I'm hoping someone here will be able to identify these trees with the yellow color.
And, of course, there are often fascinating cloud formations at this elevation of 2,106 m (6,910 ft).
From Wikipedia: Flagstaff lies near the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, along the western side of the largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest in the continental United States. Flagstaff is located adjacent to Mount Elden, just south of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain range in the state of Arizona.
Lotsa good eye candy. Looks like a great time to visit Flagstaff, where I haven't been in a very long time and which looks pretty as ever.
Fumobici, you may remember the last time I was in Flagstaff I went looking for elk and you made a few comments about hearing them bugle. Not only did I not see an elk, but I didn't even get to hear them call out. Well, this trip I was the one of our group who first spotted a huge bull elk AND I got to hear lots of bugling back forth. Just had to tell you about my excitement!
Thanks, Lizzy. Yes, the mountainous part of Arizona is pretty interesting.
We eventually left the reservation and crossed over onto government owned land.
The road became a bit bumpier, but it still wasn't at its worst.
Eventually we found ourselves in a forest of low growing juniper trees.
And now onto the really primitive part. Most of my photos were shot through the windshield as we drove so I was unable to capture the worst part of the road due to the bumps as we drove across rocks and deep ruts.
Well, you certainly got close to nature. I am unhappy on just about any unpaved road. Oddly enough, when driving myself, I never got in trouble in places like the American Southwest or South Africa, but when being taken places by so-called professional drivers, I have spent hours stuck in mud pits in Kenya and Cambodia.
Oh, we were just beginning to get close to nature. Fortunately, my "guide" knew this area well and was an expert driver. The three little giggling ninjas in the back seat also "helped" with the navigation.
We came up on the first of several primitive-type gates made up of barbed wire and posts. It became my job to open/close each.
Everything started looking the same to me as we continued on.
Way off to the right I saw my first photo-worthy wildlife as I spotted a very large hawk perched at the top of a tree.
The ride was very rough and for much of this part of the trip I had to brace myself to keep from bumping around. As we came into an area with rich red soil I could see there were a lot of gullies where lots of water must have washed down through the area, obliterating most of the vehicle path.
The washed out area in the next photo was at least four feet deep, and got deeper as we continued to drive alongside.
I took several photos of the washed out area as we skirted around the dangerous spots. Little did we realize this would become a tough area for us to drive around on the way back in almost total darkness. At one point, after taking a slightly wrong turn, we found ourselves surrounded on three sides by trenches about eight feet deep. We were so close to driving over the edge there was barely room to get out of the truck. Fortunately, we were able to carefully back up and steer clear of the drop off.
Off to the right there was what looked to be a man made pond filled with water.
The sun was beginning to set as we came to a spot where there had been what I assumed to be a controlled burn in the not too distant past.
I like it when burnt areas grow back in lushly like that. Beautiful country isn't it?
The trick to good low light photos is to, first, stop and get out of the car then use a tripod (even a tiny bendy 4 dollar one like the privateers sell at tourist traps) or at least steady the camera on something solid. If the camera has a night setting this won't hurt either. Also take dozens, many will be horrid anyway seen on a proper monitor.
Makes you want to pitch a tent and light a campfire rather than driving back to the city.
When I saw the burned trees, I knew that it was not a controlled burn, because the point is nearly always to just burn the underbrush, and that just scorches the trees a little bit, whereas these trees were all killed.
Of course, as it turned out, the only successful wildlife photographs I took were those of the large hawk. As we drove along I scanned the road to the front and the right of us looking for elk. At one point my eyes locked with those of the largest elk I could ever have imagined. He was standing very still in a cluster of junipers. He had a huge rack of antlers and looked as big as a large horse. My camera was on and ready, but by the time I could raise it up to snap a photo he was gone.
There were at least three elk in that group, but others were about and we heard the males bugling many times once the sky turned into night. We also saw many huge jackrabbits and tiny field mice crossing the beams of the truck headlights as we worked our way back to the paved road in the dark.
Winters in Flagstaff can be long and brutal, with heavy ice and snow. The question of how to keep roadways safe for driving has been a much debated topic. The Flagstaff area also boasts one of the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forests in the world, so when over 600 trees growing close to the roadway suddenly died in the past few years there was much concern. Once the cause was linked to the recent practice of de-icing roads with sodium (since 2007), the city returned to the use of cinders harvested from volcanic cones like the following. The first photo was taken right in the middle of town.
Even in Europe they have never been able to decide what is the least bad thing to put on icy roads -- salt, chemicals, grit, sand... The last two can clogs the sewers, so they are mostly used on rural highways and autoroutes. Salt is still used in most of the cities, because at least it dissolves and there is enough rainfall so there is not too much of a risk of a saline buildup. As for the chemicals, I have mostly come across them in Germany, and they stink pretty bad. I have no idea whether they pose any danger to the environment.
As for the look of Flagstaff, that is pretty much how I remember it, even though my stopover was extremely short. Lots of high end and quirky places, sort of like the Arizona version of Palm Springs.
Quirky, maybe, but I would disagree with the term "high end." I believe all the places I featured in my downtown photos are inexpensive combination hostel motels and they look to be really dated. While there are a handful of chain motels in another section of town featuring Rodeway, Fairfield Inn-type places, I cannot recall seeing any resorts in the area. The casino on the Navajo Reservation may be fancy, but it's way out of town and is not considered part of Flagstaff. For visitors, Flagstaff is typically a stop-off to somewhere else, mainly the Grand Canyon or Sedona.
Perhaps I am wrong, but just the fact that it is a "tourist town" makes it high end in a way. I know that I paid at least double for accommodations there compared to the other towns where I stopped. And those other towns certainly did not have vegetarian restaurants or fancy looking bars, not to mention places that look like they might be a coffee house with hot tubs.
Photos, mostly from one downtown street (San Francisco), do not make a tourist town, Kerouac, though I'm sure there must be many visitors here in the winter who come up from Phoenix for the skiing. I recently had dinner in one of the pizza places in my photos and the only people I saw were locals, many of whom had just come from a nearby youth meeting.
I would certainly love to know where you stayed when you were here. Too bad you missed the cheap part of town. I thought you had a better nose for the inexpensive places.