Thursday, May 31, 2012

Arizona Road Trip - Part 3 - Petrified Forest

The Petrified Forest National Park was not at all like I had imagined - there wasn't a tree in sight! Just miles and miles of desert.  Studded throughout the park though were the remains of an ancient forest - fallen and broken trees that had been transformed to quartz ridden petrified wood.

A large petrified log with a smaller broken off piece

Here is what the guidebook says about it.

"...The trees fell, and swollen streams washed them into adjacent floodplains.  a mix of silt, mud and volcanic ash buried the logs. This sediment cut off oxygen and slowed the logs' decay.  Silica-laden groundwater seeped through the logs and replaced the original wood tissues with silica deposits.  Eventually the silica crystallized into quartz, and the logs were preserved as petrified wood.  Over the 225 million years since the trees lived, the continents moved to their present positions, and this region was uplifted.  As a result the climate changed and the tropical environment became today's grassland.  Over time, wind and water wore away the rock layers and exposed fossilized ancient plants and animals.  The hills will yield more fossils as weathering sculpts the Painted Desert's soft sedimentary rock."  National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior

It is against the law to collect even the smallest piece of petrified wood from the park to maintain the integrity of the park.  However, there is some to be found outside the park boundries and enterprising residents collect and sell pieces outside of the park itself.

A large log on a cliff at center left, with fallen logs below

A piece of petrified wood with the colored quartz visible

The logfall in the center looks like people hiding in the rocks

A cluster of petrified logs

Another type of old fossils with petrified wood on the ground in the background

A field of mineral-rich petrified logs

The petrified wood is just one aspect of the Petrified Forest National Park.  Next time I'll post pictures of the Painted Desert portion - a beautiful park for exploring and learning about the prehistoric past.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Arizona Road Trip - Part Two - Winslow

I'm sure any Eagles fans out there are familiar with their song "Take It Easy".  The second verse which starts "Standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona...." is the claim to fame of the town of Winslow.  They have a "Standing on the corner committee" which has made a tourist stop centered around the song, complete with a statue of lead singer Don Henley standing on the famed corner.  It's a fun place to visit. 

Winslow also is on the famous Route 66 - the first east-west two-land highway that spanned the US and was such a popular road back in the 1920s to 1950s.  Now it only exists in patches, having been replaced by the much larger interstate highway system.

Lloyd with Don Henley on the famous corner

The fun store on the corner - part of Route 66

"The Corner"

In the window of the building is the flat-bed Ford mentioned in the song.  I'll have to go back some day and get some better pictures.  It was a fun stop on our road trip, and Lloyd has the t-shirt to prove it.

Stay tuned....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Arizona Road Trip - Part 1 - Four Corners

Four Corners - where four of the United States states meet - has intrigued Lloyd ever since seeing it featured in an episode of Breaking Bad on HBO TV last year.  Never mind that it's almost a full day's drive from where we are in Surprise, AZ, miles from any sizeable town where one could spend the night., the trip had to be made.

The four states, clockwise from top left: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona. The monument is where the red circle is, where the four states meet.  (Photo from Wikipedia)

Off we went!  It was a beautiful drive through eastern Arizona and into western New Mexico, north into Colorado and west to Utah.  However, because we stopped so often to take pictures along the way, and with a flambuoyant lack of forethought and planning, we embarked on an unplanned adventure.

The scenery was beautiful - somewhat barren and desert-like, but very interesting.  I especially liked the part of New Mexico we saw - such beautiful cliffs - but I was driving and didn't get the pictures I would have liked to.

It was getting dark by the time we found the monument's location, and, surprise! surprise! the area was closed - locked down for the night.  It's out in the middle of nowhere on the Navajo reservation.

Looks like this sign was used as target practice

The towns we had passed through didn't appear to have anything in the way of tourist accommodation so we decided to keep going and see if we could find accommodation in Utah.

 So we drove, and we drove - up winding twisting mountain roads with signs that said "free range".  Do you know what 'free range' means?  We didn't either until we rounded a bend on a mountain road in the dark and came face to face with a couple of cows standing on the side of the road, staring us down!  Well of course, why shouldn't cattle have the run of the roads, in the dark, to scare the life out of citified sort-of-lost tourists.!  You can bet we kept a sharp eye out for animals on the road for the rest of the trip.  We had no, or little, idea where we were or when we would find a motel.  (we did say though that we'd like to see what the scenery on that mountain looked like in the daylight) We thought we were on the road to Blanding, Utah but when the treacherous road ended the sign pointed east and said 'Blanding 15 mi.'  We groaned!  We were so tired - that 15 miles sounded like 150.  But on we drove until we finally spotted lights.  Civilization!  The first motel we spotted was bright and clean and blessedly had vacancies.  We checked in and had a lovely, comfortable sleep, before heading out again, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning.

We retraced our drive of the night before and discovered that the awful mountain road really was quite awful - narrow and twisting, with switchbacks and crazy turns.  The scenery was quite beautiful though and before you know it we were through the corner of Colorado and into Arizona again.

When we got to the Four Corners monument there were quite a few people there already.  Everyone wanted their picture taken standing on the monument with feet and arms in all four states.

Photo from Wikipedia

 People were friendly, patient and polite and took turns standing in the center where the four states meet.

Lloyd, standing in Utah while I take his picture from New Mexico
In the center of the circle is a surveyor's disk verifying that this is indeed the spot where the four corners come together.  Although the actual site is off by 2.5 miles, the US Congress determined that it's close enough and the four states agreed that, politically and legally, this spot marked the actual boundries of the states.

Other than take pictures of the monument, there's nothing else to do at the site except shop in the booths offering Native American goods and souvenirs.  I bought a lovely hematite and tiger's eye bracelet, a souvenir fridge magnet and a souvenir mug.  Twenty dollars well spent I figured.  After spending less than an hour at Four Corners, we moved on.

This proved to be an interesting start to our two-day road trip.  Hopefully the rest of the trip would prove to be less harrowing.  We're glad we went to the monument though and saw all the sights between here and there.

To be continued....

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Does this look like a face to you?  Open mouth, curls on the head???

It's the saguaro in our front yard - about 16 feet tall.  The 'hair' is what's left after the blossoms die.  They'll fall off eventually.  The hole is probably the result of a bird trying to find a place to nest. 

Between the front porch and the saguaro is a large toothpick cactus.  I've noticed a nest in it before, but now its occupied by this very busy little bird - not much bigger than a hummingbird.  I don't know what it is but she was very concerned with me sitting on the porch pointing the camera at her nest.

She flew into another bush in the front yard trying to distract me, but I wasn't moving so she came back.

The next time she left, I went closer to the cactus/nest and took this picture.  The entrance is that hole in the middle.  I didn't want to get any closer because I didn't want to scare the mama bird off so I don't know if there are eggs in there or not.

I'll keep an eye on it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Limes, Monkeys and Sinks

Just some random photos from our stay in Arizona so far.

Limes - picked fresh from the tree in our back yard

I squeezed some lime juice into my glass of Diet Pepsi and put a wedge on the glass for garnish. Took it out to the poolside for a photo and somehow got this strange angle which elongated the lime wedge in a bizarre fashion.  Sure tasted good though.

This sweet soft cuddly monkey was bought for Mickey's grandson. 
Doesn't he look all comfy sitting on the prickly Argentine Giant cactus

This is the beautiful sink in the washroom of Tia Rosa's where I had lunch with Roe and Laraine on Tuesday.

Have a good weekend everyone.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Water in the Desert

What can be more precious to a desert state than water?  Yesterday afternoon Roe took me on a brief tour of some of the water features in the desert around and in Mesa. 

But first we had to drive through the desert mountains.

See that large cone shaped mountain in the center of the picture below?  That's the site of the famous Lost Dutchman Mine.  Apparently the Dutchman (politically incorrect terminology now) buried his treasure in the shadow of this point, known as Needle Rock.  Referring to its shadow, he said the treasure is sitting on the point of the needle, but he neglected to state what time of day or even what day or time of year the shadow would be in the right spot.  Hundreds of would be millionaires have tried to find his lost treasure, but to this day it remains lost.

Needle Rock

It's still early enough in the year for the mountains to have green on them.  There were a lot of saguaros growing in these hills.

They almost look like the Rocky Mountains of Alberta...almost, but not quite.

And then we came to the beautiful Salt River.
Salt River
There were several groups of people tubing down the river.  It looked like such fun on such a hot day.  Everytime a group went buy we would yell at them to wave and smile and as they were passing us, Roe would shout out "I want to go with you". 


Farther along the road, or was it back a bit, I don't know.  I got all twisted around.  Anyway we came to Saguaro Lake - a man-made lake in the desert with a marina and people waterskiing with hills covered with saguaro cacti all around.
The marina at Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake

Back in Mesa, we drove to a development called Fountain Lake.  The major feature of this development is the world's tallest fountain.  Every hour on the hour for 15 minutes, it shoots a stream of water 350 feet into the air
The base of the fountain

In full shooting mode

The wind was blowing and made beautiful patterns in the air.

I loved this venture through the waters of the desert.  It was such a hot day so I appreciated the water even more.  The desert is truly a beautiful place.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Friends

Here we are in Arizona again on the hottest days of the year.  It was 42C today - that's about 106F.

I had a lunch date today with two blogger friends I hadn't met before...Roeann and Larainey.  Roe writes a very entertaining blog about Arizona.  In fact, I'm basing our upcoming road trip on her travels as written up in her blog..  Larainey has a blog about her busy family,  told with her own brand of humor and wit.

Pat, Roeann, Larainie

The hour + drive to Mesa was worth it.  We met at Tia Rosa's - home of authentic Mexican food and great decor.  We had a lovely lunch and visited and talked and laughed for a couple of hours.

Tia Rosa's in Mesa, AZ

The entrance area at Tia Rosa's

Roe taking a picture of a beautifulf tile landscape

A feature wall on the back patio.  The white mist is actually that - on hot days
misters are turned on creating a lovely cool atmosphere.

And finally I met the most popular cat in the blogging world - Hank.  He is often featured in Roe's blogs.  Upon meeting him, he immediately rolled on his back and begged to have his belly rubbed, his beautiful blue eyes expressing his pleasure.  He's a great cat.

The day didn't end until Roe and I had visited some of the beautiful sights around Mesa, but that's a blog entry for another day.  I'm so glad I was able to meet these women who I've 'known' on line for awhile.

Friday, May 18, 2012


I've been thinking about what kind of scrapbook layouts I can work on next, other than family pictures and activities, and came up with the idea (not very original) of doing one about my favorite things.  Before I do, though, I'm going to blog about it.  We all have favorites but it's not always to think what they are.  Here's a start.

Color- the grandkids are always asking me this.  It used to be yellow, changed to green for years, but now I think I've settled on shades of aqua/turquoise/teal.

Animal - Cats! Always cats.  They're so cute and cuddly and playful as kittens then become so independent and mysterious as they become adult felines.  How can anyone not love a cat.

Bird - Owls.  I love their eyes and their lovely oval shape.  Until last week I thought they were either white or brown but would you believe I found a picture of a rainbow owl. The species was hunted almost to extinction in Montana but are making a comeback.  For granddaughter Brooklyn, I also found a purple owl - she loves owls and the color purple.

Person in the whole world - My husband - Lloyd Allan MacKenzie.  He has made all my dreams come true - except for the dream of great wealth - but the riches he has given me last far longer than mere money.

Number - it's always been seven - it seems like a magical number somehow.  The fact that I have seven children has nothing to do with it.

Vacation Destination - Arizona, especially in the winter.  It's such an amazing place to explore, from desert to forests and mountains.  I can't get enough of it. 

Flower - For smell - Lily of the Valley and Sweet Peas.  For appearance - Poppy

Lily of the Valley

Sweet Peas


Place I've Lived - I've lived so many places, being a military brat and then married to a man whose job took us all across Canada, but I think the place where I was most content was Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.  The kids were young, my parents were nearby, we were near the ocean beaches, etc.  Life was good there for a young family.

Halifax, NS

Lawrencetown Beach - just a few minutes down the road from where we lived.

 Word - Psychopharmacology.  I love the rhythm of this word which I heard for the first time about 15 years ago as I was driving to work and listening to the radio. It's very singable to the tune of Happy Anniversary.  Try it.  A close runner-up is persnickity.

Song - Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers.  Made popular by the movie Ghost, I loved it before the movie ever came out.

Movie - The Princess Bride...'as you wish'.  This movie has everything - pirates, princesses, evil prince, sword fights, a giant,  monster animals (ROUSs),  castles, magic, and love, pure love.  A great family movie that we watched over and over again.

Book - The Stand by Stephen King.  It contains everything I like in a book - a classic battle between good and evil, a post-apocalyptic setting, a hint of romance, and a touch of the supernatural.

Child - I think at one time or another each of my children thought they were my favorite because whenever one of them asked, the answer was always 'you are'.  I heard it said once that a mother's favorite child is the one who needs her the most at any given time.  That may be true.  It's impossible for me to choose which of my kids is my favorite - all of them are!

Singer - The late, great Roy Orbison.  I watch him on PBS every chance I get.  I've loved his music since the early 1960s when Pretty Woman became popular.  His untimely death was a huge loss to the music world.

Well, in order to keep this post from becomming ridiculously long, I'll end my list there.  Maybe I'll add to it at a later date.  Does anyone out there have the same favorites as me?