Coastal City of Split, Croatia



map courtesy of https://www.britannica.com/place/Split-Croatia
modified for clarity by JBRish.com

Split is the second largest city in Croatia and as the largest city on the Croatian coast, the seaport and marina area is a main tourist destination.



Our first formal stop in Split was at the Ivan Meštrović Art and Sculpture Gallery. Although he was a contemporary of Rodin and Klimt and eventually emigrated to the United States after WWII, his works do not appear to be very well-known in America.



Ivan Meštrović art and sculpture Gallery Main Entrance

What gallery would be complete without a cat to welcome visitors?


The gallery’s location is beautiful with an elevated view of the Adriatic Sea.



A few of my favorite sculptures on display:







The Pieta


Works by Ivan Meštrović – Video


This brief video shows the constrcution of The Bowman and the Spearman statues in Chicago’s Grant Park which have become controversial because of its representation of Native Americans.

 
The Diocletian Palace (retirement home of Emperor Diocletian) built during the Roman era using local limestone and marble is perhaps the premier attraction in Split.

Early in the palace tour, visitors are shown a tapestry of the compound which depicts how it might have originally appeared. At one time the Adriatic abutted the palace grounds, but now is kept well-back from the property line.



A clearer drawing of the diagram can be found HERE.

The basement is a maze of rooms and chambers which served as storage areas.



There is mention online that some of the dragon scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed in the “lower chambers” of the palace.*



Tourists may be surprised to find out that Diocletian Palace premises still maintains a dynamic residential community of approximately 3,000 residents and is one of the oldest historical inhabited monuments in the world.**

The nearby Cathedral of Saint Dominus once served as the Emperor Diocletian’s tomb.



Outside of the Cathedral, lion statues guard the entrance.



A huge Ivan Meštrović statue of Bishop Gregory of Nin stands north of the palace just outside the area known as the Golden Gate.



The female Benedictine Monastery currently known as St. Arnir [named after the Split Archbishop] is also located near the palace. The landmark bell tower rises above many of the nearby buildings.




One of the Monastery occupants doing some maintenance

The Renaissance style buildings surrounding People’s Square located in Split’s Old Town form a popular shopping and dining area.





Brač

The island of Brač (pronounced “Bratch”) is the largest island in Dalmatia and a favorite getaway destination for locals.



View of Split from the ferry to Brač

As the highest peak on Brač and also of all Adriatic islands, the Vidova Gora attracts hikers from around the world. Read more about the dramatic hike HERE.



View from near the top of Vidova Gora with the Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn) Beach peninsula in the background

The ferry to and from Brač arrives at the island village of Supetar where authentic scenes of island life catch the eye.



Picturesque side street



Church of the Annunciation – Supetar

Leaving Supetar to return to Split, ferry passengers may be able to get an idyllic view of the Cemetery of St. Nicolas peninsula.



Back on the mainland, Kavala Beach provides an interesting venue for seaside walks and people watching.



 

*Guide To Diocletian’s Palace: a “Living Museum” in Split Croatia – Scroll down to see actual dragon scene from the show captured at the palace.

** Following the steps of Emperor Diocletian meet today’s Split

 

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See Previous Posts in this series:


Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic

Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all

Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down

Dubrovnik from the Adriatic and Mt. Srd

Montenegro & The Walled City of Kotor

Mostar – Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

 

Mostar – Bosnia and Herzegovina



Map courtesy of The Organization for World Peace modified for JBRish readers.

Mostar is located in the southern portion of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is divided by the Neretva River.

Walking near Mostar’s old town, tourists may sense that the architecture has Turkish influences with minarets piercing the air.



Of particular note is the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque (below) which stands as an outstanding example of Ottoman architecture. The tall and thin minaret can be climbed with paid admission.



Another aspect of Mostar that is reminiscent of Ottoman and Middle Eastern culture is the Bazaar-like section of old town.



Picture courtesy of mynoadiclifestyle

Flowers carefully planted outside the vintage windows help take the edge off the overabundance of souvenir shops.



The intricate patterned cobbled streets are sometimes tricky to negotiate.



It is the Neretva River, however, which necessitated the creation the area’s most famous landmark – – the “extremely arched” Stari Most (Old Bridge). The bridge has a storied history which you can read HERE.



While crossing the Stari Most, visitors will soon realize that there are raised horizontal strips which may make walking somewhat awkward, but without them the bridge can be very slippery. Tourists are advised to walk on the raised sections if possible.



To entertain visitors, young men stand atop the railings of the bridge and when enough people have provided monetary encouragement, they dive 70 feet from the bridge into the Neretva. The river also serves as a venue for rafting and kayaking.



The panoramic views from the top of the bridge are scenic and picture-worthy.



Mostar came under attack during the Bosnian war and the Croatian army destroyed the famed landmark.

 

While UNESCO and other countries assisted in rebuilding the bridge between 2001 and 2004, the painful experience the destruction represented has been seared deeply into the psyche of the local population.



Orašac Village – Earlier in the Day

On the way to Mostar, we stopped in a very quaint, quiet and picturesque town of Orašac, Croatia founded in 1040.



We were there to visit a small private garden and olive mill that has retained some of the traditional methods of producing olive oil.



The old olive press was quite a machine to see, but what was even more interesting was how the press was operated. One horse power was all that was needed.



Beautiful garden features lined the paths.



After a sampling of the offerings, we were on our way!

 

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See Previous Posts in this series:


Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic

Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all

Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down

Dubrovnik from the Adriatic and Mt. Srd

Montenegro & The Walled City of Kotor

 

 

Perast – Montenegro

“One of the most beautiful towns on the Adriatic coast, Perast, is my favourite place on the Bay of Kotor…

With 17 Baroque palaces, 19 churches but scarcely more than 250 residents, Perast is a tiny town packed with history and legend.

It might be just a 20-minute drive away from popular Kotor, but Perast has a totally different vibe.” – 13 Things to Do in Perast, the Loveliest Town on the Bay of Kotor – Emily Lush

I have no doubt that the quote above is true. Perast certainly is a beautiful city.


Beautiful seaside view of Perast

Our visit to Perast had a defined purpose and that was to see what many would claim is the number one attraction, Our Lady of the Rocks Roman Catholic Church.

There are two islands directly off the coast of Perast. The Benedictine Monastery of St. George can be seen on the left which is not open to the public and Our Lady of the Rocks is on the right.


the two islands off the coast of Perast

Our Lady of the Rocks is constructed on a man-made island. Two fishermen apparently discovered an image of the Virgin Mary at that location in 1452 and this was enough to convince the town that there was destined to be a chapel on that site. Read more about the legend of Our Lady of the Rocks Chapel and its development HERE


the island with Our Lady of the Rocks

Though small, the beautiful landmark is full of charm and worthy of careful exploration.


A view of the wall and dome of Our Lady of the Rocks

The most notable feature is the distinctive blue dome.


Another view of the distinctive blue dome and gardens

The sanctuary is very well appointed with attractive religious statuary and ornaments and the detailed altar is aesthetically framed against deep red walls.


The Altar of the Chapel at Our Lady of the Rocks

Perhaps hoping to garner blessings for recent nuptials, brides hang bouquets above the sanctuary doorway.


Bridal Bouquets left above the doorway

The picturesque surroundings encourage visitors to walk around the perimeter of the island.


The tower of Our Lady

It was fun to seek out the interesting details such as sculptures of muscular ancients holding the bench for those seeking a place to rest.


Statues of ancient musclemen holding up a bench

Tourists are tempted to look back toward Perast through the windows and gates to take in the beauty of the town from a distant perspective.


Looking through a large security door toward the town of Perast

The island is a bustling place with numerous boatloads of people coming and going.


Boats arriving and leaving the island of Our Lady of the Rocks

Another beautiful scene unfolds while looking southeast from Our Lady of the Church toward St. George Island.


St. George Island

This was a spectacular day visiting Kotor and Perast!


Heading back toward the town of Perast

 

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Notes:

See previous posts in this series:

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic
Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all
Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down
Dubrovnik from the Adriatic and Mt. Srd
Montenegro & The Walled City of Kotor

 

 

Montenegro & The Walled City of Kotor

After a few days in Dubrovnik it was time to bid the city farewell and travel onward to the country of Montenegro.


map of Croatia and Montenegro
Map courtesy of Owl & Mouse modified by J. Ross for this post

Shortly after boarding the ferry at the Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska), the beauty of the area was on display.


A peninsula in the bay of Kotor with houses

Against such a backdrop even a humble transport ferry somehow becomes more photogenic.


A ferry crossing the Bay of Kotor

The crossing of the bay to Porto Montenegro took approximately 15-20 minutes.

After disembarking the ferry, travelers can take a brief ride to the marina with its impressive yachts.


Yachts anchored at Porto Montenegro

Adjacent to the waterfront was a beautifully detailed shopping mall where visitors can feel like they are in an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.


Designer mall at Porto Montenegro


Dior Store at Porto Montenegro

The mall ran alongside the hotel and “commuter” marina for smaller watercraft.


Hotel and marina at Porto Montenegro

After a quick visit to Porto Montenegro it was off to the ancient walled city of Kotor.


Walled City of Kotor's South Gate
Gurdic Gate (South Gate) City of Kotor

The small city with winding streets and steep hillsides has numerous attractions and charming characteristics. A favorite stop for tourists is the Cathedral Of Saint Tryphon (Sveti Tripun) which dates back to 1166. Parts of the Cathedral were rebuilt and modified after earthquakes as evidenced by the differences in the two towers.

 


 Cathedral Of Saint Tryphon

The brick columns and vaulted arches offer the sanctuary the impressive countenance it’s history demands.


Interior of the Cathedral Of Saint Tryphon

The gilded altar is one of the city’s prized possessions.


Altar of the Cathedral Of Saint Tryphon

Not far from the Cathedral is a square where one of the oldest trees in the world can be found. This black poplar was reportedly planted around 1667.


Black Poplar dating back to 1667
Black Poplar (Populus nigra) – read more HERE

The thick brick walls and amply spaced viewpoints reinforce the concept that Kotor is a fortress.


Kotor's fortress walls

It is a wonder how some of the more delicate artifacts such as this carving of the Venetian Lion under an archway have withstood the centuries.


Relief carving of the Venetian Lion

Every town or village of this era has at least one fountain.


Public Fountain

Built along the base of the mountainous cliffs, residents of Kotor made use of steep, outdoor stairways that have become quite worn over the years.

 


Exterior steps to the next level of the city

In any area that beckons travelers, there are dining venues and Kotor was no exception.


Restaurant table with flowers and wine

Inside the city’s walls one can see just the tips of the cliffs of Mount Lovćen. Once outside of the wall the scope of the mountains becomes more apparent.


Mountain views from outside the city wall

The domed buildings inside the wall are nestled between the mountains and the Škurda River.


The Skurda River along the walls of Kotor
Near the North Gate/River Gate

 

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Notes:

If you are interested in a detailed guide to Kotor, check out Toms Port Guide to Kotor.

 

See Previous Posts in this series:

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic
Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all
Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down
Dubrovnik from the Adriatic and Mt. Srd

 

Dubrovnik from the Adriatic and Mt. Srd

Spending several days in one area affords tourists the opportunity to gain familiarity with the geography, customs and attractions and enhances the travel experience.


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Used Courtesy of Dubrovnik bed and breakfast.com

A cruise around Old Town Dubrovnik along the coastline of the Adriatic Sea provided that enriched perspective.

We boarded the boat at Old Town’s east side port.


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Soon we were parallel to the southern side of Old Town’s cliff face and wall.


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A more comprehensive view of the impressive wall

The trip continued westward when the Brsalje Street area came into view (see picture below). The center location with trees is one that is frequented by numerous tourists where there are reasonably priced restaurants and proximity to the Pile Gate entrance to Old Town.


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Next was a closeup view of Fort Lovrijenac.


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Fort Lovrijenac was the westernmost boundary of our trip this day as the boat turned to return eastward towards Lokrum Island.


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If inclinations favor terra firma, the island is now a nature reserve, botanical garden and home to Fort Royal.


Kayakers along the shoreline of Lokrum Island
Kayakers along the shoreline of Lokrum Island

When unique is what you seek, then Dubrovnik has you covered there as well. Cave Beach or Betina Cave is only reachable by boat or kayak and draws a number of water sport enthusiasts.


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Cave Beach

Heading back to the harbor, boaters have a magnificent panoramic view of St. John’s Fort and Old Town Harbor.


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Mt. Srd rises above the northern crest of Old Town and provides amazing views.


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Those interested can hike to the top of Mt. Srd via an established trail, catch the #17 bus to the top or take the cable car.

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View of Old Town from the top of Mt. Srd.

While the views of Old Town were stunning from the top of Mt. Srd, there was more to see. A museum dedicated to the Croatia Homeland War and the Croatian War for Independence Memorial are nearby.


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A short walk from the memorial is Fort Imperial where damage from the siege of Dubrovnik during the Croatian War of Independence is still visible.


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Continuing to walk east, a more expansive picturesque view of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic Sea comes into view.


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One last panoramic view of Old Town from Mt. Srd with Lokrum Island in the background.


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End Notes

** 4 Ways to get to the Top of Mount Srd

** Take the Dubrovnik Cable Car or Hike Croatia’s Mount Srd?

 
**Always check for the most current and updated information as availability may change.

 


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Kayakers may rent equipment to paddle around the Pile Gate/Ft. Lovrijenac area

 

See the previous posts in this series:

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic

Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all

Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down

Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down

While walking the wall above Old Town Dubrovnik is certainly quite impressive, there is much to see and appreciate at ground level.

If entering at the Pile Gate (west entrance), one of the first iconic destinations is the Large Onofrio’s Fountain designed by Onofrio della Cava and Pietro di Martino dating back to 1438.



Interestingly, the fountain still services this section of Dubrovnik by providing potable drinking water.

Each of the fountain’s 16 sections is decorated with a detailed “mask” and a spigot coming from the mouth. A number of tourists used the fountain to fill their drinking bottles.



During earthquakes and through aging, the fountain sustained damage. Although the reconstruction was not quite as ornate as the original, it is still impressive. Kučak, the fountain dog, suffered severe damage, but was finally restored in 2016.

You can read about Small Onofrio’s Fountain HERE



The approximately 300 meter long limestone main street in Old Town is referred to as the Stradun. This is where a number of main attractions can be found.



Dubrovnik’s Bell Tower is a major landmark dating back to the 15th century. It is pictured below with Mt. Srd in the background. Two metal figurines known as “The Greens,” strike the bell every day at noon alerting those in and around Luža Square.



Read more about the interesting history of the Bell Tower HERE

There are many side streets which invite tourists to stroll down to explore the variety of shops and restaurants.



Don’t forget to look up to appreciate the architecture that does not appear easily in view.



The Church of St Nicholas Bell Tower

Of course not all is old. What tourist area would not benefit from a candy store? This particular version is quite different.



Needless to say, there are also numerous gelato venues. A somewhat unique shop offered toy rubber ducks. Perhaps they have duck races from time-to-time in and around Old Town.



In a fashion similar to that of St. Mark’s Square in Venice, pigeons have found a welcome home in Old Town. There are holes in the walls (aka “bird hotels”) used to erect scaffolding when work needs to be done and the birds have turned these niches in to nesting places.



At the far end of the main Stradun, near the Ploce Gate (east side), is an entrance to the Dominican Monastery showing amazing architectural grace and beauty.



It is easy to understand why Old Town is a tourist favorite with so much to see and explore! Scroll down for a few quick takes…

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Luža Square with the Church of St Blaise



Administrative buildings, such as the Rector’s Palace show incredible detail and craftsmanship.



National and county flags decorate a number of the office buildings.



A statue of Croatian writer Marin Držić receives nose rubs from passersby.



As we departed Old Town for the last time, we noticed (among the replica cannon balls) a cat eying a pigeon only a foot away. Both bird and cat seemed pretty laid back in the moment. Apparently all was peaceful this day in Old Town.



See previous entries in this series of posts:

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic

Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all

 

Next stop – Dubrovnik viewed from the Adriatic and above!

Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all

When walking the wall and admiring all there is to see, it is difficult to be mindful that amid the historic sights, there are daily lives being lived within these walls.

Records indicate that prior to the 1667 earthquake there were more than 5,000 residents in Old Town.


Old Town house roof with window propped open
This must have been how air was conditioned in days gone by.

Out of 42,615 residents of wider Dubrovnik, only 1,557 are registered as living in the Old Town, 25 per cent fewer than in 2011. A third of them are older than 65. Some 22 per cent are considering moving, according to a recent survey by the Institute for the Restoration of Dubrovnik. Source

Along the wall, partial scenes are revealed through gaps either intentional or by decay. It is easy to imagine diners sitting at the tables below for lunch or dinner.


 Old Town Restaurant on street level viewed from the wall

There are apartments and individual homes beyond this gate.


Gateway leading to residential section of Old Town

There was plenty of evidence of daily life as viewed from our elevated perch…


Laundry hanging outside to dry

as well as reminders of the old days and what might have been.


Collapsed wall near current garden plot

In contrast, more contemporary neighborhoods have developed outside the Old Town. The picture below shows Mt. Srd which looms over this section of Dubrovnik


Old Town with Mt. Srd and newer neighborhoods
More modern neighborhood in the background at the base of Mt. Srd

There are reminders of the wall’s intended purpose.


Cannons on the wall were used to defend the city

Every once in a while, dramatic scenes add a punctuation mark to the walk and give reason to stop and catch a breath.


Old Town harbor viewed through a window in the wall

The beauty of Old Town from above is often breathtaking.


Dominican Monastery against the morning light
Bell Tower of the Dominican Monastery

Looking back toward the end of the walk, it is easy to imagine the beauty of what was and to appreciate what still remains.


Wide view of Old Town with Lokrum Island in the background

 
View the first post in the series, Dubrovnik – Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic

See the next installment of the travelog – Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic

Dubrovnik is sometimes referred to as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” There does not seem to be a definitive explanation of how it acquired that moniker except that it has many attributes that are extraordinary.

Truth be told, I didn’t know precisely where Croatia was located other than it was in eastern Europe somewhere, but once I saw a few photographs, I was hooked. It took three years to finally get there due to the pandemic, but I have to admit…it was well worth the wait.


map including Croatia and other eastern European countries

map courtesy of Mapsland star added by JBRish

Our Croatian adventure began in Dubrovnik; recently popularized as a location for portions of the series Game of Thrones. One of the main focal points for tourists visiting Dubrovnik is Old Town. During its early history, the city protected itself against invasion by building large walls around the perimeter. Today, walking “The Wall” is a very popular tourist activity.

The picture below, shows the wall surrounding the Old Town. Of course Dubrovnik is much more than just the walled section, but I would suggest that it should be high on the list of activities to consider.


elevated view of Old Town Dubrovnik and the wall

There are several entrances to Old Town, but the main entrance is located near the Pile Gate and, as design would dictate, perhaps the best stairway to the elevated city wall is located nearby.


Pile Gate entrance to Old Town


Stairway to The Wall

Another problem, if it can be called that, is when walking the wall it is hard to stop taking pictures. Every few steps a new scene is revealed that is just as picturesque as the last. Make sure to bring enough digital storage space or film to capture it all.


Beautiful scene of the all and the Adriatic Sea

For those in good health and who walk or hike regularly, the steep sections of the walk and stairs should not be too much of a challenge and the remarkable experience is rewarding.

Elevated on a steep western cliff and visible from various points, Ft. Lovrijenac (Fort St. Lawrence) stands as one of the major landmarks. A visit to the fort is included as part of admission to the Old Town wall. Read more about the fort HERE


Fort Lovrijenac

The picture below provides some perspective regarding the distance from the city wall to Fort Lovrijenac.


Fort Lovrijenac and part of the old city wall

The orange tiled roofs of nearly all of the buildings in Old Town form a colorful backdrop for many of the prominent landmarks such as the Jesuit Church Of St. Ignatius rising above the nearby structures.


Jesuit Church Of St. Ignatius

For the alert visitor, views along the wall prove themselves postcard-worthy.


View through one of the openings in the wall

As the walkway meanders around the perimeter, there are occasional downward paths that provide a respite from the steps and uphill areas.


Downward path view of the Adriatic

From a start at the Pile Gate and coming down the home stretch, the bell tower of the Dominican Monastery and the protected harbor of Old Town come into view.


the Dominican Monastery and Old Town harbor

There is much more to report in following posts about Dubrovnik and the Old Town especially the juxtaposition of views from the wall and the streets of the ancient city.

Read the next installment of the travelog – Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all

Rocky Road: Desert (Not Dessert)!

It was a very different invitation when my wife and I were invited to join in an off-road experience. We had never done anything quite like this, but through social connections we received this interesting offer. We love nature, hiking and experiencing the wilderness, but I wasn’t sure about the roller coaster-like Jeep part.

Well, what is living if it isn’t an adventure? So we enthusiastically accepted the invitation. I have to admit total ignorance of the whole thing so I was wide-eyed the entire way.

We were heading for the remote town of Crown King, Arizona via N Castle Hot Springs Rd. which skirts by Lake Pleasant.

I didn’t know the plan, but as it turned out, off-roading is not a single-person adventure. Like most endeavors where danger is a tease there is safety in numbers and so I learned that most off-roaders don’t go it alone!

We connected with three other vehicles. The lead was taken by the driver of this Jeep.


 

Apparently to outfit a vehicle like this is a major investment so I got the joke. This Jeep was filled to the brim with tools that might be called into service including that air tank (on the left).

Why might they need an air tank? I discovered that many drivers let some air out of their tires when they arrive at the start of the wilderness so the Jeep can better grip the rocks and uneven terrain. Of course, air then needed to be replaced once again when pavement was reached and normal speeds were resumed.


 

The day had many ups…


and many downs!

Notice the pile of rocks on the right side.
Eyes had to see everywhere as there were potential hazards waiting to cause havoc.

 

Photography was a challenge with much of the traverse being a jostling experience.

While this was a remote desert location, there were a surprising number of homes along the trail. Where they did their grocery shopping or what kind of water supply they had was just one question to ponder.

Nevertheless, we would come across some relatively level areas.


 

This was the greeting we received as we passed one homestead. It might be difficult to figure out, but it is a “statue” of a hunter holding a gun. The sign says: “Redneck with a Riffle!” [I think they meant rifle!] The other signs on the fence were no trespassing warnings.


 

From a first-timer’s point of view, it was immediately apparent how easy it would be to get into trouble of one sort or another without experience.

This was one intersection we approached. The uninitiated might have missed that large rock on the left. Even after seeing the boulder, it might no register that the initials CK, followed by a stubby directional arrow was an indication that one should hang right to get to Crown King.


 


 

Normally, I don’t like to get into a rut, but when off-roading, there are lots of ruts. It is hard to appreciate from the pictures how narrow the rut was and the steepness of the walls. This would not be a good place for a standard SUV!


 

Care and skill is definitely needed. Once again, it is hard to see, but just ahead those are huge boulders buried in the dirt and over which we needed to travel!


 

In the picture below, notice that one Jeep (arrow) is just beyond the bend. Spacing is an interesting nuance of this sport. Each vehicle had a radio and there were communications back and forth indicating where the road had changed because of cave -ins or other obstructions.


 

So why go through all of this to go off-road?

For one thing, the solitude is wonderful. It is a treat to be so far away from what we consider civilization…becoming the proverbial pimple on the face of the earth surrounded by beauty.


 

I guess it is the same inspiration felt by those who climb mountains or go scuba diving. Nature is wonderful and is best viewed in its own frame.

Imagine my surprise when we came across an area under development out in the wilderness.


 

This was a mining operation and there was no actual road so we had to travel in the stream.


 

From time-to-time we would come across a sober reminder that this can be a dangerous endeavor. There might be a car at the bottom of a ravine or perhaps a more striking warning…


 

It was obvious that all of the riders this day were very cautious, but also adventurous. When there were two choices to be made between a smoother pathway or one that was more extreme, we often took the exciting route.

The main draw however was the beauty.

There was a section of mountains that had elevated radial walls made of large rocks. Apparently nature was building its own version of the “Wall of China” right here in the Sonoran Desert.


 

Without hiking for a significant number of miles, it is hard to enjoy these scenes of nature’s panoramic beauty!


 

Crown King


Crown King has a very small town center; don’t blink.

The General Store is the only place to fill up if you need fuel!


 

We had lunch at the Crown King Saloon & Cafe and I can give it an enthusiastic recommendation.



Picture courtesy of Trip Advisor

 

And of course, there are generally local dogs nearby!


 

We certainly enjoyed our first off-road experience and we learned a lot. With one trip under out belt, we are hoping for another adventure in a different wilderness area.

 
Read more miscellaneous stories on JBRish HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2020 — JBRish.com



The Hills Are Alive in the Sonoran Desert

During these times of sheltering in place, when the weather turns nice we are bound to get the urge to take part in an outdoor activity. Luckily, in Maricopa County (Phoenix and surrounds) the weather has been perfect.

Wildflowers generally bloom this time of year and because of the rather abundant winter rains, we were hoping they would be putting on quite a show. We wanted to share the hiking activity with my brother-in-law and his friend and naturally we needed to observe appropriate social distancing.

We decided to visit an area we thought would not be too crowded even though it is beautiful. The plan was that each couple would drive separately and meet up at Lake Pleasant near Wickenburg, AZ.

Once at the parking area, we used the amenities, reviewed the maps and headed out on the Cottonwood Trail.

This is a view of the lake from the parking area.



The Cottonwood Trail was in a direction opposite that of the lake and thus there we only encountered a few other hikers.

Almost immediately, we found a beautiful hedgehog cactus (chinocereus Engelmannii). The colors seem almost too intense to be real like those in an overpriced tropical drink!



Pink and purple were the dominant colors of the day. The hills were covered with owl’s clover (Castilleja exserta ssp. exserta).



They found footing in and around rocks and in what appeared to be inhospitable spaces.



Some patches were so dense that the entire hillside was pink!



The combination of the flowers, green bushes and towering saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea) highlighted the natural beauty of the desert.



There were also ample displays of orange globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua).



Anecdote: We had a Maricopa County Park pass which allows for an entire car to enter the parks (including Lake Pleasant) on the one pass. Since we drove separately and although we totalled only four in our “group,” we inquired as to whether under the circumstances, we would be allowed to enter under the one pass. The attendant thought for a moment and said: “How about a Coronavirus discount?”… and waived us along.

Everyone is doing the best they can!

 
Read more hiking and exploring stories on JBRish HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

 
©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2020 — JBRish.com