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A Visit to the Rim Country

This week I went up to Pine, Arizona to visit an old friend. That's "old" as in "long-time" not as in "aged". Some of you know Ann. She used to be an admin at HP's Santa Clara Sales office. She later changed jobs and moved to Arizona working remotely (as I did) from the Phoenix Sales office. She went with Agilent in the split. In January, she retired and moved to Pine.

I had never been to Pine or anywhere in the area. I didn't know what to expect except (1) cooler than Phoenix and (2) fewer people than Phoenix. Well, it is beautiful. Below is the view from Ann's "cabin" (really a three-bedroom house but folks up here call them cabins).

This is actually the western edge of the Mogollon Rim — an escarpment defining the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau (thank you, Wikipedia). The elevation varies but is 7500 feet at the Ranger's station where we stopped for information (closed that day) but where I captured the following photo — showing Four Peaks in the distance, some 50 miles away.

We explored the area (new for me but, of course, Ann had explored it before) and encountered incredible views plus a splash of autumn color provided compliments of the Aspen.

Surprisingly, there was a profusion of wildflowers in bloom — some dense stands and others sparely populated — but all beautiful.

And that was before we arrived at Woods Canyon Lake. And the lake itself was beautiful and we enjoyed a hike part-way around — talking to the fishermen along the way. "How's the fishing?" "Not bad." They are a talkative bunch,

I especially enjoyed watching this guy (below) who had a personal flotation boat/inner tube/waders — with fins to propel himself to where they're biting at the moment.

On Wednesday, we visited Montezuma's Castle National Monument. The irony is that the site has no connection with Montezuma (emperor of the Aztecs) and it really isn't a castle. It's more like a five-story condo complex built on the side of a limestone cliff with caves providing the inner living space and adobe bricks providing the outer walls. The lower levels are well above the valley floor and ladders were required to get to the lowest "floor". That also had an obvious advantage of security — rather hard to assault a village when you have to go up ladders to get to the "enemy".
The dwelling was built by the Sinagua Indians around the twelfth century to take advantage of Beaver Creek which runs along this small valley and has water year-round. A second Native American condo was just a few paces from Montezuma's castle — it was larger but unfortunately was consumed by fire. Mysteriously, the entire site was abandoned in the fourteenth century — for unknown reasons.

Sadly, you cannot inspect one of the condos — the structure is too unstable. Best to bring a long lens for your camera. And it is noteworthy that this year marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the designation of this site as a National Monument.

Our next stop was Montezuma's Well. Again, no connection to Montezuma. Not really a well, but a sinkhole with a natural stream supplying a fresh supply of water (a million gallons a day) — it was used by Indians for drinking and to water crops. There are ruins of their dwellings — not as grand as Montezuma's Castle but quite interesting, none the less.

We were intrigued by the maps that showed an area of petroglyphs. We wondered around and finally found a National Forest Service maintenance yard where the receptionist told us where the site was located — but that they were closed mid-week. Oh well, now we have something to explore on my next trip up north.

It was a great two-day trip — perhaps it should have stayed longer. But I now understand why Ann loves this area.

Ah, being retired. Living in the high country. A beautiful view. Good friends. A good book. And a hot cup of coffee. Priceless!


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com