get a description of the bandits:

ย It was a lot of fun!

A few minutes before entering Williams, the train had to slow down to avoid hitting some cattle crossing the tracks. Mario told us that the train company has to pay the rancher $3,000 for each cow they hit. The big cow in the middle almost got hit by the train:

We arrived in Williams around 6:30pm. The station had a very nice gift shop and outside were a couple of those posing boards for photos.

Susie the conductor:

I have no words ย LOL!!!!!

Good MoJo:

On the drive back to Sedona, we decided to eat dinner in Flagstaff. We picked a random mexican restaurant and we hit the jackpot. The restaurant (Salsa Brava) was featured on the Guy Fieri cooking show. The food was excellent and reasonably priced!

Bad MoJo:

After dinner, I got into our SUV and started the engine but the headlights weren’t working. After a quick review, it was apparent that both low beam bulbs burned out at the same time. Very strange! Susie thought it was the aliens who were mad at us for making fun of the vortexes and crystals ๐Ÿ™‚ I had to drive back to Sedona with my brights on for the entire 60 minute trip home. I didn’t make any friends with the oncoming traffic.

We got home and shortly went to bed.