Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week in Review...The End is Near

This was the hardest week by far.  It is my opinion that the end of the alphabet should be fired.  They did not produce enough material for me to choose from, and what they did produce was pretty thin.  I want to do a Donald Trump and say...U, V, X, Y and're fired!  Oh well, I made it through, and after tomorrow you won't have to put up with me until at least...Tuesday :)  I would like to thank my Facebook friends who answered the call when I was desperate for help with this latter part of the alphabet.  I promised them a mention in my blog so...thanks to: Art,  Beau, Jo, Kellie, Kelly and Lilia. You guys are awesome!  If I didn't use your suggestion in the challenge I will be using some of them in the Arizona Almanac.

Tomorrow is the end of the challenge.  I'm relieved.  I'm tired.  I'm totally surprised by many things that happened during this challenge.  I'll be writing about those in the challenge wrap up, which I think is supposed to post on May 7th.

I'll be posting the results of my "on the fly" research about whether or not my state is fun, interesting, amazing or quirky. You might be surprised by the results...I was. I'll also have a couple of other look for that post on Tuesday.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Week in Review....What Was I Thinking?

What was I thinking joining a blog challenge where I have to write a post for every day in the month of April?  I mean...the Coyotes are in the playoffs, the D-Backs are beginning a new season, American Idol is ramping up, Amazing Race is getting down to the wire...will it be the border patrol or will the army couple stop fighting long enough to win the race?  And when will Rachel quit being a pain in my behind?  That I had to endure her for two seasons on Big Brother is she is all but killing TAR for me. And now that I've let the cat out of the bag about my obsession with reality TV, are you still going to like me?  I hope so.  Although, I am picky about my reality TV...but that's a subject for another post and you'll just have to stay tuned.  Kind of got off track there...anyway...

I really enjoyed this weeks posts. They were a lot of fun to write...especially Route I want to go on a road trip. 

This coming week is going to be rough.  I wish I was farther ahead (read: done) than I am.  It would make my Coyote watching much more enjoyable if I wasn't constantly thinking...."What the HECK am I going to write about for U, V, X and Z!"  Honestly people, there are no places of interest in the state of Arizona that begin with these letters.  I may cheat and recycle an old post from my Arizona Almanac.  I'm just that tired of looking.  We'll see.  Maybe by some miracle something will fall into my lap this weekend.

Here's the tally so far:

Fun: 1...finally!
Interesting: 5
Amazing: 5
Quirky: 5

Interesting how they are all tied up.  I wonder which one will pull ahead next week? 

Hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Sunset Crater

Sunset Crater
Photo credit: Wikipedia
About 900 years ago tremors and earthquakes shook the earth north of what we now know as Flagstaff.  Red-hot rocks exploded from the ground.  They rained down on houses and farmland.  Ash, falling cinders and forest fires blackened the land and the daytime sky.   At night it glowed a fiery red.  When the world was quiet again, the landscape had been drastically altered.  A 1000 foot-high cinder cone stood where open meadow and forests had been.  Black cinders covered everything.   There is no sign that people lost their lives in this eruption so they must have had time to relocate.  But after the volcano settled the area was no longer farmable.  The people relocated farther away from the volcano where the layers of ash and cinder were thinner.  This actually helped the crops by holding the moisture in the soil.

Aerial view of the crater.  You can see the Pinyon pines starting to reemerge.
Photo credit: NAU Pinyon Research
The Squeez-Up on the Lava Flow Trail.  Lava oozed up through a vent and cooled creating this interesting formation.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
That cinder cone is now known as Sunset Crater.  It is the youngest of about 600 in the San Francisco Volcano Field. Almost every mountain in this region is of volcanic origin.  In 1930 the site was declared a National Monument by President Herbert Hoover.  Hollywood wanted to use the crater as a movie set.  They intended to blow it up to simulate a volcanic eruption.  The local people petitioned the government for protection and the monument was born.  Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is 3040 acres and is protected and managed by the National Park Service.  Hiking trails to the top of the cone were shut down in 1973 because they had caused so much damage.  Today you can hike a one-mile trail at the base of the crater.  You will be able to see the lava flows that look like the eruption just happened yesterday.  The land is stark and mostly barren but there are little "islands" of life.  Pine trees and other vegetation are visible in this inhospitable land.  The growth proves that slowly, ever so slowly, life is returning.

The crater is an interesting place to visit and one of my favorite spots.

See you all on Monday!

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Navajo Code Talkers

This is a tribute statue to the Navajo Code Talkers.  It sits on the corner of one of the busiest intersections in  Phoenix.
 I drive by this every morning on my way to work.
Photo Credit: tceng

The Navajo Code Talkers came from many states, but since the Navajo Nation resides mostly within the borders of Arizona, I am claiming them for my Arizona series.  Although remote, I have a personal connection to one of the code talkers.  My sister-in-law's father is one of the few code talkers who is still living.  Lee Begay entered the Marine Corps when he was still a teenager. Today he lives on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona.  In my eyes he is an American hero, I thank him for his service and dedicate this post to him.

Communication during war time is critical.  The need to stay in touch with everyone is vital to the success of any campaign.  Codes were always essential to battalions and ships staying in contact with one another.  However, many times the enemy was able to break the code, rendering it useless.

In 1942, Philip Johnston thought he had the solution.  He was the son of a Protestant missionary and spent much of his childhood on the Navajo reservation.  He grew up with the Navajo children and learned their customs and language.  As an adult he often gave lectures on the Navajos.  He read a story about an armored division in Louisiana that was trying to come up with a way to code military communications using Native American personnel.  The article gave him an idea which he pitched to an officer at Camp Elliot in San Diego.  The officer was skeptical because similar codes had failed.  Native Americans had no words in their language for military terms.  The Navajos had no need in their vocabulary for terms like tank and machine gun.  Often, when languages add new terms they absorb the new term.  For example, in German the word for computer is computer.  This officer worried that this would happen with the new terms that the Navajo would need for the code.  But Johnson had another idea.  Instead of adding the terms directly they would designate one or two words already in the Navajo language to represent the military terms.  An example of this is the word machine gun, it became rapid-fire gun in Navajo.  Battleship became whale and fighter plane became hummingbird.

Johnston's plan was demonstrated to Major General Clayton B. Vogel.  Vogel was impressed and sent a letter to the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.  He recommended that they enlist 200 Navajos for the assignment.  They were only given permission to start a pilot program with 30 Navajos.

Recruiters visited the Navajo reservation and selected the first 30 code talkers.  29 completed the program.  2 stayed behind to train others and 27 were sent to Guadalcanal to be the first to use the new code in combat.  Johnston volunteered to enlist so he could take over the training program.  At the end of the war 420 Navajo men worked as code talkers.  They had to memorize the entire code (no code books were allowed outside the training areas) and learn to speak it to each other in stressful situations.  During the Battle of Iwo Jima they sent and recieved 800 messages, all without error.  The commander said had it not been for the code talkers, the battle would have been lost.

These recruits were young and had never been off the reservation.  Adjustment to military life was hard but they persevered, and worked around the clock to help create and learn the code.  And even though the history between the Native Americans and the United States was not a good one, they put that aside and proudly answered the call to serve.  They served with dignity and honor.  They helped win the war.  The code was never broken.

I think what the Navajo men did to help win the war is truly amazing.

See you all tomorrow!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Week in Review - Half Way There!

Yesterday marked the halfway point of the Blogging A to Z Challenge.  I'm proud of myself for sticking with it this far.  It's been fun.  It's also been great to discover new blogs and meet new people along the way.  I've met a few bloggers who are writing about the places they live also.  It's making me want to travel and thanks to Kittie Howard, I think a trip to Louisiana just might be in my future somewhere.  I've also enjoyed Cathy's blog, who writes about what it's like to live on a third generation farm.  The farm is located in the southeastern Washington/northern Idaho area known as the Palouse.  So many great bloggers out there writing about everything under the sun.  It's been interesting and educational.

Time continues to be an issue for me.  Work has been crazy busy, which is good, but when I spend 8 hours a day on the computer at work the last thing I want to do is jump right back on the computer when I'm home.  I haven't done so well in writing my posts in advance, so I seem to be doing a lot of them last minute.  Which isn't bad, it just forces me to do the afore mentioned computer thing at home at the end of the day.  I'm hoping I can catch up this weekend and get a few of the posts knocked out ahead of time.  Although the latter part of the alphabet, specifically U, V, X, Y, and Z are proving particularly difficult.  It's going to be interesting to see what I can come up with.  Wish me luck!

So, here's the tally so far:

Fun - 0 (seriously, lots of these things are fun but I've chosen to put them in a different category)
Interesting - 5
Amazing - 4
Quirky - 4

Quirky is gaining...

Hope everyone has an amazing week!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Week in Review

Happy Easter everyone!

I know it's Sunday, and a holiday, and I should be resting from blogging but....Wow, I can't believe I made it through a whole week of the blog challenge!  For those of you that know me, you know what a sporadic blogger I have been.  I feel like this challenge has been a real feat for me, but I needed it, and it was fun, AND I enjoyed it!  Win, win.  I've also enjoyed reading new blogs and meeting new bloggers.  My only regret is that I don't have more time to read.  But it is the end of the hockey season and the beginning of the baseball season.  My Coyotes are in the playoffs and my Diamondbacks are defending a division title so there's a lot of supportive cheering that must happen right now.  Plus, there is a new afghan being created and a book that I have taken way too long to finish.  So much going there's the little problem of work.  They seem to think they pay me to do stuff for them, not read blogs, so that doesn't help either.  I promise I'll try to do better this coming week.

Thanks to all of you who have visited my blog and left such nice comments. And to my new followers, thank you so much and I will reciprocate, I promise. I really do appreciate it and I hope you'll stick around once the challenge is over.

So, I've decided to do a tally of the weeks ratings.  The categories are: Fun, Interesting, Amazing and Quirky.  I feel like a couple of them fall into more than one category but to keep things simple I'll just choose one.  Here are the ratings so far:

Fun: 0 (For the record, I would put Bisbee and Flagstaff in this category too...lots of fun in both places)
Interesting: 3
Amazing: 2
Quirky: 2

At the beginning I was betting on quirky to take the lead but who knows, maybe Arizona is more interesting than I thought.  Guess we'll see in a few weeks.

Happy blogging everyone!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Dragoon

Dragoon, Arizona is an unincorporated town located off I-10 in Southeastern Arizona.  For those of you who live here or know the area, it's half way between Wilcox and Benson. The town derives it's name from a U.S. Cavalry unit.

During the Civil War there were two battles fought in this area.  The 1st Battle of Dragoon Springs and the 2nd Battle of Dragoon Springs.  They weren't too creative with the names back then...must have been the heat :)  Arizona was a Confederate territory and the 1st battle was fought between the Confederate soldiers and the Apache Indians, led by war chiefs Cochise and Francisco.  Four Confederate soldiers were killed in this battle and were buried near the Dragoon Springs stage station where they remain to this day.  These are believed to be the Confederate Army's western most battle deaths.  Four days later the 2nd battle was fought and in that instance the Confederate Army won the battle, killing five Apache and recapturing their stolen property.

So, when I started out to write about Dragoon I thought I was only going to be writing about the Civil War battles.  But during my research I came across something much more fascinating.  It's called "The Thing" and it resides along I-10 near Dragoon.  Billboards along I-10 announce it's existence for 200 miles.  247 of them to be exact.  It's one of those quirky little places you find when you're driving in the middle of nowhere.  It costs a dollar to see whatever weird artifacts they have there.  It's part museum part side show and contains items such as: what they claim is a car that belonged to Adolf Hitler and some weird wood carvings of tortured souls by an artist named Ralph Gallagher.  And what exactly is "The Thing"'s a mummified mother-and-child weird thing in a coffin under glass...yeah weird.  There is a picture of it but I really don't want to post it on my blog, so if you really want to see it, go here.  And if you haven't lost your appetite by the end of the show...they have a Dairy Queen inside for your enjoyment.

So, Dragoon definitely falls into the quirky category and even a Civil War battle couldn't redeem it.

See you tomorrow!