San Carlos Apache Reservation, Arizona – March 2023 – Wildflower Oasis

Peridot Mesa is part of a volcanic field in the San Carlos Apache Tribe Reservation. While it is noted for it’s unique geology as a result of the volcanic activity, each spring it becomes a wildflower oasis.

The weather community seems to have found new terms for old occurrences and then over use them, one being ‘superbloom’. I am not sure if this qualifies as a superbloom, but it was fantastic.

When you look closely you can see the poppies mixed in next to the volcanic rocks.

As you make your way up to the top of the mesa, there are spectacular views for 360 degrees.

Once you crest the top you get a view to the east showing the transition from poppies to desert chicory.

It should be noted that the entire mesa is on Apache land so you must pay a $10 per person permit fee before entering. Once you do you are welcome to roam throughout though.

Well worth the $10.

The roads, while dirt, are passable by cars.

It is also open range grazing for the animals.

Peridot Mesa is an amazing place to see wildflowers. It’s remoteness means it is far less crowded than Picacho Peak, and the others.

Nature’s reward for a cool, rainy winter in the desert.

Benson, Arizona – January 2023 – Forever Home Donkey Rescue & Sanctuary

Just down the road from Gammons Gulch Movie Set is the Forever Home Donkey Rescue. We had called both and made arrangements to tour both on the same day. We made our way to the donkey rescue where we met Tish, one of the owners.

Tish told us how she came to run a donkey rescue, and it shows again that there are just some great people in the world who care about taking care of animals who, through no fault of their own, has had a rough life.

Donkeys are considered ‘worthless animals’ in the west, and as a result many are abused. One such way is by rodeo people who use them to train how to rope animals, causing permanent damage to their legs. Once they are in that state, the rodeo people no longer want them. This is where Tish and her husband (and a great group of volunteers) come in.

The rodeo is just one way they have rough lives, there are many others. But once they make it to see Tish they are in, as their name states, their forever home!

Each have names and individual personalities.

This character I will always remember, Boaz. Tish gave us a pile of animal crackers to feed to them, and Boaz was the first we met, and likely the loudest.

But with a few animal crackers he is your best friend.

Each have their own stall, but fear not, once we met each the gates to the stalls were opened and the donkeys were allowed to roam the 30 acres to their hearts content.

This is Casper, a mini mule. The staff says think of a teen age rebel and that is Casper.

A Jenny is the term for a female donkey. This is Tula, the head Jenny.

She was living in the wild on one of the Native American reservations in Arizona, and is said to still be pretty wild, although she was very calm and happy to see us, with our animal cracker treats.

Tish told us to wait before giving this guy his crackers until he did his trick – which is an amusing display of his tongue. We happily obliged. His name is Jasper.

Jasper came to the sanctuary with really bad hooves from an improper diet, and still has issues with them, but as you can see is a fun guy.

The donkeys are gentle enough that I was welcomed into any of the pens that I wanted, allowing for unobstructed photos.

This is Carter, a fairly recent arrival. They say he is a bit on the chubby side, but I am certain a steady diet of animal crackers will help that (to be fair they don’t only eat animal crackers, the staff is knowledgeable on donkey care and their main diet is much healthier – the animal crackers are used to get them to play nice with visitors.)

Eventually the gates were opened and the donkeys wandered off around the farm, although they stayed close by the pens by their own choice. Here we take another look at Jasper as he is ready to head out of his pen.

Jasper’s close up.

This is Justice. He was a rescue from another rescue, who came in with a hoof issue as well.

Of course Boaz and one of his buddies insisted on a close up.

Boaz and Justice for their close up (or treats). The Forever Home Donkey Rescue and Sanctuary is one of those places doing good in the world. I highly recommend checking them out, and offering them any support you can.

A big thanks to Suzanne from the sanctuary for helping me identify each of them.

Boston – December 2022 – National Braille Press

There are few times in life that I have visited a place that impacted me the way that a tour of the National Braille Press did. There are over a million people in the country who are legally blind, with millions more who have impaired vision.

The National Braille Press is located in a predominately residential area of Boston near Northeastern University in a classic old building since 1927, with a mission to help those people have a better life.

Nearly 70% of the people who are blind are not working. Of those who are working, virtually all are able to read braille. Our personal tour was lead by Joe, who is the Vice President of Development and Major Gifts. Joe has not let his disability stop him from being an advocate for those with sight challenges.

Our personal tour started out in a conference room where Joe, and his associate Chris, explained the history of braille, their company and their efforts.

The National Braille Press is a leader in the printing of braille products. They are a non profit whose main goal is to help those who need it get as close to an equal opportunity for education and entertainment as those who are sighted.

They gave us an overview of how braille works, including a card showing the alphabet.

It is an expensive effort to print in braille, but at National Braille Press they make sure that people have the same chance as sighted people to get the books they need or want. It costs $80 to print a Harry Potter book in braille, but they still sell it for the same $20 a regular Harry Potter book would sell for. They recover some of this cost by making a profit on other items, such as fliers for corporate meetings and other commercial endeavors.

This cost includes the effort to transcribe the book into braille before being sent to the printer.

As Joe was explaining braille we could feel the entire building rumble at times. Once we headed to the basement we found out why – a collection of Heidelberg printers.

Khith is the person who has been operating these printers for decades. He examines the plates before setting them into the printer.

Once he starts up the printer you feel it as much as you hear it – the rumbling is fantastic.

Amazingly they can print 2 sided at what seems like a fast pace.

The next stop was stitching where we met George. All the machinery in the shop has been in use for years, but continue to operate to deliver the much needed books.

Our final stop was at a station known as the PED – Plate Embossing Device. Here they do smaller, more specialized productions like a United States map. These particular plates are essentially one of a kind, developed by two elderly ladies in New Jersey who have since passed away.

A big thanks to Brian, who showed us the thermoform printer for the above plates, Joe, and all the staff for their time and knowledge. I strongly encourage all to help support the National Braille Press, or others who do similar work for a portion of our population who deserve this valuable service in their lives.

And if you are ever in Boston reach out to the good people at National Braille Press, the tour is so enlightening.

Holbrook, Arizona – April 2022 – The Wigwam Motel

Dating from the 1940s, the Wigwam Motel is a throwback to the times when the route west was the famed Route 66. We had the opportunity to spend a night in the ‘Wigwam’.

There were originally 7 Wigwam Villages built, with only 3 remaining. The one in Holbrook has embraced the Route 66 connection, complete with strategically placed, rusting vehicles, along with a large collection of petrified wood.

As the sun set on the end of a great day, we prepared to settle in for the night.

Night time brought the fantastic neon sign to life.

Waking the next morning to comments about the frequency and volume of the trains all night. Walking outside we saw why, a major dual track freight line was about 100′ from our wigwam. Despite being rocked to sleep, it was well worth it for a night to time travel back to the 1950s.

Petrified Forest National Park – April 2022 – A Gem in the Desert

A petrified forest is created when fallen trees are washed into a space and then buried under layers of mud, ash and other materials, depriving the oxygen required for rot. Over millions of years the wood’s cellular structure form into a stone like material.

Generally considered the world’s best example, the Petrified Forest National Park is in northern Arizona, situated in the Painted Desert (next posting).

The setting and colors of the Petrified Forest is amazing. Most look just like wood, some even appear to have been cut with a saw.

Tucson – August 2021 – Saguaro National Park

The Saguaro Cactus is present throughout much of central and southern Arizona. The Saguaro National Park has two areas around Tucson, one west of town, and one east – we visited the eastern one.

Saguaro cactus can live to 150 years old – the older they are the more arms they have, although they can grow old without growing arms.

In addition to the Saguaros there are numerous other natural Sonoran Desert plants, all of which were at their peak color because of recent monsoon rains – probably the greenest desert you will ever see.

Mansfield, Ohio – September 2020 – Surprising Interesting Architecture

Mansfield, Ohio is another old industrial city, where much of the industry has left. Mansfield, unlike many of those towns, has managed to keep much of their downtown buildings in use and in excellent condition.

We start with an impressive old house that is currently undergoing restoration – it will be grand when finished.

St Peters Catholic Church

The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building

The tallest building in town – the Farmers Bank Building

This building dates from 1926.The upper level cornices are very detailed.

Mansfield is very proud that the movie Shawshank Redemption was filmed in the area, including Central Park.

Around this nice space are a couple of Art Deco style buildings.

We end our tour with a number of restored buildings along North Main Street.

Marion, Ohio – August 2020 – Random Views of Marion County

This posting is the start of a series of Ohio County focused random views. Unintentionally many of Marion County’s turned out to be barns and other structures in various states of disrepair.

A right hand drive Rolls Royce.

The late summer provided many contrasting colors with the barns.

The corn is so high it felt like walls along the road.

Marion is a railroad town. The light off in the distance was an oncoming train, but is a couple of miles away.

Marion was home to President Harding.

They have built a new Presidential Library for Harding, showing that no matter how crooked you are you will eventually get a Presidential Library.

Across America – A More Detailed Look at the National Park Tour of 2015

While we continue to stay very close to home, I have had a chance to go back and look at some of the older postings. I realized that one of the best road trips we have ever taken was the 2015 ‘National Parks’ road trip. When looking I realized it featured very few photos, so that has been corrected.

The links below will take you to each day of the trip, only with many more photos showing the beauty of the parks, as well as the other cool and quirky sites of the country.

Day 1 – Trip through Lower Michigan



Day 2 – Pictured Rocks National Seashore



Day 3 – Across the UP and Northern Wisconsin



Day 4 – Fargo and Beyond



Day 5 – Theodore Roosevelt National Park

2015 09 08 76 Theodore Roosevelt National Park ND.jpg



Day 6 – Makoshika State Park & Pompey’s Pillar National Monument

2015 09 09 7 Glendive MT.jpg



Day 7 – Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area & Legend Rocks Petroglyphs



Day 8 – Yellowstone National Park



Day 9 – Yellowstone National Park



Day 10 – Yellowstone to Jackson Hole



Day 11 – Golden Spike National Historic Site & Salt Lake City



Day 12 – Zion National Park



Day 13 – Bryce Canyon National Park & Capital Reef National Park



Day 14 – Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park



Day 15 – Natural Bridges National Monument & Hovenweep National Monument



Day 16 – Mesa Verde National Park



Day 17 – Great Sand Dunes National Park & Santa Fe



Day 18 – Anbuquerque & Sandia Peak



Day 19 – Oklahoma City National Memorial



Day 20 – Paris, Texas



Day 21 – Mississippi Blues Trail



Day 22 – Mississippi Blues to Elvis



Day 23 – Nashville



Day 24 – Crushed Corvettes