It had been awhile.
I picked the route and we headed over to I-17 and down the hill to the Verde Valley.
"Verde" means green in Spanish and it definitely was after a summer of quite a bit of rain.
That's Mingus Mountain in the distance capping off Arizona's version of the Black Hills.
Prickly Pear cactus, like the one in the foreground of this photo, were growing in abandon alongside the road as we headed from Camp Verde up to the higher elevations to the east.
We were following the General Crook Trail, which as this plaque tells, was first blazed west in 1871; later improved for wagons in 1874 and became the main route between Camp Verde and Fort Apache in the White Mountains.
Our destination was the cool country of the mighty Ponderosa pines.
This photo was taken near the top as we began our descent.
That light spot in the center of all that green is the highway far below us.
Huge canyons dot the area with even more mountains visible in the distance.
We were headed for the small unincorporated community of Strawberry, which is comprised of many vacation cabins for "the rich folks" down in Greater Phoenix.
But regardless of their income, they all have to get their mail in the same place.
The mail service is shared with the town of Pine, just three miles further down the mountain.
Some people mark their property lines with gates and security cameras and guard dogs.
Others have a different idea.
We found one man working on his decor, perhaps a bit more welcoming.
The log-built Strawberry schoolhouse claims to be the oldest such one-room structure still standing in Arizona.
It's a museum now, available for scheduled tours.
After touring Strawberry and Pine we headed back the way we had come.
We had scene an odd formation on the way up and stopped on our return for a couple of photos.
Our imaginations ran a little wild as we thought of the early days and perhaps Indians atop this fortress watching as the United States troops invaded their native lands.
I thought of the history of Israel and nicknamed it Masada.
A further descent through the tiny community of Clear Creek, a picnic at the historical Camp Verde grounds and then a return through Cottonwood and Jerome and these two tired travelers were home by late afternoon.
It was a good day.