Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Grand Canyon

Arizona is known as The Grand Canyon State.  If you have ever been to the Grand Canyon you will never forget it!  When we planned our visit to Arizona we knew we had to visit the Grand Canyon again.  In 1970 we had a brief visit.  We wanted to go back to experience it with mature eyes.

We left early in the morning for our journey to the South Rim of the canyon.  The trip through the elevations take us through the desert to elevations of well above 7000 feet.  Scottsdale's elevation is 1257 feet.  What a difference the vegetation is as we begin our drive and continue to climb.

Arizona's climate goes from tropical desert to sub alpine!  It's quite amazing to travel in a few short hours to see such variety of trees and plants.  The temperature difference is felt with each mile we travel north.

We immediately smell the wonderful fragrance of juniper and pine!  So refreshing!

As we climb in elevation, so does the vegetation climb the mountains.

I'm so excited to be returning to the Grand Canyon.  We are almost to the entrance.  The park has undergone many changes since our last visit.  They receive 5 million visitors a year.  You can imagine they needed to do something to control the influx of visitors.

The Grand Canyon was given federal protection in 1893 as a Forest Reserve.  It was later named a National Monument.  The Grand Canyon became part of the National Park Service in 1919.

After going through the entrance we see a mule deer alongside the road having his lunch.

There is now a huge visitor center and trails to view the canyon.  When we were here in 1970 the visitor center and surrounds were on a much smaller scale.  Now you can take a bus to view the South Rim area.

Walking up to see the canyon I am immediately struck with emotion as we see the most magnificent sight!!

The sun shining on the geologic color is pure joy to view!  The canyon is 277 river miles long and up to 18 miles wide and up to a mile deep.  I am overwhelmed by its majesty!

The Grand Canyon was named a  UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.   It has been home to Native Americans for thousands of years.  About 10,000 years ago, paleo-hunters were known to have hunted big game throughout the area. More recently, hunter-gathers lived in the area until about 1000 BC.  Archaeological findings, such as pottery found in the canyon, have been carbon dated to 4000 years ago.

 It's so difficult to stop taking photos and just drink in all of the beauty!

The Grand Canyon reveals windows into time with its rock layers. The geology is remarkable as we view the canyons and mountain peaks!  The strata reveals a record of the earth's changes throughout history.  I am in AWE!!!

Because of the extreme changes in elevation of this area, there are several communities of life within the Grand Canyon.  At the floor of the canyon is the riparian area, followed by the desert up to the pinyon-juniper forest, to the ponderosa pine forest, to the mixed conifer forest.  It is an amazing community all within relative closeness to each other.

"The whole canyon and everything in it is sacred to us, all around, up and down."

Rex Tilousi, Havasupai elder

The National Park Service has done an outstanding job of keeping the Grand Canyon a wonderful park to enjoy.  The movie in the visitor center brings the canyon to life.  From the Paleo-Indian era (12,000-9,000 years ago) to the Archaic era (9,000-2,500 years ago) to Basket Maker (2,500-1,200 years ago) to Ancestral Puebloan (800-1,300) to Late Prehistoric era (1,300-1,500) to NOW...

The Grand Canyon speaks about the life of the humans that inhabited this area and to those who continue to live here.  The very earth shows itself to us as we view the majestic Grand Canyon!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


May our hearts be filled with gratitude on this day of Thanksgiving. 


May our hearts be filled with love.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

"God is glorified, not by our groans, but by our thanksgivings." 

Edwin Percy Whipple 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! ♥

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Arizona in October

For our forty-eighth anniversary, we decided to go to Scottsdale, Arizona.  We thought it would be fun to visit the desert in Autumn.  It's been a while since we have been to Arizona.  Grayden and I and our daughter, Noel had been here when she was just a toddler.  We were driving cross country to California to live for nine months.  It was 1970!  I think we'll see some changes.

Even though Arizona was experiencing an unusually hot week, with temperatures in the upper 90's to 100 degrees, we had a wonderful visit.  Grayden and I planned our visit and plotted out days with trips to places within driving distance of Scottsdale.  Just like our England trip, Grayden printed out maps and put our destinations into our GPS.  We flew into Phoenix and after getting our rental car we drove over to Scottsdale and checked into our home away from home for the week.

After getting settled in we bought a few items at the grocery store.  When we travel we like to have our breakfast "at home" and we needed bottled water, fruit and snacks.  Scottsdale is a very easy town to get around with great roads and lovely scenery.  On our way to the grocery we saw the largest coyote just trotting along the street!  We were told not to worry, unless we see a pack of them!  Oh, okay!!

The next day we planned to see a few of the sites in the area.  Pinnacle Peak is a granite mountain that rises to a summit of 3,169 feet above sea level.  We could see Pinnacle Peak from many places as we were driving around.  Pinnacle Peak Park covers 150 acres and is located in the city of Scottsdale.  Trails allow hiking the 3.5 mile round trip to top.  As I mentioned, it was so HOT we decided that hiking was not on the agenda.

Pinnacle Peak Park is home to beauty that is unfamiliar to this East coast gal!  I was fascinated by the variety of plants and animals.  The Saguaro cactus walk their way up the mountain.  These cactus are huge!  Birds and other animals make their homes in them.

This little cutie is a Gambel's Quail.  He is not a shy fellow at all.  He delighted us by rushing all around the brush.

Of course we are reminded that in the desert we must stay on paths.

The views are beautiful from Pinnacle Peak Park.  Outstretching before us are McDowell Mountains, Four Peaks, Granite Mountain and Cone Mountain.

 We had planned ahead to go to nearby Fountain Hills for lunch.  There is a small little Mexican place called, Sofrita's. We love trying local fare and in a non chain restaurant.   We usually eat our largest meal in the middle of the day, then later we just eat something smaller such as cheese and crackers and fruit.

This is our view from Sofrita's.  It's always a gamble to try a new place, but this proved to be delicious.  The food was fresh and seasoned wonderfully...  A great place to get authentic Mexican food!

In the afternoon we drove to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park.  The park was once the home to Hohokam people.  They grew agave for food.  The Hohokam people lived on this land from 250 B.C. to 1450 A.D.  In 1865 the Army established their fort (Ft. McDowell) near the river basin.  The park is part of the Maricopa County park system.

McDowell Park has hiking trails, camping sites, and picnic spots to enjoy the varied beauty of this unique area.  In 1995, the Rio Fire consumed a good deal of the park's vegetation.  Lightning caused the fire that burned almost 14,000 acres of the park.  The vegetation has regrown.

Four Peaks Mountain View from the park.

The desert is full of so many different cacti.  This particular cactus (Teddy Bear Cholla) was quite abundant here.

We drove all through the park amazed at the difference a desert environment is from Virginia!

We enjoyed a beautiful day in the Sonoran desert of Arizona.  The harshness of this area makes one wonder how anything lives in this environment.  As a gardener, it would bring new challenges.  A completely different set of native plants to consider.  Isn't it amazing how varied the United States of America is?

I hope you will join me as I continue to share our time in Arizona. ♥

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

November Thankfulness

We have been up to our ears in leaves.  Surrounded by huge old oaks, black gums, maples, beech and dogwoods, gives us plenty of exercise in the autumn months.  If we don't gather up the leaves every few days they become more than we can handle.  Having a strong grandson living with us is a God send in the season of leaf gathering.  I've mentioned before that we compost all of our leaves and veggie peelings.  If you wish to see the wonderful compost we get from our leaves go Here to view.  I must say this is not my favorite of gardening chores, but I so love the wonderful compost we get from our efforts.

This is what that empty compost area looks like now.  We are a good month from having all of the leaves that fall before winter.  This is our mountain of mulched leaves.

The trees are beginning to make pretty silhouettes against the sky with their bare branches.

There are many leaves hanging on to the branches that assure us of more exercise to come.

It is interesting to note the abundance of berries around this autumn.  It's been quite mild so far.   My Nanny used to say that the more berries we see, the harder the winter.  If that holds to be true, we are in for quite a winter.

I find the rhythm of life is comforting as is the change of seasons.  I'm thankful for these reminders.

Yesterday we picked these peppers from volunteer plants in the compost pile!

I brought out the turkeys I made in 1978 when I was on a ceramic kick.  The little turkeys are napkin rings.  I have no idea why I painted them such a dull color, but they do go well with my Friendly Village dishes.

I do hope you are enjoying your November as we slip into December.  It's a busy time of year for us all, but I'm sure we all want to stop to be thankful for all of our blessings.

 Come, ye thankful people, come, 

raise the song of harvest home; 

all is safely gathered in, 

ere the winter storms begin. 

God our Maker doth provide 

for our wants to be supplied; 

come to God's own temple, come, 

raise the song of harvest home.

Henry Alford