We jumped in the Explorer and left the Verde Valley Thousand Trails campground yesterday morning and drove about 50 miles to Prescott, which is my favorite town in the state of Arizona. Since the campground is at about 3,300 feet elevation, and Prescott is 2,000 feet higher, the difference in temperature was noticeably cooler. At least fifteen degrees, which was very nice.
What wasn’t nice was the air quality. I wrote in Monday’s blog that there are several major wildfires burning in Arizona, and the biggest is the Gladiator Fire near Crown King, which is almost directly south of Prescott. The fire has consumed over 2,000 acres and is growing rapidly, helped by very high temperatures and strong wind. We could see the smoke from Verde Valley, and the closer we got to Prescott, the thicker it got.
We saw helicopters carrying buckets of water from nearby lakes to dump on the blaze. I had a friend who flew fire choppers for a while, and it is dangerous work. Crews on the ground have it even worse, battling not only the fire and extreme temperatures, but also incredibly rough terrain and rattlesnakes. I don’t envy those heroes their job.
We stopped to visit with Tim and Crystal Ryerson from Inflatable Boats 4 Less at their beautiful home on the east side of Prescott. We have known Tim and Crystal for years, but the only time we cross paths has been at rallies, where we are always too busy to do more than just say a quick hello. It was great to have some time to spend with them. Tim and Crystal are friendly, wonderful people, and enthusiastic supporters of our Gypsy Journal rallies, donating Sea Eagle kayaks as door prizes at our last Eastern and Western rallies. Thanks for your hospitality Tim and Crystal!
We had some business to take care of when we left Tim and Crystal, and then headed downtown, where the handsome Yavapai County Courthouse dominates Courthouse Square. I love the Square, where on any given day you can find families picnicking, young lovers sitting on the grass holding hands, kids hanging out in the gazebo, artists, craftsmen, and retirees, all having a good time
Besides all of the wildfires raging across the state, a week or so ago a fire destroyed several shops along Prescott’s historic Whiskey Row. But the flames were extinguished before the entire block was destroyed, and most of the businesses are still open, with shoppers busy spending their money all along the Row.
All of the smoke in the air made our eyes irritable, and I can’t imagine what it must be like for the folks who have to breathe that stuff in day after day. Besides the Gladiator Fire, the Sunflower Fire south of Payson is also putting out a lot of smoke and has grown to over 4,600 acres.
In this picture, you can see two distinct clouds of smoke, with a little bit of blue sky in between. The smoke in the foreground is from the Gladiator Fire, and the fainter smoke in the distance is from the Sunflower Fire. And all of it is blowing north, right into the Verde Valley.
But it did make for a pretty sunset!
Between very high temperatures, low voltage and water pressure in the campground, and now all of this nasty smoke blowing, today we’ll probably hitch up and head for our old hometown of Show Low. It’s at nearly 7,000 feet elevation, so it should be cooler, and hopefully the much smaller fire burning south of there, on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, will be contained before it becomes a problem too.
And besides, in Show Low we can get a grandkid fix!
Thought For The Day – A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort