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7 Ways to Travel after the Pandemic

Note: If you previously signed up to get email notifications whenever I publish a new blog post, this is the first one you’re receiving from  Follow.it , which I’m now using since Feedburner retired their email subscriptions feature. In the U.S., half of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in just half a year—a monumental feat after a year of unemployment, isolation, and death. Many people are resuming trips to see family and friends or just to get out of the house for a change. Other countries are loosening public safety measures and allowing limited international tourism once again. Yet the pandemic is by no means over. So far, only a quarter of people on the planet have received a dose of the vaccine (disproportionately in Western countries), and outbreaks driven by the delta variant could quickly overwhelm health systems again, but the end is certainly in sight. If you haven’t already taken advantage of the protection

Fort Verde State Historic Park: A Reminder of Arizona’s Indian Wars

Commanding Officer’s Quarters Stand in the breezeway of a charming, 150-year-old home, complete with period furniture and decorations, and you’ll finally get a chance to cool off from the Arizona heat. But you’ll be chilled when you realize why there’s a fort standing in the middle of Arizona, hundreds of miles from the nearest border.  Fort Verde State Historic Park  is the remnant of a military outpost built during the final campaigns of the Indian Wars. Administration building As Anglo settlers began to pour into the fertile Verde Valley region, the U.S. Army was tasked with protecting them from raids by Yavapai and Western Apache people defending their ancestral land. So Camp Verde was set up in 1865, later becoming the permanent Fort Verde in 1871. Years of battles between U.S. troops and Yavapai and Apache fighters culminated in the

LED Vinyl Clock - Light Vinyl Wall Clock - Water Scooter - Custo

Petroglyphs When I checked in at the Montezuma Well unit of Montezuma Castle National Monument , a volunteer ranger handed me a sparse, black-and-white paper map of the surrounding region and pointed out some places he recommended. One destination was an old ranch in central Arizona where he assured me I could find some petroglyphs out in the woods. Seems legit , I thought. I had already dragged my poor, formerly bright-white Toyota Corolla across one dirt road to get here, so what was one more?

Why Montezuma Castle National Monument’s Name Gets It All Wrong

Right off an interstate highway in central Arizona, a national monument protects prehistoric multi-story apartments nestled inside a limestone cliff, old canals that once fed water to crops in the desert, and even a pond where five unique species have evolved. But everything about the name of this park is just…totally, totally wrong. Montezuma Castle? More like Sinagua Cliff Dwellings When clueless Anglo settlers moved into the Verde Valley in the late 1800s and encountered these dwellings, they used the name of an Aztec ruler whose empire stretched across southern Mexico 1,300 miles away. Montezuma’s name, unfortunately, has stuck. “Sinagua” would be more accurate. It’s the term archaeologists apply to the Indigenous people who lived in central and northern Arizona between around 500 and 1500 CE. The Spanish words for “without water” or “waterless” have been used to refer to these people because they made do with little rainfall, diverting preci

How to Time Travel at Petrified Forest National Park

What’s the national park you’ve visited the most in the U.S.? Maybe Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, or Yosemite? I have family in Indiana, went to college in Arkansas, and now live in Phoenix, so you might think the park I’ve been to the most is Indiana Dunes, Hot Springs, or Saguaro—and yet I’ve only been to one of those parks (Hot Springs) a single time! Instead, I’ve passed through Petrified Forest National Park in northern Arizona no fewer than four times in my life, and I’m itching to get back there soon. Blue Mesa Trail Although it could be dismissed as just another drive-through experience along historic Route 66 from Chicago to L.A., Petrified Forest is so much more. Yes, this national park guards an amazing collection of petrified wood from millions of years ago, but it also contains stunning badlands, hiking opportunities, and ways to encounter recent (and not-s

Photo Post: Homolovi State Park in Winslow, Arizona

What remains of a multi-room complex “Is this it?” I thought while walking back to my car. Compared to the Ancestral Puebloan dwellings I had visited the day before at nearby Wupatki National Monument , the low stone walls at Homolovi State Park didn’t do much to convince me that a complex of more than a thousand rooms once stood on this patch of northern Arizona. High Desert Housing But unlike Wupatki, it was clear that this lonely grassland once teemed with the residents of those thousand-plus rooms. Potsherds were everywhere!

Meteor Crater: Another Hole in the Ground Worth Seeing in Arizona

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the things we thought only used to happen years or centuries ago can definitely happen again. I grew up in a world where polio could no longer stop you from going to school and where the worst that could get you sent home sick was mainly colds, flus, and chicken pox, not the deadly measles now covered by routine shots. And plague? Like polio, it was just a history class lesson.  But here we are at the end of a year that has seen one of the worst pandemics since the 1918 flu, reminded that outbreaks of infectious diseases can still occur—and will continue to occur—even in our advanced scientific age. View from the rim It’s this kind of reminder from Mother Nature about the reality of the world we live in that makes me think of Meteor Crater, out in the lonely expanses of northern Arizona.