Sarah Dolliver, the Accidental Photographer

Sarah Dolliver head shotby Marilyn Noble

Unlike many accomplished photographers, Sarah Dolliver wasn’t born with a Brownie box camera in her hands. She didn’t spend her childhood hiding out in a darkroom while her peers played soccer, nor did she spend every spare penny on camera equipment. “I had never picked up a camera before I got here,” she says with a laugh. Here is Sedona, Ariz., where she has lived with her husband since 2004. Even though she’s a relative newcomer to photography, her image of Turret Arch in Utah’s Arches National Park won the top spot in Rio Nuevo’s spring photo contest.

Turret Arch at sunset, Arches National Park, Utah by Sarah Dolliver

Turret Arch at sunset, Arches National Park, Utah by Sarah Dolliver

Dolliver’s journey to photography is intertwined with her journey to Sedona. She and her husband had flown into Phoenix from Boston on the first leg of a 25th anniversary trip to the Grand Canyon. A friend told them they had to stop in Sedona on the way. The first view of the magical red rocks took her breath away. “I felt my stomach do a flop and I told my husband we would live there someday,” she says. Six years later, her premonition came true when they moved from the Northeast to Sedona. “We ended up living just a few blocks from where my stomach flopped. I can see out my windows today the same scenery my husband took pictures of on that first visit.”

Salmon and Blue Sunrise.DolliverAfter living in Sedona for several months, Dolliver began hiking with a group, and that was when the shutterbug bit. Several of her family members, including her father, had artistic talent, but Dolliver herself had followed a more cerebral career path. She began by documenting the hikes and sharing the photos with the group, but as her skills improved, people started admiring her photographs. She realized that viewers were experiencing their own emotional connection to her images. That’s when her serious photographic studies began.

Dolliver is largely self-taught and has recently stepped up to a professional-grade Canon rig. “There’s a big learning curve involved, and more creativity,” she says. “I’m learning from the ground up.”

Dolliver.7 Dolliver.8 Dolliver.4 Dolliver.6

Her favorite photographic subject is the natural world around her, from grand sweeping vistas to the tiniest details. Her entries in the competition comprised not only landscapes, but also macro images of flowers and insects. She takes anywhere from 20 to 100 shots per hike, and out of that number, about 10 percent or less are keepers, although she admits that her quality to quantity ratio is improving as her skills further develop. She does very little digital enhancement, instead preferring to let the beauty of nature shine through, as she says in her artist statement.

In addition to winning the Rio Nuevo contest, which she learned about from fellow photographer and weekly winner Jag Fergus, Dolliver has received acclaim from the Zen Pet Contest as well as the Arches National Park 2014 Visitor Photo Contest. Her work also appears regularly on the Arizona Highways Friday Foto blog.

When she’s not out hiking and taking photographs, Dolliver practices Reiki and life coaching. For more samples of her work, visit her website, Focus on Nature Photography.

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Marilyn Noble is Rio Nuevo’s cookbook and blog editor. She has published four cookbooks, including The Essential Southwest Cookbook; Southwest Comfort Food, Slow and Savory; Viva Chocolate; and Citrus Essentials.

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Homemade Tortilla Chips

Easy Guacamole and Tort#706Fresh, hot tortilla chips right off the stove, sprinkled with a little sea salt and maybe even a little splash of lime juice, are one of the best snacks ever. Pair them with a good salsa or guacamole and you may not even need to eat dinner. From The Essential Southwest Cookbook.

Tortilla Chips

1/2 cup oil or lard for frying
12 corn or flour tortillas, 6-inch, cut into 8 wedges each
Sea salt

Pour the oil into the bottom of a cast iron skillet to a depth of about 1/8 inch. Heat over medium high until the oil is shimmering. Place the tortilla wedges in batches into the oil in a single layer and fry until light brown and crisp, turning as necessary. Remove to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle with a light layer of salt to taste. If you need to add a little more oil between batches, wait until it comes up to temperature before adding more tortillas.

While each successive batch is cooking, place the previous batch into a basket or bowl, and cover the plate with new paper towels, if necessary.

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Spring Photo Contest Peoples Choice Winner

Ron Scott Peoples ChoiceCongratulations to Ron Scott, the people’s choice award winner in our spring photo contest! Ron’s stunning photograph of the Superstition Mountains was the overall favorite of the people who voted on our Facebook page. The painterly quality of the photo engendered plenty of positive comments: “Wow!” “Beautiful photograph!” “Wonderful!” Ron, please email aarond – at – for your book collection and then we’ll set up time for an interview so that we can do a profile on the blog.

Thank you to everyone who entered photographs, commented, and voted. We hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did. We’ll do another contest soon, so keep those shutters snapping!

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Retracing Native Roads Day 8, Gallup to Winslow: Petrified Forest, Standin on the Corner, and Route 66

Shush Yaz Trading Company, Gallup, NM

Shush Yaz Trading Company, Gallup, NM

For the past several months, Rio Nuevo editor Jim Turner has been sharing his adventures in the Four Corners area as he worked on the third edition of Native Roads by Fran Kosik. This is the final installment in his journey.

By Jim Turner

What better way to start your day than with a visit to one of the largest Native American trading posts in the Four Corners area? That’s Shush Yaz Trading Company in Gallup, one of the trading posts we added to this edition of Native Roads. The name means “Little Bear” in Navajo, the nickname of Don Tanner, a great-grandson of Seth Benjamin Tanner. Seth Tanner, a Mormon explorer, pioneer, and early trader, was called Hosteen Shush (strong as a bear). Rugs at Shush Yaz

Even though the building is as big as a strip mall, I was still surprised when I stepped in the door. There are no dividing walls inside, so it seems like the goods go on forever in all directions. There are rugs, jewelry cases, and shelves from floor to ceiling—very impressive. They have a beautiful selection of antique jewelry and rare rugs, but also modern clothing, handbags, and various housewares with Native American designs. Earls Family Restaurant

Gallup is also the home of Earl’s Family Restaurant. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn about Earl’s until I read the tourist booklets when I got home. A local fixture since 1947, Earl’s may be the only restaurant in the country where Native Americans come to your table to display their artwork and handicrafts.

Cropped Camel ExpedToday’s journey, about 120 miles from Gallup to Winslow, was the shortest and easiest leg of my trip. And I love it when modern freeways and historic roads overlap! This stretch of Interstate 40 pretty much follows Route 66, which follows the Santa Fe Railway route, which stems from the Beale Wagon Road of 1857, created by the extraordinary camel expedition.

Route 66 jalopy

There’s a simple tribute to Route 66 at the I-40 north exit to the Petrified Forest: a Depression-era jalopy set right where it might have traveled John Steinbeck’s “Mother Road” back then. There’s also a nice map of Route 66 at that exit.



Petrif Forest museum 2I never get tired of the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. Where else can you get two phantasmagorical phenomenon in the same place, with dinosaur skeletons thrown in for good measure?

World longest map best viewOne of the fun things about Route 66 is the maps painted on the side of buildings. Joe & Aggies’ Café in Holbrook has one, and then there’s the self-proclaimed “World’s Longest Map” at the Meteor City exit between Winslow and Flagstaff.

Kabotie_mural Painted desert InnI stopped at the Painted Desert Inn Museum. This pueblo-style tourist lodging was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. When they took it over in 1947, the Fred Harvey Company invited renowned architect Mary Jane Colter to redesign the interior. She hired Hopi artist Fred Kabotie to paint murals inside. The inn was restored and reopened as a museum and gift shop in 2006.

Shaded Standin

Jim Turner (right) at Standin’ on the Corner Park

From there I headed west to Winslow. When you get to Winslow, the most important thing you absolutely must do (in fact I think it’s an Arizona Office of Tourism official requirement) is have your picture taken next to the statue in “Standin’ on the Corner Park.”  Named for the lyric from Jackson Browne’s song “Take it Easy,” which was a 1972 hit for the Eagles, there’s even a restored flat bed Ford (another line from the lyrics) parked permanently on the street in front of the mural.

Winslow Hubbell

Hubbell Trading Post, Winslow, Arizona

When I tell people about this editing road trip, they often ask, “did you visit the Hubbell Trading Post?” I love to reply, “Which one?” They are usually referring to the Ganado trading post because most people don’t know about the second one, built in 1917 by the Richardson brothers, another long-time trading post family. They sold it to Louis Illsfelt in 1921, and Lorenzo Hubbell bought it 1926. After many years, the Winslow Chamber of Commerce and the City of Winslow got federal and state grants, did a great job restoring this Hubbell trading post, and re-opened it in 2009 as a museum, public space, and chamber headquarters.

Old Trails Museum

And then there’s the Old Trails Museum, one of my favorites. There are exhibits about Route 66, the Harvey Girls, and even Ice Age fossils. The great thing about historic Winslow is that all of these features are within walking distance of each other, and many are on Route 66 (Second Street).



Turquoise Room Cropt

Turquoise Room and Margarita Bar Cafe

By far, my favorite thing to do in Winslow is to have as many meals as possible at award-winning Chef John Sharpe’s five-star Turquoise Room Margarita Bar and Café in the beautifully-restored La Posada Hotel. I managed to get there in time for lunch on Thursday, had dinner there that night, and then a leisurely breakfast the next morning. Whenever I’m within sixty miles of Winslow I make a special trip to dine there.



La Posada Hotel - Winslow on Route 66

Opened in 1929, La Posada was one of the last Fred Harvey Company/Santa Fe Railway hotels to be constructed before the Great Depression put an end to that kind of grandeur. Designed by Mary Jane Colter in the Southwest’s grand hacienda style of wrought iron and terra cotta tile, Colter said it was one of her favorite projects. Restored and re-opened in 1997, it is now one of the top five historic hotels in Arizona.


The next morning, Friday, January 25th, I reluctantly got into the company Honda CRV and headed west on that last day, driving the 313 miles back to Tucson almost straight through. This was one of the best road trips of my life, and I am grateful for the opportunity. I figure I only got to about two-thirds of the places in Fran Kosik’s book, so I’ll definitely be “retracing native roads” many times.

What's left of Two Guns, Arizona between Winslow and Flagstaff

What’s left of Two Guns, Arizona between Winslow and Flagstaff

Jim Turner is an historian, editor, teacher, researcher, and author. He received his masters degree in U.S. history from the University of Arizona and is now an editor for Rio Nuevo Publishers. He writes history articles for various newspapers around the state, and his pictorial history book, “Arizona: Celebrating the Grand Canyon State,” was named  a “Top Pick” for Southwest Books of the Year by the Friends of the Pima County Library. You may reach him at

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Salsa Fresca

Modern-SW-coverSalsa fresca gives a burst of freshness to any dish. It’s great on eggs in the morning or enchiladas at night. If you like it extra spicy leave the seeds in the jalapeño. This version is by Chef Ryan Clark, from Modern Southwest Cooking.

Salsa Fresca

Makes 4 cups

1 pound vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir well and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Chill for at least 1 hour.

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What We Are Reading: July

Being in the book business, we are naturally avid readers. We would like to share with you what our staff is reading each month. We would love, in turn, to hear what you’re reading!

Perksofbeingwallflower1The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

review by Caroline Cook

I read this slim novel in just a few days, and it really struck me. Chbosky’s narrator, Charlie, tells his story in the form of letters to an anonymous recipient. The letters are extremely personal and intimate, really letting the reader in to Charlie’s emotions and psyche.

Who among us hasn’t felt like a misfit at some point in our lives? In that way we really connect to Charlie as he navigates his freshman year of high school, trying to find friendship, love, and a place to belong. I found myself rooting for and worrying about Charlie like he was my own friend. The supporting cast of characters, from Charlie’s sister to his two best friends, are richly nuanced and fully realized. Each person in the book has their own triumphs and demons, and Charlie, being an observant wallflower, sees them for who they really are. Even after finding somewhere to fit in, Charlie must come to terms with a dark secret in his past in order to move forward.

The critically acclaimed film version, written and directed by Chbosky, is well done, but after reading the book, I felt that it only touches the surface of the depths that the book achieves.

EmptyMansions_coverEmpty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune, by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

review by Marilyn Noble

Why would an extremely wealthy heiress, of sound mind and body, the sole owner of several over-the-top luxurious mansions, spend the last 20 years of her life living in a spartan hospital room in self-imposed exile from family and friends? Reading this book won’t answer that question, but it will give you a peek into the lives of one of America’s wealthiest families, the Clarks.

Huguette Clark was the youngest daughter of copper baron W. A. Clark and his young second wife, Anna. The elder Clark was a self-made millionaire, and his fortune was on par with the other elite of the Gilded Age – Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Astor – but rather than lavish funds on large philanthropic projects that would carry his name into posterity, Clark built the most expensive house on 5th Avenue in New York City, which was torn down only 15 years later and replaced by an apartment building. He also had a connection to Arizona – he built the town of Clarkdale, the company town for his United Verde mine. Huguette lived a life of privilege and indulgence in the U.S. and France, but once her parents and sister died, she became increasingly eccentric, collecting dolls and dollhouses and giving extravagant sums of money to her employees and friends.

The two authors, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a Clark relative, did a tremendous amount of research that included talking to Huguette herself before she died in 2011. The book is a fascinating look at the lives of the rich, famous, and odd. And it proves that tired old saw: truth really is stranger than fiction.

81FH9rfylgLBe Here Now, by Ram Dass

review by Jim Turner

Dr. Richard Alpert, (Ram Dass) and psychedelic pioneer Timothy Leary were fired from Harvard in 1963. Seeking more than fleeting LSD spiritual experiences, Alpert went to India and studied with guru Maharaj-ji. He stayed several years and published Be Here Now in 1971.

The first part is autobiographical, on white paper with magenta ink. Then it changes to heavy brown paper with intricate drawings and words that slither all over the page. The metaphysical concepts here are best pondered a little every day. This is followed by another white-page section, “Cookbook for a Sacred Life,” featuring quotes and suggestions from sources ranging from the Bible to the Bhagavad Gita. There are selections on sleeping, eating, meditation, and even dying. Finally, there’s an eclectic bibliography divided hippie-style into “Books to Hang Out With,” “Books to Visit With Now and Then,” and “Books It’s Useful to Have Met.”

Interior page of Be Here Now.

Interior page of Be Here Now.

Tens years ago, Americans rekindled their interest in physical health. Now the focus is on yoga and meditation to relieve depression, anxiety, and even physical diseases like Parkinson’s. It’s a good time to review this formerly neurotic psychology professor’s maxim: “Be Here Now.”






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Chili Peach Soup

Santa CruzThis wonderfully chilly summer soup has a sweet peach flavor balanced by the spicy tang of red chili paste. From Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Co. Cookbook, by Jean England Neubauer.

Chili-Peach Soup

Serves 6

1 cup of sliced peaches, using the sweetest fruit you can find, or in a pinch use high-quality canned
1/2 cup Santa Cruz Red Chili Paste
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream (or half-and-half)
Freshly ground nutmeg

Puree fruit with any juices in a blender or food processor. Add chili paste and chicken broth and blend until well mixed. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in cream. Chill and serve in pretty bowls with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

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Meet Jim Turner in Prescott

Our own Jim Turner will be sharing his experiences editing the latest edition of Native Roads at the Smoki Museum Pueblo in Prescott on July 12. For those of you who have been following his posts here, this is your chance to meet Jim, see his photographs, and hear the tales of his ten-day trip retracing the original route in Fran Kosik’s ultimate travel guide to the Four Corners region and the Navajo and Hopi nations.

Details here.

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Jake Page Part Two: From Stolen Hopi Gods to Do Cats Hear with Their Paws?


Jake Page

By Jim Turner

Part One of Jake’s story followed him through grade school and college, his first professional editing job for Anchor Books, and finally his unexpected career turn working for the Natural History Press. From 1963 to 1970, Jake had the honor of working with quite a few leading scientists, among them Jacob Bronowski, Colin Turnbull, and Margaret Mead. With experience, he gained confidence in handling science topics and was especially drawn to anthropology.

Smithsonian coversIn 1970, Jake had the opportunity to join the newly created Smithsonian magazine as scientific content editor. As with his previous job, he worked with fascinating writers and scientists, deepening his knowledge with every issue. By 1973, the magazine began getting 1/3-page ads and they needed some editorial matter to fill the page, so Jake volunteered to write a column about science-type things happening at the institution. He said, “The plan was I would write three and then if it worked we would hire some guy to write it. I wrote the first column, the editor published it, and I wrote the monthly column—‘Phenomena, Comment, and Notes’—for the next seven years” while working full time for Smithsonian. He wrote a column for Science from 1980-86, and then other magazines into the 90s.

Song of Earth SpiritThen came a major unexpected change in matters of heart and career. In 1973, while Jake was at the Smithsonian, he met Susanne Anderson, a well-known Washington D.C. photojournalist. David Brower, Susanne, and Friends of the Earth had just published Song of the Earth Spirit, a beautiful photo book about traditional Navajo life in Arizona. A friend introduced Susanne to Jake, and she visited him with the idea of using some of the book in Smithsonian. Jake said, “I found that the prose parts of the book were too short to make a magazine article, but I loved the book and her style of writing and photographing.” Jake suggested that she write an article about witchcraft on the Navajo reservation. After several trips back and forth, Susanne realized she was too uncomfortable to write about the topic. But every time she returned to Washington D.C., Jake would take her to lunch.  “As it turned out,” Jake said,  “we had lunch together so often that we fell in love,” and they married in 1975.

Hopi book coverSusanne kept in touch with her friends in the Four Corners area, and a few years later Hopi Tribal Chairman Abbott Sekaquaptewa, authorized by the tribal council, invited Susanne to create a highly-illustrated book about the Hopi. Since the tribe had not permitted photography on their reservation since the turn of the century, this was a significant honor. Susanne asked him to help, and Jake said this was the main reason he retired from full-time editing at the ripe old age of 44. After eleven trips to the reservation over the next eight years, Harry N. Abrams published HOPI by Susanne and Jake Page in 1982, reprinted by Rio Nuevo Publishers in 2009. In producing this intimate portrait of the Hopi people, Jake said that Susanne “never took a photograph without the Hopis’ knowledge and I never asked a journalistic question. For three decades, many Hopi people have considered the book theirs.”

NAVAJO CoverSoon after HOPI came out, Jake and Susanne were invited to a Congressional event celebrating Indian people. Jake said that then Navajo tribal president Peterson Zah rushed up, asked Susanne to sign his copy of HOPI, and asked her to do a book about the Navajo. When she replied that she had already written Song of the Earth Spirit about the Navajo, Mr. Zah said, “Yes but we want one that’s bigger.” In 1995, Harry N. Abrams published NAVAJO, a beautifully illustrated book about Navajo culture and spirituality, reprinted by Rio Nuevo Publishers in 2010. By this time, the Pages had long since moved to New Mexico.

By middle age, Jake had been a successful editor for a major publisher, editor and writer for several leading magazines, and now co-author of two beautiful books on the Hopi and Navajo people. And if that wasn’t enough of a legacy, when he left the Smithsonian he became an author of popular detective novels. According to Jake, he left the magazine to go freelance because he and Susanne were ready to write the Hopi book, but also because he had “some books and magazine pieces in mind.” His first attempt at fiction found a publisher, got into print, and then “sank without a ripple.” The next two did okay. One had the fascinating plot of Native Americans repelling a German invasion of southern Arizona in World War II.

The Stolen GodsOnce he and Susanne developed a close bond with the Hopi people, the Hopi tribal chairman asked Jake to write about some actual gods, not katsina dolls, that had been stolen from their ceremonial hiding place. The FBI had been assigned to the case but had no leads. Jake’s subsequent article was turned down by several magazines “because it implied that many museums and art galleries deal in illegal artifacts.”

That’s when he decided he would turn it into the mystery novel, The Stolen Gods. The New York Times Book Review said “With his instinctive sensitivity to experiences as fascinating as the ‘ancient and orderly cacophony’ of kachina [sic] ritual dances and as moving as a tribal elder’s lament for his lost gods, big Mo could easily make his mark as a series hero.” Indeed, four more successful Mo Bowdre mystery series books followed through 1997, each getting great reviews.

Do Cats Hear with Their FeetIn 2003, Jake completed the monumental challenge of researching, compiling, and writing In the Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000-Year History of American Indians The following years brought a broad spectrum of fun and fascinating science books for the general reader authored or co-authored by Jake Page, including Do Cats Hear with Their Feet?: Where Cats Come From, What We Know About Them, and What They Think About Us, and then Do Dogs Laugh?: Where Dogs Come From, What We Know About Them, and What They Think About Us.

So that’s a glimpse into the fascinating editing and writing career of Jake Page, author or co-author of at least 48 books and countless magazine articles. Next time, we’ll wrap up this bio blog series with how Jake came to write Uprising: The Pueblo Indians and the First American War for Religious Freedom.

Jim Turner is an historian, editor, teacher, researcher, and author. He received his masters degree in U.S. history from the University of Arizona and is now an editor for Rio Nuevo Publishers. He writes history articles for various newspapers around the state, and his pictorial history book, “Arizona: Celebrating the Grand Canyon State,” was named  a “Top Pick” for Southwest Books of the Year by the Friends of the Pima County Library. You may reach him at




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Code Talker Stories article on Indian Country Today

codetalkerstories-rio_nuevo_publishersLee Allen of Indian Country Today Media Network wrote an article on Laura Tohe, daughter of a Code Talker, who interviewed several of the remaining living Code Talkers for her book, Code Talker Stories. An excerpt follows. Read the full article here.

Drawing on her understanding of the spiritual importance of that language, Navajo poet and English teacher Laura Tohe, daughter of Code Talker Benson Tohe, has compiled an insightful oral history with many stories never previously told.

To research the book, Tohe established a close rapport with the interviewees as a daughter of one of their comrades who also spoke the language. Because she could do so, the soldiers opened up to her, providing more battlefield details and explaining more about how their lives had been affected and how those experiences had influenced them and their descendants.

“I was taught to know my clans and respect my elders, so I conducted my interviews in Dine bizaad, the native language,” she told ICTMN. “That made a big difference and opened up the storytelling process. They trusted me with their stories because I could help preserve them. So they provided more battlefield details as well as an explanation of how their lives were impacted and how those experiences affected them and their descendants. I treated each of them as I would my own grandfather and paid each with a gift card for gasoline or groceries—because a story is a gift that must be paid for.”

This rapport served her, and the book, well.



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