Bartlett Lake

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You know, I live in Arizona, and it still astonishes me the delta in temperatures and climates in a mere 3 hours.  I do believe the delta is getting larger as time goes on.  It used to be 20F, now it borders on 30 – 40F difference between northern AZ and the Phx area.  When we left our home in the mountains it was snowing, 20F with 4 inches of snow on the ground.

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When we arrived at Bartlett Lake, outside of Carefree, AZ, just 3 hours south, it was 78F, and people were in shorts and t-shirts.  Crazy!

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We soaked up the sun before heading back to our cool climate.

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Mary Colter’s Watchtower

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All the sudden I am fascinated with Mary Colter.  While she is a figure from our past (born 1869), I find her a fascinating character.  When her father died at only 53 (who refused her pleas to go to Art School), she struck a deal with her mother that she would use what little money he left to pay for her to go to school.  She would then get her education and become a teacher to provide monies for her mother and young sister.  Her mother agreed, and Mary moved her mother and sister from St Paul, MN to California to go to the California School of Art and Design.  There she got her architecture degree in 1890, and as promised got a job teaching to support the family.

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By 1902 she was hired by Fred Harvey to design a style of architecture that would become known as Rustic National Park, used by most National Parks to follow.  Her association with Fred Harvey lasted for 48 years.  Many of the Fred Harvey buildings she was associated with have been since demolished by the railroads.

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But the Grand Canyon remains the single largest treasure trove of Mary Colter works , including the Lookout Studio, Hopi House, Hermit’s Rest, and the Watchtower, all of which continue to thrive and entertain… albeit, unfortunately as gift shops today.

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One of her last ‘masterpieces’ was the Watchtower at the Grand Canyon-South Rim.  It was built in 1932.  It was modeled after several Indian towers, mostly all already in ruins.  She wanted a tower that could serve as a spectacular vantage point to take in the awesome Grand Canyon vistas.

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But she wanted it to last… so she had it built with a concrete and re-bar support structure on top of which the ‘boys’ had to cull the landscape to find the individual stones from the natural environment to plaster on the exterior.  Individual stones would pop out to cast eclectic shadows, and different styles and designs from different tribes made up the exterior.

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The inside was painted by the then well known Indian painter, Fred Kabotie, based on ancient drawings provided by Colter to assist in the decorations.

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It is a fascinating building, and largely intact from the original tower devised by Mary Colter… though one can no longer go onto the roof, and glass window panes have been added for safety reasons.

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If you find yourself at the Grand Canyon – South Rim, don’t miss the Watchtower, as it is a fascinating piece of living history outside a stunning landscape.

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See more Grand Canyon – South Rim photos … here.

 

 

Lehman Caves

Lehman Caves, on the Eastern Edge of Nevada, are just outside of Great Basin National Park, not far from Zion National Park in Utah.  They were discovered by Absalom Lehman in 1885.  For us, our trip was not much more than a byway toward our home in AZ.  We thought we would check out Great Basin National Park, which unfortunately, despite their website saying it was open, was closed.  So the Caves ‘saved the day’ giving us a highlight we had not anticipated.  You can see my limited photos of Great Basin National Park here.

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We took a tour into the caves.  The pathways were paved and well lit.  Our guide was new, but friendly and informative.  She explained how after Lehman discovered the caves, he invited everyone he knew to come check them out.  They literally had parties and dances inside the caves, knocking down stalactites and stalagmites out of the way with sledge hammers to make more open space.

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People would right their names in graffiti on the ceilings and walls of the cave with their candles.

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There were sections that were dry and old.. others that had bred new life and were dripping into puddles below.  It was a huge cavernous area full of a number of cave formations we would learn.

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When we were there, there was a group of ‘cave cleaners’ who had volunteered to meticulously clean the inside of the caves.  Using feather dusters on long sticks, toothbrushes, paint brushes and tweezers, donning their lit mining hats they carefully inspected and cleaned the cave floor, spires, and formations.

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They had small trays where they picked up anything from hair strands, clothing fibers, to gum wrappers.  What a pain staking job!

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We found it fascinating and entertaining.  It was an excellent reprieve from our long journey.

 

Lockett Meadow Aspen Yellow

Lockett Mdw_IR.jpgThere’s a chill in the air, you know what that means.  Snow is on the way, and fall is in the air.  It’s been a busy time around here, but we are trying to get out to check out the fall colors.  I posted our first glimpse here…  https://kritterspaw.com/2017/09/29/first-fall/

In an effort to diversify our fall outings, we planned a picnic to Lockett Meadow to check out the aspen color.  Lockett Meadow, just outside of Flagstaff, is known for it’s fields of yellow aspen… and it didn’t disappoint.

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The woods were ‘aflame’ with yellow, bursting with brilliant yellows against aspens’s signature white truck.  It made a delightful setting for our enjoyable and relaxing day out.  Even Journey enjoyed it.

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With the winds we are experiencing, I don’t expect the leaves to last long.  The roads are alive with leaves scattering and blowing across our path as we walk among nature’s beauty.   Catch it while you can, and enjoy it while it lasts.

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From the Archives: Albuquerque Re-visited

It’s that time of the year – second week of October – for the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.  This event is photographic nirvana.  There is so much to shoot, close, far; different balloons – up and down; it is a cornucopia of photographic fodor.

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I have a dear friend going this year, so I promised to send her my post of photos from my last visit.  I had no idea it had been so long.  We were there last in 2012, before I had this blog.  Where does the time go.  So I thought I would post some of those oldies but goodies to her to give her an idea of what she’s in for.

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There are so many balloons, in the air and on the ground to shoot.  Of all different colors and characters.  One can shoot up, down, or inside the many awesome balloons.  It’s a humbling and gratifying experience… and all but done by 9am.

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I loved the balloon fire pix.  I was obsessed with that mechanic tool of fire.  I was a nuisance with a camera… and a kid in a candy store.  It was so much fun.

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I also loved the inside balloon shots.  It was sometimes hard to get close enough to get those shots… but there are plenty of opportunities with so many balloons everywhere.  One can take creative license and get so many different creative shots.

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There were also tons of animal figures, Sponge Bob, Darth Vader, and cartoon characters like Woody WoodPecker.  The variety and types seemed endless.  I found myself running from one balloon on the ground just about to going up, to others yet to go, to one’s already launched.  It was a frenzy of mad photography for a couple hours from 6am to 8am.  It was such fun.  I’m sure she’ll have an awesome time and bring back amazing pix.

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Toroweap Overlook

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Toroweap Overlook is a viewpoint within the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, United States.  It is located in a remote area on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, 55 miles west of the North Rim Headquarters.

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Grand Canyon National Parks own brochure says it best:  “At 3,000 vertical feet (880 m) above the Colorado River, the sheer drop from Toroweap Overlook offers a dramatic view.  The volcanic cinder cones and lava flows in this ancestral home of the Southern Paiute people make this area unique. A visit to Tuweep provides an opportunity for an uncrowded, rustic, and remote experience.  Access is challenging and demands skill at negotiating difficult roadways.  Services are non-existent: there is no water, gas, food, lodging, or phone service.”

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Backcountry Permits are required from the Grand Canyon National Park in order to camp at one of their only 8 spots.  We felt lucky to reserve our permit in advance.  It made for a fascinating and stunning overlook for a few days.

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Grand Canyon – North Rim

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We just got back from several days in the Grand Canyon.  Not the popular and tourist heavy South Rim… but the more out of the way North Rim.  More over.. not actually in the National Park itself, technically outside of the park.  We camped in the forest outside the Grand Canyon – North Rim, finding amazing spots that overlooked the back side of the Grand Canyon.

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We didn’t have to fight the crowds, or make reservations at jammed lodges for a year in advance.  We camped on our own, brought and ate our own wonderful meals.  We went for hikes along amazing trails and took in views that took our breath away.

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As I sat one morning, all by myself, waiting for the sun to come up over the canyons, I took pause to feel thankful for this amazing state we live in.  How fortunate I feel to live in a place where we can see this amazing landscape, in the solitude of my own company, feeling quite safe and extremely comfortable.

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As the light shifted and changed over the canyon walls I thought how challenging Arizona photographers have it to photograph these vast ravines and sprawling cliffs.  The shadows and light changing like a curtain being raised slowly over a work of art, waiting to see what moods today will bring about… clouds, blue sky, storms, dust, or haze.

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We camped in several stunning spots, including Jump Up Point, Crazy Jug, and Rainbow’s End Trails.  Each had their own beauty, foreground, and atmosphere.  It was a great peaceful, relaxing trip…. one we’ll have to do again.

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