Delmarva: A Shared Gem-Part 1

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July 1, 2019, Onley, VA-

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The fitful man stood with his fists clenched and his body rigid, as I glanced over his son’s shoulder, for a split-second, whilst the boy was reading from a placard about flounder.  It occurred to me, momentarily, that a flounder was my my first caught fish, all those years ago, in Lynn Harbor.  I kept walking and found my own space, without any reaction to the father, who didn’t bother me further.

Such is Cape Charles, a magnet for tourists such as the above-mentioned, and a serene place for year-round residents. I came here, over the long bridge/tunnel from Hampton Roads, on the Virginia mainland.  This southern segment of the Delmarva region, more commonly called the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay, is a mix of long peninsula and a myriad of islands.  Tangier, on the western (Chesapeake Bay) side, and Chincoteague/Assateague, on the eastern (Atlantic) side are the best known islands.

Cape Charles, at the tip of the peninsula, is the first place visitors see, once off the bridge.  It is, thankfully, not as commercialized as I had thought it would be, and great care has been taken to safeguard the “land’s end” area. This, and Hampton Roads, are the only places in Virginia where one can witness both sunrise and sunset, over open water.

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The dunes are largely protected from foot traffic.  There is but one trail, along the periphery of the dunes and one trail over the mounds.

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Bird nesting is encouraged, with the placement of platform buoys around the Bay.  Both piping plovers and gulls nest in the area.  Plovers, though, are ground nesters, and are endangered, so protective caging is placed around the nests, while the young are maturing.  Below, is a gull nest.

 

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Marsh grasses help filter runoff from creeks which empty into the Bay.

 

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This resort hotel is one of three in Cape Charles.

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Cape Charles’ downtown did bustle, especially around the ice cream shops, on this sultry Sunday evening.

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I found a comfortable, quiet little motel in the commercial center of Onley, in the middle of  Virginia’s portion of Delmarva.  A bit north of Onley is Accomack, one of the oldest settlements on the Eastern Shore.  Here is a view of the historic Court House.

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I topped off the eastern Virginia excursion, with a visit to Assateague Island, part of Chincoteague National Seashore.  Chincoteague, in the language of the Delawarean (Lenape)  First Nations people who lived on the adjacent mainland, means “large stream” or “inlet”.  Assateague, in the same language, means “a river beyond” or “a running stream between”.  The two words were also used by Europeans to refer to two closely-related groups of Delawarean peoples.  The descendants of these nations are today living  in the area of Snow Hill, Maryland and in southern Delaware.

Two areas of interest on Assateague are the Lighthouse, which can accommodate groups of ten people at a time, and the Chincoteague Pony viewing stations.

Here are a few scenes of, and from, Assateague Light House.  It is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, two members of which greet visitors, at the entrance and on the top viewing area.

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Chincoteague ponies (feral horses) are well-known, around the world, in particular for their annual channel swims. This year’s is to take place on July 24.

Although it is now a human-coordinated event, the ponies probably swam without human encouragement, when the need arose for going between grazing areas on different parts of the island.  Humans may have contributed to the feral horses’ swimming behaviour, by erecting a fence between the Maryland and Virginia sections of Assateague.

 

Here are two scenes of the horses at the viewing point, early this afternoon.

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What appears to be a lone pony is actually a member of a group whose other members were on the move, when this was taken.

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Finally, no visit to a resort in summer is complete without a visit to an ice cream parlour.  So, I stopped for a bit at Mister Whippy!

http://www.misterwhippy.com/

NEXT:  The First State’s Capital

 

 

A Day for Setting Example

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June 16, 2019, Grants, NM-

I told myself that this summer, I would not zip through the astonishing red rocks and juniper of northern AZ and New Mexico, so today, I set a limit of the 62.4 miles that lie between Gallup and this old mining town, which is struggling to redefine itself.

I began Father’s Day, last night actually, with a roughly forty-minute conversation with my son and daughter-in-law, reassuring me that all is well with them, and vice versa.  This morning, a light breakfast of yogurt, from the grocery store across from Lariat Lodge, seemed quite sufficient.  Afterward, the first order of business was a visit to the lobby and garden of El Rancho Hotel, Gallup’s premier historical property and a favourite of many of Old Hollywood’s great figures- from James Stewart to Claude Akins.  Several photos line the wall of the second floor of the lobby.  Here is an introduction to El Rancho:

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESGallup has made itself a haven for Dineh, Zuni, Acoma and Apache artists looking to sell their crafts.  Armando Ortega and his family were among the first to offer marketing services to First Nations artists in the area.  The Ortegas have sponsored this alcove display, in the center of the first floor lobby.

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Even the outdoor benches are adorned with intricate design.

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From here, it was time to head towards the rocks, specifically El Malpais National Monument, just south of Grants. In 1985, Penny and I took two sons of a then-recently departed friend to this area, camping overnight at the privately-owned Bandera Volcano (extinct), as a respite for his widow.  In the years since, the road has been a shortcut, when I have driven between Phoenix and Albuquerque.

Today, it was my Father’s Day present to myself, to explore the eastern portion of the Monument, some forty miles past the volcano.  The sandstone formations near Zuni-Acoma Trail are as majestic as any in the southwest. Whilst taking in these marvels, I fixed and ate a sandwich. This would prove to be of dire consequence.

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After visiting the Ranger Station, I doubled back to Sandstone Bluffs Overlook.

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Although the storm clouds looked threatening, the rain held off until I was back in Grants.

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The series of holes, that are visible in the center of this frame, were actually bored by molten lava, during the last eruption of McCartys Crater, some 3000 years ago.  They are known, collectively, as Chain of Craters.

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Of more ancient vintage is Mt. Taylor, seen to the north.  It is one of the Four Sacred Peaks which are revered by several First Nations in the area. Mt. Taylor has been inactive for millions of years.

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Lichen have absorbed into the sandstone, over the centuries, giving some parts of Sandstone Bluffs the appearance of having been painted.

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Whilst sandstone is not slippery, its delicate nature means it can be broken easily, especially close its seams.  All walking on rock surfaces requires close attention to what lies underfoot.

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While heading towards La Ventana Natural Arch, I spotted this remnant of an early rancher’s attempt at settlement.

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La Ventana is a continuation of Cebolita Mesa’s exquisite base, which we saw earlier, near Zuni-Acoma Trailhead.  This is older sandstone than that at the Bluffs.  There were several other people here, including a grandfather, his son and three grandchildren.  Grandpa was teasing the two younger kids about jumping off the rock on which they had climbed.  Of course, he and Dad each helped the kids get off, but it was amusing to watch the little ones’ initial reaction of “AWWW, GRANDPA!!”

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This balancing rock evokes a visitor from another world.

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Here are two views of La Ventana, itself.

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A close look at this wall of Cebollita Mesa seems to show two faces. I am curious as to what you, the reader, sees here.

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The area west of Cebollita Mesa is covered with lava beds.  These range from just north of I-40 to the Lava Falls Area, thirty-six miles southward.  They extend, east to west, for about twenty-five miles.

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Once back in Grants, I was starting to feel a drag on my system.  Nonetheless, being Father’s Day, I was determined to get one good meal.  There being no locally-owned cafe open,near the Sands Motel (another Route 66 establishment registered as a National Historic Site), I chose the reliability of Denny’s.  The salmon and vegetables were very nicely done, as was the cup of soup.  I hydrated plentifully, as well.

Back in the motel room, I will only say that I dealt with my ailment as I had always taught my son to do- in  mature and responsible manner. I felt much better afterwards and Father’s Day was only mildly interrupted.  I had maintained my example, though, even if no one was around to notice.  That is what the day really signifies.

NEXT:  A Return to the Duke City

 

Where Affirmation Started

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June 14, 2019, Keams Canyon, AZ-

Two months ago, after I left my full-time work, I got a text from a long-time friend, from the Navajo Nation.  Her uncle, another long-time friend, had died, and the family needed my help with his funeral.  I was to offer a final prayer, to which I agreed.  I did the service, in a small cemetery on this isolated, but starkly beautiful location.

Another member of the family lives near the cemetery and invited me to visit him, when I was next in the area.  There was no better time for this, than the start of the Summer, 2019 road trip, so I came up here yesterday evening and spent the night in his nicely furnished and solidly-built ranch style home.

It does my heart good to see Indigenous people have access to the same quality of life that people in other ethnic groups have.  I don’t see the point in anyone being left out.  For too long, First Nations have taken the leavings of the majority population.  This is changing, mostly for the better.

Coal Mine Canyon is one of the least-visited parts of Arizona. Infrastructure is non-existent though a graded road made it possible for me to take some photos of the canyon, from its south rim.

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This last looks like the Earth is watching!

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I continued on, this morning, to the Hopi Nation, visiting a former co-worker, briefly, then upon finding there was no social dance in her village, this weekend, I continued on over to Keams Canyon, where what has turned out to be one of the two really rewarding positions I ever held, started, in August, 1992.  It’s certainly arguable that I should never have left Cedar Unified, but here we are.  I felt affirmed as a school counselor, more than I did in any other position.  Affirmation began in Tuba City, near Coal Mine Mesa, and continued both at Jeju National University and here.  I still feel validated by my First Nations friends.

Here are a couple of views of the inner area of  Keams Canyon, now largely abandoned.

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There used to be a trail that led from Keams to a part of the nearby Dineh settlement of Jeddito, to which we moved in 1993, after living in Keams for a year.  The trail, like much of the settlement has been redirected elsewhere.

NEXT:  Hubbell Trading Post and Its Impact on Navajo Arts and Crafts

Whose Toilet?

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January 14, 2018, Prescott-

My day will likely be a joyous one, with my spirits telling me to get the laundry done, attend a memorial service, then either go and help my dear friend, or go hike in Granite Dells, if she is not in the mood for company.

Now, back to the title question.  I was discomfited, annoyed, put out at the tale coming out of the White House, as to our President’s purported comments, regarding immigrants and their countries of origin.  Either he said these things, thus committing a serious breach of comity OR his actual words were translated to fit the opinion of the observer towards the President, thus committing a serious act of calumny towards him.

Either way, I have to say this, about countries in general:  Each has its places of sublime beauty, and each has its places of squalour.  This is as true of the USA as it is of Haiti.  It is as true of France, Germany, the UAE, as it is of Liberia, Guyana or Bangladesh.  I have seen exquisite, serene villages in Guyana and decrepit, unsettling places in France.  No one who has been across our great nation would deny that there is astonishing beauty in Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains, whilst admitting that there is much work to be done, in addressing the matters of homelessness in cities large and small, in raising up the standards of living in First Nations reservations and in run-down sections of both urban and rural areas, across the continent.

No one likes to have their good name, or that of their country, sullied.  Some will argue, “Well, if the shoe fits, wear it!”  If that shoe has a hole in it, I would gather that the person has every right to decline its adornment.  Far better, in my view, that, having shone the light on the filth and the problems, the President, and each of us who has looked down their noses at a person, community or country, should put down that flashlight and ask, “How might we help?”  One immediate thing we can each do is, stop referring to the shortcomings of a people, as their be all and end all.  Acknowledge the beauty of a place, or of a society, instead of yammering about how horrible SOME aspects of it happen to be.  Messes happen, even in the finest of communities (just ask anyone in Montecito, CA). Beauty and strength, likewise, may be found anywhere.  How about building on that beauty and strength?

Harvest Day

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October 10, 2016, Chula Vista-

All Canada offers thanks,

for a successful harvest.

Canadian Thanksgiving

is a true celebration

of the farmers’ fruition.

It has ever been a rejoinder

to the Columbus Day tradition.

First Nations people, across the nation

would gather to honour the Holy People

and the Creator,

for all that was given them

to stave off deprivation.

The Europeans across the north,

tried to snuff out many traditions,

in the name of “civilization”.

What they meant by “civilized’ were things like

private property, walls, fences and speaking

one of two European languages.

Harvest, and sharing, made the cut, though.

Love is one thing, no one can long disparage.

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!