Monday, May 26, 2014

The Mogollon Monster

    Monsters seem to be a common theme these days with Hollywood movies, video games, mid-west baseball teams and that always, annual October 31st celebration.  But a real Arizona monster, or at least the legend of such, has been famous for many generations with those who live among the ponderosa forest of Northern Arizona.  This just might be the right time to tell that Arizona story – the story of Arizona’s own, Mogollon Monster!
    The Mogollon Monster is a Big-foot creature that is said to live in central and eastern Arizona along the Mogollon Rim.  It is reported to be a “bipedal humanoid” that grows to be some 6 – 8 feet tall.  Its body is said to be covered by long, dark hair except on the creatures face which is hairless.  Those who have had an encounter with the Mogollon Monster speak of a strong, pungent odor, similar to decaying fish that seems to always surround the big fellow.
    Legend says that this monster is a rather shy fellow who most often shows up after dark.  It is reported that the Mogollon Monster likes to explore campsites and often emits a whistling sound as if communicating with unseen fellow creatures.
    The home range of the Mogollon Monster seems to encompass an area from Prescott east to Hannagan Meadow, north to Springville, then west to Williams and finally back south to Prescott.   Payson seems to be the epicenter of most Mogollon Monster sightings.
    The first reported story of the Mogollon Monster occurred in 1903 in an article in the Arizona Republican newspaper.  The article quotes a Mr. I.W. Stevens saying that he came upon a creature near the Grand Canyon who had “long white hair and a matted beard that reached to his knees.”  Stevens goes on to say that the creature was feeding on the blood of two cougars it had killed.  Stevens concludes his report by saying the creature let out an “unearthly screech” when he (Stevens) came upon it.
    Over the years, many people have reported seeing or at least hearing the Mogollon Monster rushing through the forest undergrowth.  Today there are multiple website with reported pictures and videos of this big fellow.  Heck, the Mogollon Monster even has its own Facebook page so this creature must be doing something right!
    The best likeness of the Mogollon Monster is probably found in the large woodcarvings made by chainsaw artist Trent Penrod of The Burley Bear mountain gift store in Pinetop.  Mr. Penrod has sculptured the likeness of five of these highland critters that are now on displayed along the main street of several Mogollon Rim towns.
    Whether the Mogollon Monster is a true inhabitant of Arizona’s wonderful Mogollon Rim Country or just a legend that is used to frighten young children who are sitting around a campfire is yet to be proved.  But it is surely a great Arizona story that needed to be told!

Info ;

First two pictures belong to Trent Penrod who carved this image of the Mogollon Monster.  Rest of the pictures belong to us!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Urban Bat Adventures

       Summer sunsets bring cooler temperatures to the people who make their homes in the hot Sonoran Desert. It is the time each day to again safely emerge back into the out-of-doors to take a walk, an evening visit to the closest ice cream store or even to take the whole family to a drive-in movie over at the ol’ Scottsdale Six.  Yet for those looking for a different summer adventure, say a wildlife adventure, then summer sunsets are the perfect times to watch the nightly explosion of Mexican free-tailed bats returning to their nightly hunting territory in the desert sky.

       A total of twenty-eight species of bats occur in Arizona, but the free-tailed is one of the most common. With a body length of 3 to 5 inches and a wingspan up to 12 inches, these dark brown bats form huge colonies in caves and under bridges and culverts found in the urban environment.  Each evening they re-enter the sky to feed on literally tons of moths, mosquitoes and other night flying insects.  Each June, the female Mexican free-tailed bat gives birth to a single pup.

       The Arizona Fish & Game Department has created an ideal urban bat-viewing area for the Arizona public near the intersection of Camelback Road and 40th Street right next to the office complex at 5080 North 40th Street.  Here, just 20 yards west of the parking garage, and 20 feet north of the Arizona Canal, is a large flood control tunnel that is ground zero each summer evening for the Mexican fee-tailed bats’ nightly rush back into the night time sky.

Special bat-viewing signs teach urban visitors about their wildlife neighbors hoping to help Valley residents to learn to co-exist with our urban wildlife and to create more chances to learn in and about the Arizona out-of-doors.  This special viewing area was built using Arizona Heritage Funds.

       The Camelback Road and 40th Street area have many wonderful restaurants including Chelsea’s, located right near the Camelback & 40th Street intersection.  Dinner at Chelsea’s and a Mexican fee-tailed bat show at sunset; now that is a special way to spend a Sonoran Desert summer evening.

       The GPS coordinates of the Arizona Game and Fish bat viewing area are N33° 26.870¢ W112°05.590¢.  For more information about Arizona bats, visit the following web site .

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Arizona Geocaching and Letterboxing

      Geocaching and Letterboxing are two great, family orientated activities that can be enjoyed for only the price of gas.  Getting out to enjoy the thrill of the hunt for a local geocache or to place a letterbox with your family at that secret spot is a fun and educational way to spend a beautiful Arizona day.  
    Geocaching and Letterboxing are modern day treasure hunts that either utilizes the latest technology of satellite GPS- enabled devices (Geocaching) or the decoding of a written treasure map (Letterboxing).  Both are not only intellectually challenging but also force the “treasure hunters” into the out-of-doors and all those natural surprises that come along from just being in and among Mother Nature.
    Geocaching is a relatively new sporting activity.  It involves using a mobile Global Positioning System (GPS) to locate hidden containers called “geocaches” or “caches” anywhere in the world.  The homemade caches are waterproof containers that contain some trading trinkets and a logbook for the discoverer to document the find. 
    The first geocache was placed on May 2, 2000 near Beavercreek, Oregon.  There are now over 1,535,000 active geocaches placed in over 100 different countries and on all seven continents – yep, even Antarctica!  There are over 5 million geocachers currently registered with one of the many geocache website.  Most sites ask you to join and provide some GPS cache clues free.  Some sites have a fee, so be sure to do your research.
    A favorite Geocaching website is   Enter your zip code in the search window and see the 21,300+ Arizona geocaches available.  You must join this site but the Basic Membership cost (thus access to the clues) is free.
    Letterboxing is an older form of treasure hunting having been created in England in 1854.  It involves the hiding of small, waterproof boxes and then posting clues to the where about of the letterbox online.  Most letterboxers have their special, self-made stamp, called a signature stamp, which they stamp into the logbooks found inside a letterbox. 
    Letterboxes are found everywhere.  There have been letterboxes in the Smithsonian as well as in Disneyland.  Letterboxers obtain the written clues, now online, and then head out into the world to locate the hidden treasures.  Sometime the clues suggest the use of an orienteering compass, but usually Letterboxing does not require any special tools; just a sense of fun and adventure!
    Letterboxing too has many wonderful websites and here is our favorite -  This site tells you everything you need to know about how to get started letterboxing, even how to make your own signature stamp.  It also provides the clues for over 500 letterboxes found around Arizona.
    So as you look once again to get into Arizona’s amazing out-of-doors, check out Geocaching and Letterboxing for your family and adventurous friends.  They are both outdoors sports where the journey and the hunt are equally as special as the final destination.

Info: http://www.geocaching.com ;

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Memorial Day In Arizona

    The last Monday of each May Americans everywhere join together to celebrate our nation’s Memorial Day.  Originally known as Decoration Day, the annual honoring of America’s war dead first began on May 30, 1868.
    On that day Major John Logon, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, authorized the decoration of the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery with flowers.  Some 5000 men, women and children set about the task of placing a bouquet of flowers on the grave of each fallen civil war soldier.
    New York became the first state of officially recognize the Decoration Day holiday in 1873.  By 1890 all the northern states decorated the graves of their war dead each May 30th.  War feelings, a short 25 years after the civil war, were still bitter and the southern states refused to recognize the northern holiday.
    But southern states had long been doing their part, decorating the graves of their fallen confederate soldiers as early as April, 1866 in the town of Columbus, Mississippi. Today as many as 25 different American towns claim to be the origin of Decoration Day, many of those towns in the south where so many of the civil war dead are buried.
    It would take Americans fighting together in World War I to unite the nation in celebration of Memorial Day.  It was then that Memorial Day changed from honoring those who died in the Civil War to honoring all Americans who died in any war. 
    In December 1915 a poem written by Canada’s Colonel John McCrae expressed his deep sorrow of the “row on row” of graves of soldiers who had died on Flanders battlefields in western Belgium and northern France.  The poem created the image of bright red flowers mixed among the rows of white crosses.
    Two women, one from France and one from the United States, were inspired by Colonel McCrae’s poem and started the sale of artificial red poppies to aid the orphans and widows left behind from that terrible war.  In 1922 the United States Veterans of Foreign Wars adopted the poppy program and began to sell the artificial red poppies throughout the country. 
     The buying and wearing of a red poppy was a part of the Memorial Day tradition for many generations of Americans. The red poppy continues even today to be a perpetual tribute to all those American soldiers who have given their lives for our freedom.
     In 2000 the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act”.  It was enacted to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country.”  The Act encourages all Americans to “pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.”  It was to be “a small way that we all can help to put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”
     Arizonans will again be celebrating and honoring our fallen war heroes in many locations around the state during the long Memorial Day weekend.  Be sure to be a part of those celebrations!  

                 Word to the notes of TAPS 
                                                                                                                                                                            "Fading light dims the sight, 
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright. 
From afar drawing nigh -- Falls the night.
"Day is done, gone the sun, 
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky. 
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
"Then good night, peaceful night, 
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright, 
God is near, do not fear -- Friend, good night.”

                         In Flanders Fields
                           By John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

A poem from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery

"Here Rests 
In Honored Glory 
An American Soldier 
Known But To God"

Here is the creed of those who guard the Unknown…

                      The Sentinels Creed

My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted. 
In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter. 
And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection. 
Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, 
I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability. 
It is he who commands the respect I protect. 
His bravery that made us so proud. 
Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day alone in the thoughtful peace of night, 
this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.
Phoenix's first cemetery

Graves from 1870 - 1920

Dawn at Arizona's National Cemetery, Phoenix

Grave sites at the National Cemetery

Memorial from Wesley Bolin Plaza, Phoenix

Bushmaster Memorial, Wesley Bolin Plaza

Jewish War Veterans Memorial, Wesley Bolin Plaza

Vietnam Memorial, Wesley Bolin Plaza

Confederate Soldier Memorial, Wesley Bolin Plaza

Korean War Memorial, Wesley Bolin Plaza

World War II Memorial, Wesley Bolin Plaza

Friday, May 9, 2014

Hiking the Blue-Green Water

     For a state best known for its desert landscapes, Arizona surely has some of the world’s most beautiful creeks and streams.  From Oak Creek that tumbles through the beautiful red rocks of Sedona to Aravaipa Creek that brings life to the arid terrain southeast of Winkelman (I&O, Oct. 21, 2010), hiking along these waterways is always an invigorating and beautiful adventure.
    Yet, there is little doubt that hiking along and through the 10.5-miles of blue-green waters of Havasu Creek is the most exhilarating and spectacular riparian hike found in Arizona and maybe the entire world.
    The source of Havasu Creek is on the slopes of Bill Williams Mountain near Williams, Arizona.  Here snowmelt and rainfall create an often-dry rill that meanders northward across the Coconino Plateau for some 50 miles before dropping into steep sided Cataract Canyon.  Shortly after entering Cataract Canyon the small stream flows into land on the Havasupai Indian Reservation.
    A few miles south of the Village of Supai, the little stream reaches Havasu Springs.  Here an underground river breaks the surface and 28,000 gallons of water per minute, heavy saturated with calcium carbonate (lime), pour into the waterway and creates beautiful Havasu Creek. 
    The calcium carbonate results in the creek bed being covered with limestone that reflects the sunlight, giving the waters of Havasu Creek its incredible blue-green color and creating the ever changing travertine formations.  The water temperature of Havasu Creek stays near 70 degrees all year around.
    Havasu Creek, a perennial stream, is best known for creating some of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls including Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls (I&O, Sept. 13, 2007).  By following the red earth trail from the Village of Supai to the Colorado River all of these cascading wonders are seen and their travertine pools enjoyed.
    Walking Havasu Creek is a wet hike.  The trail crosses the flowing blue-green water many times.  Often the hiker must walk in the creek bed.  Good hiking shoes are a must as the limestone-lined creekbed creates some very sharp surfaces. Also, even though there is water everywhere, it is not safe to drink.  Hikers need to carry sufficient drinking water.
    About 2.5 miles from the village hikers must follow the trail through a narrow tunnel, climbing down ladders with chain handrails to reach the bottom of Mooney Falls.  Here all pause to gaze upward at the 200-foot tall waterfall before continuing to follow the trail north toward the Colorado River.
    Beaver Falls is about 5.5 miles from the village.  Here a series of blue-green waterfalls flow through the red rock canyon walls, creating a scene that only Mother Nature can fashion.  
    Three more miles down stream Havasu Creek enters the Colorado River.  The contrast of the muddy river water mixing with the blue-green creek water creates a spectacular sight that is always photographed and never forgotten.
    A lush riparian landscape follows along the entire length of Havasu Creek offering welcome shade over the many blue-green swimming holes.  A wide variety of mammals, birds and fish make this Arizona paradise their homes and add to the enjoyment of this challenging adventure. 
    So if you are looking for something to do that is unique, challenging and guaranteed to create memories for a lifetime, why not get out, make a reservation with the Havasupai Tribe and hike those 8.5 miles along Havasu Creek.  This is not a hike for a novice but all or parts of it can be completed by anyone in reasonable physical shape.  And, when you come back to Anthem, you will have experienced one of the most beautiful natural journeys found anywhere in the world.

All photos belong to our friend, Emily Yagielo

Havasu Creek

Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls

Mooney Falls

Is there a more beautiful place for a picnic?

Mooney Falls