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WEARING DOWN THE TREADS WITH THE COLEYS - You Found Us!

  • DECEMBER 7, 2020

    Hello to all our followers! So very glad you found us. Though we are taking COVID precautions, we did take a few excursions this past summer and have been waiting to finally be able to show you some more of beautiful Arizona.  

    Speaking of summer...HOLEEE COW!!  2020 has been quite different for everyone on earth.  When TSHTF back in March, newscasters told us that COVID could last into October. (Don't we all wish!)  Our plan was to leave in May and travel, but learned that many campgrounds were closing their gates and only allowing those already there to stay and were not accepting new campers. The park we are in told us that if we left, we would not be allowed back in.  Also, state and national parks and tourist sites were closed, so there was nothing to see and no place to go.  We knew we'd be back in AZ November 1st for winter, so we made the decision to stay where we are for the summer.  

    Everyone, including weathercasters, told us that this was an unusual summer for Arizona. It was the hottest in recorded history since tracking began in 1896.  Phoenix had an unprecedented heat wave with 144 days at or above 100 degrees this year. July was the hottest month on record with an average temp of 99 degrees.  August quickly took the title for the hottest month on record with 52 days of 110 degrees or higher and 13 of those days were 115 or higher.  Several were 117 degrees. There was little to no rain during their monsoon season.

    Needless to say, we have no plans to summer in AZ again unless we are in a condo or apartment.  We kept cool inside the RV, but the water in the tanks was quite warm to HOT.  Though we never had to turn on the gas to heat it up, we also couldn't take a cool shower.

    For those that have been following us for the past two years while we've been full timing, you might recall that the last time we chatted was in July "on another network", so to speak, and I feel the need to explain why I haven't posted anything since. For those just joining us, you can find our past posts at  https://wearingdownthetreadswiththecoleys43257823.wordpress.com/  Be sure to go over to the right side to Previous Posts and you can go all the way back to March 2018 when our journey began.

    Shortly after posting that last entry, their blog format changed and I could not get it to work for me.  (grrrrr!!)  They tried telling me what to do in emails, but it just wouldn't work.  The new format is to place all content into blocks, but once I had my information and/or photos in a block, I couldn't make any changes. I couldn't even delete anything. Sooooooo frustrating!!  I tried to get a refund, but they only give 30 days from purchase to get a refund.  It didn't matter that their new format was not what I paid for.  Oh, well.  Thanks to my brother, Greg, he found this site and told me to join and get back to blogging.  So here we go...

    SUNSET CRATER NATIONAL MONUMENT:  In August, George, our fur baby, Brandy and I drove north to Flagstaff, AZ to visit the cinder cone volcano, Sunset Crater.  Unfortunately, the park store and museum were closed, but the ranger gave us permission to drive through the park…and at no cost.  When we left Goodyear, AZ, the temperature was 111 degrees and when we walked on the volcano, the temperature was 86 degrees.  The day was gorgeous! We would have loved to walk to the 1,000 foot summit, but they closed off the trail in 1973 to prevent excessive erosion and vandalism.  

    A little history:  The Sinaguan people occupied the area about 1,000 years ago. They were farmers, living in scattered groups adjacent to their corn fields. Their homes were partially dug into the ground.  Before the eruption around 1085, there must have been ample warning to the farmers, possibly through earthquakes and tremors, because there has been no evidence of human casualties found in the area.  They had already relocated to nearby communities, like Walnut Canyon and Wupatki. The blanket of ash and cinders, called lapilli, (little stones that fall to the ground during a volcanic eruption) covered an area more than 810 square miles.  The ash was greatly beneficial for improving their agriculture and the soil’s ability to retain water.

    In 1887, John Wesley Powell,  a modern-day explorer of the area, named the mountain Sunset Peak, due to the volcano’s red rim.  Nearly 2,000 square miles of the region contains about 600 identified volcanoes. Sunset and its neighboring craters are just a small part of the San Francisco volcanic field.

    The view was absolutely awesome. We saw ponderosa pines and other greenery growing in patches through the hardened crust.  There were some felled trees that looked twisted.  We were told that there is a pine bark beetle that is killing the trees and once infested, the trees are burned and the heat twists the trunks.

    The crusted surface of the ground made it easy to walk on and we just stood there taking in the majesty of it all.  The lookout area was completely devoid of sound until a hawk flew over us and squawked.  For those that have read some of my other entries, you know I’m a crier when I’m overwhelmed with emotion by the beauty of God’s creations.  I unabashedly cried.

     

    BONITO LAVA FLOW:  Not far from the visitor center, was a huge expanse of lava called the Bonito Lava Flow. Some of the jagged rocks throughout the park were as big as our truck.  The force of their landing had to shake the earth.  They looked like giant chunks of coal.

     

    Back on June 5, 2015, a website with satellite images reported to the park service that they had images of steam rising from the crater, leading to fears that Sunset Crater was, once again, erupting. The cause of the steam was later determined to be a forest fire, and geologists stated that the volcano was extinct.

    WUPATKI NATIONAL MONUMENT:  Along our journey, we came upon the Wupatki Ruins. We hadn’t planned to spend a lot of time at the ruins, so we left Brandy in the air conditioned, running truck and there was no one else around.  We were at a lower altitude and it was, once again, HOT. And too hot for her little self to handle.

    It was a very easy walk to the ruins.We found many settlement sites scattered throughout the area. It is believed they were built around 500 AD by the Cohonina, Kayenta Anasazi and Sinagua, all pueblo people.

    Wupatki means  tall house  in the Hopi language. The dwelling has multiple stories comprising over 100 rooms, including a common room and is the largest building site for nearly 50 miles.   By 1182, approximately 85 to 100 people lived at the site, but it was permanently abandoned by 1225. They constructed the walls using thin, flat blocks of the local red-colored Moenkopi sandstone and mortar.

    The doorways into each of the rooms were very tiny.  We had to crawl to get through them.  Inside one of the rooms were two 10 to 12 inch square windows on connecting walls. There were no ceilings. The temperature outside the dwelling was about 95 to 100 degrees, but the temp inside that room was at least 20 degrees cooler with a nice breeze flowing through the openings.  It w 

    SAN FRANCISCO PEAKS:  Upon exiting the national park area, we saw some lovely landscape and the San Francisco Peaks, the volcanic mountain range in the San Francisco volcanic field mentioned above. We did not visit the area, but I snapped some photos and did a little research for us while driving home.

    In 1629, before San Francisco, CA received that name, Spanish friars founded a mission at a Hopi Indian village in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the order of seventeenth century Franciscans at Oraibi village. President William McKinley established the San Francisco Mountain Forest Reserve in 1898.

    FLORENCE, AZ: In September, Kathy and Tom Tanton and we drove 60 miles to Florence, AZ,  one of the oldest towns in Pinal county.  Florence, a National Historic District, has over 25 buildings with various types of shops.  To our disappointment, and due to COVID, only a few shops were open.

    Florence was founded in 1866 on the south bank of the Gila River by Levi Ruggles.  He was a U.S. Indian Agent and civil war veteran.  In 1875, silver was discovered in the nearby mountains in the famous Silver King Mine.  

    We walked up and down both sides of the street and visited the few shops that were open and asked one of the storekeepers for her restaurant suggestion.  She directed us down the street to the American Legion Post 9.  They were having a special on burgers that day, so we trekked over and were glad that we did.  The burgers and deep-fried cod were very good.

    Afterwards, we stopped to visit the Florence Fudge Company  Had we known they served soups and sandwiches, we definitely would have eaten there for lunch. The proprietors were extremely friendly and business was booming and we could see why. I cannot remember what Kathy and Tom purchased, but George and I purchased a hunk each of peanut butter and chocolate fudge.  Both were superb.

     

    One of the buildings was embossed with “MAUK” on its façade.  We found that most interesting, because Kathy’s maiden name is Mauk.  It was built in 1925 by architect movie house mogul, George Mauk of Phoenix. He was also a U.S. marshal. The building was used as Arizona Edison and Arizona Public Service offices.  I’m not sure if she researched her ancestry to see if he was a relative.

    Here are a couple pieces of local art we saw in Florence:

     

    CASA GRANDE NATIONAL MONUMENT:  On our way home, we stopped at the Casa Grande Nat’l. Monument.  The information center was closed, but we were free to explore. 

    Casa Grande is Spanish for large house and refers to the largest structure that may have been abandoned around 1450 by the ancient Sonoran Desert people that constructed the entire farming community.

    Using caliche, a surface deposit consisting of sand or clay impregnated with crystalline salts such as sodium nitrate or sodium chloride in soils of semi-arid regions that they mixed with water, the large house was constructed using traditional adobe processes that consisted of using damp adobe to form the walls.  They would wait for it to dry before adding more adobe to build it up. The structures have survived extreme weather conditions for about seven centuries.  One can see in our photos that they used wood between each story as a floor/ceiling inside the adobe.

    With the arrival of a railroad line  and a stagecoach route that ran right by the Casa Grande ruins, tourists began to visit the ruins on a regular basis during the 1860's through the 1880's. People began souvenir hunting and carving their names into the walls, resulting in severe damage.  

    A shelter roof of corrugated iron and redwood timbers was built over the ruins in 1903. Jesse Fewkes of the Bureau of Ethnology  conducted excavations and repairs of the ruins between 1906 and 1908. Most of the lower walls visible today were uncovered at that time. On August 3, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Casa Grande Ruins to be a National Monument. The ruin was transferred to the protection of the National Park Service and as a result, Casa Grande Ruins has changed very little since the 1940's.

    THANKSGIVING 2020:  Once again, we shared a Thanksgiving potluck with Tom, Kathy, their son, Matt, Cindy and Rick.  Like the rest of the country, we were missing family. Here are my autumn wreath and pilgrim gnome:

     

             

     

    NEW FAMILY:  Meet the newest member to our family, Xavier Trent Mason.  He is my youngest brother's first grandchild.  Isn't he adorable?

     

       

    OK, so I think I've given you enough information for now.  Our next issue will have a few more things to show you.

    I do have one more thing before I go.  I'm so very saddened to tell you that our little 15 year old traveling companion, Brandy, passed away on November 23rd.  She had congestive heart failure and though she never complained, we saw she was beginning to reach her end a few weeks prior.  Her passing was very peaceful.  Dr. Elena from Lap of Love came to our RV and spent some time with her to ease her anxiety.

    Here is my tribute to my constant companion, my baby, my little love:

      

     

    Anyone who met her fell in love.  She was sweet, funny and loved everyone.  We truly miss her.

    WHAT'S NEXT:  Not sure at this point.  We're getting homesick, missing family and friends.  It's been 18 months since we were back in Illinois and the longest we've been without seeing our children.  Hopefully, COVID will find his way to outer space or the bottom of the ocean and allow the world to get back to normal.  One can hope. 

    Thanks for joining us again on our journey.  Until next time...

    PAM & GEORGE

    P.S.  DECEMBER 13TH  Since this blog post doesn't seem to want to post yet, (I'm in touch with the company), I've added some other stuff  above and I'll take this time to wish everyone a very blessed and Merry Christmas.  

           

     

    Also, last winter, we purchased a succulent called "Mother of Thousands".  She was about 8 inches tall at that time.  She's now about 3 feet tall.  We decorated her with lights for the season.  Bye, ya'll!!