Day 11: Arizona's Sonoran Desert

April 21st, 2005: On a tip from a website, I decided to head south towards Rt. 87, so, the night before, I reluctantly left Sedona and headed east on 260 towards Payson. I may or may not have missed some scenic views; it was dark by then. I know the road went through some mountains, with several long uphill and downhill grades. There were only a few small towns with nothing in between. Then I was reminded why it's not such a good idea to travel down a forest highway at night, when my headlights caught a group of elk attempting to cross the road further ahead of me. Fortunately, nothing else happened on the leg of that journey and I made it safely to Payson for the night.

Leaving Payson, I headed south on Rt. 87. Here, going through Tonto National Forest, the landscape is harsher and drier than it is further north, and the towns sport names like "Strawberry", "Pine" and "Rye".

This is one of the Tonto National Forest trails (along Rt. 87 marked only as "Rest Area"). My guardian angel must have been looking out for me, because a man in the parking lot warned me that rattlesnakes were prevalent in this area, and often liked to sun themselves right in the middle of the trail.

....Of course, that made me decide to bring my zoom lens along.

Hedgehog cactuses were in bloom in this particular area. (Yes, the colors really are that vivid.)