June 4, 2012
Its been hot in the park. We are both feeling much better, but not exactly up to par. We decided to try the South Rim overlooks figuring getting out and about will hasten healing and leave us with the canyons beauty as our last memory.
The White House of the ancients, sits among sandstone colored buildings. The Anasazi left no clues why this building should be white. Maybe it is special, like our own White House. We had planned to take the two-mile hike in to where ever it leads, but we weren’t up to that, yesterday.
The South Rim Canyons are deep and for those who feel any vertigo, it is probably not the place to visit.
As I looked, I wished I was down on the canyon floor finishing that tour we started in that marvelous truck where you had 360 degree views. It was a wonderful sight-seeing vehicle and I’d do it again if I could, despite the accident.
I love the monolithic rocks that just seem to rise from the canyon floor like sentinels.
And, these strange purple tufts that sit like caps on pudding. It is obvious that this rock was at one time liquid some unknown millions of years ago.
The South Rim had rock climbing areas before you get to the edge of the canyon. Normally I’d be all over them, enjoying views from every point. They are beautiful in their own right.
The trail at one overlook was marked with cairn rocks. I added a couple rocks to increase the height, as others have done. Not this particular one, though.
This rock was defaced by grafitti, but the colors are breathtaking.
The famous Spider Rock is so named because in Navajo culture, the Spider Woman is the God of weaving. To them it must have resembled a weaving. It is a beautiful twin structure in a very busy and colorful valley.
On a closer view it is possible to see the lines resembling a woven rug, perhaps.
These lichen covered rocks on the edge have an unbelievable number of colors.
We received a note (posted) from Anita, the woman I spoke about who drove the two hundred miles to Flagstaff the day after the accident to be there for her friend Margaret. She is healing as we all are. And, for the sake of accuracy, we reported to the Sheriff’s Department and the Special Investigator that the nut from the tie rod bolt had been turned in to them. Frank Shearer informed us that the women from his party found the nut, but he advised them to leave it where they found it so the Sheriff’s Department could investigate without them having disturbed its location. Again, it is easy to “mis-hear” and spread inaccuracies. Thank you for that correction, Frank. None of us will forget this horrible accident, but I hope everyone will also remember the beauty of Canyon de Chelly and walk in beauty.
June 1, 2012
I took many beautiful pictures on the way into the canyon. It seems to take longer to do anything these days. I find I need a nap in the afternoon, so most of them are raw and un-cropped. We are healing and feeling better each day. But Megan’s note about how rumors fly in a community prompted me to also give this information. The nut that dropped from the tie rod bolt was found on the road above the accident and turned into the Sheriff’s Department.
Jim considered driving into the canyon for this tour with his four-wheel drive Bronco. Very soon, looking at the deep sands to navigate, he was glad we decided to take the tour.
Majestic solitary pinnacles sit on the canyon floor.
Our guide showed us fascinating petroglyphs drawn by the ancient Anasazi.
These photos can be double clicked to get a better look at them.
Explanations not needed. As Sara Dailey from the Chinle Clinic told me, “Walk in beauty.”
On the road, there were places where the canyon walls are over your head.
I enjoyed sitting behind the driver and looking through his window as we bounced along.
He stopped for the horses to cross in front of us.
This rock edifice reminded me of a man leaning up against a rock.
Where I sat, I could peer over the edge of the truck and see the wheels churning through a muddy low spot.
Majestic. I was stunned to learn that some locals have never been in the canyon.
Sometimes the rocks are caramel color.
The awesome big picture.
Our guide explained the color variations come from the various minerals that are in the rock.
Coming from a more populated state, it is delicious to watch these horses running free and wild.
Though I took several pictures of the Mummy Cave, this is the last photo I took. The tour stops here for a lunch break before starting our return trip. (This album does not have the accident photos.) To see the rest of my pictures in a full screen slide show, click on the link below:
May 20, 2012
Huge rock faces surround you in this beautiful campground at Red Rock Park. Located on Navajo land, it was once a state park and is now run by the city of Gallup.
The park’s most famous feature is Church Rock, clearly visible from the park and the road as you drive to Gallup on Route 66/interstate 40.
We drove around the park to admire its grandeur. This edifice demarcates the Rodeo grounds.
The world championship roping competition is held here in June with rodeo events every weekend in June and and on into July.
Smaller rock faces, and the huge bluffs, all red, are beautiful. On our drive in, we noticed the unusual topography nearby. Once unhooked, we jumped in the Bronco and back tracked about a mile or two to take pictures of the roadside cliffs and bluffs.
What formations and colors. It put me in mind of ice cream.
Layers of creamy white.
The formations make up a relatively small area, but well worth the drive to see them.
We drove on into old town Gallup to look around. Gallup is credited with having the most number of old Route 66 buildings and signs still intact within 10 miles on either side of the city and in town as well.
In the old days, crossing Indian lands through New Mexico brought you to a string of Trading Posts. There are over 100 of them left in New Mexico, one called the Outlaws dating from 1883 right here in the park. And several in town and nearby Gallup. This turquoise covered cattle skull was in Richardsons, one of the posts well know for turquoise jewelry.
The Navajo are famous for their jewelry. This piece was about the size of half a dinner plate. We don’t know what it would be used for.
The one piece I thought I’d buy was this beautiful squash blossom necklace. I thought it was the most beautiful piece in the store. The clerk took it out of the case and said you have good taste. I tried it on and fell in love. The price? $150,000. It is Navajo made and old. The piece under it, with the smaller pieces is Zuni. The Navajo are famous for their large pieces, the Zuni for their fine, small work. We didn’t stay long. Richardsons Trading Post was overpriced. We found nice stuff, cheaper on the back streets, but nothing like that wonderful antique squash blossom (drool) necklace.
I took a picture of this boot for my daughter, Stanne since she collects shoes.
To see the rest of my pictures, click the link.
April 15, 2012
I crossed over the Stanislaus river to sign my taxes for e-filing, and to pick up my paperwork, an especially beautiful drive at this time of year. No traffic to speak of. I could stop in the middle of the road and take pictures. After descending into the canyon, the bridge is in front of me.
Here I got out and aimed for that bright patch of green on the opposite bank.
The rain has given the wild flowers a boost.
Roadside lupines taller than I’ve ever seen them.
Mosses thick and lush.
Redbud blooming everywhere.
A bit of bright orange caught my eye. Though I couldn’t identify it, I admire its tenacity as it seems to choose inhospitable rocky places to grow and show off some color.
The weather was supposed to be sunny yesterday. Instead it was drear, but it didn’t affect my pleasure in my trip across the river. The foothills of Calaveras and Tuolumne County are beautiful in the spring. (You can click on these photos to make them bigger.)
March 19, 2012
A glance out my kitchen deck revealed four inches of snow. I quickly retreated to hot tea and toast. It will melt off by 10 a.m. I guessed. Huh! It snowed all day. With mail yet to sort through, I had plenty to keep me busy.
Periodically through the day, I went outside to admire the beauty of it. Wouldn’t want to fill a whole season with the stuff, but it has its glory.
It got thicker and thicker as the day wore on. Then it would melt a bit and start over.
The scene out the bedroom side of the house was irresistible. (Click to enlarge)
The contrast of snow and moss on that old tree of mine. Not many opportunities to see that happen.
My woodpile wore the frosting. No matter. I couldn’t use the wood anyway since my chimney needs cleaning and the chimney sweep didn’t answer my phone call. It was a beautiful, quiet, Sunday, and as I walked inside, I dropped my new camera with the lens open and broke it. I have a temporary back-up camera, but I’m sad about my little Canon Elph. What a sweet little camera. I’m in the snow while Jim endured a wind storm. I know a family that moved from Southern California because too many sunny days without contrast is boring. It’s never boring here.
March 4, 2012
You are looking at the historical site of Fort Hauchuca, the buildings are newer but the beautiful mountain frames the very spot where Captain Whitside brought new recruits to live in their tents and fight the Indians.
They sang, they trained, they marched and accepted their lot.
During the grueling Apache campaigns, officers decided a soldier could live on 3/4 pound of slab bacon, or l 1/4 pound of fresh beans; 1 1/8 pounds of flour or 1 lb of hard bread; 0.15 pounds of dry beans, or 0.10 pounds of dry rice; 0.10 lb of coffee and 0.15 lbs of sugar. An Irishman might lament a diet of beans and bacon and did so in song:
“We wint to Arizona, got to fight the injins there, we came near to be made bald-headed, but they dint git our hair. We lay among the ditches, in the dirty yellow mud, but we never saw a turnip, an onion or a spud.”
And then, later, they built their own quarters.
Women joined their husbands after permanence came to Fort Huachuca.
It wasn’t easy for the enlisted men’s wives and they, too, put their woes to verse.
By this time the Mexican border skirmishes were subdued but Pancho Villa lived to fight another day.
The fort, along with 70 other forts between Texas and California, saw settlers into the Western regions and secured and expanded the borders of the United States.
In 1886, Captain Lawton, and Lt. Charles Gatewood rode into Geronimo’s camp and asked him to surrender. These photos are from his first surender when he signed a peace treaty. A magazine cameraman got the first photos of Geronimo during the negotiations for that first surrender.
The cameraman was intent on his work and would ask Geronimo, stand here, turn your foot that way. Much to the officer’s surprise, Geronimo did as the cameraman suggested.
Eleven years later, the army was using the Apache’s for scouts.
An Arizona regiment of Buffalo Soldiers came to the fort in 1892. They had been stationed in Arizona since 1885. They were much admired by the Indians who referred to them as “buffalo soldiers” because their wooly hair resembled the curly buffalo hair between the horns. The soldiers liked and accepted the name and went with it. The Buffalo Soldiers fought the Indians, Mexican insurgents and proved their metal in many ways. They didn’t get the acceptance they wanted after the Civil War, but they didn’t give up. They were indispensable foot soldiers in WWI. Several men received France’s Crosse de Guerre, during battles in France fighting with the French army. One man stood out above the rest, Corporal Eddie Stowers was recommended for the United States Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. The paperwork conveniently “got lost.” African Americans didn’t get the acceptance they had earned as hard fighting Americans then, either.
Nor after World War II. In fact, Corporal Stowers didn’t get his metal awarded to his family until 1991. Click on his story to read about his heroism. What a blot on the American conscience to have so treated a heroic soldier in this manner, and the still overt and subtle racism we have today.
The fort was predominantly home base to the Buffalo Soldiers for 38 years, with various regiments in and regiments out. At times, they were the only soldiers on post.
The Apache served again, not only as enlisted men, but for the use of their language for codes during WWII that the enemy could not break.
Modernization came. Most of those 70 forts are gone but Fort Huachuca is still a vital link in the service of our country. It has seen every war. It closed briefly after WWII and for seven months after the Korean war. It was revamped as an intelligence center. In 1954 it became the electronic warfare proving ground and test center and is still used as a vital part of our defense today. A separate museum depicts early army intelligence.
I like museums but sometimes they overwhelm. This one gave its story in an easy flow, without miring you in minutiae. Besides the people of the Fort, there are wonderful paintings, drawings and sculpture. The grounds have much history and archeology to view as well. Well worth a stop if you are traveling in this area.
February 19, 2012
A National Historic Monument, San Xaviar Mission was founded by Spanish Padre Kino in 1692. The current church replaced it in 1783, making it the oldest European style structure in Arizona. It is situated on the O’oddham Indian Reservation. It suffered earthquake damage in 1887 and the restoration process was the most fascinating aspect of the Mission to me.
It’s long and narrow and colorful. Now, with electric lights, you can better appreciate the work. Originally, it was lit with hundreds of candles and what little light came from four small windows in the center arch of the church. The roof is divided into four arches with two arched knaves to either side of the altar knave, making the building into the shape of a cross.
The windows are beautiful and allow one to see the frescoes during daylight.
There is said to be 50 human figures in the church. This statue of the Virgin Mary appears to be wearing cloth, but all is made of stone as are the drab curtains behind her.
No one knows who designed and painted the original church, but studies of Catholic iconography show that everything in it had a particular place and meaning.
The beautiful arched ceiling frescoes, the figures, paintings and altar decorations, inspire awe, but more so the restoration after the earthquake.
At the four corners of every arch is a painting. And running through out the church is the knotted rope of the Franciscan Robes visible above the painting. The original work was most likely done by a Spanish artist, but the restoration was done and paid for by the O’oddham Indians the church serves. With donations and grants, they hired experts from Italy to teach them how to do restoration work, a skill they now pass on to a new generation enabling the church to be cared for forever, one hopes.
The outside facade of the building was severely damaged by the earthquake and a lightning strike took off the top of the North tower in 1939. Several restoration efforts failed. In 1953, they rebuilt crumbling areas of handmade brick covered with plaster just like the original. Then they patched cracks and covered everything with a cement wash. The cement wash was a mistake.
The cement wash prevented the building from breathing and kept the inside damp, further damaging the art work on the inside. Analysis of the materials and the advice of Italian experts who learned from experience, they tried a new wash from materials at hand. The new wash made from lime and sand and cactus was successful. It kept the building from leaking and allowed the thick walls to breathe and dry out properly.
The facade was restored in 1953. The painstaking inside restoration was begun in 1992 and completed over a period of five years. If you’ve ever seen a wall with flaking paint, you can imagine what it was like. Using hypodermic needles, they injected liquid with a thin epoxy into each flake to get it to re-adhere to the painting. Once stabilized, the spots where no paint remains are sponged or brushed on to blend with the original painting. A video in the museum allows you to see the process and meet the locals who were sent to Italy to learn restoration.
There is much to see here. An adjacent mortuary once used to hold bodies awaiting burial. A school sits behind it. A hill on the north side of the church has a sanctuary built into the rocks resembling Our Lady of Lourdes.
About the place interesting touches of old. A door latch.
A cross of iron in a gate.
The unique way water is drained from a flat roof.
Ignacio Franko explained the significance of this gate design to O’oddham culture, where a man walks and reaches hard turns in the road but always circles back to the good of life. He is the leader of the band, White Dove Mumsiga.
In the museum, one can see the old saguaro rib and wattle building methods of old.
This bell wheel turned by the altar boys, old vestments, baskets and everyday artifacts along with a huge Spanish tome with colorful lettering are on display.
We visited on a Saturday when multiple baptisms were being performed. People were enjoying this wonderful ritual and it was fun to watch them enjoy this time. Vendors were waiting for the crowds to leave the church. They were selling green and red chili burritos, Indian fry bread with cinnamon and sugar, and beans and chili. Great smells and a great tasting burrito.
We climbed the hill for a last look at the White Dove of the Desert.
February 1, 2012
We traveled what was once a 53 mile drive, now closed except for 5 miles. Drug traffickers and desperados escaping Mexico’s poverty made it too dangerous for the public. In this section I found the biggest saguaro I’ve ever seen. In open places it is tough to estimate it’s size, but I’m guessing 60 feet tall.
In general, the saguaro in this section of the park were fatter and bigger. Many washes, indicating more water might be the reason. Our hike goal today was to visit tinaja, a spanish word for well.
We came across a covered mine shaft on our way to tinaja.
And a horse watering trough, grown over roads, and other signs of ranching here are evident. The grasses more verdant.
Some ocotillo in the area are in full bloom. And a bigger variety of flowers noticeable. Some so tiny you can’t get a picture of them.
Saguaros still dominate the landscape.
When I found this cactus formation of a W, it reminded me that I’m always hunting for the perfect saguaro, the one you see in all of the artists drawings of a tubular center and two perfectly shaped arms one on each side. The arms grow straight out from the body before turning straight up. I did in fact see a saguaro shaped like that as we were driving down the highway in 2009. We were going too fast to stop for the picture, but I won’t let that happen again if I ever find another.
We reached tinaja. Red base rock that holds water.
Tiny pools of brackish water. Survival here is devilish for humans and animals.
It was very obvious how much bigger and plentiful the desert grasses are in this section.
A pretty poppy.
A dead saguaro arm resembled the snout of an alligator.
It was a short 1.5 mile hike in. I rode my bike after dinner and then, as usual, we enjoyed another beautiful sunset.
January 22, 2012
If the sky is slightly clouded, a desert sunrise can be truly spectacular. None of these photos were doctored, except to crop some of the bottom out. From a straight shot, I moved my lens to the left of the Shell station sign visible in the lower left corner.
We spent a busy “housekeeping” day. Jim cleaned out old files, fixed an appointment to have the motor home and Bronco washed and waxed. I worked on learning how to get old music CD’s into my Ipod, and failed to figure it out. The music was fun, even so. We danced around the motor home like teenagers.
Later in the day, I finished a bike ride just in time. No sooner was the bike locked back on the Bronco when a desert windstorm came up, billowing sand about for a about four hours.
The boon-dockers on the other side of the fence seemed to be getting the worst of it. We have more plants and gravel in the park. Their terrain is sandy. The desert is an unpredictable place. Not the worst storm we’ve ever been in nor the worst sand. We drove through a horrific sandstorm caused by ATV’s on our way to Lake Havasu in 2010. And also a windstorm that blew 18 wheelers over like toys in Mojave.
January 5, 2012
Some adventures are questionable, like this one:
Returning from Sonora, I stopped at a gas station. The driveway is practically a block long, how can you miss it? A sweeping curve is not sweeping. It has an impediment, a curb. Pop! I hit the curb with my back right tire.
He said, “Happens all the time. You think your back end will follow through. I’ve hit that same curb myself. That driveway was widened and they didn’t do it right.” True or not, he made me feel better about a lousy and expensive fix. He told me the tire got pinched and isn’t fixable.