Awesome Arizona Adventure: White Tank Mountains

I awoke on our second full day in Arizona anticipating some action! I was ready to get out there and explore the desert landscape and had my sights set on an adventure. I’d rested up the day before and was more than ready to seize the day!

In order to make the most of the day, Pops had us up early and out the door just after sunrise. He was taking us to the White Tank Mountain Regional Park, just outside of Surprise. This park is the largest in Maricopa County, totaling 29,271 acres. It has nearly 26 miles of trails, as well as picnic areas, shaded tables, restroom facilities and camp sites. We were going to be checking out the Black Rock Loop Trail, and the popular Waterfall Trail.

While driving into the park, my eyes couldn’t stop scanning the beautiful sights! We were up in the mountains (the highest peak of the White Tank Mountains has an altitude of 4,083 feet), and everywhere I looked I saw something I’d never seen before. There were so many different types of flowers and cacti, not to mention the awesome rock formations, which were formed by tectonic activities over 30 million years ago! And believe it or not, a 30 million year old mountain range is YOUNG in geological terms. Wow, just wow!

So much to see!
So much to see!

When we finally stopped and got out of the car, we were beyond excited and ready to hit the trails running! MaMa and Pops had another idea, which was to walk and take our time, so we could take lots of pictures and really take in the sights. I guess that would just have to do.

I'm ready to hit the trail!
I’m ready to hit the trail!

Since pictures can tell a tale without words, I hope you don’t mind if I take a break from narrating for a moment and let the pictures weave a story all their own…

Black Rock Loop Trail

dsc01633-2 dsc01635-2 dsc01638-2 dsc01644-2 dsc01649-2 dsc01656-2The Black Rock Loop Trail was an easy trail with very little incline, which is good for my short legs! We stopped a couple of times along the way to take a family portrait. As you saw, the second attempt was successful, but I had to share the first attempt, because it makes me giggle!  This trail connects to the Waterfall Trail which is another easy walk that ends at a waterfall that is only active if there has been a recent heavy rain. Though there was no waterfall that day, we all really enjoyed the many different rock formations, including these awesome rock steps!

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We also saw some giant boulders that I insisted on perching my posterior upon! I seem to have a propensity for sitting on large objects. Then again, just about every object is large compared to me!!

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It was so quiet back there in the shadow of the mountain. There wasn’t another person or doggie in sight. It was nice to have a quiet moment to think about how fortunate I was to be in that amazing place with my family. I sure am a lucky dog!

Just taking it all in!
Just taking it all in!

After our short break, it was time to head back, and on our way we stopped to check out some petroglyphs – prehistoric rock carvings, that were remnants of an Indian tribe called the Hohokams, who lived in these mountains from 500-1100 AD. The circles in the picture below show you where to look to see the petroglyphs. Pretty cool, huh?

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Back out on the trail Levi heard something in the bushes, and wouldn’t leave until he found out what it was. I didn’t see anything, but he insisted that it was only a lizard. I’m just glad it wasn’t a scorpion, snake or tarantula!img_20160308_095542795-2

Before we could finish our hike I decided to take a little break in the shade. Even though we’d started off early, and the temperatures were very moderate for March, it was still the desert, and this girl does NOT like to get too hot! You try walking around with a fur coat covering your entire body and see if you don’t feel the same way!

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Eventually we made it back to the car and hung out for a bit before hitting the road and heading back to home base. Can you see our little heads? Of course I’m in the driver’s seat, like you would expect it any other way!

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I wonder where we’ll go next? Stay tuned to next week’s Awesome Arizona Adventure to find out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flashback Funday: Kankakee River State Park

Saturday, May 21 was a warm and sunny day. I know from my three years on Earth that you don’t always get nice days in May. And when that nice day in May is also on a Saturday, you have to get outside and play! You definitely can’t sit around in the house all day.  It was time to figure out where to go today!

"Let's get out there and explore!"
“Let’s get out there and explore!”

We don’t usually plan our adventures in advance, preferring a more spontaneous modus operandi. You never know what kind of fun you’ll get into that way! Besides, Levi and I like to be surprised. We like living in the moment! After some Internet research and some discussion between MaMa and Pops, we agreed to check out the Kankakee River State Park, in Bourbonnais, IL.

Since we all knew the drill for a day trip, it didn’t take long for us to get in the car and be ready for the quick ride down to the park, which is located in both Will and Kankakee counties.  It’s 4,000 acres in size, so it’s no wonder it’s located in two counties. One just couldn’t contain it!

"Let's blow this pop stand!"
“Let’s blow this pop stand!”
"Come on already, geesh!"
I’m always ready first!

The car ride to a new destination is always filled with excitement and anticipation. Levi is usually whining and crying out, ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet?!?’ He actually starts that up about 3 minutes after we leave the house. He isn’t much for delayed gratification. I happen to love the car ride. Probably because I get to sit up front on MaMa’s lap. That’s definitely one of the advantages of being a small dog!

Riding in the lap of luxury!
Riding in the lap of luxury!

The surroundings where the park is located was home to a number of different Native American tribes, including the Illini, Miami, Kickapoo, Mascouten, Chippewa and Potawatomi between the 1670’s and the 1830’s. After 1832, when the Potawatomi ceded their land along the Kankakee and Illinois Rivers to the United States, most of the Native Americans left the area. It was eventually settled by a group of French Canadian fur traders. Later in the 19th century, an amusement park opened, which drew crowds from Chicago until it closed in 1920. After that, it became a popular location for summer cottages. The area along the Kankakee River became a park in the 1930’s when 35 acres of land was donated by Ethel Sturges Dummer, a Chicago area philanthropist. The rest of the land was donated later by Commonwealth Edison.

Since the park is so big, and encompasses land on both sides of the river, we had no idea what we would find when we got there. MaMa had read about a number of different trails, including a three mile trail along a tributary of Kankakee River, called Rock Creek. That trail goes through a gorge along cliffs! We didn’t end up on that trail though, mostly because we had no idea how to find it! Maybe next time we go, we will do a little bit more planning, because those cliffs sound exciting!

Instead we ended up walking on a trail that ran right along the river, which was also pretty cool! There were a lot of great river smells!

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Remember to watch your step!

Along with the interesting smells there were plenty of cool things to check out. You just have to be careful walking around though, because lots of people fish along the river, and at one point, I got caught up in some fishing line! Luckily MaMa got me untangled, and after that I was more cautious about where I put my feet.

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"I wonder if they've got any fish in that boat?!"
“I wonder if they’ve got any fish in that boat?!”

Since it was such a pretty day, Levi and I insisted on sitting for a photo shoot. The backdrop of the trees and the river just couldn’t be beat!

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Levi worked all of his angles that day! BOL!!

The day soon turned from warm to really warm, and we decided to find a place to sit in the shade. Luckily there are lots of trees and shady places to sit near the river, because after exploring, sitting is my favorite thing to do!

"This spot looks like a good place for a sit."
“This spot looks like a good place for a sit.”

When it was time to venture a little further along the river, I decided it was too hot to walk, and that’s when I got to go for a ride in my Outward Hound dog sack! It is the perfect size for me to sit and relax with my little head hanging out, while MaMa does all the work!

"Does she always have to be so embarrassing? Ugh?!"
“Does she always have to be so embarrassing? Ugh?!”

Considering the park is 4,000 acres and we only walked about one mile before turning around and going back, we will definitely need to visit the Kankakee River State Park on another day. The gorge and cliffs sound really cool, and I bet that we’d get some pretty neat pictures there too! But until then, pictures of Levi and I enjoying the area along the river will just have to do.

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My overall assessment of that park is…more information is needed, so we will be back! Knowing how much more there is to see there is reason enough for us to make a return trip.