Prescott, AZ – this is one of those places that will certainly go on my list of future places to call home – or at minimum places I want to go back to soon.
At the urging of friends Pat and Linda who live in Prescott I changed my plans and left Cottonwood a few days early to spend those days in Prescott. Pat and I met a number of years ago on one of my trips to Sedona where he was living at the time. Thanks to social media we have remained friends and usually make a point of getting together whenever I am in the area. It was nice to have a chance to meet his girlfriend Linda and spend time with both of them enjoying the area.
Hands down, my favorite part of the area is Watson Lake located in the Granite Dells, a geological feature north of Prescott, the Dells consist of exposed bedrock and large boulders of granite that have eroded into an unusual lumpy, rippled appearance.
The Precambrian Dells’ granite has been dated at 1.4 billion years old. Its pluton was intruded at a depth of around one or two miles. These cover rocks have since been eroded away. Weathering along joints produced the rounded boulders and other unusual rock formations that characterize the Granite Dells. This process is called spheroidal weathering, and is common in granitic terrains. The Dells’ granite has unusually high uranium content, and thus homes built over the granite should be checked for radon leaking from the granite.
Watson Lake is one of two reservoirs at the Granite Dells that was formed in the early 1900s when the Chino Valley Irrigation District built a dam on Granite Creek. The City of Prescott bought the reservoir and surrounding land in 1997 to preserve it as recreational land.
“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.” – John Burroughs
There are many small reservoirs in the hills of central Arizona, but Watson Lake is perhaps the most unusual and photogenic, as most of the shoreline and the surroundings are formed of huge, rounded granite boulders, some of which are semi-submerged forming tiny islands or narrow promontories.
Contrasting with the blue-grey waters and the brownish rocks are the emerald green leaves of aspen trees, found scattered amongst the boulders. These rock formations are similar in shape, color and form to the extensive outcrops in Joshua Tree National Park and many other places in the Southwest. But the very best thing about Watson Lake is that creates a beautiful location for paddling, hiking and biking.
By far, getting my stand up paddleboard out on the lake for those calm mornings was my favorite activity. I was able to get out several mornings including Easter morning when Cory and I were one of the first at the ramp when the lake opened at 7:00 to take advantage of the day before the crowds arrived for the holiday. The best paddle was a trip with Pat and Linda where we explored the lakes many nooks by paddle board and kayaks. Pat is an excellent videographer and created a cool video of our day on the water. As it is my goal to delve into using videos in my blog someday this gave me the perfect opportunity to make someday today! As videos are large files inserting as a link makes it easier when I am dealing with slow internet access so check out the video by clicking on the link here:
“Water is to me, I confess, a phenomenon which continually awakens new feelings of wonder as often as I view it.” – Michael Faraday
The Mile-High Trail System around Prescott contains approximately 70+ miles of trails including Rails-to-Trails projects along the former Santa Fe Railroad, the Prescott Circle Trail System, and the Greenways Trails System. Rails to trails projects throughout the country have created many great recreational opportunities.
The Rails-to-trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization whose mission is: “creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people” promotes and helps fund many of these great projects. They have expanded their work to include promotion of rails-with-trails—trails alongside active rail lines—to allow important and historic rails to remain intact as well as provide for the recreational opportunities.
So it was time to get out the mountain bike and hit one of these trails. Pat and I enjoyed an afternoon ride on the Peavine National Recreation Trail which follows the former railbed of the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railway through the Granite Dells. This winding portion of the railroad was known as the “Peavine” because its twisting curves resembled that of a pea vine. Connecting to the Iron King Trail, we followed the route of the old Prescott & Eastern Railroad through the eastern Granite Dells and out onto the flat plain where we ran across a herd of antelope at the edge of a newly constructed housing development.
There are many opportunities for hiking in the area including Goldwater Lake where we hiked and enjoyed a higher elevation experience above the city. On my last full day in Prescott, Pat and I decided to make the 6 mile hike around Watson Lake. It was a weekday and we ran across very few other trail users as we enjoyed the great days weather. The trail roams through the rocky Dells, travels below the dam and back up to the Peavine Trail which circles around the back of the lake.
I had decided to leave Cory behind for the day as the rocky footing of the Dells would have been quite hard on his paws for this long of a hike. I was very glad that I had left him behind as I had my most heart pounding hiking experience when I nearly stepped on a big rattlesnake that was sunning himself across the trail. As I was enjoying the scenery and not looking down at the trail I heard before I saw him and we both jumped backwards (him into a coil next to the trail). I then slowly took a few steps back and worked to lower my rapid heart rate while Pat excitedly grabbed his camera for the perfect shots. It was certainly an exciting hike and I was quite jumpy after that encounter. All in all a great and exciting day on the trail.
Quite frequently it seems I run across a place in my travels that fits in perfectly with my likes and lifestyle and Prescott was one of those locations. When I meet folks on the road one of the first questions I get asked is “where are you from?” or the much more interestingly-phrased “where’s home for you?” I believe we ask this because we recognize that the answer tells us something important about the person. My answer for “where are you from?” is usually California (and more specifically either Sacramento or Mariposa), but “where’s home for you?” is a bit more difficult to answer.
If home is where the heart is, then by its most literal definition, my home is wherever I am. Maybe I’ve always been a bit liberal in my use of the word. If I’m going to visit my parents in Mariposa, I’m going home and if I’m returning to California, I’m also going home. The truth is, the location of your heart, as well as the rest of your body, does affect who you are, and how you answer the question “where is home?” will affect how people react to you when they meet you.
I have been experimenting with different answers to these types of questions and seem to have settled with calling myself a “Vagabond” (homeless had way too many negative connotations).
By definition, Vagabond is:
- wandering from place to place without any settled home; nomadic.
- leading an unsettled or carefree life.
Every once in a while when I run across a place that I feel could be a future “home”, it makes me wonder where I may end up. I recently took an online quiz that asked questions based on a number of factors to determine your “perfect home” including questions about:
- Big or small town
- Educational opportunities
- Community and politics
- Faith-based preferences
- Taxes and mortgage calculations
My answers to the questions produced the following result:
“You are a type of a person who will adopt everywhere. Your motto is “Home is where my heart is” so you can take your home wherever you want. No matter if there is cold, windy or extremely hot, you will always find a good side of the place and situation. With your personality you would be happy even in Amish Village.”
Perfect I thought – it fits in exactly with my nomadic lifestyle!