Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Prescott, AZ: "Elementary, My Dear Watson (Lake)!" In Arizona's Christmas City

Prescott is a bustling north-central Arizona city afforded the title of "Arizona's Official Christmas City," and even the scroogiest scrooge would have trouble avoiding the holiday spirit here!  And lookie here .... jackets!!!  How 'bout that!



The northeast area of Prescott (pronounced "Press-kit", like "biscuit," not Pres-scott like you might think) is super-dee-dooper old (like 1.4 billion years old) and is known as the Granite Dells.




Right in the middle of this huge rockpile is Watson Lake, a popular spot for outdoor recreation and quiet contemplation.  Bonus:  really cool lake reflections at all times of the day!  It's criss-crossed by an extremely extensive network of dog-friendly hiking and biking trails.  Score!



The Point of Rocks RV Campground backs right up to this area and was the perfect location for exploring with our long-time camping buddies, the Weed Family.





Geologically speaking, the huge boulders and weathered mass of granite were formed over millions of years by the cooling and stressing of deeply buried molten plutonic rock that came from cooled magma deep in the Earth's crust.


"Rounded yet lumpy, wrinkled yet smooth, these sculpted rocks rise from the water and then ramble off across the shore."  So says the Arizona Republic with more eloquent word skills than me.


The 4.8 mile Watson Lake Loop hiking trail follows the shoreline, goes back behind the man-made dam that created the lake, through the big cottonwoods of the Watson Woods Riparian Preserve, along a recycled railway bed and the scrambling through the big boulders of the dells, with spectacular views every step of the way.



It is gorgeously woven together and so very different from not only other parts of Prescott, but especially from the Arizona desert landscape just a couple hours south.


Prescott is known for it's gorgeous central courthouse square (think: Marty McFly in Back to the Future) and historic downtown including "Whisky Row," attracting tourists and locals alike.  The courthouse has stood in this location for more than 140 years!  Named one of America's Great Public Spaces in 2008, it has an extensive tree canopy, a painted historic timeline, statues, and a historic well and bandstand.   



This year's annual Prescott Christmas Parade was themed "A Cowboy Christmas" ...



But nowhere have we ever heard of Cowboy Zebras or Cowboy Llamas!  



Nevertheless, it was a wonderful holiday-filled event in a beautiful homespun setting, with tumbleweed snowmen, elk-antlers on the truck bumpers and a dude on the front of the Santa float, checking his Snapchat.  C'mon, man!!!!






It was a down-home good time for our group of 2-legged and 4-legged creatures!


While Phoenix has drive-through light attractions (with huge wait times), Prescott has FREE drive-through light attractions!  The one-mile-long twinkling Valley of Lights at Fain Park in Prescott Valley was a fun holiday diversion.  There were tons of great displays but our favorites were the light tunnels!





This particular weekend happened to be the only "Supermoon" of 2017.  Supermoons occur when a full moon coincides with a point in its orbit that is the closest to Earth, making the moon appear up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than an ordinary full moon.  We enjoyed it from several vantage points and the clouds only enhanced the display!





The final, crowning event of the Prescott holiday weekend was their time-honored tradition of the  "Courthouse Lighting Ceremony," which is in its 63rd year and a huge favorite.  Happy crowds flooded the square.


The traditional birth-of-Jesus story ("In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree" etc etc) was narrated aloud and a fantastic choir on the courthouse steps sang relevant hymns and carols at regular intervals in the story.  In many cases the majority of the gathered crowd was singing along too.  It was very moving!



Then, the switch was flipped, the city officials and electricians whose necks were on the line held their breath, and VOILA!!!!  The darkened courthouse was changed from this .....


... to this!!!!!!


The surrounding grounds and trees were all lit up as well!  It was gorgeous and something well worth doing at the start of the Christmas season!

  

We took another Arizona getaway to the outskirts of Phoenix just last month in White Tanks Regional Park, where the hiking was great but the Arizona sunrises right outside our RV window were even greater!







One of the campground visitors had a sense of humor! They told us they had to add "Not For Hire" to the bottom of the sign because people kept bringing them their dogs to watch for the day!


Next up, the Lucky Charm will be going back to Southern Arizona and the Patagonia Lake region.  Then, February 8 through March 30 we'll be heading eastward through various parts of New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma!  We're excited for new charming adventures, as we've never headed EAST before! 


 Prescott and the Granite Dells were wonderful and we'll be sure to go back again!