Author Archives: Scott

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La Plata River

Fresh Tracks

As a child growing up in Independence, IA, I was an early riser. I remember winter mornings, sitting in our TV room under a pile of blankets or clean clothes waiting to be folded, listening to cartoons while looking out at the fields of freshly fallen snow. We had an open lot right next to our house and catty-corner across the street was a city park. The lot was empty except for a couple of piles of top soil that were there for some unknown reason. In the summer they served as ramps for our bicycles. The park contained some of the usual things: pavilions, swing set, metal slide, etc. But it also had a baseball field, some city buildings, and a large silver water tower with a red top and INDEPENDENCE painted on the side. Calling the open space in the park a “baseball field” may be an exaggeration. It was a backstop with patches of dirt that signified the bases and pitcher’s mound. The actual dimensions were somewhat subjective.

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View of the Needles from the Outpost Campground

The Road to Druid Arch

The Needles District of Canyonlands NP is our go-to place when we are looking for a desert experience. It is beautiful, close to home, and not as crowded as Moab, which has become a Mecca for bicyclists year-round. While the campground in the park often fills up during peak season, the close-by Needles Outpost usually has spots available and the view of the Needles from there is breathtaking.

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The main house

Taliesin West – Not Your Grandma’s House

Taliesin West is unlike any house I’ve ever seen. Of course, I’ve never seen another Frank Lloyd Wright house before so that would explain it. And, to be fair, Taliesin West isn’t just another Frank Lloyd Wright house.

First of all, the grounds are home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and School of Architecture so in addition to the house there is a gift shop, theater, classrooms, etc. Thus, it feels a little more like a compound than a home.

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Hillside at dusk.

The beautiful desert

It is difficult to describe the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, AZ but I think it’s safe to say that if you like rugged beauty, prickly things, and the best flora the desert has to offer, then you should definitely check it out. In addition to the trees, grasses, succulents and cacti, we saw owls hunting, frogs swimming, rabbits doing whatever rabbits do, and quail wandering around making that funny little quail sound. Note, these were not critters in cages. These were wild animals that have made the gardens their home.

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the slog

The Slog Called Pole Creek Mountain

Pole Creek Mountain is fairly typical of many San Juan Mountain peaks. It starts on a trail, moves to an off-trail meadow, then to a steep grassy section, on to a section that can really only be described as a slog and finally, a rocky cap that can be ascended in a few different ways.

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