We have started our northward migration. We’re in Payson, Arizona now. Payson is in central Arizona, pine and juniper country and, while at 5000 ft it’s elevation is not particularly high for Arizona, it is high enough to keep the temperature down about where we like it for bicycle riding – to wit, 70F. Yesterday it was near 80F when we passed through Safford. With this intense Arizona sun, 80 is too hot.

There is also a lot of sandstone around here. We took a bike ride this afternoon up a dirt road into the pine forest and I saw something that made me drool. To grade the road, the Forest Service had to scrape a lot of sandstone out of the roadbed. This grading resulted in thousands of luscious slabs of the stone carelessly discarded along the side of the road. As many of my readers know, I once made a career out of stacking stones into retaining walls around Wenatchee, Washington. I was known as Rockman. I worked primarily with basalt – a rock that breaks irregularly. Basalt doesn’t come flat. The few flat rocks that came my way were a type of rock called schist and they were quite rare – too rare to be squandered in a wall. I always used them for stone steps.

I suppose I should be thankful that flat stone was uncommon around Wenatchee. Anyone can stack flat stone. It takes a while to learn to stack irregular rock like basalt and my skill at working with it gave me an edge on the competition. I was able to earn a comfortable living as Rockman.

Last night we camped at Lake Theodore Roosevelt. The lake is touted as the largest lake in Arizona but I’m not so sure it still qualifies. The drought has taken quite a toll and the water level is way down. I thought the level of Lake Mead was low but this lake has almost disappeared!

Anyway, this morning at Roosevelt as we were sitting at our table eating breakfast, a vermillion flycatcher landed in the tree right outside our window. I’m not much of a birder anymore but I have often seen the striking images of vermillion flycatchers in bird books and always wished to see one in the flesh. The paintings in the bird identification book don’t do justice to the brilliance of the bird’s plumage. It is spectacular.

I tried to get a photo of him but he was uncooperative. He didn’t stay still long enough for me to get my camera so this painted image will have to do.

Payson is said to have a lot of hiking and biking trails so we hope to liberally sample them. We should be here a while.