Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Sunday, August 06, 2006


We (the Polski3 family), just returned from a roadtrip to view some of the sights of the American southwest. In our whirlwind tour, we saw Boulder Dam, Grand Canyon, fossil dino tracks, a meteor crater, cliff dwellings and an old state prison.

We started off heading for the Las Vegas area, but had to detour into Arizona as part of the road between Blythe and Needles was our of use. It was ok with me as I'd never been to Lake Havasu City. I was shocked at how big Lake Havasu City was, and it contained several of the markers of civilization that I look for in a town, that being several of my favorite places to eat ---- In-N-Out and Red Robin. Neither of these places is anywhere near where I live. We also saw London Bridge. It was not too impressive. It was different, but none of us was very impressed by it. My lovely wife did think the lamp posts were unique and decorative.

Wife liked Henderson, NV., where we stayed after driving a good chunk of the day. Her favorite rib place was there, as well as several of the stores she likes to shop. The next am., we visited Boulder Dam. The boys were impressed with it. My youngest discovered that the updraft coming off the dam would take a mouthful of water up into the air with a colorful visual effect. For my classroom, I have obtained a new "Dam Cup" (the plastic soda cups they sell; I keep scrap pencils in it for my classroom....of course students get a kick out of telling their classmates who arrive in search of a pencil to "check the Dam cup!"). My prior Dam Cup is about 13-14 years old and a bit faded, so it will be retired.

Grand Canyon was our next big stop. Boys were impressed with it. We also hiked a few hundred yards down the Bright Angel and Grandview trails to get that "in the canyon" view and feeling. If any of you have not been to Grand Canyon, you really must go down into the canyon when you do visit. I have hiked far down into the canyon, back in my younger, pre ankle/foot surgery days, but my wife and boys had never been down into it. My wife was really awed by this experience. I bought an interesting book, ("Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon" by Ghiglieri and Myers) about the people who have died/been killed at Grand Canyon.....falling off edge, river accidents, murdered.....signs in the gift shops said it was the number one selling book at GCNP. A highlight for us was also going on a ranger led hike to view fossil marine organisms found in the limestone. I never knew these fossils were there and we all had a good time searching the outcrops for the various types of fossils (corals, crinoids, brachipods, bivalves, sponges). Seems these all lived in an ancient Pangean bay that extended from what is now eastern Grand Canyon to Las Vegas. We also saw living wildlife; the usual begging squirrels, ravens, a turkey vulture, lizards, and some elk. Lots of foreign tourists too....German, Russian, Italian, Japanese and Chinese.

Unknown to many people, there are some exposed fossil dinosaur tracks in northern Arizona. They are found at a "private" area just off highway 160 between US 89 and Tuba City (in the Navajo Nation). I am a bit surprised that the feds or state or even the tribe haven't taken over this exposed bit of ancient history. A Navajo guy who lives nearby and who claims that it is part of his family land allotment was our informal tour guide. I'd visited these tracks before, but not in the 'detail' that he showed us. He used a bottle with water to highlight the tracks, most of which were from three-toed hunting/predatory type dinosaurs. There was also a partially exposed bit of a skeleton. My youngest son is a junior dinosaur expert really thought this was a great place to visit.

We visited the famous Meteor crater. It was impressive. They also have a good display with educational activities for people to do.....and it all worked, unlike what we seem to find these days in many public museums. They have a teacher packet available for teachers which I signed up for.

We visited two sets of "ancestral puebloan" ruins on this trip (apparently the term "Anasazi" is no longer used, but the cultural regions are [Chacoan, Mesa Verdan, Kayenta, Fremont, Mogollon, Hohokam, etc]), the ruins of a small pueblo at Tusayan in the eastern part of Grand Canyon NP and the cliff dwelling built by the Sinagua culture near Camp Verde that is known as Montezuma Castle. I had been to Montezuma Castle before, but it has been expanded; I found out that what is viewed at Montezuma Castle was the smallest part of the ancient village that the Sinagua people built. There had been a larger pueblo structure built at the base of the cliff 50 yards away from the cliff dwelling, and that out of view for visitors, were at least 25 cave homes the people had carved into the cliff.

Almost home, we stopped by the famous (infamous?) Arizona Territorial Prison at Yuma. This Arizona State Park has been much restored and much improved over what it was years ago. Interestingly, along with murders, forgers, and burglars, the prison also held some Mormans convicted of bigamy, some Mexican revolutionaries convicted of violation of US neutrality laws, a guy imprisoned for "seduction and failure of a promise to marry" and a couple convicted of child abuse. Some prisoners got in trouble for drugs, marijuana and morphine, and inmates were more severely punished for talking back to a guard or failing to obey a guards order than if they fought with each other, refused to work or refused to bathe.

But, it is good to be home.

Thanks for reading my blog. As always, your comments are welcome!