Saturday, June 30, 2012

Battle of Hawikuh

     History changed in today's American Southwest on July 7, 1540 when the first deadly conflict between Native Americans and Europeans occurred at the Battle of Hawikuh, a small Zuni pueblo in what is today northwestern New Mexico.  Here is our story and then some photos showing how the Pueblo of Hawikuh looks today.

     Names can create powerful memories. Names such as Lexington and Concord rightfully stir strong patriot feelings with visions of minutemen rushing to the Old North Bridge in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775.  So too does the name Gettysburg conjures up the specter of hundreds of canons roaring to life while thousands of men wearing the blue and the grey battle across the farmlands of Pennsylvania on July 1 – 3, 1863. 

     Here in our part of this great country,  July 7 marks the anniversary of an armed conflict that took place in 1540 at the Zuni pueblo named Hawikuh.   And even though the Battle of Hawikuh has not been remembered in history books as “the shot heard around the world” or the turning point of a civil war, it surely did signal the beginning of tragic armed conflicts between Europeans and the Native American people in the American Southwest that would last until the surrender of Geronimo on September 4, 1886 - some 346 years.
     The Pueblo of Hawikuh (Hi-wah-koo) was located on the high plains of what today is northwestern New Mexico some 85 miles east of Greer, Az. and near today’s Pueblo of Zuni.  The Spanish thought it to be one of the fabled Seven Cities of Gold – Cibola.  On July 7, 1540 an army of about 350 Spanish conquistadors, many on horseback and led by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, was rapidly marching toward it.
     The thirty-year-old Coronado had led his army from deep in the interior of Mexico since February.  Accompanying this army was Fray Marcos de Niza who had walked these northern lands in 1539 and had reported that he had indeed seen cities whose homes and streets were made of gold – the fabled Cibola.  Who could deny such an eyewitness report? 
     But after 4 months traveling over the desert lands of what is now northern Mexico and Arizona, Coronado’s army arrived at the first City of Gold tired, hungry and gazing upon a multi-storied pueblo made of mud, not gold.  Chronologists wrote that “such were the curses hurled at Friar Marco” but food and water were primarily on the soldiers’ minds on this late afternoon of July 7.
     Coronado tried to “negotiate” with the warriors of Hawikuh.  His lieutenant read a decree ( in Latin) informing the people of the pueblo that they were now under the protection of the King of Spain and that they should follow whatever direction given them by the King’s representative - Francisco Vasques de Coronado.
     The message was not well received and most probably not even understood, for soon a shower of arrows were descending upon the tired Spanish army.  The Spanish battle cry was sounded, and three hundred years of conflict began.  Coronado himself took one of those arrows in his right leg and was felled from his horse by a large stone thrown from the upper floors of the pueblo.  But after some three hours of battle, Spanish armor, muskets and lancers on horseback drove the Hawikuhans from the village.
     Coronado and his army would soon discover that Cibola was totally a myth.  No cities of gold existed in this land although treasures of gold lied buried within its soil.  His army, over the next two years, would explore parts of our modern states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.  They surely completed a most impressive "Road Trip!"
     For today’s explorers who would like to visit this historic battle site, that trip is possible by making arrangements with the tourist office at the Zuni Pueblo.  For a fee, a Zuni guide will take you to the ruins of Hawikuh.  It is not much to see today, just a high mound of adobe and stone rubble.   But what once happened here, at Cibola, one of the fabled Seven Cities of Gold,  is truly a moment in our Arizona and American history - and a great modern road trip for those who like to get out and stand upon such historic ground.

The Spanish came from this direction.

Looking south

Looking southwest

Stones re-stacked during a more modern time

Looking back up at the pueblo

They came from here

Historical marker at Zuni

The old church at Zuni

Historical marker in Kansas about the Coronado Expedition

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Havasupai - People of the Blue Green Water

    Note:  We have had the joy of visiting the Village of Supai twice, but it was when we were much younger.  On those two amazing trips, digital cameras were not yet even a distant dream.  So the photos that follow this story were taken by Katie Tiliotson, a former ASU student.  We thank Katie for sharing her Havasupai experience with us through her beautiful photos.

     If the Biblical Paradise were to have ever been found in Arizona, it most surely would be located in Havasu Canyon, home of the Havasupai Indians.  Here in the land of the blue-green water, the Havasupai (People of the Blue-green Water) live among Arizona's most spectacular waterfalls in their village of Supai.
    The Havasupai Indian Reservation is the most remote of the 20 Indian reservations found in Arizona.  Established in 1882, the reservation today is made up of 185,518 acres.  The 639 members of the tribe continue to make this side canyon of the Grand Canyon their home as their ancestors have done for over 800 years.
    The trip to Havasupai is an adventure of its own.  From just west of Williams, travelers "kick-on" to Historic Route 66 and travel on "America's Mother Road" six miles east of the small town of Peach Springs.  Here they turn onto BIA Route 18 and travel some 68 miles to Hualapai Hilltop.  At Hualapai Hilltop the car is parked and the amazing journey to Supai begins.
    From the Hualapai Hilltop trailhead the hiking trail descends for some 8 miles and over 3,000 vertical feet on a trail that is often in a sandy wash.  Most visitors walk these miles but horses or even a helicopter can be rented.  After 8-miles of walking or riding, visitors enter the Village of Supai.  A hotel is available for those who wish a warm shower, a bed and flush toilets.  Two more miles down the trail from the village is a rustic campground located beside the blue-green water of Havasu Creek and Falls.
     Havasu Creek brings life-sustaining water to the Havasupai people and is the creator of this canyon's amazing beauty.  Traveling for over 50-miles over the high-desert plains to the south, the creek plunges into the canyon and joins with Havasu Springs where an underground river adds more water into the blue-green creek.
    The blue-green color and the travertine formations of Havasu Creek is caused by the large amount of lime found in the water.  It is this ever-changing creek, as it flows toward the Colorado River, that creates the four, beautiful waterfalls found in the canyon.
     Navajo Falls is the first waterfall of the canyon, located just 1 1/2 miles beyond the village.  Havasu Falls is the second waterfall some 2-miles from the village.  It is the most famous of the falls and has appeared on hundreds of calendars and postcards.  A drop of 120-feet into the blue-green travertine pools makes this waterfall a visitor favorite.
     Another 3/4-mile down the trail is located Mooney Falls.  Named after James Mooney who fell to his death here, this waterfall is over 200-feet high which makes it even taller than Niagara Falls.  The journey down a series of chain-ladders to the travertine pools of Mooney Falls is a climb no hiker ever forgets!
     The fourth waterfall is called Beaver Falls.  It is located another 4-miles down the trail toward the Colorado River.  This trail is remote and rugged, so the hiker must be well prepared with water, food and good hiking gear.
    Visitors into Havasu Canyon are limited by the Havasupai Tribe, so reservations are a must.  This is such a special place in Arizona so be sure to make the effort to go.  If you do, you will create for your family and yourself, amazing memories that will last for a lifetime. 

View from Hualapai Hilltop

Pack train moving on down the trail

First view of Havasu Creek

Navajo Falls

Havasu Falls

Rope swing over Havasu Creek

Campground along the beautiful creek

Havasu Creek

Mooney Falls

Spash-pool of Mooney Falls

Playing in the splash-pools

Oh, what a feeling!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Finding Arizona This Weekend- June 22 - 24, 2012

Around the Valley of the Sun…

1.  June 22 - Rock Art at Spur Cross - one of the great hiking and riparian areas in the Phoenix area will hold a moderate hike through Spur Cross Ranch from 7 - 9 am on Friday, June 22.  Here is the link -

Around Arizona…

1.            June 23 -Museum of Northern Arizona Navajo Rug Auction, Flagstaff – one of the best of its kind in all the American Southwest.  Here is the link -

2.           June 23 - While in Flagstaff, why not stop by the “Made in the Shade Beer Festival” – sound like a fun thing  to do.  Here is the link -

3.            June 23 - Enjoy old airplanes?  This is a weekend for you as the Valle-Williams High Country Warbrids Fly-in occurs.  Here is the link for the details -

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Red Flowers" of the Saguaro Cactus

     Each June a Sonoran Desert legend comes back to life when reports of "red flowers on the local saguaro cacti" begin to appear in local newspapers and magazines.  From a distance, these large "four petal blossoms" surely look like beautiful red flowers, a sharp contrast from the cream-colored, trumpet shaped beauties that were blooming just a month ago and are the official flower of the State of Arizona.
     As one moves closer to see these "red flowers" located high on the arms of the majestic cactus, the truth as to just what they are comes to light.  The "red flowers" that now grace these monarchs of the desert are actually the fruits of the giant saguaro which have split open to offer the animals of this desert world their bounty of nutritious pulp and seeds.
    Even though it was the deep red inner walls of the saguaro fruit that first caught our attention, we soon become aware of one of the great paradoxes of nature - how could such giant plants come from seeds so small - no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.  Mother Nature is so fascinating, and the story of her saguaros must rank near the top on her "amazing list."
    First, tiny seeds produce giant cacti - wow!  Each fruit of the saguaro contains almost 2000 of these tiny black seeds.  Scientists have estimated that if 15 saguaros are found on an acre of desert land, and if each saguaro produces 60 fruits during the spring season, then some 2 million seeds are produced on that acre of desert land each and every year.  The vast, vast majority of those seeds become sources of food for the birds and animals of the desert.
    In fact, scientists also theorize that a mature saguaro cactus will, during its lifetime, produce some 12 million seeds.  Only one, that is - only one - of those 12 million seeds overcomes all the multitude of natural obstacles and grows back into another mature, seeds producing saguaro cactus.    Amazing!
    Man has taken advantage of this explosion of desert food during the driest season of the Sonoran Desert year for centuries.  The Tohono O'odham People, the indigenous people of this desert, have harvested the saguaro fruits  since, in their tradition, the beginning of time.  In fact, according to their mythology, the first saguaro came to this desert when a young Tohono O'odham woman sank into the desert soil and rose back to the surface as a saguaro cactus, her arms now saguaro arms and raised to the sky.
    Each ripe fruit was precious to the Tohono O'odham as they provided moisture to quench the thirst, since rain had often not fallen in the desert for weeks and maybe even months.  The pulp is said to taste like a fig with a small flavor of strawberries.   Wine too was made from the fruit, a gift, again according to mythology, from Iitoi, the legendary hero and creator of the Tohono O'odham People.
    So the next time you hear someone talk about saguaro cacti blooming with red flowers, you will now know the truth - those red flowers are really saguaro fruits, and they are absolutely crucial to the survival of the desert animals (and once man) in the yearly life cycle of the Sonoran Desert.

Check out some of our pictures of the "'Red Flowers' of the Saguaro!"

Saguaro Fruit Nutrition Facts
   1 Serving = 5 fruits

Calories  167            Sodium  0 mg  
Total Fat                  Potassium 0 mg
5 g                           Total Carbs 27 g
Saturated                Dietary Fiber 0 g
0 g                           Sugars 0 g
Polyunsaturated       Proteins 4 g
0 g                           Cholesterol 0 mg
0 g
0 g

Vitamin A           Calcium 0%
0%                     Iron 0%
Vitamin C

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Red flowers on a saguaro cactus?

A closer look...

No, not a flower at all, but the saguaro fruit.

The fruit's pulp and seeds are now available to the desert birds.

Each fruit produces some 2000 seeds.

The tiny, black seeds are the size of a period at the end of a sentence.

The moisture content with the pulp is enough to stay off thirst as the desert awaits the summer rains.

Now, before the summer rains return to the desert, the saguaro fruit provides a feast.

Monarchs of the Desert with red fruit again offered as pre-monsoon food.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Finding Arizona - June 15 - 17, 2012

Here's what we like that is going on around Arizona this weekend…

Around the Valley of the Sun…

1.  Bloomin' Beer Fest, Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix.  Here is a link -

Around Arizona…

1.  Greer Days - It is always a good time to go to Greer and this weekend they celebrate their pride and heritage.  Here is a link -

2.  Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo, Williams -  enjoy the cool weather found in Williams as well as the 15th Annual Cowpunchers Rodeo which features real working cowboys showing their stuff.  Here is a link -

3.  "Gaspin' in the Aspen Trail Run, at the Nordic Center northwest of Flagstaff.  Run features 15K, 5K and 1K for kids.  Here is a link -

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park - One of our Favorite Places!

     We can't say enough about all of us getting out to visit our wonderful state parks.  They so need all of our support, so please remember them when you are just looking for a place to visit and enjoy this summer.  
     Here is a story about one of our favorites.  If you have never been, take a picnic lunch and go - you will be glad you did!

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park - 

       A gentle waterfall slowly drops into a fern covered grotto as bright yellow columbine flowers grow among the travertine rock.  This calm, cool and lush green hiking spot could be in the Hawaiian Islands but in fact is located only two hours from the Valley at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, a short 10 miles north of Payson, Arizona.
       Tonto Natural Bridge is thought to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world.  Tucked away in a small tree-covered valley along Pine Creek, the bridge stands 183 feet high over a 400-foot long tunnel that measures 150 feet at its widest point. The year-round flow of Pine Creek has, over the ages, eroded a passageway through the calcium carbonate travertine resulting in the rocks above standing as a natural bridge.  In 1990 this beautiful geologic wonder became one of the 29 state parks of Arizona. 
       The natural bridge was first documented in 1877 when a Scotsman, David Gowan was fleeing from a group of Apaches.  In his flight, he discovered the large cave under the natural bridge and there he safely hid for 3 days.  When the danger had passed, he left the safety of the cave to explore the tunnel and green valley that he had accidentally stumbled upon.  He claimed the valley including the natural bridge with squatter’s rights.  In  1898 he convinced his nephew, David Goodfellow, to bring his family from Scotland and settle permanently near the natural bridge.  The family lodge that they built is now a part of the National Register of Historic Places and a modern museum and gift shop for the state park.
       Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is a perfect place for a family picnic at one of the many designated spots found on the beautiful grass lawn.  Three hiking trails of different lengths and difficulty leave the picnic area and quickly take the explorer into a wonderful riparian oasis.  Good shoes and water are recommended for all the hiking trails.
       The Gowan Trail is only 1/2 mile long and quickly leads down 183 feet to Pine Creek and the large, cave opening that creates the natural bridge. Cave swallows fill the air as cave visitors explore the natural environment.
The Pine Creek Trail is the most primitive of trails and is recommended only for serious hikers.  Then there is the Waterfall Trail, 100 steps down to the paradise of a fern covered grotto with yellow columbine flowers that gives you the illusion of being in Hawaii, when in reality, you are at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park in the Rim Country of Arizona.

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is located 10 miles north of Payson, Arizona on Arizona Highway 87.  The GPS coordinates are N34° 19.186' W111° 27.411'.  For more information about visiting Tonto Natural Bridge State Park visit and and

The huge cave of Tonto Bridge State Park.

Long, sometime steep wooden walkway leads from the hilltop to the cave.

Another view of the cave of Tonto Bridge State Park.

Yes, you can walk into the cave and enjoy the coolness.

Visitor Center of the State Park with many picnic tables scattered around.

Hiking, great hiking trails.

Fern grotto - you will think you are in Hawaii.


Finding Arizona This Weekend - June 8 - 10, 2012

Here are our favorite "goings-ons" around Arizona this weekend...

Valley of the Sun…

1.  We think the best event of the weekend is just a little outside of the Valley at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum just before the town of Superior.  It will be a Saturday of photography, music and art at what is one of our favorite places in Arizona.  Here is the link -

2.  The first Phoenix Zoo summer "Prowl and Play" program is set for Saturday, June 9th.  A fun evening at the Phoenix Zoo and the price is only $8.00.  Here is the link -

Around Arizona…

1.  Williams 2012 Arizona State H.O.G. Rally - June 7th - 9th - One of Arizona's largest bike rallies with live entertainment, bike games, poker walk and more.  Here is a link -

2. Pine's 16th Annual Strawberry Patchers Quilt Show  at the Community Center Cultural Hall.  Here is a link -

3.  9th Annual Show Low Days - fun for the whole family with Stick Horse Parade, Derby Down the Deuce, Concert in the Park and so much more.  Here is a link -

4.  Mormon Lake Outdoor Festival occurs on Saturday from 10 am - 3 pm.  Free admissions in the cool pines 30 miles south of Flagstaff.  Here is a link -