Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves.

It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers.

On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

This 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances of the day in several towns throughout America that had taken place in the three years since the Civil War. In fact, several Northern and Southern cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Miss.; Macon, Ga.; Richmond, Va.; Boalsburg, Pa.; and Carbondale, Ill.

In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo—which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

By the late 1800s, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day and, after World War I, observances also began to honor those who had died in all of America's wars.

In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. (Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all veterans, living and dead, is celebrated each year on November 11.)

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Also, it is customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually.

Each year for the past 40 years, the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) has honored America's fallen heroes by placing American flags before the gravestones and niches of service members buried at both Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldier's and Airmen's Home National Cemetery just prior to Memorial Day weekend.

This tradition, known as "flags in," has been conducted annually since The Old Guard was designated as the Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948. Every available soldier in the 3rd U.S. Infantry participates, placing small American flags one foot in front and centered before each grave marker.

During an approximately three-hour period, the soldiers place flags in front of more than 260,000 gravestones and about 7,300 niches at the cemetery's columbarium. Another 13,500 flags are placed at the Soldier's and Airmen's Cemetery. As part of this yearly memorial activity, Old Guard soldiers remain in the cemetery throughout the weekend, ensuring that a flag remains at each gravestone.

American flags are also placed at the graves of each of the four unknown service men interred at the Tomb of the Unknowns, by the Tomb Sentinels. All flags are removed after Memorial Day before each cemetery is opened to the public.

Several Southern states continue to set aside a special day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day.


Friday, May 16th, 2008

Can't stand it anymore - I want to have a companion in my life again. So I called my favorite groomer, Debby at The Dog House in Green Valley, where I found my last two rescued friends. She told me she had just the doggie for me, she'd been waiting for my call.

Little Misha is a 6 year old bichon - she's so damned cute! But the poor baby has not had a perfect life. She was kept by a breeder in a cage for 5 years making babies. She has no socialization at all - no 'come, sit, stay' - never had been walked on a leash. She's very afraid of absolutely everything. She runs from any approach. She's gonna test my loving talents! But as Debby insists, there's no one better for the little girl, so I'm gonna give her my all!

Back to Tucson

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Page Springs to Tucson, AZ

241.8 miles

Another beautiful day

Another beautiful day, but kinda sad for me, because I have to get Suzie back to Tucson to catch a plane back to Honolulu. We have to have said to each other a thousand times what fun we've had!

We wandered all around this lovely little RV park before we left - such a pretty setting - I'll definitely return here!!

We made a bee line for I-17 south to connect to I-10 - long drive, for us, today, so we did it on the interstate. Traffic wasn't bad - and all the construction in Tucson is being handled amazingly well - rush hour is the only time it seems difficult at all.

Somehow on this little two week adventure, we never managed to get any good Mexican, so we decided on an early dinner at El Charo - yummy and great service!

Mimosas in the morning and I took Sooz to the airport. Now I need a vacation to recuperate from her visit!

Red rock country

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Williams to Cornville (Sedona area), AZ
93.6 miles

Another sunny gorgeous day!

Sooz and I really luck into great weather when she travels with me!
Today was just a short drive to the Sedona area – so we’d have enough time to tour the gorgeous red rock area – one of my favorites spots in Arizona (if you can get past how it’s grown with all the tourist activity)!

We passed thru some new vineyards - more little wineries popping up everywhere!

Found our RV park, nestled down in a little valley at Page Springs - absolutely gorgeous setting!

The landscape is so spectacular all around this area that it’s easy to forget how progress is infringing.

At least there is some attempt here to have all the new buildings in Sedona ‘blend’ with the natural contours of the land.

It’s so great to have a photographer with me as we drive down the curvy mountain roads – and Sooz is always spot on with her great pictures! And trust me, this land provides lots of good photo ops!

After cruising thru town, we headed north along Oak Creek, and we just had to stop at one of my favorite shops in the West -
this place has the most magnificent collection of Indian jewelry I've ever seen. The first time I saw it, they had one entire wall of torquoise. . .another of kachinas. A must stop if you travel up Oak Creek.

Many have heard of Sedona’s high energy vortexes – folks come from around the world to experience this incredible force of nature. What is a Vortex, you might ask?

“A vortex is the funnel shape created by a whirling fluid or by the motion of spiraling energy. Familiar examples of vortex shapes are whirlwinds, tornadoes, and water going down a drain. A vortex can be made up of anything that flows, such as wind, water, or electricity.

Sedona has long been known as a spiritual power center because of the vortexes of subtle energy located in the area. These vortexes are swirling centers of subtle energy coming out from the surface of the earth. This energy is not exactly electricity or magnetism, although it does leave a slight measurable residual magnetism in the places where it is strongest.

There are four main energy vortexes in Sedona. The subtle energy that exists at these locations interacts with who a person is inside. It resonates with and strengthens the Inner Being of each person that comes within about a quarter to a half mile of it. This resonance occurs because the vortex energy is very similar to the subtle energy operating in the energy centers inside each person. If someone is at all a sensitive person, it is easy to feel the energy at these vortexes, and it can be an uplifting experience. The energy absorbed in this way can have a positive effect for days afterwards. People come from all over the world to experience this."

On the accompanying map, a diamond indicates the location of a vortex. Although the Sedona area has many hiking trails that only a vigorous hiker can enjoy, the vortexes are all easily accessible, and no strenuous hiking is required to get to any of them.

To find the strongest energy, "they" say to just look for juniper trees. Juniper trees respond to the vortex energy in a physical way that reveals where this energy is strongest. The stronger the energy, the more of an axial twist the juniper trees have in their branches. Instead of going straight down the branch, the lines of growth follow a slow helical spiral along the length of the branch. This spiraling effect can sometimes even bend the branch itself.

We spent a lovely relaxing evening in our quiet little spot - with lovely flowers and trickling water.



Page Springs Park
1951 S. Page Springs Road
Cornwall, AZ 86325

THE Grand Canyon

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

Grand Canyon Railway to the South Rim
of the Grand Canyon

about 65 miles on the rails each way
Beautiful day!

The adventure started with the passengers meeting at the classic 1908 Williams Train Depot.
Before the train departed, we were entertained by a bunch of rowdy old cowboys, the Cataract Creek Gang, intent of mischief.

The sheriff tried to get them in line, and a few ended up being shot! Great fun!

We climbed aboard the lovely old train, pulled by a vintage steam engine, to find comfortable reclining seats offering plenty of leg room. We had our own hostess, who did a great job of filling us in on the history of the train and what we were seeing on the two hour plus ride up to the Canyon. With white-gloved courtesy, she served up fresh fruit, pastries, coffee and juices, and an array of cocktails, and kept us laughing.

Grand Canyon Railway made its first journey to the Grand Canyon in 1901. With the arrival of the train, people could get to the legendary canyon with ease and comfort. Today, we traveled back in time to the Grand Canyon National Park along the same rail line used more than 100 years ago, in the same train cars which have been lovingly restored.

“Long before there were Grand Canyon helicopter tours, air tours, white water rafting tours or even Grand Canyon mule tours, there was the Grand Canyon's train. Before paved roads, Grand Canyon hotels and restaurants, and even before the canyon was made a national park or Arizona made a state, let alone the "Grand Canyon state", the Grand Canyon Railway brought interested travelers from all over the world to stand on the rim and ponder the feeling that touches all of humanity in a similar manner when they gaze upon the canyon. Grand Canyon Railway was the lifeline to Grand Canyon National Park in the early 20th century. It was the railroad, along with the Fred Harvey Company, that commissioned and built most of the historic structures that still exist along the South Rim. The historic train almost faded into history itself when passenger service to Grand Canyon National Park stopped in 1968, as train travel gave way to the popularity of automobile travel. But like any legend, it refused to die. As fate would have it, Grand Canyon Railway was reborn in 1989 when entrepreneurs Max & Thelma Biegert brought the Grand Canyon's train back to life. Today, Grand Canyon Railway carries more than 230,000 people by rail to Grand Canyon National Park each year.” So says the website

We were lucky to have gorgeous views of the San Francisco Peaks, and valleys adorned in wild flowers, plus dense pine forests, high desert plains and small canyons, known to have hidden many bad guys thru the years.

Once we arrived at the historic 1910 Grand Canyon Depot, one of the last standing made of logs, we opted to take a narrated motorcoach tour to the most scenic overlooks of the canyon - vistas like Mohave Point, Pima Point, the Abyss and Hermits Rest.

As always, the Canyon is simply awe inspiring. There are no words to explain the magnificence of this spectacle of nature.

Pictures don’t begin to do it justice. No matter how you prepare yourself, it is still more than you expect.

After our bus tour, with more than 100 pictures between us, we had a lovely leisurely lunch on a patio overlooking the Canyon at the El Tovar Hotel.
There was still enough time for a little requisite shopping before reboarding our grand old train.

Just to be sure we weren’t bored with the same gorgeous vistas outside our windows on the way back to Williams, we were treated to appetizers and champagne, and other fancy cocktails.

And then the wicked Cataract Creek Gang held up the train! We had to pay up, or pay dearly with our lives – at least that’s what they told us!

This was the sheriff, chasing after the bad guys!

All in all, a grand way to visit the magnificent Grand Canyon!

What a birthday present!!

Grand Canyon Railway

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008
Show Low (yeah, right!) to Williams, AZ

174.8 miles
Glorious sunny day

We packed up early to get on the road. We had a date in Williams with my good friend Mark, who was driving up from Palm Springs to meet us for my annual birthday celebration of watching the Kentucky Derby!

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to drive – beautiful blue skies, no traffic, and amazingly good roads. Should you ever be in the area, I highly recommend taking SR 377 up to the main drag, I-40, rather than the more heavily traveled SR 77. It’s in great shape, and takes you through several really gorgeous changes in scenery, from forested hills to rolling grass plains to amazing rock formations and back, thru National Forests and Apache land and Navajo lands. Something happened to Sooz’s camera, so most of the day’s pictures were lost, but it was a wonderful drive.

Since we were a day late getting to town because of the wind delay, Mark was assigned the task of finding an appropriate bar to watch the Derby. He found a great dive, the Sultana – a very fancy name for a very local working man’s bar. Suzie and I were the only girls in the place, and most of the regulars were missing a few teeth, but it was an old classic with photos and knick-knacks and trophy heads on the walls. We had a ball!

Great race, but so terribly sad that the end had to be so tragic for the filly.

After the race, we crossed the street to another classic old joint – the Canyon Club, which was a total kick in the butt! Definitely not a place that tourists would drop in to. There was a shuffleboard table right in the middle of the main room, with a major tournament going on with the regulars - cowboys and working folk.

When they learned it was my birthday, the drinks didn't stop coming. One older codger took a brief break from the game to dance me around the floor (no one else was dancing!) - there was a gay guy at the next table - a black gay guy - who was so damned funny and witty and kind and sweet, who kept us laughing non-stop with his stories.

We had dinner at a place they all recommended - and already the name escapes me - the Red something - that was true gourmet dining - absolutely terrific meal! Totally unexpected in this little country town!  (6/15/12 -found the business card for the restaurant - Red Raven! )

There is one main street in town - one parallel secondary street of businesses, and several cross streets and that’s about it. It appears that half the town is owned by the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and RV Park and train, but the other half is just a delight! The hotel and RV Park even offer a Pet Resort for day care for your companions.

Mornings are still too cold for my blood, and I'm sure winters are not an option, but I'm seriously considering spending some time here in the summer! What a fun town!!

Tomorrow is a big day – the train ride to the Grand Canyon! I can’t wait!

Grand Canyon Railway RV Resort
711 N. 7th St.
Williams, AZ 86046

White Mountains

Friday, May 2nd, 2008
Silver City, NM to Show Low, AZ

235.8 miles
Gorgeous blue skies

Thank the heavens, the huge winds of the previous few days were down to a breeze when we started our journey to Show Low. Unfortunately, the park in Show Low wasn’t there!

I put their address into my GPS program, and it showed being in the heart of Show Low – a delightful little town in the White Mountains. But they left off the key “east” in the address in all their brochures. Turns out the Sunset Resorts White Mountain Camperland in Show Low is about 28 miles WEST of town, in the middle of nowhere, near a little post office in Aripine. Where? No satellite TV reception, no internet connection, very poor cell phone reception, and lousy bathroom facilities. But they have terrific water pressure!

Other than that disappointment at the end of the day, the drive was absolutely spectacular!!! Sooz and I agreed that parts of it even reminded us of our trip to Alaska! Right down to the snow on the ground! And the climb in the Apache National Forest – we topped out at 9225 feet! My poor little coach had never worked so hard, towing the Mustang along for the first time on such a ride!!

The wild flowers were beginning to peek out – bright purple and a brilliant red amongst the yellow and white!

Sooz, who is used to mostly white, silver, tan, and beige cars in Hawaii, made a comment on how many red cars and trucks she was seeing. We started to pay attention, and I had to agree, she was right. I would say we saw at least 50% of the vehicles on the drive (not all that many on these roads, but still…) were red! Interesting!!

And rather than bore you with anymore words, I’m just going to put in some pictures of the incredible vistas of our beautiful drive!

Me and my bridges - just can't help myself!

This is the Sun Rise Park ski resort slopes!

After passing thru Show Low, on the way to the RV park, wherever it may be, we entered into the utter devastation of the fire that ravaged the mountains five years ago. The fact that the land is still showing the effects of that huge fire, points again the the drought that has lasted for so very many years now in Arizona. Almost no new growth yet after all this time.

We learned that the White Mountain Camperland had been evacuated, along with all the residents in the area, and the park was used as a staging area for the fire fighters. Doesn't look like much has changed since then!

White Mountain Camperland Park
1876 E. Hwy 260, M.P. 317
Show Low, AZ 85901

The Animal Rescue Site
LogoThere is
person with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?