Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Historic Flagstaff Train Depot and Visitors Center.

Flagstaff Visitors Center and Amtrak Station

One Route 66
Flagstaff, Arizona, 86001

Phone: (928) 213-2951

Website: http://www.flagstaffarizona.org/plan-your-trip/

Located on Route 66, in downtown and historic Flagstaff, Arizona; the Visitors Center is housed in the former Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway depot.  It is packed full of informational material of, not only the Flagstaff area, but all of Arizona. 

The Visitors Center has two gift shop areas at either end chock full of stuffed animals, t-shirts, knick-knacks, postcards, books and all manner of toys and souvenirs. Going down a short hallway brings you to the Amtrak office and waiting area; yes, this is an actual working train station.

Outside, freight trains often come along the tracks; the one we saw happened to have camouflaged Red Cross vehicles either destined for the desert war, or just returning from it.

Along the walkway, that parallels the parking area, there are a set of  Logging Wheels, and two plaques telling their story.  These wheels were restored in 2003 by the Arizona Historical Society Pioneer Museum and were originally built by S.C. Overpack Carriage Works of Manistee, Mich., between 1880-1910.  Logging wheels were first used by farmers around 1870 to clear the trees from their land. When the lumber industry began around 1880’s, the trees were cut down, the wheels were backed over the logs by a team of horses which were then disconnected from the wheels. The tongue of the wheels was lifted into the air, a chain was run under the logs and up to hooks on top of the axle; as the axle was pulled back down, it lifted the logs off the ground. A chain was then run around the front of the logs and the tongue to prevent the tongue from flipping back up. The horses were re-harnessed to the wheels and the logs were pulled out of the woods to the railroad for shipment to the mill.

Across from the Visitors Center is the McMillan Hotel, named after Thomas F. McMillan, the "father" of Flagstaff.  Originally a bank and hotel, it became home to the opera house; and now is one of only three local craft cocktail bars.

So there you have it, the Flagstaff Visitors Center, not just for information, but full of history!

Mary Cokenour

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Culture, History and Art of Cortez, Colorado.

Cortez Cultural Center

641 East 2nd Street
Cortez, Colorado, 81321

Phone:(970) 565-1601

Website: http://cortezculturalcenter.org/

Hours of Operation: Mon thru Sat, 10am to 5pm

During the warmer season, Native American dancers entertain spectators outside on the weekends.

Housed in a historical building, the Cortez Cultural Center offers visitors an incite into this southwestern section of Colorado.  While the gift shop takes up a good part of the interior, the museum and art gallery are full of wonderful examples of history and artistic talent. 

One section of the museum is dedicated to the "Hawkins Preserve"; a 122 acre land area featuring the Hawkins Pueblo, and a variety of plant and wildlife species indicative to SW Colorado.

The art gallery displays works of local artisans which can be purchased; in an alcove is an organ dating back to the 1800s.

The gift shop is stocked with all manner of Native American jewelry, pottery and weavings; candies such as prickly pear chews to jelly bean rocks; beans, flour, DVDs, CDs and books.  I purchased two while I was visiting: "Cortez Cultural Center Volunteers Cookbook", and "The Old West Baking Book" by Lon Walters which features recipes dating back to the pioneers.

The ladies behind the counter are volunteers who are knowledgeable about all the items inside the Cultural Center. There is a donation box within the gift shop, so make sure to show your appreciation of, not just the volunteers, but all the work that has gone into preserving the history of Cortez, and SW Colorado.

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Mule Canyon and Texas Flat Road off State Highway 95.

It was a Saturday, we'd just had an enjoyable lunch with our friend Amy, and her dad, Richard Watkins, at the Patio Drive-In.  The day was beautiful, so while Richard went off to run his errands, we three decided to go joy riding.  Amy suggested going along State Highway 95 to see the ruin site at Mule Canyon.  Why not?  Roy and I hadn't been back there since 2013, it was a short walk to the ruins and we could walk lunch off a little.  Off we went...

At 19.5 miles, along SH 95, I suddenly spotted a sign that said "Mule Canyon/Texas Flat Road"; never saw this sign before in our travels along 95, and a half mile further on was the actual roadside ruin.  We parked, stared at each other for a bit; sly smiles came to all our faces; making a U-turn, back to that other road we went.  After going over the cattle guard, there was a pull-in area a little ways down with a BLM Information board; map, rules, guides about hiking, camping, ATVing and 4 wheel driving.  Oh, word of warning, you better have a 4 wheel drive vehicle as the road keeps changing from rocky to rutted; we'd had snow recently and the mud puddles were deep.

At one mile, we came upon a wooden bridge spanning a stream; to the left was a hiking trail (info. board at the trailhead); to the right was a slickrock area and a good view of the stream.

To the Left.

To the Right

At 3 miles, we came upon a beautiful area obviously used for camping, but also great for a picnic.  Roy and I actually came back the next day, with our dog Jenna; ate a picnic lunch while she checked out the area.

3 Miles along road.
View from the area.

Just past this, we began an uphill climb and here's a photo to show you the condition of this section, and there were more road sections like this here and there.  At any point, the road would change from smoothly graded to deeply rutted to, well what you see in the photo, to covered in water and mud.

But at the top of this climb, simply an additional half mile from the camping/picnic stop was an exquisite overlook of Mule Canyon.

Mule Canyon Overlook

At 5.5 miles we crossed through a slickrock dry wash which contained evidence of the recent snow in the form of puddles.  It's areas like this that tourists often get surprised by flash flooding; they didn't bother to read up on the area, nor read the information boards.

At the 6 mile mark, a trail goes off to the right; this leads to an overlook of Arch Canyon.  Unfortunately, the trail was so badly eroded, due to the weather, that driving it was impossible.  Otherwise, the trail can be driven to a parking area, and then a short hike to the overlook itself.  I used my zoom lens to get a photo, but I bet the overlook area itself would be more outstanding.  Yes, it is on our to-do list for 2016.

Our journey ended at mile mark 6.6 where the road has no longer been maintained; it is now accessible by ATV or hiking only.  Texas Flat is beyond, and definitely beyond our reach.

The ride back to SH 95 was just as rocky and rolling as the ride in; poor Amy was in the backseat getting bruised with each deep rut hit.

However, we had a great time and look forward to the next adventure; whatever it is, or wherever it takes us.

Mary Cokenour

Monday, December 7, 2015

Canyon Country Discovery Center Open House Caters to All.

Canyon Country Discovery Center/Four Corners School of Outdoor Education

1117 N Main St
P.O. Box 1029
Monticello, Utah, 84535

Phone:  (435)-587-2156              (800) 525-4456 
FAX: (435) 587-2193

On December 3, 2015, Canyon Country Discovery Center opened its doors to welcome all to a first time look see at this new learning facility.  While the grand opening will not occur until the summer of 2016, curiosity brought in folks from all over San Juan County.  The building is a beautiful design of abode and wood; a wetlands pond in the rear.  Inside, maps of the Colorado Plateau adorn the walls and floors; an exquisite fireplace with Native American décor highlights the meditation area.  The Colorado Plateau Educational Center is round to represent the shape of the Hogan; Native American artifacts encased in the eight pillars.  Ute Flutist, Aldean Lightning Hawk Ketchum, mesmerized adults and children with his playing; enchanted faces looked upon Aldean as he imitated calls of native birds.  Many exhibits were fully operational; a wind tunnel flew paper whirly gigs up and out into the waiting hands of on-lookers.  A multi-colored rock climbing wall supplied ample padding for those losing their grip; many enjoying the bouncing more than the climbing itself.
Maps on Walls and Floors

Wall of Benefactors and Interested Parties

Wind Tunnel

Plant and Wildlife Plates

Ute Flutist and Storyteller, Aldean Lightning Hawk Ketchum

Fireplace in Meditation Area
Activities for Children

Rock Climbing Wall
The staff of the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education were asked question after question; happily showing off each and every display.  Hard work still goes on inside as each new exhibit is completed.  Landscaping, due to the winter weather, is on hold, but plans to be amazing with walking trails and natural habitats.  This Discovery Center will be a true learning center for young and old alike!
Lyndie Bradshaw, Lavonne Larceval, Tina Corrao, Karen Whipple
At the dinner hour, a great sampling of hors-d’oeuvres were served; catered by local restaurant, Peace Tree Juice Café.  Karen Whipple (owner) and her wonderful staff: Lavonne Larceval, Marie Delafuente, Kayli Rogers, Alonzo Begay and Eli Whipple) were on point, from cooking to presentation to service.  Visitors to the Open House oohed and aahed over; Steak, Pork and Chicken Medallions roasted to tender perfection with herbal seasonings; Smoked Trout on sliced baguettes, smoky, creamy and addicting; Delicata Squash baked to tenderness with a savory, spicy rice stuffing; Roasted Corn kicking the palette with Poblano Peppers; Brussel Sprouts with a nutty flavor and sweetened with cranberries; and Savory Roasted Root Vegetables.  Mini-Cheesecakes for dessert; it was so, so difficult to just eat one; the lemon was luscious, but I should have thrown embarrassment to the wind and eaten a decadent chocolate too!
Peace Tree Juice Cafe

516 N Main (Route 191)
Monticello, Utah, 84535

Phone : (435) 587-5063

Happy Diners; Bill Boyle, owner of the San Juan Record, stands patiently in line.
Unfortunately I did not get to speak with all the staff, but I wish to thank Lyndie Bradshaw (Marketing Manager) and Tina Corrao (Business Coordinator) for making my husband, myself, and the staff of the Monticello Welcome Center feel so welcomed.  Thank you to everyone involved, with the creation of the Discovery Center, for your dedication to the community, and to bringing education and learning to San Juan County.
Mary Cokenour