February 2019: Prescott, Arizona - Wilderness Exclusives

Luck favors the prepared! This lesson rang true when I recently (and briefly) visited Prescott, Arizona after spending some time in nearby Phoenix and Sedona. I had a late flight and decided to check out what I was told were some “different” landscapes in the Prescott Valley. I figured I’d stop through and check it out on my way to Sky Harbor, and what a maddening experience this was—at least at the beginning.

Driving through the valley, I could see the change in landscape. Not at all reminiscent of the rest of the Painted or the Sonoran Desert ecosystems, this had a very rustic and agrarian feel.

The problem was this: I couldn’t find anything to photograph, much less legally approach and/or observe! I try to respect private property and private life in general, and I’ve perhaps bent the rules here and there to get a specific shot or check out a specific vantage point. But barbed wire tends to imply more of a hard-line stance on the issue of trespassing. All of the landscapes and compositions that I tried to access seemed to be surrounded by barbed wire. Not only this, but the barbed wire was installed and maintained by people that clearly meant business, no rinky-dink “stand on this tree stump and hop over” spots or anything like that.

Feeling frustrated after a morning and early afternoon filled with traffic lights, traffic jams, and several dead ends I started retreating to Phoenix, ready to write this whole debacle off to experience. Proper planning. I thought I’d, at least, have time to indulge in a tasty In-N-Out burger once I got to Phoenix, and then I noticed the sky start to change, as some dramatic looking stratus clouds rolled in. I found a spot to pull over and finally got the camera out of the bag. “Prescott Kind of Mood” was a good opportunity to get some productive juices flowing.

Prescott Sort of Mood

A little further down, again regressing towards Phoenix, and still disappointed in myself for not planning the day well enough, I spotted a tree. A special tree. Something about the tree: its independence and its personality drew me in. It seemed to be a living manifestation of the Prescott Valley: agrarian, independent and resonating rustic beauty. “The Tree of Transformation” is appropriately named for the impact it had on my day, photography, and well-being.

The Tree of Transformation

The acreage on which the Tree resided then, upon further inspection, contained several other remarkable subjects, and I very much enjoyed checking them out. “One Wheel Shy” depicts a tractor that is still kicking after all these years…almost. A helping hand, a little elbow grease…maybe a spare part or two? That’s all this guy needs to start working the land once again.

One Wheel Shy

Having my cake and eating it too? Perhaps. I left Prescott with several things.

I learned a lesson, again, about preparedness—without the downsides of an empty memory card and nothing to share from my travels. I left with a new appreciation for this valley’s independence and unique beauty, and a couple of photographs whose mood will forever remind me of the area and my experiences there.

Oh! I still got to dig on some Animal Style fries before catching my flight home! Colorado is missing a couple of things although I call it both “home” and “paradise” without a flinch, and mostly those things include a reliably awesome local pizza chain that delivers 24/7, and In-N-Out.

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