Friday, July 25, 2014


The Daddy of 'Em All

Cheyenne, Wyoming.  July 25, 2014:   You want rodeo?  Here it is.  This is the 118th edition of the Daddy of 'Em All..the great Cheyenne Rodeo.  It's all here..bulls, horses and the cowboys who think they can ride 'em.  Some can, some can't.  Like football, it depends on that particular day.  Just take a look:

For many, this is definitely not the day.. 

For some, it's "Ride 'im, Cowboy!!"

But, as I said..not for all..

It's a hard way to make a to speak.


It's not all arena riding, though..there's shopping, pancake feeds, concerts by big name acts, a huge parade where others have rides of their own..

Improbable as they may be..

  Relax, folks, it's easter egg dye.

Out at the arena, there's a carnival, exhibitions and chuck wagon cookery.  Care to try a Rocky Mountain Oyster?   

And there's always a fashion show.  This year, they're showing lacy mini-skirts (middle).


As I mentioned, this is the 118th year for the rodeo.  It's become one of the biggest and most revered in the US, rivaling the Calgary Stampede in Canada.  Cheyenne lasts almost two weeks and features the best riders anywhere..guys who know they have to do well at Cheyenne to get the points they need for the finals.  

It's fun and it reminds you of great traditions.  

What more could you want?  



The food's really good, too.



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Arches National Park

Sand Dune Arch, Arches National Park

Arches National Park, Moab, Utah.  7/20/2014:   Working my way north from the Grand Canyon, I stayed last night in Moab, a tourist-friendly little town on the way to interstate 70.  My friend, John Taylor, reminded me to at least take a quick run through Arches National Park, since it was just up the road from my hotel.

So I did.  

Oh, my.

I'm struggling for the appropriate word:  Majestic?  Monumental? Magnificent?   Gift?  

They tell me there are about 2,000 natural arches in the park--beautiful pieces carved through by wind and erosion--but there is so much more as well.  Huge and dignified rock walls, stone columns thrusting into the sky, vast reaches of desert, clusters that stand all alone in the statement nature makes for them:

I am in awe.  

One of the park's most famous objects is the "Balanced Rock."

Notice there's what appears to be another balancer on that ridge in the distance.

It's fun to look for specific shapes in the sandstone rock.  To me, this one looked like the Sphinx:

I also saw a crouching lion down the road and found the Maltese Falcon at another spot..but I'm running out of room here.  The park's named for the arches, after all.'s the Skyline Arch:

            ..and you can see the "Delicate Arch" up there on the hillside:

As you can tell, some of the arches are hard to reach and..if you're short on time..are better seen with a telescopic lens.  The approach to the Sand Dune arch, the lead picture in this piece, was through a crevice.  The floor to the approach was very fine grained sand.  Here's where you have to squeeze through:

So bring your walking shoes, your camera and lots of water.  It'll be worth it, believe me.  The water's very important..after all, the park is at a pretty good altitude and it's desert.  Come and see it.


And here's a little bonus.  My last shot of the Grand Canyon as I was leaving yesterday morning.

That's the Colorado River down there..I'm still following it as I move east through Colorado.  This was taken at the "Watch Tower," the last stop in the park before you head down the mountain toward Cameron, AZ.

Oh, my..for sure.         


7/20/2014..45 years after the first landing on the moon.                                                     

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dawn at Mather Point

Pre-Dawn, 7/19/2014

Mather Point, Grand Canyon. Morning of 7/19/2014:   We all looked as if we had just rolled out of bed, pulled on jeans, grabbed our cameras and ran to Mather Point.  That's probably closer to the truth than you know.

Mather Point is the first overlook you come to after you go to the Grand Canyon Visitor's's right off the parking lot.  It gives you several places to stand at the very rim, including a promontory that juts out into the canyon itself.  That's where I went.

People stood, drinking coffee, fiddling with their cameras, for more than an hour while the sky gradually brightened into that pre-dawn burst you see up there.  Finally:

                                                       A new day was ours!

                           We watched the cliffs begin to glow..

                        And then we just stood there and felt good.

           That, and a good cup of coffee, is a heckuvva way to start the day.



Friday, July 18, 2014

The Grandest Canyon

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, AZ.  7/18/2014:    The Grand Canyon is not "timeless," it is Time itself.  You're looking at roughly 2-billion years there.  One mile deep, ten miles wide and 280 miles long, it exposes a record of how the earth formed, layer after layer after layer.  As one writer put it:  "Through two billion years of Grand Canyon formation, mountain ranges have built up and eroded away, seas have swept over the land and retreated, rivers have come and gone..and erosion has leveled and shaped the landscape."

And still, there is the Grand Canyon.

I come here as often as I can.  It's one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.  There is more than I can take in, but I try anyway.  The colors, the shapes, the hidden canyons within the canyon..all details that fill the eye to overflowing.  Since one of my main tools these days is a set of cameras, we'll just see what we can see:

That's The Battleship.  And beyond it, across the river, is Cheop's Pyramid.  It's amazing to study the formations. It's even more amazing to go down the Bright Angel trail to be among them.

In this shot, I liked the way morning light played off the edges of the rocks.

Down in the hollows to the right, California Condors fly lazy circles, looking for the day's first meal.

An even better view of The Battleship and the Pyramids.

Just look at the colors!!

A canyon within the canyon.

You can see the north rim on the horizon..ten miles away.  I know folks who hike the width of the Grand Canyon at least once a year, starting at the north rim and ending at the great hotel, El Tovar, on the south edge.


Four points of depth.  You can lose yourself in this picture.

I have a favorite bench here.  Like most good viewpoints, you can change positions on my bench and see a different picture every time.  You just slide up or down the bench and watch the light and angle change on whatever you're looking at.  It's a great place to just sit and think.  Here's the basic view from my bench:

So, sit down, friend, and search the scene.  You'll find something you like and it will make you happy .. at least for a while.

A bench like this, in a place like this, is a treasure and good for the soul.

You're invited.


Jim Slade
Grand Canyon, AZ


Monday, July 14, 2014


Remains of ancient dwellings at Bandelier

Bandelier National Monument, NM.  7/14/2014:  This is Bandelier.  People have lived here for varying lengths of time for more than 10-thousand years, carving shelter out of the towering cliffs that border Frijoles Creek, which formed Frijoles Canyon.  At first, it was a good place to hunt and move on.  Later, it became a place to grow crops and settle.   

It makes pretty good sense.  The canyon and land for four hundred square miles around was created by eruptions of a monstrous (still active) volcano that took place a million years ago.  Volcanic ash piled up in layers as much as a thousand feet thick.  It looks like sandstone cliff today, but it's a material that's easily eroded and/or carved.  Since it left swiss-cheese-like surfaces, the people moved into the holes, enlarged them and then built covering structures over the face to live securely on the cliff-side.  Meanwhile, others built the more fort-like Pueblo Tyuonyi on the valley floor.

Rooms in the Pueblo weren't large..I put my hat on the wall there to show some
scale.  The people themselves were small.  They were mostly seeking security and protection from the elements.  Most of their work took place outdoors.

And there's an important distinction to make:  These are the Ancestral Pueblo people, with links to others who lived in Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon.  Modern researchers used to call them the Anasazi, but in the Navajo tongue that means "Ancient Enemies" so that no longer used.  But whatever you call them, their modern ancestors still live here.  Native Americans here call themselves Pueblo People.  Keep it in mind.

A visit to Bandelier can be good for you--it means walking and some climbing up the side of the cliffs because if you want to see anything--that's where it is.

You can try your own cliff-dwelling if you choose:

Inside the outside structure may have looked like this National Park Service reconstruction:

Here's one of the exposed dwellings.  Start at the floor, work up the can see some decorative effect half way up.  The ceiling is dark because of fire and smoke.  The fire hardened the roof so it didn't crumble on the inhabitants:

And decorate they did.  They are several examples of petroglyphs on the cliff walls.  This one is preserved with a plexiglas shield:

Macaws, like the one carved here, were brought as trade items from Mexico:

It's thought the people lived here in permanent settlement for abut 400 years before closing up shop and moving on.  No one knows exactly why they left, but they did..moving south and east toward the Rio Grande river..a very similar experience to that of the people who lived in Mesa Verde and Chaco.  Now, most of their descendants live in modern pueblos throughout the region; the Pueblo People. 

And here's a note right out of the Park Service's guidebook:  People have not lived in Frijoles Canyon for more than 450 years, but the site is not abandoned, according to tradition.  Modern Pueblo people believe their ancestors still inhabit the place in spirit.

Here's how it looks from the valley floor across Frijoles Creek:

Come visit the ancients at Bandelier.


I'm moving on tomorrow.  Talk to you from the Grand Canyon later this week.




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday In Santa Fe

The Market
Santa Fe, NM.  7/13/2014:    The world was on Museum Hill today.  Artists and their wares from virtually everywhere were there, working their craft, showing spectators how they do it..selling.  

It was the last day of this year's International Folk Art Market, held at Santa Fe's fabulous Folk Art Museum.  The good-natured crowds were crammed onto the hill, coming up from the State Capitol parking lots in busloads.  Nobody seemed to mind waiting just to get close to the display tables to see what was going on.  Many were buying on the spot.  I got close enough to take pictures. Here goes:

Enameled boxes from Khazakhstan.

             Carved Masks                             

    Carver at work.

                                                                 Sudanese Artist

                                                                   Basket Maker


     It was wonderful and I'd recommend it to anyone who loves art of any
kind.  It's all here.  It's from the world.


     After a couple of hours, I retreated to the old stand--the central Plaza in old Santa Fe.  People were on the benches, under the trees, at the Fajita stand, patrolling the shops and, generally spending Sunday afternoon at a leisurely pace.

    But nobody was having more fun than the Accordion Man and his biggest fan:

          Sunday in the Plaza.