From high above and on the ground we binged on the beauty surrounding us. The Red Rocks of Arizona are breathtaking! We loved it so much that we stayed two more days. We highly recommend stopping at the Red Rocks Visitor center to get a park pass and information about the area.
We were interesting in trying some Arizona wine, so after the hot air balloon ride, we followed the Verde Valley wine trail in search of some delectable juice. Our first stop was Javalina Leap, a small local winery across from Page Springs hatchery. Our first sips of Arizona wine didn't disappoint. Even though the wine that was served was young, it was worth buying a bottle to add to collection. We stopped down the trail at Page Springs winery. This was more of a corporate winery with higher volume and I must say lower quality than Javelina Leap. We left the wine trail for Jerome, AZ. This was at one time the largest copper mine in the USA. Built on the mountain side this tiered little town only has one road in and out. Wine tasting rooms, restaurants, and art galleries line the streets. The main street loops through the town center. It is an unusual art mecca. We popped into one of the many art galleries,the Raku Gallery, to discover T. Weisel was about to do a glass blowing demonstration. Every space in his small studio was used. Old random stools and chairs we crammed in behind the safety rope. We climbed in and watched this master glass artist create beauty. Glass blowing usually takes at least two people but he was a one man show. For us this was the highlight of Jerome.
After arriving back at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, we sat by the campfire and watched the sun set on Jerome and Cottonwood in the distance.
When we were in Sedona, we had stopped at an ATV rental store to pick up a map of the approved OHV trails. We mapped out our trek through the Mingus Mountains, packed a picnic lunch and plenty of water. We set out for what we thought was going to be a 2-3 hour trail turned into a lot more. After we slowly climbed the first hill, we debated if we should press forward or turn back. We didn't turn back. The winding rocky trail through cattle grazing land was slow going. At times Lyra and I would walk the trail ahead of Mike. We actually could walk faster than he could go in the Jeep. As we were nearing the end of our 6 hour trek through the mountains, we spotted a black bear whom must have spotted us. The bear quickly turned in the opposite direction. We didn't see where it was going and we surely wasn't going to try to find out. Bears are nothing to mess with. We went back to the visitor center to tell the rangers about the bear sighting.
On New Year's Day, we met Moe and JT at the Trail Horse Adventures riding center that is situated on Dead Horse Ranch State Park. We signed up for the high desert trail ride. Moe was our guide and we were the only two people in the group. Our painted horses, Hawaii and Mohawk, took us on an hour and half ride across the Verde River and up the rocky hills of the park.
Mike & Kat
Kat left teaching after 18 years to travel throughout the USA with her husband, Mike, who is an engineer for a Power generation company.