My current watercolor pallet

This is a pinned post and I plan to post most recent palettes to the top of the post. I’m really only doing this for my own record keeping and occasionally there are peeps who feign interest:):)……

At almost one year, the kimono scarf I purchased at a little Kimono shop on the mall in Hiroshima on our trip there last April. I had a shopping budget and something to use in my watercolor kit (instead of paper towels). I found this perfect scarf and have been using it since. I love how the watercolors are putting my own touch to the line work of the original scarf. I haven’t washed it in a machine yet, but I’ve rinsed it out once really good. I may give it a good wash at the one year mark and may or may not retire it to save it as a beautiful souvenir.

I added a few more colored 1.24.20, so I also moved things around a bit. I’ve also added numbers to my swatches so I can clearly identify each pan color (sharpie on the underside of each pan the number so I don’t mix them up when I move them around. I’m thinking I need a really good red red. I’m having a hard time settling on what that value is to me, there are so many shades of Red. Lol

01.01.20 I added a second art tool kit pallet so I can carry more colors!

spring of 2019

06.03.19 is when I updated to the art-tool.kit

12.24.18

Murals of Phoenix

The Mr. and I went on a New Years Day Scavenger hunt for murals in Phoenix today! Happy New Year! 2020!!

We finished the day with A nice long chill lunch and a few beers at the downtown Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co., where I had a couple of their flagship IPA’s, Refuge and the Honey Hot Pulled Pork Sliders and I was very happy with my delicious meal. The Mr. had the AZ Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich and we couldn’t remember what beer he went with. 🤣🤷🏼‍♀️

We had a great day and I’m definitely planning another mural hunt before summer hits so BOLO for a Part 2!


Sedona in full glory!

Sedona in fall is just amazing. This hike was a perfect fall day hike!

We got a later start than usual because we stopped for breakfast at Sedona Bakery. I had a ham and cheese omelette and Greg had a Breakfast sandwich, Canadian bacon egg & cheddar on an Asiago bagel. We were quite impressed and will definitely keep this spot on The Map. I want to come back for their sprinkled butter cookies and other delicious looking sweets too!!

We did the trail from the North Wilson Mountain trail and did only the Sedona Overlook. This trail and route totaled us at 7.8 miles and 2375 feet in elevation. It was a beautifully cool, fall day and we saw tons of colorful fall vistas on this trail. There is an option overlook side hike listed as the North Wilson Overlook.

Sedona Overlook is named for obvious reasons.. we sat and had a long lunch and a nice cold beer taking in these beautiful red rock views.

I finally saw a tarantula in the desert!!

After the hike we stopped for lunch at Rotten Johnny’s Pizza, I had the margarita pizza and an Orange Blossom on draft Greg had a meatball sub and Lumberyard Lager. We did enjoy this meal and would definitely come back, probably would share a pizza though because they were pretty big personal pizzas 🍕

This hike completed the Az Hikers FaceBook group’s Summer hiking challenge as well as the Arizona Six-Pack of Summer hiking challenge!! We have also completed 8 of Arizona’s 20 highest peaks As listed on PeakBagger!

The Mr. is up for minor surgery on his foot next week and will be out of commission for a bit so this was our last hike this year. We are looking forward to Completing the last 12 of the highest 20 in 2020!!

Our 2019 totals:


Doe Mesa Sunset Hike !

I decided to break away from the Camping at Cave SPrings post and give Doe Mesa her own post, there were so many awsome photo opps here i didn’t want to skimp on showing off the views we got.

This hike consisted of only about 2 miles and 594 feet in elevation out and back with a side trip across the mesa for some beautiful views of Bell and Cathedral Rocks. This is an easy hike with big rewards! I wouldn’t hike it in hot weather though, there is no shade!

There isn’t a lot to say about this easy hike. It’s a short and uneventful hike with a lot of views. I’d say do this hike at sunset or sunrise for the prettiest light and just enjoy the views.

We will definitely do this hike again. Also, you use the same parking lot Bear Mountain, which was one of the hikes we did in June and you see from this trail.


Camping Cave Springs

We arrived [after a stressful little traffic jam on The highway just before the campgrounds (freaking out we would miss a good spot, LOL)] at 4:10 pm and picked a Great! [stressed for no reason!] spot, got checked in And started setting up at 4:40 and we were done by 5, 1/2 the time as my solo setups ! We did not set up the kitchen or eating area though and ended up eating all our meals in town…. GLAMPING! Lol

The spot we got, # 1 on the F loop, was a great spot, close to the bathrooms, but not too close to be bothered by the noise or traffic. We were on a corner, but we hardly saw any cars drive through and about 50 yards from our spot was the water. I will post a map of the campground and note the best reserved spots at the end of this post.

After camp was set up we decided to head in to Flagstaff For dinner. We were originally heading to Diablo’s Burgers, which we’ve had before and loved… they were packed, it was a bit chilly outside and most their seats are outside so we opted for this tempting little Italian spot in the same plaza and boy was that a great decision!

Dinner at IL Rosso’s, I ordered cheese ravioli w/meatball and garlic bread with Wunderlust Altocumulus White IPS draft. Greg ordered the Italian sausage Stromboli and a Mother Road Kolsch draft. This place has a serious bar and some serious drinks but is a small unassuming spot with a crowd of locals at the bar.

The food was fantastic. I’ve been craving a genuinely delicious Italian meal and this place hot the spot. I’ll be adding this one to The Map !

In the morning we were up around 7:30 and headed into town for a much needed Starbucks and a breakfast snack. Then we hit the Canyon Outfitters where I got some new hiking pants with zip off legs and a new hiking top! We earned $15 off our next visit and they had a great selection and the prices were much better than some of the big box spots. We will definitely be shopping here again.

Then we headed to West Fork Trail where we hiked mostly along the water and went several miles in and further than we’ve gone before. We’ve hiked this train in 4 seasons now, see a few of my other season shots below. We didn’t go as far as we wanted but we got hungry and headed back. I’d love to do the full 11 miles of this hike, it is an overnighter.

I’m collecting shots of West Fork in each season, so far summer and winter. We’ve been there in fall before so I should have one of these but for some reason I don’t yet… I will soon though!

It was an amazingly beautiful day to play in the water!! Observing the water spiders make funny shadow faces as they danced on the clear creek water!

We headed not far up the road from west fork for lunch at The Table, where we ordered personal pizzas, he got a build your own and I got the margarita pizza and added portabella mushrooms. A Mother Road IPA for me and the Mr got the Mother Road Kolsch. The pizza was good, hit the spot and is very convenient to the campgrounds and nearby hiking.

After lunch was wine and relax time. We hit our two favorite wineries in Oak Creek, about a 25 minute drive from the camp ground. Page Springs Cellars has an amazing view of the Canyon, we love to sit on their deck in the shade and enjoy the peaceful view with a glass wine. I had to grab a bottle of their Ice Wine, a delicious sweet desert wine!

After about an hour at Page Springs we headed over to our other favorite winery, Oak Creek Vineyards & Winery, for a flight and a charcuterie board, always amazing here with their selections ! Here I got a bottle of the Chardonnay and Greg chose the Petite Sarah and a bottle of Port.

We didn’t realize how long it had been since we had done a winery run up here in Sedona, both properties have made some amazing improvements ! We highly recommend you check them out!
After the wineries, we headed to town and walked around the shopping center along the north stretch of Hwy 89A. Of course I had to memorialize all of the statutes. 🙂

Tonight we built a fire and enjoyed the night just goofing off and watching for skunks. We didn’t see as many while the fire was going, but after the fire was out and we were settling into our sleeping bags we could hear them scavenging our site, there were several..lol.

In the morning We slept in and had a late start so we did a Starbucks breakfast and then some window shopping as we waited for the lunch hour. Of course I found more sculptures and then we found some some fun head gear.

Our lunch spot choice was a re-visit to a spot we visited way back on our very first trip to Sedona on our 2009 Arizona Road Trip. Javelina Cantina has a great patio with beautiful views of the red rocks and some fine prickly pear margaritas! To be honest though, the food was just O.K. I remembered it being better so it could have been the dish or the day. I won’t take it off The Map, but I keep it mostly for the views and the margaritas.

After lunch we hit the campsite and then walked up to the creek that runs by it, there are beautiful trails along the water, here we played in the water, picked wild berries and enjoyed the cool canyon views.

So… this here is the very last photo taken with my beloved Sony a6000, just before I took this photo, she took a little dunk in the water when i lost my footing and almost fell in where i was already knee deep :(. (my awesome husband has since let me use our Amex points to replace her, he is amazing!)

After this sweet little water hike we headed up to Doe Mesa for a sunset hike before grabbing a late dinner at Olde Sedona Bar & Grill and turning in for the night. Here was very mediocre that felt over priced and underwhelming. We don’t even remember what we ate. :/

We had another fire when we got back to camp, relaxed and soaked up our last night. The skunks were scarce tonight, and we used the tent heater most of the night as tonight it definitely got colder.

We packed up camp early Sunday and headed home after a delicious breakfast at The Coffee Pot. This spot was also a re-visit from our 2009 road trip, they are also a long time staple of Sedona and delicious. Omelettes are their specialty and I love their Chorizo.

We were able to get home around noon and get unpacked and get some rest before heading back to reality on Monday :(.

Cave Springs Camp Site map…. the BEST spots in the reserved section, IMHO are # 1, which will have more traffic, and #11 which is up against some woods and much more private. It is a bit further from bathrooms. Both spots will still be closer to the highway but are right on the water!


We conquered the beast.

Humphries Peak. As Greg put it, She is a Beast. The highest point in the state, 12th highest state point in the country. 11 miles and 3,300 feet of rocks and roots with the last mile to the top being basically a climb. A Beast.

Hiking Humphrey’s Peak during monsoon season means you need to pay attention to the weather, (any time of year really)


On some of the less accessible, areas considered to be “wilderness” where services help us harder to get, they ask you to sign in before heading out and sign back out on your return so they know if someone doesn’t come back to go looking! Kind of surreal and a bit scary every time we sign one of these books.


The feeling of accomplishment signing into the register at the top of a high point is exhilarating.

The decent on this hike was absolutely the hardest one yet. It was absolutely excruciating. I am definitely investing in some different shoes including some gel insoles 🤓 but it wasn’t just the shoes, the trail is so covered in sharp rocks and roots which are torture on the feet!

Surprisingly, the altitude wasn’t really an issue for me, save for only a few short waves of slight nausea, I never had issues with breathing or light headedness.

I feel accomplished and dang, we just conquered the highest peak in Arizona! This completes 8 of the top 20, 3 of the, being in the top 4. As temps start to lower here in Arizona, we will be able to continue to push forward to the finish line. 🤓

Our after hike meal was a repeat spot,


The brat took Mt. Wrightson

Today was just not my best day. Let’s face it, we all have them. I was exhausted, mentally and physically; we had to get up at 3 am to get an early start after an unexpectedly long day on the Verde yesterday. So, sorry for the vulgarity of my photo, it’s just how I felt. But I didn’t want to not hike today, I needed this! {spoiler: it ended, I survived, my blessed loving husband survived and, well, I need to manage my sleep better}.

Today was a very quiet hike. I wasn’t talking, just trying not to take my crappy bratty mood out on my best half who led the way and remained a positive energy despite my sour. I left the earbuds in the case and just enjoyed the sounds of birds and the occasional bushy tailed tree squirrel who has a hilarious little chatter.

It rained during the night here, everything was moist and dank, most of the trail was shaded and these conditions made it ripe from mushrooms, mushrooms and more mushrooms.

Plenty of flowers decorated the path.

Butterflies danced on the thistle with a view of the mountain in the background.

There was a nice little mountain spring which made a beautiful place to take a break and cool off by.

A doe and her fawn were on the path 10 feet in front of us and I managed to catch this very quick Live Photo of them!! Look how tiny that fawn is!!

There were lots of baby lizards out too!

I managed to capture a few butterflies too! I’m pretty sure the yellow one is a new sighting for me!

Well, we made it to the top! There was a passing storm skirting the area and we only caught a few sprinkles with the thunder for sound effects. Our visibility at the top was basically zero with a few breaks in the clouds. We also got to sign he registry book. The weather was cool and breezy and felt amazing, but we couldn’t stay long due to the impending weather, luckily we never saw anything from it.

Saw a few other critters, that grub! And some black-chrome lady bugs or black beetles!?! And some snail eggs perhaps? Along with the mounds of lady bugs which we see at the top of almost every peak.

This hike was the longest distance, highest climb and look us the longest amount of time. 12 miles, 4,024 feet in elevation and it took us 8 hours to complete. We topped out around 9,500 feet in elevation and Mt. Wrightson is number 11 on the 20-20 Peaks challenge, making it number 7 of 20 completed for us!

We stopped for a much needed meal in Tucson, the Silver Saddle Steak House for prime rib! It was a delicious meal, good and quite fast for a steakhouse. I slept all the way home. Lol


The dirty verde!

Today we got to take our first (of what I hope to be many!) run down two different sections of the Verde River! I fell in love with the fun twists and turns we encountered.

We met the group at 8:30 at the first put in point, Lower Tapco. You can pull right up and drop your kayak right by the water and the shuttle only took about 20 minutes. The takeout point for the first run is Tuzigoot Bridge.

By comparison, the Verde is a much narrower river. Today it was running only 57 cfs, this is quite low and the water was very shallow and we rubbed a few rocks along the way but it was no biggie. During the summer his is a typical cfs but as cooler weather approaches and throughout the winter the river flow will increase upwards of 5,000 cfs. The average cfs may be around _______. Last winter there was a flash flood that ran the river at an amazing 25,000 cfs! Here is some video I found on YouTube ———

My friends told us that with every water level you run you get a different experience and that is what makes the river so much fun. I can’t wait to see it for myself!

Even at 57 cfs on this section we did not have to paddle much making for a very relaxing day. Oh! The temps here is Clarkdale were only in the low 90s this morning making it feel like spring coming in from the 115 in the valley!

I was, of course, loving all the wildflowers lining the banks!

Since it was my first run I was more careful with my phone put for pics and it was hard to capture all the little spits of twists and turns of quicker moving water. Next time I will be more prepared with a way to capture some good footage of that!

Here is the dam that was destroyed by the flash floods from the winter I mentioned above. The dam held more of a small lake in this area and I believe you had to go around his section differently before the flood.

The first run took us about 2 hours plus maybe a bit for shuttle. Next up was all headed to Lunch at Bombaz Grill in Cottonwood. I had the enchiladas, which included 3 so I had one beef, cheese and chicken all Christmas style, Greg had the discada tacos and we both had margaritas. If you ever have an opportunity for discada meat, go for it! That stuff was delicious!! The food was delicious! The staff was terribly ill prepared for our group of 9.

After lunch we headed to the put in for run number 2 for the day! Clear Creek to Beasley for this run, which is 2.5-3 hours. This section was running around 87 cfs today.

This section was also full of fun little spits and technical twists and turns. They make this river a lot of fun!

I am not gonna lie… there were spiders on me and in my boat more than I really care for on this run. These are the water crawlers…..

We followed this beautiful heron for down the river for a while! I am sure he got pretty annoyed by our follow-the-leader game 👀😂

We saw this handsome guy, a juvenile hawk, I got too close trying to get a better picture and chased him off 🙁

I love the canopies of trees and all the shade we got was beautiful!

Closing out this day around 5, we did not get home until around 9. It was a beautiful day and I am loving this river!

It is my little dream to run the full river down to Scottsdale, which is about a 4 day/3 night kayak/camping adventure which involves a skill level much higher than my current to navigate with some pretty rough sections and some pretty remote areas.

Here’s a great write-up of a trip that a group took which details the sections and all things involved in making such a trip. And this YouTube video of another group who did the trip. One day I shall….


Hog Wild!

Today I’m talking about my first real piece done in acrylic and it was my first dive into anything artistic outside of photography and computer arts!

This was 2010, get into the chrseason and I decided to paint a few Christmas gifts, one being for my dad who is a die hard Razorback fan. The subject for his gift was an easy and obvious one and I dove in.

I set up a little space on our dining room table with a tabletop easel. I went to staples and printed off the image in the size I wanted it to be on my canvas and then cut it out. I used that as my stencil to pencil the image onto the gessoed canvas.

I mostly certainly did not use properly techniques for he process, but it worked. I applied the black for the background

For my next step I painted the hog in the best red I could find. Noting that I was using student grade acrylics, it took several layers to get coverage and my coverage was never really as even and nice looking as it probably could have been, even with my lack of skill, had I used better quality paints.

The black line details were next….I penciled them in first, then painted.

Lastly the white details on the eye, tusks/teeth and the hoof.

I finished it off with a spray coat of sealant.

If I were to do anything different it would have been a choice of better quality paints. Otherwise I think it turned out pretty great for my first piece and my dad absolutely loves it and keeps it displayed on his fireplace mantel.


Sketchbooks sketchbooks. . .

I have never been one to ask another person what’s their choice then go with just that option. I’m an investigator. It’s in my personality. When I want something a certain way I tend to research and search until I get it the way I want. If they don’t make it, I will! That’s part of what drives my creative side I think.

Anyways, Over the last month I have been pondering and comparing sketchbooks and their various papers. I like different papers for different reasons and so far, I’ve primarily used Moleskine as my daily carry sketchbook and I haven’t really had any complaints.

Moleskine comes in the landscape and portrait formats, both of which I’ve tried. My preference is the portrait orientation though. It also comes with this little paper ruler thing (I never keep or use really, but some may find useful). My preference is the 5×8.25 portrait.

Recently I started working with a lot more water in my pieces and while the Moleskine paper holds up OK, the paper does tend buckle and as you can see, causes the color to puddle. To be fair and if you can try to zoom in and look at each page, I used ALOT of water on the left and considerably less on the right and got much better results.

Overall, it’s still a great sketchbook and holds up well. At 200 gsm,

I also have tried the Speedball Travelogue 5×8.25 portrait Sketchbook in the 5×8.25 portrait size, which is also 200 gsm paper. The paper held up to the water fairly well, but does puddle the pigment still, which is what I’m trying to avoid, but still not too bad and for most of my daily journaling I use the sketchbooks for. I’m thinking this one is better than the Moleskine though. Still on the fence.

Arches! My all time favorite watercolor paper, 300gsm perfection, IMHO. But, alas, they do not make a book! 🙁 They come in pads of various sizes ans well as hot and cold press, both of which I love. I most often choose the cold press for its more textured surface.

I just love the way the pigment settles on this paper better. The paper will still buckle some with heavy water, however, it is really good about not puddling the pigment somehow

So, for now I want to use the Arches, but I want my pages bound. So I grabbed my 365 disc puncher and got some 3/4” discs and got to work. I used mostly cold press, but also added in some hot press sheets in the back. I also included some of my cheaper sheets of cold press i had laying around too.

I added some scrapbook paper dividers and pockets to hold stickers, business cards, etc. I also added my usual photo corners for ‘scratch postcards’ and mt palette sample cards.

I’ll use this as my purse sketchbook for a while. I still don’t really take a position on which is best because they all serve a purpose and will give different results based on how you’re using the, but I hope this was helpful if you’re looking to change books/papers! 🙂


Bill Williams

This one is in the works, stay tuned! also, i left my iphone behind and recorded this hike on a disposable FILM camera ya’ll ! LOL

The following pics were taken by the hubs. I finally dropped the film off on Labor Day (9/2) I finally got around to to dropping my film off at Walgreens LOL, and I got them back 5 days later on 9/7. My pictures start after my tree hugging picture. 🙂

We hiked 8.2 miles climbing 2,300 feet in elevation starting at around 8:30 am and getting off the trail around 1:00. We stopped for breakfast in Prescott Valley at Blue Hills Cafe. I wasn’t feeling very good at all Saturday and woke up he same, breakfast made all the difference and Blue Hills was a very yummy choice.

I ended up with about 53 prints in total. Now they don’t give you your negatives back!! Your images comes on a CD plus whatever prints. The quality of prints are ok. And wow, we sure didn’t have much quality from film did we?! The biggest thing I notice in the final product is how inability to control your focal point, with the disposable you don’t even know what will be in focus! 🤣🤣. And a complete inability to take a macro shot. 🤣🤣

In some of these pictures, I would probably never even post, I can’t even tell what I was trying to take a picture of!! But I decided to include them so you can see for yourself!! Lol

Let’s play a game…. kind of like Where’s Waldo? Only, in the following two pics you are Looking For The Lizard….

After the hike we did our usual lunch, today at Grand Canyon Brewery in Williams. I had the Falls Bacon Burger and their Prickley Pear Wheat and Greg had the Beer Brat with fries and the Sacred Saguaro Lager. I honestly was not wowed by my burger, it was basic. The bacon wasn’t great and maybe I’m not fond of a pretzel bun on a burger. My beer was delicious! I was not completely unhappy with my meal though, just not overly impressed and Greg enjoyed his meal just fine. I’m always pretending to be a food critic 🤣😉


Horses galore!

Today’s run on the Salt River was all about horses, more horses and even more horses!

We got an early start, getting on the river at Water Users around 7 am, I think, with the being is just another cookie cutter beautiful sunshiny day here in the Valley of the Sun, and we rode it out all the way to Granie Reef today! 12.5 miles.

We started seeing horses right off the first major turn, and what I didn’t realize when I was watching this guy below, is that he had a broken leg.

You can see him holding it up and as people pass he is making this face, showing his teeth but not making noise. A few from my group had noticed his leg and pulled off to the side, Deb sent pics and called the Salt River Wild Horse Advocates Group to alert them so they could come out and tend to him as needed. Poor guy :(. His band was behind him on the shore.

I love the little baby peaking out from behind 😍

Such a treat to see these guys from such a perspective …

And thanks to my friend Angie, for once again posting up and catching some great shots of us coming down “pinball alley”. I love these summer days!


July Japanese stationery unboxing!

This months box was full of pads and pens!

There is this cute little mailing pouch! I think it would be great for packaging a small gift, especially a stationary related item.

The Sailor calligraphy pen is nice two and came with three cartridges of ink!

Also included this month, a package of adorable little flake stickers of little shops and some beautiful washi tape with classic writing pens on it.

His letter paper will make some great note papers, I’ll probably bring to work and use as some of my ‘pretty’ note paper. A brush pen and a fine trip, I look forward to testing out in the sketchbook!

This 365 paper is primo! Love love. The surface is smooth and it has this beautiful ombré coloring to it!

As always, looking forward to my next box!!


Lauren takes on the river !

My 16 y/o niece is in from Memphis and she just had to get the river experience!

Taking newbies down the river is so much fun and I think this girl right here tackled it with zero fear !

We met up with the usual gang at the usual spot at about 6:15 am and were on the river by 7 for a beautiful start to our 12.5 mile trek to Granite Reef. Lauren got class A treatment from the gang, who spent the first 20 minutes on the river giving her thorough guidance on how to control her kayak and what to do if she tips. This time made all the difference and she paddled like a pro!

She literally rocked the day. Swinging from rope swings and rocking her boat!

I think seeing the wild horses is one of the greatest treats this river has to offer.

We were lucky enough to have one from our group posted up at the end of “pinball” to capture some great shots of us coming through the roughest water you’ll encounter on this lower section of the Salt River.

No big deal, just another beautiful day on the river. 😉


Mt Lemmon 🍋 Aspen Trail and Marshall’s Gulch

Tackling Mt Lemon was harder than expected but it was a beautiful day.

The Mt. Lemon peak was different. We completed two trails in one hike, one of them completing our 6 hike AZ Hiking Summer Hiking challenge and earning our prize pack. The other adding peak number 5 of 20 for our 20 peak challenge.

The requisite stats: we ticked off 9.2 miles and climbed 2200 feet total on this hike. We started at the Aspen Loop trailhead and made our way up to meet the arm for the up and back portion which took us to the Mt. Lemmon peak (sort of, the actual peak is fenced off by the U of A for research) then we make the return back to the Aspen Loop, Marshall Gulch portion of the trail and looped back to the trailhead.

It got hot. Up to almost 90 degrees today! That made the going a bit tough at times but once we were in shade on the loop trail we cooled off.

The wildflowers were not as plentiful on this hike as on others but there were still a good spattering of them, mostly along the loop.

There were several new species of butterflies, but really more moth like ones, still pretty with unique markings.

There were a lot of variety of fern on this hike and I was very attracted to the orange ones!

There were so many butterflies on the loop part of the trail ! They even fluttered over my head while I humped a fallen tree 😂. We have to have some fun y’all!

These beautiful dragonflies were active around the water on the loop.

There was some fire damage in areas from the Aspen fire in 2003 and burned 84,750 acres. I always do love the textures left behind from the devastation.

This hike was full of sparkling pathways from the quartz in the ground here!

Greg considers Tucson his home. This hike brought him some great memories and views of his old stomping grounds.

Wild raspberries!!! My first! They were a delicious snack on the last leg of the hike as a storm was hot on our heals. I also found this ginormous mushroom!

We made it to the car, got our gear unloaded and hopped in the car just as the first big drops began to fall. The drive back down the mountain with the windows down, cool air and fresh smell of rain made for a very refreshing ride

This blackbird posed for me like a pro.

Our after hike meal landed us randomly at a Mexican spot, Poco and Mom’s. I had the cheese enchiladas, Christmas style, with a pricklie pear margarita and the Mr. had the green chicken chili enchiladas and a mango habanero margarita, this place was fabulous! I will definitely add them to my Arizona map!

The AZ Hikers Summer Hiking challenge was the first challenge we set for ourselves and now the first completed!

We hiked 39.53 miles to complete this challenge and a total of 7,150 feet in elevation gains! (including the Mt. Lemmon portion that was not part of the challenge)


A new pocket pallet

I carry almost an entire art supply closet in my purse. 👀🤣. Ok, not really, but so,Erika’s it feels that way so I’m always looking for a new gadget to control the weight. I had been eyeballing these little tiny paint pallets for a while and this week I finally got myself one!

I admit I was a little giddy unboxing this little guy.

You can choose from a small selection of already filled pallets or go with an empty one and use your own paints. I decided to go with this color collection of Daniel Smith because it already had some of the colors I already have but some I wanted to give a try too. I also ordered a set of empty trays.

The bottom is magnetic so you can re-arrange to your hearts content!

This is the giant pallet I was carrying before!

Here I was playing around with how I wanted to arrange and which colors I wanted to use. I tried to pare down the number of colors I was carrying but I really just ended up filling it up within a few days. 🙂

*update after using for a few weeks, I’m Loving it! It wouldn’t be hard to get some dirty paints if you’re using larger brushes, but mostly I’m using less than an 8 round when out and about. That’s probably mostly a problem for the ocd’ers out there. :). I’m working on a sister post about my full kit. Stay tuned!


Finally . . . The Mr. went kayaking…

I’ve been kayaking for several years with regularity and due to Greg’s health, and a slight disinterest, he’s never gone with me . . .until today! (and he really enjoyed it!)

We went with my usual gang of thugs, meeting at water users at 6:30 am; after shuttling and prep we were on the river around 7:30. The earlier the better in my opinion on this river.

There were storm clouds around us mist of the day and we got a beautiful rainbow out of it.

There are always a few dozen vultures along the river.

The morning horse viewing is the best.

Lots of babies were out today.

Caught a sometimes elusive roadrunner today.

Not a lot to say about these trips, but I love sharing all the photos from my trips. Today was a great time with my Mr on the river with me and I look forward to more days like this !

By the way, we put in at Water Users and paddled 12.5 miles to the final take out for the Salt River, Granite Reef.


Escudilla Mountain, you tried to kill me but I won!

I’ll start with the usual stats before I tell you how I felt about this one. 👀

Located along the Arizona-New Mexico border just outside a little town called Nutrioso, this area was devastated by fire in 2011. On this trail we *clocked* 7.74 miles to the official peak with an elevation gain of 1,554 feet topping at 10,877 feet at the peak. This peak is listed as the 3rd highest in Arizona and is the 4th one we have completed.

*(our “clocking’ does not always exactly match what you find about here trails online. We think it could be an minor inaccuracy with our devices, for the sake of being transparent).

This trail wastes no time with the climb in elevation but has a very even distribution of climbs and level hiking making the section up the fire tower not too difficult, save for the much thinner air with the starting elevation just under 10,000 feet.

The wildflowers were abundant and here was a wide variety of colors with much of the earliest section of the trail being lined generously. Plenty of beautiful butterflies, including a totally new one I hadn’t seen before and a few little lizards.

More giant dandelions, lol. Can you tell I’m a little obsessed with these?

Strangest sighting of the day: a bee flying around with a little leaf stuck to his butt. 🤣 he could have been hanging on to it intentionally but I really don’t know. 🤣🤓

As previously stated, in 2011 this area was devastated by fire and the effects are still very visible today. The main trail itself has been cleared and the deadfall (downed trees) has been cut through all the way up to the Fire tower lookout. Many sections of the trail either is either lined by fields of deadfall or fields of young aspen and pine. These scenes were a sight to see, the deadfall fields could be eerie and solemn while the lush new growth reminds you that new things and grow from total devastation.

This Pano is the best idea of the expanse of devastation that remains years later. Hopefully you can view it in a large format.

Now, here is where the trail becomes it’s most challenging section, once at the fire lookout you are not at its official peak. There is a ridgeline from the fire tower up to the official tallest peak and this section of the trail is NOT cleared and cut from the fire. What exactly this meant was really not as clear as we thought! So, you might wonder?

First let me preface that our ide of where this part of the trail was to pick up was not as informed as it should have been, so on the first little start here we blazed our own and this involved a nightmarish scene of millions of knats swarming us through this section of young aspen. There was screaming involved and maybe a few tears. 🤣🤣

Once we got past the tiny forest of knats, we came to this horrific realization that this part was a lot more than we had mentally prepared for but we pushed forward. It took us 1 hour and 20 minutes to traverse the 1 mile of dead fallen trees and rocks. We used our poles for balance and the fear of impalling ourselves was very real.

Here we are at the cairns with the tin can containing the register for those brave enough to come this far. It was a satisfactyinh feeling to put my name in that book. I should have signed with a coo,ent “y’all some crazy m’fers”!

From the finish line, it was much easier to find the complete path back to the turn off where we SHOULD have turned for this section, we aren’t really sure how we missed he huge milk jug marking it! But we added a cairne to the marker. LOL. This return from the peak on,y took us 50 minutes so it would have made a big difference to void the lair of knats. LOL

Here is a collection of he various burn patterns I noticed during the hike.

The cool temperatures made the day pleasant and on the return we had a little thunderstorm brewing on our heals only catching a few sprinkles along the way. We are looking forward to monsoon season brewing here in the valley and he upcoming hikes will require a bit more prep for these unexpected storms.

Since the trailhead was more remote than the usual we waited until we got back in to Show low to have a nice early prime rib dinner at Cattleman’s Steakhouse and Lounge. The prime ribs were quite delicious for their Friday special and some standard local drafts washed them down.


Mt. Kendrick y’all!

Mount Kendrick is located just north of Flagstaff and is listed #4 on the Top 20 Peaks Challenge, and #4 on the #sixpackofpeaks Challenge! We clocked in 9.37 miles and 2,549 feet in elevation, with top elevation of 10,422 feet.

We found the trail to be well maintained and not very heavily trafficked. There we no facilities at the trail head. No time is wasted, he climb kicks off right off the bat too!

This area was damaged by fire in 2000 and the new growth is starting to take off in many of the areas but still very evident even all these years later.

This is a picture that shows the baby trees starting to fill in the damaged areas.

This trail probably has the strongest showing of wildflowers that I’ve seen so far! These little wild roses have some mean little thorns!

This guy here… let me just tell you that if I ever feel like giving up (in life, not just on the trail) this guy is always there to cheer me on and push me to push myself. How can I not reach the finish line with him behind me cheering me on?! Ok… that’s all the sappy, y’all !

On each hike I find at least one new species of butterfly! They can be quite hard to catch, but I think I manage to capture at least one shot of each one I see 😍

The atmosphere hiking through a previously burned forest trail can be quite eerie. In the below two pics, I actually did not put any filter on those. Not sure why they came out like this but it certainly conveys the mood.

This little cabin sits a short distance from the fire tower and you’ll actually arrive here before you reach the peak. We stopped here to check it out and photographed it on the way back down.

More giant dandelions and some absolutely amazing views.

These pink flowers are actually white when open and seems as though they were open in the morning and when we were making our way back I noticed they were closed up!

We had an amazing lunch on the patio at Diablo Burger in Flagstaff. This meal did not disappoint and I have leaned they are opening a location here in Phoenix and there is one in Tucson also! I had the burger ‘Traveling Wilbury’s with a a really good beer that I should have made note of, but didn’t. That burger was Devine. Greg had the house burger and a Pilsner and also very much enjoyed his meal.

Another top 20 in the books as well as another #sixpackofpeaks !


Mt. Elden

On this beautiful summer Sunday morning, which also happens to be day 1 of our stay-cation, we headed up to Flagstaff to beat the heat and tackle our second mountain on the 20 peaks challenge!

The sun rays on this early morning sky were spectacular!

Mt. Elden is a mountain literally on the edge of downtown Flagstaff, a well maintained trail and very popular with the local regulars so it is a busy trail. We got to the trailhead early so we luckily got a spot in the parking lot and we set out right at about 8 am. (by the way, there are no facilities at this trailhead.

A view of the tower from the start.

We saw a lot of lizards on this trail and of course, tons of beautiful wildflowers and birds.

Lots of beautiful views that overlook the town of Flagstaff.

Some amazing views of the San Francisco peaks and Mount Humphries, which is an upcoming hike!