Lake Havasu City, Arizona – July 2022 – Why?

As most people know the western United States is in the midst of a long term drought, where water is precious. In previous posts I have shown Lake Powell, at historic low levels. The same is true of Lake Mead, sitting behind the Hoover Dam.

Yet here in the middle of the desert is Lake Havasu, made possible by Parker Dam. It is constantly at 97%+ full. Why – because 100 year old water rights says parts of California get the water first, and Havasu is that reservoir.

What to do with that water – create an island out of what was once a peninsula, and use the 200 year old London Bridge to cross the channel.

Havasu City was created by an eccentric millionaire back in the 1960s who bought thousands of acres of desert along the reservoir, only to find that nobody wanted to come.

The city of London needed to replace the bridge since it was sinking into the Thames River, so they held an auction where, as legend has it, had 1 bidder – Robert McCulloch.

Once purchased, he had it disassembled after carefully labeling each block, shipped by boat 1/2 way around the world through the Panama Canal to the Port of Long Beach, then across the couple of hundred miles of desert to Havasu.

They then set to it building a bridge in the middle of the desert (water to come later). This photo is off the internet.

Legend also says that McCulloch thought he was buying Tower Bridge, but this has been debunked. Eventually he had his bridge, and it was a success – thousands of tourists came, and now Lake Havasu City is home to over 50,000 people, with probably 3 times as many here for the 4th of July weekend.

While you are there you can enjoy the sound of hundreds, if not thousands of people on boats and jet skis that have been towed hundreds of miles to this remote location by their giant trucks and SUVs, to cruise around and complain about the cost of gas.

The Colorado River leading up to Havasu is similar.

Another of the attractions of Havasu is a collection of replica lighthouses. There are 28 of the houses scattered around, many of them on private property (behind gates), so the only way to see them is by boat. We chose to drive to those we could get to.

The sun set on the roar of engines and the London Bridge.

As we left Havasu early the next morning we passed the solitude of a nature preserve. Ahhhh.

Nevada & Utah – June 2022 – Great Basin and Cedar Breaks

Our southbound trip continued with brief visits to two National Park Service units. The first was Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

Great Basin National Park’s claim to fame is Wheeler Peak, a 13,000′ high mountain, as well as Lehman Caves.

We were too early in the day to visit the cave, so we headed up the Wheeler Peak drive. Unfortunately as we got to the 9000′ level the road was closed as there was apparently snow further up. Still we had some nice views.

Our trip south continued into Utah, where we headed up into the mountains for a visit to Cedar Breaks National Monument. In my opinion Cedar Breaks is more worthy of National Park status than Great Basin, as the views were amazing.

Patagonia, Arizona – April 2022 – Birders Paradise

The small mountain town of Patagonia was named when Welsh miners who had gone to Patagonia in Argentina migrated to the area to work in the silver mines of Arizona. They thought (correctly) that it resembled the area they came from in Argentina so they named it after their former home.

The entire area is well known as a birders paradise, with Patagonia Lake, a creek and a hummingbird sanctuary drawing people from all over the country. We stopped by for a brief visit, and was entertained by the birds, and the people.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument – April 2022 – A Look Before The Wildfire

On a recent long weekend road trip around Arizona we stopped by Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. We were fortuitous in that a week later the ‘Tunnel Wildfire’ impacted the area. Fortunately it did not damage the visitor center but much of the forest was burnt.

Sunset Crater is a result of an eruption approximately 1000 years ago, leaving this impressive landscape.

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.

White Sands National Park – August 2021 – Amazing Setting

From 1934 until 2020 White Sands was designated a National Monument, but in December 2020 it was upgraded to a National Park.

While being one of the country’s great natural wonders it has for years been used for military activities (White Sands Bombing Range) as well as Hollywood backdrops. Hopefully with National Park status it will remain a natural treasure forever.

We arrived late afternoon after a day of thunderstorms in the area, resulting in a great sky for the backdrop, as well as a mudslide that added 50 additional miles to our trip to Las Cruces.

Union County, Ohio – April 2021 – Coming Back From the Dead (of Winter)

With winter finally over, and April here, there are more signs of spring. An afternoon out in the country included a stop at the Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery State Nature Preserve. This area is known for it’s native grasses, but they aren’t yet growing.

There are some interesting mid 1800s headstones though.

There are however many signs of life.

Nearby is the Big Darby Creek Headwaters Nature Preserve, one of the few nature preserves that allow dogs on the trails.

There are many examples of early bloomers.

It is nice to get out of the house and into nature again.

Virtual Travel – New Jersey

Welcome to New Jersey – my usual first views of the state are landing at Newark airport, for better or worse.

 

At the other end you can take a ferry from Delaware.

1988 06 14 2 Ocean City-Cape May.jpg

 

 

 

Overview

1955     2000     2002/2003/2004

 

 

The New Jersey State Capitol is in Trenton. (Photo from Flickr)

 

The unusual state symbols of the day include:

State Colors – Jersey Blue and Buff. This dates from the Revolutionary War when Washington assigned the colors to the regiments of the New Jersey Continental Line. It is thought he chose these because New Jersey (as well as New York) were settled by the Dutch, and those colors are the Netherlands colors.

 

 

State Tall Ship – A.J. Meerwald. This ship, built in 1928, is featured on maps below. It is a Oyster Schooner.

 

 

Officially known as the New Jersey State House, the building was completed in the 1790s, behind the capitols in Maryland and Virginia.

New Jersey State Capital | State capitals, Capitol building, Building

 

 

 

Let’s visit some other cities in the state starting with Atlantic City. It’s main business since being started in the 1850s has been tourism. It was marketed to the crowded city folks in New York and Philadelphia as a healthy resort on the ocean.

By the 1870s more than 500,000 people a day made their way to Atlantic City. By the early 1900s it had large hotels lining the coast, along those streets whose names have been made famous by the board game Monopoly, as well as the notoriety from the Miss America Pagent.

The mayor of the time quoted during Prohibition ‘we have whiskey, wine, women, song and slot machines. I won’t deny it and I won’t apologize for it.’

 

 

By the 1970s it had fallen on hard times, so they introduced legalized gambling. These photos show the rebirth in the 1980s, but the convention hall still being the showpiece.

 

Today it is similar, only with so many cities introducing gambling, the city has one again fallen on hard times. (photo from NJ public radio)

What do you think of when you think of Atlantic City?

 

Much of the Jersey Shore (not beach or coast) has some cool/kitschy features, but the best is easily Lucy the Elephant in Margate. This 140 year old elephant still brings in the tourists.

Lucy2011.JPG

 

 

 

 

Jersey City – The second largest city in New Jersey has the good fortune of being located just across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan. While the city has had it’s ups and downs, peaking out at 316,000 people in 1930, it dropped down to a low of 223,000 by 1980. This reflected the exodus of people from New York City as well, as everyone was headed to the suburbs.

Since then though, with significant renewal of the waterfront area the population has gone back up to 265,000, and continues to grow.

2019 08 08 28 New York City

 

 

Just upriver Hoboken is experiencing a similar rebirth, but retains the fabulous Hoboken Terminal for New Jersey Transit Trains, and ferries to Manhattan.

2018 04 30 22 New York City

2019 06 11 38 New York City

 

 

 

 

Statue of Liberty

1983     1986

 

It is interesting that New Jersey has featured the Statue of Liberty on the cover of some of the maps, as technically it is in New York. The island that the statue sits on is in New Jersey water, but is a federally owned island that belongs to Manhattan.

This is a result of a dispute dating (amazingly) from 1664, that stated the New Jersey borders did not extend to the middle of the river, or bay. In 1834 the US Congress did set the boundary in the middle of the waterways, however specifically exempted Liberty Island, stating it would remain in New York. This was held up in 1908 by the Supreme Court, and again in 1987 when New Jersey sued to take control of the island. Clearly these maps from 1983 and 1984 were when Jersey was confident the island would once again be theirs.

 

Ellis Island however is much simpler, it is in New Jersey. So all those ancestors of ours who were so proud to step of the boat onto New York, really set foot in New Jersey.

Interestingly it is connected to New Jersey by a bridge that is not open to the public, just park service personnel.

Those immigrants – unless you were headed to New England, you were herded onto barges and sent to the train stations in Jersey City and Hoboken, having never set foot in New York.

2018 05 30 40 New York Ellis Island

 

 

Liberty State Park in Jersey City is along the mainland near both islands. The park is on an area that was once large rail yards, with the centerpiece being the Jersey City Terminal of the Central Railroad of New Jersey. This building dates from 1889, and is currently undergoing renovations (for years).

2018 05 29 179 Jersey City NJ Liberty State Pkark.jpg

 

2018 05 29 181 Jersey City NJ Liberty State Pkark.jpg

 

 

 

Outdoors in New Jersey

1988     1990     1992     2007  Holgate    2009     2012/2014/2015  AJ Meerwald

Government State New Jersey 2007

 

 

Sandy Hook is a spit at the far northern end of the Jersey Shore, sticking out into New York Harbor. It is home to a vacant military facility, but is now a vast park, including large areas of natural settings with views across the harbor to Brooklyn and Manhattan.

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New Jersey Palisades.  This geological feature along the Hudson River just north of New York City has been protected since 1900, as the industry of the times were blasting it away for crushed stone. (all photos in this section fromonlyinyourstate.com)

The Palisades: a National Natural Landmark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Arkansas

Today’s stop on the virtual tour of the United States is Arkansas. Located in the south central part of the country it is a state I have only visited a couple of times, and then very briefly. I have however managed to collect 34 different years of state highway maps.

The only photo I have taken with Arkansas actually is 1/2 Texas – Texarkana Post Office and Courthouse – literally split down the middle by the two states.

2015 09 24 5 Texarkana AR TX.jpg

 

 

We start today’s tour with a 1958 map highlighting a freeway interchange in Little Rock. While there have been limited access highways in the United States since the 1930s, the U.S. President in the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower, was a strong proponent on the improvement of the road system in the country. As a result the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 was passed.

This act authorized the construction of 41,000 miles of limited access (no crossroads, etc) freeways. While some states had made some significant progress by 1958, in Arkansas it was limited – the exit shown was one of just a handful in the state.

Government State Arkansas 1958.jpg

 

 

 

We move ahead 10 years to 1968 and find the cover with a nice view of the Ozark Mountains. The Ozarks aren’t particularly high, reaching a maximum elevation of 2,560.

While the Ozarks reach into Missouri, they are best known as part of Arkansas. As this photo shows the terrain is tree covered with numerous rock outcroppings. In addition there are a number of scenic rivers and lakes.

Government State Arkansas 1968.jpg

 

 

 

The 1970 map starts an amazingly long period where the look of the maps do not change. The maps are consistently basic, with the inside being the statewide map, and the backside having a few city maps. Unlike most states there is little in the way of tourist information like guides to parks.

The covers continue to highlight the natural scenery with this view of the Ouachita Mountains. Much like the Ozarks they are relatively small, tree covered mountains. As the map notes this view is overlooking the Hot Springs National Park. Situated next to the city of the same name Hot Springs has long been an attraction.

The town has famous and infamous periods, including being an attractive location during prohibition for people like Al Capone to come hang out. The town has a collection of historic bathhouses and many other architectural significant buildings.

Government State Arkansas 1970.jpg

 

This checkered history is celebrated with a statue of Al outside the Ohio Club in Hot Springs. (photo from Dayton Daily news website).

Statue of Al Capone outside the Ohio Club in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

 

 

 

By 1972 the Interstate System was nearing initial completion. This view features Crimson Clover for ground cover.

More than just a 1960s pop song, Crimson clover is a winter annual and herbaceous legume. The leaves and stems of crimson clover resemble those of red clover, but the leaves are round-tipped with more hair on the stems and leaves. Seedlings grow rapidly from the crown forming a rosette. This rosette enlarges as weather becomes favorable. In the spring, the flower stems develop rapidly and end their growth with long, pointed conical flower heads comprised of 75 to 125 florets. Florets are a bright crimson color and open in succession from the bottom to the top

Government State Arkansas 1972.jpg

 

This image (from the internet) gives a nice closeup of Crimson Clover.

Crimson Clover | Best Forage

 

 

 

The 1973 map has a view of Little Rock, the largest city and capital. With about 700,000 people in the area it makes up about 20% of the states population.

With it’s location near the Ouachita Mountains, the city is made up of some rolling hills, along the Arkansas River.

Government State Arkansas 1973.jpg

This photo from the internet shows that the skyline has changed little in the 40 + years since this map was published.

 

 

 

For the American bicentennial the cover is a tribute to the early pioneers.

Government State Arkansas 1976.jpg

 

 

 

The eastern border of Arkansas is the lower Mississippi River. This area is known as the Arkansas Delta, which has geographic similarities to their neighbors in Mississippi. It is the region where cotton is grown.

The area is dotted with lakes, many of them as a result of the river changing course over time. The bald cypress tress shown here are typical of the area.

The area is also known for their music, including blues and country. The most famous person from this area is Johnny Cash.

Government State Arkansas 1977.jpg

 

 

 

The Arkansas State Capitol is featured on the 1979 map. As with the vast majority of state capitol buildings in the country it is built in the Neoclassical style. This building is much newer than many other state capitols, having been completed in 1915.

Government State Arkansas 1979.jpg

 

 

 

For 1981 the photographer chose a view of a small river (the Spring River), a two lane road and a train.

Government State Arkansas 1981.jpg

 

 

 

The Interstate 40 bridge linking West Memphis, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee is featured on the 1982 cover. Covering a distance of 9400 feet, and rising over 100 feet above the river, the official name for this bridge is Hernando de Soto Bridge. The two arches of the bridge are to represent the letter ‘M’ (for Memphis), hence the nickname of the structure is the M bridge.

Government State Arkansas 1982.jpg

 

This photo from the internet shows the bridge at night with the ‘M’ lit up. Photo by Trevor Birchett.

 

 

 

The photo for the 1984 edition shows the early fall scene in Garland County. With Arkansas being located in the south this scene likely dates from late October or early November.

Garland County is the home of Hot Springs.

Government State Arkansas 1984.jpg

 

 

 

Another year (1985) another two lane road in the woods. This time we are in Yell County. Strangely this relatively small county, in both population and square miles, has two county seats. In addition it is a ‘dry’ county, with no alcohol sales. Perhaps that is why they Yell.

Government State Arkansas 1985.jpg

 

 

 

The Interstate 430 bridge over the Arkansas River at Little Rock is shown on the 1986 map. This freeway bypasses the city to the west.

Government State Arkansas 1986.jpg

 

 

 

The 1987 map has a radical departure on the look of the title on the cover, but not much else. More bridges and roads through the countryside.

Government State Arkansas 1987.jpg

 

 

 

Once again in 1989 the scene goes unidentified. But good news – there is a bridge involved.

Government State Arkansas 1989.jpg

 

 

 

For 1990 we get a return of the red backgrounds for the titles, along with descriptions of the scene. This view is from Highway 7 in Perry County, with a dogwood tree in full bloom in the foreground.

Government State Arkansas 1990.jpg

 

 

Perry County is home to a huge Goat Festival (photo from KARK TV station). The festival attracts 4000 people to the small town of Perrysville.

Goat Festival Perryville AR 201710 KSJ_5638ps_1538704669851.jpg.jpg

 

 

 

Big changes for the Arkansas map in 1993 – Bill Clinton, a native son was elected president. Unfortunately they have returned to photos of generic scenes without descriptions. This pattern continued for the next few years.

Government State Arkansas 1993.jpg

 

1994

Government State Arkansas 1994.jpg

 

 

1995

Government State Arkansas 1995.jpg

 

1996

Government State Arkansas 1997.jpg

 

 

For 1998 the descriptions have returned. This mountain scene is U.S. Highway 65 near the Buffalo National River in Searcy County.

Government State Arkansas 1998.jpg

 

 

Searcy County is known as the Chocolate Roll Capital of the World. A chocolate roll is a crust filled with chocolate. A recipe found on the internet could be a good thing to fill some time today….

Searcy County Chocolate Roll

Pastry:
1 c. flour
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1/4 c. cold water
dash of salt

Filling:
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/3 c. butter or margarine
1/3 c. sugar

Incorporate all pastry ingredients into a pie crust-like dough. Roll out. Cream together cocoa powder, sugar and butter and spread on surface of pie crust. Roll from one end, tucking in sides like you would a burrito. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden and molten. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

In 2001 we visit Beaver Lake Dam in Carroll County. The dam has created a large lake that provides recreation as well as drinking water for much of Northwest Arkansas.

Government State Arkansas 2001.jpg

 

 

 

A Corvette and a country road back in Perry County. Since this county is dry too, they are likely headed to the next county to buy a bottle of wine for dinner.

Government State Arkansas 2002.jpg

 

 

 

In 1803 the United States purchased a massive area (828,000 square miles) of land from France for only $15 million dollars. What seems like a good deal was likely a better deal for France as they really didn’t control most of the land – it was still inhabited by Native Americans. The U.S. was buying ‘preemptive’ rights to obtain the Native lands by treaty or conquest (steal).

The entire state of Arkansas was included in this deal.

Government State Arkansas 2003.jpg

 

 

 

To get your Kicks on Route 66 in Arkansas you have to go to Stone County and take the state highway with that number, since the famed U.S. highway of the same number did not go through the state, although it went nearby in southwest Missouri.

Government State Arkansas 2004.jpg

 

 

 

The 2005 map shows the field of daisies at an Interstate interchange. Given the view you would think that the daisy would be the state flower but it is not. The state flower is the apple blossom, a tribute to the time when Arkansas was a large apple producing state, which it no longer is.

Government State Arkansas 2005.jpg

 

 

 

The 1956 Interstate Act 50th anniversary is celebrated on the 2006 map. Ironically neither of the two freeways shown here are interstates, they are both state routes.

Government State Arkansas 2006.jpg

 

 

 

The tunnel shown here is the Bobby Hopper Tunnel. It is the only vehicular tunnel in Arkansas.

Government State Arkansas 2008.jpg

 

 

 

For 2009 the cover shows the recently completed Greenville Bridge, a cable stayed design over the Mississippi River. Construction of this bridge took 16 years.

The new bridge replaced one built in 1940.

Government State Arkansas 2009.jpg

 

 

 

Hot Springs National Park is the scene again for the 2010 map.

Government State Arkansas 2010.jpg

 

As noted previously there are numerous bathhouses in Hot Springs, including one that was in the park itself. The Ozark Bathhouse was closed in 1977 and restored as the National Park Visitor Center. (photo from NPS site)

Ozark Bathhouse viewed from Central Avenue, looking up the front steps.

 

 

 

Another two lane road in 2011 – this time in Pope County. Located in the north central part of the state it is home to the town of Russellville. It is yet again another dry county.

Government State Arkansas 2011.jpg

 

 

 

Logan County is featured on the cover of the 2013 map. This county was originally called Sarber County, after John Sarber, when it was formed in 1871, but the locals felt Mr Sarber was a carpetbagger, so they renamed the county for an early settler James Logan.

Like most of the scenes in the series of Arkansas maps, it is located in the Ozark Mountains.

Government State Arkansas 2013.jpg

 

 

The theme continues in 2015 with this scene from Stone County.

Government State Arkansas 2015.jpg

 

 

 

 

The historic Lawrence County Courthouse is featured on the 2016 map. The courthouse is part of the Powhatan Historic State Park. And yes Lawrence County is like most of north and west Arkansas in that the county is dry. Lets move on to California so we can have a beer!

Government State Arkansas 2016.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Leona, Argentina – January 2020 – Three for the Price of One

In our travels across North America we have visited the Badlands in South Dakota, seen fossils in Arizona, and dinosaur bones in Colorado. In Southern Patagonia we had the chance to do this all in one place, La Leona.

And because it happens to be on a 30,000 acre ranch owned by one person, it is very restricted as to who can go there. We arranged a tour through one of the agencies in El Calafate, and were very pleased the next morning to see a mini van come to pick us up. Our group had 7 people, a driver and the guide!

The area is about 1.5 hours north of El Calafate – the scenery was fantastic along the way.











After a long drive up a bumpy dirt road, we got out and took off through the badlands.









It wasn’t long before we came upon the first dinosaur bone. They have been removing nearly full dinosaur skeletons from here for more than 20 years, so what is left are the ‘scraps’.

Still very impressive, they welcome you to touch them, hold them, and examine them – just leave them. They even gave us instructions on how to tell bone from rock – lick them. Or rather, lick your finger and press it against the object. If it sticks it is bone, otherwise it is rock.













There is even interesting vegetation throughout.





Our hike through the badlands continued with our guide Roci, until we reached the ‘petrified forest’. Roci was very knowledgeable and gave an excellent overview of what we were seeing, and how it got to be that way.





It is amazing how heavy small fragments of the petrified wood weighs.





We spent about 3 hours wandering around the badlands, finding plenty of petrified wood, and the occasional dinosaur bone.

What an amazing place, and fantastic day. To be able to see and touch these wonders of nature was great – and with such a small group at that.