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CONTENTS 5. Editors Block

REGIONAL FOCUS CALIFORNIA & HAWAII 6. Molokai: The Authentic Hawaii 14. California Nature Trippin’ 24. San Diego Spring Flower Trail 32. Charming Coronado 36. Joshua Tree: A Multi-Generational Experience

THE SOUTHWEST 40. Imperial National Wildlife Refuge 44. Exploring Organ Pipe Cactus NM 48. It’s Time to Visit Yerington, Nevada

THE SOUTHEAST 52. Lest We Forget: Cane River Creole NHP 56. Lincoln’s Legacy Begins in Springfield, Kentucky

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CONTENTS Continued INTERNATIONAL 58. Discover England’s National Parks

STORIES & INTERVIEWS, NEWS & RESOURCES 62. Artists of The Cascades 66. Art Programs for US Military Veterans 70. Hollywood History in National Parks 72. Island National Parks & The Arts 74. 66 Kicks Photography 78. Route 66 Roadside Signs & Advertisements 82. Backroads of Florida, Texas & Arizona 84. Why Parks Are Good for Your Heart! 86. Activists & Advocates Unite


EDITORS BLOCK The Arts are prominent in this issue with “The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to features covering artist-in-residence programs in national parks, the artists who historically revive also.” Harriet Ann Jacobs portrayed the Cascade Mountains, photographers who showcase backroad travel From the North San Diego Flower Trail to Muir and historic Route 66, and classic movies filmed Woods in Marin County, this issue celebrates in national parks. We also take a look at why spring in various California National Parks, such as Joshua Tree, Pinnacles, Sequoia, Kings Canyon parks are good for our heart, and action steps advocates can take to protect wildlife and the and Point Reyes National Seashore. Find out about the natural beauty and cultural heritage of environment. park destinations including: Molokai, the Be sure to visit our park travel planning website “Friendly Isle” of Hawaii, charming Coronado NationalParkTraveling.com to read articles, Island in San Diego, Imperial National Wildlife Refuge and Organ Pipe Cactus National listen to interviews and watch videos about Monument in Southern Arizona, Yerington in parks and their destinations. Many of the stories Nevada’s Pony Express Country, Cane River come from our travels on the Big Blend Spirit of Creole National Historical Park in northwest America Tour, our quest to visit and cover all 417 Louisiana, and historic Springfield in central national park units and their gateway Kentucky. We even cross the pond for a glimpse communities. You can also follow us on into England’s beautiful National Park system! Facebook for daily posts about national parks. By subscribing to our Big Blend e-Newsletter you will receive your free digital copies of our quarterly Big Blend Radio & TV Magazine and Spirit of America Magazine in your inbox, as well as event news, radio interview podcasts and videos, and updates about our national park travels. You can also connect with us on Twitter and Instagram. Happy Spring Travels! Nancy J. Reid and Lisa D. Smith - Big Blend’s mother-daughter publishing, radio and travel team; along with Priscilla - Big Blend’s pink sock monkey travel mascot Front cover photo is of Philipo Solatorio in Halawa Valley, in Molokai, Hawaii. Photo by Debbie Stone. 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.


By Debbie Stone

Greg Solatorio blows the conch shell to announce Imagine a Hawaii with untouched beaches visitors to the valley. and an unspoiled countryside. No tall buildings, mega resorts, or malls. And nary a stoplight to be found. It’s hard to believe such a place exists, but it’s real and it’s Molokai, the “Friendly Isle.” For many visitors to the islands, Molokai is off the beaten path and viewed with a bit of apprehension, mainly due to the fact they don’t know much about the place. They’ve heard it’s quiet and rural, and lacks the glitz and glamour of the other islands because residents frown upon major development. They’re right.

Listen to Deborah Stone talk about Molokai on Big Blend Radio!

But, that’s what makes Molokai so special. It’s authentic Hawaii – a place where the culture is thriving and where aloha is not just a word; it’s a way of life that speaks to the essence of the heart and passion of the people.

Most who take the time to appreciate the indomitable spirit of the people will gain a deeper appreciation for the beauty and soul of the island. It also helps to have patience, as the pace moves slowly on Molokai, which is one of The residents of this small island work hard to the reasons why folks come here. They want to protect and preserve their peaceful lifestyle escape their hectic urban existence and gladly because they love their land and their heritage. welcome the opportunity to stop and smell the Visitors are always welcome, however, it helps to plumeria. understand the power of these feelings and the Continued on Next Page… need to respect them during your stay. PAGE 6

Molokai Continued…..

Molokai brings Hawaii’s history to life. Head to the sacred Halawa Valley for a trip back in time. This is one of the island’s most historic areas and its oldest inhabited location. It is believed ancient Polynesians settled here as early as 650 A.D. For many years, it was a center of taro patches and dozens of temples with a thriving populace. However, a pair of tsunamis in 1946 and 1957 swept up the valley and destroyed almost all of the homes, along with the The Halawa Valley is Molokai’s oldest fields. inhabited location. Just getting to the valley is an adventure in itself, as the road is narrow and winding with blind curves, but there’s nonstop, jaw-dropping scenery to be admired at every juncture. Points of interest along the route include the ancient Hawaiian Fishponds, Kumimi Beach (a popular snorkeling spot), St. Joseph’s Church and Our Lady of Seven Sorrows (both built by Father Damien), Kalua’aha Church (Molokai’s first Christian church constructed in 1835), Halawa Beach Park and spectacular Halawa Bay. Most locals come to the valley to fish, surf and enjoy the beaches. Visitors, however, make the trip in order to hike to Moa’ula Falls, which is accessible only as part of a guided cultural tour. The journey will take you into a verdant, lush rainforest covered in colorful, tropical flora before arriving at the picturesque falls. You might want to cool off in the pool at the base of the falls, but your guide will tell you to beware of the lizard who supposedly inhabits this body of water. Legend has it that in order to go into the pool, you have to request permission of the creature. This is done by floating a ti leaf on the water. If the leaf floats, then the lizard will let you enter the pool, but if it sinks, the answer is no. The Halawa Valley Cultural Tour is a highlight for most folks. You’ll meet father and son, Philipo and Greg Solatorio, who are actual residents of the valley.

Philipo is the last Hawaiian elder living in this area. He was chosen at the age of five to be the family cultural practitioner, a responsibility he took seriously, spending his life listening and learning from others, eventually becoming a “kumu,” or teacher. Philipo’s successor, also selected at a young age, is his son, Greg, who recently returned to the valley to assume his duties. Continued on Next Page…


The Solatorios live off the land. They eat the wild pigs and deer, as well as the fruit and veggies Today, twelve people live in this remote locale, they grow in their fields. Taro is an important primarily off-the-grid. They practice their crop to the family, as it was years ago. Greg traditional ways in order to perpetuate their notes that taro was the main staple of Hawaiians’ culture. “Culture is sacred, not secret,” says Greg. diet, as it was a superfood. “We hope by offering these tours that we can Father and son wear traditional dress, which help people experience our culture.” He adds, includes a kikeppa, or sarong, tied at the “Culture is meant to be learned from the inside out, not outside in. The best way to learn is to go shoulder. This signifies the role of a cultural practitioner. The colors – red, yellow and orange to the source and experience the culture – are those belonging to the family, while the ti firsthand.” leaf worn serves as a spiritual protector. The To enter the valley, visitors must ask permission. pig’s tusk around the neck indicates location of Greg blows the conch shell, which is a means of one’s roots. Two teeth meet together in the communication and lets others in the area know piece, denoting that the Solatorios are from the there are visitors. Philipo, who is waiting at his Halawa Valley. And the kukui nut lei they wear house, makes a responding sound to represents enlightenment. acknowledge the message. Guests bring a gift of Visitors will see photos of family members and food (i.e. a coconut), which is placed at the altar near the home. There is chanting and a nose-to- pictures of the valley as it was years ago with a school, church, post office and hundreds of taro nose greeting with an exchange of “ha,” or the patches. There were few trees and the river was breath of life. Greg explains that when you much larger than it is now. exchange the breath of life with someone, you become family and are no longer a visitor. Continued on Next Page…. Molokai Continued…


Molokai Continued… Philipo was just a young boy when the first tsunami hit the valley in 1946. He describes the scene and the horrific noises he heard, becoming emotional in the process, as he shows before and after images of the area. The story is not one that many residents spoke about, so no one outside really knew what happened. As we prepare to leave, Philipo thanks us for visiting and calls out, “A hui ho,” or “until we meet again.” I look back and see him returning to the task of weaving a basket of leaves. He smiles contentedly, as a halo of light from the sun illuminates his figure. For more Hawaiian history, a trip to Kalaupapa National Historical Park is a must. Once a place of exile and despair, Kalaupapa today is a national historical monument. Surrounded mostly by ocean and cut off from the rest of the island by towering cliffs, the Kalaupapa Peninsula has always been one of the most remote places in Hawaii. It is for this reason the land was designated to be a settlement for the many Hawaiians afflicted with Hansen’s Disease or leprosy, back in the mid-1800s. It’s not known how leprosy came to the islands, but it appears in records as early as the 1830s.

Philipo Solatorio weaves a basket from leaves.

An estimated 8,000 individuals, ranging in age from 4 to 105, were sent to Kalaupapa over the years. The plight of those exiled drew the attention of various religious communities. The most famous of those who came to the settlement to help was Father Damien, who Hawaiians didn’t have any immunities to worked tirelessly to promote the dignity of those introduced diseases and thus were particularly vulnerable to infection. Hawaii’s ruler at the time, afflicted and improve their conditions. He and Mother Marianne Cope, Joseph Dutton and the King Kamehameha V, in a desperate attempt to prevent the spread of the disease, signed an act Catholic Brothers and Sisters, along with many others, dedicated their lives to the people of authorizing forced isolation of those who Kalaupapa. Continued on Next Page… showed symptoms. Beginning in 1865, police were required to arrest any persons suspected of having the sickness. Thousands of families were torn apart by the policy. Some fled or hid from authorities out of fear they would be taken away and never to be seen again. The shame associated with having a diseased family member caused others to even disown their sick relatives. Leprosy was viewed with horror and associated with disfigurement, rejection and expulsion from society. A diagnosis at that time amounted to a death sentence as there was no cure or affective treatment. A view of Kalaupapa from the cliffs above. PAGE 9

Mother Marianne Cope’s grave and monument at Kalaupapa

Surefooted mules take visitors down to Kalaupapa.

Molokai Continued…

To visit this fascinating place, you need to book a tour and either take a mule ride or hike down a Father Damien eventually contracted the disease steep, rugged 3.2- mile trail. As you descend and died at the settlement. Both Father Damien from the towering cliffs, you will be treated to and Mother Marianne were later canonized and dramatic panoramas of the peninsula and Pacific officially deemed saints by the Catholic Church. Ocean. If you’re on one of Molokai’s famous mules, trust your animal’s surefootedness, Despite being separated from their families and especially when navigating the many (26!) sent away to a place they didn’t know, many of precarious switchbacks on the narrow trail. the residents at Kalaupapa went on to live remarkable lives, making notable contributions These creatures know the way, though at times it to society. With the advent of a cure in the 1940s, may seem as if they’re heading awfully close to a life at the settlement changed considerably and precipice. Remember to lean back when going patients could hold jobs, attend events and take downhill and to do the reverse on the return, as part in the various cultural and educational it’s easier on these beasts of burden. Those who programs offered on site. They formed wish to eschew this adventurous journey, can organizations like the Lions Club and scout opt to take a small charter airplane to the site troops for the kids, and celebrated holidays with and then join the mule riders and hikers for the parades and contests. tour. Although the state’s isolation policy was not officially abolished until 1969, forced isolation at Kalaupapa ended in 1949. Residents were free to leave and many did, going on to serve as international human rights advocates and goodwill ambassadors around the world. Some, however, chose to remain, as Kalaupapa had been their home for much of their lives. Today, there are fourteen former patients still residing on site.

Your escorted tour includes the Kalaupapa Settlement’s points of interest: the Bishop Home for Girls, the old hospital ruins, St. Francis Church, the bookstore, boat landing (barge service occurred only once a year from Honolulu), Mother Marianne Cope’s grave and monument, and houses for Park Service and State Department of Health employees, as well as for the remaining residents on site. Continued on Next Page…


You’ll also go over to the east side of the peninsula to see the original Kalawao Settlement area where male patients initially lived. There you can see St. Philomena Church and Cemetery, the site of the old Baldwin Home for the Boys and the remains of the U.S. Leprosy Investigation Station. From this side, the views of the coastline and valleys are magnificent and despite the difficult history of the place, it’s hard to ignore the beauty of the area. Other attractions to visit during your stay on Molokai include the restored R.W. Meyer Sugar Mill, Hawaii’s smallest mill, built in 1878 by German immigrant Rudolph Meyer; the adjacent Molokai Museum and Cultural Center with its historical exhibits and films; Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove, one of the few remaining royal coconut groves in Hawaii; Kaunakakai Wharf (a prime spot to watch the sunset); and Purdy’s MacNut Farm for everything you want to know about growing, cracking and eating macadamia nuts.

There is also Big Wind Kite Factory, a colorful fixture in the west end village of Maunaloa where all the kites and windsocks are made by hand on site, and Papohaku Beach Park, a gorgeous stretch of white sand beach that you will most likely have all to yourself. You’ll want to spend a bit of time in the town of Kaunakakai, the island’s main commercial hub, which is virtually unchanged since the early 1900s. Stop in at the Molokai Visitor Center for maps, suggestions and answers to all your questions. Then, check out the shops, grab any provisions you need at the grocery store and make a beeline for the Kamoi Snack-n-Go, where you’ll find Dave’s Hawaiian Ice Cream. With forty-eight delicious flavors, you’re guaranteed to find one (or several) you like, and the best part is you can sample as many as you desire, courtesy of the friendly gals behind the counter.


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Ube Ice Cream made from purple yams. Most popular is anything with coffee or macadamia nut, but the most requested flavor is Ube. I fell in love with this eye-catching purplehued concoction at first lick. It’s made with purple yams, and it’s creamy, but not too sweet. Other unique flavors include Azuki Bean, Kulolo (Hawaiian taro pudding), Green Tea, Hau-olo (coconut with taro) and Chocolate Chip Mochi, just to name a few.

Kanemitsu Bakery

Kaunakakai is also home to Kanemitsu Bakery, where most nights, you can buy heavenly hot bread straight from the oven. To partake in this Molokai-only tradition, you’ll have to walk about fifty yards down a dark alleyway until you see a lit corridor, where there’s almost always a line. When it’s your turn, step up to the window and order one of the pillowy soft round loaves slathered with butter, cinnamon, cream cheese and/or jam. Eat it on the spot while it’s still warm. Stop in at the little Ho’olehua Post Office to “Post A Nut.” Top it off with a glazed taro doughnut for a real sugar buzz! Another island tradition is sending coconut postcards to the folks back home. Stop in at the little Ho’olehua Post Office to “Post A Nut.” The postmaster has a selection of coconuts and markers to decorate and address them. Go all Rembrandt and be as artistic as you want! Cost is about $16 to mail to the mainland, depending on the size and weight of the coconut. Imagine your friends’ delight upon receiving this special Molokai memento! Continued on Next Page… PAGE 12

For visitors interested in a volunteer experience during their stay, the Molokai Land Trust welcomes helping hands with a major dune restoration project at the Mokio Preserve. The private, nonprofit conservation organization is in the process of restoring the native ecosystem to an expansive area of land on the northwest coast of the island. Staff members will drive you out to the site, which is accessed only by four wheel drive vehicle, and you spend the day working side by side with them to remove invasive species, plant, collect seeds, do fence work, and other types of activities. “It’s a great way to interact with the community and the island, as well as connect with local Hawaiians,” says Butch Haase, Executive Director of the Molokai Land Trust. “We have visitors who return to help us each year when they come back to the island because they see that their work makes a significant difference.” When it comes to accommodations, Hotel Molokai is the island’s sole active property, however, there are also some condo units and a few B&Bs, along with private beach houses and vacation rentals. I stayed at the hotel, which is located right on the beach and about two miles from Kaunakakai.

Built in 1968, but since renovated, the place is “Hawaiian funky” in style and ambiance, with a unique charm of its own. The décor is Polynesian and each bungalow has its own private lanai and kitchenette. I kept my screens open each night so I could fall asleep to the sound of the waves and awake to the roosters announcing the day. The hotel has a full service restaurant, where you can dine at the water’s edge. There’s also a lively bar that attracts visitors and locals alike. Folks gather poolside for happy hour and to enjoy the live entertainment. One night, it was a trio performing Hawaiian music; another, a group of school kids treated us to a show of traditional Hawaiian dances. It’s a friendly, convivial spot with a laid back vibe and true aloha spirit! For all things Molokai: www.gohawaii.com/molokai. Deborah Stone is a travel and lifestyle writer, who explores the globe in search of unique destinations and experiences to share with her readers. She’s an avid adventurer who welcomes new opportunities to increase awareness and enthusiasm for travel and cross-cultural connections. Her travels have taken her to all seven continents, over 65 countries and 45 U.S. states.


By Lisa D. Smith and Nancy J. Reid

3 Spectacular Northern & Central California Park Destinations to Visit this Spring & Early Summer From big rocks to big trees, wildflowers to wildlife, waterfalls to ocean waves, these three California park destinations have all the ingredients for the ultimate spring and early summer nature fix.

The California Sequoia Country Nature Trip, less than a four hour drive northeast of Los Angeles, showcases magnificent giant sequoia trees in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, as well as the Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument. From hiking to waterfalls and whitewater rafting, to bird watching and soaking up the vibrant colors of lush wildflower rich meadows, there are all kinds of outdoor adventures to experience!

Just north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin to Sonoma County Nature Trip features the magical Muir Woods Redwood Forest, the dramatic Point Reyes National Seashore that’s home to elephant seals and Tule elk, tranquil Tomales Bay State Park, and the wildflower laden Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa. The San Benito County Nature Trip takes you inland, just a couple of hours drive southeast of San Francisco, offering an incredible experience of rock spires, caves and wildflowers in Pinnacles National Park, where you might even see a California Condor. You’ll experience hiking trails, spectacular valley views and stargazing at Fremont Peak State Park in historic San Juan Bautista. PAGE 14

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Experience Redwoods, Elephant Seals, Ocean Waves & Wildflowers in Northern California Muir Woods National Monument – Follow selfguided trails through the last old-growth coastal redwood forest in the Bay Area, and also visit neighboring Muir Beach. Harboring the world’s tallest living thing, the Coastal Redwood, right down to the brightly colored banana slug along with wildlfowers, ferns and other creatures and plantlife that love a moist, low-lit environment, Muir Woods NM is a splendid redwood retreat for forest lovers.

Just 12 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge and neighboring Mt. Tamalpais State Park, Muir Woods and Muir Beach are extremely popular destinations so weekdays are sometimes a better time to visit. Learn more at (415) 388-2595 or www.NPS.gov/muwo.

Point Reyes National Seashore - One of our country’s 10 National Seashores, Point Reyes preserves over 71,000 acres including 32,000 acres of wilderness, and 80 miles of undeveloped coastline. From sandy beaches to craggy seaside cliffs, lush meadows, rolling hillsides and historic farmlands, the landscape provides habitat for a diverse variety of flora and fauna that ranges from Tule Elk to elephant seals, bluebirds to sea hawks, wild iris to majestic oak trees. A haven for birders, over 50% of the bird species found in North America have been sighted at Point Reyes. A respite from city life offering a variety of outdoor activities from hiking to kayaking, Point Reyes National Seashore is just an hour north of San Francisco. Learn more at (415) 464-5100 or www.NPS.gov/pore. Continued on Next Page…


California Nature Trippin’ Continued… Tomales Bay State Park – Quite the nature haven, Tomales Bay it is nestled within Point Reyes National Seashore, near the town of Inverness and the Tule Elk Preserve. Enjoy a picnic overlooking the bay while watching the birds that range from woodpeckers and hawks, to goldfinches. The park has hiking trails and four beach areas including the popular Heart’s Desire Beach, as well as a virgin grove of Bishop pine. This is a lovely place to relax, enjoy the tranquility and connect with nature. Learn more at (415) 669-1140 or http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=470 Annadel State Park – Located in Santa Rosa, this park offers miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horse riding. It is a wonderful spring and summer wildflower destination, and a great place to enjoy a picnic, birding and wildlife viewing. Park highlights include Lake Ilsanjo, Ledson Marsh and Vista Point, along with an Environmental Learning Visitor Center, interpretive exhibits, programs and guided tours. Learn more at (707) 539-3911 or http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=480 Continued on Next Page…



California Nature Trippin’ Continued…

Experience Rock Spires, Night Skies, Wildflowers & Condors in Central California Pinnacles National Park - Known as ‘The Park on the Move’, Pinnacles is of geological significance, and actually moves about 3-6 centimeters a year! The park boasts a diverse array of habitats that range from spectacular spring wildflowers to oak woodlands and chaparral scrub, caves and rock spires. These habitats are home to over 140 birds species of birds, 49 mammals, 22 reptiles, 8 amphibians, 71 butterflies, 41 dragonflies and damselflies, and more than 400 bee species! Enjoy hiking trails, rock climbing, exploring caves, stargazing, camping and bird watching. Keep your eyes open for a lucky glimpse of a California condor, as this park also manages a release site for captive bred California condors. Learn more at (831) 389-4485 / (831) 389-4486, or www.NPS.gov/pinn. Continued on Next Page… PAGE 18

California Nature Trippin’ Continued… Fremont State Park – Located in San Juan Bautista, this beautiful 162 acre park encompasses the summit of 3,169-foot Fremont Peak in the Gabilan Range, and is known for its awesome views of Monterey Bay, San Benito Valley, Salinas Valley, and the Santa Lucia Mountains. The park’s pine and oak woodlands are an ideal habitat for numerous birds and mammals. Along with hiking and biking trails, there are camping and picnic facilities, plus, an astronomical observatory with a 30-inch telescope which is open for public programs. Learn more at (831) 623-4255 or http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=564.

San Juan Bautista - Known as “The City of History,” San Juan Bautista is located on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail in San Benito County, near the city of Hollister and about a 45 minute drive to the eastern entrance of Pinnacles National Park. Surrounded by organic farms and vineyards, this charming historic village is home to the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park and the Old Mission San Juan Bautista, where plant lovers can enjoy historic gardens and beautiful roses. A site on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, the San Juan Bautista de Anza Trail is a 5.3 mile trail that features spring wildflowers and lovely views. Learn more at (831) 637-5315 or www.DiscoverSanBenitoCounty.com.


SEQUOIA COUNTY NATURE TRIP California Nature Trippin’ Continued…

Experience Giant Sequoias, Waterfalls, Wildlife & Wildflowers in Tulare County Kings Canyon National Park - Located in the southern Sierra Nevada region, and spanning 461,901 acres, the park is made up of mostly wilderness, forests and spectacular canyons, with Kings Canyon itself being one of the deepest canyons in the United States. The park is known for being home to the General Grant Grove of giant sequoia trees, the famous General Grant Tree, and the Redwood Mountain Grove which is the largest remaining natural grove of giant sequoias in the world. Starting in late spring or early summer, you can enjoy babbling brooks and waterfalls offset by towering granite cliffs, as well as lush meadows and glacial canyons. Learn more at (559) 565-334 or www.NPS.gov/seki. Sequoia National Park - One of the first parks in the country, Sequoia NP is famous for its giant sequoia trees and black bears. Visit the General Sherman Tree (the largest living organism and tree in the world), climb Moro Rock, take in spectacular views of Mt. Whitney (the highest mountain in the contiguous 48 states), and hike through glacial canyons, lush meadows thick with wildflowers, and explore oak woodlands. The scenery is spectacular, offering a rich diversity of bird, plant and wildlife. Covering 404,064 acres, there are hundreds of streams, ponds, rivers, creeks and lakes, and over 200 marble caverns to explore. Crescent Meadow and Big Trees Trail offer wonderful spring and early summer wildflower, bird and wildlife viewing. Tokopah Falls Trail is a wonderful 1.7 mile spring hike along the north bank of the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River, leading to the 1,200-foot cascading waterfall. Learn more at (559) 565-334 or www.NPS.gov/seki. Continued on Next Page… PAGE 20

California Nature Trippin’ Continued‌ Sequoia National Forest & Giant Sequoia National Monument - Featuring 33 groves of giant sequoia trees, the Sequoia National Forest is home to the biggest concentration of giant sequoia groves. These groves are protected within the Giant Sequoia National Monument, which encompasses over 353,000 acres of diverse landscape, including two wild and scenic rivers, lakes, and six wilderness areas. Along with the magnificent giant sequoias, the area boasts lush forest meadows and a myriad of plant, bird and animal species. There are limestone caverns to explore and granite domes and spires to see, along with archaeological sites. The activities are endless and include hiking and camping, mountain biking, horse riding, bird and wildlife watching, and spring whitewater rafting. Learn more at (559) 784-1500 or www.FS.USDA.gov/sequoia.



Listen to the Big Blend Radio interview with Leah Launey, Innkeeper of Three Rivers B&B, who talks about Spring Events & Activities in California’s Sequoia Country!

Don’t Miss These Spring Events in San Benito County and Tulare County! SAN BENITO COUNTY EVENTS For up-to-date Hollister and San Juan Bautista event and travel details, call 831-637-5315 or visit www.DiscoverSanBenitoCounty.com.


Living History Days: Every 1st Saturday, San Juan Bautista Mar. 25-26: Annual San Juan Spring Arts & Crafts Festival Apr. 8: Spring Easter Parade, San Juan Bautista Apr. 22-23: Open Studios Art Tour, San Juan Bautista Apr. 30: Fremont Peak Day, San Juan Bautista May 6: Wine & Beer Stroll, Downtown Hollister. May 6-7: 33rd California Indian Market, San Juan Bautista May 17: Historic Dutch Oven Cooking, Demonstrations, San Juan Bautista June 3-4: Portuguese Festival, Hollister.

For Exeter event information visit www.ExeterChamber.com, and for Three Rivers event information visit www.ThreeRivers.com. 1st Saturday Art Day: 1st Saturday every month, Three Rivers Mar. 25: Bathtub Race for Charity, Lake Kaweah in Three Rivers Apr. 7-9: 44th Annual Jazzaffair, Three Rivers Apr. 15: Peddler’s Market, Exeter Apr. 16: Easter Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast, Exeter Apr. 27-30: 67th Annual Three Rivers Lions Team Roping Apr. 28-30: Earth Jam Festival, Lake Kaweah in Three Rivers Continued on Next Page…


TULARE COUNTY EVENTS CONTINUED May 1: Exeter Lion’s Club Brewfest May 7: Exeter Garden Party May 12-14: Annual Center Stage Strings Music Festival, Three Rivers May 13: Exeter Garden Tour May 13-14: 45th Annual Redbud Arts & Crafts Festival, Three Rivers


Follow the Flowers from North San Diego’s Coastline, up to the Mountains and out to the Desert. By Lisa D. Smith and Nancy J. Reid Spring blooms with a bounty of flower power throughout San Diego County, especially in the north county region where floral adventures range from manicured gardens to splashes of roadside color, wildflower wonderlands to lush mountain meadows, flowering fruit orchards to desert cactus blossoms, and so much more.

San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas This gem of a garden spans over 37 acres with four miles of trails, and is home to over 3,300 plant varieties from all over the world as well as local California native plants. The Garden also features the interactive children's garden, art sculptures, and the nation's largest bamboo collection. See www.SDBGarden.org.

COASTAL KA-BLOOM! Cruise up North San Diego’s scenic and historic Highway 101 that runs along the coastline from Del Mar and Solana Beach, to Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Encinitas and Leucadia, and up to Carlsbad and Oceanside. Soak up the relaxing beach atmosphere and ocean views, and delight in the colorful flower-lined streets and charming seaside villages. The area has numerous hotels and beach vacation rentals. Historic Leucadia Beach Inn is a clean and well-appointed lodging choice, with a central location that’s within walking distance to the beach, shops and restaurants. See www.LeucadiaBeachInn.org.


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San Diego Continued… Meditation Gardens at Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas This tranquil retreat is known for its incredible ocean views, colorful plants and beautiful ponds, and meditation areas. Located at 215 West K Street in Encinitas, the Meditation Gardens are open to the public from Tuesday through Sunday. See www.EncinitasTemple.org. Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center in Oceanside Adjacent to the 220-acre Buena Vista Lagoon Ecological Reserve, the Nature Center features interpretive displays that highlight the local flora, fauna, and habitats. Take a walk by the lagoon to explore the plant communities that comprise a coastal lagoon, and take a stroll through the native plant demonstration garden. See www.BVAudubon.org. The Flower Fields A Southern California tradition for over for over sixty years, every spring around 160,000 people head to The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch® to experience one of the largest flower displays in the world, with 50 spectacular acres of blossoming ranunculas, along with roses, orchids, sweet pea blossoms, petunias and poinsettias. From tractor rides to live music, photography workshops and picnics, there are a variety of family-friendly activities to enjoy within these fabulous fields of color, not to mention the picturesque ocean views. Located right off Interstate 5, The Flower Fields spring bloom runs from March 1 - May 14, 2017. See www.TheFlowerFields.com. Continued on Next Page…



San Diego Continued…

MOUNTAIN MAGIC & DESERT DRAMA Leaving the coast, head east on Highway 76 towards Fallbrook. Urban North San Diego County will slowly ease into lush spring countryside of the greater Fallbrook and Bonsall area. As you cross over Interstate 15 into Pala and Pauma Valley, the road will start to wind up towards the mountains on a colorful route through flower farms, nurseries, farm stands and casinos. The drive is beautiful with wildflowers and valley views.

One of the most popular attractions in the region is the Palomar Observatory, home to the famous 200-inch Hale Telescope. Visit the museum and take a guided tour.

Palomar Mountain, California From Highway 76, go left at South Grade Road / Palomar Mountain Rd, and head up the steep road to mile-high Palomar Mountain. Here you’ll experience dense forests of pine, fir and cedar, wildflowers, verdant meadows, and stunning panoramic views. A fantastic bird watching destination, Palomar Mountain State Park has a number of hiking trails and picnic spots, a fishing pond, as well as a campground. Bailey’s Palomar Resort, just a few minutes from the park, is a wonderful retreat for those who want to sleep amongst the trees, whether it’s in a historic cabin or luxury campsite.


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San Diego Continued‌

Watch for deer and wild turkeys on this drive, and enjoy the scenic rolling hills and grassy fields Julian, California that stretch out with wildflowers and regal oak Head back down Palomar Mountain and turn left trees. Turn left onto Highway 78 / 79 at the onto Highway 76 and head towards Lake crossroads in Santa Ysabel, and go up the hill to Henshaw. Turn right on Highway 79 towards Julian, a popular and historic gold rush town. Santa Ysabel and Julian. Spring is spectacular in Julian with apple and pear orchards in full bloom, green vineyards, roadsides adorned with wildflowers, lilacs, sweet peas, iris and daffodils. This lovely mountain hamlet celebrates their flower power with three spring events: Julian Daffodil Show (March 4-5, 2017); Julian Wildflower Show (May 3-6, 2017); Apple Blossom Tea (June 9, 2017). Continued on Next Page‌


San Diego Continued…

Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California From Julian, drive down the rugged Banner Spend a day at Lake Cuyamama where you can Grade (Highway 78), east towards Borrego go boating, take a hike and enjoy a lakeside Springs. As you descend into the over 600,000 picnic. This high desert mountain region has acres of the vast Anza-Borrego Desert State numerous hiking trails to explore including Park, the scenery will open up to dramatic desert Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Volcan Mountain views. Named after Spanish explorer Juan Wilderness Preserve, Santa Ysabel Open Space Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word borrego, Preserve. From bluebirds to woodpeckers, deer or bighorn sheep, the park features wildflowers, to bobcat, you’re sure to get your bird and palm grove oases, a variety of cactus, and yucca wildlife watching fix here, and you’ll definitely see agave plants. The largest state park in California, Anza-Borrego is an anchor in the Mojave and a variety of wildflowers. From vacation cabins Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve. From and cottages to hotels and B&B Inns, and RV campgrounds, the greater Julian area has a good Highway 78, turn left and go up S3 towards the small desert town of Borrego Springs. Once selection of lodging options. Boasting lovely there, go left at the traffic circle and follow the garden and natural areas, a wonderful and tranquil lodging choice is Orchard Country Inn & signs to the park’s visitor center where you can follow a nature trail through the desert garden, Suites, see the video below. view pupfish, and see exhibits.

From the flower blanketed coastal bluffs, to the blooming mountain lilacs and desert cactus blooms, North San Diego makes for a wonderful spring flower adventure!



In Julian, San Diego’s Four-Season Mountain & Back-Country Destination Fresh, Seasonal & Outstanding Farm-to-Table Cuisine prepared by Executive Chef Jeremy Manley Seasonal Menu & Favorites Steak, Seafood, Burgers, Salads, Sandwiches Desserts & After Dinner Beverages Vegetarian, Vegan & Gluten-Free Options Open Daily for Lunch & Dinner Indoor, Fireside & Patio Dining Live Music on Weekends Wine & Beer Pairing Dinners Private Banquet Rooms Thanksgiving & Christmas Holiday Menus Catering & Group Events for all Occasions

Wine Bar featuring Local & Regional Wines & Champagne Micro-Brews & Specialty Beers


By Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’

Photo Courtesy: Ken Kistler Coronado, California is a unique high-end, small town destination in San Diego, just across the bay from Cabrillo National Monument. It certainly lives up to its Spanish translation as the "crowned one." It has everything needed for the perfect getaway, a true diva with a contemporary sassy back history that makes those of us who in the hospitality industry, giggle just a bit. Since I can remember – which certainly accounts for a number of years, I have called this destination “Coronado Island.” I just lately found out that was just its “fanciful” or “promotional” name. Who knew? Since the early 1980's it has been mistakenly known as Coronado Island. The City Council renamed it in an effort to increase tourism. I get that and they certainly convinced me. But actually, Coronado is considered a tombolo, a tied island. By definition, a "tied island" (tombolo) is not an "island". The tombolo is a landform which attaches itself to the mainland via a narrow piece of land such as a spit or bar. Once attached, the area is then known as a tied island.

Listen to Linda Kissam talk about Coronado on Big Blend Radio!

Coronado is connected to the mainland by the Silver Strand (a low, narrow, sandy isthmus 7 miles long.) By car, it is connected via the iconic San Diego-Coronado Bridge (California Route 75). A newer promotional tag line currently being used might be a bit more accurate, “Just a bridge away.” Continued on Next Page…


Charming Coronado Continued… That being said and more to the point, in 2012, Dr. Stephen Leatherman, Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research, ranked Coronado Beach as the best beach in the United States and that is where the real story behind this charming destination really begins. It is a delight all by itself, a true treasure, but is positioned to make any vacation…San Diego inclusive. As a resort city located in San Diego County, California, across and around San Diego Bay from downtown San Diego, it is part of San Diego County, California and easily serves as a base to visit all the delights San Diego has to offer. If you use the sight-seeing trolley company, public transportation, bicycles or Uber you can easily have an inclusive “carless” vacation. Carless Options Walk: Ranked as a “Walkers Paradise” (with a walkability score of 98 out of 100) at www.walkscore.com. Downtown Coronado is just about 1 mile long and wide; with another 8 mile stretch down the Silver Strand/Highway 75 where the classic Loews Coronado Bay Resort is located. The sidewalks are well maintained, so tripping won’t be a main concern. Strolling the streets you’ll see unique seaside homes and businesses, beautiful gardens and views of water everywhere. It's easy to get to all the businesses on Orange Avenue and access the Ferry Landing, as well as the pristine beaches.

Bike: Talk about a biking community! They’re everywhere, ridden by people of all ages — a true statement on the Coronado lifestyle. Bring your own, or rentals of all types and sizes, including tandems, surreys, and children’s tagalongs are available throughout town. Note that children are required to wear helmets. Good news for the walkers/shoppers (we can all get along), bikers are encouraged to keep off the busy shoppers paradise of Orange Avenue. Not to worry, there are 15 miles of dedicated bike paths that meander through historic neighborhoods and along the unspoiled coastline. Bicycle maps are available from the rental shops or at the Coronado Visitor Center. Not the bicycle type? There are also golf carts for rent.


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Charming Coronado Continued… Ferry: I love ferries! They just make the day seem so natural and peaceful. Visitors can take a short scenic 15-minute ride across the bay from San Diego to Coronado. The Ferry departs from two San Diego locations; Broadway Pier and the Convention Center. Departure and Landing in Coronado is at 1201 First Street. The ferry charges $4.75 each way, kids under 4 are free. The Ferry is accessible to wheelchairs and bikes are permitted. Highly recommend! Public Transportation: Here’s something many visitors forget. This small destination has made sure that your experience will be great. There are 2 bus options for Coronado, MTS Bus 901 that travels off Island and MTS Bus 904 that travels along Orange Ave, to the Community Center, to City Hall on Glorietta Bay and to the Bayfront and Ferry Landing. Just make sure you map out your transportation plan on the MTS travel planning page before you purchase your tickets and relax.

Coronado Yellow Cab Company is a 24-hour taxi service, 7 days a week (619-435-6211), and there is always Uber or Lyft, using the app on your phone. Prices are joyfully small getting around Coronado once you are there using Uber or Lyft. Taxis are more. Prices increase dramatically when transporting to downtown San Diego Area. Where to Stay, Eat and Play Now that you know how to get around, here are some of my favorite places to stay and things to do when you are there for a couple of days. Lodging: The $$$$$ quintessential Hotel del Coronado is within steps of shopping beaches and restaurants. Loews Coronado Bay Resort $$$$ epitomizes the true SoCal lifestyle. It’s a bit removed from the action, but is stunningly beautiful and a real retreat. The $$$$$ Marriott Coronado Island Resort & Spa is a high end freshly remodeled beauty. A bit away from some of the action, but who cares? Book your spa services here. Nothing like it on “the island.” Perfect atmosphere for relaxation and renewal. Features casa-like suites that are amazing. I’ve mentioned more of the luxury accommodations, but not to worry, there are several affordable options available.

Taxis/Shuttles/ Uber: Super Shuttle Service from San Diego Airport and Amtrak Station (800974-8885), is easy and convenient to get you to your lodging. It’s about a 25 minute ride. Check prices, but should be under $25. Need your own space? PAGE 34

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Food: Get out of town for this iconic taste of San Diego. The Marine Room features mid to highend dining featuring seafood in a well-dressed setting. Love the waves crashing against the windows at high tide.

In town, check out what production Lamb’s Theatre is offering. This is local polished plays and musicals at its best. It’s on Orange Ave downtown Coronado. Afterwards, stroll over to Miguel's Cocina restaurant for SoCal style Mexican food and cocktails. Superb!

In town consider Del’s ENO Pizzeria & Wine Bar at the Hotel Del Coronado. Think outside, beachy dining. You MUST order the monster pizza which tastes like an In & Out cheese burger. May not be on the menu, but ask for it. It is a chef-driven and created item. If you have the time, go through catering to order a s’mores on the beach tasting. Nothing like it, and oh so California inspired.

There's nothing more rewarding than planning a getaway where everyone has the time of their life. With legendary weather, beautiful beaches and a friendly laid-back vibe, Coronado is a destination that draws you in, demanding you relax and stay in the moment. I’d call it one of my top five “carless” getaways. Smile and enjoy the SoCal sense of being just who you are.

Activities: Book a tour on the Old Town Trolley Tour of downtown San Diego. Do it when you first arrive so you can acquaint yourself with the area. It covers both San Diego and Coronado, so you get it all. This company allows you to “hop on and off.” A true memory making day.

Linda Kissam 'Food, Wine & Shopping Diva' is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit www.AllInGoodTaste.info.


by Adrianne Morrison Grab your travel bag and let’s take a roadtrip. Yes, even you, Grandma! Whether you’re an active or non-active person, you can experience a wonderful visit to Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. This park isn't just for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. It’s a scenic experience no one should miss. I got to thinking about multi-gen vacations recently when a dear friend shared she was spending Christmas alone because her son and family were off “camping.” What if she had stayed close-by at our friend’s new Airbnb, The Cabin at Windy Gap? She could happily participate in some of her family’s camping vacation, sans the tent part, of course. While her loved ones were happily climbing into their sleeping bags, she could have easily headed back to her cozy, comfy bed at the cabin and everyone would fully enjoy their camping holiday. Totally doable.

Listen to travel writer Adrianne Morrison and guitarist Micha Schellhaas discuss Joshua Tree National Park on Big Blend Radio.

This 50’s era desert cabin offers a remodeled interior and garage space in a private and gated setting on a 10-acre property with amazing views. It’s not made for wheelchairs as it has a step-up to the kitchen and step-down to the bedroom/bath, but if you can handle these, a short uphill walk, your stay here is sure to The Cabin at Windy Gap feels remote yet it’s only enchant. The owners, Micha and Nicole are friendly, as is their doggie-greeter, Sahara— 5-minutes from Joshua Tree Village and an easy together they boast a 5-Star rating from their 15-minute drive to the park’s West entrance. growing list of happy Airbnb guests. Continued on Next Page… PAGE 36

Joshua Tree Continued… Temperatures in Joshua Tree vary from the low 40’s to 100, so if you visit in the wintertime be sure to wear layers, and in summertime bring your sunscreen and sun-hats! There is limited to NO cell service so keep your maps handy and observe desert and park safety rules. Note, park campground reservations are recommended (campsite # and location are mandatory if planning a meet-up), and remember no pets are allowed on park trails so plan accordingly. As you enter the park you receive an informative quarterly newspaper showcasing all that is special about Joshua Tree National Park, a map, and listing of current park events. This park appeals to active people as it’s a perfect place for hiking and boulder/rock climbing with campsites in-between the unique rock formations. Plus, it’s open for equestrian use and backcountry roading and camping. But if you’re not into these activities, that shouldn’t stop your visit. From the West entrance, it’s a breathtaking, often surreal drive where you will feel as if you are inside a terrarium or a dream—am I in God’s experimental garden, or a giant child’s playground? PAGE 37

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Joshua Tree Continued… The rock formations morph before your eyes into all kinds of images (they’re called, Mimetoliths). Then the road opens up to vast vistas. My Navy-veteran son and escort for my first drive-thru visit observed “the clouds float along the horizon just like they do in the middle of the ocean.” My advice for the non-active visit: Set your alarm to see the desert sunrise, head to Joshua Tree Village for breakfast at Crossroads Cafe, grab an organic JT coffee for the ride, and pick-up Subways for lunch. Leisurely drive through the park. Stop at the points of interest for a stretch and take lots of pictures. Find a place to lunch where you can watch the awesome rock climbers, then continue on your exploration with an eye towards experiencing the Cholla Cactus Garden at sunset—simply gorgeous. The cacti take on a secret glow as the sun sets—are there hidden fairy lights in this garden? Continued on Next Page… PAGE 38

Joshua Tree Continued… With the family or friends camping nearby in the park, you can meet-up for a campsite dinner, search the dark skies for UFOs, and sing campfire ‘Kumbaya.’ Or, head out of the park towards the North entrance and dine at The Rib Company in Twentynine Palms—be sure to have the cheesecake or take it to go! Once back at The Cabin you can relax, stargaze and climb into your cozy, comfy bed. Staying at The Cabin at Windy Gap in Joshua Tree is my idea of a “camping holiday.” It takes a little more planning and coordination for a multigen/multi-activity-level vacation but well worth the effort and memories. A visit to Joshua Tree National Park is a great place to give it a try.

Adrianne Morrison is a retired aerospace contracts and procurement professional. Her work supported the development of military helicopters, jet aircraft, and satellite programs. Now she shares what’s going on in, and around California’s Spa City, Desert Hot Springs. She is an avid reader, book and cookbook collector, loves photography, real estate, As my son says, “YOLO” (You Only Live Once!) Indeed. Jason purchased the “Interagency Annual design, Pinterest and backyard travel. She writes, Pass: $80—a huge bargain IMO since it allows reviews, and tries to cook something new every day. access to any “federally-managed recreation She likes to travel and visit local tourist spots sites that charge an Entrance Fee.” I purchased because, well, many travel the world but never the $10 Lifetime Senior Pass—I know I’ll be back experience what’s right around the corner in their this Spring—California’s Wildflowers will be own backyards! Visit www.OpenBookMuse.com or profuse this year after all the rain—sounds like a www.DHSLifestyleBlog.com. great time to book a stay in The Cabin at Windy Gap. For more about The Cabin at Windy Gap visit https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/15204532, and to learn more about Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, visit www.NPS.gov/jotr. PAGE 39

Imperial National Wildlife Refuge A Desert Oasis of Wetlands, Wildlife and Winged Wonders By Lisa D. Smith Nestled in the southwest corner of Arizona, encompassing vast stretches of desert, along with the lower Colorado River and natural areas such as the Imperial, Kofa, and Cibola National Wildlife Refuges, Yuma County is a popular birding, nature and outdoor adventure destination. Birders flock to this southwestern biodiverse hotspot year-round (especially through winter and spring) to view the over 400 bird species that call this region their permanent nesting grounds or temporary home during seasonal migration. A scenic desert drive (approx. 90-120 minutes) heading north of Yuma on Highway 95, the 26,000 acre Imperial National Wildlife Refuge sits adjacent to Lake Martinez. Established in 1941, refuge protects a 30 mile stretch of the lower Colorado River, as well as 15,000 acres of designated wilderness area. Located within the northern range of the Sonoran desert, the refuge is made up of upland desert habitat, marshes, and Colorado River backwaters. The river waterways and wetland habitats create a vibrant green oasis, beautifully surrounded by rugged desert mountains. Continued on Next Page‌


Yuma Landing Bar & Grill Come Eat, Drink & Be Merry where the First Airplane Landed in Arizona! Hangar Sports Bar 24 Beers on Tap ~ Daily Drink Specials Appetizers & Entrees Televised Sports Events ~ Live Music & Entertainment

Captain’s Lounge Top-shelf Cocktails ~ Fine Wines ~ Specialty Coffees

Yuma Landing Restaurant American & South-of-the-Border Cuisine Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Win! Win! Win! Sign up on YumaLanding.com for our Captain’s Log e-Newsletter and you will be entered into our monthly drawing for a $25 Yuma Landing Gift Certificate, plus you'll get news on other great giveaways, specials, Yuma Landing recipes, events news & more! Located on the same property as the Historic Coronado Motor Hotel, the Yuma Landing Bar & Grill is the site where the first airplane landed in Arizona, and features a state monument, historic photos and memorabilia.

Groups of 15 or more diners get a 15% discount on breakfast, lunch and dinner. All Military Personnel Receive a 20% Discount on Meals!

195 S. 4th Avenue, Yuma, Arizona Tel: (928) 782-7427


Imperial National Wildlife Refuge Continued‌ From marsh birds to waterfowl and even wintering bald eagles and the endangered Yuma clapper rail, the Imperial NWR wetland areas are important resting, feeding, and nesting habitats for a variety of migratory birds and wildlife species, including desert big horn sheep, mule deer, black-tailed jack rabbits and muskrat. Plantlife ranges from sago pondweed to common cattail, ironwood to catclaw and smoke trees, as well as creosote bush, palo verde, and ocotillo.

Refuge activities include bird and wildlife watching and photography, fishing and boating, hiking, kayaking and canoeing. The Refuge Headquarters and Visitor Center has a birding observatory deck and desert pupfish pond, and also offers maps, brochures and checklists. The visitor center is staffed by volunteers and the hours vary by season. Please call in advance at (928) 783-3371, especially during summer hours, and visit https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Imperial/.


Celebrate the Outdoors this Spring 2017 in Yuma, AZ! Yuma Aububon Society Field Trips & Meetings: Meet with Audubon Society members and local birders to carpool to various birding locations: Feb. 18 - Imperial National Wildlife Refuge; Mar. 25 - Morales Dam; Apr. 15 - Imperial Dam and Mittry Lake areas. Guest speakers take place at the Arizona Game and Fish: Feb. 14, Mar. 14, Apr. 11. See YumaAudubon.org. Feb. 23: Stargazing in the Foothills: Enjoy the cosmos with the Foothills Library Astronomy Group. Tel: (928) 342-1640. Feb. 24 & Mar. 24: Stargazing at West Wetlands Park: Connect to the stars and hear ancient stories of Orion, Andromeda, and more. West Wetlands Park. Call 928-373-5200 Mar. 4: Sunset Canoe Trip: Experience breathtaking wonder as the sun sets over the Colorado River and fills the Sonoran sky with amazing color. Call 928-373-5200.


A Unique Sonoran Desert Park By Eva Eldridge

The early morning light softens the landscape making the beauty of the area seem unreal. I love driving through the desert with the slanted sun of early morning or late evening. Shadows from the saguaros reach across the road and the mountains are dusky purple. There is something noteworthy in every mile as we get closer to the Kris Eggle Visitor Center. A patch of flowering lupine here, a multi-armed saguaro over there, and the Ajo Mountain Range showing different aspects, and we must stop to capture the image.

Plant and animal life abound amongst the rocks and desert pavement. Birds soar in the clear blue skies. Patience might even bring sight of the allusive prong horned antelope.

Nancy Reid, Lisa Smith and I, are on Highway 85 between Why and Lukeville which bisects Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Most of the time I’ve traveled this road, I’m on my way to the coastal area of Puerto Penasco, Mexico. My companions and I joke about the lack of organ pipe cactus because you have to look hard to find any from the highway. That’s the secret of this National Monument. It’s the lure. Come see the cactus, come learn what this Monument is all about.

You can find desert marigold with bright yellow flowers, fairy dusters with pink fuzzy tips and in April, the ocotillo produce a flame of red orange flowers on the top of their spiky stems.

Seasons have their affect on the desert life. During the spring, especially if the rains were generous the previous year, wildflowers can fill the blank spaces with the brilliant yellow of brittle bush. Purplish blue lupines grow low to the ground near disturbed soil.

Organ Pipe hugs the border of Mexico for thirty three miles. This area of the Sonoran Desert is unique with its saguaros, cholla, prickly pear, ocotillo and the organ pipe cactus because it is one of the few places the organ pipe cactus grows naturally north of Mexico. PAGE 44

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Organ Pipe Cactus Continued‌ The cactus bursts forth in delicate blossoms of magenta, white, pink, deep maroon, yellow, and variations on the theme as spring advances. Soon it will be time for the waxy white flowers of the saguaros to appear. After fertilization, saguaro fruits ripen later in the summer in bright red clusters attracting birds, bats, bugs, and humans that nourish themselves on the sweet fruit. Hiking trails are a great way to experience what the desert is about. The staff at the Visitors Center can help you chose a trail that is right for you, whether it is the short nature trail or the Estes Canyon-Bull Pasture trail. Be mindful of the desert. Bring plenty of water, wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots, and wear a hat and sunscreen. Even during cooler days, the sun can be During your visit to Organ Pipe, investigate the relentless. history of the area which is rich with archeology. It is believed that the land has been occupied for During the hike you might see wildlife like more than 10,000 years by various peoples. rabbits, javalinas, lizards and birds. The Some left signs of their habitation and others monument has documented more than 270 passed through. Only a small percentage of the types of birds and seventy different mammals archeology sights have been investigated. Father including several different types of bats. Eusebio Kino passed through the area in the late 1600’s and introduced new types of fruits and vegetables. Continued on Next


Organ Pipe Cactus Continued… The O’odham lived here for several hundred years and continue to occupy the surrounding country. Ranchers and miners moved here in the late 1800’s and left their mark on the land. Several mine claims were made, sold and reopened, but none proved to be as profitable as the copper mine in Ajo. Now there are remnants of these mines, and the bits of silver and copper that remain are protected inside the boundary of the Monument. Cattle ranching proved to be unsustainable and cattle overgrazed the area. Organ Pipe National Monument offers the visitor Fifty years later the slow growing desert is still an exceptional taste of the Sonoran Desert trying to recover. including more than 580 plant species and animal life that have adapted to the harsh If you have time, there are two campgrounds in environment. Visitors are surprised by the varied Organ Pipe. Twin Peaks is developed with RV landscapes and history of this land. spaces and tent spaces, and Alamo is more remote and only allows vans and pickup campers along with a few tent sites. Spend the night in one of these areas because the night sky is a treasure all its own. There is little light pollution in the Monument and it’s a perfect place to set up a telescope. Even a pair of binoculars can reveal the magic of the universe.

The Monument is less than three hours from Phoenix, Tucson, or Yuma and it is worth every minute you spend there. We must support places as unique as the Monument because without it, we lose our history and the diversity that makes our country strong. For more information, please visit the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov/orpi. Eva Eldridge is a contributing writer for Big Blend Radio & TV Magazine and Spirit of America Magazine. She also writes fiction and poetry. Visit www.EvaEldridge.com


Celebrate the Arts, Explore The Outdoors, Soak Up Some History & Have Fun! By Lisa D. Smith & Nancy J. Reid South of Reno and east of Yosemite National Park, Yerington is located in western Nevada, just off the Pony Express National Historic Trail and on the California National Historic Trail. Yerington’s historic downtown district is charming with shops, restaurants and casinos, and its surrounding Mason Valley and Smith Valley areas are beautiful with lush farm lands that stretch out to natural areas encompassing rugged high desert hillsides and desert shrub lands, wetland ponds and vibrant meadows active with birdlife, and wind carved canyons that dip down to cool running waters.

Yerington Theater for the Arts PAGE 48

Mason Valley Wildlife Management Area Yerington Continued…

The greater Yerington area is also a hub for geocachers who come from across the country and around the world to search for cache treasures along the numerous geocaching trails.

From hearty farm-style breakfasts to decadent baked goodies, sumptuous pizza and mouthwatering steak dinners, there’s a variety of dining If you love bird watching, the Mason Valley options to whet your appetite! Wildlife Management Area is just a few minutes from Yerington. The management area is home Celebrate The Arts to a series of wetlands that are a habitat to a The Yerington Theatre for The Arts is housed in variety of wildlife and birds that range from the beautifully restored historic Yerington tundra swans in the winter to over 21 species of Grammar School No. 9, within the Jeanne Dini duck, pelicans, California quail, ring-necked Cultural Center in downtown Yerington. It’s a great place to stop for a lunch bite at the café, or pheasants, magpies, and osprey. to enjoy a performance or cultural heritage Nesting species of raptors in the area include event, and view one of the many visual art great horned owl, short-eared owl, Cooper’s exhibitions. The center also runs educational hawk, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, programs, and is host to the Yerington Farmers Swainson’s hawk and northern harrier. Other Market. Tel: (775) 463-1783. species include bald eagles, golden eagles, prairie falcons, Peregrine falcons, and merlins. Explore The Outdoors Songbirds that regularly nest include common The greater Yerington region is an outdoor yellowthroats, horned larks, marsh wrens, redparadise for nature lovers, bird watchers, winged and yellow-headed blackbirds, Savannah geocachers and hikers. Walker River, Walker sparrows, and song sparrows. Other less Lake and Wilson Canyon are nearby outdoor destinations to explore on foot, and great places common are blue grosbeak, ash-throated flycatcher, black phoebe, and western bluebird. for a relaxed picnic lunch.

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Yerington Continued… Soak Up Some History Spend a few hours or even a full day touring Fort Churchill and Buckland Station State Historic Parks. A 30 minute scenic drive from Yerington, Fort Churchill was built as a U.S. Army fort in 1861. Tour the ruins, visit the museum and cemetery, picnic, and hike the 1.6 mile interpretive nature trail that runs from the Fort, along the Carson River to historic Buckland Station. Keep your eyes peeled for beaver, fox, mule deer, wild turkey and Canadian geese. Buckland Station is just down the road from Fort Churchill, and was a supply center and boarding house. You can tour the house and picnic outside. Both sites are part of the Pony Express National Historic Trail and California National Historic Trail. Tel: (775) 577-2345

Gomphothere mandible at the Lyon County Museum Cha-Ching! It’s Time for Fun! Main Street in downtown Yerington offers the temptation of luck with three different casinos including Dini’s Lucky Club Restaurant & Casino, which happens to be the longest family owned and operated casino in Nevada. Have fun playing the slots and various games of chance like keno and bingo, enjoy your favorite libation, grab a bite, and let the good times roll! And as luck will have it, all three casinos are within a short walking distance from the Yerington Inn.

Explore Lyon County Museum in historic downtown Yerington. From local Native American culture to the pioneers, miners, farmers and ranchers who developed the land, the museum features eight buildings of artifacts and exhibits that preserve and showcases the If you’re looking for an authentic yet unique region’s diverse history and heritage. You’ll see “Small Town America” experience, put Yerington an impressive array of artifacts that range from a on your travel list! human hair embroidered picture to a nickel slot machine, dental tools to a gomphothere mandible, and more. Tel: 775-463-6576


Yerington Continued‌

The Bakery Gallery Popular destination offering a delicious variety of cakes, pies, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, Danish pastries, coffee cakes, biscotti, chocolate truffles, desserts, and breads. They serve coffee and espresso and pre-fixe to-go dinners. 215 W. Goldfield Ave., Yerington, NV 89447 Tel: (775) 463-4070, www.TheBakeryGallery.com


By Nancy J. Reid & Lisa D. Smith One of the most incredible things our National Parks do for us, is preserve our history in the most accurate and honest way possible. This is not easy, especially if parts of the history are not exactly something of which we are proud. But, knowing our history means we can move forward without making the same mistakes, learning from our past to ensure a better future. From the perspective of the owners of the plantations to the slaves that built and ran the plantations, Cane River Creole National Historical Park brings to light what plantation life was like. The Prud’homme’s home on the Oakland Plantation is a living history showcase that covers over 200 years of plantation heritage and culture. The families that lived on this plantation went through periods of good fortune as well as poverty, war, freedom for slaves and eventually, modernization and the changes it brought to everyday life.

Big Blend Radio interview with Arlene Gould – Executive Director of Natchitoches Convention & Visitors Bureau, Rebecca Blankenbaker - Director of Communications of Cane River National Heritage Area, and Carrie A. Mardorf, Superintendent of Cane River Creole National Historical Park.

The history of this area is tied to the Creole Culture, a mixture of French, Spanish, African and Native American peoples from the late 1700s, who settled along the forested banks of the Red River. Together, the mixing of these peoples and their traditions settled and farmed this area, leaving behind the grand plantation homes and communities supported by cotton, tobacco and indigo. PAGE 52

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Lest We Forget Continued…

Magnolia Plantation, just a few miles away from Oakland, brings the process of picking, sorting, What was it like to be a slave? What was it cleaning and baling cotton to life. You can see like to live in these grand homes? What was it how it evolved from mule-powered to steamlike after the Civil War changed a way of life powered presses, and also visit the old forever? Blacksmith Shop. A visit to this historic park, strolling through the many buildings on the Oakland Plantation, will not only answer these questions, it will help you ‘feel’ what it was like. This plantation is unique in that it shows history in stages, from building to building, from artifact to artifact. The main house shows a kitchen from the 1950s, but at the same time, a room under the house where the nanny lived. It shows what a slave cabin was like, even as it became a sharecropper’s home for those freed people, who chose to stay and work the farm instead of leave.


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Cane River Continued… Besides the Main House, these plantations had stores, doctor’s offices, slave quarters, overseer’s houses, barns, sheds, and more. It is unique to find plantations with so many buildings left intact, housing implements and artifacts that will give you a glimpse of what life was like for all those who toiled and lived within these historic walls. Not only does this park protect this chapter of our history, but it preserves the rich Creole Culture that took root in the area, making it their home, and making it what it is today. Located near Natchitoches in northwest Louisiana, Cane River Creole National Historical Park is part of the Cane River National Heritage Area. For directions, tours and more information visit http://nps.gov/cari.


Mar. 18: Bloomin’ on the Bricks: Spring Garden Festival featuring lawn and garden vendors, nurseries, plants and garden art, plus, musical entertainment, children’s activities and food vendors. Tel: (866) 941-6246 / (318) 352-2746. Plus, the Natchitoches Art Guild & Gallery will present Art Along the Bricks, a free outdoor art show, on Front Street all day. Tel: (318) 352-1626 Apr. 22-23: Melrose Arts & Crafts Festival: Fine arts & crafts held on the grounds of the historic Melrose Plantation, food vendors and home tours. Premier event for over 40 years. Melrose Plantation is 8 miles south of downtown historic Natchitoches. Tel: (318) 581-8042

DISCOVER NATCHITOCHES, LOUISIANA! Founded in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, Natchitoches is the original French Colony and oldest city in Louisiana, and celebrates a vibrant blend of French, Spanish, African, Native American and Creole cultures. Natchitoches is home to the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, is part of the Cane River National Heritage Area, and is the final destination on the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail. For travel and up-to-date event information call (800) 259-1714, or visit www.Natchitoches.com.


Apr. 29-July 29: Cane River Green Market: Held on Saturdays from 8am-12pm on the downtown riverbank in the historic district. Shop for fresh produce, culinary goods and crafts, and enjoy live entertainment, children’s activities, and educational programs. Tel: (318) 352-2746 May 5-6: Annual El Camino Real Sale on the Trail: Weekend shopping adventure along the 175 miles of the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail. Follow the trail through the Caddo region which stretches from LA Hwy 6 in Natchitoches to TX Hwy 21 into Alto, TX. Tel: (800) 259-1714. June 3: Cookin’ on the Cane BBQ Competition & Festival: This cook-off is open to professional and non-professional cooks. There will also be food vendors, entertainment and children’s activities throughout the event. Tel: (318) 332-1470

Feb. 25: Krewe of Dionysus Mardi Gras Parade: Formed in 1995, the Krewe of Dionysus has over 300 members. This family friendly night time parade consists of a dozen or more super floats, lots of throws including beads, cups and specialty items, and marching bands. Tel: (318) 471-0923 Mar. 4: Dragon Boat Race: Natchitoches. Tel: 318.357.5213 PAGE 55

Where Abraham Lincoln’s Legacy Begins Located in central Kentucky, the historic city of Springfield is the seat of Washington County, the very first county created in the state. Established in 1793, Springfield is part of the Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail, and is the ancestral home of Abraham Lincoln’s family. The 1816 Courthouse on Main Street preserves the original marriage certificate of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln’s parents. You can also stop by Nancy Hanks’ cabin and museum at the Lincoln Homestead State Park. Plus, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park is about 45 miles from Springfield.

Listen to the Big Blend Radio interview about Historic Springfield, with Stephanie McMillin – Executive Director of Springfield Tourism Commission.

There are historic, art and cultural sites to experience, as well as events that range from musical performances to a variety of annual festivals. The Holy Land Tour encompasses Nestled in the heart of Kentucky, a region known historic churches and sites that are frequented for its “Bourbon, Horses and History”, Springfield for their architectural value, as well as for family is on the Lincoln Scenic Byway and is part of the history and genealogical information. The charming historic downtown features museums Kentucky Bourbon Trail, TransAmerica Bicycle and historic buildings, restaurants and shops. Trail, the Barn Quilt Trail and Kentucky Fiber Lodging choices range from historic inns to Trail. The region boasts numerous outdoor vacation rentals, and RV camping. activities including golf, hiking and bicycling, birding and wildlife watching, along with fishing Continued on Next Page… and canoeing. PAGE 56

Springfield, Kentucky Continued…

Mark Your Calendar for these Upcoming Springfield Events! For up-to-date travel and event information, contact the Springfield Tourism Commission at (859) 3365412 x1 or www.VisitSpringfieldKY.com. April 15-17, 22-24: Central Kentucky Theatre: “Happy Days, The Musical” by Youth Actors April 22: New Pioneers Earth Day Celebration & Farmers Market April 24: Junk in the Trunk Event April 24-25: Elizabeth Madox Roberts Conference April 24, 30 & May 1: SCC Mid Kentucky Chorus presents “Your Hit Parade” April 30: Springfield Green Festival New Pioneers May 13-15: Theatre: Disney’s Sleeping Beauty by Bluegrass Kids May 14: Bourbon Bike Ride May 21: BPW Wine Tasting May 28: Farmers Market Opens Photos: Courtesy Mark Nally


There are fifteen National Parks protected for their natural beauty and available for the enjoyment of all. The management of these parks, to maintain their beauty, flora, fauna, geology and dramatic landscapes, is an extremely difficult balancing act. Allowing public access while keeping these places wild and natural, is a very delicate operation, with the ever present risk of losing the very thing that the people are there to see and experience. The formation of the National Parks was a direct result of the need for countryside recreation. So much of the population of England was, in the 1920’s, still living in cramped and overcrowded towns and cities. Access to open countryside was for the rich and the people who lived in the country, and most of the town and city folk had to make do with town parks and similar open spaces for their recreation. By the 1930’s, day trips by train to the seaside were often the only time some people were actually able to breathe clean, fresh air! After many years of protest and even the imprisonment of five men during a mass trespass in 1932, the 1950’s saw the first National Parks set up.

Glynn Burrows talks about England's National Parks on Big Blend Radio.

This started with the Peak District and including the Lake District, Dartmoor, and the North Yorkshire Moors. Others were added over the ensuing years and the last one to be added, in 2009, was the South Downs. The family of parks includes one which is on my doorstep. The area concerned has a name which causes a little confusion, as well as a smile amongst many of my American visitors as it is called “The Norfolk Broads”. Asking my visitors if they would like to see The Norfolk Broads often raises a few eyebrows! Continued on Next Page…


England’s National Parks Continued… This area is a network of waterways which were formed by the flooding of medieval peat diggings and is a real haven for birds and wildlife, thanks to the protection which comes with being a park. This is a great area for birding, sailing, photography, painting and writing, as well as walking and many other pass-times which involve peace and quiet and the enjoyment of the natural world. Together with all these wonders of the natural world, we also have stunning ruins, amazing Churches and lovely little villages too. Enjoying a pint in the garden of a pub while listening to the water lapping on the side of the river-bank is one of the best ways to spend a summer’s evening. One of my other favourite National Parks is the Lake District as it was where I spent an activity holiday when I was teenager. Canoeing on the lake, orienteering, water-skiing, grass skiing, archery and generally being a teenager, all stick in my head as very happy memories. I was back in the area only last year, with a couple who wanted to visit the town of Bowness on the way back from Scotland and I really enjoyed showing them around this beautiful area. The main places to visit on Lake Windermere are Bowness and Ambleside. PAGE 59

Photo Courtesy: George Hodan England’s National Parks Continued… Bowness is the place to pick up a boat for a trip out on the water and Ambleside is the place to enjoy some of the famous views, especially of the Bridge House, which was supposedly built on a bridge to avoid paying land tax. The main reason for visiting this area is not for visiting towns though, it is to see the amazing natural beauty of this area and that is around every corner. Lakes and mountains, rivers and waterfalls, rocky outcrops and hillside grazing grounds. If you enjoy walking, you can walk for miles, if not, driving around the tiny lanes and tracks it is surprising what can be discovered. Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Thomas De Quincy and John Ruskin were all hugely influenced by the outstanding beauty of this area and Hill Top, the home of Beatrix Potter is open to visitors. I can’t promise that Peter Rabbit will be there, or Jemima PuddleDuck but I can promise that you will fall in love with the area, just as I have. 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.Norfolk-Tours-co.uk PAGE 60

By Victoria Chick, Figurative Artist and Early 19th & 20th Century Print Collector

Albert Bierstadt - Mt. Adams, Washington

The Cascade Range runs from well into Canada, south through Washington and Oregon and dips east into northern California. It includes a number of spectacular still-active volcanic mountains including Mt. St. Helens, notorious for its gigantic eruption in 1980. Artists have recorded the major peaks of the Cascade Range since at least 1792 when visual Listen to Victoria Chick talk about the records were a part of British exploration. Before artists of the Cascades on Big Blend Radio! U.S. overland routes were established, sailing expeditions were aware of the great peak now known as Mt. Rainier which could be seen from One of the earliest artists was Paul Kane who the Pacific Ocean. followed in the tradition of George Caitlin in his desire to record the wilderness before it The Louis and Clark expedition brought back disappeared, yet he was a fine artist with a good drawings of Mt. Rainier in the first decade of the color sense and the drama of his paintings 19th century, observed from their vantage point makes him a precursor to the Romanticists. A Mt. on the Columbia River. These drawings were St. Helens painting by Kane is particularly made into engravings in 1854 when studies were interesting because we can see what it looked being made for the idea of a transcontinental like during a period of volcanic activity from 1800 railroad. to 1857 and before the last major eruption in 1980. Continued on Next Page‌ PAGE 62

Artists of the Cascades Continued‌ Some early artworks of Mt. Rainier are titled Mt. Tacoma. The railroads, citizens of Tacoma, Citizens of Seattle, Congress, and two U.S. Presidents were part of a naming dispute that lasted over 50 years. By the mid-to-late 19th century, enough was known about the West and Northwest that a few East coast artists ventured by ship or stagecoach to see for themselves the natural wonders that had been reported. These painters had a dramatic, Romantic intent in their art rather than factual recording as previous artists had done. The most famous of the Romanticists was Albert Bierstadt, who had painted the Sierras of California and eventually went to the coastal areas of Washington and Oregon in the late Paul Kane 1890s where he also painted Mt. Rainier, Mt. The Seattle/Tacoma area had many art Hood, and Mt. St. Helens. influences by the early years of the 20th century. The indigenous tribal art using flat color shapes, East coast painters continued to visit the Pacific Northwest into the 20th century but drifted away the influence of Asian painting and philosophy, as well as the introduction of abstract trends from the Romantic style toward some of the picked up in NY by visiting West Coast artists, newer ways of painting. For example, Childe Hassam, an American Impressionist, painted Mt. made Seattle and Tacoma rather a hothouse for new art, especially in painting and sculpture. Hood in pastel tints with loose brushwork. Continued on Next Page‌

Paul Kane - Mt. St. Helens Erupting at Night PAGE 63

Artists of the Cascades Continued‌ The area rivaled New York in the art produced, but was quieter in promoting itself. Some of the Pacific Northwest artists had exhibitions in major galleries and modern art museums in NY where their work was lauded as radical. It took some time for NY critics to understand that Pacific Northwest artists were building on and reinterpreting older ideas and cultures. Interestingly, few of these artists painted the spectacular landscape around them. One reason might be that the invention of photography made painting Mt. Hood or Mt. Rainier less interesting to artists using traditional mediums by the 20th century. Possibly they felt all had been said about it, visually.

1940’s abstract artists, like Mark Tobey who was influenced by Oriental Calligraphy, were even more appreciated after WWII when more Americans had had direct experience with Japan, Korea, Oriental thought, and aesthetics. Some WPA era artists residing within the Cascade Range were inspired by the landscape and supported themselves by providing art that was understandable to everyone. The Cascade Range as an art subject has not diminished in its appreciation by numbers of viewers even today. The magnificence of the Cascade Range has a long history of artists trying to capture it that continues, whether through paint or through digital images. The surrounding lands and history and culture of the Pacific Northwest also foster a creative environment for visual artists of any medium or subject.

Instead, expressive figure painting, cubist still life and figure painting, and organic or geometric Victoria Chick is the founder of the Cow Trail Art sculpture forms seemed to be of more interest Studio in southwest New Mexico. She received a B.A. to serious artists of the 20th century. in Art from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and awarded an M.F.A. in Painting from Kent State University in Ohio. Visit her website at www.ArtistVictoriaChick.com. Childe Hassam - Mt. Hood


Artist-in-Residence Programs for US Military Veterans

Meet Marine Corps Veteran Artist Nicholas Collier Spending a month in the National Parks Arts Foundation’s Artist in Residence program in Big Bend National Park, Nicholas was named the first Veteran Artist in Residence for the National Parks system in 2016. He is now Gettysburg National Military Park’s Artist in Residence for January/February 2017, where he will pursue photography, sculpture and film-making during his month-long residency on the Gettysburg battlefield. Collier received his BFA from George Mason University, Virginia, in 2012 and his MFA from Florida State University in 2016.

Big Blend Radio interview with Tanya Ortega - Founder of National Parks Arts Foundation; artist and US military veteran Nicholas Collier; and Chris Gwinn Chief of Interpretation, Gettysburg National Military Park.

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Nick Collier Continued…. He works as an interdisciplinary artist, employing photography, social practice, and sculpture to explore the intersection of ideas revolving around place, history, and contemporary culture. He was named the first Veteran Artist in Residence for the National Parks system in 2016, and his work has been shown in galleries in Washington D.C., Virginia, and Florida. He lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he splits his time between his studio practice, the development of his start-up Aloft Aerial Imaging, and working as a residential remodeler.

Spending a month in the National Parks Arts Foundation’s artist-in-residence program in Big Bend National Park, Nick Collier was named the first Veteran Artist in Residence for the National Parks system in 2016.

“Art has helped me move on from things you do in war, that aren’t permissible in society,” said Collier, whose art reflects on war, combat, and military themes. His residency will allow him to take inspiration from the historic battlefield of Gettysburg and how it reflects on the battlefields and soldier life today. The artist is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, with a combat action ribbon for his time in Afghanistan. His unit was in Afghanistan running missions that set the frame work and would in part lead up to the actions portrayed in the movie, “Lone Survivor,” with Mark Wahlburg. His unit was the first unit in the Korengal Valley prior to the Army unit portrayed in the movie, “Restrepo.” “Gettysburg inspires so much passion in our visitors today, and the Artists-in-Residence are providing new connections to people from all walks of life,” said Ed W. Clark, superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park. “Our Artist-inResidence programs are engaging new audiences and connecting with visitors through the power and the passion of art.” The National Parks Arts Foundation (NPAF), a 501(c)3 non-profit, has expanded its Artist-inResidence program Service at Gettysburg National Military Park to include 12 artists over 12 months. The Gettysburg Foundation supports the Gettysburg program which has become a model for artist residencies in all of the national parks. PAGE 67

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Nick Collier Continued…

Arts Revolver: Open to any and all artistic media including cross-overs or hybrids with any of the other programmatic themes.

The NPAF has introduced four programmatic themes to the residencies in 2017 which will alternate: U.S. Military Veteran Artists: During January, July and November 2017, Gettysburg’s Artists-inResidence will be U.S. Military Veterans, bringing a unique perspective to arts in the park. Alembic Arts (New Media): This programmatic theme speaks to many varied and mixed media including film image, technologies, augmented Realities, Virtual Realities and any and all combinations with these in themselves of combining classic art media with such “new media.”

LiterAudiArts: NPAF’s most fascinating AiR programmatic theme focuses on many and all Linguistic, words, sounds, song and music. A few examples of this are poetry, screenplays, spoken word, environmental recordings, sound art, wall of sound experimentation. Featured Images by Nick Collier

NPAF selects any sort of artist for national park residencies, from traditional landscape painters, photographers, to performers, installations, films/video, as well as writers, poets, sound artists, and new arts media. More information about these opportunities is available at www.nationalparksartsfoundation.org. PAGE 68


HOLLYWOOD HISTORY IN NATIONAL PARKS When people think of national parks, movies are not usually the first thing that comes to mind. National Parks not only provide a home for wildlife, they also provide gorgeous locations for Hollywood to use when shooting its movies.

‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ was filmed in Zion National Park.

Listen to Steve Schneickert’s Big Blend Radio podcast, where he recalls five movie classics shot on National Park Service land including: 1940’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, 1959’s ‘North by Northwest’, 1960’s ‘Spartacus’, 1969’s ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, and 1987’s ‘The Quick and the Dead’.

‘The Grapes of Wrath’ was filmed in Petrified Forest National Park.


‘North by Northwest’ was filmed in Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

‘The Quick and the Dead’ was filmed in Wupatki National Monument. NPS Photo.

‘Spartacus’ was filmed in Death Valley National Park.


Two Unique Artist-in-Residence Programs Dry Tortugas National Park Over the past few years, the National Parks Arts Foundation has partnered with Dry Tortugas National Park, west of Key West in Southern Florida, to create an artist-in-residence opportunity in pristine isolation, at Loggerhead Key. Loggerhead Key is the westernmost of 7 islets of the Dry Tortugas, and features a number of historic sites, and is a natural habitat for many unusual species. Also on the key is Dry Tortugas lighthouse (46 meters high). The key is 250 by 1200 meters in size, and has the highest elevation in the Dry Tortugas, at 10 feet (3.0 m). For more about Loggerhead Key is and Dry Tortugas National Park, visit www.NPS.gov/drto.

Big Blend Radio interview about the unique Artist-in-Residence Programs in Island National Parks, with: Tanya Ortega - Founder of the National Parks Arts Foundation, Natalie Gates - Superintendent of Haleakalā National Park in Hawaii, and Glenn Simpson – Park Manager of Dry Tortugas National Park in

Dry Tortugas Photos courtesy of NPS: Above, Lighthouse at Loggerhed Key, Photo to right: Graysby, a type of grouper fish,


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Island National Parks Continued…

Haleakalā National Park The National Parks Arts Foundation has partnered with Haleakalā National Park to create a unique artist-in-residence opportunity. Located on the island of Maui in Hawaii, Haleakalā has some of the most other-wordly landscapes in all of Hawaii. The Park boundaries include the dormant lunar landscapes of the Haleakalā crater, as well as rainforests and waterfalls and pools leading down to Maui’s legendary coastlines. This is a unique dramatic environment for all media to flourish and to inspire new breakthroughs in process and result. Learn more about the park at www.NPS.gov/hale. The National Parks Arts Foundation (NPAF) is the only nationwide non-profit providing Artist-inResidence Programs (AiR), Workshops, Exhibits and Museum Loans uniquely in cooperation with National Parks, National Monuments, State Parks, World Heritage Sites and other park locations. To discover all that the foundation has to offer or to apply to one of NPAF’s residencies, visit www.nationalparksartsfoundation.org Haleakala Photos courtesyof NPS: Top Right - Nēnē at Kapalaoa Cabin area Middle Right - Kuloa Point Trail, Jackie Frost Bottom - View of Haleakalā Crater from the Haleakalā Visitor Center.


Photo Courtesy of Sharlynn Velez Listen to the Big Blend Radio interview with Jeroen and Maggie Boersma, a husband-wife photography and travel team from Amsterdam, who talk about their adventures exploring and documenting America’s historic highways, classic and neon signs, and National Parks. Enjoy their photography featured on the following pages, and see even more in the book “Route 66 Roadside Signs & Advertisements,” by Joe Sonderman and Jim Hinckley. You can also follow them on www.Instagram.com/66kicks.

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Click Here for the Online Jigsaw Puzzle of Arches National Park, photographed by Jeroen & Maggie Boersma!


You can get your kicks–and pretty much anything else–on Route 66, provided you see the sign that’s advertising it! Route 66 Roadside Signs and Advertisements by Joe Sonderman and Jim Hinckley showcases the colorful history of commercial signage along the Mother Road. From kitschy to classy, this book includes photos of early vintage signs as well as modern signs. The vivid photos are organized according to type of establishment the signs are for, such as roadside attractions, motels, restaurants, businesses of ill repute (bars, strip clubs, etc.), and more. While Route 66 Roadside Signs and Advertisements places emphasis on high-quality visuals, it also includes anecdotes and history about the signs that sprang up along the sides of Route 66. The most famous Route 66 signs get center-stage treatment in the book, with two-page spreads accompanied by detailed text. Such signs include icons like the Blue Swallow in Tucumcari, New Mexico, the Munger Moss in Lebanon, Missouri, the U-Drop Inn at Shamrock, Texas, and the El Vado in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Additional information is included, such as background about buzzing neon lights–how these signs are actually made and how they get restored. Each image from this famous American roadway could be a postcard, so allow yourself to be rubbernecked by Route 66 Signs and Advertisements. Constructed in 1960, the Pony Soldier Motel was located on the eastern end of the motel row in Tucumcari. The sign was updated to showcase modern amenities and still stands. But the motel came down in 2010. Photo: Jim Hinckley PAGE 78

Listen to the Big Blend Radio interview with Route 66 experts Joe Sonderman and Jim Hinckley. Continued on Next Page…

In 1929, Route 66 shifted to the Municipal or Free Bridge, renamed in honor of General Douglas MacArthur in 1942. With some variations, 66 followed Chouteau, Manchester, Boyle, and Clayton Avenues through Forest Park before picking up McCausland and turning west on Manchester. A vintage Coca-Cola sign still adorns the Eat-Rite Diner on Chouteau while another advertises six hamburgers for $5.10. Route 66 Continued… Joe Sonderman has authored eleven books on Route 66. He is the editor of the Route 66 Association of Missouri’s Show Me Route 66 magazine and is the author of many articles for Route 66 magazine. He has also written books on the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and two others on the history of St. Louis. Additionally, Sonderman assisted the Autry Museum with its recent exhibition on Route 66 and is currently working with the Missouri History Museum on a Route 66 exhibit. He has a collection of more than ten thousand vintage Route 66 images, as well as hundreds of original photos. www.66postcards.com. Continued on Next Page…

A signpost marks the turnoff to Odell. When Route 66 ran through town, it was so busy that a tunnel was constructed under the roadway to allow churchgoers and schoolchildren to cross safely. In 1944 a four-lane bypass was constructed a few blocks to the west. The tunnel was no longer needed and was filled in. PAGE 79

At Paris Springs, Fred Mason established a garage, café, and cabins he named Gay Parita, after his wife. Mrs. Mason died in 1953, and Fred didn’t rebuild after the station burned in 1955. Gary and Fred Turner built this replica, complete with vintage signage, in 2007. Route 66 Continued… Since his childhood, Jim Hinckley dreamed of being an author. After numerous detours into truck driving, mining, ranching, and a variety of other endeavors, he turned to writing a weekly column on automotive history for his local newspaper, the Kingman Daily Miner, in his adopted hometown of Kingman, Arizona. From that initial endeavor more than twenty years ago, Hinckley has written extensively on his two primary passions: automotive history and travel. He is a regular contributor to Route 66, American Road, Hemmings Classic Car, and Old Cars Weekly, and he was an associate editor at Cars & Parts. www.JimHinckleysAmerica.com.


Historic Coronado Motor Hotel Yuma's Destination Hotel Celebrating Over 75 Years of Tradition Where The Past Makes History

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Published by Voyageur Press, the BACKROADS book series take travelers off the interstates and main drags to explore the roads less traveled and the sights less seen. Each book features driving tours, maps and directions to visit unique scenic, historic and cultural attractions along with stunning landscapes and vistas.

Listen to the Backroads of America Big Blend Radio panel discussion with authors Paul M. Franklin, Jim Hinckley , and Gary Clark

BACKROADS OF FLORIDA Written by Paul M. Franklin with photographs by Nancy Mikula, this second edition of Backroads of Florida contains all-new routes along timeless roads with new, vibrant photography and pithy stories of what can be found on your drive through bucolic backroads. As you explore the roads less traveled, you'll follow in the footsteps of the Spanish explorers, pirates, and cowboys who shaped Florida's early history. Whether it's skimming across the Everglades in an airboat, snorkeling with manatees in a crystalline river, or paddling your kayak through a cypress swamp teeming with alligators, orchids, and tropical birds, there's a world of excitement and beauty waiting for you. Leave Disney World and the hectic bustle of Miami Beach to the tourists. With this book, you've got a one-of-a-kind trip in store. www.PMFranklin.com

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Backroads Continued‌ BACKROADS OF ARIZONA Written by Jim Hinckley with photographs by Kerrick James, this second edition of Backroads of Arizona guides you into the heart of Arizona with twentyfive driving tours and adventures that take you off the beaten path to stunning landscapes and breathtakingly beautiful vistas. Marvel at the multicolored hues of the Painted Desert and the jaw-dropping majesty of the snowcapped San Francisco Peaks. Wander into a sky-high forest of regal ponderosa pines and quaking aspens near Flagstaff, scan the deep blue waters of Lake Havasu on the western border, and feel dwarfed by the incredible Grand Canyon. With scenic drives in all corners of the state, Backroads of Arizona offers insight into Arizona's rich history, from the Spanish conquistadors seeking the legendary cities of gold to the Wild West shootout at Tombstone's OK Corral. www.JimHinckleysAmerica.com.

BACKROADS OF TEXAS Written by Gary Clark with photographs by Kathy Adams Clark, Backroads of Texas includes thirty backroad drives and excursions that take travelers into the boondocks where all the craziest natural sights occur. Watch frenzied bats as they fly by the thousands from San Angelo's Foster Road Bridge. Catch your breath as you drink in the majestic Guadalupe Mountains. Get ready for goosebumps when you spelunk into the shadowy depths of Inner Space Cavern, and try not to get spooked when you see the paranormal "ghost lights" near the eclectic town of Marfa. These off-road sights are what truly set the Lone Star State apart from its neighbors. Texas is the second largest state in the United States, and you can be sure it's home to plenty of incredible sights waiting just off the beaten path. www.TexasBirder.net.


Physical Activity and the Healthy Heart By Jacqueline A. Eubany, MD, FACC FHRS, author of ‘Women & Heart Disease: The Real Story’ Physical activity is important for 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. 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 disease related illness. The following provides a concise review of what physical activity for the heart is, how much is needed, and what activities can provide this. What is physical activity that is relevant to heart health? Physical activity for the heart is activity that increases heart rate to a certain level, and maintains that level for enough time for the heart to develop stamina, good cardiac circulation, and improve heart muscle function.

Dr. Jackie talks about the outdoors and heart health on Big Blend Radio.

How much physical activity does one need to obtain a healthy heart? According to the American College of Cardiology, people should engage in a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or a minimum of 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. Once the minimum level is attained, and you are comfortable exercising to this level, then you can slowly increase to a moderate aerobic activity level of 300 minutes a week, or increase to a vigorous aerobic activity level of 150 minutes a week.


What are examples of physical activities that can be considered for one’s healthy heart routine? Moderate aerobic activities include things like brisk walking, dancing, and water aerobics, while vigorous aerobic activity include things like running, hiking uphill, and swimming laps. A good gauge of whether you are engaged in a moderate versus a vigorous physical activity is your ability to talk and/or sing while exercising. If you are able to talk comfortably, but not able to sing the words of your favorite song while you exercise, then you are more than likely engaged in moderate physical activity. Whereas, if you are barely able to utter 1-2 words while you exercise, then you are more than likely engaged in vigorous physical activity. What should you consider before you begin your new physical activity habit? For those who are physically inactive, especially those with chronic medical conditions, it is very important to discuss exercise and your limitations with your physician prior to starting a workout regimen. Don’t be discouraged because you cannot exercise for 150 minutes a week. Remember, any amount of exercise is better than no physical activity. Start slow. Exercise for 5-10 minutes a day, and build up slowly over several weeks to 150 minutes a day. Set achievable goals each week and try to make them.

If you do not achieve them, it is okay, just keep trying! If you stay focused and motivated, you will reach your goal! To quote Confucius, “It does not matter how slow you go, as long as you do not stop.” In summary, physical activity is a key component to good heart health. It can lower your risk factors for heart disease, and decrease your risk of dying from heart disease related illness. Any physical activity is always better than NO physical activity, so you have to get out there and just move. The minimal goal for good heart health is 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity. Start TODAY! Start slow, and build up your stamina. Here is to good heart health. See you next time. Dr. Jacqueline Eubany is a board certified cardiologist and electrophysiologist based out of Orange County, California. She is the author of ‘Women and Heart Disease: The Real Story’, and a Big Blend Radio expert contributor.



From federal budget cuts to the go-ahead on the Dakota Access and Keystone Pipelines, and the somewhat disregard for scientific facts on climate change – America’s new incoming administration has created strong environmental concerns, with people and communities worried about local and global sustainability, clean air and water, the continual warming of the planet and its rising sea levels, the protection and conservation of wildlife and its habitat, and current bills and legislation. Hope is still there, and we can still make a difference. Communication with our representatives is still an important activity, as is working together within our communities, and voting with our dollar by supporting companies and corporations who support and practice sustainability and wildlife conservation. The glue to the puzzle is the non-profit organizations who actively work on legislation, education, and campaigns to protect our natural world. Through these organizations, we have the power to unify our voices and be heard. We must use our voices, our pens, our email and social media platforms, and if possible, invest through volunteer time and financial support.

Listen to the Big Blend Radio interviews with Adam Roberts – CEO of Born Free USA, and Les McCabe – President & CEO of Global Green USA, who share their concerns along with the action steps that individuals, communities, and businesses can take, in order to protect and preserve wildlife, natural spaces, and the environment.

Adam Roberts – CEO of Born Free USA

Les McCabe – President & CEO of Global Green USA

WILDLIFE CONSERVATION 2017 Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, they lead vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. www.BornFreeUSA.org

CLIMATE CHANGE 2017 Global Green USA is a national leader in advancing sustainable and resilient communities to help protect human health, improve livability, and support our planet's natural systems in an effort to stem climate change. www.GlobalGreen.org PAGE 86

Profile for Big Blend Magazines

Spirit of America Magazine Spring 2017  

From Hawaii to California, Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana, Kentucky and even England, it’s all about National Park Travel Destinations including...

Spirit of America Magazine Spring 2017  

From Hawaii to California, Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana, Kentucky and even England, it’s all about National Park Travel Destinations including...