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Note: Because he had the better camera, I've chosen my brother's photos as often as possible.

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February 26, 2011 Saturday, over Washington state on the way to Arizona via Las Vegas, for a dream come true. Ever since I was 12 years old, Arizona and the desert had captured my imagination. I remember using my hard-earned babysitting money to buy Arizona Highways magazines and I read all the Zane Grey books I could lay my hands on. I bought Bob Nolan's two song folios to play instead of my London Conservatory piano lessons. I wrote to every Arizona city on my map and had them mail their community brochures to me, all before I was in my teens. Now I would get to see it for myself, thanks to my brother and his wife. They tailored this trip to my interests and Arizona lived up to every expectation - and more. The pictures I have chosen for this page are just the tip of the iceberg. Between us, we took hundreds.


That world famous Las Vegas skyline


Met by my brother at the baggage carousel.

(Drake photo)


In the South Point's Coronado Cafe for dinner

(the waitress volunteered to take our photo)


Relaxing in Las Vegas!


Travelling Companions



(Drake photo)


A statue of the late Benny Binion is the focal point of the lobby of the South Point. This hotel boasts an equestrian centre and hosts an annual professional World Championship Bull Riding contest, etc.


Nevada's power experiments, just south of Boulder City (El Dorado Drive)



(Drake Photo)


Typical Nevada desert on the way to Searchlight, dotted with creosote bush [greasewood].


My first Joshua tree

(Drake photo)


Teddy Bear cholla (choy-a)




(Drake photo)


Crossing the Colorado from Laughlin, Nevada, to Bullhead City, Arizona


Looking across the Colorado from Arizona to Nevada where gambling is legal.

(Drake photo)



Oatman was born in 1906 as a tent camp, flourishing until 1942 when it died after Congress declared that gold mining was no longer essential to the war effort. The area was used for making such feature films as "How the West was Won", "Edge of Eternity", "Universal Soldier", "Foxfire", etc. Clark Gable and Carol Lombard spent their wedding night here. The town is located on the old US Route 66, the trail of the immigrants from the Midwest in the 1930s. It was the last stop in Arizona before entering the dreaded Mojave Desert in Southern California. It is 25 miles southwest of Kingman in the most desolate mountain country.


The country is magnificently ugly.


"Wild" donkeys roam the Oatman street looking for handouts.

(Drake photo)


(Drake photo)


Some of that famous Drake diplomacy and placatory skills were necessary at times.

(Drake photo)


The trail (the old Route 66) was narrow and winding from Oatman through desolate country. I videoed part of it.

(Drake photo)


Just out of Kingman we hit snow and we stayed in it for two or three days.

(Drake photo)


Never did find out the name of these round bushes that dot the Arizona high prairie.


The Yavapai County Court House in Prescott is set in beautiful grounds surrounded by bronze statues.

(Drake photo)




The road to Jerome is narrow and steep, running right through the old mining town.


Look across the Verde Valley at the old mining town of Jerome

(Verde = vur-dy)



Tuzigoot Sinagua ruins, down from Jerome in the Verde Valley, abandoned by the early 1400s. The original pueblo was 2 stories high with 77 ground-floor rooms. Note: "Tuzigoot" is Apache for "crooked water"; "Sinagua" is Spanish for "without water".



Montezuma Castle, 5-story, 20-room dwelling built by the Sinagua in the 1100s in a cliff recess 100 feet above the valley. Assuming it was Aztec in origin, the early settlers misnamed it "Montezuma Castle". The ruins are 50 miles south of Flagstaff, off I-17 via US Alt 89 in the Oak Creek Canyon.


My brother and his wife first visited Montezuma Castle 40 years ago on their honeymoon.


Near Sedona

(Drake photo)


Elephant Feet, north of Tuba City

(Drake photo)


Back road to Navajo National Monument

("Monument" appears to be another word for federal park.)


Still on the back road to Navajo National Monument.


Back road to Navajo National Monument


Navajo National Monument is located within the northwest portion of the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona and preserves three of the most intact cliff dwellings of the ancestral puebloan people (Hisatsinom). The Navajo people who live here today call these ancient ones Anasazi. The monument is high on the Shonto plateau, overlooking the Tsegi Canyon system in the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona. The monument, located west of Kayenta, Arizona, features a visitor center with a museum and two short self-guided mesa top trails.

Navajo National Monument


Betatakin Ruin, Navajo National Monument


Betatakin means "House Built on a Ledge" in Navajo. In Hopi, the name of the place is Talastima, or "Place of the Corn Tassel". Betatakin is smaller than nearby Kiet Siel, with about 120 rooms at the time of abandonment. Today only about 80 rooms remain, due to rock falls inside the alcove. Betatakin only has one kiva. Betatakin was built in an enormous alcove measuring 452 feet high and 370 feet across between 1267 and 1286. The first excavations occurred in 1917 under Neil Judd, and continued into the 1950's and 1960's under archaeologists like Jeffery Dean. During its two-decade heyday Dean estimated a maximum population of about 125 people.


Betatakin Ruin, Navajo National Monument (close-up)


Betatakin Ruin, Navajo National Monument

(Drake photo)


My brother photographing a pinnacle that resembled King Tut but is called "Owl Rock".


Monument Valley at last


Monument Valley through tumbleweeds


Finally, here I am in John Ford Country

(Drake photo)


(Drake photo)


(Drake photo)


Mexican Hat, near Bluff, Utah

(Drake photo)


Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah

(Drake photo)


Four miles off Utah Highway 261 near Mexican Hat, you can look into a 1,000-foot-deep chasm carved through the Pennsylvanian Hermosa Formation by the San Juan River. The river meanders back and forth into a giant W shape, flowing for more than five miles while progressing only one linear mile toward the Colorado River and Lake Powell. This is just one loop.


My brother bought a beautiful turquoise necklace from Lathan Yellowman in Cañon de Chelly.

(pronounced canyon d' shay)



Then he and his wife chose an exquisitely-painted picture of the Mummy Cave ruin with pictographs from Venson K. Yazzie of the famous Navajo family of artists and artisans. I videoed his explanation of his painting but will take several minutes to load.)



Later he bought another picture stone from Ken, one of the guides who patiently helped us find the Mummy Caves pictographs.


Antelope House Ruin, Cañon de Chelly

(Drake photo)


Two mummies were found beneath these pictographs. One mummy was 6'11" tall and understood to be Kokapelli.

(Drake photo)


This picture was taken in deep shadow but you can see, 600 feet below, the lovely valley the ancient Anasazi farmed.

(Drake photo)



On our way to the Petrified Forest we stopped at "Newspaper Rock" Petroglyphs. Petroglyphs were scratched into the "desert varnish" on the old rocks. (Drake photo)


The Painted Desert.

(Drake photo)



Agate Bridge in the Petrified Forest. The concrete support under the petrified tree was man made. Today the park rangers would let Nature take her course. Approximately 225 million years ago, during the Triassic Period, a floodplain existed here, littered with fallen trees. Periodic flooding buried the logs beneath layers of silt. Over time, silica-laden waters filtered through these deposits and petrified the wood by encasing the trees' organic material with minerals. Iron oxide gave petrified wood its distinctive red, yellow and orange hues. Manganese oxides produced blues, purples and deep blacks. The original carbon produced the shades of gray. Centuries of erosion washed away concealing sediment deposits to expose these gems. (Drake photo)


Miles of these petrified trees have been exposed by the wind and sand, cut into neat sections as if Ralph had been through with his chain saw.

(Drake photo)



The centre of this log has become agate and amethyst, very valuable. This part of the Petrified Forest is preserved and guarded but the forest continues for miles on the reservation and blocks are sold. They are extremely heavy and bring very high prices. (Drake photo)


Just to give an idea of the size of this piece keep in mind that I'm 5'7" tall. The wind was very strong that day.

(Drake photo)



Next stop, Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. This photo looks up at the edge of the rim, part of the famous Mogollon or "Tonto" Rim, as Zane Grey called it. It is a spectacularly beautiful country of red rock bluffs, piñon and prickly pear. I couldn't see a definite "rim" because of the thick forest but the air is clean and crisp and tangy - like pine. The following is from Wikipedia:


"The Rim is an escarpment defining the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, and along its central and most spectacular portions is characterized by high limestone and sandstone cliffs, namely the Kaibab Limestone and Coconino Sandstone. It was formed by erosion and faulting, and dramatic canyons have been cut into it, including Fossil Creek Canyon and Pine Canyon. The name Mogollon comes from Don Juan Ignacio Flores Mogollón, the Spanish Governor of New Mexico from 1712 to 1715. [The locals pronounce it "mogy-own" or "mogy-on".]

"Much of the land south of the Mogollon Rim lies 4000 to 5000 feet (1,200 to 1,500 meters) above sea level, with the escarpment rising to about 7,000 ft (2,100 m). Extensive Ponderosa Pine forests are found both on the slopes of the Rim and on the Arizona Plateau north of it. The Mogollon Rim is a major floristic and faunal boundary, with species characteristic of the Rocky Mountains living on the top of the plateau, and species native to the Mexican Sierra Madre Occidental on the slopes below and in the Madrean sky islands (high, isolated mountain ranges) further south.

"Cities and towns near the Mogollon Rim include Payson, Sedona, Show Low, and Alpine, Arizona. The Mogollon Rim is practically bisected by Interstate 17 which runs north-to-south between Flagstaff and Phoenix. The eastern portion of the Mogollon Rim was the site of Arizona's largest-known wildfire, during June 2002, the 470,000 acre (1,900 km²) Rodeo-Chediski fire. The Mogollon Rim was also the site of the "Dude Fire" that started on June 25, 1990. This fire grew to cover over 30,000 acres (120 km2), and it killed six wildland firemen. Other large fires have burned along the Mogollon Rim since 1990, and the area's ponderosa pine forests remain vulnerable because of past fire-suppression efforts and the build-up of available dry fuel.

"The western novel author, Zane Grey, built a hunting cabin on the actual slopes of the Mogollon Rim just northeast of Payson, above Tonto Creek. This cabin was restored by the Phoenix, Ariz., air-conditioning magnate William Goettl during the late 1960s, but it was destroyed by the Dude Fire in 1990. The novel-writer Louis L'Amour's novel The Sackett Brand was also set in the area of the Mogollon Rim, with the cliffs of the Rim being specifically described."

The path to the bottom, beautiful but steep and narrow.



This is the cavern that makes the land above it a bridge.

(Drake photo)



We had an interesting guided tour through Zane Grey's cabin in Payson but we were not allowed to take pictures. This is the reconstructed cabin, replacing the original on the Rim which was destroyed in the Dude Fire. The original cabin had visitors such as President Eisenhower, Winston Churchill and Anwar Sadat, all of whom professed to being fans of Zane Grey novels. General Eisenhower carried Zane Grey books with him throughout Europe. Churchill said that he read Grey not for recreation but for rejuvenation. Zane Grey was a romanticist who captured the hearts of his readers. Through his books, millions felt a passion for the wilderness, and as that wilderness continues to shrink, his descriptive narratives will become even more significant. He was a major architect of the genre of literature called "the western," and his writing was a major factor in creating the world's image of America's West.


At Tonto National Monument, we ran into our first mountains of saguaro.

(Drake photo)


The monument - another cliff dwelling.

(Drake photo)


Inside the Rex Allen Museum, Willcox. The museum is full of memorabilia and a must see for any Silver Screen fans.



In the park across from the museum is a larger-than-life statue of Rex Allen. An elderly man (W. D. "Arizona" Kennedy) dressed neatly in faded blue denim was singing to his guitar and selling his book, "Chasing Rainbows and Similar Acts of Foolishness". Kennedy grew up on a farm near Bisbee.


Mine at Bisbee.

(Drake photo)


My brother and his wife took the tour into the old Bisbee Queen Mine.

(Drake photo)


We arrived in Tombstone late but managed to see a lot from the car.

(Drake photo)


Assistance into an old Butterfield Stage in Benson


We took a tour through these caverns but were not allowed our cameras. An amazing experience.


The Sonora Desert was even more beautiful than I'd hoped or expected.


A narrow paved path wound through the desert and we were told to stay on it. That was no problem - I was always on the look-out for rattlers.



The Mission San Xavier del Bac was founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Construction on the current church began in 1783. The oldest intact European structure in Arizona, the church's interior is filled with original statuary and murals and is considered to be the finest example of Spanish Colonial in the USA. It is 9 miles south of downtown Tucson, just off Interstate 19. The church retains its original purpose of ministering to the religious needs of its parishioners. It is administered by the Arizona State Parks Board.


Palo verde, cholla, chaparral and Saguaro


Ocotillo (left) and organ pipe cactus in the Organ Pipe National Monument

(Drake photo)


Mary Pablo, Papago (O'odham) native American, begins a new basket. She takes the grass-like white and green leaves of the yucca, peels them and wraps them around devil's claw, using only her fingers and an awl.


A sample of Mary Pablo's beautiful designs, pure white and pale green.


A date plantation. We had to sample a date shake, naturally!


I bought a pair of castanets from this young fellow in Los Algodones, Mexico.

(Drake photo)



To get back across the border, we had to go through US Customs which meant standing in line for about an hour. The streets were lined with dentist's offices. One man in line behind us told us that he'd just had two fillings, an extraction and prep for 4 crowns which would be inserted tomorrow - all for $1100.00. (Drake Photo)


Sand dunes across the border in California. People come out to ride their ATVs here.

(Drake photo)



Everywhere the Border Patrol was much in evidence, usually with their dogs. We were stopped often, anywhere, any time. The patrolmen were young, alert, fit and bilingual. So were the dogs. Our gray hair and the word "Canadian" combined made an effective passport, probably because we are definitely a major source of income to this area.





Yuma Territorial Prison, closing its doors before Arizona became the 48th state. It was in operation for only 33 years. It has been the subject or location for several western films - "3:10 to Yuma", "26 Men" (Incident at Yuma), "The Wild Bunch", "Once Upon a Time in the West" and "For a Few Extra Dollars". That woman peering out through the bars is obviously no actress. (Drake photo)



4-wheeling on the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range. We had to apply for a permit to be there. We also had to take two vehicles in case one broke down. A few miles in, the Border Patrol checked to make sure we had done all this.


To my delight, old tanks dotted the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range as well as empty shells.

(Drake photo)


The first natural reservoir or tank - Baker Tank


Betty Lee Tank on the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range, near the old Betty Lee Mine.


You are looking 6-8 feet down a rock well into the tank. If you look carefully, you'll see the splash of the pebble we tossed.



We went quaddin' in the wastelands between Muggins Mountains and the Proving Grounds. I managed to get a video of the easy part of the non-trail through the wash before I ruined my little camera with the dust. The rough part was simply too rough to video and I was busy hanging on. Again, the camera does not show how steep it actually was.


And that, my friends, is just a taste of Arizona. Go there!