Just take the Detour

I know, today was supposed to be all about “T” on this A to Z Challenge, but sometimes a road block stops all progress.
We were driving along I17 north toward Flagstaff yesterday. As we topped the steep hill near Sunset Point, all traffic began to slow and we could see that it came to a standstill not far ahead. Knowing about the old back road from the Bumblebee exit to the town of Mayer and hence back to the I17, we took the exit and enjoyed the drive. You never know quite what surprises you will find on a detour.

A lot of history here if only they could tell us.

A lot of history here if only they could tell us.

 

Well, sometimes a dirt road is dusty.

Well, sometimes a dirt road is dusty.

Just take the long view and enjoy.

Just take the long view and enjoy.

R is for Roads

Way back when automobiles first became common, states created highway publications to alert drivers to the paved roads within their road systems. Arizona Highways Magazine  was first published in 1925 by the engineers of the state highway department and has gone on to become a hugely popular magazine world-wide. It showcases everything from the most scenic drives, not-to-be missed hikes, the best Arizona photographs to the best wildflower viewing sites. If you haven’t seen it, click the link above and browse through the site. For many of us who grew up in Arizona in the 1950s, a prized family collection of Arizona Highways Magazines was the centerpiece of the living room bookshelf.

Freeways and stacked interchanges: yes, we have them. But Arizona has done a lot to create freeway art that is symbolic of our state.

Freeway art near Sky Harbor Airport, Phoenix, via A View from Above Blogspot.com

In my family growing up, a Sunday drive was fine entertainment.  Our 1950 Pontiac covered many miles crisscrossing southeastern Arizona,

and we never flinched at a bumpy dirt road. I still like to do that.

Dirt roads can lead to beautiful places

Sometimes a dirt road gets pretty narrow

Sometimes a dirt road gets pretty narrow

Not all paved Arizona roads are divided highways and many of the two lane roads lead to spectacular places.

Elephant Foot Rocks

Elephant Foot Rocks

Roads down into canyon N. AZ

Northern Arizona on the Navajo Reservation

San Francisco Peaks in Northern Arizona

San Francisco Peaks in Northern Arizona

Roads near Tucson

Southern Arizona near Tucson

Roads woods near Flagstaff

Highway 89 between Sedona and Flagstaff

Tunnel in rocky mountainside near Roosevelt Dam

Tunnel in rocky mountainside near Roosevelt Dam

And finally, there are always road signs.

Roads signs Horsetheif Basin Roads Signs curves Roads signs curve Roads signs Bloody Basin Roads signs dips, winding roadRoads signs Burros small

 

20140706-102739-37659224.jpg

N is for Navajo Rugs

The Navajo or Diné, Nation covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Diné Bikéyah (link), or Navajoland, is larger than 10 of the 50 states in America. The Diné in Arizona live north of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff.

Navajo weavers (link) have long been known for their beautiful hand-woven rugs.

Time Among the Navajo

Time Among the Navajo

According to Kathy Hooker in her book, Time Among the Navajo, it takes 2 months to make a single rug.  Many Navajo families raise their own sheep. After the weather warms in the Spring, the women and children will catch and shear a sheep by hand, using shears.  Then the wool must be cleaned by shaking and washing in a wash tub. The wool is rinsed in cold water several times, and then washed with soap in warm water heated in a kettle on the stove. After rinsing again, the wool is hung on a fence to dry.  Carding commences when the wool is dry, using wooden paddles with metal teeth to pull the wool and straighten the fibers. Typically it will take 2 weeks to card enough wool for a single rug. The batts of wool pulled from the teeth of the cards are spun into yarn using a twirling spindle. Another two weeks can be spent on spinning. Once spun into yarn, the yarn is washed again and is wrapped from one fence post to another to dry. The weaver will have planned her design which she holds in memory, and she knows what colors of yarn she needs to create that pattern.  The wool may be dyed from plant dyes or some store-bought colors, especially red.  For black and white, the natural wool is used.  Brown is created by boiling wild walnuts. Bark, roots and fruit of other plants are used to make additional colors. It will take 3 weeks of constant work to complete the tightly-woven rug.

The weaving loom is an upright design.

Navajo loom

Navajo loom, this is a miniature model

Ray Manley's Southwestern Indian Arts and Crafts photo shows weaving outdoors.

Ray Manley’s Southwestern Indian Arts and Crafts photo shows weaving outdoors.

No two Navajo rugs are alike.  The place of origin for a rug typically determines the type of design. The Navajo Reservation can be divided into 13 weaving regions. There are other distinctive designs as well. If you wish to purchase a Navajo rug, choose a reputable dealer or trading post so that you can enjoy an authentic Navajo rug.

Navajo Two Grey Hills Rug

Navajo Two Grey Hills Rug

Navajo Storm Pattern Rug

Navajo Storm Pattern Rug

Old rug from the 1930s

Old rug from the 1930s

Two similar contemporary design Navajo Rugs

Two similar contemporary design Navajo Rugs

 

 

J is for Joshua Trees

One of Arizona’s desert flora is the Joshua Tree, or Yucca brevifolia.  They are perfectly adapted to the environment of only the Mojave Desert, just as the Saguaro epitomizes the Sonoran Desert.  Joshua Trees are not really trees, but members of the Agavaceae Family, like Century Plants. They are not Cacti.  They grow very tall, 15 to 40 feet, and can live 150 years or more.  A great place in Arizona to see them is the Joshua Forest Scenic Road from Wikieup to Wickenburg, where I took these photos.  

Joshua Tree 1

Joshua Tree 3 Joshua Tree 4 Joshua Tree 5

 

 

Eroded

Arizona is a geological laboratory because the natural forces in play are so visible. Erosion is a general term for the weathering of rocks and the transportation of them.  The forces of erosion are gravity, ice, water and wind.

The San Francisco Mountain in Flagstaff is a strato-volcano in the midst of a volcanic field of over 600 smaller volcanos. This largest volcano is now 12, 633 feet in elevation, but it is estimated it reached 16,000 feet before a sideways eruption or glacial erosion, or both, collapsed or carved out the northeastern side of the mountain.

Imagine lines connecting the two outer slopes of the San Francisco Peaks.  That much has eroded away.

Imagine lines connecting the two outer slopes of the San Francisco Peaks. That much has eroded away.

You can see green lichen growing on this large basalt boulder at the base of Mount Elden in Flagstaff.  Weathering and erosion from the lichen, rain, snow, and freezing winter temperatures have  and cracked the boulder in half.

Basalt boulder from the Mt. Elden lava dome.

Basalt boulder from the Mt. Elden lava dome.

In the mesa shown below, you can see how the soft sedimentary layers at the top have been weathered away by wind and water and gravity has piled it around the bottom.

Eroded mesa in northern Arizona.

Eroded mesa in northern Arizona.

Wind is a powerful force in erosion as you can see in the photo of Tsegi Canyon below where it hollows out the sedimentary rock.

To the right in this picture of Tsegi Canyon you can see the wind weathering scooping out the soft rock.

To the right in this picture of Tsegi Canyon you can see the wind weathering scooping out the soft rock.

Water helps to carry away the debris weathered from the higher elevations and the grit and sand in the water help to erode more rocks as it passes.

Downpours of rain quickly run off the land, carrying the weathered particles of rock along.

Downpours of rain quickly run off the land, carrying the weathered particles of rock along. Note the truck crossing the stream.

The classic Arizona erosion example is the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.

GC erosion best