Saturday, July 27, 2013

Waterfall at White Tank Mountain Regional Park

The recent rains convinced Graham that the waterfall at White Tank Mountain Regional Park must be flowing. I have heard that it's usually dry, so I've only ever made the trip to the West Valley park to mountain bike. We hopped in the car and ventured west, all the way to the Cotton Lane exit on the Interstate 10. From there we made some wrong turns but ended up driving north on Citrus Road and turning west on Olive Avenue, which takes you all the way to the park entrance.

On this Sunday we had to pay the park fee of $6 per car in the visitor center and library building. In there we picked up some desert-plant and salsa-vegetable seeds ($5.50) to plant at home. Then we headed to the Waterfall trailhead to start the 1-mile hike.

A sign indicates the types of flora you'll see on the hike.

The park is home to petroglyphs left behind by the Hohokam people, who apparently abandoned the area in A.D. 1100. The largest concentration of rock art in the park is located along the waterfall trail, according to the park website.


Graham was right, the water was flowing. Hikers making the return trip from the waterfall warned us that we were going to get our shoes wet. It would have been smart to wear water shoes, but we made do with our hiking shoes.

Farther along the trail there are more petroglyphs to admire. A sign explains what the designs are believed to mean.

Water was flowing over the steps near the waterfall. The dark water made it difficult to navigate through because of uneven rocks hidden underneath.

At last, we made it to the waterfall. The small water pool came up to my thighs. It was easier to hold onto the rock wall as I walked over to the mini waterfall for a photo.

On the hike back we stopped to soak in the view of the Valley.

As the end of our hike, we noticed a lizard basking in the sun. Our little friend noticed us immediately, only allowing a few photos before disappearing amid the rocks.

The view west from the trailhead parking lot.
Our spontaneous adventure paid off, with plenty of desert discoveries.

*I am compensated for purchases through affiliate links.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My biggest adventure yet: Yoga Teacher Training

I've been thinking about taking my yoga practice to the next level for a while, but it was difficult to decide to actually pursue teacher training. There are many reasons not to do things, and those are the thoughts that pop into your head when faced with change. But I had to focus on the reasons why I want to do this. I was able to adjust my work schedule for the fall and find a way to pay for the program, so time and money were no longer obstacles. The only thing holding me back was fear of failure. Thanks to encouragement from Graham and good friends I finally summoned the courage to sign up this week. I turned in my application and met with the owner of Sutra Midtown to join their 12-week fall program, which starts Sept. 3. I was ecstatic and terrified simultaneously when I paid my registration fee. I am not sure what will come of this but I am excited to find out.

My blog will focus on my yoga-teacher training for the next few months. Before then I'll try to have as many adventures as possible, including my planned trip to D.C. I hope you'll follow along!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sutra Midtown's Lunar Flow at Clarendon Hotel

** This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, July 21's storms brought refreshing 84-degree weather in Phoenix, creating a perfect night for poolside Lunar Flow yoga class at the Clarendon Hotel. It was taught by Angie, my favorite yoga instructor at Sutra Midtown.

A DJ created the fun soundtrack to our practice. The moon even made an appearance at the end of class.

Photo by Sutra Midtown. I am in the lower center of the photo.

The best part of the lunar flow events is connecting with local yogis. You'll notice some of the same people attend each session, but you'll meet new people, too.

More information:

To sign up for lunar flow events, which are held regularly, visit Sutra's website. Event passes are currently $20 (as of March 2016), with discounts for online registration and members of the studio. Guests of the Clarendon hotel can participate for free! The Clarendon Hotel is located at Fourth and Clarendon avenues, near Seventh Avenue and Indian School Road.

More on Sutra events:

Lunar Flow at the Clarendon

Sutra Midtown's Yoga in the Park with Black Carl

Looking for yoga clothes? Check out these cute pieces!**

Friday, July 19, 2013

Family-friendly Vegas on a budget

Vegas is often seen as a party and gambling hub, but it can also be a family-friendly vacation destination. It's easy to spend big bucks there, but free and low-cost things abound as well. A recent family trip reminded me that you can keep both kids and adults entertained in Sin City.

Things to do ideas:

  • Visit the fountains and Conservatory at Bellagio. The Fountain show was recently voted TripAdvisor's top U.S. attraction. 

  • Circus shows, amusement park and arcade at Circus Circus. The shows start at 11 a.m. daily. My nephews and I played arcade games and I even won a Minion from "Despicable Me" for one of them.
  • Sirens of TI is offered nightly at various times. It gets pretty packed in the viewing area though, and getting out of the crowd took some time. 

  • Ride the New York, New York roller coaster, play games in the arcade or pose in front of Lady Liberty.

  • See the lions at MGM Grand.
  • Check out the inside of the Venetian and perhaps go on a gondola ride.

  • Watch a volcano show at the Mirage.

  • Explore the pyramid at Luxor.

Before the trip I looked on Groupon for deals. Among the specials I found: $20 for two at Ice Bar and $20 for a Paris pool outing for two with two drinks on Sunday-Thursday.

Another way to save: Look through coupon books found pretty much everywhere to find discounts on rides, attractions and shows.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hoover Dam and Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

We checked out the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge and Hoover Dam on the drive home from Las Vegas. 

Hoover Dam has changed a lot since my childhood road trips to Las Vegas with family (There's the addition of the bridge and the security checkpoint and the closure of the old highway that once led to Phoenix). I remember being amused by the time change as the car drove over the dam into Nevada. The dam was as massive and impressive as it has ever been. The bridge was just as remarkable.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dude Fire memorial and Zane Grey cabin in Payson

I recently stopped by the Dude Fire statue outside of the Rim Country Museum and next to the Zane Grey Cabin and Museum in Payson. It honors the six firefighters killed in the Dude Fire of 1990, as well as three people killed in three other wildfires. The next day, another tragedy occurred: 19 firefighters were killed in Yarnell. It's a reminder of the danger wildland firefighters constantly face.

The original Zane Grey cabin was destroyed in the 1990 Dude Fire. A replica was built in Green Valley Park and opened in 2005. The Northern Gila County Historical Society describes Western author Grey's influence on his "beloved Arizona":  "From 1918-1929, Grey regularly spent time in Arizona, owning numerous pieces of land and helping immortalize Rim Country through books such as 'Under the Tonto Rim,' 'Code of the West,' and 'To the Last Man.'"

The Zane Grey cabin is adjacent to a man-made lake at Green Valley Park. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tonto Natural Bridge

At last I made it Tonto Natural Bridge, the largest travertine bridge in the world. The formation stands 183 feet high, measures 150 feet across at its widest point and creates a 400-foot tunnel underneath. It's a stunning geologic wonder in a valley between Pine and Payson, where the temperature the day of my visit was 99 degrees, much cooler than the 108 degrees in the Valley.

The visitor center teaches more about how the bridge was discovered and the area's early inhabitants. The lodge that houses the visitor center is designated a historic landmark. As the story goes, David Gowan came across the span in 1877 as he was being chased by Apaches. He claimed squatter's rights and persuaded his nephew to bring his family over from Scotland and settle there.

View from Viewpoint 4.

Viewpoints 3 and 4 were the first stop, offering side views of the bridge. Hike down to the bottom of the bridge for a more impressive view. We started on the Anna Mae Trail, which is short and leads to the tunnel.

Note that swimming is not allowed under the waterfall, which didn't have much of a water flow. A ranger under the tunnel monitored visitors and warned of falling rocks. The travertine under the bridge was slippery, and the water was not deep enough to swim. Even if it were deep enough, the water apparently contains a high mineral content that would upset your stomach if ingested, the ranger warned. He also said there's crawdads in the water that have no predators and thus are eating the area's frogs and Apache trout. I spotted some black ones about 2 inches long in the water.

From the tunnel we hiked down the creek through Pine Canyon. This required lots of boulder hopping. There was a little cave along the way to check out, too.

The view looking up from the small cave.

Arrows along the trail make it easy to find your way.

At one point Graham and I stopped at a boulder to put more sunscreen on. We pondered whether to turn back but decided to keep hiking in hopes of finding another water hole. About a hundred feet away we stumbled upon the waterfall. The water flow is light here as well but it's fun to cool off in. Beware of slippery rocks though; I found it easiest to climb up barefoot.

We continued the hike through Pine Canyon until we reached the point where the trail begins to climb up again to parking-lot level on the Pine Creek Trail. There's also a shorter, easier way to access the waterfall via the Waterfall Trail from the parking lot.

As we exited the park we came across some javelina that did not appear startled by the presence of people. They also weren't menacing. It was my first time encountering the critters, which I am led to believe can be aggressive, just not in this case.

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park  is about 14 miles from Payson, with an entrance fee of $5 per person for adults. It makes an easy day trip from the Valley. The park grounds and hiking trails are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer.