The Boulders Picture of the Week

As we continue our journey east along the Florence-Kelvin Highway, we leave behind the dry washes and haunted valleys of the Tortilla Mountains. We reach a crest where the land becomes a flat plain of sorts. There are small mountain peaks—big hills really—dotting the countryside here and there, but the view is more open, and it seems less appealing now.

Without the mountains and gulleys, the road has long straight sections, and although it appears to be flat, it’s a long downhill slope into Florence. The elevation drops almost a thousand feet over the next ten miles. Just after passing the Tea Cup cattle ranch on the road’s north side, we spot a field of granite boulders that Google Maps identifies—oddly enough—as The Boulders.

The Boulders-Another outcrop of granite deposit found throughout the state of Arizona.
The Boulders-Another outcrop of granite deposit found throughout the state of Arizona.

The boulders that you find at The Boulders are the same pile of granite rocks found in Prescott, up the hill from here in Yarnell, Kingman, or any other place throughout Arizona. They’re everywhere. Instead of turquoise, the state legislature should have designated these granite deposits as the state gemstone, but, like Ben Franklin’s idea of making the turkey the national bird, granite just lacks pizzazz—except on your kitchen countertops.

Because the rocks stand out like a sore thumb along the road, I had to stop to take some more rock pictures. There are a couple of good campsites here. In fact, on our visit, a motor-house and fifth-wheel were doing just that nearby, so The Boulders is a popular place. As I clambered in, on, and among the rocks, I looked for a composition that distinguished this outcrop. The image that I chose to present this week was one that was covered with graffiti. I’m always flabbergasted how some people love to get out in the wild and are then compelled to mark it up with spray paint.

I call this week’s featured image The Boulders, and I like it for a couple of reasons. One is the contrast of small against the big; the other is the shadow against the light. I’ll throw in the wall-art at no additional charge. Another thing in this image that I find interesting is the Tortilla Mountains barely visible on the horizon. It shows the amount of distance Queen Anne and I have traveled.

You can see a larger version of The Boulders on its Web Page by clicking here. I hope you enjoy viewing it. Next week, we’ll finish up our trip along the Florence-Kelvin Highway and I have a surprise to show you—something I’ve seen in pictures, but never in person.

Until next time — jw

Granite Mountain Picture of the Week

Fall on the Humphrey Wash- Usually the high-country aspen trees get all of the attention for their fall colors, but every so often, you can find some subtle color along the road.
Fall on the Humphrey Wash- Usually, the high-country aspen trees get all the attention for their fall colors, but occasionally, you can find some subtle colors along low-land roads.

This week’s featured image (below) is the last from our Camp Wood Road excursion. It was taken a few miles from the route’s junction with Williamson Valley Road—also known as Yavapai County Route 5. You’re still in the middle of nowhere when you arrive at that intersection. Iron Springs is 22 miles south, Seligman is 30 miles north, and all dirt roads. I’ve already made a note of it for a possible future trip.

From the Sheridan Fire area, I talked about last week, Camp Wood Road descends from the pine-covered hills and mountains into Prescott’s flat grasslands. It’s a natural location for the sprawling cattle ranches of the past, and now it’s the target of developers selling one-acre McMansions. When I traveled to this area as a younger man, I could frequently spot grazing antelope. They’re a rare sight these days, and that makes me sad.

When Queen Anne and I set off on this photoshoot, we spent more time getting to Camp Wood than I estimated. It was already after sunset by the time we reached the road’s end. As we drove in the dim light, I knew I wanted to include the open grassland in the Camp Wood story, so we made a second trip. This time, we drove counter-clockwise—which is more accessible and a much faster way to get there. However, on the second drive, the sky was overcast, and someone had set the Bradshaw Mountains ablaze, which filled the air with smoke. I wasn’t optimistic about getting good shots. As it turns out, the fire was only a controlled burn, and the fire crews had it out by the afternoon.

We found another change when we reached an area called Humphrey Wash on my maps. The broadleaf trees started turning color in the intervening weeks between our visits. Of course, this is Arizona, so they weren’t the bright colors you’d see in New England, but they were still worth getting out of the truck and getting them on film.

Granite Mountain
Granite Mountain – Under a vast sky filled with broken clouds with lingering smoke, Granite Mountain dominates the southern horizon from the Las Vegas Ranch in Williamson Valley.

Further east on Camp Wood Road is a large ranch with two driveways. It’s the Las Vegas Ranch, and one of the entrances is along Camp Wood Road, while the other connects to the Williamson Valley Road—a dozen miles away. When we arrived, the sun was low, the overcast began breaking, and Granite Mountain was predominant on the southern horizon. I took two versions of that scene, but I think the second was better because of the cottonwood trees lining an unnamed wash. I called it Granite Mountain, and I wanted to show the Prescott grassland’s open space. Just as it is in real life, the sky dominates everything. In this photograph are all of the elements of that visit: the broken clouds, lingering fire smoke, Granite Mountain, and the vast open plain. I hope you enjoy it.

Click here to see a larger version of Granite Mountain on its Web Page. I hope you enjoy viewing it. It’s the start of a new month next week, so we’re off to explore a different Arizona back road, so be sure to come back and see what we’ve discovered.

Until next time — jw