Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Southwest Parks and Recreation

Marie mastering the art of the selfie at Huntington Beach State Park

For our family vacation this summer we headed out to explore the southwestern United States. We had a blast and explored a wide variety of parks and places in six states. When Sarah was asked by her cousin Josie if she was well rested from our vacation, Sarah laughed and wryly replied "this was a Chad Emmett vacation." I tired to scale it back and not push too hard, but that is hard to do when there is so little time and so many places to see.

New to us on our drive south on I-15 were these solar panel fields (we think) near Primm Nevada. Why the bright light in daytime?

We arrived in southern California for some planned beach time at Huntington Beach State Park. June Gloom greeted us with cool temps and cool water. That didn't stop most of us from getting wet.

Will was the first to brave the cold waves.

We later joined Aunt Martha for some great tacos.

Next morning we headed for Disneyland amusement park. Years ago when Martha's son Jacob joined us for a day at Disneyland, a young Will amused Jacob when he declared: "Me shoot 'em bad guys." after the Buzz Lightyear ride.

Space Mountain was not as bothersome as I make it look.

Tea cups. Always a favorite.

Splash Mountain

In long lines Joel amuses himself by making fun of how someone with tri-focals reads things and looks at his i-phone.

Hand games in the long lines.

The revival of the Main Street Electrical Parade.

Next day Martha joined us at California Adventure amusement park. We all loved California Screamin.

Joel is much less messy at eating ice cream cones these days.

 2007. California Adventure.

We picked up fast passes for Guardians of the Universe at 10:00 which were good for 5:00-6:00 that evening. Joel, Will and I ended up in the elevator with a competition dance team form Highland Utah. Their leader warned us that they were prone to screaming. She was right. I plugged my ears.n

Our fast pass for the very fun Cars ride was for even later.

Next morning on our way out of town we stopped to visit my uncle Bill Fife--my mother's only sibling. He is currently under going treatment for lung cancer. We our standing in front of his impressive collection of Fiesta pottery that he and his wife Loretta collected over the years.

First National Park (entered with our new annual pass): Joshua Tree  National Park. First time for all of us.

We had a picnic lunch in the shade of some of the massive boulders.

photo by Marie

Skull rock

The lower portion of the park is part of the Colorado Desert. The upper portion with the Joshua Trees has the flora and fauna of the Mojave Desert. We then drove across Arizona to Mesa were we enjoyed delicious Ethiopian food with the Nissen family.

Mesa LDS Temple

Carvings depict various forms of gathering. Here are fishers of men.


Next stop the open house of the brand new Tuscon LDS Temple.

Marie's nephew Clark Proffit was there for his volunteer shift.

Love the dome (the first for an LDS temple) and the xeriscaped (drought tolerant) grounds.

Cactus flower motifs were used in windows and interior decorations.

We then met up with Marie's niece Margaret Tueller Proffit and her four children for some lunch and cold drinks then a hot visit to the San Xavier mission on the Tohono O'odham reservation.

Some have suggested that the dome on the new Mormon temple was influenced by this and other domed churches that are part of the Tuscon landscape.

At one point the San Xavier Mission was the northernmost mission in Spanish America.

Road runner

Emmetts and Proffits climbing a hot hill.

A new Nativity for our collection.

Mexican food Sonoran style. Even though it came highly recommended I opted not to try the Sonoran style hot dog. Is bacon really a part of Mexican cuisine? Clark let me try his. It was indeed tasty.

Post diner swimming at the Proffits. This great uncle had fun hanging out with Asher in the pool.

Next morning we visited the west section of Saguaro National Park. My second visit and a first for everyone else.

Jack rabbit.

On our drive via beautiful US 60 through Globe (Subway for lunch) to Show Low we passed this amazing yucca (?) blossom.

The drive down and up through the Salt River Canyon was pretty impressive.

I recently became aware that my great-great-great grandparents are buried in Taylor Arizona. Charles Shumway was a prominent early pioneer who at the request of Brigham Young spent most of his life colonizing and settling new towns from Clarkston Utah to Shumway Arizona--just down the road from Taylor. His second of four wives was Louisa Minnerly. Her distant ancestors include a Montauk Indian Princess who married a Dutchman who settled Long Island. Here is my line back to Charles and Louisa: Chad Fife Emmett, Norda Fife Emmett, William Shumway Fife, Agnes Shumway Fife, Charles Shumway Jr., Charles Shumway Sr. 

Snowflake Arizona LDS Temple.

Lots of new homes surround the hill top temple. This one seems larger than the temple.

After a stop at Dairy Queen for treats in Holbrook we visited Petrified Forest National Park.

Sunday morning early I picked up tickets to visit the three ticket-requiring ruins of Mesa Verde National Park. Cliff Palace was first. I last visited here on a John and Norda Emmett family vacation back in 1965.

After a picnic lunch we visited Balcony House (upper right). It required climbing several tall log ladders and climbing through two tunnels--one on hands and knees. It was a favorite for all of us.

Notice the tall ladder in the lower right to enter the site and then the two ladders on the upper left to exit.

The Ancestral Pueblo People (formerly known as the Anasazi--but that is the Navajo name for the people so it is no longer in favor with the modern day descendants) did use ladders and yucca ropes, but they mostly climbed using toe and hand depressions carved in the sandstone.

The view from Balcony House.

Multi-purpose yucca.

Square Tower House.

Next morning we visited Step House (no tickets or guide required)

Original stone steps lead up to the mesa.

Three pit homes (center) were the first homes followed centuries later by rock homes and kivas (right).

Homes and kivas from the later period.

Indian rice grass was an edible grain.

Remnants of a fire on the mesa a few decades ago.


Last stop long house.

Alcove-top grain storage rooms.

We had great guides. I talked to two of them about how I might get hired for seasonal work as a ranger when I retire.

Cedar logs from collapsed rooms. The logs were laboriously cut with blunt stone tools. It looks like the stone-cut log in the foreground was felled by a beaver.

A water providing seep spring with channels and depressions for collecting water.

Black soot from fires mark where walls (no soot) once abutted the arched wall.

It was a windy day.

Four Corners.


Navajo nation souvenir made of local wool and fired clay by a Navajo young woman.

We arrived in Monument Valley Tribal Park in time for Navajo Tacos for dinner and a sunset drive.

Train Rock

Sunrise from our hotel.

It was a beautiful two hour drive through the Tribal Park.

Smiling even after a 5:25 wake up.

Will thought this looked like a weeping face.

From whence Mexican Hat Utah gets its name.

A short detour to Goosenecks of the San Juan State Park.

Three goosenecks. Amazing!

Highway 261 up the Moki Dugway. I have never been this way before. I knew that there was a curved gravel road section, but I had no idea what it would be like. Driving north towards the rock wall we wondered where the road was and how it climbed the cliffs.

We soon found out.

The drive was as thrilling as a Disneyland ride. Photo courtesy of Joel riding shot-gun

Notice the white motorcycle caravan support trailer in the upper right near the end of the dugway.

Bears Ears from the south.

Sipapau Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument. Created by Teddy  Roosevelt and the first national park/monument in Utah.


Resting in the shade of the arch.

Kachina Bridge

Bears Ears from the west.

Bridge over the Colorado River at Hite.

Boat launch ramp at Hite Marina. Closed since 2003 because of low levels in Lake Powell. I once visited Hite via houseboat in higher water years.

Northern-most Lake Powell at Hite.

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