CONTENTS 5. Editors Block
PARKS & DESTINATIONS 8. My Tête-à-tête with King Tut 14. Easton in Norfolk, England 18. Plenty Good About The Badlands 26. Pony Express in Fort Churchill 32. Great Basin is Grand! 38. Visit Phoenix, Arizona 39. Travel Costa Mesa, California 40. Sequoia & Kings Canyon 46. Savor San Benito 48. Hal Moore Military Museum 59. Community Parks Across America
ART & BOOKS 80. Art News & Interviews 82. Book News & Interviews PAGE 3
EDITORS BLOCK “Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.” Freya Stark From a community park perspective to national park destinations, and even global experiences, this issue explores Egypt and England to North Dakota’s Badlands, Nevada’s Grand Great Basin and Pony Express regions, California’s majestic Sequoia Country, outdoor fun in Central Arizona and Southern California, and farm-to-table fare in Central California. There’s plenty of fodder to plan your next adventure as well as expert interviews that focus on boosting heart health through outdoor recreation, artists in parks and historic sites, nature and wildlife conservation, parks and travel, women’s history as well as military history. Be sure to sign up for our Big Blend e-Newsletter to receive your quarterly copies of Parks & Travel Magazine and Big Blend Radio &TV Magazine, as well our upcoming special edition publications, the first one being “Bed & Breakfasts Across America.” You can also follow our travel podcasts on BigBlendRadio.com and our new articles and travel posts on Social Media. Here’s to safe and happy travels, Nancy J. Reid & Lisa D. Smith The Big Blend mother-daughter travel team on the Love Your Parks Tour, publishers of Big Blend Magazines, and hosts of Big Blend Radio.
FRONT COVER IMAGE: “Contemplation” by artist Matthew Stevenson represents “The moment one begins to evaluate their choices in life and their possible future.” Sculpture is located at Magnolia Art Park in Leesville, Louisiana. Photo by Lisa D. Smith, story is on page 59. BIG BLEND MISSION STATEMENT: Big Blend is a company based on the belief that education is the most formidable weapon that can be waged against fear, ignorance and prejudice. It is our belief that education starts at home and branches outward. Education leads to travel, and travel leads to understanding, acceptance, and appreciation of cultures and customs different to our own, and ultimately to world peace. Our company is further based on the principle that networking, communication, and helping others to promote and market themselves leads to financial stability; thus paving the way to better education, travel, and the spirit of giving back to the community. This magazine is developed by Big Blend Magazine™, copyrighted since 1997. No part of it may be reproduced for any reason, without written permission from Big Blend Magazine. Although every effort is made to be accurate, we cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies or plagiarized copy submitted to us by advertisers or contributors.
My Têtê-à-Têtê With King Tut in the Valley of Kings By Sharon Kurtz
Sharon K. Kurtz on Big Blend Radio: Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean.
Floating over the Valley of the Kings There are two ways one can avoid the crowds while enjoying a visit to Egypt. – hop in a time machine, or go during a pandemic. I have had a fascination with Egypt ever since my school days; stories about mummies, pyramids, and pharaohs fueled my imagination. My passion was rekindled as an adult when I saw the King Tut exhibit passing through Dallas in 2008. I vowed I would get to Egypt to see King Tut's tomb for myself one day.
Within a month of that first online discovery, I was winging my way to Cairo. Seven days later, arriving in Luxor after an idyllic cruise on the Nile, my guide and I headed to the Valley of the Kings and my long-awaited date with King Tut.
Thebes, the capital of Ancient Egypt Modern-day Luxor was once known as Thebes, an ancient city located along the Nile River, the Egyptian empire's capital in its heyday.
The Kings of Thebes ruled amid the glory of the While armchair traveling on my computer in living city on the east bank of the Nile, then October, my planned trips dashed due to COVID; completed their earthly journey in life in the I discovered Egypt had recently reopened its Valley of the Kings on the west bank. The borders to American visitors without a pharaohs of ancient Egypt's New Kingdom ruled quarantine period, only requiring a Passport, like gods, believing that death was also a rebirth. Visa, and a negative COVID PCR test. In a flash, I had booked my flight and lined up a private tour Continued on Next Page… with Egyptoria that arranged a custom itinerary for me, complete with an Egyptologist guide, vehicle, and driver. PAGE 9
Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings Shaped like a human hand with fingers splayed over an area of seven acres, the Valley of the Kings is on the desert's edge, desolate and devoid of color, the limestone rocks provide no shelter from the relentless sun. Temperatures average 90 in the winter, and in summer, they can soar into the 120s. The Egyptians picked this Valley for security reasons. With only a narrow gorge leading into it, they thought it was the perfect place to build their tombs and store their earthly treasures for the afterlife. Sadly, most of the Pharaoh’s tombs had been ransacked by the time archaeologists began excavating in the early 1800s, since then, discovering 62 tombs, with King Tut’s tomb being last, No. KV-62.
waiting outside and running for it; we were the only riders on the multi-car train, making a beeline for King Tut.
King Tutankhamun’s Tomb Tut's tomb was unremarkable from the entrance, a small beige flat-roofed structure; the only clue was the sign "The Tomb of King Tutankhamen" written in English and Arabic outside the small door. Under a cloudless sky, nothing disturbed the silence here, except the occasional barking of a dog. The only visitor, the two guards inside collected my ticket. As I stood in front of the steep staircase leading down into the abyss, I couldn't believe I was here. The stone walls on the descent were roughhewn as if the workers had just dug it out of the earth.
My Private Date with King Tut When I visited The Valley of the Kings in November during the pandemic, only a handful of tourists were in the Visitors Center, very unlike pre-pandemic crowd levels. I purchased two tickets for entrance into the tombs – one was for three tombs combined, (240 EGP ~15 USD) and one for the Tomb of King Tut (300 EGP ~20 USD). First, stopping at a Valley's topography model that displays each tomb's location marked by flag and number, I got the lay of the land. Transport to take visitors to the tombs was
When the stairs stopped and the ancient floor began, I crouched down to enter the burial chamber, and there he was, taut skin and bone, with only blackened head and feet exposed, the rest of his body covered by a linen cloth. I leaned in, soberly taking it in, never having seen a mummy up so close.
The opposite side where the original discovery was made, held the stone sarcophagus, the cover slightly askew as if Carter had just opened it. On the richly painted walls, vivid imagery PAGE 10
King Tut Mummy shows Tut's journey to the afterlife. The stunning murals are impressive yet puzzling for scholars around the world. Left entirely alone, I marveled at this teenaged ruler of Egypt who died at 19 and rested here in the inky blackness where he remained undisturbed until Howard Carter discovered him more than three thousand years after his death. Encased in several layers of coffins with a solid gold death mask covering his face, he lay amidst all his worldly splendors, awaiting the afterlife.
King Tut Only King Tutankhamun’s mummified body and stone sarcophagus remain in the tomb. The modest size of the tomb and inadequate decoration has long baffled Egyptologists. After death, the priests performed ritual ceremonies so the Pharaoh could thrive in the afterlife. Continued on Next Page…
I lingered in the tomb, unhurried by anyone. One of the guards eventually came down to join me, documenting my visit with the boy king by taking a few photos of me with my iPhone. Luckily my guide, who could not enter, advised that I offer a small "donation" to the guards. Though technically not allowed, my small gift allowed me to capture some fantastic photographs as the guard became my accomplice and looked the other way. PAGE 11
Sarcophagus and Paintings
Egypt Continued… Nearby chambers had once held the boy King’s legendary trove of funerary goods, including furniture, royal chariots, and jewelry, totaling more than 5,000 objects.
Follow Sharon’s adventures at www.SharonKKurtz.com
Nearly 100 years ago, Howard Carter discovered what is still considered the world's most important archaeological discovery, the tomb of King Tutankhamun in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, causing a sensation that rippled across the globe. Sharon Kurtz is a freelance writer, whose love of travel blended with her part-time role as a tour leader for women's travel enable her to cover local, national, and international travel. She’s always looking for that a unique angle to bring a fresh perspective to a story. Writing from a boomer age woman's perspective, is a member of IFWTWA and ITWPA, and has published more than 70 articles since launching her writing career in 2018. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three spoiled dogs when not traveling, but her carry-on is always packed ready for the next adventure. PAGE 12
Wooden stairs into tomb
By Glynn Burrows
Easton Church, Norfolk Easton is a village on the outskirts of the city of Norwich and includes the county’s Agricultural College, which caters to all sectors of farming, including all sorts of arable and livestock.
BIG BLEND RADIO INTERVIEW - THE THREE EASTONS: Featured guests include Glynn Burrows - Historian & Owner of Norfolk Tours in East Anglia, England; Laura Di Liello - Innkeeper & CoOwner of The Lafayette Inn in Easton, Pennsylvania; and Eric Levinson - Innkeeper & Owner of The Hummingbird Inn in Easton, Maryland. Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean.
The village was mentioned in “The Doomsday Book” as being within the jurisdiction of Barford, so we can see the origin of the name as being the farmstead or village to the East. There was a settlement here in late Saxon times, but there have been people living in the area from early history. There have been finds from Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman inhabitants, but whether there was a proper settlement here is open to conjecture.
Church we see today owes itself to the Victorian “restorations”.
By the time of the Normans, the village was Apart from The Church, there are some becoming more established. The Church of St. interesting old buildings in the village and these Peter’s is a late Norman building with a lot of include examples from the C16, C17, and C18th. C13th and C15th alterations. The tower fell in the C18th and a belfry was added to hold the The last week of June and the first week in July bells, but this was removed in later works. The every Summer, sees the village turn into one of PAGE 14
Easton Shop the busiest places in the country. The Royal Norfolk Show is held in the neighbouring village of Costessey and Easton becomes a hive of activity, with hundreds of thousands of people arriving to take part in one of the biggest agricultural shows in the UK. Thousands of animals are exhibited, flowers are arranged, crafts are displayed, machinery is polished, food is cooked and beer is brewed. The whole area is teeming with people and animals, all looking their best. Buy Local Norfolk always exhibits and we show what is available from local independent businesses. In 2019, (the 2020 Show was cancelled due to Covid), Buy Local Norfolk won a prize for its stand, so we were really very proud of that achievement. Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England. For help or advice about tracing your family history, or if you are thinking about taking a vacation to England visit www.NorfolkTours.co.uk
Church of St. Peters Buy Local Norfolk
THERE’S PLENTY GOOD ABOUT THE BADLANDS! by Debbie Stone
Debbie Stone on Big Blend Radio: Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Podbean.com.
Badlands View PAGE 18
Teddy Roosevelt is omnipresent in Medora When I began my travel writing career, I set a goal to visit each of the fifty states. Slowly, I began chipping away at this objective and soon only one state remained, North Dakota.
conserve millions of acres of natural land, but also to acknowledge the special connection he had to this corner of the country.
Roosevelt first came to the Dakota Territory in About fifteen years ago, I went to South Dakota 1883 and was instantly enamored with the to see Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, and Custer rugged beauty of the Badlands landscape. A year State Park. Unfortunately, due to time later, he returned to the area to seek refuge and constraints, I wasn’t able to make it up to North solitude while grieving the loss of his wife and Dakota. I always thought I’d be back to the region mother, who had passed away on the same day. sooner than later, but it seemed that my He became a cattle rancher and found adventure intentions to return never materialized for one and purpose, and the land helped heal him. reason or the other. Flash forward to this past summer and to the realization that North Dakota Roosevelt credited his Dakota experiences as the was the lone holdout. Time for a road trip! basis for his trail-blazing preservation efforts. As President, he translated his love of nature into With nature as my focus, I headed to Theodore law, establishing the U.S. Forest Service and Roosevelt National Park in the western section of signing the Antiquities Act, under which he the state. Named for the country’s 26th proclaimed eighteen national monuments. President, the park was actually not Roosevelt’s During his tenure, he also worked with Congress own creation, as it was established in 1947, long to create five national parks, 150 national forests, after his death. It was created in his honor, not and dozens of federal reserves. only to recognize the work he did to protect and Continued on Next Page… PAGE 19
North Dakota Continued… The park protects over 70,000 acres, spread across three sectors: South Unit, North Unit, and Elkhorn Ranch Unit. Of the total acres, nearly 30,000 have been designated as a Wilderness Area. The South and North Units offer scenic drives, miles of trails, and opportunities to view wildlife. The Elkhorn Ranch Unit is the site of Roosevelt’s ranch, but only the cornerstones of his cabin remain.
Painted Canyon grassy land, they would eventually encounter canyons of loose rock, strange landforms, extreme temperatures, and very little water. These harsh conditions made their journey arduous and grueling, and gave the region its infamous reputation.
This otherworldly and wild landscape formed millions of years ago. As the Rockies rose up over the Great Plains, streams began to erode The South Unit is most popular with visitors due the mountains and sediment and debris spread to its accessibility off of I-94, and proximity to the across the region. Later, the Little Missouri River gateway town of Medora, while the North Unit is got in on the act and started the process of more remote. Size-wise, the South Unit is larger carving the Badlands. and its geological features are more stable and settled in comparison to those of the North Unit, Erosion and weathering are responsible for the which are still fairly rugged. I chose to explore unique formations, from furrowed and grooved the South Unit and made Medora my base. cliffs and twisted gullies to craggy pinnacles and dome-shaped hills marked with multi-colored The name “Badlands” refers to the challenges striations. pioneers and others faced when traveling through this broken landscape. After heading The best way to discover the South Unit is on the west for miles across the Great Plains on flat, 36-mile scenic loop. You’ll enjoy sweeping PAGE 20
Curious Prairie Dogs Badlands views that will take your breath away, prairie dogs. And if you’re a birder, you’ll be in and most likely, some stellar wildlife sightings. heaven, as there are more than 186 types of There are also plenty of trails available when you birds, residential and migratory. want to stretch your legs. Herds of bison roam free in the park and can be Easy to moderate walks will take you to seen munching on the tasty shoots, lazing in the overlooks of the landscape and the Little sunshine and crossing the road, babes in tow. Missouri River, along nature trails, through dry They are fascinating to watch and a fan favorite washes and by a wind-sculpted canyon. Make with visitors. Just remember to keep your sure you also go to the Painted Canyon, one of distance, as a bison can weigh up to 2,000 the most notable and photographed places in pounds and has horns that aren’t just used for the state. This vibrantly hued canyon looks getting grub. amazing from the rim, but if you want an upclose and personal experience with the rock Though they act like cattle, lumbering about the layers, take the hike that dips down into it. Just landscape, don’t be fooled by this behavior. remember that what goes down must go up! Bison can move fast when agitated – up to forty miles per hour. It doesn’t take them long to cover The scenery shares center stage with the wildlife a short distance. Tourists have been gored by in the park. A wide diversity of animals make these creatures because they’ve gotten too close their home here, as an abundance of native or were oblivious to their surroundings. grasses provides food for grazing creatures, large and small. This is the land of the bison, Continued on Next Page… pronghorn, elk, mule deer, wild horses, and PAGE 21
North Dakota Continued… These massive, woolly beasts could easily have become extinct if it were not for the foresight of a few individuals, including Theodore Roosevelt. Warnings and attempts to protect these creatures were made back in the late 1700s, but it wasn’t until 1894 that federal legislation protecting the animals was enacted. Pronghorns are also prolific in the park. These iconic symbols of the prairie are famous for being the continent’s fastest land mammal and the second-fastest in the world behind the cheetah. Fleet-footed and lithe, the pronghorn is capable of reaching speeds of up to sixty miles per hour. These creatures are also great distance runners that can travel for miles at half that speed.
Bison crossing the road Wild horses also roam free in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. These feral creatures typically move in small herds of five to fifteen animals. Each group has its social hierarchy, comprised of a dominant stallion, his mares and their offspring. For several years, the National Park Service attempted to remove all the horses from the park. But, a change in policy led to the recognition of the horse as part of the cultural and historical landscape of this special place. Prairie dogs are another animal you will most assuredly see in the park. These entertaining creatures are amusing to observe, as they pop in and out of their holes and scurry around in squirrel-like fashion. Native to the grasslands, they are master builders of intricate underground colonies called prairie dog towns. These burrows provide important shelter from predators.
I saw numerous pronghorns in the park gracefully flying along the grasslands. Others stood still as statues, acutely aware of every noise and movement around them. A pair even Though they look chubby and cute, in reality, came on the road in front of our car and posed prairie dogs are highly competent fighters with for a picture-perfect photograph. sharp claws and powerful teeth. And you might PAGE 22
The cowboy spirit is alive and well in Medora be surprised to learn their vocabulary is more advanced than any other animal language that’s been decoded. The repetitive squeaks you hear actually transmit detailed messages. Not only can the calls alert one another that a human is coming near their burrows, but that the human is tall, for example, and wearing the color blue. Staying in Medora is a treat. This quaint, tiny, Old West town, with a year-round population of approximately 120 hardy souls, is chockful of activities, as well as restaurants, shops, and lodging. The cowboy spirit is alive and well in Medora. Stop in at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, where you can learn about the history and culture of North Dakota’s Native American, ranching and rodeo communities.
French aristocracy. The site memorializes and interprets the life of Antoine de Vallombrosa, the Marquis de Mores. The Marquis came to the Dakota Territory in 1883 to find fortune in the cattle industry. An entrepreneur, he bought cattle and land, built a meat-packing plant, owned a stage line and several ranches, and even constructed a church in the town he named for his wife, Medora. His most striking legacy is a 26-room house that was dubbed, “the chateau,” by his neighbors. You can tour the place, which features artifacts and original, elegant furnishings. The couple hosted many wealthy guests, including Theodore Roosevelt. Medora offers plenty of entertainment, from golfing at the Bully Pulpit Golf Course and minigolfing at the Little Bully Pulpit to horseback riding, stagecoach rides, and the latest attraction, the Manitou Zipline. There’s also “The Teddy
For more history, head to the De Mores State Historic Site and discover Medora’s ties to the
Continued on Next Page… PAGE 23
North Dakota Continued… Roosevelt Show,” a popular one-man production with Roosevelt repriser, Joe Wiegand, who brings America’s legendary 26th President to life. And if you want a taste of comedy and magic, check out Bill Sorensen’s “Live, Laugh, Love.” The piece de resistance, however, is “The Medora Musical.” Billed as the “rootin’-tootinest, boot-scootinest show in all the Midwest,” it pays homage to patriotism, Teddy Roosevelt and the American West. There’s singing, dancing, country and western music, live horses on stage, a reenactment of Roosevelt’s famous charge during the battle of San Juan Hill, and a finale with fireworks. The show is performed in an outdoor amphitheater with the glorious badlands as a backdrop. It’s a must-do in Medora.
Medora Musical Theodore’s Dining Room for fine, innovative cuisine. You won’t go hungry in Medora, as there’s everything from fresh walleye and prime rib to pizza, burgers, and more. Meat eaters will especially enjoy the famed Pitchfork Steak Fondue, where chefs load steaks onto pitchforks and fondue them western style. You’ll munch away al fresco, atop a bluff, where the views complement the food. Later (or actually anytime of the day), stop at the Medora Fudge and Ice Cream Depot to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you go: www.nps.gov/thro or www.medora.com
Debbie Stone is an established travel writer and columnist, who crosses the globe in search of unique destinations and experiences to share with When it comes to accommodations, you’ll find her readers. She’s an avid explorer who welcomes options that include hotels and motels, inns, new opportunities to increase awareness and lodges, and campgrounds. If you want a bit of enthusiasm for places, culture, food, history, luxury with western charm and presidential nature, outdoor adventure, wellness and more. Her history, stay at the Rough Riders Hotel in the travels have taken her to nearly 100 countries and heart of town. And definitely dine at the hotel’s to all seven continents. PAGE 24
PONY EXPRESS TRAIL HISTORY Visit Fort Churchill & Buckland Station in Northwest Nevada A Love Your Parks Tour “Pony Express Trail” story as assigned by Melinda Taylor, Steven & Greg Ward, of Yerington Inn Park ranger Kristin Sanderson shares some of the Pony Express history that occurred at Fort Churchill and Buckland Station. Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Podbean or SoundCloud.
museums and historic sites, and much more.
From April in 1860, young men once rode horses In Northwest Nevada, you can visit Fort Churchill and Buckland Station, just about half an hour to carry mail from Missouri to California in the North of Yerington on US Route 95 ALT. Both the unprecedented time of only 10 days. This relay system was the most direct and practical means fort and the station are stops on the Pony Express National Historic Trail and the California of east-west communications before the telegraph just 19 months after the Pony Express National Historic Trail. Fort Churchill is now a Nevada State Park, which includes Buckland Service began. The Pony Express National Station. Buckland Station was a way station for Historic Trail covers the Pony Express route in the Overland Stage Company on the Overland eight states, (California, Colorado, Kansas, Route. Missouri, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming), and includes auto-touring, interpretive sites, hiking, Continued on Next Page… biking or horseback riding trail segments, visiting PAGE 27
Pony Express Continued…
Fort Churchill was built mainly as a show of Samuel S. Buckland settled at what is now known as Buckland Station in 1859. He started a force, and there were never any battles fought there, it was built as a permanent installation. It ranch, but his main objective was to establish a station for the Overland Stage Company. He operated a tent hotel and built the first bridge across the Carson River downstream from Genoa, which he operated as a toll bridge. A wagon train came through Buckland Station with two sisters, part of a weary group. Eliza and Margaret Prentice had walked all the way from the east, doing the camp work, cooking, and washing to pay their way. In 1860 Samuel Buckland built a large log cabin and married Miss Eliza Prentice. Buckland Station became a remount station on the Pony Express Route. Eventually, Buckland Station opened a store to supply travelers, settlers, and the soldiers serving at Fort Churchill. As you visit Buckland Station and Fort Churchill, you can get a feel for the lifestyle of the settlers and soldiers as they worked to bring civility and normalcy to an unsettled territory. Even though PAGE 28
Pony Express Founders was an important supply depot for the Nevada Military District (especially during the Civil War), a Pony Express stop, and a base for troops tasked with patrolling the overland routes. As the railroad and telegraph came in, the need for the Fort and the Pony Express declined. The Fort was dismantled and Samuel Buckland salvaged materials from the buildings to build the two-story house you can visit today. One of the biggest problems for the pioneer families was the lack of timely letters and news from their families back east. The Pony Express, though short-lived, met that need for 19 months (from April 3, 1860, to November 20, 1861). Riders started out from San Francisco, riding east to St. Joseph, Missouri while other riders started out from the east, traveling the same route going west.
service eventually ran twice a week, delivering mail every ten days. Over the life of the Pony Express, the service delivered over 33,000 pieces of mail traveling over 600,000 miles – 300 runs each way. Today you can tour Buckland Station, see the insides of the Buckland house, as well as walk through Fort Churchill and see exhibits at the Visitor Center. You can picnic next to the Carson River in shaded areas, or hike, camp, and watch the bird and wildlife in the area. This is a superb place to let history come alive for you. While there, make sure to visit nearby Yerington, a quaint town that is full of fun! Continued on Next Page…
There were stops along the way, where it is said, the riders were greeted with a waiting fresh mount and mail pouch. They dismounted, switched horses in a flash, and galloped off. They would ride for 75-100 miles, swapping horses 810 times before trading off with another rider, and having a chance to rest at a station. The PAGE 29
Pony Express Trail Marker
Pony Express Continued… Fort Churchill is located along the Carson River, eight miles south of Silver Springs on U.S. 95A. The park is 40 miles east of Carson City and 36 miles west of Fallon. Visitors are advised to enter the park from U.S. 95A, on a short, paved access road. While Fort Churchill Road along the Carson River
from U.S. 50 is scenic, it is 16 miles and unpaved. For more information call (775) 577-4880 or visit http://parks.nv.gov/parks/fort-churchill-statehistoric-park/ For more information about the Pony Express National Historic Trail call (801) 7411012 or visit www.NPS.gov/poex
Great Basin is Grand! By Debbie Stone
Hiking across a meadow Somewhere in the middle of Debbie Stone on Big Blend Radio: Listen here in the YouTube nowhere is Great Basin National player or download the podcast on Podbean.com. Park. One of the most remote national parks in the system, Great Basin is located on the Nevada-Utah border. It takes some effort to reach this place because it’s not near much of anything. You’ll travel on lonely stretches of road for hours without a sign of life, or services, so come prepared with a full tank of gas and provisions. Curiosity was the primary motivation behind my trip to Great Basin in late summer. That and the fact I was already going to be on the road touring various parks of the west. I had read about this unique park and its diversity of landscape, but no one I knew had actually been there. I needed to see it for myself.
ending sea of sagebrush and barren lands – and I grew skeptical of the rewards promised me in the images I had drooled over beforehand. Would this end up being like some of the photos they take of houses for sale that make them appear so much better than the actual reality? I hoped not. The drive to the park was monotonous – a neverContinued on Next Page… PAGE 11 33
Great Basin Continued… Fortunately, the pictures don’t lie. Great Basin exceeds expectations, offering everything from lakes and forests to towering peaks and even limestone caverns. It’s a veritable desert mountain island with a variety of natural features and ecosystems that will surprise firsttime visitors. Geographically, the park is part of a vast region of valleys and narrow, craggy mountain ranges. The entire area actually stretches from California’s Sierra Nevada to Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and consists of many basins. Great Basin National Park represents only a section of this expanse, approximately 77,000 acres, and protects the South Snake Range east of Ely, Nevada.
Bristlecone pine soil, thin air, intense winds, and a short growing season. Life clings close to the ground and the flora is dwarfed. Trees make their homes in hollows or cavities, and those that can be found in the higher echelons are hardy souls. The bristlecone pines, for example, are known for their endurance and longevity, with life spans that can exceed several thousand years. They are the oldest living things on earth. Interestingly, the trees that are highest up survive longer than their counterparts in the lower realms.
To see this stalwart species up close, hike the trail to the bristlecone grove. On the way, you’ll pass under some pines and then gradually climb to an area with impressive views of the valley below. Next, you’ll come to a rock field where the This rugged landscape boasts thirteen peaks above 11,000 feet. Freezing temps and snow are trees become sparser. You’re above 10,000 feet now. After some switchbacks, the first facts of life at these elevations. The plants that exist survive challenging conditions, such as poor bristlecones appear and soon you’ll reach the PAGE 34
Lake Teresa grove. These highly adaptable trees are noticeable for their smooth, yet gnarled trunks, and twisted and contorted forms. Their needles, which are about an inch to an inch-and-a-half long and in groupings of five, cover the whole branch. As you walk around the looped path, there are interpretive signs explaining that the trees survive because their wood is very resinous and dense, making them resistant to such things as insects, fungi, and rot. And they need very little nutrients. Instead of decaying, the trees become worn and polished by the elements. After their death, they may remain standing for thousands of years.
If you head further up the mountain, you’ll get a glimpse of another of Great Basin’s treasures – Wheeler Peak Glacier. This is the only glacier in Nevada and one of the southernmost glaciers in the country. It’s in a large bowl at the base of Wheeler Peak, but don’t expect an immense ice edifice like those you might associate with Antarctica. This one’s basically a block of ice covered by piles of loose rocks. Thousands of years ago, Wheeler Peak Glacier was a behemoth. Climate change, however, has caused it to erode and gradually, it is disappearing. Today, people often refer to it as a “rock glacier.”
You can also hike up to Wheeler Peak, the second tallest mountain in Nevada at 13,063 The signs give the age of the trees, by providing a feet. But, if that’s a stretch for you, you can take birth date and sometimes the year of their death. the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, which leads to the face of the peak. Pullouts along the way One, for example, said, “Born 1300 B.C. Died Continued on Next Page… 1700 A.D.” PAGE 11 35
Great Basin Continued…
When it comes to accommodations, there are campsites in the park, but no other lodging. Outside and within a reasonable distance to the park, there are just a few choices. I stayed at Use the drive to also access a variety of trails, Hidden Canyon Retreat, about a thirty-minute including the popular Alpine Lakes Loop. The drive from the park. It’s a great property in a latter takes you past two picturesque lakes, Stella and Teresa, with views of Wheeler Peak as scenic area, with a number of nice amenities, a backdrop. In late summer, when I did the hike, including a pool and hot tub. Rooms are clean the lakes had very little water and were more like and spacious, without that sterile hotel feel. ponds, but the setting was still memorable. provide plenty of photography opps of several mountains and the Snake Valley.
Wildlife abounds on this sizeable ranch and Great Basin also has an underground world. sightings of mule deer, wild turkeys, and golden Lehman Caves is known for its formations, eagles are common. Instead of the usual including stalactites, stalagmites, columns, soda straws, and draperies. It’s also famous for its Kerouac’s shields, rare wonders of stone that are comprised of circular plates fastened together like clam shells. The park normally offers tours of the cavern, but unfortunately, the cave is currently closed due to the pandemic. A definite reason to make a return trip. Due to its remote location, the park receives less than 200,000 visitors a year – a far cry from the millions that flock to Yellowstone and Yosemite. If you want solitude, this is the place. And as you can imagine, social distancing is not a problem! PAGE 36
Mule Deer at Hidden Ranch
The menu is limited, but the fare is top-notch, with juicy burgers on house-made brioche buns and artisan pizzas, along with such side accompaniments like crispy, fried Brussel sprouts, roasted broccolini, and fresh-cut fries. The nearest town to the park, Baker, is about five Save room for dessert, and treat your sweet tooth to the daily fruit crisp (a la mode, of miles away. Calling it a town, though, is a bit of an exaggeration. This teeny hamlet, with a year- course!), or the decadent s’mores cookie bar. round population of around seventy hardy folks, If you go: www.nps.gov/grba or serves as the very limited service area for Great www.hiddencanyonretreat.com Basin. Its claim to fame in my opinion is Kerouac’s, a real find on the backroads of Debbie Stone is an established travel writer and Nevada. columnist, who crosses the globe in search of This gem of a restaurant, named after one of the unique destinations and experiences to share with her readers and listeners. She’s an avid explorer most irreverent road trippers in our country’s who welcomes new opportunities to increase history, is a destination in itself. It offers awareness and enthusiasm for places, culture, food, delicious, made-from-scratch dishes, plus a variety of creative cocktails in a remodeled, turn- history, nature, outdoor adventure, wellness and more. Her travels have taken her to nearly 100 of-the-century house. An added bonus is the countries and to all seven continents. multi outdoor seating areas. PAGE 11 37 breakfast buffet, the owners have adjusted to the present conditions and offer vouchers to redeem for purchases at their small, onsite store, or to be used at the Great Basin Café in the park.
Spring Mountain, courtesy of Visit Phoenix On this episode of Big Blend Radio, Douglas MacKenzie, Director of Media Relations at Visit Phoenix, gives an overview of what to see and do in Phoenix, Arizona this spring and early summer including the great outdoors, farms and culinary scene, museums and attractions, and lodging destinations. Listen to his interview here in the YouTube player, or download the podcast on PodBean. Greater Phoenix is known as America's sunniest It is known as much for street tacos, springmetropolis and as the cosmopolitan heart of training baseball and casual patio dining as it is Arizona. Showcasing the beauty of the Sonoran for high-desert golf courses, destinations spas Desert, Phoenix has more acreage of parks and and upscale shopping. preserves than any other major metropolis in the nation and offers hundreds of miles of trails. Plan your Phoenix adventure at Phoenix is a place where it's easy to migrate www.visitphoenix.com/ between high culture and low. PAGE 38
Talbot Regional Park, courtesy Travel Costa Mesa This episode of Big Blend Radio features Jenny Wedge, Director of Public & Community Relations at Travel Costa Mesa. Hear what there is to see and do this spring and summer in beautiful Costa Mesa, Southern California. Listen to her interview here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean. Known as the “City of The Arts” Costa Mesa is also home to beautiful local parks, is close to the beaches, and offers unique shopping and dining opportunities. It is also near Southern California’s major theme parks such as Disneyland. Health officials recently announced (literally right after this podcast recording), that as early as April 1, California will allow certain outdoor activities to resume with capacity restrictions, including the reopening of theme parks, which may open at 15% capacity when their respective counties enter the state's red tier designation. Plan your Costa Mesa adventure at https://www.travelcostamesa.com/ PAGE 11 39
Succulent Shop at The Camp
Pay Homage to Nature’s Royalty at Sequoia and Kings Canyon By Debbie Stone
Soothing scenery I’m standing next to an ancient Debbie Stone on Big Blend Radio: Listen here in the YouTube giant and I am humbled to be in player or download the podcast on Podbean.com. its presence. Neither the tallest nor the widest, the General Sherman Tree is considered the largest living tree in the world because of its volume, a whopping 2.7 million pounds. This immense titan of the forest resides in Sequoia National Park, along with other esteemed members of its family. Located in central California, Sequoia and neighboring Kings As the parks are adjacent to one another, Canyon are treasured gems in our country’s connected via the Generals Highway, it makes national parks system. Extending from the San Joaquin Valley foothills to the eastern crest of the practical sense to explore both during one trip. I recommend spending a few days in each to fully Sierra Nevada, these parks are a testament to experience all the grandeur. Just know, you nature’s size, diversity, and beauty. They are probably won’t have enough time to hike the home to alpine peaks, deep canyons, vast more than eight hundred miles of marked trails! caverns, and tree monarchs. PAGE 40
Granite walls rise above
Established in 1890, Sequoia, named for earth’s largest living things, is California’s first national park and America’s second-oldest, after Yellowstone. Kings Canyon, named for the deepest canyon in North America, received its national park status fifty years later. Together, the two create a nearly million-acre recreational wonderland, crowned by Mt. Whitney, which at 14,494 feet, is the tallest mountain in the Lower 48. Trees take center stage in both parks. Sequoia has the Giant Forest, known for its bucolic meadows and famed sequoia grove. The grove contains more than 8,000 colossal sequoias; many named for presidents, generals, and other individuals, who made significant contributions to society.
Strong and still standing
Within the Giant Forest is the Near Sherman Tree. At a dizzying height of 316 feet, it has the distinction of being the tallest giant redwood. And its crown contains a jaw-dropping one billion leaves and over 767,000 cones. I’m glad I wasn’t the one tasked with all that counting! President, another notable resident, is the oldest known living redwood. At nearly 3,300 years of age, this primordial sentinel has probably seen it all and then some. The General Sherman Tree guards the northern fringe of the grove. Believed to be around 2,200 years old, the tree is 275 feet tall and boasts a circumference at ground level of 102.6 feet. And it’s still growing, as each year, it adds enough wood to make a 60-foot tree.
My senses were overwhelmed as I gazed at these There are several trails that allow you to get upclose and personal with these stalwart beauties. soaring-to-the-stratosphere trees. Getting good You can also find out more about the grove and pictures was a real challenge, as it’s difficult to fully capture them in all their glory, top to its remarkable denizens at the Giant Forest bottom. Continued on Next Page… Museum. PAGE 11 41
Sequoias Continued… The Giant Forest area is also home to Moro Rock. This granite dome, which rises 6,725 feet above sea level, offers unparalleled views of the Great Western Divide and its spectacular canyons. Thankfully, you only have to climb the last 300 feet of the rock to reap the rewards of this mesmerizing panorama. It’s a short, but steep and narrow ascension, comprised of over 350 stone steps. There are railings in places for safety and you can hang on to the rock walls if heights make you nervous.
Stumps dot the meadow Tree is a damaged hollow tree with a little hole in the bottom that allows access inside. Centuries before Tharp came along, as early as 1350 A.D., the Potwisha Native Americans inhabited the region. They left behind pictographs on what is known as Hospital Rock. This archaeological site is worth a quick stop to see these painted messages, though their meanings continue to be a mystery. Nearby, is another large rock full of mortar holes, which were used by the women in the tribe to grind acorns into flour. Several outdoor exhibits depict what life might have been like during the time these people lived here.
Crescent Meadow is another highlight of Sequoia. Take the loop trail around this idyllic landscape, and incorporate some of the spur trails for unique sights, such as Tharp’s Log and The credit for Hospital Rock’s name goes to Hale Chimney Tree. The former is a rustic cabin built Tharp. Twice he brought injured explorers to the by Hale Tharp back in the 1860s. Tharp, a rock to be treated by the Native Americans and cattleman, was the first non-Native American after the second time, he gave the place its apt settler in the area. He made the crude dwelling moniker. from a hollowed sequoia log and it’s the oldest pioneer cabin remaining in the park. Chimney PAGE 42
Though I wanted to get to Mineral King, a separate section of the park, I ran out of time. It will take top priority on my next visit. This glacial valley, an add-on to Sequoia in 1978, was a hot spot for silver prospectors in the 19th century. It’s reputed to be a “hiker’s heaven,” with wild meadows, forests of stately trees, and a rocky landscape of shale, marble, and slate. To reach Mineral King involves good driving skills, as the 25-mile road is narrow, steep, and curvy. The Giant Forest’s twin is Grant Grove in Kings Canyon. Here, the star attraction is the General Grant Tree. It’s the second-largest sequoia in the world and in 1867, it was named to honor General Ulysses S. Grant. Later, it was coined the “Nation’s Christmas Tree” by President Calvin Coolidge. Eventually, it was declared a National Shrine, as a memory to all those who sacrificed their lives for our country. Every year, since 1926, a service and special ceremony are held at the base of the tree on the second Sunday in December. These Big Trees wouldn’t be here today, if not for the efforts of dedicated conservationists, such as John Muir and George W. Stewart, who worked tirelessly to condemn the wholesale cutting of sequoias. It’s hard to imagine that these ancient sentinels were being chopped down and their wood used to make such things as pencils and stakes for grapes in vineyards. To see the remains of early logging and the destructive sequoia timber boom, take the Big Stump Trail into Big Stump Basin. Ginormous weathered stumps and logs dot the wide, circular meadow, which once was the site of the Smith Comstock Lumber Mill. Most notable is the Mark Twain Stump. It’s all that’s left of a 26-foot-wide, 1,700-year-old tree that reportedly took two men nearly two weeks to cut down back in 1891. It was distressing to learn that this sequoia was cut in order for a cross-section of it to be displayed in the American Museum of Natural History. Climb the ladder to the top of the stump for a close up look at the growth rings.
General Grant Tree sequoia marked with the scars of deep cuts from a saw made over a century ago. It is healthy, though, showing the tree’s remarkable ability for healing and renewal. From Grant Grove, take the steep drive to Panoramic Point, where a short trail leads to a striking view of the Sierras, Hume Lake, and in the distance, Kings Canyon. You can also get other exceptional vistas of the scenery, provided you’re willing to hike up to one of the summits. Continued on Next Page…
A side path uphill goes to the Sawed Tree, a tall PAGE 11 43
Mark Twain Stump
However, if a strenuous climb is not your style, you’re in luck. Buena Vista Peak is just two miles round trip with only 420 feet of elevation gain, making it one of the easier summits to reach in the park. And the rewards are worthy of a much greater exertion. Kings Canyon has often been described, most famously by John Muir, as “a rival to Yosemite.” The canyon is a marvel, with its steep, glaciallycarved walls rising up from the mighty Kings River. This river contains sections that are designated National Wild and Scenic Rivers, preserved for their natural, cultural and recreational values. The Junction View Overlook along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is the best place to see the confluence of two major forks of the river. This forty-mile byway offers memorable views of the canyon at its narrowest and widest sections. Along the way, you’ll find other picture-perfect scenes of babbling creeks, plunging waterfalls through granite chutes, emerald meadows, and even an historic cabin. Knapp’s Cabin is the oldest building in the Cedar Grove region of the park. Built in 1925 by businessman George Owen Knapp, the simple, one-room dwelling served as storage for the wealthy Californian’s camping and fishing trips.
Lovely little waterfall The place, though abandoned for many years, is in surprisingly good shape, and you can walk inside to check it out. Stretch your legs when you reach Cedar Grove with a hike to Roaring River Falls, Zumwalt Meadow, Sheep Creek Cascade, or Mist Falls. You’ll find plenty of splendor at every juncture. Sequoia and Kings Canyon boast hundreds of caverns, but only Crystal Cave in Sequoia is open to the public. Known for its beautiful and varied formations, this marble treasure can only be explored via a guided tour. Unfortunately, due to health restrictions, as of now, all tours have been canceled. If you are still interested in exploring a cavern, however, Boyden Cave is open. This privately operated cave is located in Sequoia National Forest, off of the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. I highly recommend staying inside the parks at one of the lodges or campgrounds, primarily for convenience sake. Driving to and from the parks each day would be very time consuming, allowing less opportunity for exploration. Trust me. These natural gems deserve your dedicated attention. If you go: www.nps.gov/seki
Debbie Stone is an established travel writer and columnist, who crosses the globe in search of unique destinations and experiences to share with her readers and listeners. She’s an avid explorer who welcomes new opportunities to increase awareness and enthusiasm for places, culture, food, history, nature, outdoor adventure, wellness and more. Her travels have taken her to nearly 100 countries and to all seven continents. PAGE 44
SAVOR SAN BENITO
Vineyards in San Benito County Less than 2 hours from San Francisco, San Benito County is the eastern gateway destination of Pinnacles National Park, and a popular getaway for nature lovers, outdoor adventurers, and history buffs. However, with its scenic wine tasting trail, fresh farm-to-table fare, and multitude of dining options, San Benito County has become a destination for food and wine enthusiasts. A temperate climate complete with a true central California setting of rolling hills, vast ranch country, farmlands and vineyards, it’s a beautiful area to explore, and have a picnic with local foods and wines. And there’s a website for that - SavorSanBenito.com. Re-imagined and re-launched, SavorSanBenito.com makes a direct connection between customers and local restaurants, wineries, and breweries. The pandemic has hit hospitality businesses hard, especially small and family-owned restaurants, wineries, and breweries. On California’s Central Coast, the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center and a local entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist saw an opportunity to help. SavorSanBenito.com is a unique new web
platform that connects independent local businesses to customers. The platform showcases the rich array of farm, food, and beverage options in the county for residents and tourists alike, and makes it easy to do business with them. Notably, the platform is being provided free of charge to all businesses offering food, wine, beer, or farm-grown produce. The ambitious and visionary website is managed by the SBCCOC&VC and in keeping with its community commitment, was created using local talent, including web developers, photographers and videographers. SavorSanBenito.com provides as much information as possible so that users find what they’re searching for, fast. In addition, a collection of simple icons next to each listing lets the user know if the business offers takeout, delivery, or outdoor dining, essential information while Covid-19 restrictions are in place. “We make it very easy to quickly see what’s available in San Benito County and how to get it,” says SBCCOC&VC Director of Tourism & Hospitality Jen Rodriguez. “Search optimization is at the heart of the new website. Visitors and locals that don’t know what
Produce at Farmers Markets an area has to offer usually search based on their interests, such as ‘tacos’ or ‘wine tasting’. Having an optimized search filter allows them to see how many different options are available, in each category, and those results also show up on a map of the area, which enables users to custom-create their very own tour for tacos, beer or wine!” Jen notes.
about what’s going on locally. The website is ever-evolving and will constantly be updated to add new businesses and provide current information as local Covid-19 regulations and seasonal hours change.
Phase two of the re-launch includes daily Facebook and Instagram posts on the Savor San Benito Facebook and Instagram pages. Each day SSB’s social profiles will highlight businesses with high-quality images and content created by the local photographers. Videos will be created monthly and the website will have new articles
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A Love Your Parks Tour “Following in the Footsteps of Generals” story by Nancy J. Reid and Lisa D. Smith, assigned by Mike Guardia
Hal Moore Military Museum It was a rainy summer day in beautiful central Kentucky, a region known for its bourbon, horses, and history. Our friend Stephanie was our tour guide, driving us around the towns and countryside, giving us an overview of her homeland.
Author and historian Mike Guardia on Big Blend Radio: Hear his interview here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean.
When we reached Bardstown, Nancy noticed that we were driving along Lt. General Hal Moore Parkway. We immediately texted our friend Mike Guardia, who along with being a historian, is an internationally known, award-winning author of numerous military history books, three of which cover Hal Moore, including “Hal Moore: A Soldier Once…and Always;” “Hal Moore on Leadership: Winning When Outgunned and Outmanned,” and ” Hal Moore: A Life in Pictures.”
Generals.” Well, there we were, right in Lt. General Hal Moore’s hometown! Not only is Moore’s quaint childhood home still standing, but around the corner from it is Bardstown Museum Row, home to the Hal Moore Military Museum.
As part of our Love Your Parks Tour, Mike sent us on a story mission to “Follow in the Footsteps of PAGE 11 49
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Hal Moore Continued…
Hal Moore was an avid outdoors man and fisherman.
Hal Moore is one of the most admired American combat leaders of the last fifty years, and initially became known to the public for being portrayed by Mel Gibson in the movie “We Were Soldiers.”
Ord, California, where he oversaw the US Army’s transition from a conscript-based to an allvolunteer force. He retired as a Lieutenant General in 1977.
A 1945 graduate of West Point, Moore's first combats occurred during the Korean War, where he fought in the battles of Old Baldy, T-Bone, and Pork Chop Hill. At the beginning of the Vietnam War, Moore commanded the 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry in the first full-fledged battle between U.S. and North Vietnamese regulars. Drastically outnumbered and nearly overrun, Moore led from the front, and though losing seventy-nine soldiers, accounted for 1,200 of the enemy before the Communists withdrew.
Dedicated to Bardstown native Lt. General Hal Moore, and U.S. Army, Vietnam and Korean War heroes, the exhibits in the Hal Moore Military Museum cover conflicts from the American Revolution to the Mid-East battles of today, and are centered on the contributions of the many Kentuckians who served. Hal Moore’s military career, personal life, and philanthropy are showcased with photographs, medals and awards, uniforms, and “We Were Soldiers” movie memorabilia. The Museum also honors Moore’s wife, Julie, for her work in prompting the US Army to set up survivor support networks and casualty notification teams.
This Battle of Ia Drang pioneered the use of "air mobile infantry"- delivering troops into battle via helicopter - which became a staple of U.S. operations for the remainder of the war. He later The Hal Moore Military Museum is located at 310 wrote of his experiences in the best-selling book, E. Broadway, Bardstown, KY 40004. For more information call (502) 349-0291 or visit “We Were Soldiers Once…and Young.” https://bardstownmuseumrow.org/ Following his tour in Vietnam, Moore assumed For more about Hal Moore and Mike Guardia’s command of the 7th Infantry Division, forwardbooks, see: https://mikeguardia.com/ stationed in South Korea, and in 1971, he took command of the Army Training Center at Fort PAGE 50
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A Visual Spotlight Sh Many Ways to Enjoy L Offer Free Admission, Picnic Sites & Lincoln Park, Greeley, Colorado PAGE 54
howcasing the Local Parks that , Walking Paths, & More… A Love Your Parks Tour #OneHourWalk Story by Lisa D. Smith and Nancy J. Reid, assigned by Dr. Jacqueline Eubany PAGE 11 55
Gateway Park, Yuma, AZ
Parks Continued… Parks, especially those with free admission, are critical to the quality of life in urban communities, and even in rural areas. Green spaces provide a place to relax, destress, and rejuvenate in nature. They are places to take a walk or bicycle ride away from traffic. They are spaces to get some exercise out in the fresh air and gather socially (of course safely distanced and masked during this pandemic). They are recreational playgrounds for humans of all ages, and an outdoor haven for dogs and pets.
treasures, and while many are cared for by municipal staff and volunteers, it is up to us all to care for them. As Dr. Jackie stresses in her article Why Parks Are Good for Your Heart, “Physical activity is a key component to good heart health. It is beneficial in healthy individuals, people who are considered high risk for disease, and those who are currently living with chronic health conditions.
Each community park is unique. Some protect the natural beauty and ecosystem of an area by providing a habitat for local birds, native plants, insects, and wildlife, while others honor local history and traditions with public art, historic plaques and statues, and as a venue for annual events and celebrations. Offering free admission to a park is an investment in the physical and mental health of a community. Of course, funds to maintain parks often come from local tax income, grants, and not-for-profit fundraising endeavors. These parks are local PAGE 56
Harold Long Park, Garden City, Kansas
Offering plenty of space to enjoy a walk or jog, Riverfront Park is an incredible 33-acre and 11-block-long park that runs along the south bank of the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock. The park offers outdoor recreation, festival fun, public art and entertainment, beautiful river views, and historic exhibits. Pictured is Medical Mile, a 1,300-foot section of the Arkansas River Trail that showcases a threedimensional mural wall designed to inspire visitors to make wellness-oriented lifestyle changes.
From a heart standpoint, physical activity can lower your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol, decrease your blood sugar and therefore your risk for diabetes, and overall reduces your chances of dying from heart diseaserelated illness. Any physical activity is always better than NO physical activity, so you have to get out BIG BLEND RADIO: Dr. Jacqueline Eubany discusses how getting there and just move. The outside for a walk or hike is good cardio for your heart, calms minimal goal for good heart health is 150 minutes per week hypertension and stress, and is a good way to be active while of moderate physical activity or keeping social distance. Listen to her interview here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean. 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity. Start TODAY! Start slow, and build up your stamina.” Continued on Next Page… PAGE 11 57
COMMUNITY PARKS ACROSS AMERICA INTERACTIVE MAP STORY Check out our interactive map on NationalParkTraveling.com that showcases all the community parks we have visited on our Love Your Parks Tour. To date we have visited over 85 community parks in 21 states. Parks featured on the map offer free admission and where we have taken a #OneHourWalk.
As we travel across America on our Love Your Parks Tour, we have visited numerous community parks (to date, over 85 parks in 21 states). As visitors, it is a way for us to get a sense of what it’s like to live in an area. They are places to break up a long drive, stretch our legs and get some steps in, and often a place to relax with a picnic made up of local fare. Visitors to a destination often seek out community parks to take a relaxed stroll before checking in to their lodging for the evening. They are especially good if you are traveling with kids and/or pets, or need a place to take a break on an extensive road trip or cross-country drive. Speaking of walking in parks, it often helps to have friends or walking buddies to keep you motivated to stay consistent in your walking schedule. So come join our #OneHourWalk Facebook Group and share your adventures!
Continue to our Community Park Photo Feature… PAGE 58
Community Parks are for Walking, Hiking, and Running… “If you are in a bad mood, go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood, go for another walk.” Hippocrates From a walk in the woods to a long run along a riverfront, community parks offer a multitude of settings to get your steps in.
It's a humbling experience to walk among the giant red rock formations in the aptly named Garden of the Gods. Located in Colorado Springs, this 480-acre National Natural Landmark is free to the public. Along with nature trails and picnic spots, there is a world-class Visitor & Nature Center and museum, a Geo-Trekker theater experience, and an enclosed café overlooking Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. PAGE 60
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Community Parks are for Sports, Athletics & Exercise… “Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.” Mike Singletary
From soccer to tennis, baseball, volleyball, disc golf and swimming, many community parks offer sports facilities for practice and competition.
Located in Palisade, Colorado, the highlight of this Riverbend Park is the Colorado River. This beautiful park features a walking and cycling trail, 18 holes of disc golf, shaded picnic spots and barbecues, two large pavilions, a stocked fishing pond, boat launch, and a playground. PAGE 62
Boys Basketball Mural in Luckie Park, a high desert community park in Twentynine Palms, gateway to Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve in Southern California. The park is named in honor of Dr. James B. Luckie who after World War I, sent veterans suffering from mustard gas to the region. The park features four baseball fields, three covered picnic shelters, two playground areas, three basketball courts, a skateboard park, two corn hole pits, a soccer field, and a seasonal pool. Continued on Next Page…
Set along the Cañada del Oro watershed at the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Oro Valley, Southern Arizona, Cañada del Oro Riverfront Park is a 30-acre destination for family gatherings, performing arts and events, sports, and outdoor recreation. Highlights include covered ramadas with grills and picnic tables, a shaded playground, horseshoe pits, walking path, public art, and a performance area. Sports facilities include an equestrian staging area, tennis court, soccer and softball fields, and sand volleyball courts. PAGE 63
Community Parks are for Pedaling …
“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.” John .F Kennedy
From mountain biking through a forest to cycling along an urban trail, community parks offer all kinds of trails for pedaling enthusiasts.
Voted the Best Trails in Arkansas by Riders for two years in a row, Northwoods Trails features 26 miles of world-class mountain bike trails, and it’s just five minutes from downtown Hot Springs. Northwoods is also home to the annual Gudrun MTB Festival each November. Bikers, hikers, and trail runners are all welcome. PAGE 64
Located in Erie, Pennsylvania, Presque Isle State Park is situated on a sandy peninsula that arches right into Lake Erie. Known as Pennsylvania’s only “seashore,” this day-use parks boasts beautiful sandy beaches, lighthouses and historic sites, multi-use trails and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation including walking and hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, fishing, boating, and even in-line skating. A National Natural Landmark, Presque Isle is bio-diverse in plants and wildlife, and is a popular destination for birdwatchers. It is also home to the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, the perfect place to start your Presque Isle experience. Continued on Next Page…
The Chuck Huckleberry Loop in Tucson, Arizona encompasses over 130-miles of shared-use paths and bike lanes that connect Tucson with unincorporated Pima County, Marana, Oro Valley, and South Tucson. The Loop connects parks, trailheads, bus and bike routes, workplaces, restaurants, schools, hotels and motels, shopping areas, and entertainment venues. Visitors and Pima County residents can enjoy the Loop on foot, bikes, skates, and horses. PAGE 11 65
Community Parks are for Water Play…
“The water is your friend. You don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move.” Aleksandr Popov Part of the Arkansas Riverwalk, the John Griffin Regional Park in Cañon City, Colorado. The Arkansas River is a popular white water rafting destination, and this park has a boat ramp as well as fitness stations, benches, picnic tables, and interpretive signs about the regional birds and wildlife. It’s a beautiful natural space to go for a stroll, jog, bicycle, or bird watch along the river and wetland areas. Parks Continued…
Located in historic downtown Buchanan, Virginia, the 7-acre Buchanan Town Park is the starting and ending point for canoeing and kayaking on the Upper James River Blueway. This historic riverside park is a popular destination for walking, biking, running, hiking, boating, kayaking, and fishing, and features an outdoor basketball court, children’s playground, a boat ramp, a greenway along the James River, the Buchanan Bicentennial Gazebo, and picnic tables. PAGE 66
Cane River Lake is a 35-mile lake that was formed from a portion of the Red River in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. Home to a host of annual festivals and located off of Front Street in the Natchitoches Historic Landmark District, the riverbank area has a walking path, benches, water sports equipment rentals for kayaking and paddle boarding, tree-shaded grassy areas, a newly constructed and very large amphitheater, the historic Roque House, and Beau Jardin Water Park & Garden. Continued on Next Page…
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Located in Encinitas, California, it’s said that this popular beach is named “Moonlight” because of the midnight picnics the locals use to have back in the early 1900s. Popular activities include swimming, surfing, fishing, beach walks, sunbathing, picnicking and sandcastle building. Facilities include volleyball and tennis courts, recreational equipment rentals, snack bar, restrooms with showers. Parks Continued…
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Community Parks are for Family Fun … “The greatest legacy we can leave our children is happy memories.” Og Mandino
The Dennis Freeman Memorial River Park in Logansport, Louisiana, features the expansive Gordon Chandler Children's Park, N.J. Caraway Memorial Bell, Carolyn Vidler Memorial, Veterans Memorial Wall and Veterans Memorial Drive, Compassionate Friends of Toledo Bend Memorial, plus, a walking trail, boardwalk overlooking the Sabine River, a time capsule, gazebo, pavilion, and river stage for entertainment. Parks Continued…
Located in Marana, Arizona, the new Tangerine Sky Park has an open space grass area, multi-use walking paths with access to Tangerine Road Shared Use Path, a basketball court, playground areas, dog parks, picnic ramadas with grills, and restrooms. It also features the “Deer at Tangerine Sky Park” metal sculptures, a two-year project by artist Trevor O’Tool who created the pieces with the help of local Marana High School welding students. PAGE 70
Also known as Castle Park, the Stewart Vincent Wolfe Creative Playground is a unique ADA playground located in West Wetlands Park, which is part of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area in Yuma, Arizona. It has been recognized as one of the largest creative playgrounds, as well as one of the top 20 playgrounds in the country, for being “impressive, accessible and inclusive.”
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Cedarglades Park in Hot Springs offers a multitude of recreation opportunities including 10 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails, 18 holes disc golf, a 3-story treehouse and playground for kids, a climbing wall, a grassy lawn area for kite flying, an RC airfield and car track, plus pavilions and an amphitheater for rent.
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Community Parks Celebrate The Arts…
“Art is too important not to share.” Romero Britto
Located in Leesville, Louisiana, Magnolia Art Park features contemporary sculptures, a melody garden, book nooks, a walking trail, and shaded seating areas.
Located within minutes from downtown Albuquerque and adjacent to the Rio Grande Bosque, Tingley Beach is a popular park offering fishing, bird and wildlife watching, multi-use trails, boating, and picnic spots. The park is part of the Biopark complex, and is also home to some of Albuquerque’s numerous public art sculptures. Continued on Next Page…
Connecting art with nature, the Karl Stirner Arts Trail is a scenic 2.5-mile paved, urban walking and biking trail that follows Bushkill Creek and Route 22 from the old Simon Silk Mill to Lafayette College. The trail also leads to the city's first dog park, as well as other city parks such as Scott Park in historic downtown Easton, Pennsylvania. It is also connected to the Two Rivers Trailway that offers 30 miles of walking and biking paths that connect to multiple parks in Northampton County.
Community Parks with Flower Power… “Flowers are the music of the ground. From earth’s lips spoken without sound.” Edwin Curran
Located in Woodlake, in the heart of California’s Sequoia Country, Bravo Lake is a popular fishing spot that also has a 3.3-mile multi-use trail that loops around the water. Open during the warmer months and offering free admission, Woodlake Botanical Garden is located next to the lake, and features a 13acre garden of flowers, fruit and vegetables, and has 1.2 miles of paved paths to stroll.
Located in Greeley, Colorado, the Poudre Learning Center is on a mission to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and citizenship through education of students, families and local residents along the Colorado Northern Front Range. Home to the Poudre River Trail and part of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area, the Center’s property encompasses 65 acres with 3 miles of walking trails through 4 different habitats, the Old Hazelton School, a Sensory Garden, and a Native Plant Garden. PAGE 74
Encompassing 30 acres, Forsyth Park is Savannah, Georgia’s largest and oldest public park. Along with its iconic fountain and towering live oaks draped with Spanish moss, the park boasts walking, jogging and cycling paths, a playground and spray pool, and sports facilities including basketball and tennis courts, and an athletic field. The park also has a fragrant garden for the blind that was re-purposed from a mock fort constructed for training purposes before World War I. The park’s large green space is host to festivals, concerts, and the weekly Forsyth Park Farmers’ Market. Continued on Next Page…
Located in the heart of Tyler, Texas, the “Rose Capital of America,” lies the gorgeous Tyler Rose Garden, home to the largest public collection of roses in the country. We’re talking over 32, 000 rose bushes and 600 cultivars, along with other flowering and landscape plants that grow in the region. The Garden is counted as a park as it has beautiful nature, biking and hiking trails, a gazebo, pond and fountain, and is a popular venue for community events including the Annual Tyler Rose Festival. PAGE 11 75
Community Parks are Rich in Rail History… “Trains tap into some deep American collective memory.” Dana Frank
Mineola Nature Preserve is a beautiful and naturally pristine 2,911-acre preserve on the Sabine River that is home to numerous East Texas species of birds, plants, wildlife, and even livestock. Part of the park incorporates an old railroad bed built in the 1880s. Activities include walking, hiking, biking, birding, wildlife viewing, equestrian trails (over 20 miles), fishing, picnicking, and primitive camping. There are two pavilions with restrooms, a playground, and educational opportunities.
Located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Railyard Park is 13-acre historic former railyard that features a variety of gardens that include a circular rose ramada, native plants, drought-resistant gardens, a railyard garden, and community food gardens, plus, an outdoor performance venue and public art space, shaded picnic spots, bicycle and walking paths, and a children’s play area. PAGE 76
Once a contaminated brown space and a rail yard, Depot Park is now a contemporary public greenspace that serves as Gainesville, Florida’s “Central Park.” Located downtown, this signature city park provides a space for public outdoor recreation and enjoyment. Park highlights include a waterfront promenade with a walking and cycling path, conservation and wetlands area, open lawns, picnic pavilion, a children’s playground and splash pad, and the Cade Museum.
Spanning almost three miles and running through the heart of historic downtown Easton, Maryland this popular Rails-to-Trails corridor connects with local parks such as Idlewild Park and RTC Park, and the North Easton Park Sports Complex. It is a popular destination for walking, jogging, and cycling. The original railroad station depot (pictured) boasts exterior interpretive signs and a shaded garden area with a bench. PAGE 11 77
Community Parks Honor and Remember… “The song is ended but the melody lingers on.” Irving Berlin
Located in downtown Ephrata, Pennsylvania, the Linear Trail is a 12-foot wide rails-to-trails pathway that runs a distance 4,800 linear on an abandoned railway bed. The trailhead pays homage to Major Richard D. Winters with a plaza that features a statue, garden, and memorial. He is best known for having commanded Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division, during World War II. Parks Continued…
The Porterville Veterans Park in Central California features the Porterville Area Vietnam War Memorial honoring 40 Porterville area men who lost their lives in the Vietnam War, as well as a UH1 “Huey” helicopter. This 22-acre park also features a 1.66-mile walking trail, a 15,000 square foot concrete skate park, three covered pavilions, a children's playground, drinking fountains, and restrooms. PAGE 78
The Children’s Memorial Park is in Tucson, Arizona is dedicated to deceased children with memorial walls, a garden, and sculptures. Located at the Rillito River, this Pima County park is part of “The Loop” shared-use trail system and features a basketball court, softball field, exercise stations, swing set and playground, ramadas with tables and grills, picnic site, drinking fountain and restrooms.
Located near the historic Taos Plaza in Northern New Mexico, Kit Carson Park is a 25-acre community park that features a ¾ mile walking and jogging track, multipurpose courts for tennis and basketball, and three baseball fields. There are large open athletic fields, a playground, picnic and barbecue areas, and a beautiful amphitheater. The park is also home to the over 150-year-old Kit Carson Cemetery which is the final resting place of Kit Carson and other local legends. PAGE 11 79
ART NEWS & INTERVIEWS
Artists & Artful Places
DEGRAZIA GALLERY IN THE SUN This episode of Big Blend Radio features Lance Laber, Executive Director of the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun. Along with the annual “Way of the Cross” exhibit, Lance discusses the three latest Ted DeGrazia exhibits “Tempera Paintings,” “Celestial Music,” and “Abstract Paintings.” Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean.
landmark nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson, Arizona. Opened in 1965, it is home to over 15,000 originals of
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is 10-acre historic
Ted DeGrazia art pieces including oil paintings, watercolors, ceramics and sculptures. There are six permanent collections on display and several rotating exhibitions each year.
NATIONAL PARKS ARTS FOUNDATION Tanya Ortega, photographer and founder of the National Parks Arts Foundation (NPAF) talks with Big Blend Radio about NPAF’s unique 1month artist residency opportunities in various parks, public lands, and national parks that include Death Valley, Hawaii Volcanoes, Haleakala, Dry , Chaco Canyon, and Fort Union.
Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean. From sculptors to painters, musicians to poets and dancers, NPAF’s artist-in-residence program is open to artists of all mediums and genres. More: https://www.nationalparksartsfoundation. org/
COMICS JOURNALIST ANDY WARNER Comics journalist Andy Warner returns to Big Blend Radio to discuss his second National Parks Arts Foundation residency in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean. Warner is a New York Times best-selling comics journalist and artist, whose comics range between His newest book, “This Land is My Land,” is a journalism, documentary and memoir. He has collection of true stories about flawed utopias published two books of nonfiction history in and artistic environments. comic form, and is a contributing editor of The Nib, an online publication for nonfiction comics. More: www.AndyWarnerComics.com PAGE 11 81
EMBRACE OF THE WILD On this episode of Big Blend Radio, travel writer and author Linda Ballou discusses her new novel, “Embrace the Wild,” that’s inspired by the life of equestrian explorer and travel writer Isabella Lucy Bird. It shares the story of raw courage and fierce strength of a plucky English woman’s unflinching desire to be free. Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean. Impetuous, strong-willed Isabella defied her cattle in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains and strict Evangelical upbringing and the societal convinced ruffian, Rocky Mountain Jim, to guide expectations of the Victorian age to fulfill her her up towering Longs Peak. She finds peace in dreams. She redeemed her body after botched the arms of Jim her “dear desperado.” Ride with surgeries on her spine resulting in years of this intrepid horsewoman on her 800-mile chronic back pain. She jumped ship on a world mountain tour in the Rockies in winter tour to spend six months in the nurturing clime depending upon the kindness of strangers and of the Sandwich Islands There she mustered the the stout heart of her mare Birdie to survive on stamina to ride on the flank of a living volcano in her way to becoming the best-loved travel writer Hawai’i and venture deep into the sacred Waipio of her time. More at Valley. After reclaiming her body she ventured to www.LindaBallouAuthor.com Estes Park in Colorado. There she herded feral PAGE 82
FOREVER WILD, FOREVER HOME This Big Blend Radio interview features Kent Drotar, along with authors Mark and Melanie, who discuss The Wild Animal Sanctuary and their book “Forever Wild, Forever Home.” Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean. Less than an hour north of Denver, roam more than 500 large carnivores – including over 200 bears, 70 African lions, and 70 tigers. Now living at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, these wild animals and the stories of their rescue, often from heartbreaking conditions, are the focal point of the newly released and groundbreaking book “Forever Wild, Forever Home: The Story of The Wild Animal Sanctuary of Colorado.”
beginnings in Boulder to being the largest and oldest sanctuary in the world devoted to large carnivores.” With over 100 color photos, “Forever Wild, Forever Home” is an absorbing, thoughtful, and timely story from the Sanctuary’s founding to the present day. It offers a heartwarming and humorous behind-the-scenes look at what it is really like to rescue, rehabilitate and provide lifelong care for these magnificent survivors. “
“We’ve all been waiting 40 years for this book, and are so grateful to Melanie and Mark for the tremendous amount of work they put into it,” said Pat Craig, Founder and Executive Director of Forever Wild, Forever Home” is available online at www.wildanimalsanctuary.org and is also The Wild Animal Sanctuary. “Mixed with humor and occasional tugs at the heartstrings, it details available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble. the incredible journey from our humble
TEXAS STATE PARK ADVENTURES Author and English teacher Jefferson Marshall talks with Big Blend Radio about his children's fictional outdoor book series which takes place at the Texas State Parks. Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean. Texas State Park Adventures is a children’s book series for readers age 7 and up. The first two installments include “The Creatures of Caprock Canyons” and “The Palo More at Duro Lighthouse Race.” Illustrations are by https://texasstateparkadventures.com/ Shawn Taylor, an illustrator, painter, teacher, and worship leader living in Pampa, Texas. PAGE 11 83