I love seeing new places. It doesn’t matter if it’s a famous as Yellowstone National Park or a little, out-of-the-way museum hardly anyone has ever heard of. There are so many places I’ve yet to visit that I would love to experience firsthand, but today I’m narrowing my list down to Western locations on my bucket list.
Yosemite National Park — Covering nearly 750,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada of California, this park is known for its granite cliffs and gorgeous waterfalls. About 95 percent of the park is designated wilderness.
U-shape valley, Yosemite National Park. Photo by Guy Francis, used under Wikipedia Creative Commons license.
Grand Canyon National Park — One of the most impressive natural features on the planet, the canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep. It has more than earned its name.
Grand Canyon from Pima Point. Photo by Chensiyuan, used under Wikipedia Creative Commons license.
Cheyenne Frontier Days — An outdoor rodeo and western celebration in Cheyenne, Wyoming that has been around more than a century.
Mesa Verde National Park — Home to some of the the best preserved Ancestral Puebloan architectural sites in the country. Can you imagine walking in the footsteps of those who lived there more than nine millennia ago?
Square Tower House at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Photo by Rationalobserver, used under Wikipedia Creative Commons license.
Roswell, New Mexico — It might be kooky and touristy, but I’d love to visit the site of a supposed UFO crash. Plus, I’ll admit I loved the show Roswell, too. It’s also home to interesting history other than the famous UFO incident, including the fact that cattle baron John Chisum’s famous Jingle Bob Ranch, once the largest ranch in the country, was nearby.
Arches National Park — This park near Moab, Utah is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. I’ve seen the edge of this park in the distance while traveling through Utah on Amtrak, but I’d love to explore the park’s starkly beautiful high desert landscape.
I’ve just recently returned from a week long family vacation to Arizona where we had an absolute blast. There were twelve members in our group, though we didn’t all travel together. Me, my husband and two of our kids flew together into Flagstaff. My oldest daughter and her husband flew into with plans to drive to the Grand Canyon from there. And my youngest daughter and her extended family (a group of 6) decided to drive and make several stops along the way. All through the week our groups came together in a very fluid way, different combinations breaking off on different days to do things of particular interest to them. But by mid-week we were all together at Bright Angel Lodge on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. For about half the group it was their first time to view this awesome wonder in person and they were blown away by the views. For the rest of us, revisiting the place had almost as big an impact as seeing it for the first time.
Anyway, I thought I’d give you all a little taste of what we experienced by sharing just some of the many pictures we took.
Flagstaff was our home base for this trip. Our first full day there, we took the scenic drive from Flagstaff to Sedona, stopping at several points along the way to admire the scenery and take pictures.
When we returned to Flagstaff we decided to take a trip out to the nearby Lowell Observatory. We were lucky in that there was a cloudless sky and we were able to get clear views of the sun, moon, Saturn and Jupiter through the many telescopes they had set out. Seeing the actual rings of Saturn as well as the pencil dot moons was VERY cool.
The next day we all headed out to the Grand Canyon Notional Park. Six of us decided to take the two hour train ride out of nearby Williams to get there. Williams is a fun place right on Route 66. They are set up to entertain tourists and there are fun little Wild West shows at the train station you can watch while waiting on departure time. The train ride itself was fun (it was my first time on a train) and as you can see from the photo below it was quite comfy 🙂
We spent two days at the park itself, staying in cabins at the wonderful Bright Angel Lodge which is located right on the south rim itself.
Our first day there we just enjoyed the area around the lodge and got the lay of the land. Our second day, we all headed in different directions. Four of our group decided to hike down into the canyon along the Bright Angel Trail (it goes without saying I wasn’t one of their number!).
The rest of us went on various exploration trips. Hubby and I saw both the Desert View Watchtower and Hermit’s Rest, two structures designed in the early twentieth century by Mary Colter, one of the few females architects of her time.
We also stopped at a lot of the viewing sights along the way. At one particular spot hubby spotted a rock formation that resembled a human profile. I took a photo of it – can you make it out? We also spotted several elk along the roadside and folks in our group managed to get photos of two of them.
After two days at the Grand Canyon, we headed out, again splitting into two groups, those that were driving the whole way started home, the rest of us headed back to Flagstaff. Along the way, though, we visited a wildlife park called Bearizona. There were lots of different kinds of animals there – mountain goats, buffalo, wolves and more – but my favorites were the bears. And we got photos of two especially enterprising ones that found a way to cool off.
Our last day out we revisited Sedona for a jeep tour of the area. It was a teeth-rattling bumpy ride but so worth it for the views. Here is a picture our driver took of the four of us.
When we returned to Flagstaff we decided to cap off our vacation with a trip to the Snowbowl. It’s a ski lift that operates in the off season to take tourists up to the top of the peak. It’s a thirty minute ride that carries you up to an ear-popping elevation of 11,500 feet.
And then it was time to head home.
As I said it was a wonderful vacation, one that will make me smile whenever I remember it.
What about you? Have you ever visited this part of our country? And do you have a favorite vacation you look back on fondly?
The heroine in my latest book Calico Spy is a Pinkerton detective working undercover as a Harvey Girl. Last month I wrote about Fred Harvey and how he saved early train travelers from food poisoning.
This month I want to draw your attention to Mary Colter, the woman who designed many of his hotels and restaurants. At a time when traveling was expensive and people traveled only out of necessity, she helped introduce the concept of traveling just for pleasure and that’s not all she did.
Born in Pittsburgh in 1862, she attended the California School of Design at the tender age of seventeen. She planned to support her mother and sister by teaching art. While attending school, she apprenticed as an architect.
At the time, architecture was going through great changes. Instead of emulating European styles, a new type of California architecture was in the works and Mary was influenced by this new Mission-type of design. She also believed in replicating nature by utilizing natural materials in her designs.
Mary designed this to house native American craftsmen and their wares.
After graduating in 1890, she returned to St. Paul and taught art at the Mechanic Arts High School.
She was hired by the Fred Harvey company in 1902 as an interior decorator. In the early days, Fred Harvey collected Indian art and she encouraged the company to expand on this concept. She was instrumental in reaching out to Native American craftsmen and bringing their wares into the Harvey hotel shops. This was a daring venture as the Indian Wars were still ongoing in some parts of the country, but somehow she persuaded visitors to purchase tribal pottery, blankets and jewelry—quite a feat given the times.
This was an engineering feat and was lined with steel for safety.
Eventually, Mary became the chief architect of the Fred Harvey company. The idea of a woman playing such a role in a company was unthinkable, and it wasn’t easy. She clashed with family members who carried on after Fred’s death, but eventually won them over.
Never heard of her? There’s a good reason for that. Architecture was a male dominated profession, and Mary was not credited as architect on the buildings she designed. As a result, she never gained the same recognition as many her peers such as Frank Lloyd Wright. She has been called the best unknown architect of the Southwest.
Some of Mary’s work includes the Indian Watchtower at Desert View; Lookout Studio; Hopi House; Hermit’s Rest and Painted in Painted Desert. La Posada in Winslow, Arizona was her favorite.
Okay, you decide; Frank Lloyd Wright’s Park Inn Hotel is on the left and Mary’s La Posada hotel is on the right. Many think that had Mary been a man she would be better known today. What do you think?
Cynthia is giving away a copy of An unconventional Lady
to one lucky responder.
(Sorry, due to postage and customs, giveaway is for US only.)
*Due to technical difficulties on Saturday, we invited Cynthia to extend her stay at the Junction through Monday. So you still have time to get in the drawing for her fabulous new book. YeeHaw!
Scottish immigrant, Fred Harvey, was disgusted by the service and food preparation by restaurants along the Santa Fe railroad and decided to make a difference. He opened his first location in Kansas and restaurant service along the railroad would never be the same. Harvey was known for hiring local contractors to make the hotels fit their surroundings.
Harvey advertised in Eastern and Mid-western newspapers and magazines for single moral women between the ages of seventeen and thirty to be waitresses in his Harvey Houses. Over one hundred thousand women worked in his employ until the mid-1950s. While the women were told what to wear, what to do, how to wear their hair, and not to marry during their six-month contract, these brave women loved their independence. Over half of them chose to stay out west and help settle the country after their contracts were up, earning them the name “Women Who Tamed the West”.
The women had to be of good moral character, have at least an eighth grade education, display good manner and be neat and articulate to work in his restaurants. In return for employment, the Harvey Girls would agree to a six-month contract, agree not to marry, and abide by all company rules during the term of employment. If hired, they were given a rail pass to get to their chosen destination. Harvey Girls were the women who brought further respectability to the work of waitressing. They left the protection and poverty of home for the opportunity to travel and earn their own way in life, while experiencing a bit of adventure.
I chose to write a series of four books, spread out over the time span of the Fred Harvey Company to enlighten readers as to these brave, hard-working women. In An Unconventional Lady, the story takes place at the El Tovar Hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon. This hotel is still running today with its waitresses still dressed in the familiar uniform of Harvey girls.
Multi-published and Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey had three cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. Her first mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, won first place in the inspirational category of the Great Expectations contest in 2007. Her third cozy, Chocolate-Covered Crime, received a four-star review from Romantic Times. All three cozies have been re-released as ebooks through the MacGregor Literary Agency, along with a new cozy series, all of which stay in the top 50 of Amazon’s ebooks for their genre. She has several historical romances releasing in 2013 and 2014 through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents. She is active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs and two cats. She has five grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”.
Hi! Winnie Griggs here. Last month I told you about our planned family vacation to the southwest part of the country. Well, this month I thought I’d share a little of what we saw and did while we were there.
The first stop on our trip was Vegas and it was the only destination where all 12 of us were in attendance. Here is a picture of the whole crew shortly after we arrived.
Several of us were not really into the whole casino thing but there were lots of other things to do. Our first night we went to see Jersey Boys – great musical!! The next day we went out to tour the Hoover Dam. It was an amazing place and I learned lots of interesting and fun facts – some day soon I’ll do an entire blog on it.
In the photos below, the picture on the right shows me and hubby standing at the state line – hubby is in Nevada and I’m in Arizona.
Another place we visited was the Ethel M Chocolate Factory. I didn’t get any pictures of it – too busy sampling the wares :). But there was a beautiful cactus garden next door, and I did take several picture there.
When we left Vegas, two of our number – my brother and his wife – headed home. My two daughters stayed over an extra half day but eventually connected back up with us at the Grand canyon. So there were eight of us in two cars traveling together. The scenery for our drive was amazing and we made a couple of roadside stops to enjoy the view. Here we are at one of them.
Next stop was the Grand Canyon and WOW! It was everything I’d heard it was and more. My sister scored us reservations at Bright Angel Lodge which was literally right on the rim. Here is the amazing view I had when I stepped outside my cabin. (Just wished they would have trimmed the bushes).
I was told that pictures really can’t do justice to the Grand Canyon, and I now believe that. But of course I took a whole slew of them anyway :). Here’s some of the sunrise.
And here are a few others I couldn’t resist showing you
When we left the Grand Canyon we lost two other members of our group – my daughters spent an extra half day there and then headed home. For those of us still roadtripping, our next stop was Sedona. Again, fabulous scenery everywhere you looked. We took a ‘Pink Jeep’ tour and had a fabulous time – our tour guide was really entertaining!
Of course I have tons more pictures but I’ve probably given you much more than you wanted already :).
So now, on to the giveaway! I learned just a couple of weeks ago that my September release, Handpicked Husband, was nominated for an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award!!! I’m super excited and very honored to be in such august company as the other nominees. So to celebrate, I’ll be giving away a copy to two of today’s commenter.
Here’s a short blurb of the book:
Can she drive away not one, but three suitors?
Free-spirited photographer Regina Nash is ready to try. But unless she marries one of the gentlemen her grandfather has sent for her inspection, she’ll lose custody of her nephew. So she must persuade them – and Adam Barr, her grandfather’s envoy – that she’d make a thoroughly unsuitable wife.
Adam isn’t convinced. Regina might be unconventional, but she has wit, spirit and warmth – why can’t the three bachelors he escorted here to Texas see that? He not only sees it, but is drawn to it. His job, though, is to make sure Regina chooses from one of those men – not to marry her himself!
Can Reggie and Adam overcome the secrets in her past, and the shadows in his, to find a perfect future together?