What is it about ruins that many, including me, find so compelling? The melancholy half-fallen buildings make me try to visualize the labors of those who built them. What were their lives like and why were the buildings abandoned? What does a tiny graveyard say about the injury and disease that must have wracked the local people? My attempts to imagine what their lives were really like is doomed to failure because of the passage of time and mostly unbridgeable cultural differences.… Read more
“Rumors are they’ve found a big vein of gold.” We were huddled under blankets on a freezing morning when Dorothy, our golf-cart driver and guide set the brake at the top of a hill to respond to my question about the fate of long-abandoned mines near the town.
We, and two friends were on an early-morning tour of Bisbee, a town in southeastern Arizona with houses clinging to steep barren hills above the commercial area down in a gulch watered by a clear stream.… Read more
Wanting a taste of the Old West, we headed for the Slaughter Ranch and its restored 1880’s home in the far southeast corner of Cochise County on the Mexican border. The ranch is named for the “legendary” Texas John Slaughter, a lawman with a violent name who kept the peace in the old-fashioned way with pistols and rifles. I’d never heard of him, but it turned out he was a famous character with quite a history: Confederate War veteran, long-horn cattle driver on the famous Chisholm Trail, and then owner of the enormous cattle ranch in the then Arizona Territory.… Read more
Explorers of the West in the 19th Century like John Wesley Powell marveled at the scattered ruins of pueblos and strange volcanic landscape that makes up the area called Wupatki one of the many National Monuments in Central Arizona. So did we.
The scenic road from Sedona led us north winding around hairpin turns through Oak Creek Canyon and up over the Mongollan Rim at 8000 ft altitude. The road widened as we continued through wildflower-carpeted Ponderosa Pine woodlands to Flagstaff.… Read more
The second historic site near Sedona, Montezuma Castle National Monument has more to capture the eye and thoughts of the past than the meager remains of Tuzigoot. Early Spanish explorers thought the “castle” was built by the Aztecs. An offshoot of the monuments is called Montezuma’s Well, a watering source used by the local people for irrigation. Both parts are misnamed as the Aztecs lived thousands of miles south and the castle is a cliff house and there is no well.… Read more
Who can resist visiting a National Park Service Monument with the curious name of Tuzigoot? The word means Crooked Water in the Apache language but it preserves remains from peoples who arrived around the year 1000 AD to take advantage of water resources to grow corn, beans, squash to supplement their diet of deer and other game. And they also grew and wove cotton for garments and trade—the prized Pima cotton label we now look for on clothing and bedding labels.… Read more
Everyone says don’t miss Sedona. They were correct!
We turned off the freeway about two hours north of Phoenix to follow the road to Sedona winding through desert plants surrounded by small yellow butterflies flittering around flowering shrubs.
Another few turns brought us to a halt to stare in awe at the magnificent sight of orange and dark red sandstone sculpted into giant spires, plateaus, canyons and massive rock escarpments all constructed by the gods of wind and water over eons.… Read more
Anacortes on the north coast of Washington State and our stop before moving on to Orcas. The town was formerly somewhat of a backwater but has recently become a destination for water-oriented retirees attracted to small-town living, gorgeous views of saltwater with passing cargo ships, pleasure craft and fishing boats, and easy access to the San Juan Islands.
We were amused at the many cutouts of historical figures and current workers that decorate buildings as we drove toward the ferry dock.… Read more
A barefoot man wearing a loincloth and a traditional short cape made of ti leaves walked by me as if deep in thought. When I turned to watch him, I could see his black hair cut high on the sides and left long on top to fall around his shoulders. Without looking to right or left he strode away from the Great Wall defining the Pu’uhonua, Place of Refuge, during ancient Hawaiian times.
He projected power and I could not help but wonder if he was a chief or priest.… Read more
Hilo isn’t exactly what one typically pictures of Hawaii – white sand beaches, luxury hotels, blue sky. Instead, it’s truly tropical with rain, clearing, and more rain – ten feet a year on average. BUT, it has food, a foodie’s idea of heaven along with parks hosting enormous banyan trees and bamboo. On the Island of Hawaii (known as The Big Island) it’s a world away from the condos and golf courses that dot the dry, Kona Coast, side.… Read more