Ice is a daily reality at this time of year. As if we didn’t have enough outside to stare at, we stare at the ice in the hockey arena which is cherished and renewed with each game. When we were kids we shoveled the snow off the ice on a pond and about the time we were ready to play hockey it seemed to snow again.
At this time of year we also tend to stare down holes in the ice. We watch our sonar devices to see what is going on down there. Sometimes we bring dinner up that hole in the ice. Mornings and evenings we stare at the icy skies as the sun rises and sets. The ice clouds create “sundogs” which we stare at in awe. The icy roads keep us staring ahead as we white-knuckle our way through winter.
Traveling the Navaho Nation in Arizona we veered off the blacktop road near Tuba City and found ourselves on a red-dirt road traveling into an area of sagebrush prairie and rocky outcrops. Stopping by a small shelter with no signs or advertising we found a Native guide anxious to show us the ancient dinosaur tracks in the rocks. The area, at one time was apparently marshy and the ancient behemoths fed upon the vegetation, making tracks in what was then mud. Now the tracks are left behind, hardened into stone.
Returning home to Minnesota I found lots of tracks hardened into the ice and snow where the skid-loader had piled the now from our driveway. The winter so far is stacking up to be petty snowy as I compare the stack of snow next to our eight foot grape arbor.
We spent a bit of time exploring the Navaho and Hopi Reservation in Arizona and the surrounding area. Our daughter and her husband who live on the reservation are knowledgeable guides and were able to steer us to some out-of-the-way gems of natural wonder.
Arizona is much about mountains, high desert, and the inside-out counter parts of mountains, known as canyons. At the northern edge of our exploration was the Mother of all Canyons, the Grand Canyon. The higher elevation of the southern rim afforded us a unique, snow-etched look at the canyon on a breath-taking winter day; a spectacular time of the year to experience this wonder. Traveling over to Page Arizona via changing elevations of high desert to snowy plateaus we arrived at Horseshoe Canyon where we found it well worth the hike to view this unique gash on the earth’s surface.
South of Tuba City on the reservation we searched off the highway traveling the sagebrush plain. Following a fence line we burst out upon a unique multi-colored natural cut etched in snow. Coal Mine Canyon is indeed worth the search with its colossal colors and rugged terrain. Last but not least in our canyon exploration we viewed Walnut Canyon near Flagstaff. The walls of the canyon contain caves where Native Americans lived with the everyday, spectacular view of this amazing sight.
Gene R. Stark
A teacher, farmer, trapper, and greenhouse grower. He writes about the outdoors and the people and culture of rural America..