Grand Canyon, Arizona – June 2022 – The North Rim

While we have been to the Grand Canyon a few times we had never been to the hard to get North Rim. There is a saying, go to the South Rim first, because when you go to the North Rim you will never go back to the South Rim!

That saying is true – similar fantastic views with (literally) 10% of the people. Nice and quiet.

There are minimal amenities, but that is ok, there is a place to eat and sleep (if you are lucky – which we were).

There are more views of the side canyons and they connect to the main canyon, adding interesting views.

The view from Point Imperial.

Cape Royal views.

The views of Angel’s Window.

More Cape Royal views.

Sunset from the North Rim Lodge and Bright Angel Point.

Western Colorado – May 2022 – Telluride and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Day 3 found us in the western end of Colorado, leaving the town of Cortez in the early morning light. Our primary destination was the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, but our route there took us past Telluride.

Colorado Highway 145 took us out of Cortez, and past the town of Dolores, along the Dolores River as it made it’s way up the canyon. The green hills and fields was a dramatic change from the deserts of Monument Valley, just a hundred miles or so behind us.

As we neared the summit of Lizard Head’s Pass, we went through the small town of Rico

The mountains become more dramatic the nearer we got to Telluride.

As we made the turn to go up the valley to Telluride we passed a field of deer.

Telluride is a very exclusive ski community (don’t even ask how much real estate costs in town). They have far less development than other famous ski towns in the west (Aspen, Vail, Jackson Hole), and they like it that way.

After a brief visit we continued on our way, passing more scenic valleys.

After another hour or so we reached the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, near Montrose, Colorado. It is so named because of the steep walls of the canyon prevent sunlight all but 33 minutes of the day in the steepest part.

The Painted Wall is over 2200′ of sheer cliff, the highest in Colorado. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, while not a large park, is impressive.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona – May 2022 – Thousands of Years of History in an Amazing Setting

According to the National Park Service documents the Canyon de Chelly contains over 2500 archeological sites dating from 1500 BC to 1350 AD.

Among these are numerous cliff dwellings dating from 1100, built by the Anasazi.

Today the canyon is located in the Navajo Nation. While you can tour the area from the rim, the best way to see and appreciate the area is to take a guided tour with one of the local Navajo guides, which is what we did.

Our tour guide Sylvia took us on a 3 hour jeep tour of much of the canyon. Having grown up in the canyon, she was a fantastic guide, pointing out not only the historic features of the cliff dwellings and the petroglyphs, she added insight into life in the canyon from a first person perspective (even showing us her cows!)

The White House ruins is one of the more famous, and most complete. While the walls of the canyon rise as high as 1000′ the deeper you go in, the walls here are around 500′ high.

After completing our tour of the canyon floor, we drove around both the north and south rim.

The most noteworthy view is Spider Rock, rising 800′ above the canyon floor. Named for the mythical lair of Spider Woman, it is a sacred Navajo place.

From above the views of the canyon floor is impressive.

Eastern Arizona – May 2022 – Leaving Town

At long last it is time for a long road trip. This trip will take 16 days, and go as far north as Montana, always taking the scenic route, providing interesting views for a series of blog postings.

We started out by leaving Tucson on a sunny Friday morning.

Our route took us up Arizona Highway 77 north towards Globe. The route follows the Gila River for a few miles.

Anywhere there is water there is vegetation in the desert, with this view showing an interesting mix of the desert landscape of the saguaros next to the riparian landscape of the riverbank.

As we made our way through Pinal Pass, just south of Globe, we came across a burn area. Nature however is resilient, and the spring flowers are in bloom next to the burnt trees.

At Globe, Arizona 77 merges and runs along with U.S. 60 towards Show Low. About 40 miles northeast of Globe you descend down 2000′ vertical feet into the Salt River Canyon. The drive, and views, are spectacular.

Once the river is reached there are two bridges – the original bridge is an Art Deco masterpiece built in 1934, built as part of the New Deal initiative. It is built in a design known as steel two hinged girder ribbed deck arch.

Today it is a pedestrian only bridge.

The newer bridge, built in 1993 carries the traffic. While not nearly as interesting, they at least added some native symbolism incorporated into it.

Two more views on the north side of the canyon show the dramatic walls, and the river below.

North of Holbrook you go through areas of the Painted Desert. While not as colorful as the areas near the Petrified Forest National Park, it still added interesting views to the drive that lead us to the next posting stop – Canyon De Chelly National Monument.

Madera Canyon, Arizona – December 2021 – Nature At It’s Finest

Madera Canyon is less than an hour south of Tucson, but a world away from an ecological perspective. While the base of the canyon is around 3500′ elevation, you can easily and quickly drive to over 5000′, and if you are energetic (I was not), you can hike to the top of 9456′ high Mt Wrightson.

We chose to hike around the lower areas of the canyon, which were beautiful, offer views from desert to fall tree colors.

Virtual Travel – Utah

2015 09 14 28

Welcome to Utah – the land of immense beauty and strange liquor laws.

We spent a week touring the National Parks in 2015 – they are all amazing, as well as the other scenery in the state.

 

History

1945     2002     2013

 

 

Salt Lake City – The capital and largest city in Utah, Salt Lake City is the center of the commercial aspect of the state.

The State Capitol is your typical building. It was completed in 1916, 20 years after Utah became a state. (photos from Wikupedia)

Utah State Capitol

 

State Symbols

The State Bird is a California Gull! They are credited with saving the crops in 1848 by eating the crickets that were eating the crops. (photos from statesymbols.org)

 

State Cooking Pot – Dutch Oven

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Spike – The point where the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869.

 

 

Hovenweep – A well maintained early Puebloan village in far southeastern Utah.

 

 

National Parks

1953 – Arches     1958 – Bryce     1963 Zion – Virgin River     1967 – Canyonlands – Angel Arch     1972 – Zion     1974 – Canyonlands Angel Arch     1979 – Bryce – Aqua Canyon     1995 – Bryce     2011 – Canyonlands

 

 

Zion National Park

 

 

Bryce National Park

 

 

Capital Reef National Park

 

 

Arches National Park

 

 

Canyonlands National Park

 

 

Natural Bridges National Monument (one step down from a National Park)

 

 

 

More Outdoors

1964 – Big Cottonwood Canyon     1965 – Lake Powell Rainbow Bridge     1970 Calf Creek Lower Falls     1971 – Monument Valley     1977 Manti-La Sal Forest     1986 – Eagle Canyon     2000 – Unidentified     2007 – Dirt Devil River Slot Canyon

 

Southwest Utah

 

 

Escalante & Devil’s Garden

 

Eastern Utah

 

 

Mexican Hat in Far Southeastern Utah. The great dirt road is Moki Dugway, dropping 1100′ in 3 miles of a dirt road. It was fantastic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Texas

Texas!

2015 09 22 35 Amarillo TX

 

Texas is a big state with a great variety of places for photography, therefore this is a LONG posting.

 

 

 

 

Texas Culture

1952     1958     1991     2007     2009     2011     2012     2016

 

 

Austin – State Capital

2009 08 27 63 Austin

 

The Texas State Capitol dates from 1885. The land it is on was acquired in a barter deal, 3 million acres of Texas Panhandle for this land!

Texas shows it’s Tex-Mex history in the state foods…

State Pastries – two – Strudel & Sopiapilla

Apple strudel     

 

State Small Mammal – Armadillo

 

 

 

The city of Austin is proud of it’s motto – Keep Austin Weird.

With the music scene, including a statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the Congress Street bats it is a great place to be.

 

 

 

Prairies

1949     1969     1972     2013     2014

 

Roads & Bridges

1954     1964     1974     1975     1977     1978    1983     1987

 

I have more Texas Official Highway Maps than any other state. So many this section has combined the Prairies with the Highways which is appropriate because it features Amarillo and Route 66

 

Amarillo

You are half way there – IF you are going from Chicago to Los Angeles, or vice versa.

 

 

The legendary Cadillac Ranch. For more than 40 years people have been spray painting these cars. The good folks of Amarillo liked the planted Cadillacs they have expanded (in different parts of town) to VW Beetles and Combines.

 

 

Mountains

1953     1959     1970     1993     2017

 

 

Terlingua  – The ‘ghost town’ of Terlingua is a former mining town, but is not vacant, as it is a destination for tourist from Big Bend National Park.

Once a year they hold the world’s largest chili cook-off.

 

 

Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. These two parks cover much of the Rio Grande Valley of West Texas. Their natural scenery is stunning.

A plus is being able to take a row boat across the river to Mexico for lunch in Bouillas.

 

 

Marathon – Gage Hotel   We had the good fortune of spending the night in this crossroads town on the way to Big Bend. The Gage Hotel is a historic property that attracts people just for the atmosphere and food.

 

 

Langtry – Made famous by Judge Roy Bean and his Law West of the Pecos, and even more famous when Paul Newman starred in a movie of the same name. The town is pretty much vacant, but the area is scenic.

Nearby is Seminole Canyon State Historic Park. This park holds significant cave art.

 

 

 

Cities & Beaches

1961     1968     2015     2019

 

 

San Antonio. While the city is large, it has a feel very different than Houston or Dallas. The downtown is much more compact, with a significant amount of Art Deco architecture.

 

 

Missions – There are five missions in San Antonio, and four of those are maintained by the National Park Service (the 5th is the Alamo). Mission San Jose is the most impressive architecturally.  Our day in San Antonio included a visit to Mission Concepcion.

 

Alamo – The most famous mission in the state, and likely the country, it is not known for it’s service as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, but more so it’s use as a fort in the Mexican independence effort when a group of Texas soldiers died defending it.

 

 

Houston – The city is the 4th largest city in the country, with 2.3 million people in the city. It is the 5th largest metro area (by some calculations) with 7 million people.

The city has more buildings over 150m (492′) than any city in the United States other than New York, Chicago and Miami.

There are still a few historic buildings downtown, but many have been destroyed over the years as they went taller and newer.

 

 

Houston Art – One of the great finds in our travels was the very cool, quirky art of Houston. From top to bottom. Giant Presidential Heads – Sanctioned Graffiti – Beer Can House – Luck Land – Smithers Park.