Monday, October 31, 2011

Cottonwood, AZ - Final Sedona Hike for 2011

Meanwhile, we planned another hike here in the Red Rock country of Sedona. We love hiking here because the terrain is so beautiful: the rocks so red, the foliage so green and the sky so blue. And, the temperatures have always been perfect for hiking the three times we have been here.

It’s not too difficult to find a great trail, especially since so many link up and you can combine some for longer hikes or hike a trail alone for a shorter hike. Today we chose the Soldier’s Pass and the Brins Mesa for a two-fer.

What more can I say about hiking in Sedona? I’ll let my pictures tell the story.


One thing both Gary and I noticed about Sedona that we hadn't notice on previous visits is that there were lots of home for sale. Now,  Sedona is a fairly wealthy town and the median home value is $494,097, and many of these home are second, third home or more. This recession has even hit the town of Sedona where one might not expect it.

Tomorrow we head for Apache Junction, east of Phoenix.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cottonwood, AZ - Red Rock State Park

There is a plethora of things to do in the Sedona area. We find the hiking superb, the colors of the rocks amazing and I understand the shopping is great. We haven’t been to Red Rock State Park yet and today, we wanted a short hike and didn’t want to walk around the campground as we sometimes have. This park has the same red rocks and greet foliage as Sedona and we enjoyed our hike and will come back here to hike again. However, our memories are of the tarantula and the lost couple.
When we hike, I usually keep an eye glued to the ground: firstly to find my footing and secondly to watch for snakes and other unpleasant things. Well, today, we rounded a corner and a guy ahead of us pointed down and whispered ‘tarantula’ as if he didn’t want the tarantula to hear him. Sure enough, there it was. I kept urging Gary to stand near it so, when I took a picture, I could have a human reference to show how big it was. But he was reluctant. Both of us were trying to figure out how to get by it, whether to be first or second.
This park closed right at 5:00, not a minute earlier, not a minute later and, if your car was in the parking lot at night, it would be in the parking lot in the morning. No ifs, ands, or buts. We were hiking pretty fast since we didn’t not want to spend the night here and, towards the end of the trail we found a couple holding a map, admitting they were lost and asking us where they were. They told us they had been on this part of the trail 3 times, walking different directions and didn’t know which way to get out. We pointed out where they were and how to get outBut they wanted to see this and see that and were shuffling along the trail. We walked with them for a while but wanted to see more so left them.

There’s a beautiful stream flowing through the park with a picturesque bridge over it.
We finally got close to the 5:00 witching hour and hurried along. When we got back to the Visitor Center, we told the Rangers about this couple and that they might need to look for them.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cottonwood, AZ - Red Rocks and Green Foliage

What a nice day. Great weather, a great hike and a great meal with friends to end the day. We’ve been good sitting here for the last 2 days getting things done that we have postponed as we have traveled through the 4 corners region of the US. Today it’s time to hike. We will have 2 months in Gold Canyon (east of Phoenix) to sit and do - whatever. We’re here in Sedona, let’s explore.

We’ve hiked in Sedona before but there are so many trails around here that we could hike for several months and never repeat a trail. Today, we want to try Boynton Canyon which we’ve hear is particularly beautiful. As we went up the trail, we hiked through different layers of trees. We began in a desert with cactus and short shrubbery. As we moved higher, we were walking through manzanita with deep red branches and bright shiny green leaves. Further up the trail, we were shuffling through yellow leaves from both aspen and oak. At times, there were so many leaves that they obscured the trail. it felt as if we were on a fall hike through Vermont or New Hampshire.
But, no matter the type of vegetation, the one constant was the deep red cliffs overhead. We couldn’t always see them through the trees but then we’d get a glimpse and know we were in Sedona. As the canyon narrowed, the high cliffs blocked the sun in the canyon where we were hiking and we felt chilled. We had taken off the legs to our hiking pants and were hiking in shorts, short sleeve shirts and a collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up. But, we were hiking up and our body heat kept us warm. On the way back from the top of the canyon, we passed a couple in knit caps, gloves, down vests, long-sleeve shirts, and jeans who asked: is there any sun ahead?
The trail was a poplar one and we met many others either going up or going down. Thus, though this is officially ‘wilderness’ we didn’t often have times when we were alone on the trail. We also could hear the ubiquitous sounds of the helicopters as they carried tourists over, bi-planes with their tourists and then another helicopter buzzing right down the canyon itself.
But, yes, Boynton Canyon was a delightful hike. No matter where you look,, you can see the red cliffs peering through the foliage.
In the evening we had dinner with 2 other couples in campsites near us. We met Wendy and Barry from British Columbia several weeks ago in Mexican Hat, UT and, since we had the same path for the next 4 weeks, we’ve been seeing each other from campground to campground. They are next to Sharon and Gene and thus we 3 couples had dinner together tonight. We all brought our own main dish and then a side dish for all to share.

I, of course brought my deviled eggs. The last two times I’ve had hard cooked eggs, I’ve had a ‘devil’ of a time peeling them. The shells stuck to the eggs, took forever to peel and, when I got done, they were a mess. When you do deviled eggs for others, you are making ‘show’ eggs and want them to be perfect. Luckily, this time, they peeled almost decently and I had my ‘show’ eggs.

What a delightful meal. When RV’ers get together, they talk about they places that have been. This was a more unusual group since Wendy has sailed for 3 years in the South Seas around Austrailia, New Zealand and even out to Tonga. Now, do you know where Tonga is? I had a general idea: in the South Seas - which gives me a lot of leeway. Anyway, she sailed from New Zealand to Tonga in 14 days in a 27’ sailboat. Now, pace off 27’ and put a sailboat in this length. Can you imagine 14 days, out of sight of land in a 27’ sailboat?

Interestingly enough, Sharon has also visited Tonga. 6 people sitting around a picnic table in Cottonwood, Arizona and 2 of them have been to Tonga. What are the chances of that? Obviously, RV’ers are great travelers - but, TONGA?

It was a delightful ending to a delightful day.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cottonwood, AZ - Jerome and the Gold King Mine

One of the neat little day trips from Cottonwood is a small town named Jerome. Today it is a small town of 450 souls, most of them artists, restaurant owners and shop keepers and a few eccentrics, in other words it is a town for tourists and artists. However, it has a storied past filled with gold, rowdy miners, madams, wealthy mine owners and many others just trying to make a living out of the ore.

It sits on top of Cleopatra Hill, 5200’ up a winding mountain road next to one of the largest copper mines in Arizona which at its peak produced 3 million pounds of copper per month. In 1876 Jerome began when 3 prospectors staked claims on the rich copper deposits there. It began as a mining settlement of tents and grew into a roaring mining community with schools, hospitals, stores, churches, an opera house, several civic buildings and even sidewalks. At one point Jerome was the 4th largest city in the Arizona territory with a population peaking at 15,000 in the 1920’s. But, when the demand for copper slowed after WWII, the mine was closed, the miners and their families left and, by the 1960’s only 50 to 100 residents remained. They began to promote their town for tourism, first calling it a ghost town but now it is a thriving community and bustling tourist attraction.

The last time we had visited, the Jerome State Historic Park was closed so we ventured up again to see this and to spend some time in Jerome.

The Jerome State Historic Park is actually a mansion built in 1916 by James S Douglas, the owner of the richest copper mine in the town, for his family to live in while in Jerome. It is 8700 square feet, cost $150,000 when built and was built of adobe blocks made on site and thought to be the largest adobe structure in the country. Because the walls were made of adobe blocks, they were considerably deeper than most and you can see that in the picture below.
In the house were a central vacuum system and Gary is standing next to that, electricity, concrete floors and a wine cellar, billiard room, marble shower and steam heat. It was quite a marvel for its time. Unfortunately, his family never lived there since it was so close to the mines in Jerome and thus not where his family wanted to live. Jerome was dusty, dirty, noisy and crowded, not a place to raise a family. Oh, wait a minute, the miners had to raise their families there.
There were lots of pictures and displays of old mining equipment, maps of claims, stories of mines, etc. There were some displays of the drills miners used to find the copper ore. These drills, soon nicknamed ‘widow-makers’ stirred up dust and other particles which found their way into miners lungs. Many miners died of this but, when a judge had a chance to rule on safety, he declared that miners knew what they were getting into and that the mine owners bore no liability.

Here’s an ‘elevator’ car which took he miners down to where the work was. Note how small it was - there was no explanation about how many men could fit into one of these cars for the ride down. And, ‘down’ they went, further down, 1900’, than the height of the Empire State Building, 1250’. Claustrophobia? Dusty? Dirty? Dark?
The displays it has which intrigued us the most were 3 dimensional displays of mines showing where the main deposits were, the shafts to get to them and the town sitting on top. I wish it might have shown up better in pictures but it just doesn’t

After this we journeyed over to the Gold King Mine Ghost Town owned by Don Robertson. It is part junk yard,
part working lumber mill, part restoration factory and part old ghost town with buildings and machinery. You just have to guess which is which. Don himself looks the part of an old miner gone to seed. But his appearance belies his abilities, skills and dreams. There was nothing here until he bought this land and he has hauled all of the things here and is working to restore them. One car he restored was a 1928 Studebaker Race Car and he still races it. He likes to start out at the rear of the pack and pass the others to demonstrate how good the old cars were made.
It is a hoot. The story is that he originally charged $1.00 to see his place but people figured they’d get only $1.00 of sights. So he raised his prices and draws flocks of tourists now. You can hear the old sawmill working as you drive in. He’ll fire up his vintage race car for you if you wish.

And, look, he’s got an old motorhome. Pretty authentic: real wood sides, real metal roof - I’m wondering if it has real corian countertops.
Does his place look like a junkyard? You bet. Was it fun to visit and see what he’s restored? Absolutely. We had a great time in our day in Jerome and could have found more to do. If you have a chance, visit Jerome.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cottonwood, AZ - Math Problems

Here’s a math problem for you:

Nancy and Gary can do one washer load per day when they are busy out of the RV. They also create 1/2 washer load per day. They then added sheets and towels for 1 1/2 washer loads and Nancy washed her sweaters for 1 1/2 loads. They got to Cottonwood on a Sunday with 5 loads of laundry in their cupboard (they’ve been traveling pretty fast and have been waiting until they got to Cottonwood). On what day will they be finished with the laundry?

Yeah, yeah, you’re probably saying that they should stop wearing clothes and they will solve the whole laundry problem.

Didn’t you just hate those word problems in school? My favorite were those with two trains approaching each other on the tracks at different speeds. If train A is going 50 mph and train B is going 65 mph. and they are 6 miles apart, how long will you have to wait for a humongous crash?

Actually, the math problem is valid and we are doing laundry in Cottonwood. But, then it’s a lousy / perfect day depending upon who you listen to. Thundershowers, steady rain, clouds and chilly temperatures. This much rain for so long is not common out here in the desert regions and the people who live here are ecstatic. And, since they are, I am also. I know how parched this land is and am happy to see the rain come. On the other hand, I hope that all those hikers who are prone to hike in slot canyons were not hiking today.
Hey, rain’s ok - we’ve got laundry to do. We also have lot so bookwork and are taking this wet opportunity to do that also. We went to the community room near the pool and found several others dutifully pecking away on their computers. Almost like a library until the two kids came in to play pool. That added a bit of chatter and excitement.

We left about 3:00, donned our hiking boots back at the RV and took off onto the trails around the park. We expected rain at any minute so also were wearing raincoats. Sure enough, as we were heading back, it began to spit, then sprinkle, then rain then pour. Shucks. Our raincoats kept us half dry but our legs and socks were soaked. Our neighbors must have questioning our sanity.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Flagstaff, AZ - Bagging Elden

We began the day with our usual big Sunday breakfast, scrambled eggs liberally laced with onions, red, green and yellow peppers and fresh spinach, english muffins with peanut butter and jelly and a fruit smoothie. Classical music playing on the Sirius. Reading the Des Moines Sunday paper. Love those Sunday breakfasts. Oops, no Sunday paper here but we read the news and do a crossword puzzle on the computer. Our next chore is to move 1 mile down the road to another campground. Why? Don’t ask - I’m not sure even I know the reason.

When we got there, at 10:00, we found the office locked with a sign saying that it opened at 12:00 on Sunday. Drat. So we parked our RV in one of their many empty spots, put a note on the window and went off to do some errands: groceries, Verizon to check our wi-fi and others. Back at the RV park, the office was still locked at 1:00 but the owner came out, helped us and we were able to set up the RV and decide what to do next.

Relax                                                                                       Bo-o-ring

Read a book                                                                            Bo-o-ring

Bookwork                                                                               Bo-o-ring

Laundry                                                                                  Bo-o-ring

Shop                                                                                       Bo-o-ring squared

How about a hike up Mt. Elden, the most challenging hike in the area? Short but steep. Now, you’re talking. It is a 2 1/2 mile hike, 2500’ almost straight up with lots of rocks and boulders to scramble over. Yeah, lead us to it
We began at 2:40, a bit late (remember that Arizona is on standard time, not daylight time) for this particular hike in late October. Especially since Gary and I can’t stop until we reach the end of a hike - no turning around in the middle for us. Most of the people we saw were young and scampering down at 3:00 p.m. What are two old farts, flatlanders from Iowa, doing at 3:00 p.m. climbing up? But, climb we did. Actually, with the time frame we had, we couldn’t take many ‘oh, isn’t that a beautiful view, I need to take a picture’ puffing breaks. It is a challenging, grueling hike but we loved it.
Through the ponderosa pine, the yuccas, over the boulders, views of the city spread below us at every switchback but the sun dipped behind the mountain as we climbed higher. Luckily we had our poles for this hike. Footing was treacherous at times - though not for the trio we met running down the trail. How in the world do people run down trails?

Finally we glimpsed the sun on a tree ahead of us, then we turned a corner and the sun was shining on us - we had made it to the top. And, what views - a 360 degree circle above Flagstaff. We could see the San Francisco peaks to the North, the painted desert to the northeast, Route 17 heading to Phoenix in the south, the city of Flagstaff circling the mountain below and the pine forest ringing the city.
We tarried a bit but knew we had to head down pretty fast so down we went. We actually met a guy heading up who told us he had left his wife further below and then one other 20-ish male climbing up as we were heading down. We found the wife sitting dutifully on a rock waiting but she did admit she was getting a bit cold and her shirt was in her husband’s back pack.

Again, it was treacherous footing on the trail and our poles helped immensely. And, did I mention that it was getting dark? The sun was setting on the other side of Mt. Elden and we could see its shadow lengthening across the valley below us. Then we could see the lights of the city come on. Cars had their headlights on. What in the world are we doing still coming down a mountain?

Towards the bottom, the boulders decreased and the trail leveled out. That was good for us since we were having trouble seeing anyway. We reached our car right before it got too dark to see the trail. But - what about the others still on the trail? i don’t know but, for once, we were not the ones to close the trail, the last ones back to the trailhead.

We took off our boots, stowed our equipment, turned the car heater on full and headed back to the RV with our headlights on, thankful that we had made it down while we could still see the trail.

Dinner was: cruel gruel (hot oatmeal for me) and cold cereal for Big Gary. Again we show our age but it was too late to cook a meal. Showers and relaxation.

Are we glad we hiked this trail? You bet: it was challenging, the views were a great payoff at the end and sprinting to the bottom to beat the dark was exciting and kept our adrenaline pumping.

But, should we have started earlier? Yep. Should we have taken our little lights? Yep, again. Are we sometimes the dimmest bulbs in the chandelier? Don’t answer that, I already know what you’re going to say.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Flagstaff, AZ - Sunset Crater and Wupatki

Well, I guess we’ve been sitting around long enough and it’s time to venture out to see Sunset Crater and an Ancestral Puebloan village called Wupatki. Both are on the NE outskirts of Flagstaff and about 20 minutes from our campground.

Sunset Crater is actually a volcano which erupted sometime between 1080 - 1150 AD. When it erupted, it probably rumbled for days beforehand, warning the Sinaqua, the indigenous people who farmed in this area, who abandoned this area and moved further afield, into the Wuparki area to the north.

Soon after the turnoff to the National Monument, you are driving through a grassy field dotted with pine trees. At this time of year the grass is a beautiful golden and about 2’ long. It’s a glorious drive on a sunny day. Then you spy the lava field. From afar and close up, it looks like big chunks of black dirt just turned over by the plow. That’s my Iowa background showing through. Actually, the big chunks are hard brittle chunks of black lava. This lava field is about 20 feet high and, from our view level with the field, it was difficult to tell how wide it was. Very difficult to hike in but across the road was a huge ash heap which looked like a tall hill.

This we could climb but it was like climbing a sand dune, 2’ forward, 1’ slippage. the askes and cinders were small, irregularly shaped and slippery. And, the trail didn’t have many switchbacks: someone thought they’d wear us out on the first hill and designed a vertical trail. Here’s Gary holding a handful of what we were walking on. Imagine trying to ascend a 100 yd hill on this stuff.
But, the view of the San Francisco Peaks from the top was stupendous. Here we met a couple who also RV and spend their winters in the Alabama panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico. (They were out here for a family reunion in Tucson and, when they get home, they’ll pack up and leave for Alabama.) Sounded nice and we’ll look into it for next year.

Sunset Crater is just a bit further along the road. Climbing it used to be allowed but, because it is ash cinders like Gary is holding above, the trail kept widening and widening until it was changing the slope of the crater itself. Finally, they closed the trail in 1973, shoveled the ashes back to where they started to prevent further erosion and put in a loop trail below the Crater. This enables you to walk in the actual lava field.
If you look closely at the black ash on the right hand side of the crater you can see the shadows of the former trail.

Since the top of the mountain has a reddish cast, John Wesley Powell, who was the first explorer in this region, named it Sunset Crater.

Then on to Wupatki, after a short picnic lunch on an overlook from which we could see the Painted Desert, hazy in the distance.

Wupatki is actually a group of 800 identified ruins spread out around the deserts around the current site of the monument. Many of the ruins we have seen recently have been much larger groupings. In this case the groupings are smaller but there are more of them. The Monument road takes you by about 6 of these and you can hike out to them for a closer look from parking lots at each of these. Sometimes you can see other groupings off in the distance.

They are all made out of the reddish Moenkapi stone prevalent in the area. They were made by the Sinaqua during the 1100’s and 1200’s who moved her from their original farms near the Sunset volcano when its eruption made that land infertile. As happened throughout this area, the people abandoned their villages in the 1300’s and headed south.

The largest of the buildings is Wupatki (Hopi for ‘big house’) which probably held 300 people and was 3 stories. Here’s what it probably looked like in is heyday and here is what it looks like now. It’s pretty impressive.

Next we visited the Wuloki ruins which consists of a large tower built on a high ridge of sandstone.
We also visited several other of the ruins, always impressed with the skill with which they were built, their size and how they incorporated the stone they found into their buildings. Note the square edges and the large boulders incorporated into the design.

Great examples of the building, farming and organizational skills of these early peoples. How they could grow enough crops to feed themselves on this rocky desert land is amazing.
As we were leaving the Visitor Center, here’s what drove up and disgorged about 90 junior high kids. Looks like our timing was perfect.
Then home.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flagstaff, AZ - Errands and the Library

Since we stayed inside for most of yesterday, we decided to run some errands and get to the local library to update our computers. I’ve got two updates that will take about 2 hours each and then some smaller ones. Plus, I’ve got to update some aps in my iPad. Looks like another indoors day.

We rushed out in the morning so we could get to Brandy’s Bakery and Restaurant. If we could get there by 8:00, we could save $1.00 on the ‘special’ and that’s our kind of bargain. Nice restaurant and the meal was very good. Since the library opens at 10:00, we planned to drink lots of coffee and read the paper. However, the restaurant filled up after 9:00 and we left a bit earlier than we had planned.

Thus, another errand before the library. As we drove around Flagstaff, we noted several Mom and Pop breakfast restaurants with lots of cars around them. Unfortunately, we are here only 6 days and won’t be able to take advantage of them. Alas: too many restaurants, too few days. We usually eat out one breakfast per week and we are meeting with some friends on Tuesday for breakfast. We don’t often get to Flagstaff where they live and, ironically, during the 6 days we spend here, they are in Ames, Iowa. Wouldn’t you know?


The library was a very nice library and we found a table near a window with views of the yellow aspens shedding their leaves. The library is right next to a park where people were having picnics, kids were playing tag football, young couples were sitting on a wall talking. I hooked my computer up to receive the updates and they began to churn away. Oops, I lost the connection. I hooked it up again and it churned again. Oops, there goes that connection again. Not only that, but it was incredibly slow. We kept working away and the updates kept churning but I had to keep monitoring the connection. Finally, about 3:30, I moved to a different table 15’ away and, sure enough, no disconnects and the updates were done in jig time. I should have moved much earlier.

Time to go home.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Winslow, AZ - Standing on the Corner

We began today with donuts and a drive by the famous Wigwam Motel in Holbrook.


One of the iconic images of old Route 66. Maybe here is a good time to explain the difference between a wigwam and a teepee. A teepee has poles forming a circle at the bottom and tied together near the top. A wigwam is domed at the top and made with branches and covered in various materials depending upon where it was built such as grass, brush, bark, rushes, mats, reeds, hides or cloth. Now, tell me, is the Wigwam Motel aptly named?


Then we drove on to Winslow, Arizona, which has become a tourist stop ever since the Eagles song about standing on the corner came out.

‘Standing on the corner watching all the girls go by
Standing on the corner, giving all the girls the eye…’

Oops, wrong song, wrong generation, wrong activity. Here’s the song written by Jackson Browne and Glen Frey that we in this generation all remember and can quote:

‘Well, I'm running down the road tryin' to loosen my load
I've got seven women on my mind,
Four that wanna own me, Two that wanna stone me,
One says she's a friend of mine
Take It easy, take it easy
Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can, don't even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand and take it easy

Well, I'm a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see
It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me’

This is the song that the German couple at Canyon de Chelly and countless others can sing word for word.

Poor Winslow, in its early history and up until the 1960’s, was the largest town in northern Arizona and a prominent stop first on the railroads and then on Route 66. Thousands of well-off tourists took the railroad to Winslow, stopped, stayed a few days in a hotel, La Posada, commissioned by Fred Harvey of restaurant fame and designed by Mary Colter in 1930, who also designed several buildings at the Grand Canyon. Later route 66 also brought tourists to Winslow to eat, to stay overnight and to visit.


Fred Harvey was not just a restauranteur, he had a vision of what ‘civilized’ travel should look like: linen table cloths, silverware, china tableware and crystal and used this vision to develope some amazing hotels. Harvey developed and ran all the hotels and restaurants of the Santa Fe Railway. But, his finest hotel was to be the La Posada. Costing over $1,000,000 for the construction and over $2,000,000 for the grounds and furnishings, it was to be his masterpiece. And, with Mary Colter at the helm of the construction, the decoration and the ambiance, it was one of the best.


Many luminaries from many fields stayed in La Posade and ate in its dining room, the Turquoise Room, in its heyday: Hopalong Cassidy, Shirley Temple, Charles and Anne Morrow LIndberg (on their honeymoon while he was designing the local airport commissioned by Howard Hughes), John Wayne, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, The Crown Prince of Japan, Gene Autry, Bob Hope and many others.


It opened in 1927 and stayed open until 1957. Then, as happened to many small towns, the Interestate system was born with the goal of getting people from one place to another very fast. And small towns along the highways with their quirkiness and hominess gave way to the sterility of the Interstate. Winslow was one of these towns. The Turquoise Room gave way to MacDonalds. Tourism died, businesses closed, people moved and this small town lost its prominence. When La Posada closed, the furnishings were auctioned off and the interior was gutted to make offices for the Santa Fe Railroad employees. Ouch, isn’t it amazing what we do to some national treasures?

Then in the 1990’s some people took an interest in the small town that the Interstate passed by.

La Posada was put onto the endangered list for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and in 1994 Allan Affeldt took an interest in the hotel, purchased it after much wrangling and has restored it to its original prominence.

The second piece of the puzzle for Winslow was developing a park in its downtown designed around the notoriety brought to the small town by the Eagles song: ‘Take it Easy.’ Here you can see a statue of what I think looks like Jackson Browne, a trompe-l’oeil with a brunette waving at you from a window in a building and a flatbed Ford off to the side.

StandingontheCorner-9-2011-10-18-21-47.jpg StandingontheCorner-6-2011-10-18-21-47.jpg

Across the street is a store devoted to Winslow tourism selling t-shirts, purses, key chains, etc. And, then, next to this is a marvelous small museum, where you can meet the curator whose mother was a bonafide Harvey Girl. The Harvey Girls were young single women of good character,with at least an 8th grade education, good manners, who were neat and articulate. Harvey interviewed himself and hired to work in his restaurants. When hired they were given a rail ticket to their place of employment, a uniform, good wages and room and board. They could not date nor marry any of their customers while there were working there but, when they quit, many did. Surprise, surprise. The uniform on the left below was the official Harvey Girls uniform while the one on the right is the one used in La Posada, more in keeping with the Southwestern decor.


We visited this neat small museum devoted to the history of Winslow. When it opened it had one small clown exhibit but residents and former residents began to deluge the museum with artifacts. Today, their archives are full and they are looking for larger quarters.

Today, you can not only stay in the elegant La Posada and eat in its renown Turquoise Room but you can also stand on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. You can also visit this unique museum.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Holbrook, AZ - Into the Jail

We have one day left in Holbrook and wanted to see the Museum, about which we’ve heard a lot of good things. We began the day with a breakfast with Wendy and Barry at a restaurant that I had read good reviews for. Wrong - and I convinced 3 others to try it. The hash browns were arid, the scrambled eggs not scrambled, just fried in the pan and folded onto our plates and the toast was more like Swedish brod, stiff and crunchy. Oh, well, you can’t win them all.

We then walked across the street to the historic Navajo County Courthouse which has been turned into a museum. It actually was a courthouse until 1976 when a new governmental building was opened but it didn’t become a museum until the 1980’s. It has everything, even my old Kodak Brownie camera.


And, here’s my typewriter from college - my graduation gift from my parents.


The courtroom and judge’s office are still intact with enough law books to open a college. Gary looks like a fine as a witness.


In the basement was the old jail, cramped, cold, loud and devoid of any personality. How could 4 people get along in such cramped quarters?


A nicely arranged museum and a place to recommend to others with a very active curator and Historical Commission. I always like to visit small town museums to see how the town portrays itself in history to its own citizens and to visitors. It’s also neat to see how the people of a town support their own museum by donating their family heirlooms.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Holbrook, AZ - Solid Rock

We’re out of the Navajo reservation and into Arizona, back to regular time. Arizona does not recognize daylight savings time, while the Navajo nation does. As we crossed into Arizona, we set our watches back: Spring ahead, Fall back.

Many years ago, somewhere around 1971, two of us drove across the US from Rhode Island where I taught, to Catalina Island off the coast of Long Beach, CA, to work in a Girl Scout camp. Obviously, it was a fast trip and though we saw many sights like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Tetons, Lake Tahoe and the Petrified Forest, we really didn’t ‘see’ them. We stopped long enough to get a picture of them and moved on. And, even those pictures have faded. Now, finally, I am seeing those things which I ‘missed’ on my first trip. Today we are visiting the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.


What is most impressive about the park, aside from the natural beauty, is the amazing efforts the Rangers put forth to keep the park from being stolen. This is one park where each visitor can steal a small part and, after hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, there will be no more park. You can’t walk into Yellowstone and steal Old Faithful, you can’t walk into Yosemite and steal Half Dome. But you can walk into the Petrified Forest and steal a bit of petrified wood, thinking that one little piece won’t matter. Soon, all that will be left are the largest logs which are too heavy to carry away.


Soon after the park was discovered in the mid-1800’s, people began to visit, take pieces of wood for their collections and the disappearing act began. Finally, Theodore Roosevelt set aside selected sections of the of the petrified trees as the Petrified Forest National Monument in 1906. Did that stop the theft? Heavens no. Still happening. When you enter the park, you are given a card so that, if you spot theft, you can report it. When you leave the park, they inspect your vehicle. They open your trunk, your doors and scan whatever is in the car.


It’s not as if our National Parks aren’t in a constant state of flux, transforming daily. Glaciers are disappearing in Glacier National Park, in Arches NP erosion caused the 71’ wide Wall Arch to fall, in Yosemite, an 1800 cubic yard slab of granite fell crushing cabins and injuring campers. But, all of this is natural. At Petrified Forest man is the culprit, stealing rocks at a rate of 12 tons per year.

The Park actually has several attractions: the Painted Desert which is a cavalcade of color from deep reds to dusty mauves to brighter oranges. There are some overlooks from which one can view the vast sweep of the Desert.


There is also the Old Painted Desert Inn, built prior to 1920.


Made originally out of petrified wood, it was called the Stone Tree House. However, it was built upon bentonite clay which has an annoying habit of shifting depending upon the moisture. The foundation of the Inn began to crack and have water damage. In the 1930’s the National Park System purchased it and with plans to stabilize it and rebuild it in the current Pueblo Revival Style, the Arts and Craft style in the desert. The CCC completely redid the building, putting ponderosa pine and aspen poles in the ceiling,


covering the old petrified logs with adobe,


and hand painting this magnificent skylight.


They hand punched tin light fixtures and etched the concrete floors in a Navajo run design. Those CCC guys were amazing. Anyone who visits a National Park owes a great debt to them.


Later Fred Harvey bought the Inn, hired Mary Colter to redesign parts. She hired Fred Kabotie, a renowned Hopi artist to paint murals on the walls and created a new color scheme. Today, however, it is still on bentonite clay and still needs to be stabilized.


Finally, there is the drive through the park with various stop-offs to view and to walk around some ruins and petroglyphs, some different colored cliffs, some areas where there are more petrified logs than others and finally at the south visitor center where there is another short trail to walk around some petrified logs.

We enjoyed it all and took several trails among the hills and logs. However, everywhere we looked, we were reminded of a quote from a petrified log collector, Grace Spradling, 1917, who said: ‘We had filled out hats with chips, Reached Forest #1 (the Jasper Forest) about noon, resorted our collections…Oh such a time as we did have deciding which part of the forest to leave and which part to pack out.’ And, this was after it was protected by the Federal Government.


Wherever we looked, we asked ourselves, how many petrified logs used to be here?

And, amazingly, there are stores which will give you FREE petrified log pieces right out side the park. And, not just one place, but several. These all come from private land since the National Park covers only 10% of the petrified forest. We later visited one of these petrified wood dealers, where there were hundreds of logs of all sizes in their store and out back in their lot. They also had fossils, a huge alligator fossil from Florida,


and a shell fossil.


a purple geode with several petrified rocks, one made into a table,


tons of polished petrified rocks in their store


and tons more piled in their back yard,


You name it, they’ve got it. What size do you want and do you want it polished? Why steal from the National Park from all of us?

And, finally, it was time to head home.