First, we took the dogs for a little swim in Beaver Creek, part of Coconino National Forest, and only ten minutes from our house.
Here's one of the cacti (I think this is a variety of cholla) that is beginning to bloom.
As we approached the summit, we encountered our first evidence of the ancient Sinaguans who lived here over 1,000 years ago. We were amazed that there were as many potsherds as there were laying around. Obviously, this site isn't very well known, or the whole mountain would have been torn apart by vandals and thieves. Sonja spent a good amount of time hiding all of the really cool pieces under rocks and inside cacti to keep people from taking them off the mountain.
In fact, the ground was literally covered with pieces of prehistoric pottery. The presence of so many artifacts was humbling...and almost spiritual. We could almost feel the presence of the ancient Sinaguans. Here's a short movie showing some of the more interesting pieces we found:
The ruins of the pueblo were pretty torn apart, however. You can sort of make out some of the rooms behind Sonja in this picture.
And this is the view looking out across the Verde Valley from the summit. We live about half-way up the picture from Sonja and the dogs, but just out of the frame to the right.
And finally, here are a couple obligatory bird pictures from our feeders. It's been fun seeing all the winter residents hanging out, including Gambel's Quail, Say's Phoebes and Western Bluebirds.
These are a pair of male Lesser Goldfinch, a southwestern specialty.
And, one of our more exciting neighbors, another bird you can't see anywhere else in the country, a Gila Woodpecker. I can't wait for all the neotropical migrants to start showing up in April. Hopefully I'll get some good pictures of a Vermillion Flycatcher, or if I'm really lucky a Painted Bunting. Even if I don't get one of those, I'm sure the eight species of hummingbirds sure to be visiting our feeders will keep me busy for a while.
Oh, and for those of you who, for one reason or another, weren't able to view those slideshows from our trip down the Alaska Highway, you can just click here to simply view the photos in the album.