Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Headed home

I should be writing this all down as it happens. We left Cottonwood today at about 9 AM. and drove north through Flagstaff, onward and upward to the Navajo Indian Reservation on highway 89, then took highway 160 toward Tuba City in search of the dinosaur footprints. We saw a hand-painted sign on a piece of plywood saying, "Dinosaur footprints, left 1/4 mile." One quarter mile further on, there was a gravel road leading off to the west and about a quarter mile along it were a series of shelters with tables set up under them. We drove, quite uncertainly up to the arrangement and were greeted by a young man who welcomed us, showed us where to park, and volunteered to be our guide. His name was Dennis. He was very articulate and well informed, pointing out the various tracks and fossils, and highlighting them with water to make them clearer on the pale sandstone.

Tyrannosaurus  Rex was here.
This is a fossilized pterodactyl.  The head is looking to the left.  The dark lines show the wing bones.
A fossilized dino claw.  I touched a real dinosaur claw!!
Eggs from a little dinosaur.  Kyle's feet to give a sense of scale.

 Dennis would have taken us down the canyon to see the petroglyphs as well, but I was feeling the heat and not ready to take my unsteady steps out of sight of the RV. It was a fascinating experience, despite the unprepossessing signs and set-up. I was expecting something air-conditioned with displays in cases. This, run by the Navaho Tribal council, was vastly more enjoyable. And Dennis pointed out his home for us (about five miles away - under those trees.) as we were walking around. Also, we bought some hair-clips made by his auntie.
Then back to highway 89 and on to Page, Arizona by Lake Powell. This involved climbing some fairly steep hills and took us to a stunning, knock -your-socks off viewpoint where we could see the East end of the Grand Canyon and the cliffs of the North Rim.

The scenery along this road is even more amazing than the scenery around Sedona and Cottonwood. All these colorful sandstone ramparts and monuments, carved into fantastic shapes, looming overhead or thrusting up out of the flat desert. WE drove through one area that looked like hundreds of piles of gravel set up for the road crews to use in the winter. But one pile was gray and one was buff and one was red and one was almost blue . . .
We stopped in Page for gas and lunch. If you stop in Page around lunch time, be aware that tour busses stop at the MacDonalds and Taco Bell. We got there just after a busload of Asian tourists debouched. They all had menus with pictures, and their translator was doing her best with "Quarter Pounder" and "Sweet Potato Fries." We decided to get lunch elsewhere.

We pulled out of Page with tanks full of gas and hearts full of gratitude for our forethought. The cupboards are packed full of yummy treats to get us to the next stop. We crossed the Little Colorado River at the Lake Powell dam, and before you know it, we were in Utah. Headed south, was a flatbed truck piled with stacks of bran new fire hydrants. Kyle pointed it out to me and said, "Look, disaster relief for all the dogs in Houston." 
We drove and drove through red and gray and buff colored country, over hills and down gullies and across washes and through cuts. We passed an old sheepherder's wagon headed in the other direction, drawn by six mules and bedecked with enormous signs stating, "Jesus saves." There was traffic behind us or Kyle would have pulled over for photos. I couldn't believe my eyes and we were past before I could turn on the camera. I have seen the most amazing sights on this trip.
Kyle has been immensely kind to me. the drive today has been just over 300 miles. We are now comfortably established at the Kanab RV Corral,It's clean, compact, right off the main highway in Kanab, Utah, attractive, and fully equipped with electric, water and sewer hook-ups, and offering the extras of showers, a laundromat, and a pool. I am so very grateful!!
We walked about half a mile to Big Al's Burgers and had a very tasty early dinner. I recommend Big Al's if you are ever in Kanab.
Do be aware, though, this is an open carry state. I especially appreciate that, "Judicious marksmanship is appreciated."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Yesterday, we departed for the old mining town of Jerome. But on the way, everyone seriously indulged me and we stopped at the Quilter's Quarters store. while I wandered around, petting the fabric and oohing in awe over the finished quilts, Brother-in-law Dennis started chatting with the owner. Turns out they are neighbors. Dennis now has permission to bring the kids and his camera down to the farm and interact with the cows and chickens and Chester the donkey. Meanwhile, I found the "Washed fabric." This marvelous store will re-sell people's overstays for greatly reduced prices. Fat Quarters for $1.50 each. I exercised terrific restraint and got out of there for less than $30.
And then, on to Jerome. Jerome is a mining community. Tons of copper, gold, silver, zinc and tin came out of these mines. However, the mother lode is thousands of feet up a wickedly steep ridge. The drive up to the town is exhilarating, following a two lane road with more hairpins than Madame Pompador's wig. The views just keep expanding! And people hang houses on the side of the hill where there is NO flat land what-so-ever. At least you don't have to mow the lawn.
The town itself is a historic site, with many of the old stone buildings preserved and in operation. The boutiques are very artsy and charming, mostly displaying the work of local artists. If you go there, do take the time to visit the Liberty Cinema and spend the $10 to see the movie about the town's history. It's narrated quite charmingly by an "ghost" character who lived in the town from 1922 till his death in 1927. The script is very well-written, managing to be engaging and informative at the same time. The theatre is allegedly haunted. As Kyle was trying to get a photo in the dim light, I was looking over his shoulder and saw the face of an indian watching the movie . He was dressed as a miner, with a sweat band binding his hair back. It was just a flash. I could have been mistaken. Jerome is supposed to be quite haunted. Evidently they have quite a wild time over Halloween.
We had lunch at Bobby D's Barbecue. Omigawd, yes! I had the ribs with no sauce. The meat literally fell off the bones! Tender, juicy and full of that wonderful smokey flavor. Dennis had a burger with two patties, cheese, barbecue sauce, and bacon. Yolanda had the taco sampler with chicken, brisket and pork, and Kyle had the chicken. They offer 6 different sauces ranging from mild and sweet to incendiary. the coleslaw has chunks of green apple in it, and the corn bread, lavishly spread with butter melting in, is almost a meal in itself. WE ate on the deck in the shade of a friendly tree with gentle breezes and a hundred mile view.
The old hotel is in operation and is booked up five years in advance.
At one time the largest hotel in Arizona was in Jerome - 200 rooms. But fires repeatedly swept the community, wiping out everything but the stone buildings. The mines built rooming houses for their workers and three different hospitals. But the veins of ore played out, and eventually the mines closed. In the 50s there were about 100 people living in Jerome. But they were stubborn people, and found ways to attract tourist dollars, and now it is a thriving community of about 3 thousand. You have to have legs of steep to live there. Everything this is uphill. Going the length of a city block takes you up about three stories. Parking spaces are rare, and probably not wasted on residents.
But the view! Ah, the views!

We stopped at a jewelry store where the artist/owner does commission work.  If I had several hundreds of spare dollars . . .

But Kyle bought me a a geode about the size of tennis ball
 there.  We cracked it  open with a hammer when we got home.  It's all white and clear crystals inside!!  Neat!!

Monday, September 11, 2017


Tuzigoot ruins: Another pre-Columbian community. This was nothing but a stony hill in the 1920s when some locals began mining it for arrowheads and pots to sell to the tourists. Archeologists managed to get it protected, and were able to get funding to excavate. In the 30s WPA paid for a proper archeological dig, and the site was made a federal park. It is just too cool for school! You can walk among these walls that sheltered up to 1100 people centuries ago. The corn mortars are there in ever room, and I imagine the women grinding away every day. Most of the mortars are made of lava which will break down under persistent abrasion, so there was some lava dust in the ground corn which can't have done the teeth of the consumers any good. But they probably didn't live long enough to suffer much dental problems. This hill is in an elbow of a river, with rich flood plaines for farming, to the west, and to the east, a fertile marsh. Their diet must have been varied and abundant. They clearly traded all over there, as there are Zuni and Hopi pots in the ruins.

And they even have a piece of woven cotton fabric. Omigawdomigawd! It was in a case next to a handful of the cotton they would have harvested. With all the seeds and vegetable matter included, it made it clear to me how very labor intensive and time consuming the process would have been. Cotton fabric must have been incredibly valuable! I was jazzed all day after seeing that.
If you are enjoying taking this trip with me, imagine that it is a lovely fall day in Arizona. Everyone is happy because the temperature has NOT gotten into the triple digits. It's a brisk 96 degrees. Since we are near the river, the humidity is right up there - maybe 7%. Butterflies of all sizes and colors drift by, though God only knows what they find to feed on. The flowers, though abundant after the monsoon season, are teensy, weensy little dots of color scattered through the brush. There is an intermittent breeze, and even though it is Sunday, the visitors are few and far between. You can feel the time and the lives that have passed here. The rangers scattered around are cheerful and well informed and happy to discuss all associated topics. 

 They have built a ceiling on the highest room so you can climb up top (they built stairs for us wimpy tourists.  The natives would have used ladders.)
 The roof was built as the original inhabitants would have built it - which means they would have had to walk about a day's journey up into the mountains to find a tall enough tree, then chop it down with a stone ax and drag it all the way back to the community and lever it into place using only manpower.  Across the logs went reeds from the marsh, then brush from the surrounding hills, then mud to seal it all water-tight.  The current roof has rats in the rafters.  They park should get some resident cats.

 The view from the roof of the highest building.  The community spreads downhill on both sides.  The view is breathtaking!  Pictures don't do it justice.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Wow! Just Wow!

Saturday we went to Crescent Moon Park outside of Sedona. Sedona is evidently a center of great spirituality, and now I see why. The scenery is breathtaking! The red sandstone has been eroded into cathedrals and spires, and the quiet little river at the foot of these monuments is a divine oasis of greenery.  

 The pioneers built a waterwheel and a mill here. Imagine the labor necessary to create this in the middle of no damn where. It's days of travel by horse and wagon through seriously stinking desert to get nails and iron. and the timber would have been hewn without power tools. Have you ever seen two men working a misery whip? It's a long two-man saw sometimes used to cut logs into boards. It's aptly named.
The river flows over plates of sandstone, and local families were all around, picnicking in the shade and playing in the water. It was peaceful. It was full of life. We all took our shoes and socks off and sat on a slope of sandstone with our feet in the water. Miss M. started splashing and her mom said, "Don't splash anyone." Miss M. looked cunning and splashed me. I grinned evilly and said, "Do you really want to start a splash war with me, little girl?" She giggled, and dashed a spray of water at me. I kicked a wave back over her, startling her so much that she sat down and got her shorts wet. No one gave her any sympathy, so she quietly got up and sat on the dry stone, leaving little wet butt prints.
MA little further down the trail we found a place where some well-balanced person s had been stacking rocks. Does anyone know what this is all about? We instinctively all added our own stacks. A way to say, "I was here."

My stack wanted to be near the water.

 We were all hungry, and headed back to the car. on the way back we saw a fledgling Red Tail Hawk perched on a branch, calling for Momma to come feed him. The parents were back in the tree, coaxing him to spread his wings again and try just a little harder to get to the nest. Soon, he will be flying all over the park, hunting for his own food, and in no time at all he will mate and raise his own fledglings.

A Buddhist nun and some friends enjoying the scenery and the vibes.

We feasted at "Steak and Stuff" and were tended to by the sweetest waiter. It was 2:30 by the time we headed home. We lay around the house watching MASH reruns and digesting the food and the experiences. I stepped outside just before dinner. The sunrises and sunsets are perfect here.


Yesterday we went to the Yavapai County Fair and rodeo. This is country where livestock and horsemanship are still significant parts of daily life for most folks. It was a small fair, but great fun! 

One of my favorites in the horse showmanship competition was the young lady who had boots the same color as the tape on her horses ankles.

We saw piles of piggies and strutting turkeys and marveled at the wide variety of ducks. Western domestic ducks are built rather like Mae West or Marilyn Monroe --short and placid with full, plump bosoms. Indian Runner ducks are built like Twiggy or Kate Moss. Tall, lean and very nervous looking.

Miss M and Miss P had a great time in the petting zoo. We had to teach these city girls about how you feed the critters with an open palm and let them nibble the alfalfa pellets off your skin. It tickles! The goats got fairly aggressive, trying to knock the cup of pellets out of your hand. There was one determined ewe who was going to get her share, dammit!

And then we tried the pony ride.The guy running it was great, being very kind and patient with kids who were not familiar with those big scary quadrupeds.

We played some games, and won prizes. We ate fair food. Miss P tried deep fried macaroni and cheese. Kyle had deep fried pickles. I went for the deep fried frog legs. I bought kettle corn - the large bag. It was about three feet long! I thought the others would want to share, but it turned out that it was ALL MINE.
The California girls were delighted to find an In and Out Burger in Prescott, AZ. We had to stop. 
Meanwhile, Dennis had stayed behind to talk to sales people about putting in a fence. And while he was there, the city watermain out at the corner started a gusher. We returned to a house without water. The city workers were gathered around a hole seven feet deep. Dennis was watching them and saw them expose a number of different mains. "What are those?" he asked. The city worker rapped the wet one with his shovel. "This here's the water," then he rapped the one wrapped erratically with electrician's tape and other patches, "This one's the gas line," "Thanks," said Dennis. "I won't bother you any more." He went back to the house and tried not to think about yahoos with shovels bashing that fragile gas line.
Water was turned back on at 9 PM. I had been in bed for two hours by then.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Quiet day

Thursday, Kyle was down with a bad tooth. A very, very quiet day. I got a lot of knitting done. Kyle and I have moved into Dennis and Yolanda's basement with the cats because the AC in the RV is just not co-operating. Thank God for tolerant and understanding family.

Today we hope to make it to the local County fair and rodeo. I Love fairs! Can't wait to see how the local ladies put up their preserves (carrot coins arranged in a meticulous spiral in the jar? Cucumbers selected to be all precisely the same size and tucked into their pickling jar with orthographic precision. And I understand that Arizona has some demon quilters. I'm eager to see. Photos will be forthcoming!

It's another cloudless day. One of the things I love about this place is the vast expanse of sky and the way the light changes through the day.

Have you ever read any of the Tony Hillerman mysteries? Sgt. Joe Leaphorn and Detective Jim Chee of the Navaho Native Police work in this country, and being here brings the books vividly to life. I'm going to have to re-read when I get home.

When Tony Hillerman died, his daughter took over the series. She very cleverly took a subordinate character, Jim Chee's wife, and carried on the mysteries from a female perspective. Vastly enjoyable reading. And both Hillermans convey the power and the presence of the landscape. This end of Arizona is magnificent!!

it rained on Tuesday. by Thursday, the gravel parking strip had erupted in fierce little bits of greenery the were defiantly blooming. Life wastes no time in the desert.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Montezuma's Castle

The visit to Montezuma's Castle was really neat. The dwelling were built and extended by a series of native American cultures starting from about 600 AD. There were about 40 families living there at maximum occupancy. It would have been a city! The main structure is surrounded by numerous single units carved out of the limestone, with a front wall and door shaped from river rock and adobe. If you look below the main structure and a bit to the right, you can see two more of these doorways.
The location was ideal. South-facing to catch the winter sun, less than a quarter mile to a year-round river, fertile, easily farmed land along the river bank. Best of all the castle is located on a major trade route between the gulf of California, and the central plaines. 
The only way to reach the castle was by a series of ladders. I'm thinking that the folks living there had massive thighs. Not only did they have to carry themselves up and down several times a day, but they also had to carry all their food, water, and goods on their backs. Oh, and the babies, too. I try to imagine myself living there, in the heat of summer and the cold of winter, spending most of the day outside and going in only to sleep or to avoid the worst of the weather, hunkered down in the darkness . . .
And no one knows why they all packed up and left. A drought? An epidemic? An urge to move on? It's a mystery.
On the way to and from the Castle, Dennis gave us a bit of a tour of the neighborhood. We are here near the end of monsoon season, and everything looks green and such. It's actually quite beautiful country.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017


Tuesday was a good day to count our marbles, center our chakras and recover from the vicissitudes of the journey. Yolanda got the kids off to school, while Kyle, Dennis and i lounged on the back porch, watching the sun rise and and enjoying the cool of the morning. We watched the hummingbirds and butterflies, and found shapes in the lazy clouds drifting by. Such bliss!! Lunch was in downtown old town Cottonwood. The Tavern is next door to the old hotel, built in the gold rush days, burned down and rebuilt in 1925 (? my memory of numbers is wretched) and subsequently enjoyed by John Ford the director of iconic westerns, and by many of his stars: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Mae West, and the like. The hotel is being refurbished, but you can stay there as it is right now for $150 a night.
Cottonwood is a tourist destination, with many antique stores and chichi boutiques. The setting is so beautiful, with forested slopes on one side, and stark ridges and canyons on the other. And hanging halfway up the mountain to the west is a little valley holding the town of Jerome. We will go there soon.
The best part of the day was in the evening when the clouds built up and the thunderstorms began. We all stood outside watching the lightning, oohing and aahhing, and trying to time our mystic gestures and cabalistic words to co-incide with the flashes. "Lux!" I commanded, throwing an invisible ball of will at the heavens. Inside a cloud, an explosion of light created a burst of luminescence. Dennis said, "Watch this," and cast a wordless command under his lifted leg. A huge triple-forked bolt crackled down into the hills to the south. "Incandescens!"" I cried, throwing both hands into the air. flash to the left, bolt to the center, blast to the right. Then Kyle very calmly, very silently did nothing, and a crackling sheet of of electricity covered a quarter of the sky. The natives probably thought we were mad, standing in the driveway and laughing like loons at the weather. it was the perfect end to a peaceful day.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Off to Arizona

We got the nice biker with the two Rotteweilers to house-sit for us, and hit the road. First stop was in Redmond for my Sis-in-law Frankie's 80th birthday. It was great to see so many of the family again. Nieces and nephews I would not have recognized, great nieces and nephews I have never seen before. My brother Denny does an awesome barbecue. A great and brief first day.

Second day:

We are anchored tonight at Whiskey Flats RV Park, right across the road from Hawthorne Army Depot; the largest ammunition depot in the world. The park is neat, fully equipped with water, electric and sewer hookups, a laundromat and shower room, and even an intrepid little tree at each hook-up station. The temperature outside is 97 degrees, with 6% humidity. The air conditioner is roaring away, cooling down our rolling hot box. It's nice to be stopped.

We hit the road at 4:00Am so we could make Winnemucca before it got too hot. We did! six and a half hours across miles and miles and miles and MILES of stinking desert. I have come to the conclusion the God must really love sagebrush, because He has made such a lot of it.

Then, having reached Winnemucca in such good time, the horse got the bit in his teeth and headed south. We passed alkali pans and sand dunes and many, many applicants for the Yellow Line Leather Company (featuring, stretched, pressed, naturally harvested skins and hides. Check out our special on rattlesnakeskin belts with Goodyear prints.)
It was so hot, the vultures were panting, and could barely be bothered to waddle a few feet away from the roadkill.
However, as we proceeded further south, the apron of the Sierra Nevada mountain range reach out to greet us. Clouds began to gather over head. Just a few at first. They were very shy. But if they get their courage up and party down, we might get a thunderstorm tonight.

We passed acres of corn. Did you ever think of western Nevada as corn country? The Walker River Indian Reservation is decidedly replete with corn. (Paiute and Shoshone tribes)

Walker Lake was such a surprise to me. It's this big, lovely lake plopped right into the desert. OK, there is actually a lovely range of very decorative buttes along the east side, but I am accustomed to seeing lakes with greenery around them. Not here. Dry, sandy soil with sagebrush and bunch grass, and then, water. It's like it was built by someone on a budget with a tight time schedule who just couldn't be bothered with non-essentials.

So, it's 3:15 and I have been promised a leisurely shower. No time like the present!