Tag Archives: Arizona

Skywatch Friday – John Wayne Country

A mural at a coffee shop in Springerville

Sorry, not sorry, I am still documenting my recent trip to Arizona for my 50th high school reunion in Eagar/Springerville, AZ. Our family left the area in 1971 when dad got transferred to Albuquerque. I hadn’t been back since so I was really curious. (The two towns butt up against each other so I am just going to call the area Round Valley since that is what the locals tend to call it).


John Wayne had a ranch, the 26 Bar Ranch, in Round Valley up until he passed away in 1979. It went through some changes and is now owned by the Hopi Tribe. He’d show up every now and then and the town had John Wayne days for him with a parade and all that. He was a very nice guy, very approachable, especially with kids. I never talked to him but I stood right next a time or two. The towns are still very proud of him.


The 26 Bar Herefords painted rocks are still there but they used to be a lot more prominent than they are now.

Round Valley is football crazy. They are used to winning and by big margins. The whole town would shut down on game days to either cheer them on at home or caravan to wherever they were playing. Years ago they passed a bond issue and they got the football team a domed stadium. As far as I can tell it is still the only high school football field with a dome in the US. I had never seen it before and I hauled my drone all the way to Arizona just to take a few photos of it. it seats about 5000 or so. They play other sports in it and it has been used as a shelter for some of the big forest fires they have had in the area including the gigantic Wallow Fire in 2011 that burned 538,000 acres in Arizona and New Mexico.

Looking off toward the mountains is Flattop Mountain. I had plans of maybe hiking it but reading up on it, it is a nine mile trek with no cover. Nope, not for me.

Instead I headed downtown to the XA Bar. When I was a kid it was the XA Buffet and featured nightly entertainment by the Arizona Yodeler. He wasn’t around.

And it is still a bar. I felt like I was going somewhere forbidden. Bars outside the bible belt in the US are pretty much heavy drinking places. You go in, saddle up and drink her down. I never thought of drinking of being particularly sinful until I moved to Texas after college. I mean you are an adult are expected to control yourself.

So I had a couple of beers and a steak. I enjoyed it thoroughly. There was an enthusiastic crowd in there enjoying themselves as well.

The next day I drove up to the old saw mill and it was gone!! Southwest Forest Industries had a huge sawmill up there and it was the economic driver of the town. The market changed and the sawmill shut down. It was pretty much dismantled for scrap and off it went.

Just a huge empty tract of land and one remaining building left. All shut down. Two huge coal fired power plants started up and provided jobs for lots of people. That is how the town was able to afford the dome. Now the power plants are in danger of being shut down. It will cause some pain but the people there are resilient.

So now back to the reunion. The school was a kind of small and so here was the class.

You can examine the photos and names all you want and you won’t find me because I didn’t graduate there. Remember, I left in 1971. I had stayed in contact with them over the years and they invited me to join them in celebrating the 50 years. So I went and I had a great time! I felt kind of like an interloper but they made me feel welcome.

They had a dinner program the night before the parade and I got to meet people I hadn’t seen in decades. It took a little while at first because I didn’t recognize anybody. After a while it got easier. I was amazed at all my former classmates. Most of them had done quite well with families and careers. A few had challenges but they didn’t seem defeated by the experiences. And several had passed away including one classmate who ended up in Tulsa. She is buried just a few miles from where I live.

Part of the celebration was we got to ride on a float in the 4th of July parade. That’s a sign of being really old I think.

(Photo lifted from a classmates facebook page.)

So there I am sitting on a hay bale in the parade, representing the class of 1973. It was a huge parade, it went on for a long time and we rode for miles.

Also in the parade was this thing. A privately owned armored car. I am not sure what the deal was.

So we sat on the hay bales and waved flags and tossed candy to the kids. And to show their appreciation they threw water balloons at us.

It was a blast. So we finished the parade, and said our goodbyes and off I went back to Oklahoma! And guess what, I got my Albuquerque High School 50 year reunion coming up in a few weeks. Don’t be jealous, riding in a parade is not on the agenda.

Linking with Skywatch Friday and My Corner of the World

Arizona Critters

I visited Springerville, Arizona for a high school reunion. I had some free time so I went on a hike on a trail built and maintained by the Arizona Wildlife Department along the Little Colorado River as part of the Becker Wildlife Area. I saw lots of birds who were too active and in too much cover for me to get photographs.


I did capture this fuzzy photo of what might be a swallow of some sort. I got it posted on iNaturalist and they are pretty good about figuring out what the various critters are. Update! The consensus from iNaturalist is that this is a Northern Rough Winged Swallow.


There was some private land adjacent to the trail. I got this far off shot of what might a longhorn cow. It was in a pasture with some angus cows.

This section of the Little Colorado River is managed for trout fishing and they have done a lot of work to stabilize the banks. Here is a weir put up to divert some of the water for irrigation. Downstream of the weir was a deep pool and it seemed a very popular spot for trout fishing.

The river also has several beaver dams so there are pools above the dams and running water below.

Our family lived in this area back in the late 60’s early 70’s. My brother and I liked to go fishing in the river upstream of this area. We didn’t catch any fish but the ice cold water felt good on our feet on hot summer days.

They didn’t have these cool riverside trails and bridges back then.

The trail out and back was only about a mile long but it was an enjoyable walk. A fellow hiker I encountered said that a rattlesnake was seen on the part of the trail I was headed towards. I thanked him for the information and went on my way. This part of Arizona is thick with rattlesnakes. We saw several on our property when we lived here and my brother and I felt duty bound to kill them all. I leave all snakes alone now. This is where they live and they have their role in nature. Anyway, I didn’t see it. I’m sure it saw me!

I’m linking up with Saturday’s Critters.

Song-ography – White Christmas Edition

The theme on Songography is “Any Christmas Song.” I picked White Christmas because to Christmas is very nostalgic for me and White Christmas is a very nostalgic song. And a big part of my childhood was spent in Forest Service Ranger Stations up in the mountains. That was back when when snow was kind of magical and not the pain in the butt that it is now.  I’m using my  father’s old photographs so I don’t know if that is cheating or not because I didn’t take them.


I think that is my brother, Bob, taking a photo of me and my little sister Ellen at the Payson Ranger Station on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. My sister was born in Payson and we moved to Utah soon thereafter. I think this was on a visit back to Payson. The Forest Service was very tight knit socially and everybody moved around a lot so we knew somebody almost everywhere. I love the old school jeep and truck and the galoshes. Does anybody wear those any more? Those buckles would get iced over and they would be hare to take off.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow


I’m guessing that this is northern Arizona in the early 1960’s.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all
Your Christmases be white


This is the old Payson Ranger Station in Arizona. The building on the left was the Assistant Ranger’s Residence. It is now a museum. The building on the right was the Ranger’s office. It is part of the museum. We lived across the street in in a cinder block house owned by the Forest Service.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow


This is my Mother at their Forest Service owned house in Happy Jack, Arizona on the Coconino National Forest (I think). This was after my parents were first married and several years before I was born.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases
May all your Christmases
May all your Christmases
May all your Christmases be white


I think this is another scene from northern Arizona.

I’m dreaming of a white
Christmas with you
Jingle Bells
All the way, all the way


A road through the forest. We used to do the Griswold thing and go cut our own tree (with a permit to do so of course). It was always an adventure to go find the tree. Dad was an expert at “improving the tree.”

The movie White Christmas came out in 1954 and I was born in 1955. I find the movie fascinating because to me it shows how the “Greatest Generation” thought of themselves. The old can do if we just pull together and work together spirit.

Santa Fe Ski Area late 1950's or early 60's

Dad tells me that this is the Santa Fe ski area way back when. It is a lot different now. I love the guy rocking the red ski sweater and what looks like a tow rope in the background and the shack which may have been the “lodge.”

And here is a clip from the movie. Everything is cool until you get some dialog and it is in a language I couldn’t understand. Oh well!!

Things are a lot different. Everybody is kind of spinning in their own orbit these days.

But hey, I still love Christmas for a bunch of different reasons and I still love snow, when I don’t have to go anywhere in it. Have a Merry Christmas!!

Linking to Song-ography

Six Word Fridays – Salt in the Spring Season

The Prompt this Week is “Season”

Salt is a Seasoning, close, no?

Close enough for Me, the Cheater

The Salt River in Central Arizona


A Man and His Puppy Play


Until the Lab Takes A Break


Looking Downstream at the Beautiful Desert


Or Upstream at the Spectacular Cliffs


or Some Unfocused Pretty Purple Flowers

Linking to Six Word Fridays