Tucson

Hi everyone,

I’m still in San Diego. I’ll report on my activities here in a few days.

Reading: Mormon Country by Wallace  Stegner. Originally published in 1942, this essay is fascinating, if you’re interested in this type of thing. I am.

Article currently working on: Bivalve and barnacle larvae distribution driven by water temperature in a Mediterranean lagoon

Editing note added on October 14th: Captain has alerted me to the fact that I’d misnamed the saguaro cactus as organ pipe (which is yet another type of cactus). I’ve corrected the mistake here.

 

September 25th – 30th

Tucson is hot. Very hot, even this late in the season. In the high nineties F (36 to 38° C). And it doesn’t cool down very much at night.

I arrive around lunch time from Patagonia and find a motel. I plan to stay through the weekend as I have an appointment to get Van serviced tomorrow morning and to see a chiropractor myself on Monday. Yes, my back has been giving me trouble.

I spend the next several days visiting the area, getting my errands done, working on some papers and working on the blog. One day I drive up to Summerhaven, in the eastern mountains. It’s much cooler up there. Also, I visit some of the local restaurants. And early in the morning I ride my bike around the city center and on the university campus (which is very impressive, by the way).

I find some of the houses in Tucson to be really interesting, particularly in the northern hill area. Many of the houses in the city center look traditionally American, but with the predominating desert vegetation (of course). However, to the north of the city lie the Catalina Mountains, and below them many a posh and intriguing neighborhood. There, I have a hard time seeing the houses due to the heavy vegetation that surrounds them.

The Catalina Mountains in the late afternoon light:

Catalina Mts. 1

The mountains extend from west to east, the entire length of the city.

 

The area gives me my first photo of a saguaro cactus. I saw my first one driving into the city from the east. Apparently they’re a low altitude plant, so we don’t see them in Patagonia or Portal.

Catalina 3 + cactus

 

But the saguaro cacti are only a part of the local flora:

Cacti 1_organ pipe + vegetation

Cacti 2 + vegetation

The plant life here is, in fact, quite abundant and diverse.

 

The perfect saguaro, with a small prickly pear at its feet…

Cacti 4_perfect organ pipe

…but I recognize some other plants too.

 

Here we see an agave and my old friend the barrel cactus.

House 2 + agave + barrel + vegetation

 

And here are two barrel cacti, one of them with a red blossom on top. They have a cholla for a neighbor.

Barrel + cholla

The red blossom up close:

Barrel  + red blossom

Does it turn yellow when it fully opens?

Barrel + yellow blossom

Maybe Lois or Val can tell us?

 

Facing the east, as you can see, there are a good many houses here…

Catalina 5_many houses_east

…though sometimes they’re difficult to see:

House + cacti

 

They appear to be buried in the plant life, with only the roof visible:

Houses 3 bis...

 

Occasionally you get a good glimpse of a part of the house…

Catalina 2

…but not much more.

 

I like Tucson.

 

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Patagonia, Arizona

Patagonia, Arizona, that is, in particular Patagonia State Park.

Still reading: Dominguez-Escalante Journal

 

September 24th & 25th

It’s time for me to relax and camp by myself for a day. So from Tombstone I drive to Patagonia State Park in southern Arizona, not far at all from the border at Nogales. The town of Patagonia itself is an interesting and rather pretty place with much greenery. To learn more, look here. And for pictures look here.

I arrive in the late morning and find a campsite. I have to pay for a full hookup to get the campsite I want, an isolated one near the lake, but it’s worth it:

1_Campsite 1

If you look hard, to the right, you can catch a glimpse of the lake.

 

More views of my campsite…

2_Campsite 2

…that evening…

3_Campsite 3

…and the next morning…

4_Campsite 4

 

A few views of the campground, from my campsite, as the sun comes up.

5_Campground 1_morning

 

I’m nearly alone here. The nearest neighbors are way over there…

6_Campground 2_nearest neighbors

…and in the morning light I take a picture of my silhouette:

8_Campground 4_me_shadow

I’m starting to take a real interest in photography.

 

Here’s a view from my campsite, towards the east, taken that evening…

10_View_evening 1_east

…and towards the west, taken the next morning:

11_View_morning_west

Again, you get a glimpse of the lake down below.  I promise you I’m taking you there soon.

 

But first here’s a view of the evening sky, to the west…

12_Sky_evening 2_west

Desert sunsets are terrific…

…as are the sunrises:

13_Sky_morning_east

 

Now, at last, down to the lake, and to my new swimming hole:

14_Lake 1_to shore & swimming hole

 

Swimming is allowed at most points on the lake.

15_Lake 2_evening_west

 

The view across the lake in the morning…

19_Lake 6_morning across

…and here’s my swimming hole again. I swim a lot while I’m here.

20_Lake 7_bank

 

Patagonia Park is rich in wildlife and is of particular interest to bird watchers. The trail you see here in the background is a nature trail leading to the far eastern end of the lake and is designed for birding. The cactus we see here is called a barrel cactus or a fish hook cactus. I’ve seen one before, at Dirk’s place. In this picture it looks as though another plant is growing out of the top…

26_Plants_barrel cactus 1

…but this picture gives you a better idea…

27_Plants_barrel cactus 2

…and this picture, taken at Dirk’s place, shows some of the spines that look like fish hooks, hence the name fish hook cactus:

28_Plants_barrel-fishhook

 

If you follow the birdwatcher’s trail for a ways, you see a lot of plants typical in the region:

25_Plants_ with a tree

IMG_2287

When I first arrive here, I take a long hike along the birdwatching trail and then through the rest of the campground area.  I don’t take any pictures, though, as the sun is directly over head.

Closer to my campsite, and in the morning, I find a lot of  interesting photo opportunities, such as this cholla…

30_Plants_cholla and tree 2

…and these berries…

32_Plants_red berries 1 33_Plants_redberries 2

…though I have no idea what they’re called…

34_Plants_orange berries

 

I find a few flowers too…

22_Flowers 1_white

…and some wild morning glories:

23_Flowers 2_morning glory 1 24_Flowers 2_morning glory 2

There are a lot of morning glories in the area and I take a lot of photos, but most of my photos don’t look very good. I experiment with the zoom a lot and I have a lot to learn.

I’m happy at this campsite and at this campground, and I figure it’s worthwhile to pay for a full hookup even though I can’t really use it with Van. When the sun goes down I can plug in the computer and work through the evening without fear of running down the battery too much, right? I’ll get all caught up with the blog, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong! As soon as I try to turn on the computer hordes of inects descend upon both me and the screen.  And I do mean hordes.  By eight o’clock in the evening I give up and go to bed. The sun goes down early here, which is a good thing in this heat, but eight o’clock is early to go to bed. I don’t mind going to bed so early, but I do mind waking up so early, like 4 a.m. I can read in Van, but in this environment, even there, my light attracts a lot of bugs.

Otherwise, I’d like to stay here for another day or two. But Van has an appoimtent to be serviced, so I must be on my way after just one day.  The next stop is Tucson.

Douglas, Bisbee and Tombstone

Hi everyone,

I’m in San Diego now, trying to catch up on this blog, and I have a lot to report.

 

September 23rd & 24th, 2014

Reading: I finished Travels With Charlie long ago and am now reading The Dominguez-Escalante Journal: Their Expedition Through Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico in 1776.

 

I left Portal after breakfast at the Portal Café with Dirk and some of his friends and then headed for the town of Douglas, on the Mexican border.

Douglas is an interesting experience.  Here, at the south end of G Avenue, the town’s main street, we see something that many of us have heard of, the “fence”:

1-International Street

If you zoom in you can see the name of the street, “International”. It’s one thing to have heard of this fence or to simply know of its existence, but it’s something else to actually see it.

 

The view to the left…

2_left

…straight ahead…

3_straight ahead

…and to the right…

4_right

…with one of the now familiar (to me) Border Patrol vehicles.

I don’t want to make light of serious situation, nor to say anything demeaning or cynical. Illegal immigration is a serious problem, with vast consequences, but I can’t help remembering what a certain well-known person said in a now-famous speech, “…tear down this wall.”

 

Douglas is a town that makes you understand the cliché “sun-baked”.

Downtown Douglas, looking north…

6_downtown Douglas looking north

…and looking south, with Van in the foreground…

7_downtown Douglas south

 

In the middle there is the Hotel Gadsden that Dirk told me about:

5_the Gadsden Hotel

The name Gadsden is a reference to James Gadsden (US ambassador to Mexico) of the “Gadsden Purchase” (also known as the “Venta de la Mesilla”), the purchase by the US from Mexico of a vast territory south of the Gila River and west of the Rio Grande in 1854. You can read more about it here.

Inside, the Gadsden lobby looks like this…

9_inside Gadsden_lobby

…and this…

10_inside Gadsden_lobby bis

…and there is also this stained glass window:

11_inside Gadsden_stained glass

 

Above all, there is this painting:

8_inside the Gadsden_Portal Canyon

Dirk has told me about it.  Do you recognize where it is?

There are a lot more pictures of the Hotel Gadsden interior here.

 

I then headed northwest to Bisbee, a most interesting town near an enormous copper mine.  Dirk has told me a lot about Bisbee and I think I’ll have to go back one day.  I did take a few pictures, though. Here’s a shot of downtown Bisbee:

12_downtown Bisbee-1

The town appears to be nearly only this street…

13_Bisbee-2

…with houses piled up on top of each other…

14_Bisbee-3

…and many colorful restaurants and gift shops

16_Bisbee-4

 

And then I moved on, to the iconic town of Tombstone with its many legends.

Here’s the main street of Tombstone in the evening light…

17_downtown Tombstone evening

…and the following morning…

18_downtown, morning light

…with some well-known references…

19_and some well known references

…and the definite touristic side…

20_with its touristy side

…well-known and touristic…

21_well known and touristy

…well-designed for this day and age, a brewery…

22_in this day and age

…and a winery…

23_but nevertheless of interest

…showing the old and the new…

24_showing the old and the new

…and a significant mixture:

25_with its iconic mix_pharmacy

 

Of course, there is the famous Tombstone courthouse…

26_courthouse, of course,

…in the evening…

27_courthouse, evening...

…and in the morning…

28_courthouse, morning

…right next door to the idyllic Rose Cottage, a private residence:

30_right next door, Rose Garden

 

Another well-known reference, undoubtedly to Wyatt Earp, a town sheriff in the heyday of Tombstone:

31_Wyatt's Hotel

I looked around town for other references to historic characters. I found Doc Holladay, but no others.

 

Some Tombstone shops post poignant messages that are likely as valid now as they were then:

32_here and there, some poignant messages

Learn more about Tombstone here.

Portal, Arizona

September 20th to 23rd

The community of Portal, where my friend Dirk lives a good part of the year, is located in the extreme southeast of Arizona. It’s a small place, but it’s big on scenery. This is Portal Road, that leads from Highway 80 to the Chiricauhua Montains…

1_road to Chiricauhua Mts and Portal from Hiway 80

…where we find the mouth of Cave Creek Canyon:

2b_bis

 

I’ve mentioned that Cave Creek Canyon, Portal and its surrounding areas have been very hard hit by the recent heavy rains in the southwest. This is one of the National Forest Service buildings in the Portal area, just a short way up the canyon:

3_NFS building near Portal

 

And this is the view today just across the road, where the rains created a raging torrent a few days ago:

4_view of Cave Creek from road

 

A nearby road is closed…

4b_nearby road is out

…and doesn’t look like it’ll be open again soon, to the great concern of the community:

4c_and not likely to soon be repaired

 

Upstream and down, the same devastation…

4c_upstream 4d_and  down, the same devastation

…under continually menacing skies:

4e_under ever menacing skies

 

A ranger allows us to drive up to Sunny Flat Campground. I say “allows” because this road, too, will soon be closed to traffic…

5_Sunny Flat campground up canyon; will save the...

At first glance, things don’t look too bad. Notice the heavy vegetation below the rock formations, the tall trees in particular:

6_notice the heavy vegetation... 7_birding...

The vegetation here, and the shelter of the canyon, make this area one of the most attractive bird watching areas in the world. Indeed, “birding” brings people here from everywhere. Scientists too, come here to study the riparian habitat of this very unique canyon.

 

But let’s leave the devastation for further investigation tomorrow. Here’s the sunset from Dirk’s house:

9_sunset from Dirk's 10_sunset bis

 

The eastern sky this evening is nice too:

11_eastern sky in evening over vegetable garden

 

The same eastern sky the next morning:

12_eastern sky morning from Dirk's

 

Here’s the house Dirk is building. The morning light hasn’t quite reached it yet:

13_Dirk's house under construction and other house

 

A short distance way we see the house of Dirk’s neighbor. This house, though situated at some distance from the creek, was nevertheless flooded.

15_neighbor's house, flooded

 

The western sky this morning:

17_and rises further 18_mysterious canyon mouth

I have to admit that Cave Creek Canyon is starting to exert a certain power over me.

 

This morning we decide to go for a hike to assess the damage. We park only a short way up the canyon…

20_we drive up the canyon for a hike...

 

…the view across the road is not encouraging:

21_view across the road

 

Dirk sets out on the trail:

22_Dirk sets out along the trail

We’re on the Cave Creek Nature Trail, that will take us up the canyon along the creek to Sunny Flat Campground and further:

In some places the trail and its surroundings seem to be untouched…

23_in some places the trail is untouched

23b_untouched trail

…and we see the normal vegetation…

24_an we see the normal vegetation

…like this cholla and this prickly pear…

25_this cholla

26_prickly pear

…these flowers…

26c_flowers2 26d_flowers3

…a prickly poppy…

26e_sacred datura

…and this wild morning glory. I told you I’d find one, didn’t I?

26f_told you I'd find a wild morning glory

 

But suddenly the flood damage becomes apparent…

27_then suddenly, the flood damage is there

…the creek has cut new channels…

28_the creek has cut new channels

…we see just how high the water level rose…

29b_water level

…and the extent of the damage across the canyon floor.

30_and now wide across the canyon floor

 

The grass has been flattened…

31_everywhere the grass has been...

…like this yucca…

31b_as has this yucca

The trail, too, became a channel in some places…

32_the trail itself became a channel

…much debris has been deposited…

35_and much debris deposited

…and this bench was under water…

36_this bench along the trail was under water

 

Above Sunny Flat Campground the rock formations remain serene…

38_ rock formations above are superb 38b_another rock formation

 

We follow the road back down the canyon towards Portal…

39_the road is covered with sand and silt

…silt and sand have been deposited all across the canyon floor.

40_as is the forest floor

This road has been partially washed out…

42_part of the road has been washed out

…and isn’t likely to be repaired soon.

43_and won't soon be repaired

 

Dirk wades through a still-flooded part of the road:

44_Dirk walks through a still-flooded part of the road

 

In some places the road is now part of the creek:

44b_in some place the water over the road is still deep

 

This camprgound was completely flooded…

45_one of the many campgrounds...

…and nearby a new spring has appeared…

46_nearby a new spring has appeared

…which continues to pour water onto the grounds.

47_and pours water into the campground

 

Later, back in Portal and on a lighter note, these javelinas, or peccaries, roam the village.

49_back in Portal...javalinas

They’re a wild new world pig and not related to swine. I say “on a lighter note”, but in fact javelinas can be real pests.

50_javalina bis

You can learn more about them here.

The people of Portal are understandably concerned about how and when the infrastructure on which they all depend will be repaired. They’re also concerned about the canyon itself. As one of Dirk’s friends said to us, “This canyon is why we’re here.”

Mother Nature will likely find a way to take care of the canyon, though it will take time.

As I said ealier, Cave Creek Canyon is starting to exert a certain power over me. Here’s the canyon sky at the end of the day:

48_canyon sky at the end of the day

 

And in the evening of the following day…

55_evening sky

56_canyon sky evening, in fact...

 

The eastern sky at the same moment…

55b_evening sky

 

Early the next morning at Dirk’s house…

59_cars, house, trailer & mountain morning light

…both east…

58_eastern sky morning

…and west…

57b_western...bis

The Cave Creek Canyon area is, as they say, a hidden gem, or, one of the unknown ends of the earth.

Into New Mexico

September 8th, 2014

On leaving Chinlé yesterday I started falling asleep at the wheel so I took a motel room on Interstate Highway 40 as soon as I got that far.  I wanted to drive further, but it just wasn’t wise.

Today I’m refreshed and ready to travel again. This morning the sun greets me at the door:

1_sunrise looking east

 

Due east of here, New Mexico is calling.

I set off down highways 191…

2_down highways 191 and...

…and 180…

3_and 180

…into New Mexico…

4_into New Mexico

…with its sumptuous vistas and…

5_with its sumptuous vistas and skies

and skies…

8_of course, rainbows mean...

…full of promise.

6_full of promise...

 

Sometimes twofold, if you look hard:

7_sometimes twofold, if you look hard

Of course, we all know what rainbows mean.

 

It’s a day of lakes…

9_it was a day of lakes, Lyman...

… Lyman Lake at Lyman State Park, Arizona, where I eat lunch and take a nap, and…

… Luna Lake, near Alpine, Arizona, in a cool and green region of mountains…

10_Luna Lake

…and Bill Evans Reservoir, as I near Silver City, my destination:

11_Bill Evans

 

It’s a day of forests…

12_forests...

Apache National Forest, near the Arizon-New Mexico border…

… and Gila National Forest:

13_more forests...

 

It’s a day of flowers:

14_and flowers

 

I know I’m not very good about the names of flowers.  I promise to work on that.

15_flowers2 17_flowers4

16_flowers3

18_flowers5

20_flowers7

 

This one, I’ve been told, is an Indian Paintbrush:

21b_Indian bis

And these are called Blanket Flowers

22_Blanket flower1 22b_blanket flower2

23_flowers9

24_flowers10

I’ve seen this one before; I’d like to get a picture of it fully flowered.

 

And now it’s on to Silver City.

Canyon de Chelly

September 6th & 7th

I drive from Page across the Navajo Indian Reservation to the town of Chinlé, gateway to the Canyon de Chelly National Monument which is home to some of the best known cliff dwellings of the Pueblo peoples. The next morning I drive along the rim roads above the network of canyons, stopping at the many overlooks that provide views onto the farmlands and cliff dwelling sites below. Visitors aren’t allowed access to the dwellings except on special visits accompanied by Navajo guides.

The views of the canyon floor are beautiful:

1b_canyon floor

 

Like the other canyons we’ve seen, these, too, are vast…

2_like the other canyons...long

…but they are privately owned and contain working farms:

3_but this one...working farms

 

The ancient cliff dwellings here  are numerous:

4b_closeup

A good view of the surrounding fields:

5_good view of fields

Road access within the canyon is restricted to the farmers and to guided visits:

6_road access in the canyon...

Some of the dwellings haven’t survived so well:

7_some ruins better preserved than others

And some are easier to photograph that others:

8_some easier to photo than others

This formation is known as the Spider Grandmother, who taught the Navajo how to weave:

9_formation known as spiderwoman, who...

Another dwelling, quite high above the canyon floor…

10_yet another dwelling

…and this is one of the better preserved:

11_one of the better preserved...

The canyons go on and on…

12_the canyons continue

13_and continue

Do you see the face on the cliff wall:

14_do you see the face

 

Learn more about the Pueblo peoples here:

The Pueblo peoples disappeared by about 1350 A.D. I meet a woman at one of the overlooks who holds forth quite knowledgeably about this mysterious disappearance. Apparently they were aliens and their Cosmic relatives came to take them home.  I find that hard to believe and lean more towards the theory of climate change that brought about a great drought in these regions. I remember that the Fremont people in Utah also disappeared about this time.

It would have been fun to see the cliff dwellings more closely, but I didn’t have much time.  I’ll make up for this in New Mexico.

 

Lake Powell

September 5th & 6th

I continue eastward from Colorado City via Fredonia, Arizona and Kanab, Utah and finally make my way to Lake Powell near the town of Page, Arizona.

I met some people at Zion who told me about a campground in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area called Lone Rock and where you can drive practically down to the beach. Just be careful of the deep sand on the roads, they say; it may be difficult to get back up to the parking area. So I park up top to have lunch and then I walk down to have a swim. I tell myself that it would be a good place to camp for the night, but I want to see about a motel in Page first. Page, I find, is busy and very expensive. Even a shabby motel costs more than a 100$ per night. And internet connections aren’t necessarily ensured. Since my main concern is to have a good internet connection, I decide to camp instead.

And thus I go back to Lone Rock. It is aptly named for this lone rock sticking up in the middle of an arm off of the main part of the lake:

1b_Lone Rock close up afternoon

To the left we see…

1d_to my left

…and across the lake:

1c_to my right

 

So this is my new swimming hole:

2_so this is my swimming hole 2b_my swimming hole

I’ll take full advantage of it while I’m here.

 

I’ve parked at some distance from the main campground:

3_I've parked some ways from the main beach

 

My campsite, in the waning light of the afternoon:

4_my campsite in the waning light

Making dinner:

4b_campsite 4cbis_dinner

 

 

As the light changes in the late afternoon…

…Lone Rock…

5_waning light lone rock

the trail down to the beach.

5c_trail down to swimming hole

 

Lone Rock at dusk…

9_lone rock at dusk

… and with the sunset the campground settles down…

8_the campground settles down

…which means no more motor boats or water skiers, no more OHVs…silence descends upon us.

 

And the show in the western sky begins:

7_evening light clouds gather

7b_clouds at sunset

7c_more clouds at sunset

7d_and more clouds

 

Finally, the moon rises over the lake:

10_moon rise

It isn’t yet the full moon, though you wouldn’t think so from the picture.  Notice the reflection of the moon in the water at the bottom left of the picture.  Here I have to admit that a better photographer than I am would no doubt have noticed it and caught it on camera.  Some of you readers out there have complimented me on my photography. I’m flattered, but I realize that I have a long way to go before my photos are  really good.  I’m taking all my pictures on a small but very good Canon A3100 IS that Maureen and Norris gave me for Christmas three years ago and for which I am very grateful.

You can see some excellent pictures of Lake Powell here.

And while I’m giving out links:

– you can learn more about the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area at the National Park Service site here.

– more about the Glen Canyon Dam here.

– more about Lake Powell here.

 

Moving right along… of course the clouds bring rain during the night. Not a lot, but the thirsty earth got a welcome drink.

I spend the evening sipping my wine and watching the sky. The next morning, I’m up at dawn. Coffee ready, I take a few pictures of the sunrise…

11_sunrise 11b_I take a picture...

…every few minutes:

11c_every few...

 

Lone Rock in the first light of dawn:

12b_lone rock first light

 

The cliffs to the west; my neighbor walks her dog:

13_cliffs to the west, my neighbor

 

To the north of my swimming hole:

14b_north...further

 

The night’s rain appears to have brought out a few wildflowers. Or perhaps these just close up later in the day:

15b_flowers 15c_flowers closeup

In any case the low-lying vegetation seems to have appreciated the rain:

16_low lying vegetation 16b_more vegetation

 

I pack up to leave and then have one last swim and also take a picture of the beach in the morning light:

17_beach in morning light

 

Now, will Van make it up the hill to the park entrance on these sandy beach roads? I cross my fingers and he makes it, hands down. Good old Van.

As I drive away from the park I stop to take pictures of two rock formations, unimpressive compared to what we’ve already seen…

18_as I drive out, some... 18b_formations catch my eye...

…but they serve to remind us that we haven’t yet finished with red rock.

Through Colorado City, Arizona

September 4th & 5th

As I leave Zion Park this morning I see a cavalcade of vintage cars driving through the town of Springdale, Utah, the port of entry, so to speak, for Zion Park. I’m in the Café Soleil, having breakfast as they go by, with my computer set up, busy with an article, and I’ve left my camera in the car.  I content myself with watching the cars go by. I suspect they’ll join the people I met the other day as I left Bryce, perhaps at the Zion Canyon Lodge.

I leave early and drive all the way to the town of St. George, the biggest city in southern Utah and whose name has nothing to do with the Saint George of dragon fame. No, the town was named after a saint (in other words a Mormon) whose name happened to be George. That’s the story they tell here.

I spend a few hours this morning at the visitor’s center of the St. George Mormon temple…

3_St. George Temple

4_not so photogenic as Manti

…which is not nearly so photogenic as the Manti temple.

I also drive by the local tabernacle:

5_St. George Tabernacle

At the visitor center they show me a film and answer a few questions. I really just want to be polite and learn something about what I see as a local institution. I openly tell them that I’m not a potential convert. If you want to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints you can go here. If you simply google Mormon Church you’ll come upon a vast bank of resources, both sympathetic and antipathetic towards the Church. I maintain my position that the Mormon migration to Utah is a fascinating chapter in United States history.

I return east that afternoon to the town of Hurricane on Highway 59 where I spend the night in a motel in order to have an internet connection and to get some work done.

The next morning I take a few photos from the parking lot:

1_leaving Zion...Hurricane

The desert is never far, nor are the mountains.

And then I head east and south towards the Arizona border and the towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona.  These two towns, formerly known as Short Creek, are the stronghold of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). The highway passes outside of the two towns. I drive by Hildale, but I turn off the main road and drive around Colorado City for a while.

Since 2006 this community has frequently been in the news for many reasons in relation to the FLDS practices. I won’t go into it here, but the town’s residents are wary of and hostile to outsiders. What I see largely confirms everything I’ve read about these communities. The streets are empty, the few women I see are indeed wearing those pastel prairie dresses and the children run inside. The houses are enormous, some of them apparently unfinished and are often surrounded by high fences or brick walls. There are few shops or offices.

I get a certain sense of forboding, of being watched. Of course, I’ve been noticed. An unknown Dodge Grand Caravan with a flashy yellow mountain bike strapped to its back will not go unnoticed here.

I take no pictures, I don’t need to. You will find many on the internet.  For more information I suggest that you google:

Colorado City

Hildale

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS)

Warren Jeffs (the FLDS prophet)

the book Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

the documentary film Banking on Heaven (the trailer is particularly interesting)

the Lost Boys

 

You’ll find many photos and resources that merit attention but that need to be studied carefully. You’ll see why, in Utah and Arizona (and in many other communities in the US and Canada too), polygamy is no laughing matter.

And now I want to get out of here.