Who We Are

We sold our home in June, 2007, and spent the next 7 1/2 years traveling full time in a Cross Roads Fifth Wheel. (We had been traveling during our summers for several years before going full time.) We loved the full-time lifestyle! Each summer we spent a month or two volunteering in State Parks, first in Indiana at McCormick's Creek State Park, near our family, then in later years as the grandchildren got older, at the Bluewater Lake State Park in New Mexico. We spent 6 months each winter at Cactus Gardens RV Resort in Yuma, AZ, where I worked mornings in the park office. The remaining months were spent on the road, seeing this great country of ours. Our favorite places are our National Parks. Anita loved photography and the freedom of digital photography, taking sometimes hundreds of photos in a day. We hiked as much as our legs will allow. We also really enjoyed square and round dancing as we travel across country, and meeting all the wonderful people who dance and/or travel.

But as in all things, there comes a time for change, and we decided it was time to create roots once more. In the fall of 2014, we purchased a home in Cactus Gardens, and in the spring of 2015, sold the 5th wheel. Anita also retired in the spring. We will continue to travel each summer, but for a shorter period of time. We hope to continue blogging about those trips, but it will obviously be on a more limited basis than in the past.

Please explore our past posts if you are interested in traveling this great country. You'll find an index in the left column. We hope you enjoy our blog, and appreciate all comments

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Hopi Celebration

The Hopi Indians are an integral part of Flagstaff.  Recently, a large building bordering downtown’s Heritage Square was renamed “the Hopi Building”; 2010-09-25 - AZ, Flagstaff - Hopi Celebration - 1005

the tribe held a celebration around the ribbon cutting. 2010-09-25 - AZ, Flagstaff - Hopi Celebration - 1007

Cake and punch was provided for the crowd, an arts and crafts fair provided a look at their work, and dancers entertained.

Each tribe has a different way of expressing themselves through art.  For the Hopi, it’s stylized paintings and weaving.  We enjoyed looking at the colorful offerings.2010-09-25 - AZ, Flagstaff - Hopi Celebration - 1012

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This young man demonstrated a traditional spinning toy for us.2010-09-25 - AZ, Flagstaff - Hopi Celebration - 1016 Four teenagers provided the dancing entertainment.  We’ve seen several tribes performing in dance exhibits; the one thing that stood out in the Hopi dancing was that they enter the arena backwards.

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It’s good to see the youth working to preserve their heritage.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Montezuma’s Castle and Well

2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Castle -  1007 Montezuma’s Castle is another well-preserved ancient dwelling in northern Arizona, near Sedona.  The name is a double misnomer, as there is no connection between the dwelling and the Aztec Indians, as was thought when the name was bestowed; in addition, it is not a “castle” belonging to one family, but rather a 5 story, 20 room “high-rise apartment”, housing as many as 35 or more of the Sinagua Indians.

Built into a limestone cliff 70 feet above the ground, the structure is an architectural wonder.  This drawing is on one of the interpretive signs.  Can you imagine the labor involved to construct the dwelling, and then, how hard it would be to have to maneuver the ladders every time you left home for food or water?2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Castle -  1009 

The public is not allowed any closer than the path below the structure, but even from there, you could see some of the original wooden beams in the walls.2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Castle -  1008

The atmosphere near the cliff dwellings seems cool compared to the nearby desert, as a creek runs through the valley, supplying water for huge sycamores and other plants. 2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Castle -  1019 2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Castle -  1020

The inhabitants had close neighbors.  Just a few feet away once stood an even larger dwelling, with 45 rooms and an occupancy of 100 or more. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed most of it in the 1400’s, not leaving much to see, other than the remains of some of the walls.2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Castle -  1014

A small building with a glass front houses a diorama cross section of how the interiors may have looked.2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Castle -  1021

Less than 10 miles away is Montezuma’s Well, a funnel shaped limestone sink.  The only connection between the two sites are the similar names, although I would think there would have been times when the creek at Montezuma’s Castle would have run dry, and they would have made the trek to the well for water.  2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  1002

Fifty five feet deep and 368 feet across, this body of water in the middle of the desert, fed by underground springs, never goes dry.  2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  1007 Astonishingly, a million and a half gallons of fresh water flow into the sink daily; an irrigation canal, dug sometime between 900 and 1400 AD, provides an outlet for the water.

Several dwellings are visible from the top, perched on the rocky bank of the well.2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  1005   2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  1011  

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A footpath leads down to the level of the water, where the remains of another dwelling are visible.2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  10092010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  10242010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  10202010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  1019 

The terrain is rough, 2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  1025

home now only to those needing the water source. 2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  1008

Once back on top, we continued on to the back side of the well.  There, you can descend again to the bottom of the bank.  2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  1032

The largest sycamore tree in Arizona lives in the shade here, probably gaining its status due to the unending water supply.  2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  10362010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  1035

You walk along the irrigation canal formed so many years ago..  2010-09-24 - AZ, Montezuma's Well -  1038


The V Bar V Petroglyph site is only open Friday through Sunday each week;  it was Friday, and we were told by a park ranger we shouldn’t miss it.  The largest known petroglyph site in the Verde Valley, it was acquired by the National Forest Service recently, in 1994.

Accessible by either the shorter gravel road from the well site, or by pavement, we first tried the gravel, only to find it a very bad “washboard” and backtracked to use the paved road.  Even it narrowed as we went on, and the last little bit was gravel. 2010-09-24 - AZ, V Bar V Petroglyph site -   10052010-09-24 - AZ, V Bar V Petroglyph site -   1004

The site is located on an old ranch, hence it’s name.  A one mile loop trail leads you  past the home site, through the field. 2010-09-24 - AZ, V Bar V Petroglyph site -   1007 2010-09-24 - AZ, V Bar V Petroglyph site -   1009

Had we not just seen Newspaper Rock in southern Utah (see our post on Canyonlands) we might have been more impressed with this site, but the figures are hard to see, and many are obscured by a fungal growth.  Still, there is an impressive number of petroglyphs.2010-09-24 - AZ, V Bar V Petroglyph site -   1013

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Other ancient ruin sites nearby are Tuzigoot and Walnut Canyon National Monuments.  Those we’ll save for another trip.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sedona, Arizona

Flagstaff to Sedona Overall, Sedona was a bit of a disappointment to us.  There are times when you build up an image in your mind that a location cannot live up to; Sedona was such a place.

Instead of the romantic, red rock vista we envisioned, your first view of Sedona is a bustling, tourist trap.  But, let’s back up and start with the trip down. 

We chose Scenic Route SR89-A, and it was definitely scenic.   Just before starting the descent through the canyon, the rest stop, Oak Creek Canyon Vista, offers panoramic views of the valley, and a chance to shop with the many Native American vendors who set up in the open air market along the path.  Most were selling jewelry or pottery.2010-09-23 - AZ, Flagstaff to Sedona via 89-A thru Oak Creek Canyon  (14) 2010-09-23 - AZ, Flagstaff to Sedona via 89-A thru Oak Creek Canyon  (15)

Winding down through Oak Creek Canyon, the road descends more than 2500 feet rather rapidly.  2010-09-23 - AZ, Flagstaff to Sedona via 89-A thru Oak Creek Canyon  (8)

If you look closely in the following photo, you can see 3 different sections of the road’s switchbacks down the mountain.

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At the end of the canyon drive, the Midgley Bridge carries you into Sedona.

2010-09-23 - AZ, Flagstaff to Sedona via 89-A thru Oak Creek Canyon  (31)

Just driving through Sedona offers many examples of interesting architecture,    2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -3- Red Rock Loop Scenic Drive - 1003

2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -3- Red Rock Loop Scenic Drive - 1005but probably the two most unique are situated next to each other.

The first, one of the most popular tourist stops, is the Chapel of the Holy Cross.2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -2 - Chapel of the Holy Cross - 1003  Conceived by Marguerite Bruswig Staude in 1932, it was finished in 1956.  The design inspiration came to her while observing the newly constructed Empire State Building.  When viewed from a certain angle, a cross seemed to impose itself through the very core of the structure.  Mrs. Staude wanted to build such a structure that would glorify her Creator and in thanksgiving for all that her family had received. She traveled throughout Europe looking for the ideal location. She returned to the United States and while her and her husband  traveled through Sedona, she was struck by the beauty of the area and decided that this chapel should be built here. .. “This would be a monument to faith…".

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Built on a twin pinnacled spur about 250 feet high, jutting out of a thousand foot red rock wall, "solid as the Rock of Peter" the building of the Chapel was completed in April 1956.2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -2 - Chapel of the Holy Cross - 1002 Just the physical construction was a physical miracle, overcoming difficult conditions to construct this chapel.2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -2 - Chapel of the Holy Cross - 1012

No longer used for regular services, it is open daily to the public.

Visible from the chapel, at the bottom of the hill is what some consider an eyesore, while others marvel.  A veritable mansion sits on grounds surrounded by beautiful gardens.  Owned by some “mystery person involved in the medical field” it was once offered for sale for 29 million.2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -2 - Chapel of the Holy Cross - 1005

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The Red Rock Loop Drive is through the famous red rocks of Sedona, 2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -3- Red Rock Loop Scenic Drive - 1009

but better views can be found at the overlook near the airport.2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -4- Airport Overlook - 1004  2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -4- Airport Overlook - 1006

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Although we weren’t impressed with the shopping district, I did enjoy the many statues adorning the sidewalks.  2010-09-23 - AZ, Flagstaff to Sedona via 89-A thru Oak Creek Canyon  (34)

This one is unique.  The little girl taking the photo is part of the statue. 2010-09-23 - AZ, Flagstaff to Sedona via 89-A thru Oak Creek Canyon  (35)

But nothing thus far had fit the image I had of Sedona in my mind.  In years past, we used to work a lot of jigsaw puzzles.  So many of the puzzles pictured beautiful garden fountains surrounded by Spanish tile and flowering bushes.  Always, the caption was just “Sedona, Arizona”.  Where had these photos been taken?  I finally had my answer when we entered Tlaquepaque (pronounced Tla-keh-pah-keh), Sedona's Arts & Crafts Village.

Authentically fashioned after a traditional Mexican village, Tlaquepaque, means the "best of everything".  Its vine covered stucco walls, cobble-stoned walkways and magnificent arched entryways makes it seem a world and time away from the rest of Sedona, and provides a refreshing oasis from the crowds.  Here I found the Sedona I had been looking for: 2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -1- Tlaquepaque - 1001 2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -1- Tlaquepaque - 10032010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -1- Tlaquepaque - 10062010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -1- Tlaquepaque - 1010  2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -1- Tlaquepaque - 1007 2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -1- Tlaquepaque - 1008  2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -1- Tlaquepaque - 1013 2010-09-23 - AZ, Sedona -1- Tlaquepaque - 1015