{ camping at the creek }

alOha everyone ; ) 

   We wanted to share some pictures from a little getaway we recently embarked on. When we originally  moved to Flagstaff, we were knee deep in the holiday rush and barely slept let alone had time to explore the wonders of our new town. Things have stayed pretty busy ... I know, I know - that's a good problem to have. We hear it all the time, but our wanderlust souls sing in our sleep for hot springs, bumpy dirt roads and waterfalls. So ... with the help of my hermit brother, the math teacher, and his trusty dog, Emma Jean, we found just that : )  

Paul forgot his sun glasses, so he had to wear Juwels' dinner-plate-sized movie star glasses. . . 

   About an hour or so out of the green, pine covered mountains and into the desert, we pulled of the highway and and traversed the dead and dusty road about thirty miles towards Fossil Creek and the Verde River. From the pack seat, Juwels wondered aloud if there was actually water somewhere in this gravel pit. "It's amazing," Paul insisted. "But it's a ways down the road." We caught a few odd looks from men on horseback, hunters and trappers .. but with Paul in his GaGa glasses and my long hair, I'm sure we did look a little out of place.

   After a long ride down into the canyon, we reached our first destination: Fossil Creek with it's mineral rich water. How's that color ?!?

   We strolled a short hike next to the creek, and kept losing Juwels as she put everything of beauty under the microscope.

Cat tail seeds : ) 

Loved the crunch of the leaves under our feet. 

And then we found it ; ) This is one of two waterfalls on Fossil Creek. The other one is straight out of Hawaii. We actually just took the long hike to that spot the other day - we'll post some pics of that soon.  

   We got a late start out of Flag, and by the time we reached the falls, the sun was just creeping behind the mountain. I'm a huge baby about cold water, but when I found a couple old tree trunks, I thought I'd found a cheat from having to take the plunge ...

easy ... easy ... 

   Juwels eventually swam out and swamped my boat, so I had to swim after all, and as always, I found myself calling out to Paul and Emma, "It's not bad at all. Refreshing, actually .."

Emma does not like to swim - this is her attempt to blend into the rocks like a chameleon, so we wouldn't toss her in with us. 

Top view - it was painful to keep from jumping from the top, but the water seemed borderline shallow.

Hershey Kiss Cave : ) 

Juwels found this little buddy stashed in a tiny cave. He looks lost .. 

   When these cat tail pods are ready to spread their seed, just a light touch will cause an eruption of fuzzy floating seeds. Paul thought it would be a good idea to break one off and smack me across the back with a loaded pod - POP - and the fight was on. I grenade tossed one that exploded on his backpack. He javelined one at Juwels who was innocently trying to photograph the floating seeds, and on it went till we finally called truce. Poor emma jean was coughing a few up by the time we were done.

Step one.




These wormy pollen strands were everywhere. 

This is Horehound - a medicinal plant that has a bitter taste but is used to make hard lozenges that aid in digestion, and sooth sore throats. It also makes a powerful tea. It has a few lookalikes, but this plant is the only one with a square stem. Pretty cool - we stocked up : )  

   We moved farther down the road in search of the Verde River. Much of the road boarders large drops, and Juwels spotted a boat still attached to a trailer in the ravine and then this totaled car.

The top had been cut off with the Jaws of Life. Eash ... 

Paul took to shooting more holes in it. 
The riffle echoed through the valley with a delayed strobing effect. 

   We reached camp just in time to make dinner on the kerosine stove and get ready for our dark hike through the dessert. There's an abandoned resort on the river, and everything but the walkways have been flooded out or knocked down. One of the main draws to this place in the middle of nowhere was the natural hot springs which they harnessed and routed into a couple crude hot tubs.

   Luckily the city didn't destroy those along with the remaining rooms (I guess the empty rooms turned into opium dens for lost seekers and after one too many overdosed bodies were pulled out of there, they came in with the dynamite and reduced it to rubble.)  

The trees where waving hello the next morning : ) 

   We first experienced the hot springs at night, but went back early the next morning for another soak and to take some pictures under the sun.

   Now this is a big part of what makes the Verde River green ... this odd moss swaying in the water. It's beautiful, but to get to the hot pools you first need to forge the freezing river on foot. Paul slung Emma Jean over his shoulders like a boa, and I rolled my pants up as high as they would go .. but it wouldn't turn out to be high enough.

   Juwels freaked a little as this angel-hair moss strung between her toes. It was bizarre ... and freezing, so before long none of us could feel our toes anyway. Looking up at the stars and hearing the yelps of, "What was that !! Something just swam past me !" I thought - we live for nights like these - for moments like these. We immediately started talking about how we can't wait to have our next guest and bring them along on the adventure ; )

Next time we come out here - we're bringing the hammocks and having a picnic at this spot for sure ; ) 

   This is the last path to the old resort grounds. Imagine people caring suit cases and trunks across these rocks in the 20's. It's so quaint and rugged. Love it !

   There are two tubs on the deck here. One is in this little room with no door or roof. A collaborative picture book has been painted on the walls inside and surely changes with the seasons. When we crossed the river, we heard some loud voices coming from the area where the springs are.

   "I hope there's not too many people," Juwels said.

   "Last time I came, I was the only one there," Paul said. "But that was during the day..."

   "I hope nobody's smoking cigarettes. This is a medicinal place of health," Juwels went on to say, already roosting on this spot where she's never been before.

   I chuckled - she actually called people out at our old hot springs back in California for leaving beer cans or cigarette butts or blasting music. It's a free world, but when you're sitting across from a guy in a small hot spring, and he's just cracked his 5th beer and still hasn't gotten out to pee .. you start assuming the worst.

   This smaller pool in the room is by far hotter than the one outside. I could barely stay in it for more than 20 minutes or so. As we descended the stairs that night, we saw hordes of people, flaming candles on the rocks and old pillar stumps, and a large dog ran up to my feet, snarling and barking. 

   "Don't worry ... he's friendly. Just saying hello," a lanky naked guy said, stumbling out of the tub with a partly crushed can of beer in his hand. 

   Emma Jean, tucked her tail and scooted behind Paul. 

   It was a madhouse - people everywhere. Heads bobbing in the water, more dogs running around and smelling each others unmentionables, and the sound of chanting accompanied by the didgeridoo resonated from inside the tiny room at the far end of the deck. 

   Everyone was smoking. Everyone was drinking, and talking about guns and DUI's and four wheel drive vehicles. 

   "Welp .." I said, taking off my shirt and wrenching off my boots. "Full house." 

   Juwels was a really good sport about it, and I think everyone had a good time ... besides Emma, who's used to staying indoors most of the week and communicating with no more that 3 or 4 people .. ever. She whimpered and groaned, and all the drunk girls there tried to console her for a while but soon lost interest. She did seem to cool down a little as the time passed, and I even remember seeing her at the other end of the pool, lying on the pool deck and licking some strange girl's toes ... ???

   This outter pool had about twenty people in it when we showed up. Most times hot springs are pretty shallow, but this one was super deep. There where a few little seats and foot holes on the edge, but negotiating your body into one of those coveted spots was only a thing that you could win with time .. move your feet, lose your seat.

   Paul and I were in the pool before Juwels, and I forgot to tell her how deep it was. I had inched in from the edge, and when I didn't find the bottom soon enough, I spun around and just clung to the edge. Juwels didn't use this tact, rather, she walked over to the crowed Mardi Gras pool, and just kind of hopped in with both feet. I saw her disappear beneath the water in a little swell, and thought to myself, hmmm ... don't think she intended to do that. She popped back up coughing a little with her wet hair slicked back. "Well .. I didn't want to get my hair wet but ..."

   "Fuck it," some girl slurred beside her. "go big or go home!"

    Somebody offered me a beer, but I declined, "No thanks .. they interfere with my schizophrenia medicine," I said.

   "Oh, that's cool," he said ... I don't think he realized I was joking. It probably got me some street credit anyway ..

   The next morning was all ours though .. well, besides some older guy in the room who kept moaning and drinking out of a flask. He had the most unusual voice, and in the echo of the room, he kind of sounded like one of the characters from Where the Wild Things A. He was nice enough though, and he told us that in the original guest book from this old resort AL Capone had booked the place out on two occasions. Interesting history in these old places ..

   Another cool thing about these two pools: since they were man made, they both had large drains on the outside wall closest to the river. If you felt around with your feet in the right spot, you could actually find the plug and empty the pool in a matter of minutes. And the hot water rushed back in so quickly that after you drained it out and gave the walls a little scrub down (there was a scrub brush there already) fresh hot water would fill back up right away.  

Little Jean Jeanie looks much more relaxed here ... maybe she was just tired from last night's 4 mile hike.

   After laying out in the sun for a while and snacking on cashews and chocolate, we trekked back through the troll hair river, packed up camp and bumped along the dirt roads up the hill. 

   In the Spring, there's a sweet couple who bring goat cheese and fudge up to the farmer's market in Flagstaff. Paul took us by their farm on the way home. Juwels oOOooed and AwWwed at their little faces. I'm slightly scared of goats with their devil eyes and kicking hooves, but damn do they know how to produce some delicious milk : )   

I warmed up and pet this little bugger. .. 

Juwels thinks this guy looks very wise - like Confucius, but I named him Cletus. 
Eye of the beholder, I guess : ) 

These two where bucking away the whole time. Maybe it was over that flashy red collar ... 

   After the goat pens, we walked over to the general store where they sell fudge, soap, cheese, and other curiosities, but there was nobody there. The door was open, and there was a plater of sample fudge near the cash register (thank you), but nobody home.

They mean business ; ) 
Sign Reads: 
"NOTICE: Unattended children will be fed excessive amounts of fudge and sent home with two baby goats!!!" 

Juwels popped her camera through the back door to see where the magic happens ; ) 

   We eventually walked up to the cabin on the property, and asked the lady of the house if we could possibly buy any of their delicious cheese. She informed us that the goats were all pregnant and that they wouldn't be milking for another month or so. So instead, we bought a bar of goat's milk soap... and off we went. 

A ways down the road, a small wooden sign reading "fresh eggs" caused the instinctive reaction to pull a quick U-turn and roll onto this property.  

    This chicken coop looks like it's going to get up and walk away. 
Juwels ran all over the property to meet the cast and crew. 

The proud cock. How's that left leg up? To me, he looks like a pitcher winding up a fast ball : ) 

... and his faithful ladies, hiding out beneath a pine tree. 
Healthy, happy, free range chickens : ) 

And this little doe-eyed buckeroo tried to put the moves on my lady. . . 

Hello there ... 

Are you a Virgo ?? 

   "Oh, oh !!! Pull over," Juwels called out just 50 feet from the chicken farm.

   "Come on..." Paul groaned from the back seat. He thought he could catch a little shut-eye by having me drive, but my inquisitive A.D.D. really kicks in on road trips. I can't resist .. just can't.

    "I've got tests to grade at home!!"

   And just like magic, after leaving the pool deck beside the river, we were welcomed back to our mountain town with a beautiful snowfall. With Sigur Ros playing over the speakers and Paul and Emma snuggled up and dreaming in the back seat, we bid farewell to another pleasant memory of simple pleasure in nature.

Nighty, night, love, 



  1. You guys find the coolest places!

  2. wow i really needed this today thank you! reminded me of good times i had when i lived in new mexico. so missing the southwest. you take phenomenal photographs. love the series of cactus leaf decay. gorgeous river, too. thank you so much. more, please.

  3. Really beautiful place and great pics!

  4. I love reading your posts! It has made a bad day a little bit better. If I could make one suggestion it would be to make the posts a little shorter but MORE of them :)

    Thanks for sharing your adventures

  5. Thanks for all your comments - so glad to hear that our blogs can actually bee an escape for some of you : ) I think they're a bit of an escape for us, too, as we sneak away from our pollen arts to go through pictures and tell our stories ...

    But for now, back to the honey pot - Mother's Day is on the horizon, so these bees best get to buzzn' ; )



  6. I'm not sure why, but this made me cry... in a good way.

  7. made my day too. amazing post

  8. The beauty is breathtaking. I want so badly for you guys to start booking trips for us fans! OMG I just wanted to jump into these photos