Saturday, September 23, 2017

Family Activities: March to May 1990: California and Arizona

(MARCH 16 TO 17, 1990)

As advisor to the scout program, I took Sam and went with Jeff Pyne, Dave Benson, Dave and Greg Palmer, Jared Glazer, Scott Abbott, Ty Glade and Neil Wilson out to Joshua Tree for rock climbing. The Palmers brought all of their climbing gear, including shoes, pitons and ropes and taught us how to climb. We stayed at Jumbo Rocks Campground that night and went into the rocks near Hidden Valley to do our climbing. We hiked about a quarter mile off the road to the rocks and then climbed a ways to the rocks we were climbing. The rocks we climbed were already a fair way up the rocks. We brought lunches and snacked and talked while the Palmers secured devices in the rock and prepared for us to climb. The first climb the scouts took was an easier one up a crack. The rappelling down once getting to the top was the scariest for the boys as they backed off the rock. Neil Wilson coming down, panicked and crashed into the wall sideways. Next, Jeff Pyne decided to take a more difficult route up the other side of the same rock. He and Dave Benson put their heads into a T crevice like ostriches as they felt for holds above them on the overhanging rock. They were free climbing with ropes attached in case they fell. After Jeff and Dave, I was elected to climb and nervously did so. The adrenalin started to flow and I was exhausted by the time I was lowered back to the bottom. Greg Palmer helped Sam do some climbing until Sam had gone high enough and wanted out.

We then transferred to a crack on our left that I didn’t think any of us could climb (about 60 feet straight up). But Jared Glazer, the first, did it and then the gauntlet was thrown to me. There were several times I did not believe I would make it, looking for hand or foot holds and losing strength, legs shaking uncontrollably. But I did make it, extremely exhausted and scraped up from the rocks. There was an element of fear, accomplishment and elation that made it a very gratifying experience. As the day wore on, Sam crashed in my arms and went to sleep.

On the way down we admired the desert scenery, including the Joshua trees and cholla cactus. The Palmers video taped the climbs and we watched the tape the next day during priesthood meeting.

(APRIL 7 TO 9, 1990)

April 7, 1990 (Saturday):                 (Ajo, Arch Canyon, Alamo Canyon)

We left Redlands at 1:30 a.m. with me driving. We drove to an area just 20 to 30 miles from Phoenix where we turned off I-10 to head south, and got gas. We stopped in Ajo for breakfast, where we stayed the previous 4th of July, and ate breakfast at Dego Joes in the town square. Judy and I had omelets with about 6 to 8 eggs each. In Ajo, we stopped at the Phelps Dodge open pit copper mine that closed a few years previously due to declining copper prices.  We had originally planned to go with Jim and Sally Coffin, but Joe Sax’s death at work and his funeral on the Monday made Jim (Joe’s associate) feel like he needed to stay in town.

We drove to the visitor’s center at Organ Pipe and went through the exhibits, reserved one of four spaces at the primitive campsite in Alamo Canyon, and then went on the Ajo Mountain dirt road drive. We stopped beneath the arch at the mouth of Arch Canyon and hiked around the first bend, teaching the kids various kinds of cactus (cholla, prickly pear, hedgehog, saguaro, organ pipe), ocotillo, etc. The plants and cactus were flowering, although it was a dry year and not as spectacular as in previous wetter years. The pretty reds were out on the ocotillo and some of the other yellow flowers. We ate a picnic on a bench at the mouth of the canyon and talked with a couple visiting from England.

We then went three to four miles up a dirt road to our campsite in Alamo Canyon. Our tent was pitched between a large saguaro cactus and organ pipe cactus on ground as hard as cement. Rachael, Sam and I took a hike up the side of the mountain. Organ pipe cactus and ocotillo grew on the side of the mountain. I ended up hiking ½ to ¾ of the way up the mountain. In the evening, we walked the dirt road near dark and saw bats. We heard coyotes howl while we were sleeping that night.

April 8, 1990 (Sunday):                    (Alamo Canyon, Puerto Penasco)

I walked up the south fork of Alamo Canyon on Sunday morning. There was the shell of a brick house, a fenced corral and water building for horses or cattle. The bottom of the canyon was very tangled with brush and large boulders, but I didn’t see much wildlife. It was surprising that we really didn’t see any lizards or snakes. We did see, however, a herd of 10 to 15 javelina or collared peccaries. They were to the south of our campground across the wash and near the mountain about ½ mile to one mile away from our campsite. We saw a group of about 8 turkey vultures circling and wondered what was causing them to circle. I then saw some animals running and hopping through the brush and cactus. At first I thought they were rabbits, then realized that at 50 yards away they were bigger and looked more like kangaroos. Then it dawned on me they were peccaries. I was very excited. It was a real treat to see an animal like that that is rarely seen.

Rachael drew some great pictures of cactus and other desert plants. The ocotillo, one of our favorite plants, gets the red flowers on its tips in April and gets small green leaves after the rains. It is not a cactus, although it has large thorns. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was established in 1937 and protects virtually the only organ pipe cactus in the United States (more is in Mexico) and some of the most spectacular Sonoran Desert scenery.

We bought gas in Lukeville and drove south through Sonoita down to Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point), about 70 miles south into Mexico. The terrain over the border was saguaro and organ pipe cactus and then gradually became completely desolate. On the drive, we saw a dead coyote being fed upon by turkey vultures and a dead rattlesnake. Puerto Penasco is right on the Gulf of California and is completely desolate of vegetation. Sand is everywhere. It is much less touristy than other Mexican towns we’ve been in. We went to the fish peddlers and bought a pound of large shrimp for $6.00 (which we took back to camp and barbequed over our camp stove in Alamo Canyon). We also bought two ironwood hawk carvings for $12.00 (one which I kept for myself and one for Dad). We ate at the Costa Brava Restaurant where I had a seafood combination which consisted of shrimp, squid, octopus, scallops, clams, mussels and fish, mixed together in a tangy sauce, the best seafood dish I’ve ever eaten. The Mexican food was definitely different. We’d heard Sonoran food was some of the best in Mexico. The hot sauce was very different.

We then drove out to Sandy Beach, which had an incredible sandy road covering several miles with large washboard bumps the entire way jarring us and the car. At the end was a mountain with sand dunes in a large bowl and people racing around in it in dune buggies. The weather was very warm. The kids put their toes in the ocean, Andrew stripped to his diaper (and threw an incredible fit as we went to leave). I stopped at a small shop on the way out and purchased a straw hat with a colorful “Puerto Penasco” band to keep the sun off of my head.

April 9, 1990 (Monday):                              

After taking a walk from our campground north toward Montezuma’s head, we drove Hwy 2 through Mexico from Sonoita to Mexicali. At first the terrain was very mountainous and rugged as we passed just north of the “Gran Desierto,” a Mexican National Park. The terrain then turned very flat, sandy and barren. Very few people and very harsh. We were impressed with Mexicali which seemed large, relatively clean (for Mexico) and untouristy. We then drove through Calexico, El Centro, and Brawley (where we ate at a Mexican restaurant), up to the Salton Sea, where we stopped to walk near a dike, through Coachella, Indio and back home.

(APRIL 21, 1990)

Mom Kenison was in town and had never seen Palm Springs. Last time she was here we had been to the Los Angeles County Arboretum and up to Forest Falls, more of our green country tour. This time was for desert. We stopped at Hadley’s and bought dates and nuts. Then up to Palm Springs and the Desert Museum. It is quite an incredible place. One portion has dioramas of stuffed animals in desert scenes, with lizards, snakes, squirrels, coyotes, bighorns, etc. They have some dinosaur bones and live reptiles and frogs, including a live rattlesnake that rattled continuously at us. They had some beautiful artwork, including some Remingtons and other famous artists.

We then drove through Palm Springs to McDonalds for lunch, then off to Palm Desert, to the Living Desert Museum. We were fortunate to see a presentation on birds in the Hoover Education Center. We had sparrow hawk and crow fly over our heads in the room and the kids got a close look at a redtail hawk. In another part of the building the kids did crayon rubbings of various animal plates and a woman let a large tarantula walk on her hand. They had a new Sonora Desert section structured after the area near the Ajo Mountains in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It was fun, as we had just been in the Ajo Mountains a couple of weeks earlier.

(MAY 1990)

The Renaissance Pleasure Faire is put on for about six weekends by the Living History Center in Devore, at the mouth of Cajon Canyon. Judy, Rachael and I attended on a very warm day. The real fun of the place is seeing the incredible costumes (England as it was in about 1680), the people speaking in old English (at times pretty bawdily) and the wonderful food. We had quail (very good), artichokes with mayonnaise and butter, venison sausage sandwich with onions and peppers, strawberry ice, peanut butter cup, buns (sweet rolls), several sausages, a Turkish sandwich made with lamb and peppers, corn on the cob and more that I can’t think of now. We enjoyed two knights on horses jousting with their long lances, men with powder muskets shooting out across a large pond and Scottish bagpipers.


Our first family scrapbook covered one year, including three separate trips into Arizona, starting with our trip to Arizona and New Mexico in April 1989, then included our trip to Southern Arizona in July 1989, and our trip to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in April 1990. A review of our year indicates quite a foray into the area around us as well as beyond. Travel within California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Mexico (Baja and Sonora). Hopefully, all our horizons were expanded. We know the ancient Indians better, more about the dinosaur and the desert, and have probably seen more of the State of Arizona than most Arizonans have (that knowledge was increased further at the beginning of our next trip in another album, which started in Arizona). We visited several caves (Timpanogas, Crystal, Lehman and Colossal), zoos (San Diego, Phoenix, Sonora Desert, Rio Grande, Grand Canyon Deer Park) and otherwise had a great time.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Family Vacations (July to December 1989): California, Nevada and Utah

(JULY 22, 1989)

Mom Kenison visited and we took her to the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum in Arcadia. The weather was warm, but we enjoyed it immensely. We found beautiful orchids growing in a rain forest exhibit and Rachael and Sam both enjoyed feeding peacocks by hand that roamed the grounds. I particularly enjoyed a pond that had turtles in it, moss hanging from their backs. We threw bread into the pond to coax the turtles near us, but large catfish came up and snared the bread. I believe these are the first wild turtles I’ve ever seen. We spent time by a beautiful waterfall with koi swimming in the pool at the base and looked at a carriage house and beautiful house where the previous owners lived. The Santa Anita Racetrack is nearby, started by the individuals whose grounds these once were.

We left the Arboretum  and ate at the Sizzler nearby. We decided not to go to the Norton Simon Museum, the kids were too tired. Instead, we drove to the water fall in Forest Falls. Mom,  Judy, Rachael and Sam decided to cool off by wading in the stream. Andrew and I got wet involuntarily by a group of touring Japanese who started a water fight nearby.

(AUGUST 5, 1989)

We visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History in Exposition Park, across the street from the University of Southern California and right next to Memorial Coliseum where the Los Angeles Raiders and USC play (and where the Los Angeles Olympics were staged). We enjoyed the dinosaur bones and stuffed animal exhibits. We saw a mega-mouth shark, caught off of Catalina Island, only one of two ever caught (the other was caught off the coast of Hawaii). The museum had a triceratops skull, a stegosaurus (from Utah), a tyrannosaurus rex skull, a plesiosaurus, and others. The Discovery Room had a whale skeleton hanging overhead, animal skins and a stuffed polar bear (Andrew’s favorite), tiger, etc.

After the museum, we went to Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles, a tiled street with Mexican shops and restaurants. We ate tostadas, rice and beans at a restaurant, and bought a mango from a vendor. Olvera Street has the first pueblo or house built in Los Angeles.

(AUGUST 26, 1989)

The La Brea Tar Pits are right off Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Natural gas bubbles to the surface and black tar collects in pools on the surface. A life size replica of a mastadon is on one side of the pit and a replica of a woolly mammoth, trapped in the pit, is on the other. Another mammoth and young mammoth watch from the bank. Inside the George C. Page Museum are the skeletons of a giant sloth, lions (the beast that was more feared than the saber-toothed cat), giant buffalo, mammoth,  saber-toothed cat, etc. Also wolves, eagles, condors and other birds of prey. Over 400 wolf skeletons were found in the pit and the majority of the animals found were predators, apparently caught themselves while feeding on animals caught in the tar pits. The skeletons are a brown color, the result of staining by the asphalt in the pit. A mammoth skeleton inside was the replica for the mammoth models outside in the tar pits. The bones bring the reality of the animals home. This is a wonderful place to come and learn about the past. The remains of only one human, a woman, have been found. She lived about 9,000 years ago and was 4 feet 10 inches, and between the ages of 20 and 25. Other areas outside the museum and away from the pit still have tar bubbling out of the ground. We all loved it. There is also a connecting atrium with beautiful greenery.

We visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (next door), which Andrew cut short with his screaming, and Farmer’s Market which is blocks away. The food at the market looked wonderful, but too expensive for us on this day. So we drove to Chinatown, near downtown Los Angeles and Olvera Street. It is amazing that Olvera Street is predominantly Mexican, very few whites. Just a few blocks away in Chinatown, it is predominantly Chinese: Chinese newspapers, signs, food, etc.

(SEPTEMBER 2, 1989)

Judy and Rachael elected to stay in Bakersfield with the Jackmans while Sam and I and Denise and Tommy Jackman elected to drive north to Sequoia National Park. We first took the one-half mile walk to Crystal Cave, down a beautiful mountain trail. The cave is nine miles off the main highway down a narrow, winding road, which takes about 40 minutes to drive. The cave was discovered in 1920 by two park employees, about 30 years after the park was established. The cave is in limestone and marble, near a beautiful meandering stream. The cave maintains a constant 48.6 degree temperature year round. Sam was wearing his Wisconsin t-shirt and shorts and got quite cold inside. The inner workings aren’t as spectacular as Colossal Cave, but it is a clean, wet, slimy, living cave, like Timpanogas Cave.

Near Moro Rock was one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen. Large sequoia trees had sunlight filtering through to the forest floor. Leafy green ferns were at the bottom of many trees and many trees had green moss clinging to their sides. In the distance was the blue light where the mountain dropped off and distant mountains of the Sierras in the background. So many shades of green. It was other worldly, almost first visionish. We climbed to the top of Moro Rock. Metal banisters or rocks line the path. The walk up is breathtaking. On the south side is the narrow, winding road up from the bottom of the park. On the north is a mountain range which shields Mount Whitney, the continental U.S. highest mountain, from view.

We visited the General Sherman Tree, the largest living thing on earth. It is 275 feet tall, has a 103 foot circumference, is 2,500 years old and weighs 1,385 tons. From a distance it isn’t so spectacular, but up close, the tremendous width and height is awe-inspiring. We walked a portion of the Congress Trail. I was impressed by the number of trees with black fire burn marks. The bark has less sap in it so that it won’t burn as well. The fire kills the parasites and insects that inhabit the trees and clears out other competing trees. We enjoyed a sawed-off cross section of a sequoia tree that was three or four times the height of a man. The size is staggering.

(DECEMBER 2, 1989)
The Redlands IV Ward Young Men and Young Women took a trip to Las Vegas to see the new temple. Rachael accompanied me, along with Robby Pister, Lars Sveen, and Scott Abbott. Nearly 30,000 people joined us today in the temple tour. We also drove by the fabulous Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, with its beautiful waterfalls.

(DECEMBER 22, 1989 TO JANUARY 1, 1990)

We did not keep a journal of this trip, only snippets were written down.
We have a picture of Andrew touching a pet garter snake of Uncle Matthew. He showed no fear at all.

Sam, Andrew and I visited the Bean Museum at BYU while Judy, Rachael and Grandma Kenison went to the Nutcracker (no contest between which place we’d have rather been). We saw a python devouring a rat, the rear end and tail hanging out of the snake’s mouth. We enjoyed stuffed animals, including a standing polar bear and tiger.

We visited the Utah Museum of Natural History on the University of Utah campus with Dave and Bonnie Kenison, who were also visiting from Colorado. Sam, Andrew and Sarah loved a dinosaur fountain, the water coming out of the jaws of the mouth. Exhibits included skeletons of a stegosaurus and a couple of allosaurus.

On December 29th (as indicated on our fishing license), Rachael and I went ice fishing with Paul Stringham, his sons, Jack and Tom, his brother, John Stringham, and his sons. We went to Causey Reservoir, east of Ogden, Utah. We drove through Huntsville, Utah, where President David O’McKay grew up, a beautiful area. To be able to fish, a hole is drilled through the ice on the lake with an ice auger. The line of the fishing pole is then dropped to the bottom of the lake. It is a rather boring and very cold enterprise. Unlike regular fishing where you are casting and re-casting, with ice fishing you wait with your line staying static. A bald eagle watched us from above the cliffs where we ice fished and they usually see a moose each year when they go up (but not, unfortunately, this year). Rachael got playing around and accidentally put her foot through a hole in the ice. That provided some impetus for us to leave, none too soon. I caught two of the three fish we caught that day, a cutthroat and two rainbow trout, so the Stringhams let us take the fish home to Grandmother Cannon’s home where we had them for breakfast the next morning.

We attended Tutu’s Christmas party and the children each got a gift from Santa Claus, who attended.

We went with Uncle Matt, and some of the Sines (Taylor and Ben) to Tracey Aviary in Liberty Park. Much of the Aviary has changed since we left Salt Lake 6 ½ years ago, including a new bald eagle and snowy owl exhibits.

On the drive back to California, we detoured through Delta, Utah, over to the newly established Great Basin National Park near Ely, Nevada, established in 1986. First we went to Lehman Cave, the best cave we have been in so far (better than Timpanogas, Colossal or Crystal Caves) with wonderful, very intricate, formations, types not seen anywhere else. The temperature inside the cave is about 50 degrees and the tour takes about 1 ½ hours. After going through the cave, we drove several miles p the Wheeler Peak road. We spotted about eight deer on the side of the road. The contrast between the Utah west desert we had just driven through and the mountain range with 13,000 foot Wheeler Peak, was incredible. Wheeler Peak is spectacular, the beauty is a rugged deserty beauty that I really enjoy.

We drove from Great Basin National Park to Ely and then in a straight run at night to Tonopah in eastern Nevada (where I got a speeding ticket on New Year’s Eve going 75 in a 55 mph zone). We spent the night in Tonopah. In the morning, we ate breakfast at a casino in Tonopah and drove toward Death Valley. As we left Tonopah, we had a beautiful view in the distance of several sets of mountain ranges, the closest being barren desert mountains, with more distant sets being snow capped, a beautiful contrast.

From Hwy 95 at Scotty’s Junction, we went toward Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley National Monument. The entrance to the Monument was interesting with a narrow winding road through barren mountains. Scotty’s Castle was built as a vacation home by a wealthy Chicagoan. It is near a spring that puts out 200 gallons of water a minute. We took the tour of the home, but had a miserable experience. Andrew was howling, so Judy or I needed to stay at the back of the tour bouncing him around. Then, in the kitchen, Sam fell over and hit his head on a cabinet and started to howl. The National Park Service employee rudely asked us to leave the tour. Embarrassed, I took Sam and Andrew and made my way through about 20 people as the guide led us out. Judy and Rachael were able to finish the tour of the house.  Sam, Andrew and I walked around the grounds while the remainder of the tour went on. We could see Scotty’s grave up on a hill, but didn’t have time to hike up to it.

From Scotty’s Castle we drove 8 miles to Ubehebe Crater. The crater was formed by a volcanic explosion and is 500 feet deep and one-half mile across. . It would have been fun to hike in, but it was cold and windy. It was much more spectacular than our pictures indicate. We picked the right time to visit Death Valley as January is the coolest month of the year with an average high temperature of 64.6 degrees. By contrast, July, the hottest month, averages 116.2 degrees and has a record high of 134 degrees, the hottest in the United States.

The best part of Death Valley was the sand dunes near the intersection of Hwys 374 and 190. We took off our shoes and spent some time wading through the dunes with our bare feet. The temperature was a beautiful 70 degrees or so, and the top layer of sand warm, but the bottom layer had a cool feel. It was wonderful to sink our feet into the sand and feel the contrast. The kids loved running up and down the dunes.

We went to the visitors center in Furnace Creek and went through it. There are palm trees in Furnace Creek, one of the few places with any vegetation. We found prices there incredibly high and ended up eating burritos out of the General Store. Borax resembles quartz crystals and originated in hot mineral springs or in the fuming vapors of volcanic eruptions. Borates were deposited in the remains of old lake beds and eventually moved by groundwater to the floor of Death Valley, where evaporation left a mixture of salt, borates and alkalis. Borax is used in glass, porcelain, enamel, soap and detergents, fertilizers, cosmetics, building materials, fire retardants and shields for nuclear reactors. The largest use is in fiberglass production, such as in boat hulls, auto bodies and airplane sections. 20 mule teams used to take the borax out of Death Valley.

At Devil’s Golf Course, a 30 foot lake existed 2,000 years ago. Salt precipitated from its drying waters and formed a salt layer three to five feet thick. Below that is 1,000 feet of alternating layers of salt and deposits from other lakes. Lake Manly used to be more than 100 miles long and 600 feet deep. The salt pinnacles are caused where the rain dissolves the salt and carves sharp edges and points. The pinnacles grow as a salt solution comes up from the water table. The water evaporates and the salt crystallizes.

At Badwater, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, 282 feet below sea level, a spring forms a pool along a fault that parallels the valley. The pool never gets completely dry, even in the summer. It may also be the hottest place in the world. For several years the temperature was taken at Badwater and the temperatures ran a few degrees hotter than at Furnace Creek. At Furnace Creek the temperature was 134 degrees and the world record is 136 degrees. Death Valley ranges from four miles to sixteen miles in width and is 120 miles long. Elevation ranges from –282 feet at Badwater to 11,049 feet at Telescope Peak, one of the greatest contrasts in height in the country. Mount Whitney, over 14,000 feet and the highest point in the continental U.S., is only a few hundred miles away. Temperatures at ground level in the sun have been recorded as high as 190 degrees and the average rainfall is 1 ½ inches. A lake 12 feet deep would evaporate in one year. A person can perspire as much as three quarts of water in an hour. Man should drink at least one quart of water an hour when exposed to the hot sun. At Badwater we hiked on the salty floor of the valley. It was just like hiking through slushy snow. We understand that the Europeans are very enamored by Death Valley and go there by the droves in the summer.

We left Badwater as the sun was going down and it was completely dark by the time we left the monument. We drove down Hwy 127 through Shoshone to Baker and home on I-15 which was very crowded with end of holiday traffic. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Family Vacation (July 1989): Southern Arizona

We had tried the desert in April and it was wonderful. How about the middle of summer? We hit a record breaking heat wave. Wow, what a difference!

July 1, 1989 (Saturday):                   (Phoenix, Tucson, Willcox)

I went to bed at 11:30 p.m. and was woken up by Sam crying at 1:45 a.m. I wasn’t able to go back to sleep for 15 minutes and then got up with my alarm at 2:00 a.m. We were on the road by 3:00 a.m. We got gas in Blythe, then headed for Phoenix and were within the city limits by about 7:10 a.m. We believed we were early to visit the Phoenix Zoo, so we traveled to Mesa to see the Mesa Temple. I was surprised to see how large Mesa was – 9 freeway exits. We got out of the car about 8:00 a.m. at the temple and were hit with the heat. It must have been 90 or 95 degrees. We knew then we were in for a long day. Because of the heat, we just stayed a few minutes, took a picture of Rachael and Sam in front of the temple and left.

We got to the Phoenix Zoo about 8:15 after driving through the Arizona State University campus. It is a beautiful campus. The football stadium is now home to the Arizona Cardinals. Near campus are beautiful shops with fun architecture. Arizona State looks like a fun place to go to school.

The entrance to the zoo goes over a large pond with ducks, fish and turtles. I was surprised to see a large turtle swimming through the pond. It turns out the zoo is on the site of the old Arizona fish hatchery and it has very large ponds all through it that were once part of the hatchery. I was extremely impressed with the Arizona section of the zoo. They had jackrabbits and quail in one exhibit that you could almost reach out and touch. Then lizards, toads, snakes and salamanders – it was fun to see the variety in the state. It also had natural exhibits for coyotes, peccaries (which we couldn’t see), pronghorns, bobcat, mountain lions, turkey vulture, red tail hawks, bald eagles, etc. We took a “train” ride (small open sided bus) through the zoo for about a half hour. It was so hot that it did cut down on the enjoyment a bit. We would have never seen the entire zoo if we had walked. The bighorn sheep exhibit is similar to the one at Living Desert, just a fence around a big rock mountain. We didn’t get close enough on the bus to see any bighorns. We did go by a wonderful swampy alligator exhibit, but also didn’t see any alligators. We did see some three or four foot iguanas running in an exhibit and took a quick look through the children’s zoo  which was large and nice, but spread out. Rachael liked the zebras and the zebras liked the zoo. Phoenix out-Africa’d Africa with the heat. The best part there were the raccoons which came towards us as though to beg. If opening up my own North American Zoo (which I have fantasized about on occasion), the Arizona exhibit is one part I would take in its entirety.

We drove another hour to Casa Grande National Monument. The ranger said it was 108 degrees, later to be 115 degrees, but it felt 115 degrees then. Casa Grande was a large Indian fortress with one big three story building (the equivalent of a four story building) covered with a canopy to protect it from further rain damage. The canopy was erected in 1932. The ruins are impressive, very eroded, but not worthy of spending a great deal of time at. The Hohokam Indians built this walled village in the Gila Valley between 1200 and 1450 A.D. Casa Grande was built in the 1300s. It was abandoned about 1450. The village had a seven foot wall that surrounded it. The structure was reinforced in 1891.

We then drove another 70 minutes to Tucson to the Pima Air Museum. There are a number of planes inside a hanger (including a Wright Brothers replica plane and X-15 replica plane). Outside are large planes on a lot. The engines have been removed and are covered, but the size and variety are impressive. My favorite was the B-17 bomber from World War II which was in its own hanger. Sam bought a small airplane and Rachael a kaleidoscope and postcard at the gift shop.

We drove to Saguaro National Monument. We saw part of the film in the visitors center and learned that the cactus arms don’t start growing out until the cactus is 75 years old. There was an 11 year old saguaro cactus in the visitors center that was only about eight inches tall. The Rincon Mountain unit has the oldest cactus, but apparently is less dense than the other part of the monument west of town. We drove an eight mile drive and saw some beautiful country with cactus.

We drove to Collosal Cave about 11miles further south. The cave is privately run, but is apparently leased from the Department of the Interior. CCC workers (Civilian Conservation Corps) layed the tiles and handrails in the cave. The cave has not been completely explored. They have gone in six miles. There are wonderful stories about outlaws who evaded the marshall through the cave and who eventually went to Willcox, our evening stop. The cave has stalactites and stalagmites, but they are covered with dirt and are not the pretty glossy kind like in Timpanogas. It is spectacular although the tour is slow. Judy had to take Andrew out (and nearly got lost in the process) because he was having a fit. The cave was 72 degrees inside, a nice change from the weather outside.

We drove to Willcox and stayed at the Motel Six for $30.05. We ate dinner at McDonalds for $13.50. The kids were beside themselves and exhausted.

July 2, 1989 (Sunday):          (Chiricahua National Monument, Douglas, Bisbee, Sierra Vista, Tombstone, Fort Huachuca)    

We left Willcox about 8:00 a.m. for Fort Bowie State Historical Site, about six miles down a dirt road. The hike was a long 1 ½ miles in so we found an overlook, but still could not see the old fort. It was the main fortress from 1862 into the 1880s in the Apache Indian wars against Cochise and Geronimo.

We drove to Chiricahua National Monument which was originally homesteaded by a cavalry veteran of the Indian wars. He settled at Faraway Ranch at the mouth of the canyon and then lobbied to have it made a national monument in 1924. We stopped to take a tour at Faraway Ranch but Andrew was not cooperating, so we left. The mountain has beautiful rock spires similar to Bryce and covered with lichen. We started to take a hike at Massai Point, the end of the eight mile road to the top of a mountain with a beautiful view, but Sam wasn’t cooperating, so we did not take the nature trail. The heat was making everyone very grumpy. The weather was a little cooler, only about 100 degrees. Massaiwas a warrior who eluded encroaching cavalry and disappeared into thin air at this point.

We drove to Douglas, right on the border of Mexico and briefly into Agua Prieta, Mexico. We were looking for a place to eat, but everything was dirty and uninviting.

We drove to Bisbee, an old copper mine run by the Phelps Dodge Corporation. The road actually follows one of the levels inside the pit and you see the multicolored tiers which are spectacular. The town is built on the mountain and has much the same feel as Jerome, but much larger. We tried to find a place to eat, the Chinese food restaurant we went into had prices that were too high for us, so we packed it in and left for Sierra Vista where we ate at Taco Bell. We were going to go to church with my sister Merilee and her family (Glorn is in the military and stationed at Fort Huachuca), but we were smelly and the kids were a wreck, so rather than catch Sacrament Meeting, we went to Tombstone. We walked up both sides of the main ghost town street, but did not pay to go in the O.K. Corral or Crystal Palace, etc. It is very commercialized much like Sedona, but on a more rustic scale. We did have frozen yogurt.

We met Merilee and Glorn at the church in Sierra Vista as it let out and went with them to Fort Huachuca, which is right next to Sierra Vista. We stayed up until midnight playing Boggle and watching the Terminator.

July 3, 1989 (Monday):         (Mount Huachuca, Nogales)

Andrew had a rough night and was pooped. The kids woke up at 5:30 or 5:45. Glorn and I drove up Garden Canyon  (?) and hiked up in the mountains (I believe up to the side of Mount Huachuca), leaving around 8:00 a.m. The trail followed a dry creek bed up the middle between two mountains. We probably hiked 2 to 2 ½ miles up the mountain, then left the trail and hiked directly up the side of one mountain. Glorn and I caught two spiny type lizards about five inches long on the way back and then heard a buzzing noise which at first I thought was a cricket or cicada. Then on the trail in the rocks I saw a small black rattlesnake slithering into a hole in the rocks. We tried to stop it with sticks but the sticks broke. We finally had to spend a half hour digging out the rocks to move the rock the snake was under. Glorn got the rock moved and the rattlesnake was underneath. It was about 1 ½ feet long with a red tail. Glorn pinned its head which I then smashed with a rock. We got its head off and started down the trail with it. Unfortunately we encountered a pair of hikers coming up the trail. The woman saw the snake, asked to look at it and then started to swear a blue streak at us. We were so stunned we let her jump all over us and she took the snake with her. The lizards got loose in the car and when we got back to Fort Huachuca, Taylor, Rachael and Sam and I went out to the car to catch them.

In the afternoon, we got a babysitter for Andrew and Ben and drove to Nogales  and Mexico. The area into Nogales is much greener than the surrounding country. We were impressed with the cleanliness of both the U.S. and Mexico side, much so more than San Ysidro and Tijuana. We parked on the U.S. side a couple of blocks from the border and walked across, going in a few blocks and up and down another three or four blocks. Merilee bought a dress, Rachael a female puppet ($3.00), we got some Popsicles and soda pop and shopped. Many items were similar to Tijuana, but many were different, including lots of ironwood sculptures.         

We stayed the night, again, at Merilee and Glorn’s. We bought two medium pizzas at Little Ceasar’s for dinner and watched “A Fish Called Wanda” with Mel and Glorn that was funny in parts, but with foul language.

We learned the next morning that former President Reagan spent part of the day at the Army hospital at Fort Huachuca after he was thrown from a horse while at the ranch of a friend.

July 4, 1989 (Tuesday):        (Tucson, Ajo)

We got a fairly late start for Tucson (nearly 10:00 a.m.) and went to the Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum. The heat was already pretty stifling (we learned that night that Phoenix set an all-time high of 118 degrees and Tucson was around 113 degrees, Bullhead City got up to 120 degrees). The front exhibit was great with large chuckwallas, desert iguanas and collared lizards among large rocks surrounded by a high wall (better even than the Living Desert exhibit in Palm Desert). There was a cave (I’m not sure if any of it was natural, or all man-made). We were impressed with a saber-toothed cat skull and Sam was impressed with a volcano movie showing flowing lava. A man there got a kick out of Sam’s excitement. Other outdoor exhibits included mountain lions, deer, bears, javelina, coati mundis, bobcats, ocelots, margays, jaguarondis, desert tortoises, otters, beaver, birds of prey, an aviary, etc. Particularly impressive were the small cat exhibits where the cats were in enclosures which could be viewed from above and from various points at the side, including through the dens. Snakes, lizards, etc. were inside and was disappointed with the small number exhibited. The Arizona section of the Phoenix Zoo was much better.

We ate lunch under a covered area in Tucson Mountain State Park and went to the parking lot of Old Tucson. Between the heat and the $28.00 it would have taken us to get in, we decided to head for home rather than stay in Tucson. We said goodbye to Merilee and Taylor (Glorn stayed home with Ben). We drove past the Kitt Peak Observatory (the largest solar telescope in the world). We realized we would not be in time to see Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument before it closed which disappointed me. However, as we drove through Ajo, just 10 miles north of the junction to Organ Pipe, Judy consented to staying the night.

Ajo was a copper mining town, until the Phelps Dodge mine closed eight years ago. Large slag heaps around the town are visible for miles. We ate a very good meal in town that evening at Dago Joe’s and learned of the Supreme Court decision cutting back on Roe v. Wade allowing states to limit abortions in state run hospitals. We drove up to the rim of the copper pit and looked inside. It was a round pit, like the pictures I’ve seen of Kennecott, with a small lake in the middle at the bottom. Old tractors are still on the tiered ledges in the pit and the large white factory lies vacant at the edge. Near 8:00, we went to the slag heap above the town Moose Lodge to watch fireworks. What appeared to be nearly the whole town showed up with lawn chairs propped up in the back of pick-up trucks to watch. The fireworks were long and impressive for a small town. Many honked their car horns at particularly spectacular fireworks. Andrew was frightened by them and Sam needed to be reassured a little bit.

July 5, 1989 (Wednesday):               (Ajo, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Quartzite)

Shortly before 8:00 we drove south to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The visitor center lies about 28 miles inside the monument. Andrew was asleep, so we kept the car running while I went into the visitors center and got a map, then we drove the 21 mile long Ajo Mountain loop, a dirt road. The ranger said it would take two hours, but I really pushed it and did it in 40 minutes, over very bumpy and rocky roads. I think some of the scenery was the prettiest we’ve seen in Arizona, particularly right up against the mountain, with the saguaro cactus and canyons all arrayed. 

On the way out of the monument we ran over a snake crossing the road. We drove up through Gila Bend, up to I-10 and over to Quartzite where we got gas and ate at McDonalds. Judy drove the remainder of the way to Redlands.

The heat really took a lot of the enjoyment out of the trip as well as Andrew’s temperament which was very demanding. I’m sure the heat contributed to the kids hard times. But we still had fun and it was worth while going.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Family Vacations (April to June 1989): Southern California

(APRIL 28 TO 29, 1989)

I took Sam to the Fathers and Sons outing to Lake Silverwood up in the San Bernardino National Forest. The hike from our camp to the lake (about 1 ½ miles) was beautiful, with a meandering spring, wild ducks, ferns, beautiful and varied trees. We became good friends with the Allens, particularly Cale and Lander. At night the ward youth caught lots of frogs. We caught one and we really heard them chirping.

(MAY 6, 1989)

I took Sam and Joel Sheffer out to the Desert Tortoise Refuge near California City (above Edwards Air Force Base). It got hot real early and the boys could only stand about 1 ½ hours walking out on the refuge (about 30 square miles of fenced land). We didn’t see any turtles (we did see several holes where they had burrowed). I understand it has been a dry year, but we saw lots of lizards, including zebra tailed lizards, whiptails and desert iguanas.

We then went to Red Rock Canyon State Park and did some climbing in the weird rock formations, in short bursts, as it was so hot. At the Ranger Station, Sam and Joel held a freeze dried Mojave green rattlesnake.

Later, we stopped at Mormon Rocks in Cajon Pass after coming down from a detour through Wrightwood. We caught a couple of lizards to add to the lizard we caught at Lake Silverwood, and had a nice aquarium with dirt and lizards, kept alive by crickets purchased from the local pet store.
(MAY 20, 1989)

Sam and I went off by ourselves to Joshua Tree. We entered in at the west entrance. First we stopped near a rock where climbers were climbing using ropes and pitons. Then we went across the street to another group of rocks and hiked around them and sometimes on them. Sam had a hard time negotiating the rocks. We saw a rabbit and some lizards. Sam was wearing shorts which was not a good idea because the sharp leaves of bushes and twigs would scrape his legs.

We hiked to Barker Dam, built to hold water for cattle around the turn of the century, now an oasis for wildlife, including bighorn sheep. People are not permitted after certain hours, to make the water available to the animals. The dam covers six acres and holds 20 acre feet of water. It has goldfish in it. We liked the manzanita trees with rubbery looking red skins that look like they were formed out of a plastic mold.

We went to Keys View where we could see Palm Springs (although much obscured by smog) and could have seen the Salton Sea but for the smog. We then went out the 29 Palms exit and stopped at the visitors center.

(MAY 29, 1989)

Just one week after Sam and I went, the whole family went to Joshua Tree. We left home at 7:15 a.m. and were in Joshua Tree by 8:20 a.m. (the west entrance out of Joshua Tree). Shortly into the monument we saw a large animal in the road. As we passed a large turkey vulture flew off the road, it was eating carrion (a dead rabbit). We stopped a short ways down the road and the vulture circled and landed back down on the road. They are large black birds with white tipped wings and red heads.

Shortly after, we saw a car stopped on the road and a coyote near it. We pulled up and the coyote was in the brush near the road. I’ve never seen a wild coyote. At risk of scaring it, we threw out part of a half eaten jam sandwich. The coyote jumped out of the brush, snatched it from the side of the road and jumped back. We threw out more bits of sandwich and then part of an Entemanns raspberry coffee cake to get better looks at the coyote. We got four or five good snapshots. Several times it circled our car and when we started to go, it ran along side the car following us. It was rather small, we guess a year old. We decided to name it “Joshua” for obvious reasons.

We drove to Hidden Valley which used to be a cattle rustler hideout. It has a one mile circular trail that goes through boulders and desert terrain. There are information signs with information about various plants such as yucca and California juniper. The rock formations are varied and would be fun to climb over and explore. Near a bridge we found some small rock caves. We ate lunch in one, it was nice and cool, and had wonderful smoked chicken and potato salad. Andrew kept wanting to explore and would invariably topple over on the uneven ground. Rachael and Sam tried to catch a number of lizards and found them too elusive.

We went to Barker Dam and hiked over to the actual cement dam. It is one of the few sources of water in the whole monument. It has numerous goldfish which I assume help keep the moss and algae down.

Judy’s thigh is sore and she had some difficulty and discomfort getting around. Andrew was very pleasant and enjoyed the hikes. Sam got a little cranky wanting water on our Hidden Valley hike (we need to remember to take a canteen for him on desert hikes).

(JUNE 1989)

In early June, 1989, we decided to drive the loop on the backside of the San Gabriel Mountains. We drove up through Wrightwood, walked a small nature trail at the ranger station there and then drove Hwy 2 around through to Pasadena. Los Angeles was in clouds and drizzle, while we were in beautiful sunshine. As we looked down, all we could see was a white cloud bank, all over the Los Angeles Basin. We stopped at another ranger station and walked another nature trail.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Our First Family Vacation (April 1989): Northern Arizona and New Mexico

April 8, 1989 (Saturday):     (Corn Springs, Quartzite, Oak Creek Canyon)

Our first family trip (not associated with visiting family) where we actually stayed in motels. Rachael is 8, Sam is 4 and Andrew is 1. Rachael and Sam each gave a brief description of the trip (Sam’s as dictated to me), portions of which are incorporated.

We left home at 9:55 a.m. We drove down Hwy 10 past Desert Center, then took a dirt road eight miles to Corn Springs, 132 miles from Redlands, about 30 miles from Blythe. It was HOT, about 100 degrees. Corn Springs is an oasis with palm trees surrounded by stark, barren mountains (the Chuckwalla Mountains). The “Mayor of Corn Springs,” Gus Lederer, lived there raising 18 burros from 1915 to 1932. Gus died in 1932 from a bite on his spine by a black widow spider. We ate sandwiches on a rock near some wonderful Indian petroglyphs.

We stopped in Blythe, California, at 1:40 and purchased gas for $1.29/gallon (very high). We stopped in Quartzite, Arizona, at 2:15. At the Rock Shop, Sam bought an arrowhead for $.50 and Rachael bought an arrowhead for $.50 and a small piece of turquoise for $.50, using their own money. Some dogs were in the shop and Andrew “bow-wowed” at them. One was an old, very thin, whippet.

Just past Quartzite, we took Hwy 60, then Hwy 71, then Hwy 89. About seven miles before Prescott, we stopped because Andrew’s diaper smelled yukky. We had to use a ½ box of wipes on him and his car seat.  On to Sedona. We stopped for gas, then drove to Don Hoel’s Cabins, ten miles north of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon. Beverly Doll, my paralegal, recommended them. The smaller cabins were full, and it was late, 7:00 p.m., so we paid $62.80 for a larger cabin, double what we wanted to pay. Our cabin has two bedrooms (three double beds) and a kitchen (with a stove, refrigerator and plates). I drove back to Sedona for ½ gallon of milk and pork chops. We didn’t have salt and the pork chops were not a great hit, so we all had peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Rachael and Sam each had their own beds in one room and Judy and I had Andrew in our room. Andrew woke up at 3:00 a.m. howling. We had to change him and give him a bottle. We got little sleep the rest of the night.

April 9, 1989 (Sunday):        (Slide Rock State Park, Tuzigoot National Monument, Jerome, Sedona, Flagstaff)

Sam and I took a hike up the side of the mountain Sunday morning, starting about 7:45 a.m. It was steep with lots of loose pine needles and loose dirt. Sam could not stand up, so I held his hand and dragged, and carried him up the mountain. We got ½ to ¾ of the way up before heading back. We had a beautiful view of the rocky canyon on the other side. We were gone an hour, then Judy and Rachael went on a hike for a ½ hour to 45 minutes. Sam said, “I liked the cabin hike. I liked going up, I didn’t like going down where the spikes were [yucca leaves].” We would like to have spent more time at the cabin. The kids enjoyed the playground this morning, including some swings.

We stopped at Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon. Beautiful red sandstone plateaus lead down to rock shelves and a slowly moving stream. People were sun bathing or swimming in beautiful shallow pools. One boy was trying to hook a trout swimming in a foot of water. We stopped and saw two life-sized sand sculptures of Jesus in Gethsemane and the Last Supper (which had been vandalized – Jesus’ head had been knocked off). We got out of the car at Midgely Bridge in Oak Creek Canyon, which covers a tremendously deep canyon. We hiked down off the side of the road to get a better look at the canyon.

We drove to Tuzigoot National Monument near Jerome. Tuzigoot was built by the Sinagua Indians which we learned a lot about on our trip. The ruins are made of limestone. The stone doesn’t weather well and the government has had to restore it fairly frequently. The ruins are on top of a hill surrounded by a beautiful green valley, marred on one side by smelted ore refuse. We loved a sign which said, “Please stay on the trail” and had a picture of a rattlesnake next to it. The weather was still hot, a predicted high of 95 degrees (and it felt at least that).

We drove to Jerome, a former mining town, “A City on a Hill,” now an artists colony. Lots of vacant buildings exist, but many are being restored. We ate our usual food, homemade sandwiches out of our cooler, hard boiled eggs and fruit, in a small terraced park in town. Andrew destroyed another diaper and smelled up his pants.

We drove back to Sedona and went through Tlaquepaque Shopping Center. It had very expensive art galleries and jewelry stores. It was modeled like a Mexican villa. We drove to Flagstaff and stayed at the Red Roof Inn Motel for a more reasonable $31.47. We stopped at Smith’s Food King for fruit, baby food, cereal and yogurt.

April 10, 1989 (Monday):     (Sunset Crater National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations, Gallup)

We bought gas in Flagstaff for $1.15/gallon and stopped at Smith’s Food King for crackers, bread, granola bars, fruit roll-ups, ice, milk and bologna.    

We visited Sunset Crater National Monument. Sunset Crater is an inactive volcano that last erupted in 1180 A.D. There are hundreds of acres of lava beds. This was one of Sam’s favorite spots. Sam is in to volcanoes and was especially thrilled by it all. We took a mile long nature trail up through the lava beds. Sam was our leader. We got a picture of Judy and the three kids standing on the edge of acres of lava flow, with fine ground lava at the edge and 12,683 foot Humphrey’s Peak, the tallest mountain in Arizona, in the background (we climbed Humphrey’s Peak as a family about 10 years later). Sam said, “We went to the volcano place with the lava. We stayed on the lava trail and saw all of the lava on the volcano. We went close to the volcano.”

We then visited Wupatki National Monument which was connected to Sunset Crater by a loop road. Wupatki was also built by the Sinagua Indians. Surprisingly, the Indians were attracted to the area after the eruption of Sunset Crater. The rich soil made it good for farming. A circular area was used by the Indians to play a game similar to handball. There was also an amphitheater. Sam and I spotted a large spiny lizard which we chased into a bush, and as Judy puts it, “terrorized” it for about 5 minutes. Wupatki was occupied from about 1120 to1210 A.D. There were other ruins which we saw from the road, Wukoki, Citadel, Nalakihu and Lomaki, but we only stopped at Wupatki. We had originally planned to see the grandfalls on the Little Colorado River, which are on the boundary of Wupatki National Monument and the Navajo Indian Reservation. However, the ranger said that it was a dry year and the water was little more than a trickle.

We traveled up Hwy 89 toward Grand Canyon and then turned east on Hwy 264 over the Hopi and Navajo Indian Reservations. We got a beautiful view of the Painted Desert after turning off Hwy 89. It was beautiful pinks, reds and purples. The roads were rough and not kept as well as state or federal maintained roads. We stopped in Second Mesa at the Hopi Cultural Center where we saw some beautiful kachina dolls. We also sampled blue corn bread and a blue, pastry-like roll with a corn tortilla flavor. We bought one roll for $1.00 for Rachael to take to school and share with her second grade class. It is called Piki bread and is made of blue corn and chamisa ash (a sagebrush type plant). Rachael wrote, “We bot some piki bread from an Indian store. We bought some fry bread too it had eyes nose and a mouth.”

We purchased gas in Chinle, right outside Canyon De Chelly. We couldn’t get into Canyon De Chelly because it closed at 5:00 p.m. We got there at 4:00 p.m., Arizona time, but the Reservation goes on daylight savings time while the rest of Arizona does not. We drove to Ganado and also were unable to go to the Hubbell Trading Post because it was closed.

We continued on to Gallup, New Mexico, where we checked out several seedy motels. Luckily, we found a very nice one for less than any of the icky ones we looked at. It was the Country Pride Motel, for $27.63. I went to Kentucky Fried Chicken and purchased chicken for $13.53.

April 11, 1989 (Tuesday):    (Acoma, Albuquerque, Santa Fe)

We took Hwy 40 toward Albuquerque. We made a detour on Hwy 38 to go to Acoma, New Mexico, the “Sky City.” It was founded in 600 A.D. and is the oldest, continually inhabited city in the United States. This was one of the highlights of our trip.

We paid $13.00 to take a bus tour to the top of the mesa where the village is, no tourist cars are allowed. There is no electricity or piped in water on the mesa, although they do use generators and car batteries. There are presently about 50 people living year-round on the mesa. They collect water during the rainy season in open cisterns for use year round. Some of the original windows, made of mica, are still in place. They are 3 inches thick, and while one can see neither in nor out, the sun’s rays can penetrate the “glass” and light up the room.

Rachael and Sam each bought a piece of “Acoma glass” (mica) for $.25. We also bought and enjoyed a large piece of fry bread, mush like a scone, with a smiley face in it, for which we paid $1.00. There must have been 12 to 15 vendors on the mesa, each selling her own pottery. We have seen a lot of pottery in all the Indian trading posts, but the Acoma style really captured our fancy. Judy bought a round lined pottery sphere (greenware, not Indian shaped) painted with Acoma designs (geometric lines) made free-hand (incredible) with a yucca plant tip for a brush. Most of their pottery is black and white with some clay color on some pieces. We would have liked a traditional Indian-made pot, but they were more expensive and much less detailed. Judy guesses that the softer clay cannot take the intricate designs. We paid $15.00 for ours and got it from the woman who made it. When Judy asked her how long it took to make, she said one week (but we don’t believe her).

The old church was built in 1629 and now has an interesting mix of ancient and modern d├ęcor, including imported statues from Spain that are hundreds of years old. The church is made of sandstone, coated with a mud and straw adobe mix. The walls are 9 to 11 feet thick. There are two bell towers. One of the bells was secured by trading five girl and five boy Acoma children to the Mexicans to be slaves. They observe several religious ceremonies, including one where two teams of men race through town with roosters tied to poles, then tear a live rooster, which is hanging from a pole, apart. Whoever gets the biggest piece of the rooster wins it and gets to bury it in his field for good luck for his crops. The cemetery outside the church is over 60 feet deep. When the weather erases the name from a cross, another body can be buried on top of the one already in the grave and a new name is placed on the cross.

I took some steep stone stairs, hewn into the rock, off the mesa. The stairs went down through crevices, and in some spots were almost vertical. Hand holds were also hewn into the rock. Some steps were built in with sandstone slabs. Since it cost $5.00 to take pictures, we did not take any. However, Judy did take a picture of the mesa from our moving car, out the window, as we left.
We drove to Albuquerque and visited the Rio Grande Zoo. During the first half of the zoo, we thought it might be one of the great small zoos. The exhibit environments were really wonderful – very natural – and the animals all seemed up close rather than hiding out somewhere. We especially liked the Komodo dragon exhibit, the raptors and big cats. In the latter, each exhibit had running water, either a stream or waterfall. The other half of the zoo was very ordinary and much older. A lot of construction was going on, and it is obvious that this is a zoo on the rise. We were impressed. Andrew really liked the orangutan, which was rolling around in a big plastic tub. At the gorilla exhibit, we had to pry his hands off the bar to pull him away from watching two young gorillas playing together. In general, Andrew liked the big animals, the ostriches, elephants, giraffes, etc. He would point excitedly at them and grunt. He was on my shoulders, and when we would walk away from his favorites, he would really pull on my hair while he turned around to strain for a last look. Rachael also liked the funny orangutan and so did Sam. Sam also says he liked the cheetahs. I liked a huge swimming soft shell turtle and Judy liked the screaming lemurs. Sam and I also liked the very active and playful bobcats.

From Albuquerque, we took Hwy 85 to Santa Fe and stayed in a Motel 6 for $29.58.

April 12, 1989 (Wednesday):           (Taos, Santa Fe, Gallup)

We got gas in Santa Fe for $.97/gallon, then headed for Taos, New Mexico. We visited Taos Pueblo, which has existed since 1300 A.D. It is at 7,000 feet and is two miles outside Taos. Taos Pueblos is more commercial than Acoma, the old lifestyle appears preserved for tourists rather than for principle. All of the buildings are made of adobe and homes are stacked five stories high. Each home has an outdoor oven and electricity and running water are forbidden. However, the adobes had screen doors, the selling of goods was much more organized (much of the wares were imported from other tribes – we never figured out what, if anything, was made in Taos itself) and some of the girls selling goods looked like disco fashion queens We paid $5.00 to enter, but then had the option of paying $5.00 to use a still camera, $10.00 to use a vcr, $15.00 to do any sketching and $35.00 to do any painting. Goods were expensive and prices varied tremendously. Indians competed with each other selling postcards, bread and handmade items. We bought an herb bundle composed of sagebrush, lavender and other plants for Grandpa Cannon’s birthday (the smell was wonderful, but over powering) and two postcards. Rachael bought a corn necklace for $3.00. A large mountain near the Pueblo was turned over to the Indians in 1970 by the federal government by court order. It is now off limits to all but the Taos Pueblo Indians. We all liked Acoma much more than Taos Pueblo.

We drove into Taos itself. We were a little disappointed by the surrounding terrain. With its reputation for drawing artists, we expected something a little more spectacular. We stopped by the Kit Carson home, but it did not look worth the $6.00 entry fee. We did enjoy walking quickly through some shops around the plaza where we saw a lot we liked but could not afford.

We backtracked toward Santa Fe. Along the way we stopped at a roadside stand outside Espanola and bought a strand of chili peppers for $7.00 and a cob of blue corn for Rachael to take to school (for $1.00). The owner was such a salesman that we couldn’t have left without buying something. He met us at our car (we were his only customers), gave Judy his card, gave the kids an apple and some dried corn, and talked our ears off!

We ate lunch at Rancho Casados in Espanola and paid $23.88 for the traditional New Mexican cuisine. The kids each had an ample children’s plate for $1.50 and Judy and I had chimichangas, Judy’s with a good green sauce and mine with a not so great red sauce. One of the best parts of the meal was hot sopaipillas with honey.

In Santa Fe, we visited the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi. Built at the urging of Archbishop Lamy, head of the Catholic Church in New Mexico (the character in Willa Cather’s book “Death Comes for the Archbishop”). Lamy is buried under the main alter. The church is beautiful and amazing because it was built largely by Indian labor.

Just down the street, we visited the Loretto Chapel, or Our Lady of Lights, built for the nuns at Lamy’s urging in the 1870s. It was the first Gothic architecture building west of the Mississippi and is famous for its “miracle staircase.” When the building was planned, they forgot to include a staircase to the choir loft. After a week of prayer by the nuns, a mysterious man arrived, and over a period of six months, built the spiral staircase. He never sought payment for his time or the materials. The staircase has no nails  and no visible means of support. Engineers still marvel at the construction because it does not seem possible for it to stand, structurally. One engineer surmises that it stands because of its weight pushing down upon itself. The banister was added later by another workman. Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving were married there.

We enjoyed the cohesive architectural style in Santa Fe: earth colors, rounded corners, flat roofs with protruding beams. It is soft, peaceful and very “artsy.” Much of the wares in Santa Fe  were of high quality and high price – investment art.

We purchased baby food and some gas in Grants and drove to Gallup where we stayed in the Country Pride Motel again, the same motel we stayed in two nights previous. For dinner we stopped by Albertsons and bought ribs, as well as cereal, bread and more baby food. We also stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for a dozen donuts.

April 13, 1989 (Thursday):              (Canyon De Chelly, Hubbell Trading Post, Petrified Forest National Park)

We got gas in Gallup for $1.05/gallon and then traveled up Hwy 264 to Ganado where we visited the Hubbell Trading Post. It had such a build up that we were real disappointed. It was very expensive and didn’t have all that much stuff: some food, rugs, a small sampling of pottery, tourist books and jewelry. We decided Gallup, New Mexico, is the place to go to get Indian items. It has trading posts all over the place. The trading post has a small visitor’s center and two Navajo women were weaving rugs using an old loom. In the car, Rachael drew a picture of one of the Navajo woman weaving a blanket. Rachael wrote, “Then we saw hubbal trading post it wasn’t wearth it thoe my mom and dad and me were really disappointed too. But I loved the hubbel trading post visitors center. We saw Indian weavers in the trading post too!”

We left Ganado, up Hwy 191, to Canyon De Chelly. At the visitor’s center we bought a book for Navajo school children, called “Coyote Stories.” It contains 14 stories, each about an encounter of coyote with a different animal or man, such as “coyote and the porcupine.” We drove the south rim of the canyon, to each of the lookouts but the last one, which was an additional 11 miles.  From the road it looks like ordinary juniper country, but inside the steep canyon it is beautiful.

One of the highlights of our trip was the hike to White House Ruin, a 2 ½ mile round trip up and down a steep canyon. It was beautiful 70 degree weather, the hike was challenging, but fun, and the ruins were pretty spectacular. A very steep trail lead down a 500 foot cliff. At the bottom was an octagonal hogan and a Navajo girl was herding sheep and goats in an enclosed area. Not too much further we crossed a river. Judy and I had to take our shoes and socks off to carry the kids across. White House ruin is a cliff dwelling built by the Anasazi, partially on the ground and partially up in the indentation of a cliff. Rachael and Sam were very cute in the University of Wisconsin t-shirts I bought for them at a seminar I attended at the University of Wisconsin the summer before. We promised Sam a rest in a small cave near the top of the canyon and used the shady rest site as an incentive to keep him moving. It worked. Both Sam and Rachael were able to hike the whole way by themselves (Judy and I carried Andrew). We ate a lunch of bologna sandwiches, with tomatoes and cheese from our cooler, at the top. We shared our sandwiches with a very nice white and brown Navajo sheep dog which befriended us.

Of our hike, Rachael wrote, “We took a long hike about 1 and a half miles down a steep canyon we went through two large tunnels in the rock. When we were at the bottom of the canyon we got to a stream. Dad carried us across, too!! After everybody was across the stream we walked a little while longer and came to some cliff dwellings. We read a thing about the cliff dwellings and then hiked back up to our car.” Sam said, “We went on the Canyon De Chelly with the tunnels. Dad took me across the river with bare feet…I didn’t need to be carried at Canyon De Chelly…I liked going into the tunnels at Canyon De Chelly. I took a rest in one. I took a rest there because I needed to get more muscles for my legs. The rest helped by giving some muscles for my legs. I remember hiking way up in Canyon De Chelly. It was really deep. The really deep gave me some muscles.”

Time was getting late, so we left in a rush to drive the 100 miles to Petrified Forest National Park before it closed. In the car, Rachael drew a picture of Canyon Del Chelly which included the river and a squirrel we saw. From Ganado, we went down Hwy 191 to Hwy 40.

Petrified Forest National Park was a disappointment. We zipped through in an hour to get out by closing. In the north end we were able to admire the beauty of the Painted Desert, with beautiful vistas of pinks, reds and interesting rock formations. We did not get to see much of it, but it was similar to the terrain near Tuba City. Newspaper Rock was disappointing. We had expected something spectacular and could not really see anything. The Indian ruins were pretty dull compared to some of the neat ones we have seen earlier on the trip. The part of the park that was supposed to be the best (Agate House and Rainbow Forest) was already closed when we got there. We did see one nice turnoff at Crystal Point where there were many large multi-hued petrified logs. Outside the south end of the park were two large rock shops rivaling those in Quartzite, with great selections of petrified wood. Some of the wood is very beautiful, but the cost would be fairly large to get some big chunks of it. The kids bought some small chunks of petrified wood and our resident artist, Rachael, drew a picture of a petrified log. Rachael wrote, “We got some petrified wood of our own. I got two peaces of petrified wood, some fools gold, a geode, a piece of turcoise, an arrowhead, and some other things.”

Holbrook, Arizona, also has a number of rock shops. Between Holbrook and Quartzite, a rockhound  would be in heaven.

We were somewhat disappointed with our drives through the Hopi/Navajo lands. The driving was generally unspectacular except for Canyon De Chelly and the beginnings near Tuba City (the Painted Desert). Some of the nicest country we saw was from Ganado to I-40 on the way to Petrified Forest where the terrain was hilly with large junipers, much like the country below Cedar City, Utah.

The kids and Judy have remarked several times that the trip has been fun. We’ve been exhausted each night as we’ve come to the hotel. We’ve done a lot of driving (today alone over 300 miles). But hopefully, having some experiences the kids will always remember.

We stayed the night at the Super 8 Marco Polo Hotel in Winslow, Arizona. We purchased some milk at a Circle K and ate at McDonalds.

April 14, 1989 (Friday):       (Meteor Crater, Walnut Canyon National Monument, Grand Canyon Deer Farm)

We got gas for $1.13/gallon in Winslow. We drove to Meteor Crater. It was the first identified, and largest and best preserved crater created by a meteor in the world. The crater has an impressive depth, it is 560 feet deep, deep enough to fit a 60 story building within it. It is 4,100 feet across, with a circumference of more than three miles. 20 football fields could be put side by side within it, and if they were, two million spectators could be accommodated on its slopes. A meteor 80 to 100 feet in diameter, at a velocity of 43,000 miles per hour, hit this area. It is estimated all life within 100 miles was killed. The crater is also known as the Barringer Crater after Dr. Barringer, who developed the theory that the crater was created by a meteor. His family still owns the land. The site was designated a natural landmark in 1968 by the Department of the Interior. The meteor fragments are composed of nickel and iron and are extremely heavy. All of the Apollo astronauts were trained here. The visitor’s center has the original space suit of Charles Duke, Jr., who walked on the moon, and pictures and patches of the Apollo, Gemini and other flights.      

Meteor Crater was a yawner for me, but the kids and Judy loved it. Rachael was in Young Astronauts and particularly ate it up. She wrote, “We also saw a meteor-crater it was really neat! A rock had come out of space and hit the earth really hard. It made a very deep hole it was almost a mile wide. We watched two movies about the meteor crater and space.” Sam, describing our visit to Meteor Crater, said, “A stone goes in the meteor crater and then the stone makes fire. Some of the stone is inside the meteor crater. Some of the meteor crater goes away. The meteor crater hole is empty. We saw a space suit and a rocket outside, a different kind of rocket. You could touch the rocket outside. We watched a movie about astronauts floating on the moon.”

We drove to Walnut Canyon National Monument. When we got there, Judy questioned whether we should. Nothing is really said about it in the travel literature. It is right within the Flagstaff city limits, although out in the forest. It turned out to be one of my favorite spots on the trip. The first view is a beautiful terraced canyon with S curves, somewhat like Goosenecks. A stream which created the canyon was dammed in 1904, so the bottom is now dry and covered with green grass. The terraces are dotted with pine trees, yucca and other plants and rock overhangs. The peninsulas within the S curves are pyramided toward the top. The hike is .9 miles round trip with approximately 284 stairs. The trail leads down the mountain about ½ to ¾ of the way, and then does a circular trip around one of the S curves on one of the levels where the Indian ruins (Sinagua) are found. The Indians built their homes under the overhangs putting in walls of rock and mud for front entrances, sides and walls. The doorways have holes above them so that when fires were burned inside, the doors could be covered and the smoke could escape through the holes. The insides of the still covered homes are entirely blackened from the fires that burned inside. Most of the homes were in the same leveled tier, on both sides of the canyon, although there were some ruins in different levels. The weather was in the 70’s and the air clear, sunny and beautiful. This, along with the hike to White House ruin in Canyon De Chelly, and the Acoma Sky City, are the three highlights of our trip for me. These Sinagua Indians are related to those of Tuzigoot and Wupatki and are from about the same period. We saw turkey vultures flying above the canyon.  Sam didn’t like Walnut Canyon. “I didn’t like that dark, dark fire, that black. I didn’t like the deep ones.”

25 miles west of Flagstaff and 8 miles east of Williams, Arizona, we stopped at Grand Canyon Deer Farm. It was expensive, $12.50, but the kids loved it, particularly Andrew who is our nature boy. The central focus is a herd of 75 fallow deer in an open area that can be fed corn. In addition, a few mule deer, sika deer, muntjac, a llama, goats, sheep, turkeys, chickens, ducks, squirrel monkeys and a cockatoo. Rachael and Sam got to hold baby goats and Sam was able to pet some chickens. Andrew refused to be held and was thrilled to stare at the deer and goats. We bought feed and Andrew tried to coax deer to eat out of his hand. Sam really seems to have a way (patience) with animals. Outside the deer farm, we had lunch on a bench in a grassy area with trees. Bologna sandwiches with cream cheese, sardines and pork and beans. Sam’s favorite part of  the trip was the Grand Canyon Deer Farm “because we got to pet the deers and hold the baby goats and got to carry them and Mom took a picture of us holding them and we saw a talking bird.”

Some of our trip ideas have been very successful. Our little cooler has been repacked with ice every morning and has kept Andrew’s bottles, mayonnaise, lettuce, bologna and tomatoes and cheese fresh. The water cooler has always had sufficient water and has stayed cool, even overnight, for1 ½ days. We managed to find motels in the $30.00 range, except our one splurge in Oak Creek Canyon. It is a little hard sleeping in the same room with the kids because we have to go to sleep early and lay awake in bed in the morning in order not to wake the kids.

We purchased gas in Kingman, Arizona, for $1.21/gallon. We remained on Hwy 40 to Needles, where we bought dinner at Carl’s Jr. for $16.96. We then did a diagonal jog on Hwy 62 down past Amboy Crater, 29 Palms, Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, to home. Sam said, “I didn’t like nothing in the car in that long drive.”

We budgeted $750.00 for the trip and did it for $547.32: $92.01 for gas, $56.43 for souvenirs, $71.50 for attractions, $208.62 for lodging and $118.76 for food.

All in all, our first real family vacation was so much fun we’ve decided to be better about getting out and visiting new places and getting to know our surroundings.