Tuesday, March 20, 2007

When the Buzzards Come Back to Yarnell...

Tain't as euphonious as the words to that song about swallows and Capistrano -- but it's a lot closer to Prescott. Even so, I don't get down to Yarnell much these days. So I jumped at the chance to join Patty and Bob at the annual Buzzard's Bash, a picnic to welcome the vulture flocks back from Mexico. We even saw a couple of the big birds circling as we drove through Peeples Valley. Just FYI, friend Patty had a grandmother who was a mover and shaker in the earlier days of this small Arizona mountain town. That sign above? Her granny!

One local couple who shared our table said that the buzzards had been back from their winter in the south for about two weeks. Apparently two large flocks roost in the Yarnell area. 100 or so.

Not many Prescott people at the festivities. Too bad. I personally think our town is getting full of flatlander-think; too many folks believe leaving town means heading out SR69 through the Prescott Valley traffic snarl to hit I-17 for Phoenix. Maybe that's just as well; the hills and hamlets west and southwest of the city are growing at a far slower pace than the rest of the county.

But then, there wasn't really any publicity locally. I caught an big article in the Yellow Sheet, a new weekly focused on the SR89 corridor from Wickenburg up to Prescott.

By the way, this was absolutely the cheapest good food I've had in a month of Sundays. Only $3.75 for fried chicken, smoked turkey legs, cole slaw, beans, hush puppies and lemonade. Not that I consider hush puppies a western food -- the little fried corn meal and onion balls were a staple in the deep south when I was a kid. Usually you ate them with a paper plate full of locally caught fried shrimp.

The turkey legs were prepped by the Buzzard's Roost, which I am told, does barbecue to die for. But be warned -- the lease for this Yarnell landmark is up either at the end of April or May, so get down there fast.

One musician, Tom Moore (I'm sure about the first name but not the last) up from Wickenburg, made the scene, with good ole boy songs. He kept looking for the fiddle player who never showed while we were there.

In case you were wondering about that drop-off sign, here's the spot. It's about 8 feet straight down to the creek bed. Yarnell is in the midst of some awesome granites.

A tree that probably preceded white man in these parts.

The requisite Tshirt, plus a downhome-produced history of the pretty little one-time mining town (pop. 668 in 2007.) I would have bought, too, except that I only took a single over to the stand to buy a dessert from the bake-sale ladies. What did I pick? An apple flauta. Yum.

See those trees greening up just beyond the park? Buzzards roost there at dusk and sit on near-by boulders to warm up in the sun in the morning. Interesting birds. Quite unattractive if you see them up close, with their bare red heads. And, as carrion eaters, their breath is very bad. But in flight, riding the thermals, these huge birds are beautiful. In the Prescott area, I almost always see the vultures circling out at Granite Basin Lake.


catalyst said...

Interesting expedition, GJ. I may have to try out that BBQ restaurant in Yarnell. Thanks for the tip.

Granny J said...

Decorwise,the place is pretty hokey -- but great for photography! I've had two solid endorsements of the food.

Avus said...

These are delightful GJ, I so much enjoy "mixing with the locals" from across the world.
Looks like you-all had a great time.

Granny J said...

It was a wonderful day & I have more material coming soon, including Jack Lemmons "Store" in Skull Valley and a couple of "road trip" reports.

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