Rainbow Basin – Barstow, CA

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In sharp contrast to the flat horizontal lines of the Grand Canyon is Rainbow Basin near Barstow, CA.  Places like this make me wish I had taken some geology classes.  The layers are going every-which-a-way!!!  And although the pictures don’t really show it, the colors are amazing, not to mention the variety of textures to the various layers.

This rock reef was particularly interesting, as we got closer.

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There is also a “slot” canyon in the basin, and I have really wanted to see a slot canyon.  Granted it is not Antelope Canyon (a very famous slot canyon), but it was worth the hike none the less.  Notice that the rocks almost create a U shape at this canyon.

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This is the best example I got of the colors.

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On the way to the Basin we also got to revisit some Joshua Trees.  And oh the brilliant blue skies!!!

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Not much more excitement in Barstow, except it is the western end of I40, which incidentally the eastern end is in Wilmington, NC only 2,554 miles east our former home!!!

Peace Love and Justice for all.


Grand Canyon, AZ

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Well what can you say about the Grandest Canyon of them all??  Except WOW just WOW.  Some of you may know that we visited the Grand Canyon with Mom and Jimmy in 1996.  That was a magnificent trip where we rafted the Colorado River thru the canyon for a week.  So we have been to the Grand Canyon, but beyond the quick helicopter ride out of the canyon we only saw it from the bottom up, which is a totally different experience.

Both of us were taken away by the beautifulness of the canyon from the top!!!  It is absolutely breath taking.

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There are a couple of things that need to be mentioned.  First and foremost, RAILINGS are great.  Do not go near the edge with out a railing.  The views are not any better and one slip or slide and you’d be a goner!!!  Below picture is not us, but is a good example of what not to do!!!

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Another thing to notice is how flat the top is.  As we approached the canyon driving north on highway 64 there is no indication that there will be a canyon.  It is simply a desert landscape changing into a pine forest near the edge and all of a sudden, the world opens up into a vast, otherworldly canyon landscape.  I really don’t understand how it happened, and apparently neither do the geologists.  We spent about an hour in the geology museum reading the exhibits which did a pretty good job of explaining until the last one states “we still don’t really know!!!”   Like how 1.2 billion years of rock formation are missing the “Great Unconformity.”  Cambrian rock which is 525 million years old lays directly on top of 1.8-billion-year-old Vishnu Schist.  Millions, billions etc are completely unfathomable to me…

Common belief is that the Colorado river (and tributaries) cut the canyon over the last 5-6 million years.  That is what all the information I read in the park indicated, but I have to mention that our National Geographic Guide to the National Parks added a layer to this theory that I had never heard before.  The next two paragraphs are quoted from this reputable source.

“The amount of deep geologic time revealed by the Grand Canyon is staggering, but how old is the canyon itself?   Powell and others figured on 70 million years, the Colorado River down cutting at the same rate that the Kaibab Plateau was rising – that is, until sediments at the western end of the canyon conclusively proved the Colorado River couldn’t be more that 6 million years old.

Latest studies using thermochronological data suggest that an eastward-flowing paleo-river carved most of the western part of the canyon 70 million years ago, while a different river cut through the eastern section 55 million years ago.  The Colorado River then joined the canyons with sections it carved itself, finishing off the job.”

Again, I didn’t read this in the national parks exhibits, but I do consider National Geographic a knowledgeable source…  So, who knows and really does it matter, either way it is a sight to behold!!!

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As I mentioned above we rafted the canyon and believe me that is a very large river with mighty rapids!!!  But from the top it appears pretty docile.  Below are pictures of the river first zoomed in and the same spot zoomed out.  With the grandeur of the canyon you might not even notice the river down there.

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Sunrise at the canyon was a pretty awesome experience, pretty cold as well!!

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WOW just WOW, guess I had a lot more words after all, you could fill a library with information and impressions, but I will let the pictures speak the rest of the story…  But again I must say pictures do not do it justice.

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Another great adventure!!!  Peace Love and Justice for all.




Sedona, AZ – Red Rocks, White Rocks and Vortexes.

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Sedona, AZ is best known for their red rocks and mysterious vortexes.  On our first drive into town, we attempted to visit both the Bell Rock Vortex and The Chapel of the Holy Cross vortex, but both were so full there was simply no parking for miles.  Actually, the whole town was pretty crowded, we were there in the heart of spring break.  But did manage to get a nice picture of Bell Rock.

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On a tip from Billie we instead drove thru Oak Creek Canyon, which was made famous in part from numerous cowboy movies being filmed there.  Its beauty is also a contributing factor in its fame.  It is a beautiful wooded drive following Oak Creak from Sedona towards Flagstaff.  At the top of the canyon is a large parking area with trails and vendors selling Indian wares.    These are some of the white rocks from the canyon.

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I was determined to get to a vortex, so on another day we went to Boynton Canyon Vortex which was less crowded and a little further out of town.  The vortexes are areas of concentrated energy rising from the earth.  Some believe that they are a portal for celestial and terrestrial spirits.  They say you may experience a range of sensations when near them.  These sensations range from a slight tingling on your skin to vibrations emanating from the ground.  Most often a vortex is felt as a sensation across the nape of your neck and shoulder blades.

We made it to Boynton Vortex after a short hike and even were serenaded by a flute player high atop a red rock spire.  But truthfully, we did not experience any sensations from the vortex except the magnificent beauty of the surrounding area.  Maybe not as in tuned spiritually as necessary or maybe just a bunch of BS, but either way many people believe and make Sedona a highly sought after spiritual and metaphysical destination.  For me the awe-inspiring beauty was reason enough to visit.   Enjoy the views, and if you tingle looking at them maybe you are in tuned enough!!!

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Peace, Love and Justice for all.

Verde Valley Region of AZ – History

Tuzigoot National Monument

The Tuzigoot site is an elongated complex of stone masonry rooms built along the top of a small hill overlooking the Verde River and floodplain.   The structures were built by the Sinagua people between 1125 and 1400 and are located just east of Clarkdale, AZ.  The structures on top of the hill stand higher than the rest and are believed to have been used for public functions and ceremonies.  While surrounding structures were living and storage quarters.

The pueblo has 110 rooms and was excavated in the 1930s.  The structures were 2 and 3 stories tall but did not have doors.  Instead they were entered using ladders and trapdoor type openings in the roofs.  Although there are several pueblos from the Sinagua people in the region, Tuzigoot is the largest and best preserved.  With 110 rooms it was quite a thriving community, farming the fertile lands below in the floodplain.  You can pick out the nearby river by the bright green of the cottonwoods along it.

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Montezuma Castle

Montezuma Castle was also built by the Sinagua people between 1100 and 1425, but is a very different structure than Tuzigoot.  The “castle” was built about 90 feet up a sheer limestone cliff placed in a natural alcove overlooking Beaver Creek.  Both Tuzigoot (on a 120 ft hill) and Montezuma Castle (90 ft up a cliff) are elevated for protection from annual flooding of the respective rivers.  The elevation also provided a natural defense from enemy tribes.

This main structure consists of 20 rooms and five stories encompassing approximately 4,000 square feet.  There are also smaller structures tucked in the same cliff.   It is one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in North America partially because they no longer allow access to the actual dwelling.

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Along Beaver Creek we saw the most beautiful large trees, the Arizona Sycamore.  They are hardwood and were used in building the castle dwelling.  Although we were not allowed to see, the literature says that the wood is still in tact 700 years later.  Check out the size compared to the picnic tables…

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Montezuma Well

Montezuma Well is a natural limestone sinkhole with an underground spring that pumps 1.5 million gallons of water per day.  This constant flow creates a near constant volume of water even within the most severe droughts.  It measures 386 feet in diameter rim to rim and has a natural outlet that flows to the Beaver River.

Although it is 11 miles northeast of the castle it was used by the Sinagua people for irrigation.  There is evidence of human inhabitance in the area for around 10,000 years it was not until the 8th century that permanent structures were built and agriculture thrived in the area.  You can see structures built into the well rims and at the outflow near the river there is an irrigation ditch.

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Note the dates on the graffiti – 1818 and 1896, at least we did not see any current graffiti.

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Amazing the ingenuity used by these native people so many years ago.  It really was a different world back then.  Not sure it was an easier time, but definitely simpler.   So glad our National Park Service is protecting these amazing places for all of us to enjoy, now WE must all protect our National Park Service.

Peace Love and Justice for all.





Tucson, AZ – Mt. Lemmon

The eastern section of Saguaro NP is at the foot of Mt. Lemmon and since it was quite hot, we took advantage of the higher elevations.  Leaving the park, it was 91 degrees and at the top of Mt. Lemmon it was 61 degrees, nice and refreshing.

The drive is approximately 30 miles with many pull outs and stunning views.  The rock formations were especially beautiful.

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At the top of the mountain there is a ski resort and some remaining snow.  Nellie of course loved playing in the snow, but it was not such a great idea.  The left-over snow was full of pine sap which got all over her!!!  New trick learned hand sanitizer helps remove sap from hair.

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One of the interpretive signs on the drive explained a question we had been wondering about.  How do mountains rise straight out of the flat desert??  Well what the sign explained is that the mountains you see today are only the “tip of the iceberg.”  During the last couple hundred of million years there was uplifting, volcanic activity and colliding land masses that created mountains.  As the mountains eroded (over millions of years) the debris settled and accumulated creating the surrounding flat desert landscape.  This filled in areas between the mountains – so the remaining viewable mountains are literally only the tip of the iceberg…  Hope this helps it helped me.

Peace Love and Justice for all….





Tucson, AZ – Cacti

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Saguaro National Park

Saguaro NP has two sections on either side of Tucson.  This park honors the large and mighty Saguaro Cactus, the iconic one used in cartoons to depict the desert.

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These mighty plants are ancient in plant terms, at 1 year old they are only about the size of a large walnut and at 5 years maybe the size of a football.  So, the large ones (up to 40 feet tall) you see are between 100 and 200 years old and can weigh over a ton.  They are only found in the Sonora Desert and some regions of Mexico.  Here are some nice examples including some juvenile plants.

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The saguaro bloom in late spring / early summer so we were too early to see the blooms.  But look it up, when blooming they look like each arm is topped with a flower pot.  Quite interesting looking.  Although we did not see the blooms, we did see “crested” saguaros.  These occur when the growing tip produces a fan like form.  These are somewhat rare and biologists are not sure why it occurs.  Some speculate that it is a genetic mutation while others believe it is the result of a lightning strike or freeze damage??  Who knows but we were glad to see a couple of them, there are only 25 known to be in the national park.

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Also, with in the park on Signal Hill are some pictographs from the ancient Hohokam people.  Interestingly they were on individual rocks within a pile of rocks, and not on a cliff wall as we have usually seen.  This is not unheard of, but not as common as cliff or cave pictographs.

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Beyond the saguaro there were also some other impressive native cacti, cholla and ocotillo.  Some of the ocotillo were beginning to bloom.

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Desert Museum

The Desert Museum in Tucson came highly recommended and although it is quite pricey ($25 in high season and $20 other times of the year) we decided to go.  It is mostly an outdoors desert garden with native animal exhibits, a humming bird exhibit, aviary and other specialty exhibits/events.  While we were there, they were having a raptor free fly which was pretty interesting but very crowded.  All in all it was a nice experience and very informative.  It was also a chance to see some blooming cactus since we are again rushing spring and have not seen many blooming naturally.  Enjoy some cacti pictures.

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Peace Love and Justice for all!!!