Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Native American Rock Art

While camped at Burro Creek Campground we were surrounded by many black colored rocks, which are fairly common here in the desert Southwest.

Desert rocks are often coated with a black or reddish brown substance called “desert varnish” or “patina.” 

Often thinner than a coat of paint, patina slowly becomes thicker and darker with age.  Early people cut into the patina, exposing the actual lighter rock below.  Older engravings, or petroglyphs, are darker, as the patina has slowly built up again,  and relative dating can be done based on this. 
We found the rock above and the two below near a remote, indigenous jungle village in Mexico.  The objects in the above photo are ritual offerings left as part of centuries-old religious beliefs still observed in many rural areas of Mexico today.

                                  We found the petroglyphs below in Wrangel, Alaska.

Pictographs are similar to petroglyphs, but are painted on the rock surfaces, often with red dye.  We have seen these along the shore of Lake Superior, in the desert Southwest, and in Mexico.  The pictograph below is found in Seminole Canyon near Langtry, Texas.

A third form of art we have seen is the Intaglio(In-tal-yo).  These are created by scraping away layers of dark rocks or pebbles on the ground to reveal the lighter layer of soil below.  These giant figures are found throughout the Southwest California desert, but human ones are only found along the Colorado River. They are very difficult to find and are almost always found by pilots flying low.

We found this figure near Blythe, Ca.  It is 172 feet long and may be over 10,000 years old, as any mark made on the desert floor will be visible for centuries.

This is the Bouse Fisherman Intaglio,  found in the desert north of Quartzsite, Arizona.
 There are several hundred of these known in the Southwest with many more likely to be found.

What is an Inukshuk?  It is a form of Native American Art we have not seen in our travels, so we have no picture of ours to show you.  It is a stone landmark built and used in various ways by the people in the arctic region of North America.  This circumpolar tundra above the Arctic Circle has vast areas with few natural landmarks.  There were no inuksuit  to be seen as we crossed the Brooks Range above the Arctic Circle on our way to Prudhoe Bay, but future plans may lead us to see them.   The following site is a brief introduction to inuksuit:  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Burro Creek Camp

Today we broke camp, headed North to Kingman, Az., and then Southeast on one of Arizona’s Scenic Byways, stopping for the night at Burro Creek Camp.

This is our type of place, surrounded by peaceful canyons, mesas and mountains.

This camp is part of the Department of The Interior and is run by the Bureau of Land Management(BLM).  We stay here for half price with our Golden Age Senior Pass.

The vegetation here is distinctive of both the Mohave and Sonoran Deserts, which meet in this region.

The  Joshua Tree is really a large yucca. We have seen it in the southern California and Arizona deserts and also in North central Mexico.

The joints of this teddy bear cholla easily detach and adhere to exposed skin and clothing  and are encased in sharp, barbed spines.  Birds and wood rats like to nest here in this thorny protection.

The palo verde tree above is common in many parts of the desert and receives it’s green color from the abundance of chlorophyll near the surface of the branches.

This barrel cactus will easily live for a hundred years and stores water in it’s barrel.

The buckhorn cholla is very common in the Mohave and Sonora deserts. Notice the long thorns.

The wood of the mesquite tree is often used for smoking meat.

The creosote bush occurs in some of the driest parts of the desert.  After a desert rain the fresh, moist air carries the pleasant odor of this bush.

The fruit of the prickly pear cactus can be eaten or made into jelly and is an important food for many desert animals.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Booming With The Boomers


We are camping  ten miles South of Lake Havasu City, Az. on  open desert land with a group from the Escapee RV Club that is known as the Boomers.  This is a casual social group for those born around 1940-1960 or those who have a youthful mindset.  They travel all over, stay in touch by e-mail and gather wherever and whenever they find something interesting to do.


There are about 40-50 RVs here to see the fireworks shows presented by the  Western Pyrotechnical Association.  This is a four day trade show and series of training seminars for anyone who wants to become certified as a “pyro”, or fireworks technician.


There are teaching seminars all day long and live-fire training every night until 10:30.  We arrive around 3 pm and settle in to avoid the huge crowd.  It is interesting to watch the preparations and training being done on the field.



No need to wait for dark as people are being certified and fireworks start around 4pm or so.  There are different classes of certification and we generally see  "Class B Open Firing " before and after the main show which begins at 8pm.  This is a  professionally choreographed  show given by either Extreme Pyrotechnics or Pyro Spectacular.




Each $60,000 main show features  about 1,800  firings, many that the public has never seen before and some weighing as much as 35 to 60 pounds.  Some of these traveled 2-3 times higher and farther than we had ever seen before.  These shows are free as they give these companies a way to train Pyros, develop their programs and test new fireworks safely. 





People are warned to keep pets away and  turn all car alarms off, as they will activate due to the vibrations from the explosions.  Sunday nights closing show, fired simultaneously from both ends, the center and behind the field, began around 5pm and went almost non-stop until around 10pm.  One display lasting one minute had 700,000 fireworks in it(not ladyfingers).  That’s a lot of fireworks folks, and the Fourth of July will never be the same again for us!

Click on the link above for a short show of last year’s program and interesting links to past year’s shows.

Map picture

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Native American Music Festival

Today is an interesting day at the Casa Grande Ruins.  This is the third annual Native American Music Festival.  Travis Terry, master of ceremonies, flutist and recording artist, explained a great deal about Native American culture, music and dance.

This is primarily a flute festival and there were a lot of very nice ones  for sale.  These are all Native American hand-made from native woods.

                       Gabriel Ayala playing excellent classical music. 

                    Basket dancers from the Gila River Indian Reservation.

                         Jeremy Dancing Bull is a singer, dancer and drummer.

 Tony Duncan is a four-time World Champion Teen Hoop Dancer and has just recently won the adult World Championship.  He is consistently ranked in the top ten in the world.

                          He did a very intricate one-hoop dance for us.

                                        As well as an eight-hoop dance.

The hoops can represent birds, animals, objects and have great symbolism.

 This is an alligator with moving jaws. We also saw animated butterflies, eagles, a rattlesnake and a horseback rider with a lasso.

Tony does dances with as many as 36 hoops. This is the end of this dance, showing the world and representing the Circle of Life.

Tony has also won many top awards as a Native American drummer and flutist.  Here he is playing the rarely heard Apache Cane flute.

Many of these performers are multi-talented and most also told of their culture, traditions and up-bringing.

You can learn more and hear Tony’s music by going to:   If you want to see him dance, right click and open link.  Or, better yet, we’ll see you next Feb. 4&5 in Phoenix at the 22nd Native American World Champion Hoop Festival.