The Pioneer Museum of Flagstaff, AZ


When we found out Margot’s first day of school was August 1st, we scrambled to scrape together a family vacation at the last minute. We like to keep our plans loose, avoiding reservations and expectations in order to flow with the weather, and our moods while traveling. It’s an art form, really.

Our plan was to take the pop-up camper out for almost a week; staying at Apache Lake near Phoenix, and camping and hiking in Sedona. Well, Apache Lake was sweltering. I went for a run at the Burnt Corral campground where we stayed at a shoreside site and the temperature held steady at 104 at 7pm. I got zero sleep that night, and felt like I was suffocating in 97 degree weather at midnight. The kids were fine, and Isaac seemed okay, but I definitely was going to have a bad time camping in weather like that; and if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. I think that’s how the saying goes.


So north we traveled, hoping that the weather would cool the further we went toward Flagstaff. Sedona was still above 100, so we traveled onward to Flagstaff.


Camping at the county fairgrounds was wonderful. Quiet, cheap, centrally located. We had at least two activities a day that we achieved; visiting the Arboretum, a Mansion, trails in the mountains, kayaking at Lake Mary and — my favorite — checking out the Pioneer Museum!

095A4665095A4675The Pioneer Barn, separate from the main building, contains loads of artifacts of yesteryear – I especially enjoyed spotting a large floor loom. It was warped with a project on it. I wish I were able to identify all the features of various looms on the spot. I need to crack open a few more books and click around a few more websites before I can do that.095A4681095A4671095A4669095A4610

I’m still neck deep in Pioneer culture right now. As some of you may know, I tend to latch onto a topic and immerse myself in it for a year or so until my interests are swayed into another direction. We’re reading the Little House on the Prairie series and chipping away at lessons in the Playful Pioneers curriculum at the moment, so this museum was exactly the type of place we had to visit.


A lumber train staged in the front of the museum was open for us to trot through. From there we followed the foot path to a historic cabin.  I love imagining how life would have been in the late 1800s. We went to the museum after a trail run, and I wasn’t feeling as hygienically civilized as I would like to be, so I think I had a pretty good idea of how it felt to live intimately with the seasons and the elements. That is certainly part of the joy to camping; reconnecting with nature and learning to appreciate the modern conveniences we all have. And resetting the internal clock to coincide with the natural circadian rhythm — totally necessary!


I will tell you the best part of the Pioneer Museum, by far. Their Children’s Room, full of wooden toys, period costumes, school desks and books. 095A4619

We had to loop around to the Children’s room twice so the kids could continue to play with the Jacob’s ladders, hobby horses and oversized dollhouse. Engaging children in museum settings is difficult, so I commend the Historical Society of Arizona on curating such a magnetic place for kids to explore. 095A4591095A4586095A4582095A4575


Among the many activities we did in Flagstaff, the Pioneer Museum was top of the list for me; although it was tough choice between trail running, s’mores making, and kayaking. I will definitely revisit this place, and I doubt I’ll have trouble dragging my family along again.


Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch

Welp, I’m down the rabbit hole in fiber arts. It’s a good thing!

At the Farmers Market I happened to come across a booth for the Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch. They sell the roving I need for felting, and they source it themselves. They often bring their alpacas out into the community for meets and greets. I learned they offer tours of their ranch, and jumped at the opportunity. I brought along my family and friends for the visit.

 We fed the animals and learned a lot about raising alpacas and chickens. I had lots of questions about wool processing, and made sure to stock up on roving. Of course I’m now committed to having my own alpaca ranch. I’m not sure how I’m going to juggle that with my Alaska plans, Olympia dreams and world-traveling ideas. But the allure of living off my own garden, and earning revenue from chickens and alpaca wool sounds so appealing and rewarding.  

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography
Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

Adding to the appeal of ranching in high desert Arizona: my grandpa Don used to have his own Emu ranch about an hour away from where we live now. He lives here in Sierra Vista, and I’ve had the opportunity to ask him questions about his ranching over dinner. Entrepreneurs are so interesting to break bread with! Emus were trendy right after my Grandpa invested in them, and the revenue from egg and chick sales supported him for a long time. He also served in the Army at Ft. Huachuca. It’s like this place is calling to us to stay and raise livestock!

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography
Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography
Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography
Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

We recently visited Tubac, AZ and chatted with the owner of a wool shop. She told us she raises Alpacas in  Minnesota and boards them during the winter when she snowbirds in Arizona. So of course I’m researching, and studying, and dreaming up the ways I can have my cake and eat it too. With alpacas.

Pumpkins and Peccaries

Pumpkin Picking | Yea Yea Pueblo

Our last few Halloweens were frigid. It was traditionally 10 below with snow berms taller than the kids. This year, with our military lifestyle taking us to Arizona, I was so excited at the prospect of warm weather trick-or-treating with the kids, setting up Halloween decorations and carving pumpkins!Javelinas Fort Huachuca | Yea Yea Pueblo Pumpkin Picking | Yea Yea Pueblo

I had a feeling we put our decorations too early, but we’re Halloween People, and I won’t apologize for my zeal. I did, however, make one big mistake.

I unintentionally put out a royal feast for the local wildlife.

Pumpkin Picking | Yea Yea Pueblo Pumpkin Picking | Yea Yea Pueblo Pumpkin Picking | Yea Yea Pueblo We recently had a great time picking pumpkins and produce at Apple Annie’s u-pick produce in Willcox, Arizona. Our delicata squash was delicious, and our Apple Butter jar emptied quickly. But the pumpkins didn’t last as long as I wish they had. Pumpkin Picking | Yea Yea Pueblo Pumpkin Picking | Yea Yea Pueblo Sunflowers | Yea Yea Pueblo Pumpkin Picking | Yea Yea Pueblo Pumpkin Picking | Yea Yea Pueblo Corn Pit | Yea Yea Pueblo Corn Pit | Yea Yea Pueblo Ardoin Family Photo | Yea Yea Pueblo Corn Pit | Yea Yea Pueblo

Five pumpkins went in the front yard; a few warty ones, and a few smooth, orange ones. I had plans to carve them the week before Halloween, but it didn’t occur to me in the slightest that they’d be eaten up well before then.

Six peccaries set up camp on our front yard this week. They wouldn’t run off when I tried to scare them away. They napped rebelliously on the lawn. They were little monsters with skinny faces and sharp teeth, unafraid of my spooky Halloween decorations, and content to destroy my Jack-O-Lantern dreams.

Javelinas Fort Huachuca | Yea Yea Pueblo They drove the dogs crazy, and just before our dinner get together with friends, Moose slipped through the gate and went after the javelinas. He chased them into a ravine, then up into the hills. We gave chase up the hill, but all I could see was Moose leaping above the knee-high grass, tail wagging, tongue swinging, and face filled with glee. I couldn’t see the javelinas, or their reactions to his attempt to turn strangers into friends.

Eventually Moose came to me, and after dragging him back into the house, we noticed blood dripping from his neck. He ended up with a puncture wound, and is currently on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. He’s also wearing the cone of shame. The hope is that he heals expediently, and doesn’t require surgery later. Pumpkins | Yea Yea Pueblo Javelinas Fort Huachuca | Yea Yea Pueblo Javelinas Fort Huachuca | Yea Yea Pueblo Dogs and peccaries do not mix. And pumpkins are not for peccaries, although that rule is a hard one to enforce. Guess we’re going to have to settle for ceramic, plastic or inflatable jack-o-lanterns here in Arizona.