Amanda, Rocher and I headed up to Flagstaff this past Labor Day to escape the Phoenix heat. It took us about 4.5 hours to get there, almost 2 hours longer than normal as the rest of city decided to come with us. But it was definitely worth the effort.
We stopped in at the Arboretum at Flagstaff on Saturday to take in the wildflowers and fresh air. It is one of the highest elevation arboretums in the world, with a short but spectacular growing season. The sunflower maze was my favorite of the gardens this time around.
High Country Raptors was also there to exhibit rehabilitated birds of prey, including a feisty kestrel, barn owl, great-horned owl, Harris hawk, and crested caracara. Amanda and the caracara had a bit of a staring contest, luckily no one was hurt. The birds were beautiful and it was a real treat to observe them so close.
The next day we headed out about 30 miles NW of Flag to the Red Mountain Geologic Area, the remnants of a volcano. Shane, Ryan and Jade (a beautiful Boxer/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix) came along for the hike. While I was taking photos, Jade wanted to follow me up the cinder slopes. She happily trotted ahead of us most of the time, making sure the trail was clear. The hoodoos were fun to explore although a bit treacherous to climb on. You could easily pass two or three hours here just checking things out.