2016 A Year in Review

I kinda don’t want to do this post this year, but it’s become a tradition, so here it is.

January

In January Les and I got really into benchmark hunting and we traveled pretty much all of Historic Route 66 that is still driveable between Flagstaff and Kingman. While we didn’t go inside, we did the solar system and universe walks at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, which was pretty awesome. We also took Ingress related trips to Crown King, AZ (an old mining town in the middle of buttfuck nowhere, with a population of about 7) and Las Vegas.

Highlights include the more interesting things we saw in those places (one of which is slightly NSFW). More January photos here.

The Mother Road
Route 66 near Seligman, along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
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Hermaphroditic snow person in Crown King, we happened upon this when the snow got too deep and we turned the car around. From the car I could only see the boobs and abs, it wasn’t until I got out to take the photo that I noticed the penis.
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This may or may not have scared the crap out of me when it breathed fire and I was staring at my phone trying to find the next mission in a banner in downtown Las Vegas.

February

The shortest month had a lot of adventures this year, plus I got a new camera, so I documented them fairly well. We were all over the state, Wickenburg, Chloride, Grand Canyon, Sedona. We also discovered some things close to home, a charcoal kiln on Walker road, an interesting spillway in Prescott National Forest north of Paulden, and petroglyphs near Lynx Lake.

February was the month Chino Valley made national news when the city council violated the first amendment. Which was a terrible thing, and an embarrassment for the local community, but it did win me an argument with Les that had been going on for 2 months. The dissenter who protested and was ejected from the city council meetings is a rabbi, therefore there are Jews in Chino, and the Chinese restaurant should have been open on Christmas. Les argued it was okay for them to be closed after we got back from the Grand Canyon on Christmas (I had to have a frozen burrito for Christmas dinner) because there wasn’t a Jewish population here.  So it ended up as a positive, I won, and eventually (took a few months) the ACLU and FFRF threatened a lawsuit and forced the council to stop being so loudly Jesusy during taxpayer funded meetings and throwing people out for speaking/petitioning the government for a redress of grievances.

Highlights include lots of bird photos with my new camera. More February photos here. 

Red-Tailed Hawk in Peeples Valley
Red-Tailed Hawk in Peeples Valley
Hairy Woodpecker at the Grand Canyon
Hairy Woodpecker at the Grand Canyon
Great Blue Heron, Bubbling Ponds, Page Springs, AZ
Great Blue Heron, Bubbling Ponds, Page Springs, AZ

March

The main event in March, as per usual, was the trip for Les’s birthday. But also I got a new job, one that, even at the end of the year, I still like. For his birthday trip this year, we headed to Death Valley National Park and camped for 2 nights (because they have flushing toilets there, I have standards). Death Valley was in Super Bloom, but one early windstorm ended most of it before we got there. We still saw some incredible wildflowers, just not in the quantities we were hoping for. Because it was such a long trip, most of the highlights are from it. More March photos here. 

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Sunrise just outside Las Vegas, we got an early start to get to Death Valley.
Reflections at Badwater Basin
Reflections at Badwater Basin, lowest point in North America
Artist's Pallette
Artist’s Pallette, a scenic drive in Death Valley

April

April was Arizona’s 3rd anomaly in a row, this time in Tucson. Les and I did batphone again (it was the last anomaly where batphone was really a needed thing), and it went … well, all’s well that ends well, or so they say, and it ended pretty well. On anomaly day we started out heading east and taking out blockers/baselines near Show Low and ended up driving south along an amazing scenic road that came out in Globe, one of these days I want to go back when we have time to stop and really appreciate it. We ended up in Tucson and finally got to meet some of the people we know so well online (one of them hugged me, it was weird). Later in the month we spent some time in and around the Grand Canyon, including Grandview Lookout Tower (in the wind, I was pretty sure I was going to die) and at the Little Colorado River Gorge.

Highlights include some pretty scenic views. More April photos here.

Salt River Canyon Wilderness
Salt River Canyon Wilderness
View from Grandview Lookout Tower
View of the San Francisco Peaks from Grandview Lookout Tower
Navajo Point
Navajo Point

May

In the height of spring, we did a lot of hiking, and some more benchmark hunting, but stayed mostly fairly close to home. We found benchmarks in Bagdad, Prescott National Forest, more along Historic Route 66, and in the Verde Valley. We spent some time at Burro Creek, and in the Verde Valley at Palatki and Honanki Heritage Sites. We had a very nice hike (minus a fair amount of drunk people and overly nice hippies) along Sycamore Creek. We also spent some more time in what is essentially our back yard, Granite Mountain Wilderness.

It was hard to pick highlights from May, but I’m going with peaceful outdoor scenes. More May photos here.

Spring in Northern Arizona
Spring in Northern Arizona, Prescott National Forest somewhere north of Paulden and south of Ash Fork
Burro Creek
Burro Creek
Sycamore Creek
Sycamore Creek

June

June took me and Les to Utah twice, once to St. George for First Saturday and once later in the month to Salt Lake for Aegis Nova and a visit with the multitudes of Les’s kin (on only about 3 hours sleep and 2 cups of Utah coffee and stone-cold sober, but I didn’t get arrested so it must have gone okay). Coming back from the first Utah trip, we took the scenic backroads home. That took us along the Vermilion Cliffs and through Marble Canyon, we stopped at Page Springs National Monument and Jacob Lake. Before we went back to Utah, we made trips to Oatman and the Grand Canyon.

At the end of June, my favorite news story of ever happened in Prescott. It came at a bad time for jokes because there were wildfires happening (in a very sensitive area of the state where wildfires had previously killed 19 firefighters) and evacuations, but in my head I quoted the entire first 1/3 of a Simpsons episode that ends with Trump-like scapegoating (foreshadowing at it’s finest).

We might have spent a disturbing amount of time in Utah, but the highlights are all from Arizona. More June photos here.

View from Navajo Bridge
View from Navajo Bridge at golden hour
Nap Time
Nap Time in Oatman. This 2-week-old baby didn’t care that there was traffic, he had lost his mother and once he found her again he plopped down where he could see her, which happened to be dead center on Main Street.
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Smoke from nearby wildfires made for an interesting view of the Grand Canyon from Desert View.

July

In July we lost Sian, the first pet Les and I got together, she had been with us for more than 11 years. Also, in standard creepy-as-fuck fashion, Les’s brother decided he was going to follow us across the country again, this time to a small Oregon town that had recently been taken over by radical Christian domestic terrorists, which seems like an odd choice for someone who spent so much time trying to convince me how much he liked the liberal bastions of Seattle and Rochester. That combined with the disturbing national news made it a pretty hard month. Les also changed jobs, and for the first time since he came home from his mission, wasn’t working at a newspaper (considering the small stipend and getting to live in Susan’s basement as working for The Eagle).

We took a couple of trips, saw Walnut Canyon not in the rain, and Elden Pueblo, and spent a weekend in Phoenix.

Highlights are ancient dwellings from the Other Arizona. More July photos here. 

Cliff Dewllings
Cliff Dwellings at Walnut Canyon
Cliff Dwellings Perspective
Cliff Dwellings Perspective
Elden Pueblo
Elden Pueblo in Flagstaff

August

We didn’t have a lot of time or disposable income with Les recently changing jobs (but we have insurance now), so for my birthday I decided I wanted a road trip. It actually became several road trips because we couldn’t go very far. Early in the month we drove around the Verde Valley and the lakes southeast of Flagstaff. Later we did a drive along the Mogollon Rim, which was unbelievably amazing.  And then for the weekend after my birthday we did a big-ass loop around the state, from Prescott to Flagstaff to Show Low. We stopped in Show Low, and a friend who works as a sushi chef invited us to his restaurant where I tried sushi for the first time, and had the best rum cake I’ve ever eaten in my life (I’m trying to duplicate it still, but haven’t got it yet). The next day we left Show Low and followed the Coronado Trail to Morenci and then looped through Phoenix to come back home.

Highlights are all from scenic drives. More August photos here. 

Blue Vista
Blue Vista
View From The Coronado Trail
View From The Coronado Trail
Coronado Trail
Coronado Trail

September

We stayed away from the hellscape that is Phoenix in September, and spent most of our time in the Other Arizona. We finally found the bits and pieces of Historic Route 66 between Ash Fork and Williams and traveled along it, mixed in with some Forest Service roads.  We also visited all the lakes in Kaibab National Forest around Williams, Dogtown, Kaibab, and Cataract Lakes. We hiked the Historic Bell Trail near Sedona, and took some portraits of us, none of which turned out very well.

Highlights are summer in the Other Arizona. More September photos here. 

Sunset at Dogtown Lake
Sunset at Dogtown Lake
Twilight Sky
Twilight Sky just south of Ash Fork
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One of our attempts at an Other Arizona portrait of us, taken near Scholz Lake in Kaibab National Forest south of Parks. I had issues with getting in front of the camera in time and the light coming though the trees.

October

October was full of adventures, Les and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary by going back to the same park we ended up at on our honeymoon, Chaco Canyon National Historic Park in New Mexico. On the way back we of course took the scenic route and saw some amazing things including the north side of Canyon de Chelly National Monument, one of my favorite places in the entire world. Then later in the month we went back to Petrified Forest National Park. Between trips to national parks, we did some local things too, discovering historic bridges, partying with friends in Phoenix, bird watching at Page Springs, and exploring at Mingus Mountain.

Highlights are from the non national parks, because I always end up writing about the parks and those photos will likely be used for other posts (also I took so many it’s hard to choose). More October photos here. 

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Great Blue Heron at Page Springs
Autumn in Northern Arizona
Autumn in Northern Arizona
Reflections in the Verde River
Reflections in the Verde River from Perkinsville Bridge

November

November was a month of bad decisions, by us and the nation. The nation’s poor decisions have gotten plenty of press, but ours involved attempting to get away from election talk by going to Sedona. Not only was Sedona full of election talk, often by foreign tourists to boot, it was also fucking Sedona, I don’t know what I was thinking. Over the holiday weekend we took trips to Yuma (trailer parks and Jesus), Granite Basin (loud hikers and quiet birdies), and did a loop of the Four Corners area (interesting geology).

Highlights are from those trips. More November photos here. 

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Oak Creek at Grasshopper Point, the closest thing we found to a peaceful place in Sedona, would have been an actual peaceful place if not for the drunk idiots doing cannonballs just behind us.
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Birdie with Lunch at Williamson Valley Trailhead on Black Friday
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Monument Valley, I photobombed several people taking selfies/jump photos to get this shot, but I waited for more than 40 goddamn minutes for them to finish and they didn’t so now I’m sure the back of my head and/or me giving them dirty looks are on their Facebook timelines now.

December

After all the travelling over Thanksgiving, we stayed home a bit at the beginning of December, but leading up to more long weekends we got out some. We took a nice drive from Flagstaff to Valle along Highway 180. And we made a tradition out of the Grand Canyon for Christmas. There was snow again this year, but unlike last year, it all fell before we got there. It was cold and windy, but clear. We went a little way down Bright Angel Trail, just past the first tunnel. There was also a beautiful sunset on the drive home. Then on New Year’s Eve, we took a drive up north of Flagstaff, through Second Mesa and back, gorgeous sky.

I’m still working on December photos, so the highlights are from the snow storm on Christmas Eve and Christmas at the Grand Canyon. More December photos here (soon). 

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The beginnings of the Christmas Eve snowstorm, from Historic Walnut Creek Bridge in Prescott National Forest.
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First tunnel on Bright Angel Trail
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Christmas sunset south of Valle

So there it is, 2016 in 36 photos and fewer than 2,500 words. Up next is a 2017 photo challenge.

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