Awesome Arizona Adventure – Almost Over

We left the stunning and spiritual city of Sedona and hopped on Hwy. 89A heading towards Flagstaff, where we would pick up I-40, which would take us all the way to Albuquerque. We had nearly six hours of driving ahead of us, and it was already the middle of the day. It was time to get on the road and start making good time, but Pops wanted to make one last stop in Arizona so we’d be too tired to whine about how long we’d be in the car!

The scenery along Hwy. 89A on the way up to Flagstaff is stunning. The road follows Oak Creek for a ways, and we were able to catch glimpses of it from the windows. MaMa and Pops snapped a few photos from the car, but unfortunately didn’t get any of the creek. What they did get is still really nice!

Mountains along Hwy. 89A, north of Sedona.

Down in the canyon by Oak Creek.

Where Oak Creek ends the road starts to wind and curve up through the mountains. It feels like you’re on a roller coaster or a water slide with lots of twists and turns. We made a 4,500-foot climb, all while navigating some switch backs and hairpin turns! It was fun and slightly scary at the same time! I’m just glad we were doing it in the car and not on foot!! I think everyone knows how much I hate climbing up a hill…

Right after the road stops twisting, at the top of the mountain there is a rest area and Native American market that overlooks the canyon we had just driven through. It’s appropriately named the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook. This was the stop that Pops wanted to make before getting some serious drive time under our belts.

We found a place to park, hopped out of the car, and immediately noticed that it was a good twenty degrees colder than it had been in Sedona. The mountain air was crisp and fresh, and we were all ready to take a good look and sniff around.

We came across a nice path through the trees that took us to the overlook. We stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and once again take in the diverse beauty that is Arizona. One minute you’re surrounded by sand and cacti, and the next you’re in the mountains with a bunch of evergreen trees. I know there are a lot of places on Earth that I still haven’t been to, but so far in my life, Arizona has proven to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen!

Evergreen trees and fresh mountain air at Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook, north of Sedona.

Eventually we made it to the overlook and Levi was so excited, he almost jumped over the wall that separated us and a 4,500-foot drop! Luckily Pops had a good hold on his leash, because even though Levi swears he wasn’t trying to jump over, and all he wanted was a better look, I’m not sure I believe him! I think the sight of all them trees was just too enticing for him.

The wall that Levi tried to jump over into Oak Creek Canyon.
Levi Pitboxer realizing how far of a drop it would be into Oak Creek Canyon.

Once we got Levi settled down, and MaMa and Pops had their hearts back inside their bodies, we took a nice, slow walk along the wall that Levi tried jumping over. We meandered along, enjoying the view of the canyon and the millions of trees. We decided to take some pictures and I was happy to show Levi how to enjoy the scenery without scaring MaMa and Pops half to death! It sure is nice to be small enough to find a seat everywhere we go, and I had no desire to jump into that canyon!

I’m enjoying beautiful Oak Creek Canyon, north of Sedona on Hwy. 89A.
Trees as far as the eye can see in Oak Creek Canyon.
GiGi Maltese, enjoying the view at the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook.
A maltese dog is small enough to sit anywhere!

As we were finishing up our walk along the overlook, we came upon the Native American market that features nearly a dozen vendors selling jewelry, clothing and other items. MaMa and I aren’t big shoppers, but we did take a look at what they had and admired some beautiful turquoise jewelry.

Levi Pitboxer checking out the market at Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook.
MaMa and GiGi Maltese checking out the Native American market at Oak Creek Canyon Vista.

Before long it was time to leave, as we still had 4 ½ hours to drive before getting to Albuquerque, and it was already late in the afternoon. I think we were all a little hesitant to leave the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook, because it meant we were leaving Arizona. Even though we still had two days of driving ahead of us, and many more stops to make, it still felt like vacation was ending. And here I was just getting the hang of it. I could only hope there would be many more in my future!

On the drive to Albuquerque, we were all a bit melancholy. Levi and I decided to take a nap in the back, so as not to think about vacation being almost over. MaMa stayed awake up front with Pops so she wouldn’t miss any minute of the drive through Arizona and into New Mexico. As we were about to cross the stateline, she got this gorgeous picture of the sun setting in Arizona. It seems like an appropriate image to end our stay in Arizona with…

The last Arizona sunset of our Awesome Adventure.

By the time we got to our hotel in Albuquerque, it was after 10PM, and we were all really tired. I remember taking a walk around the place and seeing lots of other dogs. We were staying at a La Quinta, and they are extremely dog friendly. They don’t charge a fee for having your dogs stay with you, and it seemed as if our entire floor was filled with dogs and their owners. They have nice beds too!

GiGi Maltese is ready to sleep at the La Quinta in Albuquerque.

Stay tuned because on my next blog, we make a return to Route 66 (this time in New Mexico), the road where I was first bit by the travel and adventure bug!

Awesome Arizona Adventure: On the Road Again

Before I knew it, the week was ending, and it was time to get back on the road. Even though we were leaving our new home away from home, it didn’t mean that our adventure was over. MaMa and Pops had planned our trip so our return drive was three full days instead of two. That meant we had plenty of time to stop and explore along the way.

On the drive to Arizona we had come up from the south so we could drive through the Superstition Mountains (check out Awesome Arizona Adventure: Mountain Time), so on the way out of Arizona, we were heading north in order to see Sedona and some other areas we hadn’t explored yet.

Our first stop after getting on the road was the Sunset Point rest area off of Highway 17 in Black Canyon City. Normally I wouldn’t bother mentioning a rest area, but this one was the nicest I’ve ever been to. And as you might imagine, being an explorer, I’ve been to a lot of them! The mountain views at this place were stunning! There were lots of places to walk around, sniff, and pee on! If  you’re ever driving along that way, be sure to stop!

A beautiful place to stop for a rest along Highway 17. Little, white dog need lots of those!
Levi Pitboxer and I really enjoyed the view at Sunset Point rest area! Levi is in awe!

After taking a good look around the rest area, we were back on the road and heading towards Sedona, which was definitely on our list of places to stop and see before leaving Arizona. I’m sure you’ve heard about how beautiful it is there, and everything you’ve heard is true! We got off Highway 17 and onto Highway 179, which takes you along a scenic route into town. We had plans to go to Cathedral Rock, but needed to make another pit stop before exploring the area. We ended up stopping at the Coconino National Forest South Gateway Visitor Center, which boasts beautiful views and some wild Javelina pigs!

Beautiful scenery at the Cococino National Forest South Gateway Visitor Center in Sedona, Arizona.
I had to get in close to see if those pigs were real! I’m relieved they weren’t, because Javelina pigs have a bad smell!

We left the Visitor’s Center and headed towards Cathedral Rock, which is home to one of four energy vortexes in Sedona. It is also one of the most photographed mountains in Arizona, and has a very popular hiking trail. Since we were on a deadline, and the trail can be difficult to traverse in a few places, we just hung out around the bottom of the mountain. Hopefully we soaked up some of that good energy while we were there. I know I felt pretty good after taking a look and sniff around the place. Those red rocks are so beautiful, if a little messy!

Waiting for Pops to get back from the car. Cathedral Rock is a popular place, and we had to park far away from the trail!
Levi Pitboxer checked out the maps, and told me the trail would be too hard for a little white dog to climb!
Levi Pitboxer is soaking up some of the good energy from the vortex at Cathedral Rock.
I think a little, white dog could climb up Cathedral Rock without a problem!
But maybe I’m better off staying on level ground. I heard the rocks can be loose and dangerous on those trails!
Levi Pitboxer thinks he could climb it. He’s a big, strong dog after all!
Levi Pitboxer and GiGi On The Scene at Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona.
I took some of the red rock dust with me when we left Cathedral Rock!

Eventually it was time to get back on the road, as we had a long drive ahead of us that day. We had to get all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico before the end of the day. Driving out of Sedona, we saw so many beautiful sites. I hope we get to go back there again one day and spend more time exploring those beautiful, messy red mountains!

Red Rock formations in Sedona, Arizona.
Red Rock formations in Sedona, Arizona.
Red Rock formations in Sedona, Arizona.
Red Rock formations in Sedona, Arizona.
Red Rock formations in Sedona, Arizona.

 

 

 

 

Awesome Arizona Adventure: Let’s Play Ball!

After climbing Lookout Mountain, we all needed a break, so Pops thought it would be fun to check out a baseball field where Spring training was in progress! The field we were closest to is in Peoria, where the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners practice and play their pre-season games.

We had fun walking around the facilities and even saw some baseball players practicing!

Little dogs and big dogs both like to watch Spring Training!
Little dogs and big dogs both like to watch Spring Training!

Levi walked right up to the fence, figuring if the manager saw him, he would be drafted on the spot.

“It’s worth a shot!” he said, “I’m great with balls!” and then he turned around and gave me his best Pitboxer smile.

Levi Pitboxer has the best smile!
Levi Pitboxer has the best smile!

“A lot better than you are, right short stuff? Unless they are looking for a ‘short’ stop!!” he said and laughed.

I didn’t see the humor in that statement at all…

Little, white dogs don't see the humor in short girl jokes!
Little, white dogs don’t see the humor in short girl jokes!

On our way around the park, I started getting hot. It is the desert, after all, so I started looking around for a place to cool off. It didn’t take long for me to find the perfect spot!

Little white dogs need to cool off frequently!
Little white dogs need to cool off frequently!

I might not be great at fetching and catching balls, but I sure am good at sitting on them. I’d like to see Levi Pitboxer try to do that! Fat chance of that ever happening!

After I felt up to walking around again, we found our way to the ticket booth and I was first in line to get the very best seats, but then MaMa told me that dogs aren’t allowed in the ballparks. That was really bad news. I mean, all that beautiful green grass…such a waste!

"Why can't little dogs go to baseball games?"
“Why can’t little dogs go to baseball games?”

As we were leaving the park, we saw a sign for a restaurant and Levi couldn’t help but make one last quip, when he suggested I stand in front of the sign, because I was the saltiest Senorita he knew!

“You’ve got the right color AND the right disposition, GiGi!!” he barked out loud. I had to agree that I was a bit salty at times, so I played along and let him take my picture.

I guess a little white dog can also be a Salty Senorita!
I guess a little white dog can also be a Salty Senorita!

Eventually it was time to go home so MaMa and Pops could go visit their friend. While they were there, they met some authentic Arizona pups! I sure wish I could have tagged along…they looked like super nice dogs, and I’m sure they could have told me what it’s like to live in Arizona year-round. I mean, I was curious how hot it really got there in the summer!

Cute little Arizona dogs getting some attention from Pops.
Cute little Arizona dogs getting some attention from Pops.

When they got home that night, Pops thought it would be nice to take us to see another ballpark. So we all hopped in the car and went to the field shared by the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers in Surprise. We arrived right around sunset, so it was nice and cool and I was ready to explore.

Little, white dogs love to explore at sunset.
Little, white dogs love to explore at sunset.

As we were walking around, we noticed that the gates were open to the practice fields, so Levi and I decided we should walk in and look around. Who would stop us, right?

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While exploring the park, we saw was a sign for the 2015 World Series champions, the Kansas City Royals. We were just about to take a picture with it, when a security guard started walking towards us. Before we could get a good shot, Levi skulked off, while I stared at the guy, challenging him to say something to us.

Little white dog stands up to authority, while big black dog backs down!
Little white dog stands up to authority, while big black dog backs down!

Which is exactly what he did! He asked MaMa and Pops what we were doing there, and told us the area we were in was off limits. Ooops! MaMa thought quickly and decided to play the ignorant tourist card, and told him we’d seen the open gates and didn’t know we weren’t supposed to walk through there. He was nice to us after that, and even escorted us out of the park!

Surprise Stadium at night.
Surprise Stadium at night.

Our last day in Arizona sure was adventurous! After our run in with the security guard, it looked like we’d only be able to check out the ballpark from behind bars, but at least we hadn’t been thrown in jail!

Little white dog and big black dog behind bars!
Little white dog and big black dog behind bars!
Little white dog and big black dog not allowed inside Surprise Stadium.
Little white dog and big black dog not allowed inside Surprise Stadium.

Awesome Arizona Adventure: Lookout Mountain Trail

On Thursday morning, MaMa and Pops woke us up early and said we had to get our tails moving! It was our last full day in Arizona, and they were visiting Pops’ friend later that day, so all of our exploring had to be done in the morning. Pops had already chosen a trail for us to traverse, so off we went to the Lookout Mountain Trail near Phoenix.

On the way there, Levi decided he was tired of me always hogging the middle seat, and he decided to take it over and not leave any room for me. I was not happy with him at all, and gave him a real earful! He honestly couldn’t have cared less. Darn him! Fine, I guess he could have the middle seat…this time!

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When we got to Lookout Mountain, MaMa noticed that there were no facilities, so we drove back into town, so she could do her business. After that was all taken care of, we were finally able to start exploring. The Mountain has two trails. One that circles the mountain, called the Circumference Trail, and another that goes up and back down called the Summit Trail. We decided to try out the Summit Trail. It was a busy trail and we saw a few other people with dogs. One dog went up the mountain off his leash, which MaMa said isn’t allowed. Luckily the dog was well behaved, because I would have given him a real piece of my mind if he hadn’t been!

After climbing half way up the trail, we looked out and noticed about a dozen hot air balloons up in the sky! It was so pretty and they were so colorful. Unfortunately, since the trail was a more challenging one, MaMa and Pops hadn’t brought the camera, and all of the photos were taken on their phones instead. You can just barely see the tiny dots in this picture. Those were the hot air balloons!

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The first part of the trail zig-zagged and wasn’t very challenging. It definitely had a noticeable incline though, so we stopped to rest after getting to the 150 foot mark. I was proud of myself for making it even that high. It’s hard work when your legs are less than a foot long! It was so worth it though, because the views from there were beautiful, and I figured out why it was called Lookout Mountain!

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After a brief break, we started hiking again, and we almost made it to the top of the mountain, but realized the last little bit was very steep, and the trail was rocky and narrow. I’m sure Pops and MaMa could have made it if they’d been on their own, but they thought it was a little too steep for me and Levi. At that point, MaMa had to pick me up, and when she turned around to go back down, she had an anxiety attack! She started worrying about falling or slipping, especially since she was carrying me, and I think that made her even more nervous! Luckily Pops always keeps a level head, and nothing much phases him. She was able to pass me off to him, while she eased her way back down the scary part of the trail. I think her fear of heights kicked in at a really bad time! But we all survived, and that’s all that matters.

Because MaMa needed to chill for a bit, we found another nice area to take a break and look around. It sure was pretty up there, with so much to sniff and see. Luckily all we saw were rocks, plants and some pretty yellow flowers, and no scorpions or rattle snakes!

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Eventually it was time to make our way back down the trail. I’m pretty sure MaMa had enough of mountains for the day, and we were all ready for a rest. Once we got back to the wider, less steep part of the trail, it was an easy trip back down. I definitely prefer going down more than I do going up!

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Finally we were back in the car, drinking some water and taking a much needed rest. It had definitely been our toughest hike of the trip, and I was glad we had worked our way up to it! I was feeling pretty good about myself too. I don’t know too many 11 pound dogs that have climbed up the side of a mountain, do you?!

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I wonder where we will wind up next? I can’t wait to find out!

Awesome Arizona Adventure: Wickenburg of the West

After our close call with cattle on the Vulture Peak Trail, we decided it was time to head to the town of Wickenburg, which is just north of the desert mountain range, and hopefully far away from any wandering livestock! Wickenburg was an old West mining town that is named after Henry Wickenburg, a German prospector who discovered a gold mine in the area that had over $30 million worth of gold in it! Whether that’s what it would be worth today or back in the 1850’s, I’m not sure, but either way, that’s a lot of moolah!

Since we’d left the house so early that morning, neither Levi or I felt like eating any breakfast, so that was the first thing we did when we got to town. I was hungry after our hike and made sure Pops knew about it while he was getting my food ready.

WhatYouGot

After what felt like ages, it was finally time to eat, and I didn’t waste any time diving in! I needed to get my energy back, so I could explore this town properly.

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One of my favorite things to do is explore downtown areas. There are so many people to see, and interesting smells from the restaurants and stores, and of course all of the dogs and people who have walked those sidewalks before us. Downtown of any town is a great place to see and be seen. That’s why they call me GiGi On The Scene! BOL!  Wickenburg was especially cool because of it’s rich Western history, you just have to remember to watch out for rattlesnakes! Don’t worry though, it wasn’t real! It sure had me fooled though.

Rattlesnake

We saw a lot of cool stores in Wickenburg, like the Rusty Rooster, an ecclectic shop that showcases local and fine art, as well as items representing the Old West lifestyle.

RustyRooster

Levi’s favorite place in town was a shop that sold Stetson hats, and of course Levi’s jeans! I think Levi would look pretty good dressed up in jeans and a Stetson. He’d make a convincing cowboy in that get-up. He didn’t feel the same way, so we moved on.

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We also found a shop called Double H, which seemed like an appropriate place for me to hang out, since I’m the Double G!! They make custom hats, but none that would fit my little head. I really like the steer on top of the building, especially his horns. I’d like to get my teeth around those beauties!

DoubleH

Wickenburg is also home to the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, which has displays and exhibits focused on the old West. I liked this bronze statue out front of a rancher and his horse called “Thanks for the Rain” by the sculptor Joe Beeler. They sure don’t get much of that in Arizona, so I can see why he would so grateful!

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After having a good look around the town, MaMa and I decided we needed to take a break in the shade. All smart explorers know that frequent breaks are very important!

BenchSitters

Eventually it was time to move on and find somewhere for MaMa and Pops to eat lunch. Since she’d never been there before, Pops decided to take her to In-N-Out Burger for a Double Double burger and fries. Of course, I had to see what all the fuss was about for myself.

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At first I wasn’t so sure what I was smelling, but once I realized it was a burger, I was all for it! I got a little taste too, and it was pretty darn yummy. I’d definitely recommend it to any man, woman or dog!

After lunch it was time to head back to our home for the week and get some rest. A vacation can be so tiring. I was beginning to understand why people say they need a vacation from their vacation! And, we’re out…

Naptime

 

 

Awesome Arizona Adventure: Vulture Peak Trail

On our third day in Arizona we decided it would be a good idea to do some more exploring! While we’d had a great time at the White Tank Mountain Regional Park, we decided to try a more challenging trail for our second hike in Arizona. We drove out to the desert mountain range, south of Wickenburg in mid-morning, wanting to beat the heat of the day. Though in March, it wasn’t likely to get TOO bad, we hoped!

On our way to the trailhead, we missed the turn-off and had to turn around and go back to find it. I guess it wasn’t well-marked, or MaMa just wasn’t helping Pops navigate like she was supposed to be doing. She was probably taking a picture of me or posting on facebook instead! We did finally find it though, and discovered when we got there that there isn’t much in the way of facilities. There is an outhouse-type toilet, and that’s it. There is no running water, so we were glad we had brought our own. It’s important to stay hydrated while hiking, especially in the desert! The parking lot is big enough for 15 cars, but there was only one other vehicle when we got there. I guess we would have the trail mostly to ourselves. How exciting!

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The first part of the trail took us into a wash, which is a dry stream bed that temporarily fills with water after seasonal rains. We found the wash by following some tracks in the ground that Levi and I found after sniffing around.

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Walking in the wash wasn’t very easy for me, as the ground is loose and rocky, but I managed, with occasional help from MaMa. It pays to be small when situations like that come up!

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While walking in the wash, you need to keep an eye out for the trail markers, otherwise you could end up walking for an eternity in that arroyo (another name for a desert wash). Pops is an experienced hiker, so he kept us all on track. MaMa is mostly oblivious and Levi and I were too busy sniffing all those good desert scents to pay attention to details like staying on the trail!

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We finally made it up to the main trail and it was beautiful and natural. The landscape is untouched Sonoran desert, and includes a variety of cactus like the saguaro, ocotillo, and teddy bear cholla. Every few feet was another opportunity to photograph our arid, yet lush surroundings!

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After walking for a while, we realized that the trail was natural the whole way, and therefore pretty rocky. It was also getting warmer, and I wasn’t interested in walking very far. I think even Levi wanted to stop and take breaks more than usual. Because of the conditions, MaMa and Pops decided we would turn around and go back before reaching the saddle (the lowest point before the summit), let alone the peak of the mountain. Luckily even the short distance we did walk was full of photo ops!

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So, after taking a break and making sure we were hydrated, we began the half mile walk back to the car. As we were making our way along the wash, we saw some animals in the distance, just off to the side in some tall plants. At first I thought they might be coyotes or mountain lions, but as we got closer, I saw that they were cattle.

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I didn’t know how they would react to me and Levi, and neither did MaMa! She started freaking out a little bit, wondering if we were going to be stuck there, and whether we had enough water with us, in case we had to wait there a while. After assessing the situation for a few minutes, and realizing that the cattle didn’t seem that concerned with us, Pops and MaMa decided we could walk past them. As long as we did it quickly! I think they were mostly concerned with Levi, since he doesn’t like animals that are bigger than him. MaMa just carried me, which was probably for the best. I would have tried to run after those big cows, and take a bite!!

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Since we were so concerned with getting past the cattle without incident, we ended up missing our turn-off for the parking lot! Luckily, we saw two young women walking down another trail, and MaMa asked them if that was another way back to the cars, and they told us it was. It was steeper than the way we’d come down, so MaMa had to carry me up. It was quite an adventure!

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Finally we made it back to our car, and were able to relax and take a moment to reflect on our close encounter with the giant cattle, and the timely arrival of some fellow hikers. It sure was an exciting morning. I wondered what we would get up to next?! Stay tuned to find out…

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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.

Awesome Arizona Adventure: Mountain Time

It was late afternoon by the time we crossed the border into Arizona. We’d been driving for over seven hours and we were all feeling a little bit weary. Especially since this was day two of our cross country adventure, and we’d traversed over 1,500 miles! I was resting comfortably in my window seat when I heard MaMa start making proclamations of “Ooooh wow!” and “That’s so amazing!” and “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” So, of course I had to wake up and take a look around.

Totally comfy and utterly oblivious.
Totally comfy and utterly oblivious.
"What's all the commotion about?!"
“What’s all the commotion about?!”

What I saw out the window truly took my breath away, and not just because of the increased elevation. We were driving along Hwy. 60 and had just passed the town of Show Low, when the landscape started to change dramatically. We were driving in the Superstition mountains, and they were stunning! This was the first time MaMa or I had ever been in the mountains and we literally couldn’t get enough of them. Every turn on the road offered another breathtaking view.

MaMa in the Mountains.
MaMa in the Mountains.

There wasn’t much room to walk along the highway, so at a lot of the sceninc overlooks, Levi and I stayed in the car, while MaMa got out to take pictures.

Levi loves that mountain air!
Levi loves that mountain air!
"Hey, we want to get out and look around!"
“Hey, we want to get out and look around!”

It’s hard to describe the awesomeness of driving through a mountain range. I was used to the flat landscapes of Illinois, and up until this point in the trip, I had only seen mountains from the road. Now we were actually driving right through (and up and down) them and there was another interesting vista at every turn! I swear, driving through the mountains makes you feel as if you’ve been transported to a different planet!

"What planet are we on because this doesn't look like the Earth I'm used to!"
“What planet are we on because this doesn’t look like the Earth I’m used to!”

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Finally we found a scenic overlook with enough room for us to walk around and explore a little bit. Everything was so interesting. I investigated plants and bushes that were nothing like what I was used to seeing and smelling at home. And the views! My little mind was blown, and if I had fingers, I would have pinched myself, because it sure felt like a dream. But it was all so real, and so beautiful! It had only taken a couple of hours, and I was already in love with Arizona.

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"I'm on top of the World!"
“I’m on top of the World!”

Levi was so excited to be out of the car too! He’d been to Arizona before, and was thrilled to be back. He dragged Pops all over that scenic overlook, wanting to check out every piece of dirt and mountain rock! Pops eventually got him to stand still long enough to take some pictures, but we’ll never know how they turned out, because our memory card went kaput that day! Good thing MaMa took so many pictures on her phone, because I would have hated not being able to share photos of this amazing place.

A throwback picture of Levi from his first trip through the Superstition Mountains.
A throwback picture of Levi from his first trip through the Superstition Mountains.
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Levi wanted to smell every inch of that mountain!
I bet that would have been a great photo, Pops!
I bet that would have been a great photo, Pops!

It’s a good thing we didn’t have time to explore more than we did, because the Superstition Mountains  had that name for a good reason! In the 1860’s, local farmers heard tales from the Pima Indians of people disappearing, strange sounds, and mysterious deaths, as well as an overall fear of the mountain. They believed that the Indians were being superstitious, and that’s how they came up with the name. But even to this day, there are more disappearances in this mountain range than in any other, and on average, 4 to 5 people die every year. I like being adventurous and all, but I think I’m glad we did most of our exploring from the car.

Eventually we made it through the mountains and ended up in the historic and quirky town of Globe. The sun was just about to set, and it was the perfect time for us to get out of the car and walk around before driving the final stretch to Phoenix. We walked around the downtown historic district which is on the National register of historic places.

Downtown historic district of Globe.
Downtown historic district of Globe.

The town was founded in 1875 as a mining town, and still has an old Western feel to it. We even found a shop where they sell Western wear, but that’s not why I was interested in it!

Did someone say Bacon?!
Did someone say Bacon?!

Levi wanted to check out the theater and see what movies were playing, but Pops said we didn’t have time.

Levi was wondering if Squirrel Patrol was playing there!
Levi was wondering if his film “Levi Pitboxer: Squirrel Patrol” was playing there!

I was more interested in hanging out on the steps of the Center for the Arts, which is located in the old Gila County Courthouse in a building that is over 100 years old!

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For me, the best part of this historic town is the big G they have situated on the side of a mountain. G is for GiGi!!

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After having a good look around this cool town, it was time to hit the road and head towards Phoenix. We still had over an hour to drive before getting to our Grandpop’s (Pop’s dad) house, and the sun was quickly setting.

We’d had such an exciting two days on the road, but I’m sure Pops was glad to be just about done with the driving, and I know we were all ready to spend a few days in one state! Arizona, we’ve arrived! I hope you are ready for us!!

Awesome Arizona Adventure: Consider Us Enchanted!

I woke up on Day Two of our cross country road trip, took a look around the hotel room and saw that MaMa, Pop, and Levi were all still sawing logs. I couldn’t believe I was the first one awake! But then again, I was so excited to hit the road and see so many new things today. It was dark when we got to Amarillo the night before, but there was just a smidge of light in the sky now, and I was ready to get back out there and make the most of the day!

I laid there for a few more minutes and when nobody made a move to get up, I decided to take matters into my own paws. So, I jumped on MaMa’s chest and started licking her in the face!

“Oooph, GiGi, get off me!” she proclaimed, but I would have none of that.

‘Come on, come on, come on, I’m ready for some more adventures!’ I barked at her.

“Okay, I’m getting up, geesh.”

At this point, the boys began to stir too, and I knew once Levi got up and did his morning shake, that things would finally start moving.

‘Hey Levi, get up, get up! We’re on vacation, remember? We have lots of exploring to do!”

‘How could I forget GiGi? This is exciting stuff!’ he woofed back at me.

Finally everyone was up and moving, and soon enough we were back in the car. I wish I could tell you about the sights and smells in Texas, but to be honest I slept through most of it. Waking up so early to wake everyone else up is tiring stuff!

Nap Time!
Nap Time!

Amarillo is in the panhandle of the state, so even though Texas is HUGE, the part we were driving through was pretty narrow, and we only had about an hour of driving to do before we reached New Mexico. This is about all I remember of Texas.

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Just as I was settling in for a good snooze, I heard Pops proclaim, “We’re crossing the border into New Mexico!” and I looked up just in time to see the Welcome to New Mexico: Land of Enchantment sign.

Prepare to be enchanted!
Prepare to be enchanted!

With a state nickname like that, I knew I better pay attention to the scenery. I figured we would be delighted with some good sights on the road today, and New Mexico didn’t disappoint! It wasn’t long before the landscape began to change and we started seeing some really cool stuff.

Beautiful New Mexico scenery.
Beautiful New Mexico scenery.

After a few hours on the road, it was time to make a pit stop, and as we were coming up on the outskirts of Albuquerque, Pops asked MaMa to look for a park where we could walk around and stretch our legs. She found a cute, little park where we saw some trees already in bloom with their Spring flowers. We sure didn’t have any blooming trees back in Illinois, and it was so exciting to see!

Yippee, flowering trees!
Yippee, flowering trees!
This looks like a cool place to check out!
This looks like a cool place to check out!
Taking a break from the car!
Taking a break from the car!

After our walk around the park and before getting back on the road, we stopped for lunch at a fast food joint. MaMa and Pops were hoping we’d eat, since we hadn’t eaten dinner last night or breakfast that morning (it seems like the lady at the Jack in the Box we’d stopped at in Missouri knew what she was talking about!).  Luckily we both were hungry enough to eat our food, but not before I spotted my very first Road Runner! Meep Meep!

Can you see hit just to the left of the tree?
Can you see him just to the left of the tree, next to the curb?

When we got back on the road, we headed out on an alternate route instead of staying on I-40. Pops had driven to Arizona with Levi Pitboxer and he knew a more scenic route south down I-25 over to Highway 60. Even though this route would take us an hour longer, he promised that the scenery both in New Mexico and Arizona would be worth it. He wasn’t lying!

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Beautiful mountains of New Mexico!
Beautiful mountains of New Mexico!

Not long after getting on Hwy. 60 in Socorro, NM, we drove through a portion of the Cibola National Forest. We didn’t plan it this way, but the historic marker we stopped at was a tribute to Ada McPherson Morley, who among some other awesome things, formed a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals. Levi and I thought that was pretty cool!

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Thank you Ada McPherson Morley!
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Beautiful stretch along Hwy. 60.
Cibola National Forest
Cibola National Forest

After leaving the Cibola National Forest area, we drove through some really cute and quaint towns with names like Pie Town, where the local pie shop opens on 3/14. Can you figure out why? We also made a couple more stops, and even took some awesome pictures on our camera of Levi and I in front of an old church in Quemado, NM. Unfortunately, our memory card decided to go bad, and we lost all of the camera pictures we took that day! Luckily I was able to find a picture of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on another blog, www.papamikeonatrike.com, so you can see how unique and beautiful it is! The only thing that would have improved this picture is if Levi and I had been in it!

Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Sacred Heart Catholic Church

The drive along Highway 60 was truly beautiful and the landscape was absolutely something to gawk at. I sure was glad that Pops took us on this minor detour!

Stunning New Mexico Mountains!
Stunning New Mexico Mountains!

Just as we were about to leave New Mexico and cross the border into Arizona, I had a very important task I had to attend to. I thought I’d lost something special to me!

Luckily I found it and we were able to carry on with our trip. I’d have really hated it if we’d had to retrace all our steps in order for me to find my Levi toy!

Onward to Arizona!