Thursday, September 21, 2017

Family Vacations (July to December 1989): California, Nevada and Utah

(JULY 22, 1989)

Mom Kenison visited and we took her to the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum in Arcadia. The weather was warm, but we enjoyed it immensely. We found beautiful orchids growing in a rain forest exhibit and Rachael and Sam both enjoyed feeding peacocks by hand that roamed the grounds. I particularly enjoyed a pond that had turtles in it, moss hanging from their backs. We threw bread into the pond to coax the turtles near us, but large catfish came up and snared the bread. I believe these are the first wild turtles I’ve ever seen. We spent time by a beautiful waterfall with koi swimming in the pool at the base and looked at a carriage house and beautiful house where the previous owners lived. The Santa Anita Racetrack is nearby, started by the individuals whose grounds these once were.

We left the Arboretum  and ate at the Sizzler nearby. We decided not to go to the Norton Simon Museum, the kids were too tired. Instead, we drove to the water fall in Forest Falls. Mom,  Judy, Rachael and Sam decided to cool off by wading in the stream. Andrew and I got wet involuntarily by a group of touring Japanese who started a water fight nearby.

(AUGUST 5, 1989)

We visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History in Exposition Park, across the street from the University of Southern California and right next to Memorial Coliseum where the Los Angeles Raiders and USC play (and where the Los Angeles Olympics were staged). We enjoyed the dinosaur bones and stuffed animal exhibits. We saw a mega-mouth shark, caught off of Catalina Island, only one of two ever caught (the other was caught off the coast of Hawaii). The museum had a triceratops skull, a stegosaurus (from Utah), a tyrannosaurus rex skull, a plesiosaurus, and others. The Discovery Room had a whale skeleton hanging overhead, animal skins and a stuffed polar bear (Andrew’s favorite), tiger, etc.

After the museum, we went to Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles, a tiled street with Mexican shops and restaurants. We ate tostadas, rice and beans at a restaurant, and bought a mango from a vendor. Olvera Street has the first pueblo or house built in Los Angeles.

(AUGUST 26, 1989)

The La Brea Tar Pits are right off Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Natural gas bubbles to the surface and black tar collects in pools on the surface. A life size replica of a mastadon is on one side of the pit and a replica of a woolly mammoth, trapped in the pit, is on the other. Another mammoth and young mammoth watch from the bank. Inside the George C. Page Museum are the skeletons of a giant sloth, lions (the beast that was more feared than the saber-toothed cat), giant buffalo, mammoth,  saber-toothed cat, etc. Also wolves, eagles, condors and other birds of prey. Over 400 wolf skeletons were found in the pit and the majority of the animals found were predators, apparently caught themselves while feeding on animals caught in the tar pits. The skeletons are a brown color, the result of staining by the asphalt in the pit. A mammoth skeleton inside was the replica for the mammoth models outside in the tar pits. The bones bring the reality of the animals home. This is a wonderful place to come and learn about the past. The remains of only one human, a woman, have been found. She lived about 9,000 years ago and was 4 feet 10 inches, and between the ages of 20 and 25. Other areas outside the museum and away from the pit still have tar bubbling out of the ground. We all loved it. There is also a connecting atrium with beautiful greenery.

We visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (next door), which Andrew cut short with his screaming, and Farmer’s Market which is blocks away. The food at the market looked wonderful, but too expensive for us on this day. So we drove to Chinatown, near downtown Los Angeles and Olvera Street. It is amazing that Olvera Street is predominantly Mexican, very few whites. Just a few blocks away in Chinatown, it is predominantly Chinese: Chinese newspapers, signs, food, etc.

(SEPTEMBER 2, 1989)

Judy and Rachael elected to stay in Bakersfield with the Jackmans while Sam and I and Denise and Tommy Jackman elected to drive north to Sequoia National Park. We first took the one-half mile walk to Crystal Cave, down a beautiful mountain trail. The cave is nine miles off the main highway down a narrow, winding road, which takes about 40 minutes to drive. The cave was discovered in 1920 by two park employees, about 30 years after the park was established. The cave is in limestone and marble, near a beautiful meandering stream. The cave maintains a constant 48.6 degree temperature year round. Sam was wearing his Wisconsin t-shirt and shorts and got quite cold inside. The inner workings aren’t as spectacular as Colossal Cave, but it is a clean, wet, slimy, living cave, like Timpanogas Cave.

Near Moro Rock was one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen. Large sequoia trees had sunlight filtering through to the forest floor. Leafy green ferns were at the bottom of many trees and many trees had green moss clinging to their sides. In the distance was the blue light where the mountain dropped off and distant mountains of the Sierras in the background. So many shades of green. It was other worldly, almost first visionish. We climbed to the top of Moro Rock. Metal banisters or rocks line the path. The walk up is breathtaking. On the south side is the narrow, winding road up from the bottom of the park. On the north is a mountain range which shields Mount Whitney, the continental U.S. highest mountain, from view.

We visited the General Sherman Tree, the largest living thing on earth. It is 275 feet tall, has a 103 foot circumference, is 2,500 years old and weighs 1,385 tons. From a distance it isn’t so spectacular, but up close, the tremendous width and height is awe-inspiring. We walked a portion of the Congress Trail. I was impressed by the number of trees with black fire burn marks. The bark has less sap in it so that it won’t burn as well. The fire kills the parasites and insects that inhabit the trees and clears out other competing trees. We enjoyed a sawed-off cross section of a sequoia tree that was three or four times the height of a man. The size is staggering.

(DECEMBER 2, 1989)
The Redlands IV Ward Young Men and Young Women took a trip to Las Vegas to see the new temple. Rachael accompanied me, along with Robby Pister, Lars Sveen, and Scott Abbott. Nearly 30,000 people joined us today in the temple tour. We also drove by the fabulous Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, with its beautiful waterfalls.

(DECEMBER 22, 1989 TO JANUARY 1, 1990)

We did not keep a journal of this trip, only snippets were written down.
We have a picture of Andrew touching a pet garter snake of Uncle Matthew. He showed no fear at all.

Sam, Andrew and I visited the Bean Museum at BYU while Judy, Rachael and Grandma Kenison went to the Nutcracker (no contest between which place we’d have rather been). We saw a python devouring a rat, the rear end and tail hanging out of the snake’s mouth. We enjoyed stuffed animals, including a standing polar bear and tiger.

We visited the Utah Museum of Natural History on the University of Utah campus with Dave and Bonnie Kenison, who were also visiting from Colorado. Sam, Andrew and Sarah loved a dinosaur fountain, the water coming out of the jaws of the mouth. Exhibits included skeletons of a stegosaurus and a couple of allosaurus.

On December 29th (as indicated on our fishing license), Rachael and I went ice fishing with Paul Stringham, his sons, Jack and Tom, his brother, John Stringham, and his sons. We went to Causey Reservoir, east of Ogden, Utah. We drove through Huntsville, Utah, where President David O’McKay grew up, a beautiful area. To be able to fish, a hole is drilled through the ice on the lake with an ice auger. The line of the fishing pole is then dropped to the bottom of the lake. It is a rather boring and very cold enterprise. Unlike regular fishing where you are casting and re-casting, with ice fishing you wait with your line staying static. A bald eagle watched us from above the cliffs where we ice fished and they usually see a moose each year when they go up (but not, unfortunately, this year). Rachael got playing around and accidentally put her foot through a hole in the ice. That provided some impetus for us to leave, none too soon. I caught two of the three fish we caught that day, a cutthroat and two rainbow trout, so the Stringhams let us take the fish home to Grandmother Cannon’s home where we had them for breakfast the next morning.

We attended Tutu’s Christmas party and the children each got a gift from Santa Claus, who attended.

We went with Uncle Matt, and some of the Sines (Taylor and Ben) to Tracey Aviary in Liberty Park. Much of the Aviary has changed since we left Salt Lake 6 ½ years ago, including a new bald eagle and snowy owl exhibits.

On the drive back to California, we detoured through Delta, Utah, over to the newly established Great Basin National Park near Ely, Nevada, established in 1986. First we went to Lehman Cave, the best cave we have been in so far (better than Timpanogas, Colossal or Crystal Caves) with wonderful, very intricate, formations, types not seen anywhere else. The temperature inside the cave is about 50 degrees and the tour takes about 1 ½ hours. After going through the cave, we drove several miles p the Wheeler Peak road. We spotted about eight deer on the side of the road. The contrast between the Utah west desert we had just driven through and the mountain range with 13,000 foot Wheeler Peak, was incredible. Wheeler Peak is spectacular, the beauty is a rugged deserty beauty that I really enjoy.

We drove from Great Basin National Park to Ely and then in a straight run at night to Tonopah in eastern Nevada (where I got a speeding ticket on New Year’s Eve going 75 in a 55 mph zone). We spent the night in Tonopah. In the morning, we ate breakfast at a casino in Tonopah and drove toward Death Valley. As we left Tonopah, we had a beautiful view in the distance of several sets of mountain ranges, the closest being barren desert mountains, with more distant sets being snow capped, a beautiful contrast.

From Hwy 95 at Scotty’s Junction, we went toward Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley National Monument. The entrance to the Monument was interesting with a narrow winding road through barren mountains. Scotty’s Castle was built as a vacation home by a wealthy Chicagoan. It is near a spring that puts out 200 gallons of water a minute. We took the tour of the home, but had a miserable experience. Andrew was howling, so Judy or I needed to stay at the back of the tour bouncing him around. Then, in the kitchen, Sam fell over and hit his head on a cabinet and started to howl. The National Park Service employee rudely asked us to leave the tour. Embarrassed, I took Sam and Andrew and made my way through about 20 people as the guide led us out. Judy and Rachael were able to finish the tour of the house.  Sam, Andrew and I walked around the grounds while the remainder of the tour went on. We could see Scotty’s grave up on a hill, but didn’t have time to hike up to it.

From Scotty’s Castle we drove 8 miles to Ubehebe Crater. The crater was formed by a volcanic explosion and is 500 feet deep and one-half mile across. . It would have been fun to hike in, but it was cold and windy. It was much more spectacular than our pictures indicate. We picked the right time to visit Death Valley as January is the coolest month of the year with an average high temperature of 64.6 degrees. By contrast, July, the hottest month, averages 116.2 degrees and has a record high of 134 degrees, the hottest in the United States.

The best part of Death Valley was the sand dunes near the intersection of Hwys 374 and 190. We took off our shoes and spent some time wading through the dunes with our bare feet. The temperature was a beautiful 70 degrees or so, and the top layer of sand warm, but the bottom layer had a cool feel. It was wonderful to sink our feet into the sand and feel the contrast. The kids loved running up and down the dunes.

We went to the visitors center in Furnace Creek and went through it. There are palm trees in Furnace Creek, one of the few places with any vegetation. We found prices there incredibly high and ended up eating burritos out of the General Store. Borax resembles quartz crystals and originated in hot mineral springs or in the fuming vapors of volcanic eruptions. Borates were deposited in the remains of old lake beds and eventually moved by groundwater to the floor of Death Valley, where evaporation left a mixture of salt, borates and alkalis. Borax is used in glass, porcelain, enamel, soap and detergents, fertilizers, cosmetics, building materials, fire retardants and shields for nuclear reactors. The largest use is in fiberglass production, such as in boat hulls, auto bodies and airplane sections. 20 mule teams used to take the borax out of Death Valley.

At Devil’s Golf Course, a 30 foot lake existed 2,000 years ago. Salt precipitated from its drying waters and formed a salt layer three to five feet thick. Below that is 1,000 feet of alternating layers of salt and deposits from other lakes. Lake Manly used to be more than 100 miles long and 600 feet deep. The salt pinnacles are caused where the rain dissolves the salt and carves sharp edges and points. The pinnacles grow as a salt solution comes up from the water table. The water evaporates and the salt crystallizes.

At Badwater, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, 282 feet below sea level, a spring forms a pool along a fault that parallels the valley. The pool never gets completely dry, even in the summer. It may also be the hottest place in the world. For several years the temperature was taken at Badwater and the temperatures ran a few degrees hotter than at Furnace Creek. At Furnace Creek the temperature was 134 degrees and the world record is 136 degrees. Death Valley ranges from four miles to sixteen miles in width and is 120 miles long. Elevation ranges from –282 feet at Badwater to 11,049 feet at Telescope Peak, one of the greatest contrasts in height in the country. Mount Whitney, over 14,000 feet and the highest point in the continental U.S., is only a few hundred miles away. Temperatures at ground level in the sun have been recorded as high as 190 degrees and the average rainfall is 1 ½ inches. A lake 12 feet deep would evaporate in one year. A person can perspire as much as three quarts of water in an hour. Man should drink at least one quart of water an hour when exposed to the hot sun. At Badwater we hiked on the salty floor of the valley. It was just like hiking through slushy snow. We understand that the Europeans are very enamored by Death Valley and go there by the droves in the summer.

We left Badwater as the sun was going down and it was completely dark by the time we left the monument. We drove down Hwy 127 through Shoshone to Baker and home on I-15 which was very crowded with end of holiday traffic. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Family Vacation (July 1989): Southern Arizona

We had tried the desert in April and it was wonderful. How about the middle of summer? We hit a record breaking heat wave. Wow, what a difference!

July 1, 1989 (Saturday):                   (Phoenix, Tucson, Willcox)

I went to bed at 11:30 p.m. and was woken up by Sam crying at 1:45 a.m. I wasn’t able to go back to sleep for 15 minutes and then got up with my alarm at 2:00 a.m. We were on the road by 3:00 a.m. We got gas in Blythe, then headed for Phoenix and were within the city limits by about 7:10 a.m. We believed we were early to visit the Phoenix Zoo, so we traveled to Mesa to see the Mesa Temple. I was surprised to see how large Mesa was – 9 freeway exits. We got out of the car about 8:00 a.m. at the temple and were hit with the heat. It must have been 90 or 95 degrees. We knew then we were in for a long day. Because of the heat, we just stayed a few minutes, took a picture of Rachael and Sam in front of the temple and left.

We got to the Phoenix Zoo about 8:15 after driving through the Arizona State University campus. It is a beautiful campus. The football stadium is now home to the Arizona Cardinals. Near campus are beautiful shops with fun architecture. Arizona State looks like a fun place to go to school.

The entrance to the zoo goes over a large pond with ducks, fish and turtles. I was surprised to see a large turtle swimming through the pond. It turns out the zoo is on the site of the old Arizona fish hatchery and it has very large ponds all through it that were once part of the hatchery. I was extremely impressed with the Arizona section of the zoo. They had jackrabbits and quail in one exhibit that you could almost reach out and touch. Then lizards, toads, snakes and salamanders – it was fun to see the variety in the state. It also had natural exhibits for coyotes, peccaries (which we couldn’t see), pronghorns, bobcat, mountain lions, turkey vulture, red tail hawks, bald eagles, etc. We took a “train” ride (small open sided bus) through the zoo for about a half hour. It was so hot that it did cut down on the enjoyment a bit. We would have never seen the entire zoo if we had walked. The bighorn sheep exhibit is similar to the one at Living Desert, just a fence around a big rock mountain. We didn’t get close enough on the bus to see any bighorns. We did go by a wonderful swampy alligator exhibit, but also didn’t see any alligators. We did see some three or four foot iguanas running in an exhibit and took a quick look through the children’s zoo  which was large and nice, but spread out. Rachael liked the zebras and the zebras liked the zoo. Phoenix out-Africa’d Africa with the heat. The best part there were the raccoons which came towards us as though to beg. If opening up my own North American Zoo (which I have fantasized about on occasion), the Arizona exhibit is one part I would take in its entirety.

We drove another hour to Casa Grande National Monument. The ranger said it was 108 degrees, later to be 115 degrees, but it felt 115 degrees then. Casa Grande was a large Indian fortress with one big three story building (the equivalent of a four story building) covered with a canopy to protect it from further rain damage. The canopy was erected in 1932. The ruins are impressive, very eroded, but not worthy of spending a great deal of time at. The Hohokam Indians built this walled village in the Gila Valley between 1200 and 1450 A.D. Casa Grande was built in the 1300s. It was abandoned about 1450. The village had a seven foot wall that surrounded it. The structure was reinforced in 1891.

We then drove another 70 minutes to Tucson to the Pima Air Museum. There are a number of planes inside a hanger (including a Wright Brothers replica plane and X-15 replica plane). Outside are large planes on a lot. The engines have been removed and are covered, but the size and variety are impressive. My favorite was the B-17 bomber from World War II which was in its own hanger. Sam bought a small airplane and Rachael a kaleidoscope and postcard at the gift shop.

We drove to Saguaro National Monument. We saw part of the film in the visitors center and learned that the cactus arms don’t start growing out until the cactus is 75 years old. There was an 11 year old saguaro cactus in the visitors center that was only about eight inches tall. The Rincon Mountain unit has the oldest cactus, but apparently is less dense than the other part of the monument west of town. We drove an eight mile drive and saw some beautiful country with cactus.

We drove to Collosal Cave about 11miles further south. The cave is privately run, but is apparently leased from the Department of the Interior. CCC workers (Civilian Conservation Corps) layed the tiles and handrails in the cave. The cave has not been completely explored. They have gone in six miles. There are wonderful stories about outlaws who evaded the marshall through the cave and who eventually went to Willcox, our evening stop. The cave has stalactites and stalagmites, but they are covered with dirt and are not the pretty glossy kind like in Timpanogas. It is spectacular although the tour is slow. Judy had to take Andrew out (and nearly got lost in the process) because he was having a fit. The cave was 72 degrees inside, a nice change from the weather outside.

We drove to Willcox and stayed at the Motel Six for $30.05. We ate dinner at McDonalds for $13.50. The kids were beside themselves and exhausted.

July 2, 1989 (Sunday):          (Chiricahua National Monument, Douglas, Bisbee, Sierra Vista, Tombstone, Fort Huachuca)    

We left Willcox about 8:00 a.m. for Fort Bowie State Historical Site, about six miles down a dirt road. The hike was a long 1 ½ miles in so we found an overlook, but still could not see the old fort. It was the main fortress from 1862 into the 1880s in the Apache Indian wars against Cochise and Geronimo.

We drove to Chiricahua National Monument which was originally homesteaded by a cavalry veteran of the Indian wars. He settled at Faraway Ranch at the mouth of the canyon and then lobbied to have it made a national monument in 1924. We stopped to take a tour at Faraway Ranch but Andrew was not cooperating, so we left. The mountain has beautiful rock spires similar to Bryce and covered with lichen. We started to take a hike at Massai Point, the end of the eight mile road to the top of a mountain with a beautiful view, but Sam wasn’t cooperating, so we did not take the nature trail. The heat was making everyone very grumpy. The weather was a little cooler, only about 100 degrees. Massaiwas a warrior who eluded encroaching cavalry and disappeared into thin air at this point.

We drove to Douglas, right on the border of Mexico and briefly into Agua Prieta, Mexico. We were looking for a place to eat, but everything was dirty and uninviting.

We drove to Bisbee, an old copper mine run by the Phelps Dodge Corporation. The road actually follows one of the levels inside the pit and you see the multicolored tiers which are spectacular. The town is built on the mountain and has much the same feel as Jerome, but much larger. We tried to find a place to eat, the Chinese food restaurant we went into had prices that were too high for us, so we packed it in and left for Sierra Vista where we ate at Taco Bell. We were going to go to church with my sister Merilee and her family (Glorn is in the military and stationed at Fort Huachuca), but we were smelly and the kids were a wreck, so rather than catch Sacrament Meeting, we went to Tombstone. We walked up both sides of the main ghost town street, but did not pay to go in the O.K. Corral or Crystal Palace, etc. It is very commercialized much like Sedona, but on a more rustic scale. We did have frozen yogurt.

We met Merilee and Glorn at the church in Sierra Vista as it let out and went with them to Fort Huachuca, which is right next to Sierra Vista. We stayed up until midnight playing Boggle and watching the Terminator.

July 3, 1989 (Monday):         (Mount Huachuca, Nogales)

Andrew had a rough night and was pooped. The kids woke up at 5:30 or 5:45. Glorn and I drove up Garden Canyon  (?) and hiked up in the mountains (I believe up to the side of Mount Huachuca), leaving around 8:00 a.m. The trail followed a dry creek bed up the middle between two mountains. We probably hiked 2 to 2 ½ miles up the mountain, then left the trail and hiked directly up the side of one mountain. Glorn and I caught two spiny type lizards about five inches long on the way back and then heard a buzzing noise which at first I thought was a cricket or cicada. Then on the trail in the rocks I saw a small black rattlesnake slithering into a hole in the rocks. We tried to stop it with sticks but the sticks broke. We finally had to spend a half hour digging out the rocks to move the rock the snake was under. Glorn got the rock moved and the rattlesnake was underneath. It was about 1 ½ feet long with a red tail. Glorn pinned its head which I then smashed with a rock. We got its head off and started down the trail with it. Unfortunately we encountered a pair of hikers coming up the trail. The woman saw the snake, asked to look at it and then started to swear a blue streak at us. We were so stunned we let her jump all over us and she took the snake with her. The lizards got loose in the car and when we got back to Fort Huachuca, Taylor, Rachael and Sam and I went out to the car to catch them.

In the afternoon, we got a babysitter for Andrew and Ben and drove to Nogales  and Mexico. The area into Nogales is much greener than the surrounding country. We were impressed with the cleanliness of both the U.S. and Mexico side, much so more than San Ysidro and Tijuana. We parked on the U.S. side a couple of blocks from the border and walked across, going in a few blocks and up and down another three or four blocks. Merilee bought a dress, Rachael a female puppet ($3.00), we got some Popsicles and soda pop and shopped. Many items were similar to Tijuana, but many were different, including lots of ironwood sculptures.         

We stayed the night, again, at Merilee and Glorn’s. We bought two medium pizzas at Little Ceasar’s for dinner and watched “A Fish Called Wanda” with Mel and Glorn that was funny in parts, but with foul language.

We learned the next morning that former President Reagan spent part of the day at the Army hospital at Fort Huachuca after he was thrown from a horse while at the ranch of a friend.

July 4, 1989 (Tuesday):        (Tucson, Ajo)

We got a fairly late start for Tucson (nearly 10:00 a.m.) and went to the Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum. The heat was already pretty stifling (we learned that night that Phoenix set an all-time high of 118 degrees and Tucson was around 113 degrees, Bullhead City got up to 120 degrees). The front exhibit was great with large chuckwallas, desert iguanas and collared lizards among large rocks surrounded by a high wall (better even than the Living Desert exhibit in Palm Desert). There was a cave (I’m not sure if any of it was natural, or all man-made). We were impressed with a saber-toothed cat skull and Sam was impressed with a volcano movie showing flowing lava. A man there got a kick out of Sam’s excitement. Other outdoor exhibits included mountain lions, deer, bears, javelina, coati mundis, bobcats, ocelots, margays, jaguarondis, desert tortoises, otters, beaver, birds of prey, an aviary, etc. Particularly impressive were the small cat exhibits where the cats were in enclosures which could be viewed from above and from various points at the side, including through the dens. Snakes, lizards, etc. were inside and was disappointed with the small number exhibited. The Arizona section of the Phoenix Zoo was much better.

We ate lunch under a covered area in Tucson Mountain State Park and went to the parking lot of Old Tucson. Between the heat and the $28.00 it would have taken us to get in, we decided to head for home rather than stay in Tucson. We said goodbye to Merilee and Taylor (Glorn stayed home with Ben). We drove past the Kitt Peak Observatory (the largest solar telescope in the world). We realized we would not be in time to see Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument before it closed which disappointed me. However, as we drove through Ajo, just 10 miles north of the junction to Organ Pipe, Judy consented to staying the night.

Ajo was a copper mining town, until the Phelps Dodge mine closed eight years ago. Large slag heaps around the town are visible for miles. We ate a very good meal in town that evening at Dago Joe’s and learned of the Supreme Court decision cutting back on Roe v. Wade allowing states to limit abortions in state run hospitals. We drove up to the rim of the copper pit and looked inside. It was a round pit, like the pictures I’ve seen of Kennecott, with a small lake in the middle at the bottom. Old tractors are still on the tiered ledges in the pit and the large white factory lies vacant at the edge. Near 8:00, we went to the slag heap above the town Moose Lodge to watch fireworks. What appeared to be nearly the whole town showed up with lawn chairs propped up in the back of pick-up trucks to watch. The fireworks were long and impressive for a small town. Many honked their car horns at particularly spectacular fireworks. Andrew was frightened by them and Sam needed to be reassured a little bit.

July 5, 1989 (Wednesday):               (Ajo, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Quartzite)

Shortly before 8:00 we drove south to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The visitor center lies about 28 miles inside the monument. Andrew was asleep, so we kept the car running while I went into the visitors center and got a map, then we drove the 21 mile long Ajo Mountain loop, a dirt road. The ranger said it would take two hours, but I really pushed it and did it in 40 minutes, over very bumpy and rocky roads. I think some of the scenery was the prettiest we’ve seen in Arizona, particularly right up against the mountain, with the saguaro cactus and canyons all arrayed. 

On the way out of the monument we ran over a snake crossing the road. We drove up through Gila Bend, up to I-10 and over to Quartzite where we got gas and ate at McDonalds. Judy drove the remainder of the way to Redlands.

The heat really took a lot of the enjoyment out of the trip as well as Andrew’s temperament which was very demanding. I’m sure the heat contributed to the kids hard times. But we still had fun and it was worth while going.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Family Vacations (April to June 1989): Southern California

(APRIL 28 TO 29, 1989)

I took Sam to the Fathers and Sons outing to Lake Silverwood up in the San Bernardino National Forest. The hike from our camp to the lake (about 1 ½ miles) was beautiful, with a meandering spring, wild ducks, ferns, beautiful and varied trees. We became good friends with the Allens, particularly Cale and Lander. At night the ward youth caught lots of frogs. We caught one and we really heard them chirping.

(MAY 6, 1989)

I took Sam and Joel Sheffer out to the Desert Tortoise Refuge near California City (above Edwards Air Force Base). It got hot real early and the boys could only stand about 1 ½ hours walking out on the refuge (about 30 square miles of fenced land). We didn’t see any turtles (we did see several holes where they had burrowed). I understand it has been a dry year, but we saw lots of lizards, including zebra tailed lizards, whiptails and desert iguanas.

We then went to Red Rock Canyon State Park and did some climbing in the weird rock formations, in short bursts, as it was so hot. At the Ranger Station, Sam and Joel held a freeze dried Mojave green rattlesnake.

Later, we stopped at Mormon Rocks in Cajon Pass after coming down from a detour through Wrightwood. We caught a couple of lizards to add to the lizard we caught at Lake Silverwood, and had a nice aquarium with dirt and lizards, kept alive by crickets purchased from the local pet store.
(MAY 20, 1989)

Sam and I went off by ourselves to Joshua Tree. We entered in at the west entrance. First we stopped near a rock where climbers were climbing using ropes and pitons. Then we went across the street to another group of rocks and hiked around them and sometimes on them. Sam had a hard time negotiating the rocks. We saw a rabbit and some lizards. Sam was wearing shorts which was not a good idea because the sharp leaves of bushes and twigs would scrape his legs.

We hiked to Barker Dam, built to hold water for cattle around the turn of the century, now an oasis for wildlife, including bighorn sheep. People are not permitted after certain hours, to make the water available to the animals. The dam covers six acres and holds 20 acre feet of water. It has goldfish in it. We liked the manzanita trees with rubbery looking red skins that look like they were formed out of a plastic mold.

We went to Keys View where we could see Palm Springs (although much obscured by smog) and could have seen the Salton Sea but for the smog. We then went out the 29 Palms exit and stopped at the visitors center.

(MAY 29, 1989)

Just one week after Sam and I went, the whole family went to Joshua Tree. We left home at 7:15 a.m. and were in Joshua Tree by 8:20 a.m. (the west entrance out of Joshua Tree). Shortly into the monument we saw a large animal in the road. As we passed a large turkey vulture flew off the road, it was eating carrion (a dead rabbit). We stopped a short ways down the road and the vulture circled and landed back down on the road. They are large black birds with white tipped wings and red heads.

Shortly after, we saw a car stopped on the road and a coyote near it. We pulled up and the coyote was in the brush near the road. I’ve never seen a wild coyote. At risk of scaring it, we threw out part of a half eaten jam sandwich. The coyote jumped out of the brush, snatched it from the side of the road and jumped back. We threw out more bits of sandwich and then part of an Entemanns raspberry coffee cake to get better looks at the coyote. We got four or five good snapshots. Several times it circled our car and when we started to go, it ran along side the car following us. It was rather small, we guess a year old. We decided to name it “Joshua” for obvious reasons.

We drove to Hidden Valley which used to be a cattle rustler hideout. It has a one mile circular trail that goes through boulders and desert terrain. There are information signs with information about various plants such as yucca and California juniper. The rock formations are varied and would be fun to climb over and explore. Near a bridge we found some small rock caves. We ate lunch in one, it was nice and cool, and had wonderful smoked chicken and potato salad. Andrew kept wanting to explore and would invariably topple over on the uneven ground. Rachael and Sam tried to catch a number of lizards and found them too elusive.

We went to Barker Dam and hiked over to the actual cement dam. It is one of the few sources of water in the whole monument. It has numerous goldfish which I assume help keep the moss and algae down.

Judy’s thigh is sore and she had some difficulty and discomfort getting around. Andrew was very pleasant and enjoyed the hikes. Sam got a little cranky wanting water on our Hidden Valley hike (we need to remember to take a canteen for him on desert hikes).

(JUNE 1989)

In early June, 1989, we decided to drive the loop on the backside of the San Gabriel Mountains. We drove up through Wrightwood, walked a small nature trail at the ranger station there and then drove Hwy 2 around through to Pasadena. Los Angeles was in clouds and drizzle, while we were in beautiful sunshine. As we looked down, all we could see was a white cloud bank, all over the Los Angeles Basin. We stopped at another ranger station and walked another nature trail.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Our First Family Vacation (April 1989): Northern Arizona and New Mexico

April 8, 1989 (Saturday):     (Corn Springs, Quartzite, Oak Creek Canyon)

Our first family trip (not associated with visiting family) where we actually stayed in motels. Rachael is 8, Sam is 4 and Andrew is 1. Rachael and Sam each gave a brief description of the trip (Sam’s as dictated to me), portions of which are incorporated.

We left home at 9:55 a.m. We drove down Hwy 10 past Desert Center, then took a dirt road eight miles to Corn Springs, 132 miles from Redlands, about 30 miles from Blythe. It was HOT, about 100 degrees. Corn Springs is an oasis with palm trees surrounded by stark, barren mountains (the Chuckwalla Mountains). The “Mayor of Corn Springs,” Gus Lederer, lived there raising 18 burros from 1915 to 1932. Gus died in 1932 from a bite on his spine by a black widow spider. We ate sandwiches on a rock near some wonderful Indian petroglyphs.

We stopped in Blythe, California, at 1:40 and purchased gas for $1.29/gallon (very high). We stopped in Quartzite, Arizona, at 2:15. At the Rock Shop, Sam bought an arrowhead for $.50 and Rachael bought an arrowhead for $.50 and a small piece of turquoise for $.50, using their own money. Some dogs were in the shop and Andrew “bow-wowed” at them. One was an old, very thin, whippet.

Just past Quartzite, we took Hwy 60, then Hwy 71, then Hwy 89. About seven miles before Prescott, we stopped because Andrew’s diaper smelled yukky. We had to use a ½ box of wipes on him and his car seat.  On to Sedona. We stopped for gas, then drove to Don Hoel’s Cabins, ten miles north of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon. Beverly Doll, my paralegal, recommended them. The smaller cabins were full, and it was late, 7:00 p.m., so we paid $62.80 for a larger cabin, double what we wanted to pay. Our cabin has two bedrooms (three double beds) and a kitchen (with a stove, refrigerator and plates). I drove back to Sedona for ½ gallon of milk and pork chops. We didn’t have salt and the pork chops were not a great hit, so we all had peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Rachael and Sam each had their own beds in one room and Judy and I had Andrew in our room. Andrew woke up at 3:00 a.m. howling. We had to change him and give him a bottle. We got little sleep the rest of the night.

April 9, 1989 (Sunday):        (Slide Rock State Park, Tuzigoot National Monument, Jerome, Sedona, Flagstaff)

Sam and I took a hike up the side of the mountain Sunday morning, starting about 7:45 a.m. It was steep with lots of loose pine needles and loose dirt. Sam could not stand up, so I held his hand and dragged, and carried him up the mountain. We got ½ to ¾ of the way up before heading back. We had a beautiful view of the rocky canyon on the other side. We were gone an hour, then Judy and Rachael went on a hike for a ½ hour to 45 minutes. Sam said, “I liked the cabin hike. I liked going up, I didn’t like going down where the spikes were [yucca leaves].” We would like to have spent more time at the cabin. The kids enjoyed the playground this morning, including some swings.

We stopped at Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon. Beautiful red sandstone plateaus lead down to rock shelves and a slowly moving stream. People were sun bathing or swimming in beautiful shallow pools. One boy was trying to hook a trout swimming in a foot of water. We stopped and saw two life-sized sand sculptures of Jesus in Gethsemane and the Last Supper (which had been vandalized – Jesus’ head had been knocked off). We got out of the car at Midgely Bridge in Oak Creek Canyon, which covers a tremendously deep canyon. We hiked down off the side of the road to get a better look at the canyon.

We drove to Tuzigoot National Monument near Jerome. Tuzigoot was built by the Sinagua Indians which we learned a lot about on our trip. The ruins are made of limestone. The stone doesn’t weather well and the government has had to restore it fairly frequently. The ruins are on top of a hill surrounded by a beautiful green valley, marred on one side by smelted ore refuse. We loved a sign which said, “Please stay on the trail” and had a picture of a rattlesnake next to it. The weather was still hot, a predicted high of 95 degrees (and it felt at least that).

We drove to Jerome, a former mining town, “A City on a Hill,” now an artists colony. Lots of vacant buildings exist, but many are being restored. We ate our usual food, homemade sandwiches out of our cooler, hard boiled eggs and fruit, in a small terraced park in town. Andrew destroyed another diaper and smelled up his pants.

We drove back to Sedona and went through Tlaquepaque Shopping Center. It had very expensive art galleries and jewelry stores. It was modeled like a Mexican villa. We drove to Flagstaff and stayed at the Red Roof Inn Motel for a more reasonable $31.47. We stopped at Smith’s Food King for fruit, baby food, cereal and yogurt.

April 10, 1989 (Monday):     (Sunset Crater National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations, Gallup)

We bought gas in Flagstaff for $1.15/gallon and stopped at Smith’s Food King for crackers, bread, granola bars, fruit roll-ups, ice, milk and bologna.    

We visited Sunset Crater National Monument. Sunset Crater is an inactive volcano that last erupted in 1180 A.D. There are hundreds of acres of lava beds. This was one of Sam’s favorite spots. Sam is in to volcanoes and was especially thrilled by it all. We took a mile long nature trail up through the lava beds. Sam was our leader. We got a picture of Judy and the three kids standing on the edge of acres of lava flow, with fine ground lava at the edge and 12,683 foot Humphrey’s Peak, the tallest mountain in Arizona, in the background (we climbed Humphrey’s Peak as a family about 10 years later). Sam said, “We went to the volcano place with the lava. We stayed on the lava trail and saw all of the lava on the volcano. We went close to the volcano.”

We then visited Wupatki National Monument which was connected to Sunset Crater by a loop road. Wupatki was also built by the Sinagua Indians. Surprisingly, the Indians were attracted to the area after the eruption of Sunset Crater. The rich soil made it good for farming. A circular area was used by the Indians to play a game similar to handball. There was also an amphitheater. Sam and I spotted a large spiny lizard which we chased into a bush, and as Judy puts it, “terrorized” it for about 5 minutes. Wupatki was occupied from about 1120 to1210 A.D. There were other ruins which we saw from the road, Wukoki, Citadel, Nalakihu and Lomaki, but we only stopped at Wupatki. We had originally planned to see the grandfalls on the Little Colorado River, which are on the boundary of Wupatki National Monument and the Navajo Indian Reservation. However, the ranger said that it was a dry year and the water was little more than a trickle.

We traveled up Hwy 89 toward Grand Canyon and then turned east on Hwy 264 over the Hopi and Navajo Indian Reservations. We got a beautiful view of the Painted Desert after turning off Hwy 89. It was beautiful pinks, reds and purples. The roads were rough and not kept as well as state or federal maintained roads. We stopped in Second Mesa at the Hopi Cultural Center where we saw some beautiful kachina dolls. We also sampled blue corn bread and a blue, pastry-like roll with a corn tortilla flavor. We bought one roll for $1.00 for Rachael to take to school and share with her second grade class. It is called Piki bread and is made of blue corn and chamisa ash (a sagebrush type plant). Rachael wrote, “We bot some piki bread from an Indian store. We bought some fry bread too it had eyes nose and a mouth.”

We purchased gas in Chinle, right outside Canyon De Chelly. We couldn’t get into Canyon De Chelly because it closed at 5:00 p.m. We got there at 4:00 p.m., Arizona time, but the Reservation goes on daylight savings time while the rest of Arizona does not. We drove to Ganado and also were unable to go to the Hubbell Trading Post because it was closed.

We continued on to Gallup, New Mexico, where we checked out several seedy motels. Luckily, we found a very nice one for less than any of the icky ones we looked at. It was the Country Pride Motel, for $27.63. I went to Kentucky Fried Chicken and purchased chicken for $13.53.

April 11, 1989 (Tuesday):    (Acoma, Albuquerque, Santa Fe)

We took Hwy 40 toward Albuquerque. We made a detour on Hwy 38 to go to Acoma, New Mexico, the “Sky City.” It was founded in 600 A.D. and is the oldest, continually inhabited city in the United States. This was one of the highlights of our trip.

We paid $13.00 to take a bus tour to the top of the mesa where the village is, no tourist cars are allowed. There is no electricity or piped in water on the mesa, although they do use generators and car batteries. There are presently about 50 people living year-round on the mesa. They collect water during the rainy season in open cisterns for use year round. Some of the original windows, made of mica, are still in place. They are 3 inches thick, and while one can see neither in nor out, the sun’s rays can penetrate the “glass” and light up the room.

Rachael and Sam each bought a piece of “Acoma glass” (mica) for $.25. We also bought and enjoyed a large piece of fry bread, mush like a scone, with a smiley face in it, for which we paid $1.00. There must have been 12 to 15 vendors on the mesa, each selling her own pottery. We have seen a lot of pottery in all the Indian trading posts, but the Acoma style really captured our fancy. Judy bought a round lined pottery sphere (greenware, not Indian shaped) painted with Acoma designs (geometric lines) made free-hand (incredible) with a yucca plant tip for a brush. Most of their pottery is black and white with some clay color on some pieces. We would have liked a traditional Indian-made pot, but they were more expensive and much less detailed. Judy guesses that the softer clay cannot take the intricate designs. We paid $15.00 for ours and got it from the woman who made it. When Judy asked her how long it took to make, she said one week (but we don’t believe her).

The old church was built in 1629 and now has an interesting mix of ancient and modern décor, including imported statues from Spain that are hundreds of years old. The church is made of sandstone, coated with a mud and straw adobe mix. The walls are 9 to 11 feet thick. There are two bell towers. One of the bells was secured by trading five girl and five boy Acoma children to the Mexicans to be slaves. They observe several religious ceremonies, including one where two teams of men race through town with roosters tied to poles, then tear a live rooster, which is hanging from a pole, apart. Whoever gets the biggest piece of the rooster wins it and gets to bury it in his field for good luck for his crops. The cemetery outside the church is over 60 feet deep. When the weather erases the name from a cross, another body can be buried on top of the one already in the grave and a new name is placed on the cross.

I took some steep stone stairs, hewn into the rock, off the mesa. The stairs went down through crevices, and in some spots were almost vertical. Hand holds were also hewn into the rock. Some steps were built in with sandstone slabs. Since it cost $5.00 to take pictures, we did not take any. However, Judy did take a picture of the mesa from our moving car, out the window, as we left.
We drove to Albuquerque and visited the Rio Grande Zoo. During the first half of the zoo, we thought it might be one of the great small zoos. The exhibit environments were really wonderful – very natural – and the animals all seemed up close rather than hiding out somewhere. We especially liked the Komodo dragon exhibit, the raptors and big cats. In the latter, each exhibit had running water, either a stream or waterfall. The other half of the zoo was very ordinary and much older. A lot of construction was going on, and it is obvious that this is a zoo on the rise. We were impressed. Andrew really liked the orangutan, which was rolling around in a big plastic tub. At the gorilla exhibit, we had to pry his hands off the bar to pull him away from watching two young gorillas playing together. In general, Andrew liked the big animals, the ostriches, elephants, giraffes, etc. He would point excitedly at them and grunt. He was on my shoulders, and when we would walk away from his favorites, he would really pull on my hair while he turned around to strain for a last look. Rachael also liked the funny orangutan and so did Sam. Sam also says he liked the cheetahs. I liked a huge swimming soft shell turtle and Judy liked the screaming lemurs. Sam and I also liked the very active and playful bobcats.

From Albuquerque, we took Hwy 85 to Santa Fe and stayed in a Motel 6 for $29.58.

April 12, 1989 (Wednesday):           (Taos, Santa Fe, Gallup)

We got gas in Santa Fe for $.97/gallon, then headed for Taos, New Mexico. We visited Taos Pueblo, which has existed since 1300 A.D. It is at 7,000 feet and is two miles outside Taos. Taos Pueblos is more commercial than Acoma, the old lifestyle appears preserved for tourists rather than for principle. All of the buildings are made of adobe and homes are stacked five stories high. Each home has an outdoor oven and electricity and running water are forbidden. However, the adobes had screen doors, the selling of goods was much more organized (much of the wares were imported from other tribes – we never figured out what, if anything, was made in Taos itself) and some of the girls selling goods looked like disco fashion queens We paid $5.00 to enter, but then had the option of paying $5.00 to use a still camera, $10.00 to use a vcr, $15.00 to do any sketching and $35.00 to do any painting. Goods were expensive and prices varied tremendously. Indians competed with each other selling postcards, bread and handmade items. We bought an herb bundle composed of sagebrush, lavender and other plants for Grandpa Cannon’s birthday (the smell was wonderful, but over powering) and two postcards. Rachael bought a corn necklace for $3.00. A large mountain near the Pueblo was turned over to the Indians in 1970 by the federal government by court order. It is now off limits to all but the Taos Pueblo Indians. We all liked Acoma much more than Taos Pueblo.

We drove into Taos itself. We were a little disappointed by the surrounding terrain. With its reputation for drawing artists, we expected something a little more spectacular. We stopped by the Kit Carson home, but it did not look worth the $6.00 entry fee. We did enjoy walking quickly through some shops around the plaza where we saw a lot we liked but could not afford.

We backtracked toward Santa Fe. Along the way we stopped at a roadside stand outside Espanola and bought a strand of chili peppers for $7.00 and a cob of blue corn for Rachael to take to school (for $1.00). The owner was such a salesman that we couldn’t have left without buying something. He met us at our car (we were his only customers), gave Judy his card, gave the kids an apple and some dried corn, and talked our ears off!

We ate lunch at Rancho Casados in Espanola and paid $23.88 for the traditional New Mexican cuisine. The kids each had an ample children’s plate for $1.50 and Judy and I had chimichangas, Judy’s with a good green sauce and mine with a not so great red sauce. One of the best parts of the meal was hot sopaipillas with honey.

In Santa Fe, we visited the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi. Built at the urging of Archbishop Lamy, head of the Catholic Church in New Mexico (the character in Willa Cather’s book “Death Comes for the Archbishop”). Lamy is buried under the main alter. The church is beautiful and amazing because it was built largely by Indian labor.

Just down the street, we visited the Loretto Chapel, or Our Lady of Lights, built for the nuns at Lamy’s urging in the 1870s. It was the first Gothic architecture building west of the Mississippi and is famous for its “miracle staircase.” When the building was planned, they forgot to include a staircase to the choir loft. After a week of prayer by the nuns, a mysterious man arrived, and over a period of six months, built the spiral staircase. He never sought payment for his time or the materials. The staircase has no nails  and no visible means of support. Engineers still marvel at the construction because it does not seem possible for it to stand, structurally. One engineer surmises that it stands because of its weight pushing down upon itself. The banister was added later by another workman. Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving were married there.

We enjoyed the cohesive architectural style in Santa Fe: earth colors, rounded corners, flat roofs with protruding beams. It is soft, peaceful and very “artsy.” Much of the wares in Santa Fe  were of high quality and high price – investment art.

We purchased baby food and some gas in Grants and drove to Gallup where we stayed in the Country Pride Motel again, the same motel we stayed in two nights previous. For dinner we stopped by Albertsons and bought ribs, as well as cereal, bread and more baby food. We also stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for a dozen donuts.

April 13, 1989 (Thursday):              (Canyon De Chelly, Hubbell Trading Post, Petrified Forest National Park)

We got gas in Gallup for $1.05/gallon and then traveled up Hwy 264 to Ganado where we visited the Hubbell Trading Post. It had such a build up that we were real disappointed. It was very expensive and didn’t have all that much stuff: some food, rugs, a small sampling of pottery, tourist books and jewelry. We decided Gallup, New Mexico, is the place to go to get Indian items. It has trading posts all over the place. The trading post has a small visitor’s center and two Navajo women were weaving rugs using an old loom. In the car, Rachael drew a picture of one of the Navajo woman weaving a blanket. Rachael wrote, “Then we saw hubbal trading post it wasn’t wearth it thoe my mom and dad and me were really disappointed too. But I loved the hubbel trading post visitors center. We saw Indian weavers in the trading post too!”

We left Ganado, up Hwy 191, to Canyon De Chelly. At the visitor’s center we bought a book for Navajo school children, called “Coyote Stories.” It contains 14 stories, each about an encounter of coyote with a different animal or man, such as “coyote and the porcupine.” We drove the south rim of the canyon, to each of the lookouts but the last one, which was an additional 11 miles.  From the road it looks like ordinary juniper country, but inside the steep canyon it is beautiful.

One of the highlights of our trip was the hike to White House Ruin, a 2 ½ mile round trip up and down a steep canyon. It was beautiful 70 degree weather, the hike was challenging, but fun, and the ruins were pretty spectacular. A very steep trail lead down a 500 foot cliff. At the bottom was an octagonal hogan and a Navajo girl was herding sheep and goats in an enclosed area. Not too much further we crossed a river. Judy and I had to take our shoes and socks off to carry the kids across. White House ruin is a cliff dwelling built by the Anasazi, partially on the ground and partially up in the indentation of a cliff. Rachael and Sam were very cute in the University of Wisconsin t-shirts I bought for them at a seminar I attended at the University of Wisconsin the summer before. We promised Sam a rest in a small cave near the top of the canyon and used the shady rest site as an incentive to keep him moving. It worked. Both Sam and Rachael were able to hike the whole way by themselves (Judy and I carried Andrew). We ate a lunch of bologna sandwiches, with tomatoes and cheese from our cooler, at the top. We shared our sandwiches with a very nice white and brown Navajo sheep dog which befriended us.

Of our hike, Rachael wrote, “We took a long hike about 1 and a half miles down a steep canyon we went through two large tunnels in the rock. When we were at the bottom of the canyon we got to a stream. Dad carried us across, too!! After everybody was across the stream we walked a little while longer and came to some cliff dwellings. We read a thing about the cliff dwellings and then hiked back up to our car.” Sam said, “We went on the Canyon De Chelly with the tunnels. Dad took me across the river with bare feet…I didn’t need to be carried at Canyon De Chelly…I liked going into the tunnels at Canyon De Chelly. I took a rest in one. I took a rest there because I needed to get more muscles for my legs. The rest helped by giving some muscles for my legs. I remember hiking way up in Canyon De Chelly. It was really deep. The really deep gave me some muscles.”

Time was getting late, so we left in a rush to drive the 100 miles to Petrified Forest National Park before it closed. In the car, Rachael drew a picture of Canyon Del Chelly which included the river and a squirrel we saw. From Ganado, we went down Hwy 191 to Hwy 40.

Petrified Forest National Park was a disappointment. We zipped through in an hour to get out by closing. In the north end we were able to admire the beauty of the Painted Desert, with beautiful vistas of pinks, reds and interesting rock formations. We did not get to see much of it, but it was similar to the terrain near Tuba City. Newspaper Rock was disappointing. We had expected something spectacular and could not really see anything. The Indian ruins were pretty dull compared to some of the neat ones we have seen earlier on the trip. The part of the park that was supposed to be the best (Agate House and Rainbow Forest) was already closed when we got there. We did see one nice turnoff at Crystal Point where there were many large multi-hued petrified logs. Outside the south end of the park were two large rock shops rivaling those in Quartzite, with great selections of petrified wood. Some of the wood is very beautiful, but the cost would be fairly large to get some big chunks of it. The kids bought some small chunks of petrified wood and our resident artist, Rachael, drew a picture of a petrified log. Rachael wrote, “We got some petrified wood of our own. I got two peaces of petrified wood, some fools gold, a geode, a piece of turcoise, an arrowhead, and some other things.”

Holbrook, Arizona, also has a number of rock shops. Between Holbrook and Quartzite, a rockhound  would be in heaven.

We were somewhat disappointed with our drives through the Hopi/Navajo lands. The driving was generally unspectacular except for Canyon De Chelly and the beginnings near Tuba City (the Painted Desert). Some of the nicest country we saw was from Ganado to I-40 on the way to Petrified Forest where the terrain was hilly with large junipers, much like the country below Cedar City, Utah.

The kids and Judy have remarked several times that the trip has been fun. We’ve been exhausted each night as we’ve come to the hotel. We’ve done a lot of driving (today alone over 300 miles). But hopefully, having some experiences the kids will always remember.

We stayed the night at the Super 8 Marco Polo Hotel in Winslow, Arizona. We purchased some milk at a Circle K and ate at McDonalds.

April 14, 1989 (Friday):       (Meteor Crater, Walnut Canyon National Monument, Grand Canyon Deer Farm)

We got gas for $1.13/gallon in Winslow. We drove to Meteor Crater. It was the first identified, and largest and best preserved crater created by a meteor in the world. The crater has an impressive depth, it is 560 feet deep, deep enough to fit a 60 story building within it. It is 4,100 feet across, with a circumference of more than three miles. 20 football fields could be put side by side within it, and if they were, two million spectators could be accommodated on its slopes. A meteor 80 to 100 feet in diameter, at a velocity of 43,000 miles per hour, hit this area. It is estimated all life within 100 miles was killed. The crater is also known as the Barringer Crater after Dr. Barringer, who developed the theory that the crater was created by a meteor. His family still owns the land. The site was designated a natural landmark in 1968 by the Department of the Interior. The meteor fragments are composed of nickel and iron and are extremely heavy. All of the Apollo astronauts were trained here. The visitor’s center has the original space suit of Charles Duke, Jr., who walked on the moon, and pictures and patches of the Apollo, Gemini and other flights.      

Meteor Crater was a yawner for me, but the kids and Judy loved it. Rachael was in Young Astronauts and particularly ate it up. She wrote, “We also saw a meteor-crater it was really neat! A rock had come out of space and hit the earth really hard. It made a very deep hole it was almost a mile wide. We watched two movies about the meteor crater and space.” Sam, describing our visit to Meteor Crater, said, “A stone goes in the meteor crater and then the stone makes fire. Some of the stone is inside the meteor crater. Some of the meteor crater goes away. The meteor crater hole is empty. We saw a space suit and a rocket outside, a different kind of rocket. You could touch the rocket outside. We watched a movie about astronauts floating on the moon.”

We drove to Walnut Canyon National Monument. When we got there, Judy questioned whether we should. Nothing is really said about it in the travel literature. It is right within the Flagstaff city limits, although out in the forest. It turned out to be one of my favorite spots on the trip. The first view is a beautiful terraced canyon with S curves, somewhat like Goosenecks. A stream which created the canyon was dammed in 1904, so the bottom is now dry and covered with green grass. The terraces are dotted with pine trees, yucca and other plants and rock overhangs. The peninsulas within the S curves are pyramided toward the top. The hike is .9 miles round trip with approximately 284 stairs. The trail leads down the mountain about ½ to ¾ of the way, and then does a circular trip around one of the S curves on one of the levels where the Indian ruins (Sinagua) are found. The Indians built their homes under the overhangs putting in walls of rock and mud for front entrances, sides and walls. The doorways have holes above them so that when fires were burned inside, the doors could be covered and the smoke could escape through the holes. The insides of the still covered homes are entirely blackened from the fires that burned inside. Most of the homes were in the same leveled tier, on both sides of the canyon, although there were some ruins in different levels. The weather was in the 70’s and the air clear, sunny and beautiful. This, along with the hike to White House ruin in Canyon De Chelly, and the Acoma Sky City, are the three highlights of our trip for me. These Sinagua Indians are related to those of Tuzigoot and Wupatki and are from about the same period. We saw turkey vultures flying above the canyon.  Sam didn’t like Walnut Canyon. “I didn’t like that dark, dark fire, that black. I didn’t like the deep ones.”

25 miles west of Flagstaff and 8 miles east of Williams, Arizona, we stopped at Grand Canyon Deer Farm. It was expensive, $12.50, but the kids loved it, particularly Andrew who is our nature boy. The central focus is a herd of 75 fallow deer in an open area that can be fed corn. In addition, a few mule deer, sika deer, muntjac, a llama, goats, sheep, turkeys, chickens, ducks, squirrel monkeys and a cockatoo. Rachael and Sam got to hold baby goats and Sam was able to pet some chickens. Andrew refused to be held and was thrilled to stare at the deer and goats. We bought feed and Andrew tried to coax deer to eat out of his hand. Sam really seems to have a way (patience) with animals. Outside the deer farm, we had lunch on a bench in a grassy area with trees. Bologna sandwiches with cream cheese, sardines and pork and beans. Sam’s favorite part of  the trip was the Grand Canyon Deer Farm “because we got to pet the deers and hold the baby goats and got to carry them and Mom took a picture of us holding them and we saw a talking bird.”

Some of our trip ideas have been very successful. Our little cooler has been repacked with ice every morning and has kept Andrew’s bottles, mayonnaise, lettuce, bologna and tomatoes and cheese fresh. The water cooler has always had sufficient water and has stayed cool, even overnight, for1 ½ days. We managed to find motels in the $30.00 range, except our one splurge in Oak Creek Canyon. It is a little hard sleeping in the same room with the kids because we have to go to sleep early and lay awake in bed in the morning in order not to wake the kids.

We purchased gas in Kingman, Arizona, for $1.21/gallon. We remained on Hwy 40 to Needles, where we bought dinner at Carl’s Jr. for $16.96. We then did a diagonal jog on Hwy 62 down past Amboy Crater, 29 Palms, Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, to home. Sam said, “I didn’t like nothing in the car in that long drive.”

We budgeted $750.00 for the trip and did it for $547.32: $92.01 for gas, $56.43 for souvenirs, $71.50 for attractions, $208.62 for lodging and $118.76 for food.

All in all, our first real family vacation was so much fun we’ve decided to be better about getting out and visiting new places and getting to know our surroundings.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

National Parks and Monuments in 1990: Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and New Mexico

In May and June 1990 we took one of what our family refers to as the "National Parks Trips." Our kids and Judy will roll their eyes when this comes up, but I think it was pretty great.  We covered a lot of ground and haven't been back to many of these places. 

May 24, 1990 (Thursday):                (East on I-10)

We embarked on our second year of family trips with a real mega-vacation (17 days worth), with a new twist – camping. Rachael was 9, Sam 5 and Andrew 2. We left Redlands at 11:00 p.m. without any sleep.

May 25, 1990 (Friday):         (Betatakin Ruin, Monument                          Valley, Goosenecks, Natural Bridges)

Diet Coke is the only thing that kept me going. Just outside Needles at a rest stop (and about 4 cans of Coke later) I stopped and barely made it to a restroom. My bladder was about as full as it could get. I turned the driving over to Judy near Kingman, I was too tired to continue. She drove almost to Williams before she got too tired to drive any further. The sun was coming up and driving got easier. We stopped in Needles for gas and another pit stop. Then on to Flagstaff, Arizona, where we got gas again.

From Flagstaff we traveled north to Tuba City where we stopped at a grocery store/gas station on the Indian reservation for milk. We then had cereal out of plastic bowls in the back of the car. We made a detour off Hwy 160 onto Hwy 96, about 15 to 17 miles, to find Inscription House, a part of Navajo National Monument. As we got to the area we thought it should be we could not find it. I finally walked into a store, having just taken off dark glasses, to ask  where it was. I got stared at as badly as I’ve ever been stared at before. I really felt like I was a foreigner in a foreign country – one that wasn’t welcome. I was told the ruin was closed to visitors. I didn’t trust that information but had it verified down the road at another store. Oh well, over a 30 mile detour without success.

Back at the intersection of Hwys 160 and 96 we stopped at some vendors selling belts, iron wood, blankets and jewelry. I bought a belt with a snake pattern for about $8.00 which the vendor said the Indians wouldn’t buy because of something in their culture (the belts are made in Mexico). The ironwood was significantly more expensive than that we purchased in Puerto Penasco. The vendor said that the Mexicans are deforesting all of the ironwood and that it is getting rarer. Racheal and Sam also got belts. It was nice to cover so many hours in a beginning stretch when the kids were asleep. When it was about time to see anything, we were already near Navajo National Monument, many miles from home.

We made another detour off Hwy 160 to Hwy 564 (about 10 miles). There we went through the visitors center at Navajo National Monument (a Navajo guide or park person) near Betatakin Ruin. The visitors center is at 7,300 feet and it was chilly, made more so by the wind. We examined re-created mud Indian dwellings outside of the visitors center. We were one day too early for the hike in to Betatakin Ruin. However, the 1 ½ mile trip up the steep canyon would probably have been too much for us. Instead, we took a ½ mile walk to Betatakin Point, on the opposite side of the canyon from the ruin, where we could look down at it. Betatakin Ruin was discovered in 1909 by John Wetherill (whose name is familiar in Mesa Verde) and held up to 125 people. It contains some of the best preserved cliff dwellings in Arizona. The alcove opening is 450 feet high. Tree-ring dating reveals that the cave was first inhabited about 1250 A.D. In 1275 a large group arrived and most of the construction took place. The village was abandoned about 1300.

We headed north on Hwy 160 to Kayenta for gas.  Then north on Hwy 163 right before the Utah border, I was stopped by a Navajo Policeman and issued a speeding ticket for going 72 in a 55 mph zone. He was very polite and told me I’d be safe anywhere from 65 mph or under. The ticket cost us $59.60. A few more miles and we were at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Unlike the parks or monuments run by the federal government, this is run by the Navajos and the difference is evident. There is not a nice visitors center or nice roads. Just a lot of Indians waiting around to give guided tours. No pictures are allowed without paying a fee. Judy found some small white goats (fake) with real fur and horns for about $30.00. She didn’t buy one and kicked herself the rest of the trip, particularly in Ouray, Colorado, where she found them for sale for over $100.00. A 17 mile dirt road goes through the monument, but we were not inclined to take it at that point.

We headed northeast past Mexican Hat, a neat little place right on the San Juan River. We passed over the river on a bridge high above the water, a motel near one end. Outside of town stands the town’s namesake: a 2,500 ton boulder that resembles a sombrero. The formation, 60 feet wide and 12 feet thick, balances on a 200 foot cliff. Shortly past Mexican Hat we turned onto Hwy 261 and took a 4 mile detour  to Goosenecks State Reserve, over looking the San Juan River. The river meanders through a 1,000 foot canyon flowing over 6 miles back and forth while advancing only 1.5 miles. At one point the river makes a 3 mile curve around a ridge only 100 yards wide. Eventually, some of the necks will be breached, creating new natural bridges. I took a picture of Sam and Rachael near the edge, but it took some coaxing to get them there, the drop-off was very intimidating. The new “Man’s Search for Happiness” film at the end shows the family here. I distinctly remember going here as a young boy and being awed by it. That memory has been with me better than 20 years and I’ve really been looking forward to getting back. While we were there, a busload of tourists piled out ooing and awing. It is amazing how such a small area in Southern Utah got so much in terms of natural beauty. Even though the area is desert, with little vegetation, it is so beautiful with the colorful rock formations and colors, it doesn’t seem as much like a desert. It is much more tolerable than the desert near Needles or Baker.

From Goosenecks, we traveled northwest to the Mokee Dugway, an incredible road up a mountain which switchbacks the end of a box canyon. As you go up it, you can’t tell where the road is going to go. The road is dirt, has no railing, is barely wide enough for two cars and gets so high up that someone with a fear of heights would need to be drugged and put to sleep. As it was, I was nervous going up it. I think that it is probably the scariest road I’ve ever taken, short of a jeep up the side of a mountain.

We continued on Hwy 261 to Hwy 95 to Hwy 275 to Natural Bridges National Monument. Prospector Cass Hite discovered the natural bridges while exploring White Canyon in 1883. In 1904, the National Geographic publicized the bridges and in 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the National Monument. In 1909 Pres. Taft enlarged the boundaries and gave Indian names to the bridges which were then known as “Edwin,” “Augusta,” and Caroline,” after early explorers or their relatives. The names, which are Hopi, are “Owachomo,” meaning “rock mounds” (for the large rounded rock mass near the mesa). “Sipapu” means “the place of emergence” and “Kachina” is named after pictographs resembling kachinas found near the bridge.

The difference between a natural bridge and an arch is that natural bridges are formed by erosion from running water, while arches are formed by other erosional forces. Natural bridges are enlarged and shaped by the same forces that cause arches to grow and mature, but they begin through stream erosion. We drove through rather quickly and just looked, without hiking. Near Kachina Bridge overlook, I caught a lizard (a side blotched) and was showing it to the kids. I let it go on my shirt and it was climbing on me. The kids, particularly Andrew, were screaming in delight, and I looked up to see a group of tourists with big smiles on their faces. We stopped at Mule Canyon Ruins and I looked around, but there was no indication camping was allowed, even though there were restrooms. We continued driving to Blanding where we were told we would find a campground at Devils Canyon Campground in the Manti-La Sal National Forest, about 15 miles north of town. We eventually found it, as it was getting dark. It was full, so we continued along a road, found a place we could pull off, and pitched our tent – one long day, covering a lot of ground. We’d planned to eat stir fry, but couldn’t get the stove to work, so ate peanut butter sandwiches and potato salad.

May 26, 1990 (Saturday):     (Newspaper Rock, Canyonlands –                   Needles District, Hole N’ The Rock,                 Colorado River)

In the morning while we were cleaning up camp, Rachael spotted four deer, which the kids went after. We headed north on Hwy 191 to Monticello where we went to a store and bought lunch meat, salad and dressing, chips and dip, bread, etc. Then we continued north to Hwy 211 where we turned southeast. At the junction was a distinctive formation known as Church Rock, which looked more like an arab mosque or a buddha’s head with a small hat. There was a road block near the turnoff with the police checking to see if we had alcohol (the Memorial Day weekend). We continued on to Newspaper Rock where we stopped and took a nature trail. We saw several whiptail lizards, went near the stream and looked at the wares of several vendors. My regret no-purchase was some elk horns for $15.00 or $20.00. The elk are in herds near Monticello. The fellow had elk horn buckles and other jewelry. He also pointed out a golden eagle nesting high on a cliff on the other side of the road. With our binoculars, we could barely make out the eagle and its white droppings coming down from beneath its nest. Newspaper Rock is probably the nicest petroglyphs we’ve seen. Near Newspaper Rock, we saw some climbers scaling a very steep rock using ropes and other climbing equipment.

We continued up the highway into the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. We drove to the end of the paved road to Big Spring Canyon overlook. Rachael and Sam got out of the car and did some scrambling over the rocks. We finally decided it would be a nice place for lunch and got a sleeping Andrew out of the car. We set up our food on a large flat rock area and had one of our more enjoyable meals. The temperature was pleasant, the surroundings beautiful, and a nice variety of food-salad, meat sandwiches with cheese and peanut butter sandwiches, chips and dill dip, soft drinks, etc. The only problem was the wind began to blow and we had to secure our plates. After lunch we drove a short way to the Pothole Point Trail. There was a beautiful view of the Needles in the background and fun climbing areas for the kids in the rocks. We saw a number of lizards, including one which I caught and let go on Sam’s shirt. The lizard eventually jumped to the ground and escaped in a crack in the rocks. The kids had wanted to catch another lizard and have it climb on them, like the lizard had on me at Natural Bridges.

At this point in our trip – Rachael’s favorite thing so far was seeing the deer in Devils Campground; Sam’s the lizards; Judy – tootsie rolls in Canyonlands; and Bob’s – Pothole Point and the lizard.

Traveling north on Hwy 191 after leaving Canyonlands, we stopped at Hole N’ the Rock, 15 miles south of Moab. It was the home of Albert and Gladys Christensen, he a former miner who gradually expanded the house through dynamite. The house has over 5,000 square feet. His stuffed mule was in the house, a self done one that looked like it. In its initial stages, it was open as a restaurant. The kitchen rock was painted a lime green, as was the bathroom, the rest was the natural sandstone color. The Christensen’s son still owns and lives in the home (so they say) and the Christensens were apparently Mormon, evidenced by a Book of Mormon and a number of other books in their book collection. Shortly after Hole N’ the Rock, we stopped the car by the side of the road at Wilson Arch. Judy snapped my picture and we were off again. We tried finding lodging in Moab which was futile. Everything was full on this Memorial Day weekend. While looking for a place to camp, just past the Arches National Park entrance (toward Moab), a bighorn ram ran across the road just ahead of the car in front of us. At first I thought it was an antelope because it went so fast. Then it clearly turned out to be a bighorn ram, with about a ¾ curl. Using my new binoculars, I watched the ram browsing on the other side of the road, about ¼ way up the mountain until it then disappeared into the rocks. It was quite a thrill for me. At the direction of a ranger in Arches, we ended up camping beside the Colorado River off of Hwy 128 just outside Moab and Arches National Park. We were camped in the middle of Tamarisk (I believe), it was hot, lots of bugs, very dirty – and our spot was not very level. We had a hard time getting up and down the dirt road from the highway as it was pretty rough. Although close to the Colorado, the tamarisk were thick and the embankment down to the river steep, so we didn’t get to enjoy the river.

May 27, 1990 (Sunday):       (Arches, Dead Horse Point,                               Canyonlands – Island In The Sky,                    Grand Junction)

In the morning we drove to Arches National Park and drove to Balanced Rock. There we found a picnic table and pulled out our cereal and bowls. After finishing breakfast and utilizing restrooms, we drove into the Windows Section and stopped at Double Arch for a hike. We hiked in about a ¼ mile, a beautiful stretch of ground, all fairly steep sides. Our hike into Double Arch was a lot of fun. It also had to be up with some of our most fun events on our trip. The hike was long enough to be a hike, but not so long to be tiring. The beauty was evident, and there was an element of thrill in climbing the fairly steep sides. At one point a man also hiking there had to help Sam down from a steep place he had climbed to and gotten frightened. We left there and drove up to Delicate Arch Viewpoint. We could only see if from a far distance, about1 ½ miles. We decided not to hike it. It was getting warm and it didn’t look too spectacular. Back three miles along the dirt road to the main highway, we drove up to the Devil’s Garden area at the end of the paved road. We didn’t stop, turned around and drove out to the main highway (191) to Hwy 313.

There was road construction going on at times, so the drive in to Dead Horse Point was slow (22 miles). Before the 1900s, mustang herds ran wild on the mesas near Dead Horse Point. The promontory was a natural corral into which horses were driven by cowboys. The only escape was a 30 yard neck of land controlled by fencing. The mustangs were roped and broken and kept for personal use or sold to eastern markets. Unwanted culls or “broomtails” were left behind. According to one legend, a band of broomtails was left corralled on the point. The gate was left open, but the mustangs remained. They died of thirst within sight of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below.

One trip that would be fun in the future would be to take Hwy 279 outside Moab, down below the cliff that supports Dead Horse Point. The road travels around to the Colorado River. When I was a boy and visited, the point was unimproved and just a spectacular view down. Now it has been developed as a State Park, rock walls built around the ledge and trails. Also a visitors center, which we did not visit and some covered picnic tables.

In some respects, Dead Horse Point and the Goosenecks are similar. Each has a high viewpoint overlooking a river. The Goosenecks is less crowded and more of a whitish rock. Deadhorse Point is more of a red rock, although in some respects not as high and less spectacular, particularly because some of the barriers take away the real thrill of being close to a steep ledge.

From Dead Horse Point we drove into Island In The Sky in Canyonlands National Park (the northern section of Canyonlands). We didn’t have a lot of time, so we drove straight down to Grand View Point Overlook, the farthest the road goes in that section. From there you get a lesson in geography as it is so easy to see how erosion works. The flat White Rim Mesa is broken up by canyons carved by rivers and other natural forces. Geography would be fun to study if it could be studied in a natural laboratory like this. A short way from there we stopped for a picnic. The table was only 30 yards or so from a spectacular cliff, and we had ants as well, but these were large ones.

From there we drove to Green River Overlook. A short walk leads down to what I thought was the prettiest view from this northern section.

The northern portion of Canyonlands is not as fun as the southern portion. The  southern portion, with its trails and more numerous dirt roads is a hikers and jeepers paradise. Some time in the future I would like to spend a week in a Blazer covering all the dirt roads in Canyonlands, including the Maze, and seeing all of the various arches. If done with a video camera and good still camera, it would be a tremendous way to remember it. As a teacher, I remember going to Canyonlands (the Needles) and having a tremendous experience. Jeeping up Elephant Hill and other portions of the park. 

We got back on the road out to Hwy 191 again. I wanted to take the scenic Hwy 128 from Moab to Cisco (along the Colorado River). Judy opted for a quicker route up to I70 and over to Grand Junction, Colorado. I was impressed as we drove in to Grand Junction at how accessible the Colorado River was. Many people were out canoeing and it looked like there were a lot of access points. That would be a nice recreational opportunity. That night we stayed at the West Gate Inn. I drove into town to a supermarket, bought some cooked chicken and seafood and potato salad, took a wonderful shower (after two straight nights of camping, we were getting ripe) and had a great night sleep. We arrived hot and sweaty.

May 28, 1990 (Monday):      (Colorado NM, Dinosaur NM,                         Pinedale)

In the morning, we started out by going to the east (Grand Junction) entrance of Colorado National Monument and taking a quick drive through. It was another spectacular view of land below from a high mesa. The road winds along the edge of the mesa as you look down the deep canyons out into the valley where Grand Junction lays. The road winds about 23 miles along the rim from Grand Junction to Fruita. Judy had a stiff neck and the kids weren’t too interested, so we really didn’t stop to enjoy it, other than a short stop at the visitor’s center. A man named John Otto came here in 1907 and fell in love with the area. He decided to promote the place because he felt it should be a national park. With his urging, the citizens of Grand Junction deluged Washington D. C. politicians with letters urging support of the proposal. Otto, meanwhile, was building miles and miles of trails throughout the park so others could enjoy its beauty. In 1911, Colorado National Monument was established. Otto was named park caretaker, which he did for $1.00 per month until 1927.

Outside the monument, we stopped to look at some pet buffalo which were near a dinosaur quarry. Then we pushed the pedal to the metal up Hwy 139 from Loma to Rangely. We drove through some beautiful country up through 8,268 foot Douglass Pass. Toward Rangely, we saw some petroglyphs from the road which were quite spectacular. I wish now we had stopped for a picture, but we were in a hurry to get to Dinosaur National Monument. After Rangely, we went through Dinosaur, Colorado (with dinosaur statures in several places in town) and Jensen, Utah up to Dinosaur National Monument. The name is kind of incredible when you realize the dinosaur exhibit is only a small portion of the monument, and there are miles of country with the Green River to be explored. In the monument we saw an Indian cave with petroglyphs (pretty badly worn) and the beautiful Split Mountains. From the road they look ethereal and the rock very unreal or different.

Then to the visitor’s center where we visited the quarry. The quarry had some nice skeletons and it was fun to see the bones embedded in the mountain. They had a wonderful tyrannosaurus rex skull, if my recollection is correct, but it was not much better, or even not as good, as the Denver Museum of Natural History, or even the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. This area was once a sand bar in a river where the bones got snagged and trapped. Dinosaur Quarry has produced more dinosaur skulls than any other quarry in the world. Earl Douglas of the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh discovered the quarry near the Split Mountain in 1909 – the Jurassic Morrison Formation (145 million years old).

To prevent the eastern museums from taking all the fossils, the Utah Field House of Natural History was established in 1945. There are 14 life size models of dinosaurs in out door settings, as well as an inside museum with stuffed animals and real dinosaur bones. The museum is located in Vernal. We ate at the Diamond Hills Café in Vernal where Judy had a good lamb stew and I had some mediocre lamb.

In the Flaming Gorge area, near Dutch John, I got a speeding ticket for going 51 mph in a 40 mph zone. I was going down hill, the limit had been 50 or 55, and I was steamed, with the two tickets on this trip and the two prior tickets this year, I’ve had four speeding tickets in four states in less than five months (California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah). I later got nervous driving in Wyoming and Colorado, not wanting to add to the list of tickets in different states.

Past Rock Springs, Wyoming, in the grasslands, we spotted several groups of pronghorn antelope feeding along the side of the road in the sagebrush. We stopped the car and looked at them through binoculars. One was a group of about 13. A little later we saw a golden eagle carrying a rabbit near the side of the road. Near Pinedale there was a stand with a large stick nest perched on top with a sign from Mountain Fuel Supply (or something similar), that it was a breeding area for ospreys. An osprey flew over the car and a small pond down the road doing a weird fluttering exercise while staying in one spot in the air.

In Pinedale we stopped at the Half Moon Lodge Motel. The proprietor suggested an evening drive for viewing wildlife out past Fremont Lake to Half Moon Lake. It was  beautiful scenery with pines and aspen. We saw seven deer, six of them along the dirt road down to Half Moon Lake.

May 29, 1990 (Tuesday):      (Wind River Mountains, Fort                                                           Ashley, Jenney Lake)

We visited Faler’s General Store in Pinedale which had numerous mounted moose, elk, deer, mountain goat and mountain sheep heads. Also a grandslam of fully mounted and stuffed bighorn sheep (stone, desert, rocky mountain and dall). Later, we found that Falers also run a taxidermy shop in Pinedale. We drove up the Skyline Drive past Half Moon Lake near Elkhart Park until we were stopped by snow in the road. There was a beautiful view of the snow covered, rugged, Wind River Mountains, which are some of the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen (even prettier than the Tetons). We saw three deer on the drive.

We ate lunch in the Pinedale City Park which was beautiful, with a planted fishing pond (for 13 year olds and under), pine trees, stream, swing set (and apparently quite often a young bull moose). On the outskirts of town we stopped at Fort Ashley, a re-created pioneer town with authentic old buildings turned into curio shops. I struck up a converstation with a trapper who was selling furs and ended up buying a set of pronghorn antelope horns for $20.00.

About six miles west of Pinedale we visited the site where six of the 15 trapper/Indian rendezvous were held on the upper Green River. I wanted to visit the Green River Lakes but was voted down (the source of the Green River deep in the Wind River Mountains). On the drive to Jackson, we saw 12 pronghorn antelope – one group of 8 with four bucks. The Hoback River against the mountains outside of Jackson offered some wonderful spectacular views. We eventually camped near Jenny Lake in Teton National Park, the area where Judy camped every year as a young girl.

May 30, 1990 (Wednesday):      (Jackson Hole, Grand Teton                      NP, Old Faithful Inn)

It rained on us all night. Andrew had a fever and woke up at 11:00 and 4:30. Judy stayed awake after 4:30, but the rest of us slept until 8:00. In the morning we were faced with a very wet tent and a difficult time in trying to dry it out (condensation was all over the inside of our tent). Andrew and I saw a rabbit at the store. It was mottled, changing over from its winter white coat to a gray coat, with some black in it. We spent the morning around the campfire as it was cold and overcast. We cooked pancakes with cold syrup, fried eggs and bacon for breakfast. We didn’t leave the campsite until noon. A mockingbird or Clark’s nutcracker raided our camp and at our butter. It was quite bold.

We took Andrew to Jackson Hole to Instacare and found he had tonsillitis, a small ear infection, and got a prescription for Amoxicillin. Back to Jenny Lake, Rachael, Sam and I took a one hour horse ride with Teton Trail Rides. We went around Moose Pond and the edge of Jenny Lake through quite tough terrain (rocky and lots of fallen trees, uphills and downhills). We saw a marmot on a rock toward the end of our ride near Jenny Lake. We’d been told a moose lived near Moose Pond, but unfortunately did not see it. The ride was $10.00 each for the hour ($30.00 combined). I rode an appaloosa named Happy, Rachael a white horse named Kelly and Sam a brown horse named Bart. To appease Andrew, he was allowed to sit on the horse at the end and was given a box of animal crackers.

We drove through Teton Park, saw a group of four pronghorn antelope, three Canada geese and Judy saw a coyote. In Yellowstone, on the way in, we saw a bull elk in velvet and after checking in to the Old Faithful Inn, went on a drive toward Madison and saw elk in a pasture (three young calves and the rest cows). There was a large bison right next to the General Store eating grass. Our room was very hot, there was no way to regulate the heat other than by opening the window. It was very cold outside.

May 31, 1990 (Thursday):    (Yellowstone)

We met the Kenisons (Dave, Bonnie and Sarah) at noon near Old Faithful and then waited another 1 ½ hours for the Joneses. We finally checked into our cabins (each family in one) right next to the Old Faithful Lodge and a direct view on Old Faithful. We fed three yellow bellied marmots near Old Faithful. For lunch we opened the doors between cabins 200 and 201 and had a meal of hot dogs, chips, dip, potato salad, drinks, fudge apples and oreo cookies.

We took the road toward Madison to visit some mud pots, geysers and hot pools. We took the Firehole Lake Drive and saw the Great Fountain Geyser erupt (it only erupts every 9 to 12 hours). It was higher than Old Faithful and much thicker with more volume. When the hot water hit the cold air, the steam turned into instant fog and nothing could be seen but white. We also saw the Indian Paint Pot and Emerald Pools. It was snowing (not sticking to the ground), windy, rainy and very cold.

June 1, 1990 (Friday):          (Yellowstone)

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and met Stan Jones to go on a wildlife lookout drive. We left Old Faithful, up through Madison Junction, Norris Junction, Canyon Junction, through the Hayden Valley down to the edge of Lake Yellowstone. We saw a female cow moose, numerous buffalo, some elk (all at a distance), and a coyote. The coyote ran across the road and wandered through the trees. In the Hayden Valley, Stan and I watched through binoculars as a cow elk waited patiently for its calf to cross a river. I was surprised to see pelicans swimming on the Yellowstone River. We were also amazed at the number of bison in the park. We probably saw more of them than any other animal. Following way behind would be elk. I really wanted to see some moose and a bear. Ironically, back home in the San Bernardino Mountains, with the drought, the bears are coming way down. At our women’s youth conference, men leaders stayed up all night with flashlights scaring them away.

When we asked the ranger the best place to see moose, she said Grand Teton National Park. But as we’d already been there, she suggested Hayden Valley. When Stan and I saw the first cow moose there early in the morning, we didn’t pay it as much attention because we thought we’d see lots more. However, it turned out we were fortunate to see it. We viewed the devastation of the Yellowstone fire. About half the park was burned. One of the worst hit areas had a tornado before the fire. It was so bitter cold we did not diddle daddle outside of the car for very long.

After getting back to the cabins, we went out with the kids to feed the three marmots. We later saw several more running between the cabins. For lunch we bought frozen chicken, got a fire going in a firepit and cooked chicken in a pan, hot dogs, s-mores and drinks.

Later in the afternoon we drove to West Yellowstone, Montana, and ate dinner. Many of us had a buffalo burger. On the way back, Dave, Stan, Scott, Sam and I went to the Norris Geyser Basin (gigantic) and saw just a portion of it. I was a little disappointed we saw so little of Yellowstone, but it was fun to be with family. The cold weather rally hampered what we were able to do. We saw more bull elk and lots of buffalo.

June 2, 1990 (Saturday):      (Yellowstone, Cody, Old Trail                                                           Town, Douglas)

We drove from Old Faithful to the West Thumb, through and around Lake Yellowstone. We saw some bull elk, numerous buffalo, three deer and two moose (a cow and bull with beginning antlers in velvet). Dave Kenison was leading our train of three cars near Lake Yellowstone when I saw a moose back through the trees. Dave continued on (then later found us) and Stan Jones and I (after stopping our cars) went through the trees and got within 15 yards of the cow moose for a picture. We drove to the east entrance of Yellowstone which I think is the most beautiful part of Yellowstone. It is mountainous and least touristy.

Outside the park the beautiful scenery continued through to Ataska Teepee (Buffalo Bill’s hunting lodge), Wapiti and on to Cody. In Cody we stopped at the Buffalo Bill Museum and ate peanut butter and jam sandwiches in front (inside of a teepee). The museum included the Whitney Gallery of Western Art (beautiful paintings and sculptures) including Remingtons, Plains Indian Museum (including black footed ferret and wolverine artifacts), Firearms Museum and Buffalo Bill Museum which included trophy mounts of mountain goat (world record), pronghorn (world record), deer (world record), caribou, elk and moose (high on the list). The museum was very impressive. As usual, it would be easier to see it without kids, but I saw a lot of art I really liked, unlike many galleries I’ve been to. Also the trophy mounts were very impressive.

We were lured to an LDS Church by a sign on our way into Cody, advertising the “Historic Cody Mural,” a dome and painted ceiling. We were somewhat offended at the brazen attempt to lure in people using a frontier type theme when the mural depicts the non-Wyoming history of the Church. We were also dismayed when the guide talked for 45minutes and bored us to tears, even though he knew we were LDS. Apparently, a wealthy LDS man commissioned a non-Mormon painter to paint the mural and local people staff the visitors center constantly.

We went to Old Trail Town in Cody where they have a main street with restored log cabins, stores and the graves of many frontiersmen, including Jeremiah Johnson. I was fascinated by it, it really brought the flavor of the old west. It was the frontier version of Pioneer Village. Bob and Terry Edgar, the proprietors, have been developing it for 20 years, similar to what Pop did with Pioneer Village. Most of the buildings came from within 90 miles of Cody, each building dismantled, numbered and put back together on site. One cabin was Butch Cassidy’s and the Sundance Kids’s from Buffalo Creek in Hole in the Wall country. Judy didn’t like the place much, she thought it was uninteresting.

We then drove by a shop where a trapper was selling furs and antlers. It was extremely expensive, but he did have a wolf pelt from Alaska, moose antlers, etc. We drove through Meteetse, Wyoming, where the last group of black footed ferrets was discovered on the Pitchfork Ranch west of town. Previous to that time, the ferret had been thought extinct. Four colonies exist in captivity – one at the Sybille Research Center in southeast Wyoming, and three at zoos in other parts of the country. They are expected to be reintroduced into the wild in Meteetse in 1991.

Between Meteetse and Hell’s Half Acre we saw numerous antelope along the roadside (probably 50 or more). We stopped at Hell’s Half Acre, approximately 320 acres of badlands country with Bryce like rock formations, just as dark set in. We bought a treat at the store and continued on to Douglas, Wyoming, where we slept the night at the I-25 Inn, just as they were closing up around 11:00 p.m.

June 3, 1990 (Sunday):         (Longmont, Estes Park, Rocky                                                         Mountain NP)

We drove from Douglas, Wyoming, to Longmont, Colorado, to Dave and Bonnie Kenison’s home. Judy drove and I counted 97 pronghorn antelope along the way (and I was only scanning one side of the freeway). We attended the Longmont IV Ward where I stood in the circle for the blessing of Matthew Walter Kenison. After eating lunch with Dave and Bonnie, we drove in the Kenison station wagon up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. The Park was extremely impressive. We were up near the tops of 11,000 to 14,000 foot mountains. Long’s Peak (which Longmont was named after) is 14,255 feet in elevation, not much shorter than Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the continental U.S. We drove up to approximately 12,000 feet in the car (above timber line). It was breathtaking. I’d like to take the whole loop to see the spectacular views. We counted about 85 elk on the way down, mainly in two or three pastures in herds up to 35 in number. Dave and Bonnie have seen bighorn sheep, previously, in the same pastures.

At Forest Canyon Overlook, we walked through paths shoveled in the snow, with snow walls six feet in height on both sides. The kids had a difficult time in the car. Both Rachael and Andrew had tantrums, which made the experience less pleasant. The Estes Park shops looked fun, but the kids would not have allowed us to stop.

June 4, 1990 (Monday):        (Denver, Canon City)

We went with Bonnie, Sarah and Matthew Kenison to the U.S. Mint in Denver. We had to wait in line for about a ½ hour and then were not allowed to take pictures. It was basically a big noisy machine shop stamping out pennies. We also saw slugs of dimes and quarters. In the gift shop we bought an uncirculated set of 1990 coins. Then we were off to the Denver Zoo.

The Denver Zoo has a beaver enclosure, an island surrounded by a moat. We saw the beaver actually swimming. It is the first beaver exhibit I’ve ever seen at a zoo. I was impressed by the coati mundi, grizzly bear, dall and bighorn sheep, polar bear and seal exhibits for natural settings and plenty of room for the animals. Also, the wolves had a beautiful natural setting. The wolf exhibit had five white wolves with holes for dens and a large area to roam in. The zoo also had elk and antelope (unusual zoo exhibits). The layout of the zoo was weird, difficult to tell where you were on the map and the signs were also difficult to read. The heat was in the 90’s – warm, but not extremely uncomfortable. We bought Andrew a plastic sea turtle which he loves.

Our tour of the Denver Museum of Natural History was one of the quickest in history (50 minutes), all three floors. The tyrannosaurus rex skeleton is the most impressive skeleton I’ve seen. Also a diplodocus, stegosaurus, mastadon and plesiosaur skeletons. Exhibits of Colorado and other animals taxidermied in natural settings were spectacular. This, with the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, were both more impressive than anything we’ve seen in Los Angeles, including the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History.

We said goodbye to Bonnie, Sarah and Matthew (who went with us to the zoo and museum of natural history) and drove down through Colorado Springs. We fell in love with the verdant green valley and surrounding mountains. Judy and I were both yearning to live there. The Air Force Academy sits impressively against the mountains to the west and 14,000 foot Pikes Peak also loomed to the west, still mostly covered in snow.

We camped near Royal Gorge outside of Canon City. We set up tent in the dark about 9:00 p.m. and read a chapter out of “Where the Red Fern Grows.” It was especially fitting in this atmosphere. We are in beautiful country and very impressed with Colorado (what I thought would be the least exciting part of the trip).

June 5, 1990 (Tuesday):       (Buckskin Joe’s, Monarch Pass,                                                       Cimarron)

We woke up at 7:15 a.m. (Judy had woken up at 6:00 a.m. and just laid there). We visited Buckskin Joe’s, a re-created western town near Royal Gorge. The cabins and stores are authentic buildings from the 1860s. It was created for the film industry to film westerns. “Cat Ballou,” John Wayne’s “The Cowboys” and “True Grit,” t.v.s “The Sacketts” and “How the West was Won,” the “White Buffalo” with Charles Bronson, “Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox” with George Segal and Goldie Hawn, and other films were filmed here. It was a ripoff, $18.00 per family, but we figured it was our only opportunity. We did witness a gunfight on main street (several people ended up dead in the street outside of the saloon) and rode a stage coach (painted red with yellow painted wheels) for a trip around the outside of the village. The kids spent some time in jail (it was difficult, but we finally decided to let them out) and Andrew sat on a coffin in the back of a wagon.

After leaving Buckskin Joe’s, we tried crossing the Royal Gorge Bridge and found that it cost quite a sum of money ($6.00 for each adult). It is the world’s highest suspension bridge. We decided with our other expenses of the day it was not worth it. We visited a small store which had a marvelous coiled rattlesnake with its mouth open, for sale. If we’d been rich, I’d have purchased it.

We stopped at a Safeway in Salida, bought food, and then ate lunch in the city park. We drove up to the Monarch Pass, 11,312 feet in elevation (just under the height of Mount San Gorgonio, the highest mountain in Southern California) and took the tram up to the top of the mountain (11,921 feet high). The pass is the continental divide. The tram was tossed in the wind and got us somewhat queasy. At the top, we got a wonderful view of the mountains for 150 miles. Mount Ouray, 13,955 feet, was most spectacular, as well as 14,200 foot Mount Shavano. The family didn’t want to go outside the building at the top of the mountain, but I did to take pictures and was buffeted by very strong winds.

Driving down Hwy 50, further, I spotted a couple of elk or bighorn sheep going from sage brush into the pine trees. Later, going through Curecanti National Recreation Area, after leaving the barren shoreline of Morrow Point Lake, and going into a side river gorge which was heavily forested, we saw three elk down in the trees. One was beginning to grow nubby, velveted, spikes.

We stayed in a very nice cabin at Pleasant Valley, near the little Cimarron stream. We barbecued chicken out by the stream and the kids played on some swings and other playground equipment on the other side of the stream. We would like to go back there some time on an elk hunt and use it as a base.

June 6, 2002 (Wednesday):              (Black Canyon of the                                                                          Gunnison, Ouray)

We didn’t leave Pleasant Valley until 10:45 or 11:00. I went on a nice jog in the morning behind the cabin and then down the road. We drove to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument and drove the south rim. We were awed by the steepness and beauty of the canyon. Wallace Hansen wrote, “Several western canyons exceed the Black Canyon in overall size, some are longer, some are deeper, some are narrower, and a few have walls as steep. But no other canyon in North America combines the depth, narrowness, sheerness and the somber countenance of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.”

Judy bought a couple of books in Montrose and we drove on to Ouray. The drive was breathtaking, snow capped mountains on either side with lush green grass and trees.

Just north of Ouray we went to the Bachelor-Syracuse Mine and took a mine car 3,350 feet into the belly of the mountain. Our guide was a miner who had worked the mine prior to its closure in 1981. It was closed due to inability to compete with foreign sources. We wore yellow hats and rain slickers and climbed on a mine car with a single bench running lengthwise down the middle. As we entered the mouth of the mine, the cold air hit us immediately. Water was dripping from the top and sides of the mine. Our guide, J.R., explained mining techniques and the fact that his hearing is shot (he reads lips), he is nearly blind in sunlight (has to wear sunglasses) and has rocks in his lungs. Despite it all, he says he wouldn’t do anything else. For anyone considering going into mining, it would be an eye opening tour. I have great admiration for the miners. The tour was well worth the money and one of the best things we did on our trip. We ate at their outdoor restaurant and had their Texas barbeque beef. We shared one plate. The food was wonderful. The surrounding mountains and green valley here and in Ouray make it one of the most beautiful places on earth. On the way down the hill from the mine, we had to stop and take pictures because the greenery and the snow capped mountains were a picture I wanted to capture forever.

We drove into Ouray and went to the Box  Canyon – later realizing we hadn’t walked in far enough. But we did see a beautiful narrow canyon and the beautiful mountains towering to the east. We shopped some stores in Ouray and I bought a mountain goat pencil drawing print which I put up in my office at work.

The drive between Ouray and Silverton was beautiful. The whole drive I could have gotten out of the car every few minutes to snap pictures. I believe it was the perfect time of year to go as the snow still in the mountains left a beautiful backdrop. Beneath in the valleys, the green plants and trees leave an enchanted look that could easily be mistaken for the European Alps. The road between Ouray and Silverton is known as “The Million Dollar Highway.” Ore rich mountains had beautiful hues, including Red Mountain, which was very red. We camped in the South Mineral Campground, two miles north of Silverton, down a one mile dirt road. We cooked hotdogs over a fire and had chips and dip for dinner. The wood was very scarce at our campsite, we had difficulty finding enough to light a small fire. Interestingly enough, there was much more wood in the campgrounds at Jenny Lake in the Tetons. We drove into Silverton, bought some fudge and gas. We also tried unsuccessfully to spot the beavers that made the dams near our campground.

June 7, 1990 (Thursday):     (Silverton, Durango, Aztec Ruins                      NM, Mesa Verde NP)

In the morning I walked down to the beaver ponds but saw no beaver. I did see eight rabbits. On the way into Silverton, we stopped at the Christ Shrine above town, about ½ mile down a dirt road. We saw six to eight large woodchucks (my guess as to what they were). They were the size of marmots, but look different. I’d never seen one until the Denver Zoo. We also saw a coyote walking in the field below. We browsed the stores in Silverton and Judy vetoed a drive down the nine mile dirt road to Eureka.

The drive to Durango was beautiful, but except for the first portion of the trip through high craggy snow capped mountains, it wasn’t as beautiful as the Ouray to Silverton road. We continued down Hwy 550 to Aztec, New Mexico, and went to Aztec Ruins National Monument. We ate lunch in the park next to it. The ruins were not Aztec at all, but Anasazi. The ruins are near the Animas River which flows down from the San Juan Mountains to the north. The west ruin was built about 1106 to 1124 A.D. There were three levels and more than 24 kivas, including the great kiva in the plaza. About 1175 or 1200, the pueblo was abandoned, it is guessed because of drought. About 1225 the pueblo was again occupied, and the Mesa Verde culture Indians developed the east ruins. About 50 years later, these people too abandoned the pueblo. The great kiva is the only restored great kiva in the southwest. The ruins reminded us a lot of Tuzigoot in Arizona, except there were more of them and more of what remained. Northwest New Mexico was quite a contrast with the San Juan Mountains we’d been in earlier that day. The country really changes in just a short distance.

At Mesa Verde National Park we set up camp at Morefield Campground. The kids ran around looking for deer and saw many of them, including some going near our tent. We camped on the Zuni Loop to the left and northwest of the lower restroom, a short walk from the showers and store. We cooked hamburgers for dinner and saw about 80 deer that evening as we drove around the campground in our car.

June 8, 1990 (Friday):          (Mesa Verde NP)

We got off to a late start, near 11:00 a.m., before leaving camp. We drove to Cliff Palace ruins at the south end of the park. At the beginning of the trail we saw a 2 ½ foot to 3 foot long gopher snake – the biggest snake Judy or the kids have seen in the wild (it also got a lot of attention from the tourists). The trail down and up was difficult – through narrow crevices in the rock, down steep and narrow stairs and up and down tall wooden ladders.

Cliff Palace was discovered by two cowboys, Richard Wetherill and Charlie Mason, on December 18, 1888, a snowy day. They looked across the canyon near Sun Temple and saw what looked like a “magnificent city.” In 1906 Congress established Mesa Verde National Park. In 1909, Jesse Walter Fewkes of the Smithsonian Institution excavated and first stabilized Cliff Palace. Moisture seeps down through the sandstone until it hits shale which it can’t penetrate. In the winter, the moisture freezes and expands cracking and loosening chunks of sandstone. The pieces collapse and form the large alcoves where the ruins are located. Cliff Palace has 217 rooms and 23 kivas and contained 200 to 250 people. Anasazi moved out to the mesa around A.D. 500 but did not build cliff dwellings until A.D. 1200. They lived in them only 75 to 100 years and abandoned the area by 1300 A.D. The average size of the people was 5’4” to 5’5” (for a man) and they lived only 32 to 34 years. Infant mortality rate was 50% by age 5.

Next we stopped at Balcony House which could be seen only in groups of 50 guided by a ranger. We waited in line 25 minutes to learn Andrew couldn’t go. Hikers had to be able to climb a 32 foot ladder without help. Judy stayed behind with Andrew and I took Rachael and Sam. We also had to crawl through a 10 foot long tunnel that was 10 feet long and 14 feet wide at its narrowest point. Half the ruin had a two foot wide wall which archeologists speculate was used to prevent young children from falling off the cliff. Balcony House is 600 feet above the floor of Soda Canyon, it contained 35 to 40 rooms and 40 to 50 people. A prospector, S. E. Osborn, discovered Balcony House in 1884 while looking for coal deposits. Balcony House has two springs, one for which the National Park Service has had to build a cistern to catch the water. Therefore, Balcony House must have been a prized location. The 32 foot ladder to Balcony House was put there by the Park Service. The Anasazi used to use the 12 foot tunnel as an entrance and would climb the rest of the mountain using toe holds. The mortar between rocks is a mud and water mixture with tiny stones called “chinking” stones which fill in the gaps and help prevent the walls from collapsing. Over the top, they placed a thin coating of plaster which was the first thing that eroded away as time passed. Many kivas have a small hole in the floor between the firepit and the wall which is called a sipapu (see-pah-pooh), the symbolic entrance into the underworld.

We then went to Spruce Tree Ruin down a windy, steep path. There was a pretty grotto set under one overhang with lush beautiful foliage, including poison ivy. The ruin had a reconstructed kiva with roof and a ladder going down into it (the same hole we have a picture of Judy’s dad climbing out of about 38 years ago). The rest of the ruin was very well preserved due to the depth of the overhang above. The dwelling was first reported in 1888 when two ranchers found it while searching for stray cattle. A large Douglas spruce was growing from the front of the dwelling to the mesa top. Apparently, the first men entered the ruin by climbing down the tree, which was later cut down by another early explorer.

We next took Top Mesa Drive, stopping at several easily reached sites: (1) Early Pithouse, two huge holes in the ground; (2) Square Tower House – from an overlook; (3) Sun Point, where we could look across the Mesa and canyon to Cliff Palace, Oak Tree House, New Fire House and others; (4) Sun Temple – not completed before abandoned, but with walls 11 to 14 feet high. We were able to walk across the tops of the walls.

We then drove to Far View Ruins – I took a short walk to Coyote Ruins (down a trail a ways) and the family climbed on top and went through the rooms inside.

In the evening, we had a fire, cooked eggs, bacon, beans and hamburgers and then went driving to look at deer.

June 9, 1990 (Saturday):      (Hovenweep NM, Four Corners,                                                       Kingman)

We got off to one of our best starts, getting camp cleaned up and off by about 8:15 a.m. We saw several deer before going – a nice send off. We drove through Cortez and took a turnoff to Hovenweep National Monument, about 41 miles from the turnoff, 20 miles of which was a gravel or graded dirt road. The country got very desolate and Judy began to wonder out loud how I had conned her into going there. The visitor’s center was tiny, with just a small cleared dirt parking lot. After Mesa Verde, the ruins were not as spectacular, but the desolateness of the country said something about the Indians who lived there. William H. Jackson discovered this area in 1874 and used the Ute Indian work “Hovenweep,”meaning “Deserted Valley” to describe this mysterious valley.

On the hike around the ruins, we saw a leopard lizard, a green lizard with dark brown spots. I’ve only ever seen one before, when I was a boy in 6th grade at Lake Powell. I took a picture of it, and was then astounded as I actually caught it (unfortunately, our pictures didn’t turn out for the rest of the trip – I believe the camera might have been dropped). We didn’t stay long – it would have been fun to complete the hike.

We drove to Four Corners where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet at one point. Indian vendors surround it. Judy took a picture of us – one in each state, but we don’t have the film to record it. Judy bought some earrings and I bought a key chain while there.

We stopped and ate at Burger King in Kayenta and later stopped to see dinosaur tracks at Moenkopi near Tuba City. We paid an Indian boy $2.00 to show us the tracks, several of which were tyrannosaurus rex. They were now hardened stone. The Indians just had a small wood hut and sat around waiting for visitors. They were also selling t-shirts which were quite expensive. We stayed the night in Kingman, Arizona, after a large thunderstorm began to hit. The storm left great torrents of water going down the road, one of the bigger storms I’ve seen, and great thunder and lightning.We ate at Piazza Hut for dinner and went to bed very tired.

June 10, 1990 (Sunday):       (Kingman to Redlands)

In the morning we ate at Bob’s Big Boy for the buffet breakfast. We stopped to get gas and ended up buying two new tires (one tire had a nail in it, the other had badly worn tread). I can’t tell if my odometer reading is for the beginning of the first day or the end of the first day, so we traveled either 3,687 miles or 4,213 miles.