Friday, December 29, 2017

Arizona Public Domain Photos

     Welcome to 2018 - we hope the new year is fabulous for you all.  We want to restate once again that we have chosen to place all of our Arizona blog pictures into the Public Domain so that teachers and/or anyone can use our Arizona Public Domain pictures in their classrooms, work and/or leisure.  Arizona Public Domain Pictures are sometime hard to find so we hope that all our blog pictures make the task for those searching for Arizona Public Domain pictures much easier.  We only ask that anyone using our Arizona Public Domain Pictures use the following acknowledgement - Credit: Linda and Dr. Dick Buscher

Here are our first two pictures for 2018 - a short look back at the Christmas day 2017 sunset over Lookout Mountain in north Phoenix.  Arizona always has beautiful sunsets but our winter sunsets, because of the many particulates in the air, are often even more spectacular. Enjoy!

P.S. Please email us and let us know how you have used our pictures.  We would love to hear from you!

December 25, 2017 - Lookout Mountain, Phoenix, AZ

December 25, 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Holidays - 2017

     It's the most wonderful time of the year, so we share with you of list of some of Arizona's most spectacular and fun holiday outings - Enjoy!

Prescott - Arizona’s Official Christmas City
- Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

Where: The Courthouse Square in downtown Prescott, AZ

Fees: FREE event for all

    Stop at the Courthouse Square to see the start of the annual Holiday Light Parade on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, the beginning of some wonderful Christmas activities in Prescott, Arizona. The following Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 you will find the Courthouse lighting a great holiday treat with Christmas carolers and holiday cheer.   Details: Fabulous floats, pets and even people light up the street, and Santa is waving in this community celebration. The Light Parade moves through downtown Prescott on its way to the Courthouse.

After the parade, the beautiful Courthouse Lighting ceremony takes place on Gurley Street. There are carols and more fun during this festive time, with lights ablaze. Sharlot Hall Museum also has a Frontier Christmas Open House with cider and home made cookies by a roaring fire. Everyone gathers to decorate the town's Christmas tree.

For a truly old-fashioned and down-home Christmas, come to Prescott this year.

Payson Electric Light Parade
- Historic Main Street - Saturday, Dec 2, 2017 - 6pm =

La Fiesta de Tumacácori
1891 East Frontage Road, Tumacacori, AZ 85640
-Saturday, December 2, 2017: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 3, 2017: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Free!  and

Christmas Eve Luminaries
- Tumacacori National Historical Park - Dec 24, 2017 - not advertised but a amazing and spiritual event at the 1750s church -

35 Annual London Bridge Yacht Club Christmas Boat Parade
, Lake Havasu City -  Dec 1 & 2, 2017 -

Besh-Ba-Gowh Festival of Lights
- December 17, 2017, Globe -

Princess Resort, Scottsdale
- many activities at one of the Valley’s premier resorts -

Holiday fun in Tucson, Arizona’s Old Pueblo - Check out this list of family fun events going on in Tucson -

Desert Botanical Garden
, Phoenix - Las Noches de Las Luminarias - Nov. 24 & 25, Dec. 8-10, 15-17, 19-23, 26-30 -

Midnight Mass at Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson - Christmas Eve worship in the historic 18th Century church will be a Christmas to always remember -

Zoo Lights - Phoenix Zoo - November 22, 2017 – January 14, 2018 -

Sedona - who doesn’t love Sedona?  -

Flagstaff -  a perfect holiday location - and to welcome 2018 -

Then too there is the Tumbleweed Christmas Tree in Chandler,,  the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade at Tempe Lake,  historic Jerome Lights Up The Mountain festival on the side of Cleopatra Hill in the Verde Valldy,,  and a free holiday miniature train ride at the Adobe Mountain Desert Railroad Park,,  and a Pioneer Christmas at Sharlot Hall Museum, Prescott -

So get out and enjoy Finding Arizona this holiday season - we are so lucky to live in such a fabulous and diverse state - we wish you and your the happiest of holiday seasons and a happy and healthy 2018. 

Yavapai Courthouse - Prescott

Tumacácori National Historic Park

Tumacácori National Historic Park

Pioneer Christmas - Prescott

North Pole Experience - Flagstaff

Tumbleweed Christmas Tree - Chandler

London Bridge Boat Parade - Lake Havasu City

Payson Electric Light Parade

Besh-Ba-Gowh - Globe

Adobe Mountain Train Park - Phoenix

Zoo Lights - Phoenix

Fantasy of Light Boat Parade - Tempe

Jerome Lights Up The Mountain - Jerome

Pine Cone Drop - New Years Eve - Flagstaff

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thanksgiving Day - The Real Story

    No one knows for sure the exact date in the Fall of 1621 when the newly arrived colonists from England sat with and shared an autumn meal with the Wampanoag Indians in their settlement of Plymouth. That shared, community meal would become known as America's first Thanksgiving Day.     Over the following years a few presidents would decree and a few states would hold a random Day of Thanksgiving but it would be 242 years after that first Plymouth gathering before the Thanksgiving Day we know and love today would become an annual, American celebration.  

     It took the fortunes of a terrible civil war, a spunky lady editor who lobbied and pushed the idea of a national day of thanksgiving through the pages of the American Ladies’ Magazine and a beleaguered, war-wary president all coming together in the fall of 1863 to start this great American tradition.
    September 1863 began with the forces of the Union Army having completed a summer of great, battlefield victories.  The most important of those victories occurred on July 1, 2 and 3 around the small farming community of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  After three days of fighting, best estimates showed that the Union Army and Robert E. Lee’s Army of Virginia suffered together between 45,000 – 51,000 casualties.
    Those casualty numbers included 3,155 Union soldiers and an estimated 4,708 Confederate soldiers killed in action.  An estimated 1/3 of the Army of Virginia had been wounded, killed or were unaccounted for.  Had Lee’s army prevailed at Gettysburg, they would have swept into Washington, DC and overrun the Union capitol.  But with the victory at Gettysburg, the Union still stood and Gettysburg would prove to be the turning point of that terrible American war.    
    September 1863 found President Abraham Lincoln preparing to speak at the soon to be dedicated National Cemetery at Gettysburg.  Since the beginning of his presidency in 1860, Sarah Josepha Hale, an influential magazine editor and the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” had been lobbying President Lincoln to declare an annual national day of thanksgiving.
    On September 28. 1863 Ms. Hale once again wrote the president urging him to declare that the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival."  This time, after the events of the summer of 1863 and the Union Army’s victory at Gettysburg, President Lincoln agreed with Sarah Hall. 
    On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, issued a Proclamation of Thanksgiving to his fellow citizens in every part of the United States “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
    Lincoln soon traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863 and delivered what could arguably be the greatest 263-word speech in the history of mankind – the Gettysburg Address.   One week later, on November 26, 1863, on the fourth Thursday of November, President Lincoln, Sarah Hale and the American people across the Union celebrated Thanksgiving Day.
    Since November 1863 Americans have paused every year to celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November with the exception of 1939 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the celebration to the third Thursday of November to lengthen the depression era Christmas holiday shopping season.  The American people did not like this change and by 1941 President Roosevelt reluctantly signed a congressional bill reestablishing forever more the celebration of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.  
    So as you gather with those that you love this Thanksgiving Day to pause in thanks, remember all those who have come before us to make this day such a special American holiday.  It was the colonists of Plymouth and Wampanoag Indians that first gathered, but it was the unrelenting efforts of Sarah Josepha Hale and the proclamation of Abraham Lincoln that engenders us each and ever fourth Thursday of November to celebrate America’s Thanksgiving Day.

Here are some links for more information about the establishment of Thanksgiving Day…

Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving -

Sarah Josepha Hale -

Sarah Hale’s letter to President Lincoln -

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address -

You Tube video – Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving -

Abraham Lincoln

Sarah Josepha Hale

Monument to General George Meade, Commander of Union forces

Monument to General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Army of Virginia

View of Little Round Top - battle July 2, 1863

View from Union stone wall across field from which came Pickett's Charge - July 3, 1863

Monument marking the "High Water Mark" of the rebel charge - July 3, 1863

"The Angle" and "Witness Tree" along the stone wall where Union forces repelled Pickett's Charge - July 3, 1863

Site where NPS marks location of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.  Historians say that Lincoln actually spoke down a small hill about 100 feet from this designated spot - November 19, 1863

Giving at the dedication of the Union Cemetery at the Gettysburg battlefield on November 19, 1863

View down the barrel of a Union cannon that roared with canisters and balls against rebel forces on July 1, 2 & 3, 1863

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Jerome's Ghost Walk

     It is always a fun time when you go to Jerome, once known as the “Wickedest Town in the West”.  But this Friday and Saturday, October 13 & 14, 2017, the Jerome Historical Society will be sponsoring the town’s 14th annual Ghost Walk from 6:30 - 9 pm.  If you enjoy a yearly October scary adventure and love the history of the Wild West, this is a perfect event for you.  

   If you really like a scare, book a room in the Jerome Grand Hotel.  Here is a link to the Grand Hotel - and a recent article from about this weekend event -  Here to is the link to the Jerome Historical Society -   -   Boo!

The once "Wickedest Town In The West" - Jerome, Arizona

House of Joy Restaurant - one of many unique businesses in Jerome

The Grand Hotel sits at the top of Jerome

View of the Verde Valley from the Grand Hotel

Monday, September 18, 2017

Finding Arizona's Fall Colors

    With the autumn equinox occurring once again, beautiful autumn leaves cannot be far behind.  Even though most of us Arizonans live in a desert region, our wonderfully diverse geographical state does have some truly spectacular areas where the beauty of autumn leaves show off their annual magnificent colors.  Below is a list with a few links as to where you too can Find Arizona and its wonderful fall colors!  Enjoy!

White Mountains - - The trip to Arizona’s White Mountains can take upwards to four hours but for those who wish to see the colors of fall, the trip is well worth the effort.  From Tonto Bridge State Park near Payson, to Woods Canyon Lake at the top of the Rim to the small community of Greer, this trip guarantees autumn leaves! 

Hopi Mesas -  and - In our opinion, fall is the best time to visit the Hopi Mesas.  Not only are the fall colors of cottonwoods present along the many high desert washes but many of the villages hold harvest ceremonies that are open to the public.  Remember, a great place to stay when visiting Hopi is the La Posada Hotel in Winslow -

Flagstaff Area - and - Autumn knows Flagstaff.  From the forest of aspens found throughout the Flagstaff area to the forests of colors found on Humphreys Peak - spectacular is the only word.  Be sure to check out the Hart Prairie Preserve - yes, spectacular!  Consider following the Weatherford Trail, Abineau and Bear Jaw Loop, and Lockett Meadow to discover great places to view and explore the changing color among the aspen groves.  Also, riding the chair lifts at the Snow Bowl is a great way to see autumn from above the trees -

North Rim Grand Canyon - - long drive but great reward.  The North Rim is beautiful in autumn but be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecasts since snow arrives early in this part of Arizona.

Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona - - it is always good to visit Sedona and the colors of autumn in Oak Creek is our favorite to view everyone’s favorite Arizona city.  Be sure to walk along the West Fork Trail (the most popular trail in the entire Coconino National Forest).  Briar Patch Inn in Oak Creek is our favorite place to stay while visiting the Sedona area - .  Rustic, beautifully decorated cabins with wood burning fireplaces is the perfect way to wake up on a cool autumn morning!

Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior - a day trip from the Valley of the Sun can easily get you to this wonderful arboretum that celebrates all the seasons including autumn.  A visit to Boyce Thompson is a great way to spend an autumn day -

U.S. Forest Service operates a web site that updates where the colors of autumn are found in the national forests.  Here is a link -

Arizona Department of Tourism - always a great place to check out what is going on around Arizona is the website of the Arizona Office of Tourism.  Many good ideas of Finding Arizona found here -

The first three pictures belong to our friends Teresa and Ken Jackway and taken nearby their Greer home.  The picture of Boyce Thompson belongs to Boyce Thompson.  The rest of the pictures are ours...

Greer Pole Knoll

A Mountain Meadow Near Greer

Aspens on Mt Baldy

Hart Prairie

Backroads Near Flagstaff

Aspen Grove Near Flagstaff

Another Hart Prairie

Road to Snow Bowl

Cottonwoods of the Hopi Mesa

Boyce Thompson

Aspen in Fall

Fall in Prescott

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Collared Lizards

Credit:  NPS

    1.  North American has 155 species of lizards classified into 8 families native to the continent.  A few of these species arrived to the continent during the years of conquest are now considered established introduced reptiles.  The evolutionary origin of all lizard species arose during the Triassic Period of geological time and lizards today make up the largest living group of the class Reptilia.   

Credit:  NPS
2.  Igunaidae is one of those native North American lizard families composed of 14 genera and 44 unique and colorful species.   Iguanids can range in length from only 4 inches (10 cm) to an amazing 72 inches (183 cm).  Most iguanid species are carnivorous, dining on insects, other smaller lizards and small snakes.  Occasionally, they will make a meal composed of plant leaves and flowers.  A sub-family of Iguanaidae are the Crotaphytidae species and are commonly known as Collared and Leopard lizards.  The spectacular Western Collared Lizard, Crotaphytus collaris), is shown here.    

Credit: Linda and Dr. Dick Buscher
3. The various species of collared lizards are found from western Missouri westward through the American deserts to the Pacific Ocean and into northern and the Baja regions of Mexico.  They thrive in dry rocky environments especially along washes and in canyons.  These diurnal lizards prefer to sun while sitting atop boulders which also act as ideal lookout sites for both prey and potential competitors and predators. The rocky environment also act as a place for the lizards to nest and hide.  A Western Collared lizard is seen here perched on a large boulder at Arches National Park in Utah.   

Credit:  NPS
4.  Collard lizards are so named for the two large black bands that circle their necks.  Adults range in size from 9 inches (23 cm) to 15 inches (38 cm).  Males are colorful shades of blue, green, yellow and browns.  Females tend to be duller shades of grayish blue-green or even beige.  Collared lizards have back legs some three times longer than their front legs.  These powerful back legs allow the collared lizards to “stand up” and run very fast for short distances.  Some individuals having been clocked running upward of 16 mph (26 kph).

Credit:  NPS
5.  Collared lizards are extremely territorial and are thought to be the most visually oriented of all lizard species.  The flashing of color and behavioral gestures are extensive and common.  Body push-ups , head bobbing and open mouthed displays are a daily behavioral ritual especially during mating season.  Collard lizards, like this reticulated collared lizard, Crotaphytus reticulatus, shown here will show a variety of displays using their colorful bodies to warn off potential mating rivals and territorial competitors.

Credit:  NPS
6.  The skin of the collared lizard is not only colorful but smooth and granular.  This texture makes for a body appearance that looks more like skin than scales.
Their fine scales are almost circular in shape. 

7.  The tail of an adult collared lizard is usually twice the length of the body.  Their tails tend to be thicker than wider. The tail of a male collared lizard is some-what flattened.   The tail is not easily broken off and if it is removed, does not grow back.  Collared lizards are known for their robust bodies with a large head and powerful teeth-filled jaws. 

Credit:  NPS
8.  Collared lizards are commonly found at elevations ranging from sea level to 7,500 feet (2290 m).  They thrive across the desert scrub biomes of the Sonoran, Mohave and Great Basin Deserts.  Like all the plants and animals found in desert scrub biomes, the collared lizard has adapted well to the limited annual rainfall (between 10-20 inches (25 - 51 cm) per year) and the extreme hot and cold temperatures found across the vast landscape dominated by a sea of scrubs. 

Credit:  NPS
9.  The powerful jaws of the collared lizard allow them to be most aggressive and deadly hunters.  With their quick burst of speed the lizard’s jaws will quickly catch and clamp down on available arthropod, small snake or other lizard including their own young.  Some have suggested that they have become the modern day Tyrannosaurus Rex of the desert shrub community.  But these hunters often become the hunted by local hawks, roadrunners, coyotes and large venomous snakes. This collard lizard oversees his territory while  sitting on a large trunk of petrified wood in the Petrified Forest National Park. 

Credit:  NPS

10.  Mating of collared lizards begin each spring with the dominate males bobbing their heads rapidly in hopes that a female will accept their advances.  Once mating has successfully occurred, the female will develop red/orange spots near her neck indicating that she is gravid.  A clutch of 7 - 12 eggs are laid in damp, dark holes dug under a nearby boulder some 21 - 28 days after mating.  About six weeks later, the eggs will hatch and the young, vulnerable lizards are totally on their own to try and survive.  Female collared lizards are capable of retaining sperm and several clutches of eggs can be laid each summer without mating again.   

Credit:  NPS
11. When the warmth of the summer begins to wane the cold blooded collared lizards begin to prepare for a long winter of hibernation.  They stop eating so that their gut is void of food since any intestinal food would rot over the long winter months and poison the hibernating reptile.  When the days of spring begin the lengthen once again, their still dormant bodies will begin to release the chemicals hormones to prepare both male and female lizards for another cycle of reproduction when they awake from their annual sleep. 

Credit:  NPS
12.  The great North American deserts are often portrayed as barren and bleak landscapes void of color and beauty.  But the many species of collared lizards who live in this land of little rain and extreme temperature add an almost tropical splash of vivid colors to the dominate shades of brown so commonly found here.  Famed environmentalist  Edward Abby wrote in his book Desert Soltaire that it is the unexpected found in nature that “startle the senses and surprise the mind out of their ruts of habit, to compel us into a reawakened awareness of the wonderful - that which is full of wonder.”  Possibly the beautiful collared lizards of the North American deserts were on Mr. Abby’s mind.    

This is a copy of our story written for the Live Science website.  Hope you enjoyed meeting the amazing collared lizard as they add great beauty to our desert landscape!