Wednesday, December 10, 2014


So anyway there was that rainy day.  Or two.  During it I raised a question of whether that was a low hanging cloud or was it fog. Almost to a man (and woman) came the answer.  It was definitely a lowered cloud nearly touching the earth.

But a day or so later came a new phenomenon, one that I love to see.  It's known as Ground Fog.  From a distance, you can see the cloud of fog (sorry about that) clinging to the earth with clear sunny skies above it.  It looks like this.

And more stunningly, like this.

In StoneRidge, where I live and where I shot these photos the sun had already burned off the fog.  But in downtown Prescott Valley it was still clinging on.  I can imagine that it was a dreary, gray sight there.  But from a distance and a bit of elevation it is simply beautiful.

Now to the subject of landmarks.  Yesterday I noted that the low cloud was even obscuring Thumb Butte in Prescott.  A couple of my commenters thought that was a funny name.  So let me explain.

It is pronounced Thumb, as in thumb, and Butte, as in Beaut.  And it's a volcanic plug that resembles, from a certain angle, an upraised thumb.  Take a look.

See, it's a photo taken from the side with the right side being the thumbnail and the left being the pad on the thumb.  Some early pioneer/gold digger/mountain man/cowboy, perhaps a bit hazy from some "likker" gave it the name back in the day. It has become Prescott's official landmark and appears on signs, stationery and in local business names. 

It is part of the Sierra Prieta range just west of Prescott.  Incidentally early cowboys called the range "the Sierry Petes".  And they are featured in a piece of cowboy poetry by the late, great Gail Gardner.

The Sierry Petes (or, Tying Knots in the Devil's Tail)
Away up high in the Sierry Petes,
Where the yeller pines grows tall,
Ole Sandy Bob an' Buster Jig,
Had a rodeer camp last fall.
Oh, they taken their hosses and runnin' irons
And maybe a dog or two,
An' they 'lowed they'd brand all the long-yered calves,
That come within their view.

And any old dogie that flapped long yeres,
An' didn't bush up by day,
Got his long yeres whittled an' his old hide scorched,
In a most artistic way.

Now one fine day ole Sandy Bob,
He throwed his seago down,
"I'm sick of the smell of burnin’ hair,
And I 'lows I'm a-goin' to town."

So they saddles up an' hits 'em a lope,
Fer it warnt no sight of a ride,
And them was the days when a Buckeroo
Could ile up his inside.

Oh, they starts her in at the Kaintucky Bar,
At the head of Whiskey Row,
And they winds up down by the Depot House,
Some forty drinks below.

They then sets up and turns around,
And goes her the other way,
An' to tell you the Gawd-forsaken truth,
Them boys got stewed that day.

As they was a-ridin' back to camp,
A-packin' a pretty good load,
Who should they meet but the Devil himself,
A-prancin' down the road.

Sez he, "You ornery cowboy skunks,
You'd better hunt yer holes,
Fer I've come up from Hell's Rim Rock,
To gather in yer souls."

Sez Sandy Bob, "Old Devil be damned,
We boys is kinda tight,
But you ain't a-goin' to gather no cowboy souls,
'Thout you has some kind of a fight."

        So Sandy Bob punched a hole in his rope,
        And he swang her straight and true,
        He lapped it on to the Devil's horns,
        An' he taken his dallies too.
Now Buster jig was a riata man,
With his gut-line coiled up neat,
So he shaken her out an' he built him a loop,
An' he lassed the Devil's hind feet.

Oh, they stretched him out an' they tailed him down,
While the irons was a-gettin hot,
They cropped and swaller-forked his yeres,
Then they branded him up a lot.

They pruned him up with a de-hornin' saw,
An' they knotted his tail fer a joke,
They then rid off and left him there,
Necked to a Black-Jack oak.

If you're ever up high in the Sierry Petes,
An' you hear one Hell of a wail,
You'll know it's that Devil a-bellerin' around,
About them knots in his tail.

                                             Gail I. Gardner, 1917

And that, as a certain radio commenter used to say, is the rest of the story.


quilteddogs said...

Hmm, I always thought it was called that because it stuck out like a sore thumb. Who knew.

Steve said...

The ground fog reminds me of the movie "The Fog". Where is Adrian?

Phil Perisich said...

Chino Valley is 12 miles north of Prescott. We have a False Thumb Butte. So the story goes the army was told to establish the new capitol at the base of a mountain that looked like a thumb. The army were coming from the north and stopped at False Thumb Butte. That is how Chino Valley became the first capitol of Arizona.
Now there are historians who say the army knew where they were and choose Del Rio Springs in Chino Valley because of the water, game, and grasslands. But soon, they moved to Prescott mainly for trees to build permanent structures and Chino Valley people have been living in mobile homes ever since.

Stephen Hayes said...

I have a hard time seeing the thumb, but it is a distinctive rock formation.

Stafford Ray said...

I did not understand some of the terms, but what a hell of a story! It gets the thumbs up.

Tom Cochrun said...

Neat old poem. I see a little of the thumb image, but if that doesn't work go for the old vaudeville gag that is thum beaut, like thumwhere over the rainbow or thumday your printh will come. Hope this doeth not offend any of your readerth. Juth an old thilly kidth joke.

betty said...

We were driving into Prescott Friday morning with that ground fog; it was an interesting sight to see! Since currently we live close to the ocean, we do see fog here and there, just hadn't seen it like this.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation!

Judy said...

I enjoyed the fog.

The Bug said...

We have ground fog like that over the corn & soybean fields - always makes me smile when I see it.