July 22, 2014

Local Love: Exploring Payson, Arizona

Exploring Payson, Arizona
Do you remember going back to school each year and eagerly asking your friends about their summer break?  Some teachers even asked you to write about your holiday and share it with the class.  Well, consider this my "how I spent my summer vacation" post.  Payson is about two hours northeast of Phoenix, making it a great destination for locals looking for a quick escape from the summer heat while exploring Arizona's Rim Country.  Payson also happens to be where my mom lives, so it was an easy decision to spend a weekend with her and check out the sites. 
Exploring Payson, Arizona
Exploring Payson, Arizona
Exploring Payson, Arizona
We started our adventure with a stop at Kohl's Ranch, an area made famous by Zane Grey, the writer of dozens of Western novels.  I popped into Kohl's Ranch Lodge to see a collection of these books and the lovely Zane Grey Saloon.  This was a quick but nostalgic stop, reminding me of my grandfather.  He was an avid Grey reader and also loved to explore the areas in Arizona referred to as "Zane Grey Country".   Mom and I then continued our drive up to the Mogollon Rim, an escrapment lying 4,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level.  From here, we enjoyed beautiful views out over the ponderosa pine trees.  The Rim features in many of Grey's novels, as well as one by the other great Western writer Louis L'Amour.  It goes without saying that Emmie loved her trip to the Rim!
Exploring Payson, Arizona
Exploring Payson, Arizona
Exploring Payson, Arizona
The next day, we headed to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park to see the world's largest known natural travertine bridge formation.  In a valley between Payson and Pine, the bridge stands at over 180 feet high, is 150 feet wide, and the tunnel measures in at 400 feet long.  The valley was discovered by a prospector being chased by Apaches.  He hid in a cave inside the bride for three days, then claimed squatter's rights and settled the area.  He even convinced his family from Scotland to make the long journey out to join him here!  Mom and I packed a picnic and set out to see the bridge from the four viewpoints above the formation.  As often happens when you set out on an adventure, things didn't go quite as planned.  With the intention of walking out to Viewpoint 3 to take some photos, I went down the Gowan Trail and ended up at the bottom of the valley!  I won't name names, but someone had accidentally sent me down the wrong path.  But, in the spirit of adventuring, it turned out to be the right path, because I was able to see the bridge up close in all it's natural beauty.   I spent some time alone, thinking about life and God's creation, when it dawned on me.  Now I had to hike out of the valley.  In jeans.  And Converse.  With no water.  That's when it started to pour.  Well, I must have made it out alive if I am sitting here writing this account, right?  I did huff and puff my way up that trail, desperately trying to keep my camera dry under a scarf while not tumbling off that so-called trail.  SO there you have it: my weekend adventure, my summer vacation.  There were also fun times with my mom, lots of squirrels, elk, javelinas and a bat, as well as some of the prettiest sunsets you can imagine.  Did I mention that it was over 30 degrees cooler there than in Phoenix?  I can't wait to visit again!  Road trip, anyone?
Exploring Payson, Arizona
Exploring Payson, Arizona

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