My Hometown · Travels

Hiking Watson Lake On a Snowy January Day

The last time that Les and I hiked around Watson Lake was in early summer. It was an oasis of water, granite boulders, varied flowers, foliage and beautiful views. If you are looking to escape the summer heat in our high desert, this is one cool place to be. Now, however, it is winter, but still a lovely day hike.

We were surprised that some of the lake was still frozen. It had only been a couple days ago that we had our little storm but, when the Arizona sun shows her face, she is ruthless if she can get the temperatures up a little. Our snows do not usually stick around more than a couple days.

After a few days of being COLD, so cold that our little bit of snow was not even melting, we decided to bundle up and get out of the house for a short hike. The day was bright and sunny, but 32 degrees when we started out. I know that many of you across the country are laughing at my description, but to me, anything below 35 is COLD.

As is normal Prescott attire, most of the other hikers were in regular jeans and tees or sweat shirts. LOL, Not me!

Les was making fun of me for wearing earmuffs too. I didn’t care. I had on loose jeans with sweats underneath, wooley socks, a long sleeved thermal tee, a 32 degree hoodie and a large winter parka. And I wasn’t sad either. It did not bother this girl one bit that I could look around and see others with just sweats. Whatever….they HAD to be cold!

We started out on the Peavine Trail which is a wide rocky trail and then veered off to the left to catch the Lakeshore Trail. On the Lakeshore, there is plenty of variety in the terrain. It is rated as a moderate hike, but you can suddenly find yourself traversing some slightly steep or narrow paths over granite boulders. We like to leave the path here and there to scramble over the boulders. This is especially so in warmer weather when we want a nice bit of shade in which to eat our lunch.

Lake view after scrambling up some of the granite boulders. I think that part of the reason that Les and I love these granite dells is that they remind us of Joshua Tree in California. It was where we used to go to camp and hike when we were still just dating.
OK, it’s getting warm. Time to start shedding some layers.
Lunch!
I’m eating and Les is way off in the left side of this picture sketching. Can you find him? LOL, this is as it usually is. Me eating- Les sketching or taking pictures.

Located just 4 miles from Prescott, this beautiful lake is not only surrounded by several hiking trails, it also offers many other fun activities including fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, and camping. The camp grounds includes restrooms with showers, picnic areas, and parking. The camp ground is only available during the summer months. There is a $3.00 parking fee for hiking and day use of the park. If you would like to camp, it’s $15.00 per night.

If you ever get to this area, check out Watson Lake. There are several other lovely lakes in our area. This seems to surprise a lot of people. What? Lakes in Arizona? Yes, and it snows too?

My Hometown · Travels

Music Rains Down on the Streets of Prescott

Well whew! This morning marks the close of another Acker Night, a family friendly musical feast in downtown Prescott that is not to be missed. Accented with flashing Christmas lights in their hair, hats and clothing, the fun loving crowds make this annual event crazy and infectious. Even I, a self proclaimed antisocial, reclusive person, was persuaded to attend as my husband’s videographer for his band Famous in Denmark . It turned out that I had a great time people watching. Unfortunately, I did not get to go out to photograph other bands and people because I did not want to leave all of our cameras and equipment unattended, so you will have to bear with photos and a video of just Les’ band this time. (grin)

I can happily attest that the gathering last night was fun, festive and loving. I say loving because, with these crowds, patience is required. I don’t know if it is just because of the season or if it is because we live in a wonderful town with very kind people. Whatever it is, last night was so incredibly enjoyable and, yep, this is coming from me – a lady who does not like crowds at all.

Related Christmas lights and crowds in Prescott, AZ courthouse square.image
Christmas lights and crowds in Prescott’s courthouse square.

Acker Night is free. It is kind of like a walking studio tour through all of downtown Prescott. Instead of artist’s studios though, you will walk into a huge variety of cute and cool stores to watch musicians perform. The stores stay open late and judging from the multiple bags of goodies that many people were carrying, it is also a great time to come downtown to do your Christmas shopping as well. Each store features select performers where the music ranges from classical, to folk, to soul to funk to rock and, well, to EVERYTHING music.

Each location has donation bags where people leave “tips” if you will. It all goes to the Acker scholarship fund to be collected at the end of the night. In fact, the entire non-profit event is put on by volunteers. From the administrators to the store owners to the musicians to the performers, everyone pitches in for free to make this a night to remember.

The band, Famous in Denmark" setting up to play Acker Night in prescott, AZ
Just setting up. There is a ton of equipment that needs to be arranged to fit into this little corner of the shop. From left to right we have Paul, the drummer, Steve-the bass player and Les on lead guitar. The singer disappeared for a while and isn’t in this shot.

The fun starts early in the day with shopping and eating, of course. 5:00 PM marks the opening ceremonies including a performance from the Prescott High School Choir. Then, all night long, Santa roams the streets to take pictures with you. Hmmm…the roaming Santa sounds kind of creepy, LOL, but it was fun seeing some comedic type folks posing and taking selfies with him. At 5:30, the musicians promptly start the rest of the evening’s fest. They play continuously until 8:30PM. Then they get to break down while the guests get to continue their shopping and partying.

Acker Night musicians, Famous in Denmark
You can’t tell in the pictures, but Les is wearing a cool red jacket and tie with Santa cats printed all over. It looked so fun and festive.
Acker Night in Prescott, AZ
Pulled back to show that they are playing in a little corner of a store. I’m trying to get some pics by standing on the stairs leading up to the art gallery.

How the heck did Acker Night start anyway? Here is a quick run-down on the history from the Acker Night Facebook page.

“When Mr. Acker died in 1955, he left a number of parcels of land to the City of Prescott, to be used for parks and music programs for ​children.​​​​​

In 1988 Prescott resident LaVon Anderson ​who was a strong advocate of children’s music programs herself, had a dream to mesh music and Prescott’s historic downtown together in a memorable event.
Music and the Christmas holidays was a natural pairing and she used that marriage to spearhead the J.S. Acker Musical Showcase in December 1988. The J.S. Acker Musical Showcase was quick to take off. The December event now features over 135 Prescott downtown businesses with over 400 musicians and performers donating their time, talent and businesses for this event. ​​​

From 8 performers in 8 shops in 1988 to over 400 performers in over 130 shops today, Acker Night has become one of Prescott’s most beloved events. “

Funny story about how the band got it’s name. When Cory announced the band’s name, someone shouted out, “We’ve never heard of you!” It just so happened that there was a group of Danish tourists in the bar that night. One of the Danish ladies shouted back, “”Well, they are famous in Denmark!” Everyone laughed and the name stuck when people started to refer to them as “Famous in Denmark”.

Suggestions for when you visit Prescott for Acker Night next year:

  • Dress in layers. It can be chilly to freezing here in December.
  • Be patient. It will be crowded.
  • Check out the Acker Facebook page. They have programs and schedules so that you can mark off in advance what you want to see.
  • Prescott has lots of bars, bakeries, food and coffee houses that stay open late for the event, so you don’t have to worry about bringing anything if you don’t want to. I did bring two bottles of water, but that’s it.
  • Come early enough to find parking. We have a new, large parking structure downtown, so check that out as well as street parking. If you do not want to park downtown, there are shuttles running from Augie’s at Frontier Village where there is a ton of parking.
  • Bring cash in case you want to donate to the non-profit.
  • Finally, enjoy yourself and clap loudly and enthusiastically for the bands who donate so much of their time and energy to further the cause of musical scholarships and instruments for the youngsters.
Happy Holidays!
My Hometown · Travels

Prescott’s McCormick Arts District GONE

art-district-sign

The McCormick arts district in Prescott, AZ is yet another one of our quirky attractions that has vanished. We knew that it was just a matter of time before this happened. Off the beaten path, the funky little bohemian community had a rough time attracting gallery going tourists.

The buildings were tiny and old, old, old. Well, you could reasonably call them dilapidated. OK, and maybe a little hazardous, But with the cute, colorful paint colors, they were COOL. Not to mention that they were all filled to the rafters with unique,  original art and a cool coffee shop.

A lot of the art consisted of murals on the sides and backs of the tiny buildings.

So, flip to the present-why am I writing a blog post about something that no longer exists? It’s because I keep running across my old pictures of the street and remembering how much Les and I enjoyed the walk. We loved checking in to see what was new with the gallery owners. And we love art. This post then, is an ode to a happy destination that once was.

The refurbished little cottages are lovely and I’m sure that the people that bought the homes are living happily ever after. But, for Les and I, this is just one more sad loss for the arts in our town.

My Hometown · Travels

Hiking the Peavine/ Watson Lake trail in Prescott, Arizona

The Peavine Trail is 11.9 miles in length. The trail offers fabulous views of Watson Lake and Granite Dells. About 1 mile into Peavine we veered off to the left to hop onto the Watson Lake Trail which skirts the lake itself. Les and I walked for 4 miles today and then turned back, so it was about an 8 mile hike this time.

We started our walk just south of Watson Lake at the large gravel parking lot by the Watson Woods Riparian Preserve. The beginning of the trail is crushed stone and packed dirt. It is about 5 feet wide and is fairly flat. This part of the Peavine was constructed on top of a 19th-century railroad track. It’s a local favorite for evening strolls and family bike rides.

At 5,300 feet above sea level, Prescott and her surrounding area enjoys cool breezes gently tempering the heat of this high mountain desert. Where there is water, wildflowers and wildlife offer ample interest along Prescott’s many hiking trails. Watson Lake is Prescott’s largest lake and is surrounded by bright green cottonwood trees granting shade from Arizona’s almost relentless sun. Late winter and spring are our favorite times to hike these trails. Continue reading “Hiking the Peavine/ Watson Lake trail in Prescott, Arizona”