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.



Zion For Days

We planned several days to explore Zion and still not enough time.  Choosing to enter from the East end of the park was a great decision for us. The RV site located less than a mile from the entrance was much less crowded than the Hotels and camping areas to the west.
I would recommend the Hi-Road Campground for  convenience and surrounding beauty.

However, a rake and a little maintenance would go a long way. WiFi only in the laundry room/showers only and sites were not policed for trash and debris. Even though conveniently located just off the highway, the traffic simply stops around 8pm when the National Park closes. Very dark and quiet.  Great for a cozy fire & stargazing.

 Hiking, hiking, hiking for all skill levels.   Starting at the visitors center, and with the help of some knowledgable park rangers, we were able to find exciting and challenging trails.

On one of the trails we were approached by a barefoot young man and his very friendly dog named Bogart. We chatted for a while learning he was from Maryland and how sad he was that  he had to be  back at work in 10 days.  We played with Bogart and listened to his stories about traveling across the US in an RV aloneand the people he met along the way. He gave us directions up the dry riverbed to a lovely area. We said our goodbyes and headed out.
About half way through the hike under a ledge we saw a piece of paper flapping in the breeze on a jar full of green buds and flakes. It had rained the day before so we knew the note was freshly placed.  G investigated and the note said “From Me to You”   Inside the note  went on “Trainwreck, use at your own risk!  ENJOY!” We laughed and surmised that our new friend fashioned himself as some sort of modern-day Johnny Appleseed, and whatever “Trainwreck” was he wanted to share.  We left it for the next person to discover.
A storm moved in the next day creating an eerie fog near the peaks of the mountains.
We were excited to see the water in action. Whichever one of us was driving the passenger was on waterfall patrol.​
Sometimes we are lead to a place and we don’t know why. West of the park we pulled in to discover the Fort Zion Virgin Trading Post.

I have to say it was one of our most colorful stops!  We enjoyed the quirky buildings outside. They even have a petting zoo.  It is a definite must see!!  Be sure to save time  for some Homemade Ice Cream after  a yummy lunch at the restaurant.
We asked about the area and were introduced to the Owner, Andy.  We talked for about 90 minutes and were fascinated by his interesting stories.   One I can share was about the Coyote Dance. The indigenous people of the area believe that on  full moons Coyote’s gather high on a certain mesa and dance in a circle to celebrate their strength and victories.  Andy and a friend were hunting on top of a mesa in the area and came across disturbed ground in a circle  around a some brush. He whipped out his phone and showed us pictures of the circle and zoomed in on what surely seemed to be coyote footprints.1087535980Here’s the coincidence; One of G’s favorite artists is  Robbie Robertson to whom he listens every morning during workouts. His favorite song is Coyote Dance.     <Click on the link to listen.Ahhh Beautiful Zion, I will see you again.













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.

Stop Locking Your Love On Bridges 

I have an unreasonable fear of bridges.
This includes bridge like structures such As the Eiffel Tower; which G points out stress cracks and rusty bolts holding thousands of tourists a day.  It’s like Gabriel Iglesias says about when a 400 pound person is getting on an elevator and we begin to calculate weights of the passengers.

This is how I see it.

The Navajo Bridge is now abandoned to cars which does not make me feel safer. I know that engineers spend their lives calculating the weights and measures on these projects. That’s why I started this by saying my fear is unreasonable.  Now this bridge is an attraction to take pictures like this:

and this:

I realize I am about half way and think I can always jump to the emerald water below if the bridge under my feet gives way.  The heros of ALL action movies hang on to the correct piece of rope/wood/steel and swing to safety.  Only bad guys fall to their deaths.  Then I see this sign which makes me question everything.

Perhaps the jump isn’t survivable so I hold on tightly to the rail and distract myself with the locks couples put on bridges now as a symbol of their love.  I do NOT want to put a love lock on the bridge because the engineers didn’t plan on that extra weight did they lovers?

Holding onto the rail I find this etched from 2010.

I know there is a story here so I Google the name.  Good to know he survived.






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.













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.


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.







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.

Clifton Hanging

Last  Saturday was all about hanging out in Clifton, AZ an old mining town.     The road climbs winding through the mountains and suddenly drops down between the rugged red canyon walls to this little town.



We saw a few signs and thought it might be interesting and it doesn’t disappoint.  f18fd996-d466-4ef4-9ef1-564ce6efe16f

This is the outside of the jail that is actually a cave in the rock.  The holes you see with bars are the windows  about 10 feet above the floor of the jail. The sign says the first prisoner built it himself!   667d6f04-5859-45aa-9bf1-5927f2877696

The Rocks they used to build the wall are so beautiful.  It’s open on the other side (and you know how I feel about open doors).  Let’s go in!


Down a few steps and G says “I hope somebody doesn’t lock the outside door.” just as I am stepping into total darkness.  (THANKS G!)   The cave jail  it very spooky. It doesn’t smell like a cave, really has no smell at all for having been used as living quarters.   We don’t have a flashlight with us so I  have to use the camera  flash to see where we are. Below is an overexposed shot of one of the cells .


I saw a rusty dirty chain on the floor illuminated by a little bit of sunlight from the “window” above.    I picked it up and when I realized it was bolted to the floor it made me  sad and horrified at the same time.  I got out of there fast.


We go further back within the cave jail.  It’s not getting any better but at least there is electricity this far back. Feeling very medieval as it is still pretty dark  I took another flash shot to see what was in front of us. It came out looking like the  very end of The Blair Witch Project.


Unimaginable  spending any length of time down here.  I’m ready to leave now G.




Outside the jail is this kick ass stem engine, Copper Head Coronado Railroad.


Absolutely beautiful view from the bridge. Very quiet here, well until I stepped on a loose metal panel and the whole bridge sounded like it was falling down.  64bc6d2a-8558-4a12-b721-2c813ca130bc



Ramshackle buildings contribute to the charm of this old town. A look inside an abandoned building reveals an old couch, a TV with an old style bubble screen, and various trash.  It would be interesting to find out when it was abandoned, who lived here, and the stories associated with the once booming mining town. 47d56c71-0ca8-459a-8146-d811e17cd2cc

There is an occupied apartment in this row of crumbling buildings below.  An American Flag waves in the breeze in the distance.   3ed0ce1a-ec73-431e-963a-4702eef2a18b

Layers of time …..




Old church on Chase Creek Road is part of the Historic Restoration of Clifton.


Below is an example of the steel door to a cave.  They may have originally been used as cellars to preserve food.  During Prohibition caves like this were used for storing Whiskey (of course) and we are told that is when the steel doors were added.  Later they actually were rented out to miners as rooms.  Every house against the cliff seems to have one.


Oh and when you can’t find an awning just use a fender.  553928cf-fc82-4440-9c5c-6ddab3d69306

The whole street is peppered with various renovations like this 3 story conglomeration.


So peaceful.


Clifton is the last remaining old mining town of this area. The  Morenci  old town has been buried with mine tailings as a large copper vein went right through it.   I can’t wait to return to this place to explore  someday soon.


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