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.
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.
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)
As 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 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.
Since the saguaro is a symbol of the American west, I plan to highlight Tombstone, Arizona in my next two posts. Stay tuned.
I 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/
There 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.
For those who have not seen the Grand Canyon in Arizona firsthand, you will be amazed and will stand there in awe.
How can one take in such beauty and peacefulness? It’s certainly worth a trip.
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.
The 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.
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.
America’s Highway, Route 66, continues as a picturesque and interesting ride as we traveled from New Mexico into Arizona.
We 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.
According 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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.