Thursday, May 8, 2014

Arizona vacation with Mom: Tuzigoot National Monument & Jerome

Apr 7 2013
I’m an early riser, especially after a fairly restless night worrying about my damaged mother, and being an imaginative person, there were all sorts of scenario’s, most not good, that went through my head as I waited for her call this morning!
But, after an uncomfortable hour or so she called and sounded pretty chipper.  Too damn chipper! She at least could have had a little hitch in her voice to validate all my worrying!!! But that's karma for you. I'm sure I put her through far worse one or two times - OK, maybe 5 or 6; or dozens.
Truth is, she was doing pretty dang good for an old lady that bounced off the concrete just last night, but chipper or not, this was not going to be a day for much walking as we nursed her knee so we headed on up SR260 to the Tuzigoot National Monument on the north side of the conjoined towns of Cottonwood/Clarkdale.
The pueblo perched above the valley on a limestone ridge
This was yet another community (The monument not the twin towns!) that existed long before Europeans came on the scene, but unlike Montezuma Castle, this was more like a pueblo; a built up town of rooms stacked on top of one another two or three stories high sitting on a limestone ridge above the Verde River.
After haunting the interpretive center for a while we strolled the easy 1/3 mile loop out to and around the ruins, taking in the view of the river and the flats that surround the community.
The view from up there
Now days you can see roads and houses all around and over the last century at least one of the abundant mines in the area used the flats around the ruins as a settling pond (Which has now been rehabilitated and turned into Pecks lake.) and to the north, mostly hidden by a ridge, lurks the Tapco power plant; but if you block that stuff out and cast your mind back in time you can envision standing on the ridge looking out on an area alive with planted fields and the comings and goings of the inhabitants  of Tuzigoot with the river winding past in the background.
A nice cozy home made from 100% recyclable local materials
I'll bet this place would get a LEED Platinum Certification 
Inside some of the rooms (Mom stayed down on the paved path while I climbed.) you can almost smell the smoke from the fire and hear the echo's of the original inhabitants as they chat together and settle in for the night.
And what a great first sight upon awakening
in the growing glow of dawn!
With Mom ensconced in the van with a book I hiked a short trail that runs from the visitor center down to an overlook on the Tavasci marsh. From there I could see people (Remember it’s Sunday and there were a lot of people out and about.) on the trail system of the Dead Horse State Park enjoying the same marsh from the other side of the river.
Dead Horse has a pretty interesting looking trail system winding around the valley and up to the mesa that I will keep in mind for a future trip.
There were lots of wildflowers along the way so the hike, short as it was, took me a while since I was constantly stopping for 'just one more' photo.
OK, I had a whole mess of wildflower photos to choose from,
though I'm enough of a realist to know there are way more than
enough to bore anyone else to tears, but I still couldn't help
myself. So, exercising remarkable restraint, I randomly
chose a few to stick in here anyway.
After lunch in the parking lot of a grocery store where we picked up the fixings, we headed up SR89A, and I do mean up, to the mountainside town of Jerome. There is nothing flat about this town which sits on the 30 degree slopes of Cleopatra hill and streets that back up to each other horizontally are separated vertically by as much as a 2 story house, including roof!
This is a small town but has plenty of gallery’s, tourist shops and eateries, and, on this day, more cars in town than parking spots, so we drove on through and headed, still up, towards the pass above town.
At one point along the road a large pull-over is tucked into the bend of a double switchback and the view from here is pretty spectacular with glimpses all the way down into the Verde Valley as well as closer views of the slopes towering above. To the north, if you look for it, you can see the remains of what looks to be a wooden aqueduct that I presume used to carry water to the massive copper mine below Jerome.
We started in the valley at about 3700 feet and, climbing some very pretty miles, (and passing up a few interesting looking trails) made it up to about 6500 feet before the road started back down towards Prescott. As we continued in a generally southerly direction the land flattened out and eventually we crossed the valley to join up with SR89 which took us right into downtown Prescott.
We toured town and the square from behind the windshield before climbing up SR69 past the adjacent and well-populated Prescott Valley (Big box stores, all the restaurants you can think of and traffic light after traffic light.)
After using SR169 to cut across a low pass to I17 and back up to Camp Verde, we killed off the rest of the afternoon sitting under a tree in my campsite reading. Mom got the chair and I made do with the yoga mat I carry.  I guess she pulled rank on me!
It was a little melancholy this afternoon because we head back to Phoenix tomorrow and Mom gets on a plane for home the next day.


No comments:

Post a Comment