What We’re Reading: May

WildTP_Books-330Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed
review by Caroline Cook

Wild is the story of author Cheryl Strayed, who left behind a broken life to find herself along more than a thousand miles of the rugged Pacific Crest Trail, starting in California’s Mojave Desert and ending at the Oregon/Washington border. Strayed tells her compelling tale beautifully (sometimes in cringeworthy detail) of the beauty, people, and the hardships she encountered along the way. In a way it is Eat, Pray, Love in the wilderness, but I found Strayed more relatable. While it didn’t make me want to go out and hike a thousand miles, it did put the bug in me to get out on the trail again. Wild is a quick page-turner, and I’m interested to check out the movie version.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Romance of the Colorado River: An account of the second Powell expedition down the Grand Canyon in 1871, by Frederick Dellenbaugh
review by Jim Turner

At age 17, Frederick Dellenbaugh joined John Wesley Powell’s second Grand Canyon expedition. Thirty years later, he wrote his rapid-by-rapid account of it. His book includes all previous European explorations starting with Hernan Cortes in the 1530s. He chronicles steamboat expeditions, details Powell’s first trip, and debunks James White’s “splendid yarn,” of rafting the Grand Canyon in 1867, calling him a “champion prevaricator.” Dellenbaugh’s research is impeccable, but more important, he writes riveting true stories.

I loved this book, especially the detailed Spanish expeditions and steamboat information. When it got to his actual trip, it became a real page-turner. I couldn’t put it down until they got to shore safely for the night. Some of the book is pretty dry, and you can skim through that, but you’ll get fully immersed in the adventure when you get to the rapids.

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In Memoriam: Alwin J. “Rusty” Girdner

Dad Farewell pic

We recently lost a friend and colleague, Alwin J. “Rusty” Girdner, author of Diné Tah: My Reservation Days 1923–1939.

Born in Albuquerque, NM, in 1923, Alwin was nicknamed “Rusty” for his wavy red hair. He grew up on the Navajo Reservation with his parents who served as missionaries, and became immersed in the language and the culture. After leaving Diné Tah in 1939, he traveled all over the world, to more than 114 countries. He served at the Naval Air Station in Pearl Harbor during World War II, and graduated with a BS in Business Administration and a Masters of Art from the University of Arizona. He married Marjorie Wilson in 1946 and they raised four children. They were married 59 years when she passed away in 2005. Rusty had a leadership role in the credit union movement for 30 years before retiring in Tucson.

rustyBedtime stories Rusty would tell to his children about his days on the Navajo Reservation became the basis for his book, which won the Evans Handcart Award in Literature in 2011.

Rusty died April 15, 2015, and is survived by four children, eight grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren. He will be missed by all of his friends and family.

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This Day in History May 13

By Jim Turner


Disputed Territory Texas1846 – Congress declared war with Mexico in reaction to the Thornton Affair. The Republic of Mexico asserted that the western/southern Texas border was the Nueces River, while Texas claimed it was the Rio Grande. On April 25, approximately 1600 Mexican troops crossed into the disputed territory and attacked eighty U.S. troops already there under the command of Captain Seth B. Thornton. Eleven Americans were killed, six wounded, and the rest were captured. The number of Mexican injuries is unknown. President Polk stated, “American blood has been shed on American soil.” Congressman Abraham Lincoln, elected several months after the war began, gave his “Spot Resolutions” speech on December 22, 1846, asking Congress to re-examine Polk’s claim.


United States

Captain_John_Smith_landing_in_Jamestown1607 – Settlers land at Jamestown. Approximately one hundred English colonists founded the first permanent English settlement in North America. St. Augustine, Florida, founded by the Spanish in 1565, is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in what is now the United States. Santa Fe, New Mexico, also founded in 1607, is the oldest state capital.



sun_miracle21917 – Our Lady of Fatima. While guarding their sheep, three Portuguese children reported seeing a vision of “a lady dressed in white” near the village of Fatima, 128 km northeast of Lisbon. The lady said that God sent her with a message of prayer, repentance, and consecrations, and visited the children on the 13th day of each month, May through October. On the last instance, a gathering of 70,000 pilgrims witnessed what is now called the Miracle of the Sun, where to some of them the sun seemed to dance in the sky, zoom toward the earth, or display a pinwheel of brilliant colors.


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Like to shoot food and culture? Here’s a contest for you!

by Marilyn Noble

Slide-3 1 copyAre you a shutterbug who loves delicious and distinct foods? Want to get your image in front of the tens of thousands of people in the Slow Food USA network? Then help celebrate your local food treasures for a chance to have your photo appear as the cover image on the Autumn 2016 issue of Slow: An Eater’s Digest.

How to Win

The featured photo will be selected by Slow Food USA’s editorial team from a set of images and media depicting an Ark of Taste food and submitted as a collection to the Google Cultural Institute’s gallery of Ark of Taste foods.

What is the Ark of Taste? It’s a collection of food products and traditions that are endangered or threatened. In the Southwest, Ark items include cholla buds, chiltepin, tepary beans, White Sonora wheat, Sonoran enchiladas and many more. You’ll find a complete list on the Ark of Taste website.

Submitting an Entry

First, read the description of Slow Food’s collaboration with the GCI and what materials to collect in order to create a complete collection for the gallery. (Below)

Then, start collecting images! If you would like to work with your regional Ark of Taste committee to find great photo ops, email arkoftaste@slowfoodusa.org with your state of residence to be connected with those fine folks. In the Southwest and Rocky Mountains, you can also email Marilyn Noble or Gay Chanler, the regional co-chairs.

When you’ve collected at least four images showing the food, people, landscape and gastronomy of an Ark of Taste product, send them to arkoftaste@slowfoodusa.org

Deadline for submission is August 1.

Ark of Taste online gallery FAQ

Slow Food is working with Google’s Cultural Institute platform to better tell the story of the products on the Ark of Taste. In order to create each online exhibit, we are seeking photographs and other media that document Ark products: the products themselves, the territory they come from, the people behind them, and their gastronomic traditions. To create each exhibit, we need a minimum of 7-8 images for each product. We need your help in collecting these materials to document products near you.

Send your contributions to arkoftaste@slowfoodusa.org

The Cultural Institute exhibits are a unique chance to show the world agrobiodiversity from the Slow Food point of view. We want to show the world the culture, the landscapes and the people behind these endangered foods. Each exhibit should document:

Mixing masa by hand.

Mixing masa by hand.

The food itself: in the field; for sale at markets; through various stages (i.e. planting, flowering and harvest for plants; different life stages of animals; dough being mixed, leavened, and baked for bread, etc. ); images of unique characteristics or details of the product; the production process for transformed products (i.e. from flowering to collection to filtering and packaging for honey; the harvest of the grain, the mashing and distilling, the packaging and the usage of a distillate or spirit, etc.).

The landscape: the territory where products grow, raise or are harvested; fields or ecosystems where the product is found; the events and spaces where it is produced or eaten.

The people: indigenous communities who safeguard this product; farmers, ranchers, foragers and fishermen; the people who process or transform the product (i.e. from grain into flour); people using special tools in planting, harvesting or processing the product.

The gastronomy: further cooking or processing of the product (i.e. pickling, preserving, drying); dishes where the Ark of Taste product is the main component; rituals, events or holidays where the product is celebrated and served.

Technical Requirements

  • Images must be in JPG format.
  • Images should be at least 1 MB in file size. Exceptions may be made for extraordinary images.
  • Images cannot contain any added text, added copyrights or visible watermarks. All images will be credited with the copyright holder’s name and a URL of the website of the photographer, if desired, on the last slide of the show.
  • Video or audio clips should be in one of the following formats: MOV, MPEG4, MP4, AVI, WMV, MPEGPS, FLV, 3GPP, WebM, or links to videos previously uploaded to YouTube.com. Videos will be uploaded to YouTube on a profile maintained by Slow Food in order to be embedded in the Cultural Institute exhibit.
  • Video or audio clips should be less than five minutes in length. Longer clips may be broken up into shorter parts.
  • Any submissions must be the property of the sender and/or sent with express, written permission from the copyright holder for Slow Food’s use.

Marilyn Noble is the cookbook and blog editor at Rio Nuevo, and is also the author of several cookbooks, including Southwest Comfort Food, Slow and Savory and The Essential Southwest Cookbook. She also serves as the Colorado Regional Governor for Slow Food USA and is the Southwest/Mountain Region Ark of Taste Committee co-chair.

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What a difference a little rain can make!

by Marilyn Noble

One summer several years ago, I spent a day kayaking on the Colorado River near Moab with John Weisheit, the Colorado Riverkeeper. It was a sunny, blue-sky day, and the Colorado was its customary greenish brown color as we paddled through the red rock canyons northeast of town. After several hours, we reached our take-out spot, and as we were packing up to go find some cold beer, I noticed that the mountains and mesas to the east were obscured by ominous black clouds. Thunder rumbled in the distance, and we were happy to be getting off the water and heading back to town. It looked like a pretty good gullywasher was hammering the hills.

The next morning it was time to head back to Denver, and as we got close to the river as it runs through Moab, we noticed it had been transformed. No longer yesterday’s slow, greenish meander through the cottonwoods, it was now a brilliant terra cotta color. With the green of the trees, the red of the cliffs and the blue of the sky, it was almost like somebody had run amok with Photoshop. Alas, the small film camera I took on that trip bit the dust, so no photos remain to document that day (that was in the dark time before we all had high-res cameras on our cell phones), but it’s not an unusual phenomenon for the Colorado to run red.

This color change can also happen in other watersheds when streams, creeks, and rivers drain through red rock and experience heavy rain. Lucky for us, Tom White recently shared some pictures on our Facebook page. These were taken near his home in Cornville, Arizona and show the results of a torrent of red running down the normally sleepy Spring Creek.

Spring Creek red. Tom White Spring creek. Tom White

Monsoon season is almost here and the possibilities for great photos are unlimited — from massive haboobs to towering thunderheads, eye-popping lightning and yes, to rivers running red. Get your cameras ready!

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Spring Photo Contest Winners!

It was a hard decision, but the editorial team chose Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes by Chuck Hoekma as the grand prize winner in our spring photo contest. His use of light and shadow adds compelling texture to the photo, and the composition enhances the feelings of emptiness and loneliness of the Western desert. Great job, Chuck!

Week Four -- The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California by Chuck Hoekman.

Week Four — The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California by Chuck Hoekman.

The social media world has voted, and Mindy Muelhausen’s photo of the Topock Gorge on the Colorado River takes the people’s choice honor. Congratulations, Mindy!

Topock Gorge on the Colorado River by Mindy Muelhausen

Topock Gorge on the Colorado River by Mindy Muelhausen

Both Chuck and Mindy will be receiving a selection of books from the Rio Nuevo catalog and will be profiled on our blog in the weeks to come.

Congratulations to Mindy, Chuck, our weekly winners, and everyone who entered! Look for another contest coming up this fall.

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This Day in History, April 22nd

By Jim Turner


Earth Day 19701970 – Earth Day is celebrated for the first time. Thousands of college students, more than ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and millions of other Americans participated in educational programs, rallies, and marches. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, a strong environmental supporter, said that he hoped to “get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy.” It worked, and three months later the Environmental Protection Agency was established by the executive order of President Richard Nixon. On Earth Day’s twentieth anniversary, more than 200 million people in 192 countries worldwide celebrated. The United Nations has named the vernal equinox, the first day of spring, as its official Earth Day. The non-profit Earth Day Network coordinates what is now the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year.

 United States

Carpenters_-_Nixon_-_Office1969 – The Carpenters signed with A & M records. Brother and sister team Richard and Karen Carpenter’s soft musical style helped them to become some of the best-selling artists of all time. Karen Carpenter had a lead vocal range of an octave and a fifth, plus falsetto. Her range was C below middle C to G above high C.

In fourteen years they recorded eleven albums, thirty-one singles, five television specials, and a summer replacement television series in 1971. To date, Carpenters’ albums and singles have sold more than 100 million copies. Their career ended in 1983 with Karen’s death due to heart failure related to anorexia. Extreme media coverage surrounding her illness helped increase public awareness of eating disorders.

The West

Landscape1889 – The Oklahoma Land Run, or land rush, started on this day. Known as the Boomer State because of the land boom, Oklahoma is also the Sooner State after those participants who got there sooner and claimed the best free land. The University of Oklahoma team nickname is the Boomer-Sooners. People who gathered at the Arkansas or Texas borders were permitted to enter Oklahoma, which had previously been set aside for Native Americans, seek a parcel of unclaimed land, and file a claim of ownership. Federal marshals, railroad personnel, and other persons lawfully in the territory before the opening (“legal sooners”) were prohibited from filing land claims – a provision that was more often violated than observed.

Quoting from an article in Harper’s Weekly published a month after the land rush on May 18, 1889:

1-oklahoma-land-rush-1889-granger“In some respects the recent settlement of Oklahoma was the most remarkable thing of the present century. Unlike Rome, the city of Guthrie was built in a day. To be strictly accurate in the matter, it might be said that it was built in an afternoon. At twelve o’clock on Monday, April 22d, the resident population of Guthrie was nothing; before sundown it was at least ten thousand. In that time streets had been laid out, town lots staked off, and steps taken toward the formation of a municipal government. At twilight the camp-fires of ten thousand people gleamed on the grassy slopes of the Cimarron Valley, where, the night before, the coyote, the gray wolf, and the deer had roamed undisturbed. Never before in the history of the West has so large a number of people been concentrated in one place in so short a time.”

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Hitting the West Fork Trail

IMG_2969I have heard about, read about, and seen gorgeous photos of the famous West Fork Trail of Oak Creek near Sedona, Arizona, for years. Roger Naylor writes about it in his book Boots and Burgers, agreeing that though it can be crowded, it is still a “mesmerizing combination of soft forest and sheer stone, intimacy and dizzying drama.”

This year I finally managed to hit the trail, and was rewarded with one of the most relaxing and beautiful hikes I’ve ever taken. We stayed at Canyon Wren Cabins, a small B&B operation right next to Oak Creek that continues to be a favorite place to get some relaxation and solitude, and also their unbelievably good homemade brownies. The West Fork trailhead is enticingly just north of the cabins. We left in the morning right after breakfast to ensure parking at the Call of the Canyon Day-Use Area, which fills up quickly. We made it ahead of much of the crowds, which gave us a slightly more solitary experience to enjoy the birdcalls, the sound of the wind through the trees, and the soft sound of the creek, low and calm on this spring morning, gently flowing over the rocks.

The creekside hike is very easy, more like a stroll through the trees, as there is very little up and down to deal with. The only small challenge is selecting the right rocks to step on to keep your feet dry over the several small creek crossings. It’s even easier, though, if you wear hiking sandals that allow you to just wade right through the shallow water. I waded across a few times next to a bulldog who was enjoying the walk as well.

The maintained trail ends a little over 3 miles in, as the canyon closes in around the creek. If you don’t mind getting a little wet, wade into the creek around the bend and enjoy more quiet and privacy, and even more striking scenery. That water sure was cold, but it was worth it! You can follow the creek as far as 14 miles in, keeping in mind you will have to wade, boulder hop, and possibly swim. Also remember you have to travel all those miles on the way back too! Someday I would love to hike the West Fork in its fall-foliage glory, which is what you always see pictured in books and articles. This is a hike I wouldn’t mind repeating.

Roger Naylor recommends rewarding yourself post-hike at Garland’s Indian Gardens Café & Market down the road, but this time we stopped in at Oak Creek Brewery’s Grill in Tlaquepaque, and enjoyed their delicious fish and chips plate along with some of their excellent beers.

For more information: (928) 302-2900, www.redrockcountry.orghttp://www.fs.usda.gov

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The finalists

We thought it might be fun to take another look at each of the weekly winners in our Spring photo contest before we announce the grand prize winner on Friday. Voting is still open for the people’s choice award, so be sure to take a look at all the entries and vote for your favorites before midnight tomorrow.

Here are the finalists for the grand prize:

Week One -- Snow Canyon State Park, Ivins, Utah. Chuck Hoekman

Week One — Snow Canyon State Park, Ivins, Utah. Chuck Hoekman

Week Two -- Cook Bank Building Ruins, Rhyolite, Nevada by JT Dudrow

Week Two — Cook Bank Building Ruins, Rhyolite, Nevada by JT Dudrow

Week Three -- Lower Salt River, Arizona by Bob Miller

Week Three — Lower Salt River, Arizona by Bob Miller

Week Four -- The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California by Chuck Hoekman.

Week Four — The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California by Chuck Hoekman.

Week Five -- Red Tail Hawk in New Mexico by Dawn Santiago.

Week Five — Red Tail Hawk in New Mexico by Dawn Santiago.

Week Six -- night blooming cactus by Tom White.

Week Six — night blooming cactus by Tom White.

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We Have a Winner!

Judging by our entries this week, Spring is one of the best seasons for photography in the West. From macro flower shots to expansive landscapes, this week’s photos were excellent. The editorial team really appreciated the technical difficulty of shooting a flower that only blooms at night, so this week’s winner is Spring Cactus by Tom White. Congratulations, Tom! Please email aarond – at – rionuevo.com and he’ll get a book out to you.

White Week 6 winner

Next Friday we’ll announce the grand prize winner, selected from our outstanding group of weekly winners. We’ll also announce the winner of the people’s choice award. Voting in that category will remain open until midnight next Wednesday, so be sure to browse through all of the entries from the contest and like your favorites. (You can vote for as many as you want, because narrowing it down to one would be next to impossible.) The winner will be the photo with the most likes.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to share your views of the West with us. We’ll be back again in the Fall with another contest, so keep shooting!

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