Row Of The Mighty

Traveling east on I 10 from Tucson there is a MIGHTY unusual sight.  Miles and miles of train engines coupled together.  They have been there for months.


Did I say miles?  YES it’s miles.  They stand like regal soldiers and like faces, no two seem to be the same. Some carry scars and scrapes & some polished to pampered perfection.


We have seen this sight several times over months and each time I wonder at the magnitude of the meandering yellow line.

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I asked a railroad man why these giants of metal and deisel have been exiled to the dry AZ desert.  It seems sad that the once proud  engines have been retired as they are no longer needed.  Knowing this felt lonely as I wander along the tracks listening to the wind creak between them like metal whispers.

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Pondering this idea and feeling  watched, I touch them one by one and imagine their journey. It seems like I have been walking a long time to find the end and beginning.Soon I come to a bridge that I can cross under.    I cautiously approached the underpass and find this graffiti which confirms everything.


Suddenly a swarm of wasps from the largest nest I have ever seen attacks.    Wasps make excellent train engine guards.


I couldn’t help the opportunity to lie on the tracks in front of a train just this one time as I say goodbye.



The North Rim Made Me Cry

As many times as I have been to the South Rim, hiked down in to and  rafted through the Grand Canyon, I had never been to the North Rim.  I’m so glad we took the time. It is truly hard to explain the experience of such a wonder. We started by just relaxing and mapping out our hiking day at the Grand Canyon Lodge viewing patio. Plan on spending some down time here! 
Someone pointed out a peregrine falcon soaring over head. At one time there were only 70 in existence.  This male peregrine is banded with a metal leg band 7/X black over green.  The band code identified him as breeding 4 miles from his natal territory on Elkins Marsh on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Photo by Barton Paxton.Now thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service conservation there are over 400.



A tourist bus exploding with nylon tracksuits &oversized  visors  poured out just as we started down the trail  This interesting lady had just the hat for the occasion!

 (Go Dog Go quote “Do you like my hat?”) 
I recommend taking a lunch and eat at one of the high tables on the  observation deck. We did and enjoyed the view and the fresh air.  The lines for the one restaurant can be very long and lots of people were eyeballing my hoagie and pasta salad. We decided to head out to  Cape Royal. On the way we witnessed the devastation of a forest fire from years ago. Young Aspen trees have taken over where Ponderosa Pine trees once stood.  Soon the burned areas of the North Rim will be covered with lush Aspen trees. I was so Excited to see Window Rock!  I have always wondered where it was.  Walking on top of it is interesting. There is a 3′ wide by 4′ long rock to walk over to the point.  Both sides are straight down for a very long way. We noticed many people waiting on more solid ground for their friends.  No matter how their friends coaxed they wouldn’t venture out. Having never heard of Cape Royal I thought it was probably rocks that looked like a castle. I was soooo wrong. Cape Royal made me cry.  We walked along the twisted juniper path bundled in jackets because we were near 9000 feet elevation and there is still snow on the ground.  The people coming toward us on the path were silent.  Most smiled and nodded.  Thinking perhaps it was trail etiquette we stayed quiet too.  About a half mile later we turned a corner to a 270-degree view like I cannot describe.I couldn’t move.  Just as I gasped a cold breeze pushed extra air into my lungs.  My eyes filled with tears while my mind tried to accept this view.  No picture can capture that moment.  I tried.


We stayed for quite a while.  I wish I could stay forever.

On our way down we wanted to shout to the people coming up the path -“just wait! It’s so beautiful! You’re gonna CRY!” Instead we were silent, smiled knowingly and nodded.

The Fork In The Road

Often my favorite places are forks in the road.  Stopping at Cameron Trading Post Est. 1916 is one of those. We hook up at the RV sites and begin our adventure.


Exploring the area we are delighted to find such an interesting art gallery full of color.

We quickly unhook from the RV and head to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.


Even though we have visited these same sights often, we always come away with a different experience.


We met Louise Y. Nez, a weaver.  Her hands lifted the different colors of thread through her loom with ease. Mesmerizing.


Not surprisingly she has made hundreds of rugs as she began weaving at twelve. Three of her daughters & one son continue the tradition.


Her work is exhibited in museums all over the world.  Unfortunately, some of her work is labeled unknown.


On to climbing the tower for the view inside and out.


My husband, who as you know does not do well in crowds & whose “whisper” can be heard for miles, commented on the following wall art:

WHISPERS “Look it’s FART MAN” …..echoes through the tower…a 6th grade boy thinks he’s HILARIOUS!
A visit to the Tusayan museum provides history of the inhabitants of the area and  a walk around some ruins and kivas.

EBC4B801-91E1-4240-86B3-35B2AECD389074390359-6FD6-439E-BD41-D662206FF147BA3D6BDC-3FFC-4F3E-8D05-8EA4BCB6FEABBack to Cameron for an afternoon stroll through the gardens.


A lovely way to end a day.













So Much Better In Leather

I finally finished cross referencing  90 sites from a field guide to minerals and fossils to the Arizona Gazetteer!



My celebration consisted of me finding and cleaning up  an old leather briefcase to hold the field guide and maps so that they may be accessed quickly.  Plus it looks very Indiana Jones.   Many times we decide to go at a moment’s notice so I have assembled kits. Like some kind of crazy hiking hoarder. We always have  a panning/mining backpack ready to go (just in case).

Gold Pan, pick, huge screwdriver (for poking between rocks), spade, foldable shovel, magnet (for pulling out heavy metals), eyedropper (for sucking up tiny gold) magnifying glass and not pictured are the collection jars for the gold.  All fit in a regular Jansen backpack.  

We also keep a hiking kit ready in a brown plaid backpack.

Boots, gloves, walking sticks, compass, hats, knife.  Not pictured but always with us are plyers for cactus removal, sunscreen and a first aid kit. 
Picnic kit is a fully stocked picnic basket and a thick blaket

By far the most important thing of all  is water. Even in the winter we take at least a gallon a person.   I made these holders crocheted out of plastic bags.  They hang from our backpacks and we refill the bottles so no plastic waste.


Arizona weather can go from blazing hot to freezing cold so we always dress in light layers and carry along jackets.  Kits are packed and ready for the next adventure!



Dragoon Beauty & 310 To Yuma


There’s a tale to tell that ends with a night gathering of  friends under clear desert skies & a crackling fire. We are here to celebrate a friend’s leap year birthday.  This weekend  was chosen to round up the RV’s and head out to   Triangle T Guest Ranch.

They had me at Saloon


Triangle T is surrounded by rock formations that conjur up images of wild west  hideouts & cattle rustling.  Some of the rocks seem to defy gravity…img_6032

Birthday girl and the balancing rock

Check out this lizard rock.It’s huge.

There’s horseback riding or you can bring your own horse.  Great riding trails, very little cactus.

There are little surprises all around the ranch.  Likethe rock maze below.

Moseying down the dusty trail we stumble upon  an  old movie set from 1957 – the original 310 To Yuma.  


There is just too much to explore around this ranch. Bonus the Amerind Foundation Museum is within walking distance.   The hiking is spectacular:

Wide open skies
I call this one hope. Gotta hand it to this poor little tree.


Blooming Manzanita!

Arizona Stonehenge
The guardians of the sky

I wrote about The Rock Saloon before here: Corny Shenanigans . This time there was live music and some boot scootin’.


One more walk Sunday morning just to say goodbye and we are back on the road.  Camera roll below:




The Little Things



Ghost Hike

Beautiful 79 degrees here in Southern AZ-so let’s go hiking!

Moon Over Madera


No way  staying inside on such a beautiful January day!

Treasure hunting in fallen trees for a specific shape of wood to finish a project.   My backpack is already full of NOT the right shape of wood. 04851eb0-6d26-4118-9f1a-e8dd22959491

We flushed out a pair of cotimundi out of their nest.  I was not fast enough to get a picture so here is an internet picture (ours were BIG & a bit redder than this guy):


They may have been headed down to the stream937822dc-4d2a-4799-8919-36b51718db44


58be67f3-d46d-4d13-a770-1877ba7bcf65Suddenly we come across this trail to an abandoned building!  I am so excited!  Walking through tall grass is not my favorite (sneaky snakes).  We are on the lookout for crawly things and No Trespassing signs. All clear so here we go…


It is fun to think about the families that gathered here, their pictures that hung on the wall, What the curtains must have looked like.  Much to imagine except…


…LOOK it’s the kitchen sink!  Below an abandoned Teddy Bear which makes me a little forlorn.   Poor homeless Teddy.

bd41df8c-7eea-4ffb-8310-c46133dda224Lots of good opportunity to play with the light and texture of this old place. Camera Roll below:










The view of the Baboquivari Peak is stunning.


We had so much fun and yes I did find a rotted chunk of bark for my project.   Two times we  passed a man beside the path who was watching for birds. Each time I had a boogie board sized chunk of bark under my arm.  The second time we stopped to chat as he recites the types of birds he is watching.  He asked me “Is that the same piece of wood I saw you with earlier?” To which my G replies “She just carries wood around for exercise.  Cool huh?”  I smile & the birder looked puzzled but said nothing as we turned away and  continued down the path.


AZ Quilt

We stumbled across this Arizona shaped quilt on display at the Naninni Library just as the Librarian was placing it behind the glass. It was mesmerizing.  The  quilt focuses on Historical places in Tucson and southern AZ.  Small touches & attention to detail~WOW! img_5186

Represented are the Tohono O’odham NationSaguaro National Park, Davis-Monthan Air Force BaseMission San Xavier Del Bac, Stage Coach Southern AZ, Colossal Cave (a natural cave full of geological formation),, or could be Karchner Caverns, the poppies of Picacho PeakJarvick Heart (the first artificial heart)University of ArizonaHistoric Fox TheaterArizona Cotton, Tucson Rodeo La Fiesta De Los VaquerosArt Galleries, Kitt Peak National ObservatoryMt. Graham International ObservatoryDesert Museum just to name a few.  I stood in wonder identifying the detail the artist has represented.  Well done Tucson Quilters Guild!

I Wish Upon a Shrine?

This cool crisp sunny morning on the 2nd day of a new year is perfect day to visit El Tiradito  aka  the Wishing Shrine.I am not Catholic, nor do I believe in wishing.   However, I do believe in new beginnings and second chances.


This shrine happens to be the only Catholic shrine where a sinner is buried in unconsecrated ground.  Appropriate place for a visit reflecting on last year’s f’ups & hopes for next year.



It’s history is a classic tale of a love triangle.


All of that seems lost with the flickering saintly candles & memorial objects. Our shared pain is here in this place.

0e5abe39-8e0d-460e-8693-3ad0e27ea9b1Our sins exposed like the ruined adobe wall holding little bits of paper, our wishes.

90d90681-2a85-46cd-ab55-5e38c868cf64My wish is here too.  It  is a symbol of what breaks my heart leaving it here for a higher power to handle when I can’t anymore.119F6462-8AEC-4A9D-8F62-0F31DB91EEBF.JPGMy favorite story about this shrine is that it’s presence stopped a highway from cutting through this old part of town.  Thank you Juan Oliveras for your unknown contribution to the preservation of Tucson over 140 years ago.   Just shows you that even sinners make a difference.17fadf50-e44c-4215-907f-d0790651091e


Exploring further and one finds out that Tucson had a wonderful lakeside resort here in the 1800’s. Check out the picture below.

91f64e17-a376-42d7-8e28-2d8178165313Hard to imagine now while we struggle for decent ground water.  Lush and green many people enjoyed this area for health & entertainment. Now the area is dry as can be. Little touches everywhere.2cecd01b-1a46-4f54-afe2-a4fbb36b6957


The neighborhood was renamed Elyasian and this historic market remains as someone’s home.IMG_5134.JPGContinuing on through the neighborhood there were a lot of interesting textures.



3142c3d2-6581-4b51-801f-ff32fa0396d7This is the theater located off a side street.img_5137img_5136

I am grateful for this part of Tucson.  The Old Pueblo.  Grateful for this beautiful day to walk in the sunshine around this old neighborhood. Celebrating the new year by exploring the past. Acknowledging that we are just traveling through and life changes in an instant.








I spent last night upstairs on a couch outside my mother’s room.  All night long I heard an owl that apparently  perches just outside on the chimney.    Mom says the owl also  likes to sit  in the tallest Palo Verde tree next to the house because it can take off  better to hunt. Either way the owl is announcing his presence at the exact moment I think I am finally falling asleep. (Like it KNOWS)


The hooting of the owl into the wee hours of the night made  me think about my Dad all the more.  He had actually written a story in his book “Jackie” about an owl that sat outside he and his brother Jim’s bedroom window when they were children.

Below is an excerpt from his book :

In fairer weather the boys occupied the same upstairs bedroom.  A window was at the foot of the bed on one side with a large tree close by.  The night breezes and bright moon made shadows dance through that window.  A large Hoot Owl took residence in that tree, and for nearly a whole summer the boys hid their fears under the sheet pulled tightly over their heads. Earlier that summer  Jackie had won the argument to be called  Jack now that he was older.  He was admonished by his parents that if he was big enough to be called Jack then it came with the responsibility to be not afraid. Jack had to put up with the owl.  The critter was huge and noisy!  Well they got used to it after a while and when they called to Hooty,  he would answer.  After that it was kind of fun talking to “their owl”. 

So now I am thinking that  ~Life just gets curiouser and curiouser ~ and just like Scout  in To Kill a Mockingbird when she suddenly sees Boo Radley behind the bedroom door I whisper  “Hey Dad”.



Baby Sandra Day O’Conner

Random find in the tiny  town of Clifton, AZ  in a small museum resides the high chair of Sandra Day O’Conner.  Arizonans are so proud of the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court.  I asked permission from the stoic caretaker to take the picture.  Of all the mining subjects in the museum he wondered why I chose this object to photograph.


I wanted this picture to remind me that even one of the most influential women of my lifetime started the same way we all did.  Our choices, our decisions, make us who we are. She is such an inspiration and example of responsible citizenship.

“Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.” Sandra Day O’Conner.