Monday, September 25, 2017

Family Vacation (September 1990): Utah

(SEPTEMBER 1 TO 8, 1990)

September 1, 1990 (Saturday):        (Zion NP, Orderville, Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon NP, Escalante)

We left Redlands at 1:50 a.m. for a trip to Utah. I have recently sworn off Diet Coke and other forms of caffeine and was a little concerned that I may not be able to make it without falling asleep. However, in retrospect, I probably had the easiest time driving at night that I have ever had and realized the Diet Coke may not help, and may be a hindrance because it makes me have to go to the bathroom.

We made good time to Las Vegas, probably my best ever, making the trip in less than 3 ¼ hours. We stopped for the first time in Mesquite, Nevada, after traveling 320 miles. We traveled through St. George to Springdale to Zion National Park where we headed for the east entrance of the Park. There we traveled through a 1.1 mile tunnel drilled through the rock. Just past the other side of the tunnel we stopped and ate breakfast (cereal and apples) at the beginning of the Canyon Overlook Trail. Then we took the trail which was a one mile round trip. The trail started out by going up some stairs and following a little trail along the side of a mountain. We crossed through a large overhang which formed kind of a big cave (Andrew stopped for a rest, sitting on a smaller overhang underneath the overhang), and at the end of the trail were beautiful scenic views of the mountains at the far west end of the Park. From the canyon overlook we could see West Temple, the Sundial, and the Beehives.

Andrew was a lot of fun because he kept insisting that he was going to walk, even when I was trying to carry him so that we could go faster. Except for a few short stretches, Andrew walked the entire distance, having to climb over rocks and some areas that made Judy and I very nervous. Sam and Rachael had a game where they were trying to just step on rocks and avoid the sand. It was very obvious that Sam has good balance and is almost like a mountain goat as he hops from rock to rock.

After leaving Zion Park, we traveled to Orderville, which was settled by early Mormon settlers and was the best example of the Mormon practice of the United Order. In Orderville, we turned off into the residential part of town and came across a cemetery. We got out and walked through the cemetery and were amazed at the number of infants buried there. Probably two-thirds or three-quarters of the cemetery consisted of infants who lived only a month to five years. It was a very telling reminder of the hardships experienced by the early Mormon settlers. One grave we saw was of a woman who died in 1900. The tombstone indicated that she had traveled into the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847 with the Mormon pioneers. We also stopped at a small schoolhouse in town that was built in about 1886, right after the United Order was discontinued.

We then traveled to Red Canyon where we dropped off a package to the Pollacks, the parents of Karen Thomas, our Relief Society President in Redlands. They are the hosts for the campground at Red Canyon and had agreed to save us a campground for the night. However, shortly before coming, we contacted the Larsons of Redlands who offered to let us use their ranch house in Escalante. On a previous trip we stopped at Red Canyon to take one of the hikes. It is a marvelous spot, in some respects nicer than Bryce because the formations and red rock are right off the road, less crowded, and you’re not constrained to stay on the trail.

After leaving Red Canyon, we traveled to Bryce Canyon National Park where it started to rain. We stopped and looked through some shops where Rachael and Sam each purchased rocks. Sam bought a polished pink and white stone and Rachael bought fluorite, a blue and white colored rock.

Because of the rain, we drove to the end of Bryce and stopped at Rainbow Point. It was still drizzling a little bit, but we got out and were able to view the formations. Toward the end of the plateau upon which Bryce Canyon sits, we were able to see out for more than 100 miles. The formations were a beautiful orange and red dispersed with dark green pine trees (the next day in Church in Escalante, a couple told us the formations were the prettiest this day that they had ever seen). Rainbow Point is my favorite part of Bryce because the formations are interspersed with pine trees. On the way back towards the entrance of the Park, we stopped at various overlooks. At one overlook, we got a picture with Sam standing in front of a raven, and at another overlook, a picture of Andrew with a chipmunk in front of Natural Bridge.

At Sunset Point, we decided to take a hike and started out on the Navajo Loop Trail. The trail took us down through the beautiful spires. Andrew decided he wanted me to carry him on my shoulders and I started to feel a wetness around my neck and an awful smell and realized that Andrew had a leaky diaper. At that point, Judy and Rachael and Sam decided to continue and complete the trail and Andrew and I, with Andrew walking, went back to the car to change his diaper. The rest of the day was rather unpleasant as I had a damp collar and a melodious smell clinging to me. Judy and the kids enjoyed the rest of the hike, but Sam was pretty pooped by the end and could have used a rope tow to pull him to the top of the mountain (Andrew and I watched them complete the hike from the top of Sunset Point). Rachael was still running around and looked like she could have hiked a lot farther.

We left Bryce and traveled through Tropic and over to Cannonville. We stopped the car and I posed in front of the sign to the town, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. We then drove through Cannonville and were amazed at how tiny it was, and the fact that it still had its own Mormon church. We still have not been able to determine how the town was named, but assume that it must have been one of my ancestors. In checking the telephone book later, it was interesting to note that there are no Cannons living in Cannonville.

From there we traveled to Escalante, about 40 miles distant, and were amazed at the isolation of the area. It is Labor Day weekend and yet we only saw a couple of cars. In Escalante, we traveled through town, turned left at the Escalante Elementary School and north to a bluff overlooking the town where we found the Larson’s ranch house. The house is surrounded by sand. It is amazing that any trees can grow there at all. The house is large, with two bedrooms with queen size beds, two lofts which could easily sleep three people each, a large living room with a working t.v., a bathtub/shower, a separate bathroom with a shower, and a room where Rachael and Sam slept with couches in them. Judy and I ate two large t-bone steaks for dinner and after getting the kids to bed, watched a little bit of the BYU/UTEP football game on t.v.

September 2, 1990 (Sunday):          (Cannonville, Kodachrome SP, Mossy Cave, Escalante SP, Calf Creek)

This morning, Sam found a little toad (I think it is a spade-foot toad) outside the house in the mud. It rained heavily last night. We think that the toad must have come out because of the rain. We brought it in the house and washed it off in the sink and the kids took turns holding it. We were amazed at how quickly it could get around when it started to hop.

We left Escalante and traveled to Cannonville and another nine miles beyond to Kodachrome State Park. At Kodachrome, which just seems to be a small bowl filled with sandstone spires and shapes, we traveled down a sand and clay road several miles to what was identified as “Utah’s newest arch.” It was drizzling so Rachael and Judy stayed in the car to read, and Sam, Andrew and I took a one-half mile hike to the arch. The arch was toward the top of a large sandstone cliff and looked like an area where water ran down the side of the cliff and eventually eroded the hole. Compared to Bryce and Zion, Kodachrome is not particularly spectacular, but without the comparison would be a lot of fun.

We then traveled back to Bryce National Park where we took the four-tenths of a mile Mossy Cave Trail. On the way up to the cave we noticed a waterfall which would have been fun to go to had it not been raining. Mossy Cave was a large overhang with water seeping down the top and sides and which was filled with moss. The moss and damp made it very slippery. I understand that in early years, the pioneers used to get ice from the cave during the summer which they used to refrigerate their meat. As we were leaving the cave, the rain started to pour and we walked the four-tenths of a mile back to the car in a heavy rain. I was carrying Andrew and he was howling the whole way.

We then headed back to Escalante, and about one mile outside of town, we went to Escalante (petrified wood) State Park. It was drizzling and Judy decided to stay in the car with Andrew. Sam, Rachael and I started the trek up the mountain, which was a series of switchbacks that went all the way to the top of a pretty significant sized mountain. As we hiked, the rain got worse and the footing got treacherous (we were walking on clay). About three-quarters of the way to the top of the mountain, Sam started to complain of being tired, but through coaxing, ended up making it to the top. At the top the trail branched and we took the right fork and followed it in a circle of about one mile before reaching the fork again. We went a significant way before seeing any petrified wood, but eventually saw a fair amount of it. We saw small pieces and some rather large petrified logs which had beautiful colors of blue, red, orange, green and other colors. It was really quite a spectacular hike and walk, but one which we couldn’t fully enjoy because of the rain. We finally headed back toward the car. We fairly ran, and slipped and slided to the bottom of the hill and the car. It took us ten minutes just to clean the mud off the bottom of our shoes before we could get back in the car.

In Escalante, we stopped at the Frosty ______ for lunch where we got some hamburgers and burritos. We then hurried to the ranch, changed into our Sunday clothes and went to church in Escalante. It was fast and testimony meeting and afterwards we met people who had previously lived in Redlands (the Venutes).

After church, we changed clothes and drove toward Calf Creek Campground, about 13 miles out of Escalante. About 10 miles out of town, we rounded a hill and the terrain immediately changed. It went from scattered juniper trees to white and red rock formations as far as the eye could see. The view at the top of the hill was very spectacular and we could see for probably 50 miles or more. At the bottom of a winding road, we eventually got to Calf Creek which is very shallow, running over rocks and sand. Judy and the kids took off their shoes and waded for a while.

On the way back up the mountain, we stopped to hike on the rock. The rock we climbed on was scaled like a quilt or like a lizard’s scales. We climbed up toward the top of a little knoll, and then I climbed a little further up to some spires at the top. The kids, particularly Andrew and Sam, really enjoy hiking.

On the way back to Escalante we passed the road to Hole In The Rock and actually took it for a couple of hundred yards. The road is a dirt road and must go better than 100 miles before it reaches Hole In The Rock, right on Lake Powell. I believe we would need a Jeep to make it the whole way, but that is something I would like to do eventually.

September 3, 1990 (Monday):         (Boulder Mountain, Capital Reef NP, Loa, Manti)

We woke up at 5:30 a.m. to clean the Larson’s home and got out to the car to leave about 7:00 a.m. We traveled over the same country we’d traveled yesterday on our trip to Calf Creek, but we were glad we made the trip the day before. The colors in the afternoon were brilliant and beautiful, whereas in the morning with the sun coming up, we had a difficult time even seeing anything. We traveled up the hill to Boulder, a beautiful little town at the base of Boulder Mountain. We traveled through Boulder about 7:50, 10 minutes before the Anasazi State Park opened so we were not able to visit it.

Boulder Mountain was a tremendous contrast to the country we had been in. The mountainside was filled with beautiful green grass meadows, tall white aspens and lots of big green pine trees. While we had not seen any significant wildlife the first two days of our trip, we saw a deer down below the Larson’s home, probably 10 or 12 deer on our trip over Boulder Mountain and a group of prairie chickens. We also could see, from one of the viewpoints, Lower Bounds Reservoir, where I scout camp as a young scout. We could also see the distinctive Waterpocket Fold in the distance.

We then traveled to Capital Reef National Park where we again got into red rock country and large, massive cliffs. We took a drive from the visitor center 10 miles down a road through some awesome, massive rock formations. There is a whole different feel there than at Zion or Bryce. The formations are more massive and strong than Bryce but more intricate and carved than Zion. It probably does not have the sheer beauty of either, but conveys a sense of a more desert region. At one point driving down through the narrow canyon, we had a feeling that we were driving an old river bed.

After leaving the 10 mile drive, we turned right down the road towards Hanksville. We stopped at a turnout to look at Indian petroglyphs, but they were very difficult to see as we were kept back by a barrier and they had faded somewhat. A little further down the road, we stopped at another turnout to take a one mile hike (each way) to Hickman Natural Bridge. The hike started out at the Fremont River and wound its way up the mountain through volcanic rock. At the one-quarter mark, Sam began to complain and eventually said he wanted to go back, so we aborted our hike and headed back. We caught a tiny lizard and let it loose on Andrew’s shirt where it ran around for a while. We then got in the car and left.

Down the road a way, we stopped at an orchard where they allowed the picking of pears, peaches and apples. Apples were apparently the only fruit still available and the only apples we found were wormy. We did see a deer down the road several hundred yards, and as we got in the car to go, saw another deer sitting underneath an apple tree across the street.

In Loa, we stopped at an inn and bought smoked trout that was very delicious. On the other end of town, we stopped at a cheese factory and took a tour where we saw them skimming the cheese in large vats. We bought a big chunk of blue cheese, Swiss cheese and Monterey jack. For the next little while, we enjoyed slices of Swiss cheese and smoked trout.

When we arrived in Manti, we visited the grounds of the Manti Temple. The temple is set on a hill overlooking the city and I believe is as pretty as any of the other temples. We then continued up to Ephraim, around the backside of Mount Nebo, saw the destroyed town of Thistle, which was submerged by a lake when a mudslide blocked the canyon. There were memorials scrawled all over the cliffs next to the town. Submerged houses were still visible.

That evening we had the family dinner where Layne and Mary gave a presentation on their visit to Novosobirsk, Russia.

September 4, 1990 (Tuesday):                     (Emigration Canyon, East Canyon)

In the evening, Matt and I drove up Emigration Canyon through East Canyon to the top of the mountain. The leaves were just beginning to change colors. The Salt Lake Valley was very beautiful below. Up East Canyon, we spotted a large porcupine off the side of the road that had been hit by a car. We stopped; I pulled out my hunting knife and cut off its head. We brought it back to Mom’s house, removed the skin and as much of the muscle that we could. We boiled it for several hours which made it easier to remove more of the muscle. Then I soaked the skull overnight and most of the next day in a glass full of bleach, and then removed all of the remaining muscle and the brains. The end result was a wonderful skull of a porcupine like you find in museums, exhibiting the porcupine’s very large teeth, much like a beaver.

September 5, 1990 (Wednesday):                (Hogle Zoo)

Tutu took Rachael, Sam, Andrew and I to the Hogle Zoo. They had a white raccoon which I originally thought was an arctic fox. One of the zoo personnel indicated that it was indeed a raccoon, but not an albino, because it did not have pink eyes. We got to take a ride on the train. After the zoo, Tutu took us to McDonalds for lunch.

That evening, Tutu took us out (including Mom and Dad) to eat at Ruth’s Diner up Emigration Canyon and we ate outside in beautiful weather. I asked a band to play the Loggin’s and Messina song, “Christopher Robin,” which I was thrilled they knew.

September 6, 1990 (Thursday):       (Temple Square, City Creek Canyon, State Capitol)

We visited Temple Square, walked through the Assembly Hall and the Tabernacle, and went through the new church history museum. We also went up near the Kimball Apartments and viewed the new park where the Heber C. Kimball, Newell K. Whitney and Vilate Kimball graves are located.

 We bought some sandwiches at Subway Sandwiches and went up City Creek Canyon to the end of the road. Rachael, Sam and Andrew and I took a hike for about 20 minutes up beyond the road, but did not get as far as the beaver ponds.

We then traveled to the State Capitol building. Having just been in Madison, Wisconsin, and its state capitol building, it was interesting to contrast the two. The layout of both is very similar, but I believe the Wisconsin capitol building is more beautiful. It is also interesting to note that a statue of Philo T. Farnsworth, the founder of television, stands in the middle of the floor right beneath the rotunda.

In the evening, Matt’s girlfriend, Danny, took care of Andrew, Sam and Rachael, and Judy and I went down to the Capitol Theater with Mom and Dad, Tutu, and Layne and Mary and their children to see the play of Peter Pan. Cathy Rigby, the Olympic gymnast, was to play the role of Peter Pan. Cathy Rigby was sick and unable to perform, but her understudy did a good job as we watched an enjoyable performance.

September 7, 1990 (Friday):                        (Ranch, Kamas, Mirror Lake)

Sam and I traveled with Dad, and Judy, Rachael and Andrew traveled with Mom up to the Ranch near Kamas. Melissa saddled up three horses and allowed us to go out riding. Rachael rode a horse alone, Judy road a horse and I road a horse with Sam which was an appaloosa named Apache. We rode up past Melissa’s house, up along the creek, and then up almost all the way through sagebrush up to the base of the mountain where the scrub oak starts. We turned around and went back down to the ranch.

We then drove to Kamas and ate at the Hi-Mountain Drug. We had the traditional hamburgers with potato chips and the plastic containers.

After leaving Kamas, we traveled up to Mirror Lake, about 32 miles beyond Kamas, and enjoyed a walk partly around the lake. The campground closes in two days for the winter and the weather is beautiful and brisk. I had forgotten that Mt. Baldy looms right above Mirror Lake (an 11,992 foot high mountain) and in the near vicinity is also Mt. Hayden and Mt. Agassiz.

September 8, 1990 (Saturday):        (Provo Canyon, Bridal Veil Falls, Cascade Springs, American Fork Canyon)

Sam, Andrew and I traveled up Provo Canyon to Bridal Veil Falls and rode the tram up to the top. Both Sam and Andrew showed some concern initially as we traveled higher and higher, but got over the fear, at least outwardly, rather quickly. At the top, we took a 1/3 mile trail along the side of the mountain over to the stream which feeds the waterfall. The trail at times was very steep. Sam, although he complained a little bit, did very well.

After leaving Bridal Veil Falls, we traveled further up Provo Canyon and took the exit toward Sundance Ski Resort. After passing Sundance, we continued on past Aspen Grove and saw the beautiful backside of Mount Timpanogas. We traveled to Cascade Springs that is an area where a natural spring bubbles out of the mountain, comes down the hill and forms a number of small, beautiful pools, filled with German brown trout. At first Sam had a hard time spotting the  trout in the pools, but after looking at them for a while, got quite adept at spotting them. The trail was segmented into three loops, each successive loop requiring a further hike. Because Sam had complained a little bit earlier about having to hike so long, I asked him how far he wanted to go. When we came to the first loop I asked him if he wanted to go on. He said yes. At the second loop he said he wanted to go further, and finally as we got to the end of the third loop he didn’t want to head back to the car. He had seen a sign indicating porcupines live in the area, and wanted to see one (remembering the porcupine head Matt and I obtained a few nights earlier).

We finished out the trip by heading down American Fork Canyon past Timpanogas Cave and back to Provo. I’ve never been on the backside of Timpanogas before and was amazed at the beauty of the area.

In the evening, Judy and I went with Layne, Mary, Lincoln and Molly to the BYU vs. Miami football game. It was billed as the biggest football game ever in the State of Utah. Miami entered into the game as the number one rated team in the country and had been the number one team in the country last year. Their defense was rated as the top in the country last year, their quarterback, Craig Erickson, was touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate.

The temperature was about 94 degrees in Provo that afternoon and we were on the eastside of the stadium with the sun glaring down directly into our faces. The stadium was filled to capacity, with a record crowed of 66,000 plus fans.

It was one of the best football games I have ever seen. Ty Detmer had a Heisman Trophy type performance passing for 407 yards and executing some tremendous pass plays after being subjected to a very heavy pass rush. The game was in doubt to the last few seconds. The tension and emotion was high.

When the game ended with a 28 to 21 BYU victory, many of the fans ran on to the football field and very few people in the stadium left, most continuing to stand in the stadium and to bask in the glory of what had taken place.

It was one of those games you knew could be significant in terms of progression of BYU football, but yet almost too much to hope for a BYU victory. The chance of a BYU victory seemed so remote that no one even appeared willing to express the sentiment that BYU might win, but rather expressed the hope that BYU would do well and Ty Detmer not hurt his Heisman Trophy chances.

We left Layne and Mary’s house in Provo about 10:30 p.m., hoarse, sweaty and tired (we had been up until 2:00 a.m. the night before with Layne, Mary, Chris and Joan). I drove as far as Beaver and we pulled over to the side of the road and slept in the car for about an hour. I then drove to St. George where Judy spelled me and drove to Las Vegas. I drove from Las Vegas to the Nevada border where we ate at Whiskey Pete’s and then Judy drove the rest of the way home.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Family Activities: March to May 1990: California and Arizona

(MARCH 16 TO 17, 1990)

As advisor to the scout program, I took Sam and went with Jeff Pyne, Dave Benson, Dave and Greg Palmer, Jared Glazer, Scott Abbott, Ty Glade and Neil Wilson out to Joshua Tree for rock climbing. The Palmers brought all of their climbing gear, including shoes, pitons and ropes and taught us how to climb. We stayed at Jumbo Rocks Campground that night and went into the rocks near Hidden Valley to do our climbing. We hiked about a quarter mile off the road to the rocks and then climbed a ways to the rocks we were climbing. The rocks we climbed were already a fair way up the rocks. We brought lunches and snacked and talked while the Palmers secured devices in the rock and prepared for us to climb. The first climb the scouts took was an easier one up a crack. The rappelling down once getting to the top was the scariest for the boys as they backed off the rock. Neil Wilson coming down, panicked and crashed into the wall sideways. Next, Jeff Pyne decided to take a more difficult route up the other side of the same rock. He and Dave Benson put their heads into a T crevice like ostriches as they felt for holds above them on the overhanging rock. They were free climbing with ropes attached in case they fell. After Jeff and Dave, I was elected to climb and nervously did so. The adrenalin started to flow and I was exhausted by the time I was lowered back to the bottom. Greg Palmer helped Sam do some climbing until Sam had gone high enough and wanted out.

We then transferred to a crack on our left that I didn’t think any of us could climb (about 60 feet straight up). But Jared Glazer, the first, did it and then the gauntlet was thrown to me. There were several times I did not believe I would make it, looking for hand or foot holds and losing strength, legs shaking uncontrollably. But I did make it, extremely exhausted and scraped up from the rocks. There was an element of fear, accomplishment and elation that made it a very gratifying experience. As the day wore on, Sam crashed in my arms and went to sleep.

On the way down we admired the desert scenery, including the Joshua trees and cholla cactus. The Palmers video taped the climbs and we watched the tape the next day during priesthood meeting.

(APRIL 7 TO 9, 1990)

April 7, 1990 (Saturday):                 (Ajo, Arch Canyon, Alamo Canyon)

We left Redlands at 1:30 a.m. with me driving. We drove to an area just 20 to 30 miles from Phoenix where we turned off I-10 to head south, and got gas. We stopped in Ajo for breakfast, where we stayed the previous 4th of July, and ate breakfast at Dego Joes in the town square. Judy and I had omelets with about 6 to 8 eggs each. In Ajo, we stopped at the Phelps Dodge open pit copper mine that closed a few years previously due to declining copper prices.  We had originally planned to go with Jim and Sally Coffin, but Joe Sax’s death at work and his funeral on the Monday made Jim (Joe’s associate) feel like he needed to stay in town.

We drove to the visitor’s center at Organ Pipe and went through the exhibits, reserved one of four spaces at the primitive campsite in Alamo Canyon, and then went on the Ajo Mountain dirt road drive. We stopped beneath the arch at the mouth of Arch Canyon and hiked around the first bend, teaching the kids various kinds of cactus (cholla, prickly pear, hedgehog, saguaro, organ pipe), ocotillo, etc. The plants and cactus were flowering, although it was a dry year and not as spectacular as in previous wetter years. The pretty reds were out on the ocotillo and some of the other yellow flowers. We ate a picnic on a bench at the mouth of the canyon and talked with a couple visiting from England.

We then went three to four miles up a dirt road to our campsite in Alamo Canyon. Our tent was pitched between a large saguaro cactus and organ pipe cactus on ground as hard as cement. Rachael, Sam and I took a hike up the side of the mountain. Organ pipe cactus and ocotillo grew on the side of the mountain. I ended up hiking ½ to ¾ of the way up the mountain. In the evening, we walked the dirt road near dark and saw bats. We heard coyotes howl while we were sleeping that night.

April 8, 1990 (Sunday):                    (Alamo Canyon, Puerto Penasco)

I walked up the south fork of Alamo Canyon on Sunday morning. There was the shell of a brick house, a fenced corral and water building for horses or cattle. The bottom of the canyon was very tangled with brush and large boulders, but I didn’t see much wildlife. It was surprising that we really didn’t see any lizards or snakes. We did see, however, a herd of 10 to 15 javelina or collared peccaries. They were to the south of our campground across the wash and near the mountain about ½ mile to one mile away from our campsite. We saw a group of about 8 turkey vultures circling and wondered what was causing them to circle. I then saw some animals running and hopping through the brush and cactus. At first I thought they were rabbits, then realized that at 50 yards away they were bigger and looked more like kangaroos. Then it dawned on me they were peccaries. I was very excited. It was a real treat to see an animal like that that is rarely seen.

Rachael drew some great pictures of cactus and other desert plants. The ocotillo, one of our favorite plants, gets the red flowers on its tips in April and gets small green leaves after the rains. It is not a cactus, although it has large thorns. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was established in 1937 and protects virtually the only organ pipe cactus in the United States (more is in Mexico) and some of the most spectacular Sonoran Desert scenery.

We bought gas in Lukeville and drove south through Sonoita down to Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point), about 70 miles south into Mexico. The terrain over the border was saguaro and organ pipe cactus and then gradually became completely desolate. On the drive, we saw a dead coyote being fed upon by turkey vultures and a dead rattlesnake. Puerto Penasco is right on the Gulf of California and is completely desolate of vegetation. Sand is everywhere. It is much less touristy than other Mexican towns we’ve been in. We went to the fish peddlers and bought a pound of large shrimp for $6.00 (which we took back to camp and barbequed over our camp stove in Alamo Canyon). We also bought two ironwood hawk carvings for $12.00 (one which I kept for myself and one for Dad). We ate at the Costa Brava Restaurant where I had a seafood combination which consisted of shrimp, squid, octopus, scallops, clams, mussels and fish, mixed together in a tangy sauce, the best seafood dish I’ve ever eaten. The Mexican food was definitely different. We’d heard Sonoran food was some of the best in Mexico. The hot sauce was very different.

We then drove out to Sandy Beach, which had an incredible sandy road covering several miles with large washboard bumps the entire way jarring us and the car. At the end was a mountain with sand dunes in a large bowl and people racing around in it in dune buggies. The weather was very warm. The kids put their toes in the ocean, Andrew stripped to his diaper (and threw an incredible fit as we went to leave). I stopped at a small shop on the way out and purchased a straw hat with a colorful “Puerto Penasco” band to keep the sun off of my head.

April 9, 1990 (Monday):                              

After taking a walk from our campground north toward Montezuma’s head, we drove Hwy 2 through Mexico from Sonoita to Mexicali. At first the terrain was very mountainous and rugged as we passed just north of the “Gran Desierto,” a Mexican National Park. The terrain then turned very flat, sandy and barren. Very few people and very harsh. We were impressed with Mexicali which seemed large, relatively clean (for Mexico) and untouristy. We then drove through Calexico, El Centro, and Brawley (where we ate at a Mexican restaurant), up to the Salton Sea, where we stopped to walk near a dike, through Coachella, Indio and back home.

(APRIL 21, 1990)

Mom Kenison was in town and had never seen Palm Springs. Last time she was here we had been to the Los Angeles County Arboretum and up to Forest Falls, more of our green country tour. This time was for desert. We stopped at Hadley’s and bought dates and nuts. Then up to Palm Springs and the Desert Museum. It is quite an incredible place. One portion has dioramas of stuffed animals in desert scenes, with lizards, snakes, squirrels, coyotes, bighorns, etc. They have some dinosaur bones and live reptiles and frogs, including a live rattlesnake that rattled continuously at us. They had some beautiful artwork, including some Remingtons and other famous artists.

We then drove through Palm Springs to McDonalds for lunch, then off to Palm Desert, to the Living Desert Museum. We were fortunate to see a presentation on birds in the Hoover Education Center. We had sparrow hawk and crow fly over our heads in the room and the kids got a close look at a redtail hawk. In another part of the building the kids did crayon rubbings of various animal plates and a woman let a large tarantula walk on her hand. They had a new Sonora Desert section structured after the area near the Ajo Mountains in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It was fun, as we had just been in the Ajo Mountains a couple of weeks earlier.

(MAY 1990)

The Renaissance Pleasure Faire is put on for about six weekends by the Living History Center in Devore, at the mouth of Cajon Canyon. Judy, Rachael and I attended on a very warm day. The real fun of the place is seeing the incredible costumes (England as it was in about 1680), the people speaking in old English (at times pretty bawdily) and the wonderful food. We had quail (very good), artichokes with mayonnaise and butter, venison sausage sandwich with onions and peppers, strawberry ice, peanut butter cup, buns (sweet rolls), several sausages, a Turkish sandwich made with lamb and peppers, corn on the cob and more that I can’t think of now. We enjoyed two knights on horses jousting with their long lances, men with powder muskets shooting out across a large pond and Scottish bagpipers.


Our first family scrapbook covered one year, including three separate trips into Arizona, starting with our trip to Arizona and New Mexico in April 1989, then included our trip to Southern Arizona in July 1989, and our trip to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in April 1990. A review of our year indicates quite a foray into the area around us as well as beyond. Travel within California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Mexico (Baja and Sonora). Hopefully, all our horizons were expanded. We know the ancient Indians better, more about the dinosaur and the desert, and have probably seen more of the State of Arizona than most Arizonans have (that knowledge was increased further at the beginning of our next trip in another album, which started in Arizona). We visited several caves (Timpanogas, Crystal, Lehman and Colossal), zoos (San Diego, Phoenix, Sonora Desert, Rio Grande, Grand Canyon Deer Park) and otherwise had a great time.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Family Vacations (July to December 1989): California, Nevada and Utah

(JULY 22, 1989)

Mom Kenison visited and we took her to the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum in Arcadia. The weather was warm, but we enjoyed it immensely. We found beautiful orchids growing in a rain forest exhibit and Rachael and Sam both enjoyed feeding peacocks by hand that roamed the grounds. I particularly enjoyed a pond that had turtles in it, moss hanging from their backs. We threw bread into the pond to coax the turtles near us, but large catfish came up and snared the bread. I believe these are the first wild turtles I’ve ever seen. We spent time by a beautiful waterfall with koi swimming in the pool at the base and looked at a carriage house and beautiful house where the previous owners lived. The Santa Anita Racetrack is nearby, started by the individuals whose grounds these once were.

We left the Arboretum  and ate at the Sizzler nearby. We decided not to go to the Norton Simon Museum, the kids were too tired. Instead, we drove to the water fall in Forest Falls. Mom,  Judy, Rachael and Sam decided to cool off by wading in the stream. Andrew and I got wet involuntarily by a group of touring Japanese who started a water fight nearby.

(AUGUST 5, 1989)

We visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History in Exposition Park, across the street from the University of Southern California and right next to Memorial Coliseum where the Los Angeles Raiders and USC play (and where the Los Angeles Olympics were staged). We enjoyed the dinosaur bones and stuffed animal exhibits. We saw a mega-mouth shark, caught off of Catalina Island, only one of two ever caught (the other was caught off the coast of Hawaii). The museum had a triceratops skull, a stegosaurus (from Utah), a tyrannosaurus rex skull, a plesiosaurus, and others. The Discovery Room had a whale skeleton hanging overhead, animal skins and a stuffed polar bear (Andrew’s favorite), tiger, etc.

After the museum, we went to Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles, a tiled street with Mexican shops and restaurants. We ate tostadas, rice and beans at a restaurant, and bought a mango from a vendor. Olvera Street has the first pueblo or house built in Los Angeles.

(AUGUST 26, 1989)

The La Brea Tar Pits are right off Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Natural gas bubbles to the surface and black tar collects in pools on the surface. A life size replica of a mastadon is on one side of the pit and a replica of a woolly mammoth, trapped in the pit, is on the other. Another mammoth and young mammoth watch from the bank. Inside the George C. Page Museum are the skeletons of a giant sloth, lions (the beast that was more feared than the saber-toothed cat), giant buffalo, mammoth,  saber-toothed cat, etc. Also wolves, eagles, condors and other birds of prey. Over 400 wolf skeletons were found in the pit and the majority of the animals found were predators, apparently caught themselves while feeding on animals caught in the tar pits. The skeletons are a brown color, the result of staining by the asphalt in the pit. A mammoth skeleton inside was the replica for the mammoth models outside in the tar pits. The bones bring the reality of the animals home. This is a wonderful place to come and learn about the past. The remains of only one human, a woman, have been found. She lived about 9,000 years ago and was 4 feet 10 inches, and between the ages of 20 and 25. Other areas outside the museum and away from the pit still have tar bubbling out of the ground. We all loved it. There is also a connecting atrium with beautiful greenery.

We visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (next door), which Andrew cut short with his screaming, and Farmer’s Market which is blocks away. The food at the market looked wonderful, but too expensive for us on this day. So we drove to Chinatown, near downtown Los Angeles and Olvera Street. It is amazing that Olvera Street is predominantly Mexican, very few whites. Just a few blocks away in Chinatown, it is predominantly Chinese: Chinese newspapers, signs, food, etc.

(SEPTEMBER 2, 1989)

Judy and Rachael elected to stay in Bakersfield with the Jackmans while Sam and I and Denise and Tommy Jackman elected to drive north to Sequoia National Park. We first took the one-half mile walk to Crystal Cave, down a beautiful mountain trail. The cave is nine miles off the main highway down a narrow, winding road, which takes about 40 minutes to drive. The cave was discovered in 1920 by two park employees, about 30 years after the park was established. The cave is in limestone and marble, near a beautiful meandering stream. The cave maintains a constant 48.6 degree temperature year round. Sam was wearing his Wisconsin t-shirt and shorts and got quite cold inside. The inner workings aren’t as spectacular as Colossal Cave, but it is a clean, wet, slimy, living cave, like Timpanogas Cave.

Near Moro Rock was one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen. Large sequoia trees had sunlight filtering through to the forest floor. Leafy green ferns were at the bottom of many trees and many trees had green moss clinging to their sides. In the distance was the blue light where the mountain dropped off and distant mountains of the Sierras in the background. So many shades of green. It was other worldly, almost first visionish. We climbed to the top of Moro Rock. Metal banisters or rocks line the path. The walk up is breathtaking. On the south side is the narrow, winding road up from the bottom of the park. On the north is a mountain range which shields Mount Whitney, the continental U.S. highest mountain, from view.

We visited the General Sherman Tree, the largest living thing on earth. It is 275 feet tall, has a 103 foot circumference, is 2,500 years old and weighs 1,385 tons. From a distance it isn’t so spectacular, but up close, the tremendous width and height is awe-inspiring. We walked a portion of the Congress Trail. I was impressed by the number of trees with black fire burn marks. The bark has less sap in it so that it won’t burn as well. The fire kills the parasites and insects that inhabit the trees and clears out other competing trees. We enjoyed a sawed-off cross section of a sequoia tree that was three or four times the height of a man. The size is staggering.

(DECEMBER 2, 1989)
The Redlands IV Ward Young Men and Young Women took a trip to Las Vegas to see the new temple. Rachael accompanied me, along with Robby Pister, Lars Sveen, and Scott Abbott. Nearly 30,000 people joined us today in the temple tour. We also drove by the fabulous Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, with its beautiful waterfalls.

(DECEMBER 22, 1989 TO JANUARY 1, 1990)

We did not keep a journal of this trip, only snippets were written down.
We have a picture of Andrew touching a pet garter snake of Uncle Matthew. He showed no fear at all.

Sam, Andrew and I visited the Bean Museum at BYU while Judy, Rachael and Grandma Kenison went to the Nutcracker (no contest between which place we’d have rather been). We saw a python devouring a rat, the rear end and tail hanging out of the snake’s mouth. We enjoyed stuffed animals, including a standing polar bear and tiger.

We visited the Utah Museum of Natural History on the University of Utah campus with Dave and Bonnie Kenison, who were also visiting from Colorado. Sam, Andrew and Sarah loved a dinosaur fountain, the water coming out of the jaws of the mouth. Exhibits included skeletons of a stegosaurus and a couple of allosaurus.

On December 29th (as indicated on our fishing license), Rachael and I went ice fishing with Paul Stringham, his sons, Jack and Tom, his brother, John Stringham, and his sons. We went to Causey Reservoir, east of Ogden, Utah. We drove through Huntsville, Utah, where President David O’McKay grew up, a beautiful area. To be able to fish, a hole is drilled through the ice on the lake with an ice auger. The line of the fishing pole is then dropped to the bottom of the lake. It is a rather boring and very cold enterprise. Unlike regular fishing where you are casting and re-casting, with ice fishing you wait with your line staying static. A bald eagle watched us from above the cliffs where we ice fished and they usually see a moose each year when they go up (but not, unfortunately, this year). Rachael got playing around and accidentally put her foot through a hole in the ice. That provided some impetus for us to leave, none too soon. I caught two of the three fish we caught that day, a cutthroat and two rainbow trout, so the Stringhams let us take the fish home to Grandmother Cannon’s home where we had them for breakfast the next morning.

We attended Tutu’s Christmas party and the children each got a gift from Santa Claus, who attended.

We went with Uncle Matt, and some of the Sines (Taylor and Ben) to Tracey Aviary in Liberty Park. Much of the Aviary has changed since we left Salt Lake 6 ½ years ago, including a new bald eagle and snowy owl exhibits.

On the drive back to California, we detoured through Delta, Utah, over to the newly established Great Basin National Park near Ely, Nevada, established in 1986. First we went to Lehman Cave, the best cave we have been in so far (better than Timpanogas, Colossal or Crystal Caves) with wonderful, very intricate, formations, types not seen anywhere else. The temperature inside the cave is about 50 degrees and the tour takes about 1 ½ hours. After going through the cave, we drove several miles p the Wheeler Peak road. We spotted about eight deer on the side of the road. The contrast between the Utah west desert we had just driven through and the mountain range with 13,000 foot Wheeler Peak, was incredible. Wheeler Peak is spectacular, the beauty is a rugged deserty beauty that I really enjoy.

We drove from Great Basin National Park to Ely and then in a straight run at night to Tonopah in eastern Nevada (where I got a speeding ticket on New Year’s Eve going 75 in a 55 mph zone). We spent the night in Tonopah. In the morning, we ate breakfast at a casino in Tonopah and drove toward Death Valley. As we left Tonopah, we had a beautiful view in the distance of several sets of mountain ranges, the closest being barren desert mountains, with more distant sets being snow capped, a beautiful contrast.

From Hwy 95 at Scotty’s Junction, we went toward Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley National Monument. The entrance to the Monument was interesting with a narrow winding road through barren mountains. Scotty’s Castle was built as a vacation home by a wealthy Chicagoan. It is near a spring that puts out 200 gallons of water a minute. We took the tour of the home, but had a miserable experience. Andrew was howling, so Judy or I needed to stay at the back of the tour bouncing him around. Then, in the kitchen, Sam fell over and hit his head on a cabinet and started to howl. The National Park Service employee rudely asked us to leave the tour. Embarrassed, I took Sam and Andrew and made my way through about 20 people as the guide led us out. Judy and Rachael were able to finish the tour of the house.  Sam, Andrew and I walked around the grounds while the remainder of the tour went on. We could see Scotty’s grave up on a hill, but didn’t have time to hike up to it.

From Scotty’s Castle we drove 8 miles to Ubehebe Crater. The crater was formed by a volcanic explosion and is 500 feet deep and one-half mile across. . It would have been fun to hike in, but it was cold and windy. It was much more spectacular than our pictures indicate. We picked the right time to visit Death Valley as January is the coolest month of the year with an average high temperature of 64.6 degrees. By contrast, July, the hottest month, averages 116.2 degrees and has a record high of 134 degrees, the hottest in the United States.

The best part of Death Valley was the sand dunes near the intersection of Hwys 374 and 190. We took off our shoes and spent some time wading through the dunes with our bare feet. The temperature was a beautiful 70 degrees or so, and the top layer of sand warm, but the bottom layer had a cool feel. It was wonderful to sink our feet into the sand and feel the contrast. The kids loved running up and down the dunes.

We went to the visitors center in Furnace Creek and went through it. There are palm trees in Furnace Creek, one of the few places with any vegetation. We found prices there incredibly high and ended up eating burritos out of the General Store. Borax resembles quartz crystals and originated in hot mineral springs or in the fuming vapors of volcanic eruptions. Borates were deposited in the remains of old lake beds and eventually moved by groundwater to the floor of Death Valley, where evaporation left a mixture of salt, borates and alkalis. Borax is used in glass, porcelain, enamel, soap and detergents, fertilizers, cosmetics, building materials, fire retardants and shields for nuclear reactors. The largest use is in fiberglass production, such as in boat hulls, auto bodies and airplane sections. 20 mule teams used to take the borax out of Death Valley.

At Devil’s Golf Course, a 30 foot lake existed 2,000 years ago. Salt precipitated from its drying waters and formed a salt layer three to five feet thick. Below that is 1,000 feet of alternating layers of salt and deposits from other lakes. Lake Manly used to be more than 100 miles long and 600 feet deep. The salt pinnacles are caused where the rain dissolves the salt and carves sharp edges and points. The pinnacles grow as a salt solution comes up from the water table. The water evaporates and the salt crystallizes.

At Badwater, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, 282 feet below sea level, a spring forms a pool along a fault that parallels the valley. The pool never gets completely dry, even in the summer. It may also be the hottest place in the world. For several years the temperature was taken at Badwater and the temperatures ran a few degrees hotter than at Furnace Creek. At Furnace Creek the temperature was 134 degrees and the world record is 136 degrees. Death Valley ranges from four miles to sixteen miles in width and is 120 miles long. Elevation ranges from –282 feet at Badwater to 11,049 feet at Telescope Peak, one of the greatest contrasts in height in the country. Mount Whitney, over 14,000 feet and the highest point in the continental U.S., is only a few hundred miles away. Temperatures at ground level in the sun have been recorded as high as 190 degrees and the average rainfall is 1 ½ inches. A lake 12 feet deep would evaporate in one year. A person can perspire as much as three quarts of water in an hour. Man should drink at least one quart of water an hour when exposed to the hot sun. At Badwater we hiked on the salty floor of the valley. It was just like hiking through slushy snow. We understand that the Europeans are very enamored by Death Valley and go there by the droves in the summer.

We left Badwater as the sun was going down and it was completely dark by the time we left the monument. We drove down Hwy 127 through Shoshone to Baker and home on I-15 which was very crowded with end of holiday traffic. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Family Vacation (July 1989): Southern Arizona

We had tried the desert in April and it was wonderful. How about the middle of summer? We hit a record breaking heat wave. Wow, what a difference!

July 1, 1989 (Saturday):                   (Phoenix, Tucson, Willcox)

I went to bed at 11:30 p.m. and was woken up by Sam crying at 1:45 a.m. I wasn’t able to go back to sleep for 15 minutes and then got up with my alarm at 2:00 a.m. We were on the road by 3:00 a.m. We got gas in Blythe, then headed for Phoenix and were within the city limits by about 7:10 a.m. We believed we were early to visit the Phoenix Zoo, so we traveled to Mesa to see the Mesa Temple. I was surprised to see how large Mesa was – 9 freeway exits. We got out of the car about 8:00 a.m. at the temple and were hit with the heat. It must have been 90 or 95 degrees. We knew then we were in for a long day. Because of the heat, we just stayed a few minutes, took a picture of Rachael and Sam in front of the temple and left.

We got to the Phoenix Zoo about 8:15 after driving through the Arizona State University campus. It is a beautiful campus. The football stadium is now home to the Arizona Cardinals. Near campus are beautiful shops with fun architecture. Arizona State looks like a fun place to go to school.

The entrance to the zoo goes over a large pond with ducks, fish and turtles. I was surprised to see a large turtle swimming through the pond. It turns out the zoo is on the site of the old Arizona fish hatchery and it has very large ponds all through it that were once part of the hatchery. I was extremely impressed with the Arizona section of the zoo. They had jackrabbits and quail in one exhibit that you could almost reach out and touch. Then lizards, toads, snakes and salamanders – it was fun to see the variety in the state. It also had natural exhibits for coyotes, peccaries (which we couldn’t see), pronghorns, bobcat, mountain lions, turkey vulture, red tail hawks, bald eagles, etc. We took a “train” ride (small open sided bus) through the zoo for about a half hour. It was so hot that it did cut down on the enjoyment a bit. We would have never seen the entire zoo if we had walked. The bighorn sheep exhibit is similar to the one at Living Desert, just a fence around a big rock mountain. We didn’t get close enough on the bus to see any bighorns. We did go by a wonderful swampy alligator exhibit, but also didn’t see any alligators. We did see some three or four foot iguanas running in an exhibit and took a quick look through the children’s zoo  which was large and nice, but spread out. Rachael liked the zebras and the zebras liked the zoo. Phoenix out-Africa’d Africa with the heat. The best part there were the raccoons which came towards us as though to beg. If opening up my own North American Zoo (which I have fantasized about on occasion), the Arizona exhibit is one part I would take in its entirety.

We drove another hour to Casa Grande National Monument. The ranger said it was 108 degrees, later to be 115 degrees, but it felt 115 degrees then. Casa Grande was a large Indian fortress with one big three story building (the equivalent of a four story building) covered with a canopy to protect it from further rain damage. The canopy was erected in 1932. The ruins are impressive, very eroded, but not worthy of spending a great deal of time at. The Hohokam Indians built this walled village in the Gila Valley between 1200 and 1450 A.D. Casa Grande was built in the 1300s. It was abandoned about 1450. The village had a seven foot wall that surrounded it. The structure was reinforced in 1891.

We then drove another 70 minutes to Tucson to the Pima Air Museum. There are a number of planes inside a hanger (including a Wright Brothers replica plane and X-15 replica plane). Outside are large planes on a lot. The engines have been removed and are covered, but the size and variety are impressive. My favorite was the B-17 bomber from World War II which was in its own hanger. Sam bought a small airplane and Rachael a kaleidoscope and postcard at the gift shop.

We drove to Saguaro National Monument. We saw part of the film in the visitors center and learned that the cactus arms don’t start growing out until the cactus is 75 years old. There was an 11 year old saguaro cactus in the visitors center that was only about eight inches tall. The Rincon Mountain unit has the oldest cactus, but apparently is less dense than the other part of the monument west of town. We drove an eight mile drive and saw some beautiful country with cactus.

We drove to Collosal Cave about 11miles further south. The cave is privately run, but is apparently leased from the Department of the Interior. CCC workers (Civilian Conservation Corps) layed the tiles and handrails in the cave. The cave has not been completely explored. They have gone in six miles. There are wonderful stories about outlaws who evaded the marshall through the cave and who eventually went to Willcox, our evening stop. The cave has stalactites and stalagmites, but they are covered with dirt and are not the pretty glossy kind like in Timpanogas. It is spectacular although the tour is slow. Judy had to take Andrew out (and nearly got lost in the process) because he was having a fit. The cave was 72 degrees inside, a nice change from the weather outside.

We drove to Willcox and stayed at the Motel Six for $30.05. We ate dinner at McDonalds for $13.50. The kids were beside themselves and exhausted.

July 2, 1989 (Sunday):          (Chiricahua National Monument, Douglas, Bisbee, Sierra Vista, Tombstone, Fort Huachuca)    

We left Willcox about 8:00 a.m. for Fort Bowie State Historical Site, about six miles down a dirt road. The hike was a long 1 ½ miles in so we found an overlook, but still could not see the old fort. It was the main fortress from 1862 into the 1880s in the Apache Indian wars against Cochise and Geronimo.

We drove to Chiricahua National Monument which was originally homesteaded by a cavalry veteran of the Indian wars. He settled at Faraway Ranch at the mouth of the canyon and then lobbied to have it made a national monument in 1924. We stopped to take a tour at Faraway Ranch but Andrew was not cooperating, so we left. The mountain has beautiful rock spires similar to Bryce and covered with lichen. We started to take a hike at Massai Point, the end of the eight mile road to the top of a mountain with a beautiful view, but Sam wasn’t cooperating, so we did not take the nature trail. The heat was making everyone very grumpy. The weather was a little cooler, only about 100 degrees. Massaiwas a warrior who eluded encroaching cavalry and disappeared into thin air at this point.

We drove to Douglas, right on the border of Mexico and briefly into Agua Prieta, Mexico. We were looking for a place to eat, but everything was dirty and uninviting.

We drove to Bisbee, an old copper mine run by the Phelps Dodge Corporation. The road actually follows one of the levels inside the pit and you see the multicolored tiers which are spectacular. The town is built on the mountain and has much the same feel as Jerome, but much larger. We tried to find a place to eat, the Chinese food restaurant we went into had prices that were too high for us, so we packed it in and left for Sierra Vista where we ate at Taco Bell. We were going to go to church with my sister Merilee and her family (Glorn is in the military and stationed at Fort Huachuca), but we were smelly and the kids were a wreck, so rather than catch Sacrament Meeting, we went to Tombstone. We walked up both sides of the main ghost town street, but did not pay to go in the O.K. Corral or Crystal Palace, etc. It is very commercialized much like Sedona, but on a more rustic scale. We did have frozen yogurt.

We met Merilee and Glorn at the church in Sierra Vista as it let out and went with them to Fort Huachuca, which is right next to Sierra Vista. We stayed up until midnight playing Boggle and watching the Terminator.

July 3, 1989 (Monday):         (Mount Huachuca, Nogales)

Andrew had a rough night and was pooped. The kids woke up at 5:30 or 5:45. Glorn and I drove up Garden Canyon  (?) and hiked up in the mountains (I believe up to the side of Mount Huachuca), leaving around 8:00 a.m. The trail followed a dry creek bed up the middle between two mountains. We probably hiked 2 to 2 ½ miles up the mountain, then left the trail and hiked directly up the side of one mountain. Glorn and I caught two spiny type lizards about five inches long on the way back and then heard a buzzing noise which at first I thought was a cricket or cicada. Then on the trail in the rocks I saw a small black rattlesnake slithering into a hole in the rocks. We tried to stop it with sticks but the sticks broke. We finally had to spend a half hour digging out the rocks to move the rock the snake was under. Glorn got the rock moved and the rattlesnake was underneath. It was about 1 ½ feet long with a red tail. Glorn pinned its head which I then smashed with a rock. We got its head off and started down the trail with it. Unfortunately we encountered a pair of hikers coming up the trail. The woman saw the snake, asked to look at it and then started to swear a blue streak at us. We were so stunned we let her jump all over us and she took the snake with her. The lizards got loose in the car and when we got back to Fort Huachuca, Taylor, Rachael and Sam and I went out to the car to catch them.

In the afternoon, we got a babysitter for Andrew and Ben and drove to Nogales  and Mexico. The area into Nogales is much greener than the surrounding country. We were impressed with the cleanliness of both the U.S. and Mexico side, much so more than San Ysidro and Tijuana. We parked on the U.S. side a couple of blocks from the border and walked across, going in a few blocks and up and down another three or four blocks. Merilee bought a dress, Rachael a female puppet ($3.00), we got some Popsicles and soda pop and shopped. Many items were similar to Tijuana, but many were different, including lots of ironwood sculptures.         

We stayed the night, again, at Merilee and Glorn’s. We bought two medium pizzas at Little Ceasar’s for dinner and watched “A Fish Called Wanda” with Mel and Glorn that was funny in parts, but with foul language.

We learned the next morning that former President Reagan spent part of the day at the Army hospital at Fort Huachuca after he was thrown from a horse while at the ranch of a friend.

July 4, 1989 (Tuesday):        (Tucson, Ajo)

We got a fairly late start for Tucson (nearly 10:00 a.m.) and went to the Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum. The heat was already pretty stifling (we learned that night that Phoenix set an all-time high of 118 degrees and Tucson was around 113 degrees, Bullhead City got up to 120 degrees). The front exhibit was great with large chuckwallas, desert iguanas and collared lizards among large rocks surrounded by a high wall (better even than the Living Desert exhibit in Palm Desert). There was a cave (I’m not sure if any of it was natural, or all man-made). We were impressed with a saber-toothed cat skull and Sam was impressed with a volcano movie showing flowing lava. A man there got a kick out of Sam’s excitement. Other outdoor exhibits included mountain lions, deer, bears, javelina, coati mundis, bobcats, ocelots, margays, jaguarondis, desert tortoises, otters, beaver, birds of prey, an aviary, etc. Particularly impressive were the small cat exhibits where the cats were in enclosures which could be viewed from above and from various points at the side, including through the dens. Snakes, lizards, etc. were inside and was disappointed with the small number exhibited. The Arizona section of the Phoenix Zoo was much better.

We ate lunch under a covered area in Tucson Mountain State Park and went to the parking lot of Old Tucson. Between the heat and the $28.00 it would have taken us to get in, we decided to head for home rather than stay in Tucson. We said goodbye to Merilee and Taylor (Glorn stayed home with Ben). We drove past the Kitt Peak Observatory (the largest solar telescope in the world). We realized we would not be in time to see Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument before it closed which disappointed me. However, as we drove through Ajo, just 10 miles north of the junction to Organ Pipe, Judy consented to staying the night.

Ajo was a copper mining town, until the Phelps Dodge mine closed eight years ago. Large slag heaps around the town are visible for miles. We ate a very good meal in town that evening at Dago Joe’s and learned of the Supreme Court decision cutting back on Roe v. Wade allowing states to limit abortions in state run hospitals. We drove up to the rim of the copper pit and looked inside. It was a round pit, like the pictures I’ve seen of Kennecott, with a small lake in the middle at the bottom. Old tractors are still on the tiered ledges in the pit and the large white factory lies vacant at the edge. Near 8:00, we went to the slag heap above the town Moose Lodge to watch fireworks. What appeared to be nearly the whole town showed up with lawn chairs propped up in the back of pick-up trucks to watch. The fireworks were long and impressive for a small town. Many honked their car horns at particularly spectacular fireworks. Andrew was frightened by them and Sam needed to be reassured a little bit.

July 5, 1989 (Wednesday):               (Ajo, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Quartzite)

Shortly before 8:00 we drove south to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The visitor center lies about 28 miles inside the monument. Andrew was asleep, so we kept the car running while I went into the visitors center and got a map, then we drove the 21 mile long Ajo Mountain loop, a dirt road. The ranger said it would take two hours, but I really pushed it and did it in 40 minutes, over very bumpy and rocky roads. I think some of the scenery was the prettiest we’ve seen in Arizona, particularly right up against the mountain, with the saguaro cactus and canyons all arrayed. 

On the way out of the monument we ran over a snake crossing the road. We drove up through Gila Bend, up to I-10 and over to Quartzite where we got gas and ate at McDonalds. Judy drove the remainder of the way to Redlands.

The heat really took a lot of the enjoyment out of the trip as well as Andrew’s temperament which was very demanding. I’m sure the heat contributed to the kids hard times. But we still had fun and it was worth while going.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Family Vacations (April to June 1989): Southern California

(APRIL 28 TO 29, 1989)

I took Sam to the Fathers and Sons outing to Lake Silverwood up in the San Bernardino National Forest. The hike from our camp to the lake (about 1 ½ miles) was beautiful, with a meandering spring, wild ducks, ferns, beautiful and varied trees. We became good friends with the Allens, particularly Cale and Lander. At night the ward youth caught lots of frogs. We caught one and we really heard them chirping.

(MAY 6, 1989)

I took Sam and Joel Sheffer out to the Desert Tortoise Refuge near California City (above Edwards Air Force Base). It got hot real early and the boys could only stand about 1 ½ hours walking out on the refuge (about 30 square miles of fenced land). We didn’t see any turtles (we did see several holes where they had burrowed). I understand it has been a dry year, but we saw lots of lizards, including zebra tailed lizards, whiptails and desert iguanas.

We then went to Red Rock Canyon State Park and did some climbing in the weird rock formations, in short bursts, as it was so hot. At the Ranger Station, Sam and Joel held a freeze dried Mojave green rattlesnake.

Later, we stopped at Mormon Rocks in Cajon Pass after coming down from a detour through Wrightwood. We caught a couple of lizards to add to the lizard we caught at Lake Silverwood, and had a nice aquarium with dirt and lizards, kept alive by crickets purchased from the local pet store.
(MAY 20, 1989)

Sam and I went off by ourselves to Joshua Tree. We entered in at the west entrance. First we stopped near a rock where climbers were climbing using ropes and pitons. Then we went across the street to another group of rocks and hiked around them and sometimes on them. Sam had a hard time negotiating the rocks. We saw a rabbit and some lizards. Sam was wearing shorts which was not a good idea because the sharp leaves of bushes and twigs would scrape his legs.

We hiked to Barker Dam, built to hold water for cattle around the turn of the century, now an oasis for wildlife, including bighorn sheep. People are not permitted after certain hours, to make the water available to the animals. The dam covers six acres and holds 20 acre feet of water. It has goldfish in it. We liked the manzanita trees with rubbery looking red skins that look like they were formed out of a plastic mold.

We went to Keys View where we could see Palm Springs (although much obscured by smog) and could have seen the Salton Sea but for the smog. We then went out the 29 Palms exit and stopped at the visitors center.

(MAY 29, 1989)

Just one week after Sam and I went, the whole family went to Joshua Tree. We left home at 7:15 a.m. and were in Joshua Tree by 8:20 a.m. (the west entrance out of Joshua Tree). Shortly into the monument we saw a large animal in the road. As we passed a large turkey vulture flew off the road, it was eating carrion (a dead rabbit). We stopped a short ways down the road and the vulture circled and landed back down on the road. They are large black birds with white tipped wings and red heads.

Shortly after, we saw a car stopped on the road and a coyote near it. We pulled up and the coyote was in the brush near the road. I’ve never seen a wild coyote. At risk of scaring it, we threw out part of a half eaten jam sandwich. The coyote jumped out of the brush, snatched it from the side of the road and jumped back. We threw out more bits of sandwich and then part of an Entemanns raspberry coffee cake to get better looks at the coyote. We got four or five good snapshots. Several times it circled our car and when we started to go, it ran along side the car following us. It was rather small, we guess a year old. We decided to name it “Joshua” for obvious reasons.

We drove to Hidden Valley which used to be a cattle rustler hideout. It has a one mile circular trail that goes through boulders and desert terrain. There are information signs with information about various plants such as yucca and California juniper. The rock formations are varied and would be fun to climb over and explore. Near a bridge we found some small rock caves. We ate lunch in one, it was nice and cool, and had wonderful smoked chicken and potato salad. Andrew kept wanting to explore and would invariably topple over on the uneven ground. Rachael and Sam tried to catch a number of lizards and found them too elusive.

We went to Barker Dam and hiked over to the actual cement dam. It is one of the few sources of water in the whole monument. It has numerous goldfish which I assume help keep the moss and algae down.

Judy’s thigh is sore and she had some difficulty and discomfort getting around. Andrew was very pleasant and enjoyed the hikes. Sam got a little cranky wanting water on our Hidden Valley hike (we need to remember to take a canteen for him on desert hikes).

(JUNE 1989)

In early June, 1989, we decided to drive the loop on the backside of the San Gabriel Mountains. We drove up through Wrightwood, walked a small nature trail at the ranger station there and then drove Hwy 2 around through to Pasadena. Los Angeles was in clouds and drizzle, while we were in beautiful sunshine. As we looked down, all we could see was a white cloud bank, all over the Los Angeles Basin. We stopped at another ranger station and walked another nature trail.