Barriers Are In the Mind


February 17, 2020, Yuma-

A commenter on one of my recent posts, on another social media site, took issue with the notion that freedom has a price.  Once, an explanation of that statement was offered, he had a better appreciation o fits meaning.    He did, for his part, also make a valid point:  We can choose not to surrender our freedom to those who would take us down and use us for their own designs. Indeed, I have made several choices, even so far this year, that have not set well with some others.  In the end, though, they can also choose for themselves, as to a best course of action.  The sun should not rise and set, with any other person, when it comes to making choices of one’s own.

After a three-hour visit with some long-time friends, in this bustling border city, I took in two sites that focus on the consequences of discordance and social unrest:  Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park and the border wall at San Luis.

The Prison is, of course,defunct as a place of incarceration.  It long ago  gave  way to a more “up-to-date” facility, in Florence, itself now slated for closure, after over 100 years of use.  Yuma Territorial Prison was established in 1875, at the behest of the area’s representative in the Arizona Territorial Legislature:  Jose Maria Redondo.  It served as the Arizona Territory’s place of incarceration, from 1876-1909.

Since that time, Yuma has alternately used the facility as a temporary high school (1910-1914), a homeless shelter (1930-39) and, most recently, as the centerpiece of the city’s historical heritage preservation.

Here are a few scenes of the present State Historical Park. Below, is a view of the Colorado River’s wetlands, below the Park grounds.


Here is the railroad bridge, opposite the Park.  It is still in use.


This was the Parade Ground.


This was the Guard Tower.


These are two views of the Sally Port  (Puerto de Salir), or main entrance to the enclosed prison.



The present-day Museum is in the site of the Prison Mess Hall.


Men and women, Mormon polygamists and Mexican revolutionaries, white collar thieves and cutthroats-all shared this facility, at one time or another. The most famous of its  prison breaks, the Gates Riot  (October, 1877), saw Superintendent Thomas Gates taken hostage, one of his trusted inmates, Barney Riggs, come to his rescue and killed Gates’ attacker.  The would-be escapees went to the Dark Cell, Gates suffered the ill-effects of the attack for the remaining twenty years of his life and Riggs was eventually set free.

Here is a view of the main cell block.


Next, a couple of views of the typical cell.



These were the first bunk beds.


Finally, this is a view of the Dark Cell, the holding place of the most incorrigible prisoners.


In spite of appearances, the Yuma facility was progressive for its time. It had electricity, running water and was mostly operated with a rehabilitative, rather than a punitive, mindset.

I left this city, for a forty-minute ride to San Luis, to take a brief look at the border crossing leading to the large Sonoran community of San Luis Rio Colorado. It was peak crossing time for day labourers, who were returning home.  In fairness, the barrier here looks nothing like the much-photographed Bollock sections, in other areas along the frontier.  I don’t much care for the fortress-like images being promoted as “necessary”, but the real barriers to human progress are in the mind.  This puts the onus for social change and justice squarely on those creating the barriers-both the antisocial elements whose actions generate fear and the reactionaries who fancy that building such structures will obviate any further efforts at rectifying the imbalances present in society.

Most of us, whether “liberal” or “conservative”, actually fall somewhere in the middle on this one.  I wonder how Thomas Gates, the reformer penologist, would have dealt with undocumented immigrants.





Fleeting Power


January 14, 2020, Peach Springs-

The Colorado River flows, past a point about ten miles from where I sit.  If I were to follow Diamond Springs Road to its terminus, I would be able to stand and witness the power of this still mighty flow.  The Colorado’s power helped to carve out the massive series of gorges that envelop it.  The Grand Canyon itself has an intense set of powers, all its own.

So, it is ironic, to the nth degree, that the people living in its midst have come to feel powerless, for much of their existence within the framework of the most powerful country of the past 1 1/4 centuries.  The Hualapai and their near neighbours, the Havasupai, know the Canyon more intimately than anyone, with the possible exception of the Dineh (Navajo).  Until about ten years ago, though, the Hualapai enjoyed very little of the economic benefits of the Grand Canyon’s drawing power.  The tribe has established a set of West Rim attractions-a Sky Walk, Eagle Point, and a rafting enterprise, as the Colorado can be accessed from a point on the Reservation.  There is also the comfortable Hualapai Lodge and a fairly well-stocked, if somewhat pricey Walapai Market.

I can tell people who feel powerless, from their language- an inordinate reliance on profanity and pejoratives as their means of projecting force.  The louder and more frequently a person curses; the more often someone is dismissive of people who are different from self, the more there is compensation for one’s own perceived irrelevance.

I’ve seen that, in many places-and I see it with several of the children with whom I’m working here.   That, alone, makes the 1 1/2 months I am likely to spend here, extremely urgent.  Not only building them up, but helping to establish a framework for long-term success, have to be primary goals.

Power derived from deception and intimidation is fleeting.  The Hualapai can no longer afford to rely on this means to power.

Changes of Scene


January 13, 2020, Peach Springs, AZ-

As I contemplated the rest of the 2019-2020 academic year, over Christmas-New Year’s Break, two things became evident:  1.  I wanted as many work days as I could arrange and 2.  It would no longer be advisable to turn down work that required a 7 a.m. start.

There are two semesters remaining, before I find my way in the retirement arena.  This one has no outstanding interruptions.  The next one won’t start for me, until September, as August will still find me on the road.

So, it was quite a welcome message that came, towards the end of Break, that the little school here, in  this Seat of the Hualapai Indian Community, some 120 miles west northwest of Prescott, needed a substitute- for an unspecified, but fairly lengthy, period of time.

The deal is, 7 a.m. is the start time.  5 p.m. is the end time, but kids leave at 3. So, all the grading and planning can, conceivably be accomplished during work hours-at least it worth a shot.  The work week is Monday-Thursday, which explains the long day.  Thursdays, substitutes get to leave at 3, so some of my Prescott business can still be done on Thursday, before 6.

Okay, that’s enough stream of consciousness.  My focus, on any day that I am here, will be on the well-being and advancement of people who will be the Guardians of the western reach of the Grand Canyon.  The Hualapai Nation has made some strides, in that regard, including the Sky Walk, from which one can gaze down into the Canyon’s west rim and a road to the Colorado River, on which Hualapai guides bring people to the bottom, without hiking or riding mules.  Although I prefer hiking, the opening of the Canyon, to those unable to walk far, is a plus.

Thus has 2020 already brought a change of scene.

Glen Canyon’s Legacy


October 7, 2019, Page-

Leaving the pleasant Utah border town of Kanab, after a good night’s rest and getting myself a neck pillow (replacing the one left behind in Pennsylvania, last summer), it seemed like a good time to stop a few places in the basin of Glen Canyon.  The area is now best known for the resorts and water-based recreation of Lake Powell.

Just shy of the Arizona state line, lies the former polygamist community of Big Water, UT.  It is now an industrial zone and a research center for the Bureau of Land Management.  The BLM has an interesting Visitor’s Center there, with much research on the fossil remains found in the cliffs shown below.



Ceratopsians, and their close relatives, are a major focus of the paleontology that has been done here. There is a well-illustrated display, which explains quite clearly the various members of this group of dinosaurs.  As is commonly known, what is now the Great Basin was once a large inland sea, separating  large peninsulas of present-day North America.  Ceratopsians, Mosasaurs and Icthyosaurs, along with giant crocodiles and sea turtles, were abundant here.



Note that there are three types of Ceratopsians, distinguished by the length and breadth of their snouts, as well as the complexity of their cranial armor.


Centrosaurs had narrow, short faces and simple armor.  Chasmosaurs had broad, long faces, with elaborate armor.


After examining the details of the paleontology being done at Big Water, I headed a few short miles to Wahweap, a resort area long Lake Powell’s western shore.  The lake views are refreshing, but strangely, Wahweap’s restaurant is closed for the season.



A good zoom view of Navajo Mountain, some thirty miles northeast, is available from Wahweap.



Feeling somewhat famished, I stopped in Page, the town which grew as a result of the building of Glen Canyon Dam, and enjoyed a hearty meal of barbecued pulled chicken, with potato salad, at this fine and popular restaurant.


Rarely does the Lone Ranger share space with a Hopi kachina, but that is what one might expect in Page, a welcoming resort town that makes the most of Lake Powell.  Page, Wahweap and about six other marinas reap the benefit of Glen Canyon Dam’s having “tamed” the Colorado River.  There are plenty of people who depend on the Dam and Lake Powell, for their livelihoods.  There are many others who think, as did the late Edward Abbey, that Glen Canyon was perfectly fine, both ecologically and economically, without any tampering.  I think that, had there not been a dam, Page might have become like Moab or Durango, and grown as a haven for the many who enjoy the still formidable canyon.




North Rim


October 7, 2019, Kanab-

I will, as usual, post photographic accounts of my current jaunt, once back at Home Base.  In the meantime, here’s a verse on the topic.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Serene, confident teenager

stretched herself out

and took in the view,

of the gaping maw below.

Mother’s watchful gaze notwithstanding,

the girl took pains to keep herself safe,

as a much younger child,

asked her mommy,

“Can I do that, too?”

“Maybe, when you get

to be that big.”

The North Rim,

eight thousand,

three hundred feet

above the Colorado River,

at Bright Angel Point,

is not for those

with acrophobia,

or shortness of breath.

I promised my late

maternal grandfather,


that I would not

entertain the former,

and, as yet,

I do not suffer,

from the latter.

So, down the narrow trail,

I went,

and gazed over the edge,

at Bright Angel Point,

again at Point Imperial,

and, lastly,

at Cape Royal.

where two dozen of us,

watched the sun dip,

below the horizon,

accenting the smoke

from a prescribed burn.

Ms. Colter’s Long View


April 22,2019, Grand Canyon National Park-

No visit to this most spectacular of Mother Nature’s North American wonders is complete, without due honour being paid to the incomparable figure of Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter.  One of the few female architects of her time, Ms. Colter was a driving force in the building of structures that well served the U.S. National Park Service, the Santa Fe Railroad and the Fred Harvey Company-which was a major concessionaire to both entities.  Her buildings have withstood the test of time and uniformly add luster to the communities in which they are, or were, found:  Winslow, AZ (La Posada Hotel), Harvey House (now Imperial Western Beer Company), in Los Angeles’ Union Station, La Fonda Hotel, in Santa Fe and the majestic, but now defunct, El Navajo Hotel, in Gallup, NM.

Mary Elizabeth’s most enduring body of work, now listed as a National Historic District, lies in the magnificent buildings which she designed and built, along the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and at the bottom of the Canyon itself.  These include Bright Angel Lodge (in which Penny and I stayed, in 1983); Hopi House,Hermit’s Rest and the arresting Desert View Watchtower.


There are cracks and breaks actually included in Ms. Colter’s design.  She also placed a seemingly demolished brick wall, on the Tower’s south side- perhaps as a wind break.


The views from each level of the Tower are second to none. Below is a view of Venus Temple.


The area west of Desert View constitutes the Inner Gorge of the Grand Canyon, and features many of the “Eastern” and “Egyptian” formations, named for Indian and Egyptian mystical figures.  The Colorado River itself, though, is never far from focus.


For that matter, neither is the North Rim, which will be the focus of a second Grand Canyon visit, in late summer, in this year of the Park’s centenary.


Temple Butte, seen below, marks the eastern end of the Canyon’s rim.  From that point, eastward, lie the Navajo Nation and the Painted Desert, itself a defining feature of the Little Colorado/Puerco River Basin.


The interior of the Watchtower is no less captivating. Ms. Colter was enthralled from childhood with Native American art and lore, starting with Lakota Sioux drawings which she obtained from a friend, whilst living in St. Paul.  After goong to work fro Fred Harvey Company, that interest quickly extended to the art of the Dineh, Zuni and Hopi.

The panels below illustrate some Hopi spiritual concepts, painted by master artist Fred Kabotie, a key collaborator with Ms. Colter, in the course of her building decoration.



These stairs were likely used by Mr. Kabotie, during his time as the Watchtower’s caretaker.  Now, they are a simple decoration.


Animals being a major element of Hopi and Dineh culture, figurines have been carved and left in conspicuous places.



So, too, are pictographs, drawn here by Fred Kabotie  and his associates, but found in many places in the Southwest-and around the globe, as remnants of  ancient cultures. Pictographs are drawn rock art, as opposed to petroglyphs, which are carved into the stone.


The ceiling of the Watchtower is the one place where Ms. Colter let her associates run riot with colour painting.  The idea was to represent the fullness of the Universe.


It is from the third floor of the Watchtower, that images such as this may be gleaned.


From here, I headed a bit further west, to Navajo and Lipan Points, getting further perspective on the Inner Gorge. The formations in the foreground are of Redwall Limestone and Supai Group of sandstone deposits, from the Pennsylvanian Period (332.2-289.9 million years ago).  This scene is from Navajo Point.


Redwall Limestone, (340 million years ago), is prominent, as the Canyon rises up to its Inner Gorge temples.


Here is a zoomed view of the Watchtower, from Navajo Point.


Also from Navajo Point, is a glimpse of what makes rafting the Colorado such an enticing experience for many.


As I reached Lipan Point, I found this to be the last scene from my present SIM card on the Samsung.


So, my trusty cellular was pressed into service.  Lipan Point, which juts headlong into the Inner Gorge, gives the area a compressed quality.  Don’t let the appearance of compactness deceive you.  The Inner Gorge is 18 miles across, at its widest point.




Here one sees the Kaibab Formation, the present “top” of the Grand Canyon, at the North Rim. 22 miles from Lipan Point, as the condor flies.


From Lipan, I drove into the forest a bit, for a look at Tusayan Ruin, a Pueblo II ( 900-1150) settlement which appears to have lasted well into the 13th Century, in the midst of Pueblo III cultures.



Here is a communal gathering place, perhaps for spiritual activities.


This  space appears to have served as an apartment for one of the larger families.


The people who lived at Tusayan likely intermarried with those of the Pueblo III culture, who had moved into the area, from the northeast, towards the end of the 12th Century.

My daylong venture along the two great gorges of the Colorado River system came to an end, but not my appreciation for one of the finest talents, of the Twentieth Century,  in southwestern architecture.  Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter surely rates on par with Paolo Soleri and Frank Lloyd Wright, in terms of contribution to the public square.


The 2018 Road, Day 5: Scenes of White, Red and Green


May 31, 2018, Limon, CO- 

A drive from Salina to Green River, Utah entails being mindful of all things road trip-related. First and foremost of these are gas and water, the latter for both the car’s radiator and for its passengers.  Having lived in the arid Southwest for 34 of the last 40 years, I am one of those who does not leave home without plenty of both.

So, after a fine night’s sleep, at Ranch Motel, in downtown Salina, I greeted the motel’s maid (not exactly a morning person) and went down the street to Mom’s Cafe.  The hostess was much more cheerful and served up a scrambled eggs, sausage patty and pancakes platter that would see me through the whole day.



After my morning repast, I took a couple of views of downtown Salina.



Prep work for the long day’s drive then took over.  I said farewell to the Ranch Motel folks.  I really would stay there again.  Morning grouchiness aside, they are a nice family. Across the street, Barrett’s Market had ice and a few food items that I needed.  NAPA Auto parts had a couple of items for my project to secure the rear panel that is still taped in place, from last October’s mishap, outside Gila Cliff Dwellings, NM.  Finally, I stopped at Fast Gas, for the most important item, and I was on my way.

There are several scenic view pullouts, between Salina and Green River.  Three of them were my photo stops:  Salt Wash, Devil’s Canyon and Spotted Wolf Canyon.  A fourth, Ghost Rock, is one I am saving for an extended Utah visit, that will occupy October, 2020. More about that, later.

Salt Wash is the largest of the three sites I visited this morning.  Here are a few of the scenes that awaited me.




The top two scenes show the limestone that sits atop so many layers of sandstone, which forms the nearly endless canyons of our region.  The various layers are visible, in the third photo, above.

Salt Wash had a sizable display of Dineh (Navajo) art and crafts.  I purchased a lovely bowl, as part of my gift for the wedding which is taking me to Philadelphia, in mid-June.  When I got to Devil’s Canyon, a few blankets were laid out, with necklaces and such, all lovely, but I had what I wanted.  Here are a couple of views from this second viewpoint.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES



You can see that, with just the passage of a few miles, a slight change in elevation brings a drastic difference in landscape and plant life.

At Spotted Wolf Canyon, the easternmost of the scenic viewpoints, there were no vendors, just a news photographer, out of Salt Lake City, plying his craft.  I worked around him, and got these scenes.



This is the beginning of the relentless maze of canyons and eroded bottomlands, that make southeastern Utah, and much of nearby northeastern Arizona, such a major desert trekking haven.  I am looking to do justice to Utah’ s great parks and reserves-thus, a plan to spend all of July, 2020, beginning with the Goosenecks of the San Juan River and moving through Arches, Canyonlands and westward, ending at Cedar Breaks.

I made my next stop in Grand Junction, western Colorado’s regional commercial hub, intending to gas up again and get the car washed.  The car wash attendant had to manually restart the system, both for me and for the gentleman who came after me.  I ended up spending nearly two hours in Grand Junction, with not much to show for it, but the car was clean.

As luck would have it, my second cousin, in Denver, was working and I know my sister-in-law, with two jobs, would likely be unavailable when I got there.  So, I stopped in Glenwood Springs and had dinner at 19th Street Diner, a westside spot where another friend works.  She wasn’t there, but I was well-treated.

Along the way from Glenwood to Denver, the Colorado River shows its relative health.



It will be a fine day, when this level of vitality is again visible, for the length of this great river.  Alas, man must drink.

Wind, furious at times, was my companion from Denver to Limon, Colorado, where I would spend the night.  It was a minor adventure, gassing up in the small town of Watkins, just east of Denver International Airport.  The clerk inside was blase about the wind- “Well, we are in the Plains.”  True enough, and so it would continue, as I moved through Kansas.





The Road to 65, Mile 362: Passing Through Yuma


November 25, 2015, Chula Vista-  After getting my Nissan serviced, and a few other errands, which are always necessary before departing Prescott, I headed down the mountain, towards San Diego, and a holiday weekend with the most important person in my life.

This time, I opted for a twist.  Turning onto AZ 95 south, at Quartzsite, in Arizona’s Outback, I headed down to the southwest AZ city of Yuma, underrated largely because of its status as the hottest spot, in a state that is very hot from May to October.

Nowadays, though, Yuma is very, very pleasant, and it was quite cool, when I rolled up Prison Hill, for a walk around the East Wetlands and along the exterior of Yuma Territorial Prison Historical State Park (about which, more, on my next visit in mid-March).

The Wetlands trail takes the walker down to the Colorado River, which is in fairly good shape right now.  Here are a few scenes of what I encountered. (These are what the new and improved Word Press offers as a photo collage, under Windows 10.  Just click on the photo, to see the caption.)

The rest of the journey was spent navigating high speed, rather frenetic holiday fellow travelers:  Crowded road from Yuma to El Centro, a bit quieter from there to Alpine and bustling again, until I got to Chula Vista.  In Alpine, I enjoyed a decent Gyro plate at Greek Village Grill, which sits tucked away in a restaurant mini-mall, on the south end of downtown.  The town itself looks worthy of further exploration, when it is light out.

For now, as indicated above and at the second from lower right, I will be happily celebrating Thanksgiving, the Day of the Covenant (see next post) and the 65th anniversary of the arrival of a squawling, but eventually happy, baby boy.

The Road to 65, Mile 213: Manzanar


June 29, 2015, Lone Pine-   Today is the last day of my second long road journey of this year.   Like all trips, it has been less of a “vacation”, (though to some, any time spent away from one’s home town is a vacation), and more of a time of self-discovery.  I learned that I could handle the worst of circumstances, with help from the spirit realm and logistical support from steadfast friends.  I learned that there are those who will love me, regardless of what condition I am in and that there are those who will despise and avoid me, no matter how humbly I approach them.  I learned, again, that there is no Final Destination, and that, no matter how far one goes, there is that one step beyond.061

My last key destination on this road trip is a place of national shame, and of continuous soul-searching.  Fear itself drove Franklin D. Roosevelt to order the removal of Japanese-Americans from the immediate Pacific Coast and of smaller numbers of German-, Italian- and Romanian-Americans from the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, from 1942-1945.  These American citizens were interned in what the President himself called “Concentration Camps”, though there were no pogroms planned or carried out against any of the interned.

Manzanar was the largest of the camps, with the Sierra Nevada serving as a wall between its Great Basin location and the western 2/3 of California.  People were rounded up, without explanation, by the FBI and the military, early in 1942, from places like San Diego, Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland and Seattle, and transported in buses and trains to this desert camp, and several others, such as Poston, AZ and Tule Lake, CA.  There are two ironies here:  The camps were often close to, or on, Native American reservations, though Manzanar was not- as the reservations in this part of California are on the outskirts of small Great Basin towns.  Manzanar was a small collection of farms and ranches, such as Wilder Farm and Shepherd Ranch.  These had been abandoned, before the U.S. government took over the area.  The second irony is that, in 1944-45, internes were recruited into the U.S. military, for service in the European theatre.  Many Japanese-Americans distinguished themselves in military service, including the late Daniel Inouye, who later served several decades as a U. S. Senator from Hawaii.

The Visitor Center at Manzanar National Historical Site has elaborate displays of both the Internment Period and of the history of the region.  The other big conflict between ordinary citizens and the governments, both state and Federal, involved water rights in this region, the Owens Valley.  The City of Los Angeles has bought up the lion’s share of water rights and built a pipeline, to meet much of its water needs.  There is ongoing discussion with Owens Valley residents, from Bridgeport and Bishop, in the north, to Lone Pine and Lee Vining, in the south, about how to strike a balance with the City of Angels.


Here is a scale model of the Internment Camp, at its peak.063

Some dormitories are maintained, by the National Park Service, to show just what living conditions were for the detainees.  Remember, in 1942, there was no air conditioning, such as we know today.



The dining halls were crowded, and there were few safeguards against infestations by vermin and scavenging insects.


Ruins of several areas are accessible.  Here is what’s left of the house at Shepherd Ranch.


This was once a koi pond, maintained by the internes.


They kept up a splendid “city park”, on the north side of the camp.


Yes, it was called Pleasure Park.


This part of the park is sealed off, to prevent injuries to the public, and defacing of sacred inscriptions.


These are scenes of the hospital zone.  There was a full medical facility, separate doctors’ and nurses’ facilities, and as was the wont of the internes, a garden.


There was also a cemetery, and this cenotaph stands today, in honour of those who died during internment.


At the southeast corner of Manzanar, there is this slab, the remnant of a camouflage tent factory, where many internes worked, “for the war effort.”


This time in an American government internment camp was nearly as jarring, and as thought-provoking, for me, as my visit, about this time last year, to Berga, Germany, where Jewish-American and Hispanic-American POW’s were kept, in slave labour conditions, during the last months of World War II.  The difference was that the U.S. was, and is, a representative democracy, and Germany knelt to the whims of a few. The similarity:  Bigotry called the shots.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan formally apologized to those interned, and to their families, and signed legislation which authorized $20,000 to be paid to each surviving victim.  This was the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

I drove, purposely, with the windows rolled down and no AC, from Manzanar to Prescott.  Stopping for lunch and a copious amount of iced tea, at Totem Cafe, Lone Pine, set the stage for this.  I came in to the pleasant establishment alone, but was followed by 28 other people, within ten minutes.  The couple running the place managed to keep everyone pleased, but I had some concern fro the wife, who had to brace herself on the back cabinet and apply a wet towel to her forehead, for several minutes.


My heart goes out to all those who work in the hospitality industry, during these days of triple digit temperatures, in so many places, around the globe.  I also stopped at Juicy’s Famous Riverfront Cafe, Needles, for an early supper, before heading on across the Colorado and back to base.  Juicy was a stray dog, who attached herself to the fire company in Needles, and to the hearts of the entire town.  That, alone, made it worth the stop.  The service is excellent and the food fine and dandy.

I got back to Prescott at 9:40 P.M., exulting in the drizzle and cooling temperatures, no worse off, for the heat, having plied myself with lots of iced tea and cool water, along the way. Oh, yes, and plenty of sunscreen was applied.