The Glory Road


January 27, 2016, Walsenburg, CO-  U.S. Highway 160 has long been one of my favourite routes- at least, the part between Tuba City, AZ and this little south central Colorado community has been, since we first traveled it, in 1983.

I lived for 5 years in Tuba City, four of them with Penny.  I was a school counselor, at the public Intermediate School (Grades 4-6).  During that time, we made friends with several people who lived there, and in the Navajo communities further northeast, sheepherding communities like Dinnebito, Tonalea, Cow Springs, and Kaibeto.  Highway 160 runs through Tonalea and Cow Springs, and there are several classic rock formations, throughout the portion of Arizona that is bisected by the 160, all the way to Four Corners, where four states meet.

I will do more with photos, when traveling the route again, in June.  For now, a dead battery in my camera, and a time frame connected with the Essential Oils Winter Summit, which calls me to the Front Range, have interrupted the photographic aspect of driving along this glorious road.

Once past Four Corners, I encountered a series of uniquely beautiful southern Colorado towns:  Bustling and congenial Cortez, agricultural Mancos and Bayfield, riparian Durango and its stately Fort Lewis College, healing Pagosa Springs, ski-oriented South Fork, laid-back Del Norte, commercial hubs Monte Vista and Alamosa, Spanish land-grant Walsenburg.

I pretty much bulled my way along the road today:  I gave a Navajo hitchhiker a ride from Tuba to Kayenta, the gateway to Monument Valley, scene of so many John Ford Westerns.  I filled up the car at City Market’s gas station, in Cortez.  I filled myself up at Junction Restaurant, Pagosa Springs- a favourite of mine, just because it lies at the western edge of Wolf Creek Mountain, whose Pass is frequently blocked in winter.

Not so, this evening, and I marveled at the stars  overhead, once being able to slow down and take them in, atop the massive mountain pass, with no ice or snow on the road.  I was planning to stop in Alamosa, for the evening, but the only non-chain motel had a No Vacancy sign, despite a near-empty parking lot.

It was just as well, though, as I made it to Walsenburg, a town I  visited, briefly, two years ago, whilst bringing furniture further up the road, to the Denver area.  Sands Motel is a gem, small enough to have gorgeous rooms AND be economical.  I will post a photo or two of the motel, when writing about my return trip.

For the next three days, I will be ensconced in a business meeting, so my posts will alternately extol essential oils and address some of the prompts in Winter Scavenger Hunt.  Stay sane and warm, everyone.

My Life Thus Far: The Fifties


January 26, 2016, Prescott-

I have decided to look at my 6 1/2 decades, in terms of each year’s high point, low point,places and people in the heart, and amazing things. Where there are no listed “People in the heart”, Mom and Dad were a given. Obviously, this has meant some very deep psychic chrononautics, memories and reflections, with regard to my first decade, the 1950’s; so, here goes.

1950- High Point:  I bounced out, towards the end of the year, albeit almost feet first.

           Low Point:  Almost coming out feet first.

          People in the heart-Mom and Dad,  my three living grandparents.

1951- High Point:   Being the center of attention.

           Low Point:  Uncle Jim went to war.

           Places in the heart:  Gooch Street, Melrose (our first home) and the duplex on                      Central Street, Saugus (our second home).

1952- High Point: My sister, Cheryl, was born.

            Low Point:  Dad worked nights.

            People in the heart:  Cheryl, Cousin Dale, Grandma.

1953- High Point: Playing with Pal, the collie mix.

            Low Point:  Grampy died.                                                                                                                    

            Places in the heart: Grandma’s house, Aunt Hazel’s and Uncle Ellie’s house.

1954- High Point:  Walking up to Grandma’s by myself.

            Low Point:  Getting spanked for it.

           People in the heart:  My paternal aunts, Carol and Margie, who were my first teen              babysitters; two little girls who were my friends, but whose names I forget, and                  Russ, the first boy to be my friend.

1955-High Point: David was born.

            Low Point:  Moving to Adams Avenue, to what at first struck me as a shack. (Dad                 and Mom made it into a real home, though).

             People in the heart:  My first peer friends- Eddie, Allan, Mario and Tommy.

             Place in the heart:  Conrad’s Farm (They had horses!)

1956- High Point: Learning to read.

              Low Point:  Realizing I was different from the other First graders.

              People in the heart:  Miss Lavin (my First Grade teacher); Father Lawrence                          McGrath (who gave me First Communion); Donna, Ellen and Nancy W., my girl                  classmates.

1957- High Point: Getting to go up Blueberry Hill by myself.

            Low Point:  Getting bullied in the neighbourhood.

            People in the heart: Bobby Matthews, who stood up for me; Jimmy and Jack, my                  friends down the street.

            Places in the heart:  Blueberry Hill, where I hiked and sledded; Pleasant Creek,                    where I went to meditate.

1958- High Points:  Learning my multiplication facts; family visit to Cape Cod.

            Low Point:  Getting pelted in the head with acorns.

            People in the heart:  New friends Charlie and Clyde; Miss Nugent (my Third Grade              teacher.

            Places in the heart:  Johns Pond, Cape Cod;  The Field, and Nannygoat Hill, Saugus.

1959-High Points:  Visiting family in Stamford, CT; vacation in the White Mountains of               New Hampshire.

          Low Point:  My friend and classmate, Donna,moved.

          People in the heart:  Cousins Danny, Kathy and John.

          Places in the heart :   High Street, after dinner during Daylight Savings Time;                     Franconia Notch and North Conway, NH.

Amazing things in my 1950’s- The transformation of 48 Adams Avenue into a nice family home. All the times I walked into neighbours’ unlocked houses, when I was 5 &6, until Father McGrath mentioned, at Sunday School, that it was wrong.  A teen party upon which I happened, at age 8. (They let me stay a while, long enough to realize just how beautiful girls are).   Learning the joys of walking, which took me everywhere in Saugus.

This was the time of American Bandstand, Mighty Mouse, Tom and Jerry, and my first forays into nerdiness:  Perry Mason,  Feep’s Fantasmic Features and Hawaiian Eye.  It was when I learned that not all grown-ups liked kids, even when they worked with us.  There were those, like my First and Third Grade teachers, who did love us.  They are the ones I remember most clearly.

As the Fifties closed, I was slowly branching out as a person.





Scattered Memories


January 25, 2016, Prescott- I had the unexpected pleasure of working with two groups of first-graders, today.  Later on, came the displeasure of blocking and deleting someone who was soliciting money, which I can’t spare.

Now, let’s get back to the Winter Scavenger Hunt.

I recall little of my first kiss.

I wasn’t at all of the age when such would normally occur.

There was, of course, a lingering sense of bliss.

It set an amorous path in motion, though I was but the age of four.

Time went on, I felt I might have come from Planet Mars.

My consciousness, anyway, was somewhere among the stars.

I ate equally of animal and plant.

My siblings cringed at foods of green.

Not I, without rant,

I took helpings of spinach and broccoli, staying serene.

Macaroni and cheese was a dish at which Mother excelled.

Many meals featured bread crumbs, and their flavour cast a spell.

Alas, the richness of memory

Is a place in which I must not long dwell.

Black Canyon Trail: The Elusive K-Mine and More Agua Fria


Cactus Wren nest, in ocotillo plant.

January 24, 2016, Black Canyon City-  I returned to the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail,  this afternoon, with a long-time family friend and her dog in tow.  This hike was 5.5 miles round trip, not as intense as last week’s jaunt, but exactly what I had in mind.

We parked in the spacious Trailhead Lot, just north of Black Canyon City, and were treated to a taste of the lushness this section of the Sonora Desert offers.


Blooming creosote, Black Canyon City Trailhead


Ocotillo and sahuaro cacti, Black Canyon City Trailhead

We headed out, up a 1.1 section of trail called Horseshoe Bend, being on the south side of the feature of the same name, which was my stopping point last week.  It is not a strenuous trail section, and offers a few anomalies, such as the Pharaoh’s Face.  At the 1.1 mile point, Horseshoe Bend meets two other segments:  K-Mine and Skyline.  We took the K-Mine Trail, which took us close to the spot where I stopped last week.


Pharaoh’s Face, with a barrel cactus keeping watch, Horseshoe Bend segment, BCT


Friends along for the afternoon, junction of Horseshoe Bend and K-Mine Trails

The K-Mine Trail features mild switchbacks, down into a vast valley, outside Black Canyon (the natural feature).  The cacti and succulents here take full advantage of the water wealth proferred by the Agua Fria and its tributary streams.


K-Mine Trail, west of Black Canyon City


K-Mine Trail, west of Black Canyon City


Desert valley, west of K-Mine Trail

The K-Mine Trail offered striking vistas, before taking us down to the Agua Fria, southwest of last week’s fording spot.

We explored a bit along the Agua Fria, but my intuition said it would be best for the three of us, that we turn back.  This did not happen, though, before we checked out a small cataract, a bit upstream from the K-Mine Trail.


Edge of box canyon, along Agua Fria, near the K-Mine Trail


Agua Fria River, north of Black Canyon City, with small cataract in the background.

We met three young ladies, riding a quad and a small motorcycle, and watched as they gingerly negotiated the river.  After returning to the trail proper, we found yet another crossing place, but again I had a feeling in my gut to turn back.  So, up the K-Mine Trail we went again.  The short section of trail to my last stopping place can wait for another day.  Everyone’s well-being mattered more.

On the way up, we spotted a couple of cactus wren nests.  One was wedged in between the arms of a sahuaro.


Cactus wren nest, K-Mine Trail

With such confirmations as these, and several heart-shaped rocks along the way, we called the day a success.  More exploration of the Black Canyon Trail, and other such routes in Arizona, await, over the next several months.




A Matter of Opinion


January 23, 2016, Prescott-

Angels come to call, on delicate wings

Happiness, they bring, in a climate carefree and loose

“It’s been down to brass tacks long enough.”, the Archangel sings,

“No more beet root salad, no one’s neck will meet the noose.”

(This is a response to another prompt in the Winter Scavenger Hunt.)


Present Company Excluded


January 22, 2016, Prescott-

“You should never have come back to this town, Eddie.”, Marco hissed.  Eduardo Figueroa was not exactly many girls’ idea of Mr.Right.  A large, ungainly man of 36, he had never quite made first base, and wouldn’t even have been a candidate for Ballet Voluminosa.  Marco Soso-Blanco, on the other hand, was El Jefe, with several exquisite ladies keeping tabs on his every move.  This was Little Havana, and Marco had come in on the ground floor, all swagger and confidence, from the moment he stepped off the Mariel boat, at the age of 10.

Marco ruled his schools, from then on, getting his first kiss at 11 and the rest unfolding as he wanted it.  Upon graduation, it was all business for Marquito.  Eddie, on the other hand, as previously noted, had his work cut out for him.  He struggled in school, physically, socially and academically.

Nonetheless, there came a point in Senor Figueroa’s life, age 22, to be exact, when the intellectual part of life started to come together.  He learned skimming.  He mastered numbers, and made a bundle.  This took Eddie away from Miami, and brought him to Atlantic City.  Marco, by contrast, found the day-to-day grind a bit nerve-wracking.  He relied on a crew of sleazy accountants, muscle men and abogados to keep him atop the food chain.

The thing about Atlantic City, though, is that it started to go downhill, sliding ever towards Miami, figuratively and literally.  People began to move to brighter climes, and for Eddie, the lure of home, as harsh as that home had been, back in the day, proved irresistible.  Eduardo visited a few untethered muscle men of his own, and had no trouble recruiting them for what he had in mind.

For the first time in his life, Eddie Figueroa sauntered into a room that wasn’t his bedroom.  He had been driven out of Atlantic City, true, but he had left nothing behind.  The dinero had gone to the Cayman Islands, close enough to Cuba that he could take it out in a series of day trips, should the need arise.  He was set, and so, Eduardo, “El Gordo”, hissed back at Marco Soso Blanco, “Maybe I shouldn’t have, but here I am.  So, Marquito, how about you watch-and learn.”

Eduardo had taken pains to make sure his men had pennied the front and side entrances “to the nondescript “furniture store” and bodega, across from Copacabana.  There was only the rear entrance available for quick egress.  Marco and his two immediate bodyguards were thus transported out of the office, horizontally and feet first, twenty minutes after Senor Eduardo Figueroa took control of Little Havana.  Eddie looked down at his now lifeless former tormentor.  ”  It’s a lucrative game, Marquito. It’s just not suitable for present company.

(Not suitable for present company is a prompt in the Winter Scavenger Hunt)

A Measure of Kindness


January 21, 2016, Prescott- I am spending today and tomorrow with fourth graders at a small elementary school, on Prescott’s north side.   It’s a welcoming place, that has offered me continuity, over the years.  I will miss that, in the latter part of next week, but one must choose, and move forward with those choices.

Here’s a bit of speculation, on a different note:

Is it ethical to practice vivisection on ants?

Looking at the segments of the writhing forms,

whilst knowing full well none of them may register a plaint.

The susurration of a shocked animal-rights advocate, in Scandinavia, may be the norm.

Yet, would it be any less barbaric, for a horseshoe to land on the insects, as they herd their aphids, among their plants?

(The above is in response to another prompt, in the Winter Scavenger Hunt).



January 20, 2016, Chino Valley- It’s easy to enter into hibernation, physical and /or mental, in the somnolent season.  I linger in bed a bit longer, in January, than I do even a month prior, or following.  The darkness does not spur one forward.  It is the sense of light; the inner sense of duty, that gets me going, during these days of what passes for winter, around here.

I will be going up to Colorado, next week, leaving Wednesday morning and getting back sometime on Sunday, the last day of January.  Much of the time will be spent talking, pondering and internalizing ways to promulgate the the beneficial use of essential oils.  I am encouraged when I see how many people are taking to these time-honoured healing media.  Whether through the company whose products I promote and use, one of its competitors, or that most American of systems, DIY, essential oils cast forth no side effects.

I digress.  The topic at hand is hibernation.  I wish the Wall Street bears would go back into hibernation, and stay there.  They have a job to do, though:  Teaching us all not to be greedy, for what one holds too tightly, others can and will take away.

Winter, for me, though, cannot be a time of slumber, or of sorrow.  I must go up north, and tend to my part in the healing arts.  I will miss my precious children, those three school days, but what I bring back will only help them, and everyone else I meet, to have a better life.

That said, I may sleep in (until 6:30) tomorrow- unless the call to duty comes beforehand.

Black Canyon Trail: Ever Glorianna


January 17, 2016, Black Canyon City-  With the snow along Prescott Circle Trail slowly turning to mud, I determined that today was as fine a time as any to resume my journey down the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail.  Last spring found me stopping at a ranch in Bumble Bee, an old mining town-turned-have for off-gridders.  About a mile further east, along the old Crown King Road, lies Glorianna Trailhead.  It was there that I began today’s marathon:  12.5 miles, round trip, to Black Canyon City and back.

The crew of All-Terrain Vehicle enthusiasts, who greeted me at the trailhead, confirmed that this was the route I needed to follow-  a fact I had determined from looking on the BCNRT website, earlier.  It’s always good to have locals know where one is headed, the fantasy goons in “Deliverance” aside.  So, I bid them a fine afternoon, and headed out.


Granite tower, near Glorianna Trailhead, Bumble Bee, AZ

Above, I encountered a cholla cactus, shimmering in the afternoon sunlight, a group of sahuaro, seemingly on the march, and, upon climbing a ridge, my first trailside view of Black Canyon City, still four miles further southeast.

The shared use portion of the trail ran for about two miles, before it split off from the road, and headed uphill, just west of the small shooting range, where a very focused young man was practicing,  and thankfully facing away from me.

About thirty minutes later, I came upon one of the two big treasures of the route:  The Agua Fria River.


View of Agua Fria River, from a ridge to the northwest.

This used to be privately-held ranching land, and the old fence posts dot the trail.


Old fence post, about a mile west of the Agua Fria.

The river needed to be forded, but as you can see, the shallowness made this a minor task- and it was rather delightful.  The cast and stunt people of “The Revenant” would have been rolling on the ground laughing.

Just before I made my way down to the flowing stream, the ruggedness of the upper branch of Black Canyon presented itself.


Upper Branch of Black Canyon, north of its namesake town.

Above are two views of the Agua Fria, before I crossed (right) and after (left).  Just after I forded, a mother/daughter hiking pair came down from the south rim, accompanied by their protective 1 1/2 year-old-German Shepherd, who let me know my presence was not appreciated.  The women were more gracious, though, and held the youngster by her collar.

Onward and upward, I headed towards the canyon for which the town is named.  It is a far more interesting sight than I had previously thought. On the lower right is one of the four spur canyons which one encounters along the Horseshoe Bend subsection of the Glorianna.  On the lower left is a good view of the limestone “wall” which distinguishes Horseshoe Bend.


The canyon itself, which will be the focus of further exploration, next Sunday, is seen again, on the lower right.  I got a nice zoom shot of a cylindrical edifice that rises about three miles east of Black Canyon City, from the vantage point of Black Canyon’s north rim.

So as to get back to the wide road before dark, I did not tarry long at Horseshoe Bend, before heading in reverse.  Below are three examples of the mineral beauty to be seen along this trail section.

I encountered the three female hikers again, on my way uptrail, after recrossing the Agua Fria.  Dog was no happier to see me than she was the first time, but no matter.  I also met the ATV group, once back on the shared-use part of the trail.  They had been concerned for my safety, and once it was established that I was fine and knew where I was going, they headed on their way.

There are enough loose ends to be explored around Horseshoe Bend, that I will return here next weekend.  Stay tuned.

Sleep? Whazzat?


January 17, 2016, Prescott-

It had been about four months, since the last sighting of the fishermen.  Nadia, a red head among Romanians who had mostly jet-black hair, could feel the energy of those African fishermen, as they stared at her, and at the two, equally-ginger toned wolf-men who alternately barked orders at her, sometimes literally, and led her, tethered at the neck by a leather-collar, which they had devised from the hide of a small eland they had captured, about five months earlier.  Rather ironic, her plight, Nadia thought- a woman being walked about by wolves.  It all reminded her of an old Korean film she had seen, “To The Rose Inn”, she recalled, in which a man leads his female captive around on a leash, she walking on all fours.  “At least, I am allowed to walk upright”, she mused.

Narcolepsy was affecting the were-creatures, especially as they had discovered the local beer, which they were foolishly imbibing even in the the throes of a full moon.  They had stolen a goodly amount of the brew from some inebriated fisherfolk, whom they found snoozing in midday, about two weeks earlier.  It was this act which led to Nadia Donescu’s recovering her freedom.

On the morning of a waning gibbous moon, Nadia awoke to find her captors snoring, and lying in a copse, about 40o meters away from their usual spot- which was practically right next to where she was tethered.  Across the glade, she heard strange noises:  It seemed someone was slashing brush with a machete, but she couldn’t be sure.  The noises got louder, waking the two brutes.  The vocalist became clear:  It was a bull elephant!   The wolf-men looked at one another, then at the pachyderm.  They chortled to one another,  in delight.  Not paying the slightest mind to Nadia, they each grabbed a roughly-hewn atlatl, which they had fashioned from local flint, and attempted to encircle the snorting beast.

Nadia had her eyes on the elephant, too, but was more concerned with loosening the collar around her neck.  With the men otherwise engaged, and the bull warily eyeing them, she was able to extract herself from the shackle, and dart behind a baobab tree.  The bull elephant suddenly made for the man to his right and lifted the shrieking werebeast clear off the ground, throwing him into the cove.  A  Nile crocodile had an unusual lunch, that morning.

His partner-in-crime readied his makeshift atlatl and aimed for the crazed bull.  The weapon grazed the animal on his left temple, further maddening him and directing his attention to the now-hapless werewolf.  The man could not outrun the elephant, but tried to shimmy up the baobab.  The mad bull wrapped his trunk around the man-wolf, threw him to the ground, and stomped him, in one fell swoop.

Nadia wasted no time in clearing out of the disheveled camp, and ran towards the road she remembered from one of their infrequent forays into the fishing camps along the lake.  In short order, she happened upon a Chinese construction worker, and his two children, sitting by a koi pond they had devised, in which the children’s pet goldfish were happily at play.  The older child, a girl, took two of the goldfish, placed them in a plastic bowl with some lake water and covered it with wax paper, secured with an elastic band.  This, she proudly offered to the disheveled Nadia.  The father spoke some German, as did Nadia, and offered to take the newly freed woman to the nearest town.  Nadia was only too happy to accept.