Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Standin' on a corner, in Winslow Arizona. . .

Black Canyon, just east of Boulder Dam
We left Boulder City early, knowing we had a long day ahead. Driving over the new bridge at Boulder dam, through the craggy mountains, enjoying some incredible views of the mountains on both sides of the highway. Leaving the mountains, we went on down hwy. 93 and into Arizona, over rolling plains covered with rich grasses where we could just imagine buffalo roaming in days gone by, then up through the pine covered mountains of Flagstaff, and then down onto the desert, arriving in Winslow in the afternoon. Our final destination, for a two night stay, was Homolovi State Park.

Homolovi State Park protects the remains of several Anasazi pueblos, and serves as a research center for  the late migration period of the Hopi, from the 1200-1300s.
Homolovi II ruins
The remains of structures have pretty much begun returning to the earth from whence they came, though here and there bits of wall, subterranean rooms, and the overall structure of the settlements can be seen.

There are pottery shards everywhere, left as they lie for visitors to admire. The variety of pottery styles that are seen among the shards is interesting.

The visitor's center is small, but has informative displays, and there are several trails to walk, one of which leads to a few small examples of rock art.

The campground spaces are generously sized, plenty long enough for our setup, wide, with lots of open ground between, and many small trees here and there. The land slopes a little, so other campsites don't block the view of the open desert.

Walking up the gentle rise at the edge of camp in the evening we saw the lights of Winslow, sparkling like diamonds in the dusty twilight. At full-dark, those little diamonds moved to the sky. Surely there are more stars here than we've seen in a long time!

After touring the pueblo ruins we wandered into Winslow to see what we could see. The town has a couple of claims to fame. One is the mention of Winslow in the Eagles' famous song "Take it Easy"

There's even a mural and a bronze statue on main street to commemorate the song. That "girl in a flat bed Ford is featured in the mural, and she's lookin' pretty good! The building that the mural is painted on burned, but they managed to save the wall. Now, there's a park where the rest of the building once stood.

There's an annual music fest too, inspired by the band. This year's is coming up soon, on Sept. 27. The event website has details.

The historic Route 66 goes right through Winslow, as does the Southern Pacific railroad. Because the town has been such an important cog in the transportation system a  Hardy House was built here in 1930. It was named La Posada, "the resting place."

The hotel has been lovingly restored and is a real treat to visit. We had a delicious lunch in the hotel's Turquoise Room, and after lunch wandered the hotel admiring the historic furnishings, art, and garden spaces. Their gift shop offers beautiful Native American jewelery, as well as other handcrafted items, and we really enjoyed browsing.

Last but not least, following the information on a little brochure I picked up at the Homolovi Park visitor's center, we found our way down to Winslow's First Street, where a very attractive little park has been built along the railroad tracks. Central to the park is a totem pole carved by Peter "Wolf" Toth. He has carved one in each of the 50 states (two in some states) and this was the location he chose for his work in Arizona. Photos of each of his carvings, as well as his life story, are in his book "Indian Giver".

The predicted winds had picked up during lunch, and by the time we reached camp it was a full gale. We settled down to take the afternoon off, huddling on the lee side of the trailer, watching the afternoon shadows lengthen. We plan an early departure so as to get out of the area before the strong winds kick up again.

The photo album has more shots of the area, and of the beautiful La Posada hotel.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Heading south

Well, the dentist in Klamath Falls couldn't find any cause for Steve's toothache, which makes in none the less painful, but, resulted in no treatment. So, we've decided the best approach is to head for home. That way if he needs to get to his regular dentist he can. I still don't feel much like sightseeing anyway, so we'll move along faster than usual, and if we both improve we'll slow down and take in whatever points of interest we happen to be near.... that's called shifting to "Plan B".

Shiner and I had taken several forays out into the woods while we were at Collier State Park. She did enjoy the opportunity to work on her leaping-like-a-deer-over-logs skills, and rooting for rodents,and wading in the river, so she got in her daily exercise. Our next stop, Ram Horn campground, in northeastern California.

Another of our favorite out of the way spots, the campground is usually empty or at least sparsely populated when we arrive. This time there were several vehicles and tents in occupancy. We pulled into the far end and managed to find a place that didn't require us to unhitch... we still have that broken jack to contend with.  This is a very rustic campground.... no services and no supervision, so Shiner could run off leash. We explored the road in both directions, inspecting fresh deer tracks and evidence of horses as well as chipmunks and lizards. Shiner would dash up one side of the road, then back and down into the creek bed. I'm sure she traveled at least four times as far as I did in the same amount of time. It had rained recently so the ground was a bit soft, but fortunately we'd missed the muddy stage. We'd been quite a while on the road, and the weather had turned cold, so we tucked in early and prepared for a long day ahead.

Next stop, south on hwy. 395, Hawthorn, Nevada. Hawthorn is largely an Army depot that stores ammunition, not really what you'd call a tourist attraction. It does inspire creative stories however. Being "out in the middle of nowhere", as it is, makes for good story telling. One version version is based on the idea that the depot is really a secret, underground submarine base! A very 007 concept, don't you think!

Whiskey Flats RV Park was our destination, and it's a nice park, as such things go, with large grassy areas at the ends of the rows and across the front of the park. 'Very tidy, people are friendly, full service including a laundry room if you need one. The gentleman who checked us in was very clear..."NO dogs on the grass". OK, so we pull into our assigned space, which is a very narrow ribbon of concrete snuggled up to another rig, on their very own ribbon of concrete. As we've been assigned an end space our doors open onto a large patch of beautiful green grass, and in the middle of the grass is a sign..."NO dogs on the grass"! Shiner is quite young and has not yet learned to levitate, but we did the best we could, making her walk on only her front feet until we were on the gravel drive. She cast longing looks at the green patch, as she does love to roll on soft green grass, and really couldn't understand the restriction at all!

The park does have a dog area toward the front that is large enough to play ball, which we did, so all was not lost. We tried adventuring out into the desert, but the entire area is scattered with broken glass. I can't imagine how so many acres could be covered with the stuff, all colors, but none of the old sun-purpled glass, so it's not old. Some is sandblasted enough to be rounded on the edges, but much is still sharp, though in mostly very small bits. Very strange, but we worked our way around it and went back to playing in the dog area. A little exercise was enough for the day for all of us.

Back on the road, still heading south, we'd planned a long drive for the day. Traveling at our usual pace wouldn't get us home, and to that dentist, very quickly! We sailed through Nevada's back country, where traffic jams are unheard of, the sky is bright blue, and the vista's are colorful and varied. We never tire of admiring the multicolored, weather sculpted mountains. Evidence of mining activity, new and historic, dots the hillsides, and it's fun to located settlement names on the map, then try to find evidence they were ever in existance as we drive through the location. Lumber was always scarce in this part of the country, so any wooden structures were usually either moved to a new location when a mining town folded up, or have been since used as firewood. We often can see a bit of adobe ruins, if the town was older, or a little concrete foundation, but often even that has been overtaken by sagebrush.

Destination for Monday night, Boulder City Elks Lodge. This is one of our favorite places to stop, as far as city accommodations. (See this post for history of the lodge) We've been here twice before, most recently was two years ago, and the host and bartender remembered us! Such friendly folks, and the club is always having some sort of social gathering so there are always folks about to chat with, and we always find connections. This time we met a gentleman who grew up in El Monte, where I was born, then moved to Long Beach, where we both grew up. He was in the newspaper business, and both our fathers were (though he was in a different capacity). It is truly a small world!

The lodge RV area was pretty full, but we did find a space that, again, allowed us to park without unhitching. Steve had checked the Camping World in Henderson, on the way in, for a new hitch, but they didn't stock the one he wants, so we'll do without for awhile. He can probably fix the broken one when we get home, so it's just a matter of putting up with it until then.

One more long day ahead of us and then we'll take a break for a couple of days. Maybe by then my head will be clear enough to snap a few photos.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Final Duck game for us

I'm a little behind with updates here.... 'been under the weather with a head cold, so here's what we've been up to.

We were back at Armitage Park for the Tennessee game. On Friday we drove up to Portland again to help Grayce bring her trailer down for the game, and this time she drove! Steve just rode shotgun, giving her tips and discussing concerns along the way, and she did a great job!! She's now an official trailer toten' Mama!

We had another "after the game" tailgate party at the campground, our last of the season as we'll be heading home. This time the menu included some great Mexican food - appropriately warming, as the weather had turned colder than any of us had expected.

Sunday we ran around like crazy getting chores and shopping done. We packed up quickly, then Monday morning we met up with John and Chris and caravaned south to Diamond Lake. We found really nice adjacent sites with lake views and settled in for an afternoon of visiting, relaxing, and just admiring the lake. The air was cool, but the sky was mostly clear, with just a few puffy clouds for decorative effect.

Diamond Lake, and the so named peak, were named for John Diamond, an early settler in the area. I do love browsing the names on maps and wondering how a mountain, valley or creek got its name. So many historic figures have been immortalized as landscape features. It makes the area seem more alive to know a little more about who has gone before us.

In the evening Chris and John treated us to a fantastic dinner of lamb chops from their farm. The dogs both  enjoyed a treat of our chop bones, and we all tucked in for the night with full tummies and pleasant thoughts of the beautiful surroundings and good times camping with friends.

Tuesday we woke up to cold, damp skies - winter weather is definitely on the way, so we weren't surprised. After breakfast we all loaded into the truck and took off for Crater Lake, only a few miles away.

Wizard Island in the fog
John and Chris had never been to Crater Lake, so this was a new experience for them.

The blue sky had pretty much disappeared by this time, replaced by a cloud that looked like wet cotton settling down between the trees. Driving the perimeter of Crater Lake, the lovely old stone barricades that border the scenic pull-outs all appeared to be backed by  something solid  instead of the usual bright blue lake.  As the clouds shifted here and there the monochrome landscape varied, still beautiful, though this time in shades of gray.
Chris and John, and the invisible lake

We toured the visitor's center and the lodge. The fog had pretty well dissipated by then, so the glowing blue tones of the lake were gradually revealing themselves. We took a quick tour of the gift shop, and when we came out the party-cloudy skies had turned into a snow storm!
Things do change quickly in the mountains! Holding out hope in the weather forecast for Wednesday, only "partly cloudy" we headed back to camp, and a warm place to relax.

Wednesday we headed back up to Crater Lake, this time under sunny skies. The lake's famous brilliant blue and turquoise tones were on full display, an amazing contrast to the icy gray of the day before.

I never cease to be amazed at the brilliance of the colors here. The slopes around the lake, as well as the color of the water, are so amazing one would suspect the photos have been altered.... no need, it's an amazing landscape without any help!

Chris was interested in walking the trail down to the boat launch, so we headed around to that side of the lake. I only went part way, but she and John finished the 2 mile round trip. It's a really nice, well maintained trail, but quite steep, with more switchbacks than I could count....ranked "strenuous" on the list of trails in the park. There are some beautiful views from the higher levels, so I felt like I saw the best of it in the 1/3 of the trail that I traveled.
Chris on the trail

More photos in the album here.

Thursday we said adieu to our friends as they departed for a meet-up with other friends at the coast, and we start creeping our way toward Texas.

I'm feeling a bit brain dead with a bad head cold, and Steve developed a horrendous toothache, so we've scheduled a stop in Collier State Park (near our old stompin' grounds, Chiloquin) so he can hunt  up a dentist. While he's in town he'll also be shopping for a new hitch jack, which broke while we were at Diamond Lake. There's always something to keep us on our toes!!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Blood and Thunder - a book review

Blood and Thunder; Hampton Sides (2007)

This title was in the bookstore when we visited Bosque Redondo (see the post on that trip), so we purchased the Kindle version and have been reading it "on the trail", so to speak. What an amazing story, and so much of it buried or long forgotten. This is the kind of history we must not forget!

Though the famous mountain man Kit Carson is the central figure in this book, he is set in context, surrounded by many others who were so integral to the rapidly unfolding history of the time.

Stephen Watts Kearny, John Fremont, Henry Sibley, General James Henry Carleton, the Navajo warrior Narbona, and Senator Thomas Benton. Others, equally important but whose names are lesser known, rise to importance as the story unfolds. The conflicts with Mexico, the interactions between the various tribes, and the interests of the pioneers in their movement west, all play a part in the drama, and Sides does well at allowing the reader to understand each perspective.

Kit Carson
Though Kit Carson was illiterate and left no writings of any kind, the story of his life has been gleaned from interviews held during his lifetime, as well as the reminiscences of those who knew him well. His strong friendship with the explorer John Fremont is explored, as well as his connections to the Bent family, famous for the establishment of Bent's Fort.

A fascinating man who spoke many languages and understood the many Native American cultures he encountered, he also worked for the US Army,  killing these same Indians and acting at the Army's direction in removing them from their homelands and onto dismal reservations.

The author is as objective as one could be, I think, in describing the times, the reasoning behind the actions and plans, and weaving together the strands of politics, culture, the interactions of our government with Mexico, and western movement, over-layed with the strong personalities who played such important roles in the early history of our country.

I've read a lot of history set in this time period, but never have I encountered such a masterful collage of events and personalities.

Gen James Carleton
In many ways this book could be considered a guidebook to the history of the southwest, particularly the history of the Navajo Nation, as they were rounded up, sent to the reservation at Bosque Redondo (Fort Sumner, NM), and in the end, finally allowed to return to their native land. Many of the battles and other events occurred in locations we have recently visited. The battle between the Navajo and the US Army in Canyon de Chelly at Fortress Rock becomes horribly real when you've been there and seen the harsh environment. The narrow shelf high up in the canyon known as The Place Where Two Fell Off, where a Navajo woman threw herself over the cliff, taking a soldier with her, becomes a war memorial.

A sad but fascinating tale, and one that is a must-read for anyone visiting the area, or interested at all in the impact of the policies growing out of the belief in Manifest Destiny.

A bonus for the true history buff, this book will lead to many others, as sources are not only sited, they are briefly analyzed in a notes section.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Good times in Eugene

Back in the ol' stompin' grounds... Armitage Park, in Eugene, is our usual hangout for the beginning of the football season. This year we will not be tailgating at the stadium this year, so we have an alternate plan, two days of tailgating at Armitage! We partied in the park on Friday evening, took the bus in to the the stadium for the game, and followed up with another party on Saturday evening. Good times visiting with a lot of our friends, some who still live in the area and others who have come from other states for the game. 

We didn't have high expectations for excitement during this first game, as the school we played wasn't much of a challenge, but the crowed showed up in full Duck regalia.

Worthy of note is the new Duck Football Performance Center, which one columnist described as "looking like something out of a George Lucas movie", and indeed it does. From Martin Luther King Blvd. it appears to float in space, a little like the Death Star in Star Wars.

In the patio between the facility and the bookstore, however, it becomes a serene space reminiscent of a meditation garden, until all the fans show up that is! The entire complex, consisting of several buildings from previous expansions, has been clad in new materials, most are now flat black to coordinate with the new center, giving the complex a rather intimidating presence. We had limited opportunity for photography but there is a great slide show here that has some wonderful shots of the interior.

We know the area so well that it's very convenient to shop here.... also - no sales tax and because we know where all the stores are. So, between the long lists we've been compiling and the basics of groceries and other housekeeping stuff, we've kept pretty busy running here and there and then trying to figure out how to fit it all into the already crowded RV.

We rewarded ourselves for a day of hard work over the shopping lists with a dinner out at the new Wild Duck Cafe on Coburg. The downtown restaurant, across from Matt Court, is still there, so this is a brand new venture. The interior has been turned into a gallery for the artistic talents of the crew at Metal Zen, a local company. Ducks sail around the room, acting as dividers between two small sections of the restaurant, while below them cattails reflect the soft lighting. Very attractive, but not overdone or distracting.

Attracted to the large wooden sculpture of Sasquatch in the room adjoining our dining room I started talking with one of the wait staff and learned some amazing details.

The figure is carved in the likeness of Glen Falconer, who was the first brewmaster with the Wild Duck brewery in the old days, when they were located on 6th Street downtown. The bigger than life Sasquatch guards what will be the entrance to the bar and possible brewery. The football helmet on his upraised fist conceals a bottle with the Wild Ducky label.

Glen was much beloved by his friends and coworkers and there is an annual Sasquatch beer fest now held in his memory. You can read more about him at the website of a foundation formed to further his interests in brewing. They offer scholarships and support the Sasquatch beer fest, among other activities.

The atmosphere in this new cafe is comfortable, and seems quieter than when it was occupied by BJ's (which has now moved over to VRC). The menu is expanded from the cafe down by the university, and seems a few steps above the average pub food. We'll definitely be back to try out other items on the menu!

We're going to lie low for the next few days and visit some old friends, waiting for the next home game!