Blue Table

As we continued our journey around the Blue Mesa Lake Reservoir in Colorado, I wondered about the name “mesa.”  Naturally, I looked it up. 

Wikipedia says:  Mesa (Spanish and Portuguese for table) is the American English term for tableland, an elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs. It takes its name from its characteristic table-top shape. It may also be called a table hill, table-topped hill or table mountain.

So, with the blue table around and the collection of water that flows into the area, I can see how the Blue Mesa name originated.  

Blue Mesa Dam and Reservoir

The Colorado River Storage Project on the Upper Colorado River in the U.S.A. is the most complex and extensive river water development in the world.  It includes water drainage in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.  

The Curecanti National Recreation Area became one of the components of the project when it was established in 1965 with the completion of Blue Mesa Dam, creating the largest body of water in Colorado, Blue Mesa Reservoir.

“Most visitors to the park are surprised and impressed by Blue Mesa Reservoir, but do not realize there are actually three large dams and reservoirs in the park.”  National Park Service  https://www.nps.gov/cure/learn/historyculture/aspinall_unit.htm

Blessings along the way!

Ron

Desert Giant

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Saguaro!

Tucson, Arizona is home to the nation’s largest cacti. The giant saguaro is the universal symbol of the American west. These majestic plants (or could they be considered trees), found only in a small portion of the United States, are protected by Saguaro National Park.  They are primarily to the east and west of the modern city of Tucson, where you can see these enormous cacti, silhouetted by the beauty of a magnificent desert sunset. (National Park Service – https://www.nps.gov/sagu/index.htm)

Saguaro 4As we traveled through southern Arizona we saw these majestic cacti slowly reaching toward the sky over the years, inch-by-inch.  It seems like they just stand still, reaching upward with outstretched hands, towering over those who would ponder their beauty and age.

Saguaro 1Saguaro are very slow growing cactus. A 10 year old plant might only be 1.5 inches tall. Saguaro can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall (12-18m). When rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated it can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds. (https://www.desertmuseum.org)

  • The saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States.
  • Most of the saguaros roots are only 4-6 inches deep and radiate out as far from the plant as it is tall. There is one deep root, or tap root that extends down into the ground more than 2 feet.
  • After the saguaro dies its woody ribs can be used to build roofs, fences, and parts of furniture. The holes that birds nested in or “saguaro boots” can be found among the dead saguaros. Native Americans used these as water containers long before the canteen was available.

Saguaro 2Since the saguaro is a symbol of the American west, I plan to highlight Tombstone, Arizona in my next two posts.  Stay tuned.

Grand Canyon – beyond words

Grand Canyon 11I really appreciate each of you traveling with me along Route 66 toward the Grand Canyon in Arizona, U.S.A.  Our journey continues as I highlight just a few things.  There is so much to post but I’ll let this website provide the details.  https://grandcanyon.com/

Grand Canyon 14There is no doubt some people disagree with the origin and timeline of the Grand Canyon.  However, I’m not here to argue the point.  Let’s just enjoy the beauty and learn a little about it based on what the National Park Service states, and our own eyes.

Grand Canyon 12You can review the archeological information and photos by the Grand Canyon Association at https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/historyculture/adhigrca.htm.

Grand Canyon 8The Colorado River looks like a stream from observation points.  It appears so peaceful from above but it can be a raging, wild thing at times.

There are some amazing photos showcasing the river.  One photo, along with information, is on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_River.

“The Colorado River is one of the principal rivers of the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico (the other being the Rio Grande). The 1,450-mile-long (2,330 km) river drains an expansive, arid watershed that encompasses parts of seven U.S. and two Mexican states. Starting in the central Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the river flows generally southwest across the Colorado Plateau and through the Grand Canyon before reaching Lake Mead on the ArizonaNevada border, where it turns south toward the international border. After entering Mexico, the Colorado approaches the mostly dry Colorado River Delta at the tip of the Gulf of California between Baja California and Sonora.”


Grand Canyon 15While we were riding back and forth to the various observation points, we saw clouds developing in the distance – and then they opened.

Grand Canyon 16We were miles away from the developing storm and were able to capture a few of the weather moments.

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Grand Canyon 17It’s amazing seeing the Canyon’s grandeur highlighted by the lightning.

I respect the lightning and at this time we determined it was best to depart the area.  Wouldn’t you?

Love and Blessings,

Ron

 

Arizona’s Greatest Canyon

Grand Canyon 9For those who have not seen the Grand Canyon in Arizona firsthand, you will be amazed and will stand there in awe.

Grand Canyon 10How can one take in such beauty and peacefulness?  It’s certainly worth a trip.

NPS Map
National Park Service Map

We drove from Flagstaff, Arizona to the South Rim of the Canyon.  One can catch the tour train dedicated for the canyon as well.  I think the drive itself was fairly peaceful and picturesque – sort of like driving on the plains and wondering where the Canyon begins.  You won’t notice it until arriving and then you see the beauty unfold below you.

 

Grand Canyon 6The National Park Service mentions a “unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep.  Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size.” The park service has excellent information at https://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm.

Grand Canyon 5

Grand Canyon 4

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Sign posted on one of the rocks along the walkway.  

The South Rim is open all year but the North Rim is seasonal.

There are many other sites to explore while in the Grand Canyon region so if one has time it’s a great opportunity.

I appreciate your riding along.  I’ll provide more photos in my next post.

Love and Blessings,

Ron

Route 66 into Arizona – Picturesque

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View of the Painted Desert in Arizona near Route 66.  (Photos by RonLin Photography for Tittle Thoughts.)

America’s Highway, Route 66, continues as a picturesque and interesting ride as we traveled from New Mexico into Arizona.

19421935789_1116011cd0_oWe rode along Route 66 heading for the Grand Canyon and began noticing the beautiful, painted landscape.  Isn’t it amazing how many interesting places we can find even without looking – just taking the time and making the effort. This time it is the Painted Desert. And…I didn’t even realize it at first.

19609670745_25f3a9f775_oAccording to https://www.visitarizona.com/uniquely-az/parks-and-monuments/the-painted-desert-1 , “for an unforgettable encounter with Arizona nature, enter into the Painted Desert, where art comes to life. A broad region of rocky badlands encompassing more than 93,500 acres, this vast landscape features rocks in every hue – from deep lavenders and rich grays to reds, oranges, and pinks. It’s like you’ve been transported into a painting. Located in Northern Arizona, the Painted Desert stretches from the Grand Canyon National Park eastward to the Petrified Forest National Park, with a large portion lying within the Navajo Nation.”

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HISTORY & NATURE

A natural canvas millions of years in the making, no one event shaped the Painted Desert. Instead, the area is evidence of Earth’s volatility. Home to some of the nation’s most memorable formations and features, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, and sunlight, all combined to create the Painted Desert. Deposits of clay and sandstone, stacked in elegant layers, reflects the setting Arizona sun in an altering display of colorful radiance. A remarkable sight that helps make Northern Arizona so unique and picturesque.

The Navajo and Hopi people have lived in this region for hundreds of years, but it was Spanish Colonialists who gave it the name we know it by today – El Desierto Pintado.

Explore a small section of the Painted Desert that is located in the Petrified Forest National Park, just off Interstate 40 around 25 miles east of Holbrook – to get in touch with the natural landscape.

See the beautiful color striations of rock formations and mesas. For the quintessential Painted Desert experience, don’t miss the sunset – it’s when the rocks morph into an awe-inspiring canvas of fiery color.

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While at the Painted Desert I noticed a little wind increasing and then a small whirlwind (or dirt devil or dust tornado) started.  I was intrigued and it was fun to watch. (Photo by RonLin Photography for Tittle Thoughts)

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“Located at Kachina Point, 2 miles (3.2 km) from the north entrance at exit #311 off of I-40. The inn once served as a respite for travelers along historic Route 66.”  – National Park Service; (Photos by RonLin Photography for Tittle Thoughts)

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Traveling along Route 66 provides opportunities for all types of interesting sites, including seeing travelers with various, unique arrangements.

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Years ago travelers along Route 66 would just abandon their vehicles when they broke down.  I can imagine the challenges of finding service centers or repair shops along the way.

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At least when you travel Route 66 today you’ll find ample businesses, service centers and restaurants to ease any fears of travel through the “desert.”

 

With love, Ron

What is Main Street USA?

Route 66 plague near Painted Desert

Ever heard of Route 66?

Route 66 was born in 1926 and is a highway with more than 2,400 miles long that ran from Chicago through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California – ending in Santa Monica.

Route 66 road sign in Oklahoma

Nicknames for the highway include “The Mother Road”, Main Street USA”, and “Will Rogers Highway”.

Well, I think it’s about time I provide a few blogs about one of our trips through parts of Route 66.  This is the first of my blogs to highlight the famous route.

Route 66 map
NPS map of Route 66.  Route 66 was launched as the nation’s first Federal highway system.  It was intertwined with local, state and national roads.

The National Park Service also has excellent information and history on this “special place in American consciousness.”  https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/route66/maps66.html

I still recall as a young person the move series and couple of guys riding Route 66 in a Corvette and the motto “Get Your Kicks” on Route 66.  Here is a video clip of Nat King Cole’s song that may trigger some memories.

 

As I think back about the movie I recall the simpler times, local-small businesses, restaurants, cafes and gas stations that catered to the new found freedoms on the road.

That was part of our experience as we attempted to locate Route 66 during our travels into Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.  I actually “stumbled” on the highway initially when I noticed the first sign, and then tried to follow the route as much as possible.  It was interesting and fun.

Route 66 Glenn's Bakery

I’ll just provide a few highlights along the route we traveled.  I was taken back in time as I noticed the historic sites and reminders of our past when people were just taking to the road with the new, influential automobile.

Route 66 motel

Smithsonianmag.com lists Route 66 as an endangered site as the highway is easing into the past and not aging gracefully.  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/endangered-site-historic-route-66-usa-52145829/.

Here is another result of societal and roadway improvements – this time being set aside by the Interstate System.  I’m glad we have the Interstate but I also like the back roads too – encouraging me to slow down some and take in the sites and sounds.

Route 66 abandoned business

It’s sad in a way as history seems to just dissolve away.  Some of the old restaurants naturally can’t stay in business without help.

I propose groups and businesses take a special interest in keeping this important part of our history.

My next Route 66 blog is coming soon.

With Love,

Ron

Remembering the sacrifice

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Taps are played by the Florida National Guard at the National Cemetery in St. Augustine to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. (RonLin Photography)

Throughout the world, and history, there have been those who served honorably for the cause of freedom so our nations may have peace from conflict, enabling them to pursue and enjoy the rights bestowed upon each individual.  Let’s not let go of these sacrifices.

Although each nation does not have a perfect union I am thankful for the rights we hold dear today – and the sacrifice of those who helped make it possible to have a free society, allowing us to dream and follow those dreams freely.

Memorial Day is an annual, formal holiday in the United States to honor military service members who died in the line of duty.  The date changes each year but is held on the last Monday in May.  It was originally called Decoration Day, as the holiday was centered on decorating the graves of those who had fallen in the U.S. Civil War.   http://www.holidayscalendar.com/event/memorial-day/

I want to highlight the U.S. National Cemetery in St. Augustine, Fla. as the 2018 emphasis to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

St. Augustine National Cemetery - VA Admin photo
The U.S. National Cemetery in St. Augustine, Fla. is managed by Veterans Affairs. (VA Photo)    https:/cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/staugustine

St. Augustine National Cemetery traces its history back to a Spanish monastery founded during the 18th century.  Today, the cemetery perhaps is best known as the home of the Dade Pyramids, believed to be the oldest memorial in any national cemetery.  The cemetery also features a unique Spanish Colonial-style superintendent’s lodge designed to complement the historic architecture found throughout St. Augustine.  https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/florida/st_augustine_national_cemetery.html

Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, the city of St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European city in the United States.  According to the National Park Service the land upon which the national cemetery sits was originally part of a Franciscan monastery that operated until the English took possession of Florida in 1763, converting the monastery into the St. Francis Barracks.  The Spanish regained possession of the territory in 1783 and held it until 1821, when Florida became a part of the United States; all the while, the site remained a military installation.

A portion of the yard at the St. Francis Barracks was set aside for use as a post cemetery, with the first burials occurring in 1828.  Most of the early burials in the cemetery were casualties of the Indian Wars, a series of conflicts waged between 1817 and 1858 as the United States forcibly removed Native Americans, notably the Seminole tribes, to lands west of the Mississippi.  Later burials include those of Union soldiers. Although Florida seceded in 1861, Union troops captured St. Augustine in March 1862 when the gunboat Wabash entered the harbor.

In 1881, the post cemetery was elevated in status to a national cemetery, as stated by the National Park Service.  “St. Augustine National Cemetery covers a 1.3-acre rectangular site at the edge of what was once the walled Spanish city.  The northern half of the grounds are enclosed by locally quarried Coquina stone walls, while a wrought-iron fence surrounds the southern half.  Four pedestrian gates, two each along the eastern and western walls, allow access to the cemetery.  Walkways connect each gate to its counterpart along the opposite wall, and a central avenue serves as the physical and symbolic link between the flagpole at the north end of the grounds and the Dade Pyramids at the south end.  Also at the north end of the cemetery is the superintendent’s lodge.  Built in 1938 out of Coquina stone, the lodge is in the Spanish Colonial style, like much of St. Augustine.  The nearby rostrum is also composed of Coquina stone.”

The cemetery is a solemn and appropriate location to recognize those who championed freedom through the ages.  The public gathers annually for the Memorial Day ceremony.

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Representatives from various veteran and military organizations parade their colors to begin the annual ceremony at the National Cemetery in St. Augustine. (RonLin Photography)

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World War II veterans who remain continue to show their respect for those who served and died.  (RonLin Photography)

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Honors are presented to remind those present that we will not forget.  Providing the honors is typically done by the Florida National Guard, Florida Department of Military Affairs, local law enforcement and veteran organizations. (RonLin Photography)

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We salute those who died serving on behalf of a grateful nation to help secure and maintain the freedoms we hold dear today.  (RonLin Photography)

Let us take time around the world to recognize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nations, including their families.  Where would we be today had it not been for them.

With Love, Ron

#memorialday2018

St. Augustine National Cemetery is located at 104 Marine St. in St. Augustine, FL.  The cemetery is open for visitation daily from 8:00am to 5:00pm; on Memorial Day the cemetery is open for visitation from 8:00am to 7:00pm.  No cemetery staff is present onsite.  For more information, please contact the cemetery office at 904-766-5222, or see the Department of Veterans Affairs website.  While visiting, please be mindful that our national cemeteries are hallowed ground.  Be respectful to all of our nation’s fallen soldiers and their families.  Additional cemetery policies may be posted on site.