USA: Texas

In spring 2014, Carol and I visited a variety of sights in Texas, USA, and captured the following photo galleries:

  1. USA: Texas favorites
  2. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
  3. Caverns of Sonora
  4. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
  5. Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
  6. San Antonio: the Alamo
  7. more photos

These Texas photos date from March 27-31 and April 2-3, 2014.

See also:

1. USA: Texas favorites


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2. Guadalupe Mountains National Park


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3. Caverns of Sonora


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4. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area


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5. Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site


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6. San Antonio: the Alamo


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7. more photos of Texas


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Recommended Texas guidebooks from Amazon.com:

Search at this link for latest Texas travel books at Amazon.com (look for updates every 1-3 years).

USA: New Mexico

In March 2014, Carol and I visited photogenic sights in New Mexico and captured the following evocative image galleries:

  1. New Mexico favorite images
  2. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  3. Chaco Culture National Historical Park
  4. Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, fascinating eroded badlands
  5. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
  6. Petroglyph National Monument near Albuquerque

…as part of our 2014 spring road trip to Oregon, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, California: March 15-April 9, 2014. See also my other Southwest USA articles (Arizona, ColoradoNevada, Utah) plus Texas.

1. New Mexico favorite images


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2. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

is honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


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3. Chaco Culture National Historical Park

is honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


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4. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument


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5. Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness


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6. Petroglyph National Monument


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Southwest USA favorites from Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada


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Separate state articles cover travel tips & photos for southwest USA and Texas:

Recommended New Mexico guidebooks from Amazon.com:

Search at this link for latest New Mexico travel books at Amazon.com (look for updates every 1-3 years).

2004: 2012: 2012: 2010:

Truth in journalism: how to check the facts, ma’am

With the rise of anonymous internet chatter and demise of traditional printed newspapers, where do we find the “truth” in a raucous world? Below are suggested information sources and tips on how to skeptically parse facts from evidence, belief, and opinion.

Check the validity of facts, news, and rumors

Check news reports
Research general knowledge

Ironically, internet crowd sourcing has created a remarkably deep and reliable source of worldwide knowledge in Wikipedia:

  • www.wikipedia.org — Wikimedia Foundation, San Francisco, California
    • can be as accurate as printed encyclopedias (albeit with inelegant prose).
      • A study in the journal Nature said that in 2005, Wikipedia scientific articles came close to the level of accuracy in Encyclopedia Britannica and had a similarly low rate of serious errors. When Encyclopedia Britannica disputed the study, Nature refuted their main objections point-by-point.
      • From 2008-2012, various studies comparing Wikipedia to professional and peer-reviewed sources in medical and scientific fields found that Wikipedia’s depth and coverage were of a high standard (such as in pathology, toxicology, oncology, pharmaceuticals, and psychiatry).
      • I’ve found Wikipedia accuracy to be remarkably high. When I spotted a few errors on minor topics, I corrected the articles. For example, under the entry for my home town of Chico, California, someone had entered a joke name for the town’s founder, which I corrected back to John Bidwell.
    • should be read with a bit of skepticism, as with anything you read or hear, due to possible editor partisanship or rare mischief.
    • can enlighten you with a global perspective on almost any topic, as refined by the consensus of an army of anonymous collaborative editors.
    • democratizes knowledge by letting anyone edit articles, within quality control guidelines enforced by the global community and the small non-profit Wikimedia staff.
    • ranks in the top-ten most-visited websites worldwide.
Check political facts and claims
  • www.factcheck.org — a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, operated by the University of Pennsylvania
    • carefully analyzes claims made by national politicians and other newsmakers.
  • www.politifact.com — a project of the Tampa Bay Times and partners
    • won a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for its “Truth-O-Meter” ratings of national politicians’ claims.
    • includes links to affiliated state fact-checking sites.
Fossilized sand dunes, Coyote Buttes, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Arizona (© Tom Dempsey / Photoseek.com)

Peel back the layers to find deeper meaning. Fossilized sand dunes, Coyote Buttes, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Arizona. © Tom Dempsey / Photoseek.com

  • votesmart.org
    • finds “Biographies, voting records, issue positions, ratings, speeches, campaign finance information. All politicians. Instantly.”
    • “At a unique research center located high in the Montana Rockies and far from the partisan influences of Washington, our staff, interns, and volunteers are working hard to strengthen the most essential component of democracy – access to information. Project Vote Smart is a non-partisan, nonprofit educational organization funded exclusively through individual contributions and philanthropic foundations.”
Examine extraordinary claims and religious beliefs
  • www.csicop.org — Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, publishers of Skeptical Inquirer magazine
    • promotes scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason to examine controversial and extraordinary claims (UFOs, astrology, paranormal and supernatural ideas, Creationism, urban legends, etc).
    • was founded by scientists, academics, and science writers such as Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, James RandiMartin Gardner, and others.
    • refers to additional sites: www.csicop.org/resources
  • skepticsannotatedbible.com — Skeptics Annotated Bible (SAB) website
    • Steve Wells shines the light of reason on the Bible, Koran, and Book of Mormon to open the eyes of believers and non-believers alike.
    • Read how quotes from the Bible address modern human rights issues such as sexuality, women’s issues, slavery, etc.
    • Admirably, the site keeps an open mind by linking to stakeholder responses from believers and apologists.
    • Read what reviewers say about Steve Wells’ book at Amazon.com: The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible (2013) .

How not to get fooled by false claims or hidden agendas: be skeptical

While trust is the foundation of civil society, skepticism is still required to parse facts from evidence, belief, and opinion. When you hear a questionable message, examine its source, motivation, evidence, and conclusions:

  1. Is the source of the message
    • firsthand or from trustworthy informants?
    • independent, free of conflicts of interest?
    • expert, experienced, or proven reliable in the topic?
    • transparently clear?
  2. Consider the messenger’s motivation:
    • Are they selling something, someone, or a point of view?
      • Check the politics/background of whoever owns the radio, television, print, web site, or other media.
      • On all media, beware the following warning signs (red-flag phrases) for an agenda that may unexpectedly depart from the host media:
        • “From around the web” links
        • Sponsored Links
        • “Sponsored Content”
        • Advertisement
        • “501 (c) (4) American tax-exempt nonprofit organization”
        • “Opinion or Editorial”
    • If the motivation is persuasion, be skeptical.
      • Persuaders such as lawyers, publicists, and campaigning politicians often omit relevant contrary information.
      • The more you feel urged towards a particular point of view, be especially doubtful.
      • A more-reliable source may have a tone which is unemotional and informative, and carefully quotes and attributes other proven sources.
  3. Examine the evidence and conclusions drawn.
    • Extreme claims require rigorous proof. The more consequential the claim, the more evidence is required.
    • Is the evidence logical?
      • A heartfelt story is just one data point.
      • Correlation doesn’t imply causation.
      • Be wary of simple solutions, as most issues have multiple factors.
      • Ask if alternate explanations are equally compelling.
    • Is a relevant fact or context left out?
      • Are all stakeholders given say?
      • Look for the inconvenient truth.
      • Consider other contexts that may change the meaning: research how other sources have covered the same topic.
    • Is the evidence reproducible or proven from direct observation?

Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) also applies to consuming information and voting. Read more in the book, Don’t Be Fooled: A Citizen’s Guide to News and Information in the Digital Age (2012) by John McManus, a communication professor and longtime journalist.

Recommended nonfiction books to expand your mind

2012: 2012: 2012: 2011:
2013:

  • Ideas That Matter: The Concepts That Shape the 21st Century (2012) by Anthony Clifford Grayling, “winnows a universe of ideas, ideologies, and philosophies into a personal dictionary for understanding the new century.”
  • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012) by Jonathan Haidt, explores the origins of our divisions (culturally dependent moral intuition) and points the way to mutual understanding. Our tribal groupishness leads to our greatest joys, religious divisions, and political affiliations. In a stunning final chapter on ideology and civility, Haidt shows what each side is right about, and why we need the insights of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians to flourish as a nation.
  • The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (2011) by Steven Pinker, analyzes and describes historical declines of violence since ancient hunter-gatherer societies evolved into civilizations with centralized authority and commerce. Progressive morality has risen to a peak, which suggests grounds for guarded optimism. The most violent societies per person have been pre-state tribes. Violence has declined per person over human history because nation-states (the “Leviathan”) and rule of law have assumed a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Desperately poor countries are the most likely to have civil wars. Most murders are done by people taking the law into their own hands, in moralized self-interest. Religions have been a net negative violent force, often against Enlightenment values, against the flourishing of individuals, and against human rights. Excessively moralistic ideologies (tribal, authoritarian, or puritanical) throughout history have caused the most war, conflict, and death. Pinker warns that historical trends in the decline of violence (especially after World War II) are not necessarily guaranteed to continue. His thesis is descriptive, not predictive. Books, reading, and education have an empathetic value to reduce violence through the understanding of others. Reason allows us to extract ourselves from our parochial vantage points.
  • The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible by Steve Wells (2013)

Photography is communication

At PhotoSeek.com, I carefully check all facts quoted in my photo captions and articles, especially for social and environmental issues, such as:

Hidden agendas can threaten democracy − a personal anecdote

A dog peers through a window in a white fence at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, USA.

A dog peers through a window in a white fence at historical Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, USA.

As a provider of photographs to commercial interests, non-profit organizations, and individuals, I prefer my images to be used in socially positive ways. But in August 2013, I learned to ask more questions before donating images:

A phone caller asked me to donate a photo to his “501(c)(4) tax-exempt nonprofit” website which advocated home schooling. But after exchanging a few emails, I learned that the site promoted a far-right Christian Bible-based agenda of anti-scientific thought. (I instead favor empirical and scientific methods to determine the facts of the world.) The author later password-protected his controversial blog articles, including his weird discussion of the supposed “science bias” (an oxymoron) taught in public schools.

In a democracy, corporations shouldn’t have the rights to freedom of speech and religion like individuals.

On a national scale, some extreme political, religious, and anti-scientific organizations are now hiding their big contributions to political campaigns under umbrella organizations sanctioned by the IRS tax code, 501 (c) (4): 

  • 501 (c) (4) American tax-exempt nonprofit organizations
    • are designed for Civic LeaguesSocial Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees reputedly for the common good and general welfare of their community;
    • are allowed to address controversial topics; and
    • are not required to disclose their donors publicly.

In 2013, the 501(c)(4) “dark money” spending on political TV ads exceeded spending from Super PACs, both of which undermine democracy.

  • Super PACs, or “independent-expenditure only committees,
    • may not contribute to candidate campaigns or parties, but may otherwise spend unlimited amounts of money for promoting political agendas;
    • were made possible by two judicial decisions in 2010: “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” and “Speechnow.org v. FEC”; and
    • can raise unlimited funds from corporations, unions, other groups, and individuals.

The voices of powerful corporations and the rich shouldn’t be allowed to secretly bias political dialogue with money laundered through Super PACs and 501 (c) (4) organizations. Corporate hierarchy gives employees (and stockholders) little voice over donation decisions by the CEO or Board of Directors. To best serve public interest, corporations should be governed by certain social responsibilities and rights that should be distinct from those of individuals.

To improve the democratic system, the trail of all large political donations should be tracked by named source and publicly reported by law. Voters and consumers deserve to know who is behind political and commercial messages. We shouldn’t tolerate anonymous or hidden power brokers gaming the system. Read more at:

  • Opensecrets.org — Center for Responsive Politics
  • On November 26, 2013,”The IRS and Treasury Department on Tuesday issued proposed rules that could sharply cut back the amount of political activity that 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations can undertake and still maintain their tax-exempt status.” — www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/11/irs-issues-proposed-new-rules-to-cu.html
  • www.wamend.org — a state initiative to “get big money out of elections.” It urges the Washington State Congressional delegation to propose a federal constitutional amendment clarifying that constitutional rights belong only to individuals, not corporations; that spending money is not free speech under the First Amendment; that governments are fully empowered to regulate political contributions and expenditures to prevent undue influence; and that political contributions and expenditures must be promptly disclosed to the public.

—  Tom Dempsey, December 12, 2013

Note regarding the title of this article: Joe Friday, the fictional Dragnet TV series detective, famously said “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” Popular culture restates this today as: “Just the facts, ma’am.

Unusually popular images

An unusually popular gallery:

The following photos by Tom Dempsey are unusually popular in internet searches or print sales. Go figure! Unique, quirky images attract more searches, whereas beautiful landscapes sell more, here at PhotoSeek.com:


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USA: LOUISIANA: Origins of Zydeco and Cajun Music

Origins of Zydeco and Cajun music

by Tom Dempsey, Seattle, Washington

Introduction.

My love for zydeco dancing inspired researching the history of zydeco music. I learned that over several generations, Acadians became “Cajuns” and the word “Creole” changed meaning several times. In rural isolation, the music of Creole and Cajun people evolved roughly in parallel until about the 1940s. After the end of World War II, rural Creole musicians of Southwest Louisiana adapted urban blues and jazz to their La La house party music and gave birth to what we now call zydeco. The roots of zydeco grow deep in the history of the various groups who have intermixed in Southwest Louisiana . . .

Acadian settlers were expelled.

Back in the early 1600s, French settlers immigrated to Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia, Canada), bringing with them old folk songs of medieval France. In 1755, they were expelled by the British. The Acadian settlers scattered across the world, and many regrouped in Southern Louisiana. Their brutal exile and frontier experience brought themes of death, loneliness, and ill-fated love to their music.

The Spanish governors of early Louisiana offered the Acadians choice land in the prairies of Southwest Louisiana, where most began raising cattle and subsistence crops. As the population of wealthier English-speakers grew, many Acadians retreated into the swamp and marsh areas of the Mississippi River Delta to eke out a living by fishing, logging cypress, and harvesting Spanish Moss (for use in bedding and insulation).

Spanish Moss

  • Spanish Moss is not really a moss, but a member of the pineapple family (bromeliads).
  • The Spanish called it “Frenchman’s wig,” while the French termed it “Spanish beard.”
  • Spanish moss is not a parasite, but lives off of air and water.

“Creole” changes definition.

In the early Louisiana settlements, the term “Creole” referred to people of French or Spanish parentage who were born in Louisiana. As the slave trade grew in the late 1700s, the word “Creole” referred to slaves born in the colonies (esclavos Criollos, in Spanish), versus those brought from Africa (esclavos Africanos). “Creole” also meant “homegrown, not imported.”

Many non-enslaved Creoles, light-skinned blacks, or mulattos formed an aristocratic society in New Orleans during the time of slavery. However, it was the isolated Creoles of the rural prairies of Southwest Louisiana who would later invent zydeco music in the 1940s.

Today, the nouns “Creole” and “Cajun” have the following common interpretations in Louisiana:

  • “Creole” usually refers to “a French-speaking black of Southwest Louisiana.” However, some whites also call themselves Creole. For example, some white Cajuns may call themselves “Creole” when speaking French, and may call themselves “a French person” when speaking English. Furthermore, “Creole” has different meanings outside of Louisiana.
  • “Cajun” commonly refers to “a usually French-speaking white who traces heritage back to Acadia and France.” However, some people having Afro-Caribbean heritage also call themselves Cajun.

Different people may have strong feelings around their chosen usage of the words “Creole” or “Cajun.” Intermixed heritage blurs any attempt at defining labels such as Creole, Cajun, black, or white. When you meet someone from South Louisiana, etiquette suggests that you find out what they call themselves before you call them Creole, Cajun, or any other label. For the sake of consistency, I use the most common meanings in the remainder of this article.

Gumbo, Gombo.

  • In West Africa, gombo refers to okra (the sticky green pod of the okra plant).
  • In Louisiana, gombo can refer to the okra-thickened soup or stew called gumbo, as well as to the name of the regional Creole spoken dialect, Gombo (or Gumbo).
  • French-speaking people of South Louisiana use the word gumbo to refer to okra when speaking French, but the soup called gumbo in English does not necessarily contain okra.

Acadian becomes “Cajun.”

Isolation, close family ties, and strong Catholic faith knit the Acadians into a tight cultural group whose style mixed with their close neighbors: Native Americans, Afro-Caribbean refugees from the West Indies, non-enslaved blacks, and various European immigrant groups. Isolated families had only themselves for entertainment, so most learned how to play musical instruments. Many Acadians made their own fiddles. The mostly-illiterate Acadians didn’t write down their French language, which necessitated passing on stories and legends through songs. The name “Acadian” slowly evolved into “Cajun.”

As the people of rural South Louisiana mixed, the “Cajun” musical style was shaped in important ways by Creoles, Native Americans, and others. In the late 1800s, German settlers introduced affordable accordions which were adopted by both Cajun and Creole musicians. Cajun and Creole musical styles at this time grew in parallel: mostly two-steps and waltzes meant for dancing, played by accordion and fiddle.

Internal and external influences on Creole and Cajun music.

Many black field workers prayed and gave thanks by singing, clapping their hands, and stomping their feet in a syncopated style called juré, which is an important root of zydeco music. By 1900, the juré songs merged with Creole and Cajun influences into a musical tradition called La La. Rural Creoles held musical house parties known as La La’s in prairie towns such as Opelousas, Eunice, and Mamou.

A Contemporary Anecdote

  • In 1995, I met a a Cajun craftsman, Johnny, at Acadian Village in Lafayette, Louisiana, USA.
  • As a child, Johnny was not allowed to speak French in school. He couldn’t even leave class for the bathroom unless he asked in English.
  • Over the course of his lifetime, public attitudes reversed towards speakers of Louisiana French. Ironically, his son could not graduate from high school without completing the four-year French requirement!

 

In 1928, phonograph companies began to record Cajun and Creole music to sell more record players. These early recordings melded French contredanses and Anglo-American jigs and reels with the syncopated rhythms and vocal improvisation of black Louisiana slaves and the wails of local Native Americans. “Ah-yeeeee! … Et toi!”

The inflow of oil workers and their love for country and western music began Americanizing Cajuns and Creoles. From about 1935 to 1950, Cajuns and Creoles replaced the accordion with fiddle and steel guitar, and added bass guitar and drums. After World War II, a yearning for “old time” music brought the accordion back to Southwest Louisiana, about the same time that rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll caught fire nationwide. Creole and Cajun musicians also influenced each other, for example Creole musicians Amade Ardoin and Canray Fontenot made essential contributions to Cajun music.

Cajun revival.

CODOFIL, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, was founded in 1968 by the Louisiana state legislature. CODOFIL is empowered to “do any and all things necessary to accomplish the development, utilization, and preservation of the French language as found in Louisiana for the cultural, economic and touristic benefit of the state.”

In 1974, Lafayette began a Cajun music festival which expanded into the present-day Festivals Acadiens held every September.

The beginning of Zydeco.

In the late 1940s, Louisiana’s Creole musicians became inspired by the rhythm and blues and jazz played on radio and juke boxes, so they eliminated the fiddle and brought out the rubboard. From then on, the music of Creoles diverged from Cajun music. Rural Creoles combined La La with the blues and jazz of urban blacks to create the rollicking and syncopated sounds of zydeco.

History of the Rubboard 

  • The vest frottoir, or rubboard, helps drive and define the music of traditional rural zydeco bands in Southwest Louisiana.
  • Precursors to the rubboard evolved in Africa and the Caribbean in the form of a scraped animal jaw, a notched stick, and later, a washboard.
  • In the pre-zydeco 1930s, sheet metal was introduced to Louisiana for roofing and barn siding.
  • The first rubboard was created for Clifton Chenier’s brother, Cleveland, in the 1940s.

 

In 1954, Boozoo Chavis recorded the first modern zydeco song, “Paper in My Shoe,” a regional hit. Unfortunately, a royalty dispute provoked Chavis to leave the music industry.

After Chavis left, Clifton Chenier popularized songs such as “Les Haricots Sont Pas Salés” (“The snap beans aren’t salty”). This title was a common expression describing times hard enough to provide no salted meat to spice the beans. The French words for “the snap beans,” les haricots (pronounced “lay zarico”), became “le zydeco,” which named this new musical genre. Clifton Chenier reigned as the “King of Zydeco” with a career lasting 30 years, featuring a Grammy earned in 1984. By the time of his death in 1987, Chenier had brought zydeco to international attention.

Boozoo Chavis returned in the mid-1980s with a series of hits which helped ignite a zydeco revival that continues today. After the mid-1980s, both zydeco and Cajun music and dance burst into worldwide popularity.

Comparing contemporary Zydeco and Cajun music and dance.

The rubboard player often drives the energy of zydeco music by emphasizing strong, syncopated rhythms. Zydeco usually has no fiddle, and the music resonates with sounds from jazz, rhythm and blues, and more recently, hip hop. Cajun music, which usually has no rubboard, sounds closer to country music, often melodic and sweet. Cajun musicians tend to play two-steps and waltzes in alternation, whereas zydeco musicians play mostly two-steps, and few waltzes.

The distinctions between zydeco and Cajun music affect the dancing styles. Cajun jitterbug, with its many turns and unique broken-leg step, is smoother and more precise; but zydeco dancing is more soulful, as expressed through greater hip action. Small, crowded dance halls have kept zydeco dancers in place on the dance floor, rather than circling the room like Cajun dancers. Dancing in a tight space to the pulsing and syncopated zydeco beat promotes a bouncy, vertical style with few turns. In contrast, dancing around the room to melodic Cajun music encourages smooth, horizontal movements with more turns.

Dancing into the future.

When I danced in Richard’s Club near Lawtell, Louisiana in 1995, I noticed that older dancers danced zydeco more subtly. Younger folks danced zydeco more conspicuously, sometimes adding moves such as hip hop in the apart position, sometimes dropping their single held hand. One young couple gyrated with a flamboyant African style in the apart position. The hip hop variations spun off from the “New Zydeco” style, where they stepped on every beat and embellished with small kicks.

From Creole family dance halls in Southwest Louisiana, a two-step and a waltz evolved into the many styles of zydeco dancing found today across America. Traditional zydeco dancing is done subtly, smoothly and upright by couples in a closed position. But the “Boozoo Evolution” of the 1980s (named for Boozoo Chavis), made the dance bouncier, often open, bent-kneed, and lower to the ground. In the 1990s, the “Beau Jocque Revolution” added the flamboyant flavor of hip-hop. Zydeco dancing appears to be evolving from a couples dance towards individual free-style.

Just as the dancing styles change over time, zydeco (and Cajun) music continues to evolve as musicians tour the world and absorb new influences. This vibrant music will assuredly thrive as we dance in the new millennium.

— by Tom Dempsey, May 1996 — with books and link references updated on April 2012, below:

Recommended Cajun and Zydeco books and music:

Search for the latest “Louisiana travel books” on Amazon.com.

2003: 1999: 1999:

Other research used to write this article:
  • Rounder Records (buy on Amazon.com) (info on flyer for the 1995 “Red Hot Louisiana Music Tour”).
  • Tabasco home page: www.TABASCO.com
  • Cajun Music and Zydeco, photographs by Philip Gould with an introduction by Barry Ancelet (Louisiana State University Press, 1992). Dance-hall sights. The sounds can be savored in a Rounder compact disc with the same title.
  • “What Is A Creole: One Creole’s Perspective” by Herman Fuselier, Creole journalist from Opelousas, LA, 1995.
  • What Is Zydeco?” by Herman Fuselier, 1995.
  • “What Is A Cajun: One Cajun’s Perspective” by Shane K. Bernard, a Cajun historian of Cajun culture and regional music, 1995.
  • The Times-Picayune newspaper, September 9, 1995: “Steppin’ Out” by Katheryn Krotzer-Laborde. The author quotes zydeco dance teacher Diana Polizo-Schlesinger comparing zydeco and Cajun music and dance.
  • Prairie Acadian Cultural Center, 250 W. Park Avenue, Eunice, LA 70535. Telephone (318) 457-8499.
  • Charles Cravins, from Zydeco Extravaganza.
  • “Music: Hot Off the Bayou”, by Michael Walsh with reporting by David E. Thigpen, Time Magazine, May 8, 1995.

USA: Idaho

In Idaho, hike the Sawtooth Mountains, explore gold mining history in Custer and “Land of the Yankee Fork” State Park, and admire rainbows glowing in the mist of Mesa Falls.

Idaho favorite photos:


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Sawtooth National Recreation Area


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The Sawtooth Range (part of the Rocky Mountains) are comprised of the pink granite of the 50 million year old Sawtooth batholith. Drive, day hike, and backpack to impressive peaks and pretty wilderness lakes. Park your car/RV at one of the campgrounds, and at sunrise, see peaks of Sawtooth Wilderness reflect in Little Redfish Lake or Pettit Lake.

Sawtooth Wilderness

Sawtooth Wilderness, managed by the US Forest Service within Sawtooth National Recreation Area, has some of the best air quality in the lower 48 states (says the US EPA).

Backpack or day hike to scenic El Capitan, Alice Lake, and Twin Lakes. The pyramidal peak of El Capitan (9846 feet or 3001 elevation) reflects in the outlet stream of Alice Lake (Pettit Lake Creek) in Sawtooth Wilderness.

Backpack or day hike 11.8 miles round trip to Baron Lakes viewpoint: From Redfish Lake Lodge (redfishlake.com) take the earliest boat in the morning to Redfish Lake Inlet Transfer Camp, riding about 10 minutes. Hike 3.2 miles then turn right at the fork and begin climbing. At 4.2 miles see Alpine Lake, then switchback past three smaller lakes. At 5.9 miles, see the breathtaking view of Baron Lakes (Upper, Baron, and Little) and jagged points along the ridge of Warbonnet Peak (10,210 feet elevation). Optionally descend past the Upper Lake to reach the shore of Baron Lake at 7.9 miles one way.

Idaho history, ghost towns, Custer, Yankee Fork


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“Land of the Yankee Fork” State Park and Salmon-Challis National Forest Historic Area

Yankee Fork Gold Dredge operated from 1940-1952 near near Custer Historic Site, Idaho. This floating gold dredge chewed a wide swath of stream gravel leaving rocky dredge tailings along 5.5 miles of the Yankee Fork, a tributary of the Salmon River, near Stanley, Idaho. It recovered an estimated $1,037,322 in gold and silver at a cost of $1,076,100.

Explore the former gold mining town of Custer which dates from 1879-1910. Custer Historic Site now preserves this ghost town near Stanley. The city of Custer was named after General George Armstrong Custer, who was killed in battle in 1876. Custer is now part of the “Land of the Yankee Fork” State Park and Challis National Forest Historic Area. The past comes alive when you see old relics such as an ore stamping mill, old wooden rocking chair, plunge bath tub, gears of a hand cranked clothes washer, a foot cranked Singer sewing machine, lanterns, a wooden wagon (pictured in show).

The Sunbeam Dam, on the Salmon River, Idaho, was built in 1910 to make electricity for the Sunbeam Mine, which was abandoned in 1911 after bankruptcy. The dam and cliff were breached in 1934 to allow salmon and steelhead to migrate to their spawning beds.

Mesa Falls, North Fork of Snake River, in Caribou-Targhee National Forest


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Upper Mesa Falls plunges 114 feet over a 300 foot wide cliff face along Henrys Fork (also known as North Fork, a tributary of the Snake River) in Caribou-Targhee National Forest in southeastern Idaho. Turn off Highway 47 on the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway about 15 miles north of the city of Ashton. On sunny days from about 9 am until 1 pm, the mist from powerful Upper Mesa Falls creates a beautiful rainbow. The falls flow over Mesa Falls Tuff, which formed 1.3 million years ago. A cycle of rhyolitic volcanism from the Henrys Fork caldera depositing a thick layer of rock and ash which compressed and hardened over time. Between 200,000 and 600,000 years ago, the river eroded a wide canyon which was subsequently partly filled with basalt lava flows. The Henrys Fork of the Snake River carved a channel through the basalt to create today’s inner canyon.

See a more distant view of Lower Mesa Falls (65-foot plunge) along Henrys Fork from a roadside viewpoint, separate from the Upper Falls viewing area.

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SITE MAP | INDEX of PhotoSeek contents

Quick links to world travel advice and cameras recommended by photographer Tom Dempsey:

Worldwide travel:

Alps

ANTARCTICA

ARGENTINA

ASIA

AUSTRALIA

CANADA:

CHILE

CROATIA: Plitvice Lakes NP

ECUADOR & Galapagos Islands

EUROPE

FRANCE gallery search

GREECE

ITALY: Venice, Dolomites

MEXICO gallery search

NEPAL

NEW ZEALAND

NORTH AMERICA

NORWAY 2011

Patagonia: ARGENTINA, CHILE

PERU:

SLOVENIA

SOUTH AMERICA

SWITZERLAND

THAILAND: Bangkok

TURKEY

UNITED KINGDOM/UK: ENGLAND, SCOTLAND

USA | United States of America:

USA travel articles:

Alaska

Arizona

California

Colorado

Hawaii, 2017

Idaho

Indiana

Kentucky

Louisiana: Cajun & Zydeco music

Maine

Michigan

Minnesota

Montana: Glacier National Park

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Oregon: favorite images

Pennsylvania

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington: favorite photos

West Virginia

Wyoming: Yellowstone, Tetons

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USA: OREGON favorite images

View favorite photos from Oregon, USA in this show:


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Index of my Oregon articles:

Recommended Oregon guidebooks from Amazon.com

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WYOMING: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which extends across corners of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. View Tom Dempsey’s Wyoming photo galleries below. Yellowstone was the first national park in the world (1872), and UNESCO honored it as a World Heritage site in 1978.

Wyoming favorite photos


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Wyoming expanded show


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Yellowstone National Park

The famous cone geyser of Old Faithful erupts up to 185 feet high, averaging 145 feet high, about every 90 minutes. Old Faithful is powered by boiling groundwater heated by a hotspot of light, hot, molten mantle rock near the surface. 640,000 years ago, a supereruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano created the Yellowstone Caldera which measures 34 miles (55 km) by 45 miles (72 km). Any time in the next few hundred millennia, the active volcano of Yellowstone could cause vast destruction in North America and modify world climate.

Grand Prismatic is the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world, next to those in New Zealand. Colorful microbial mats coat terraces of Grand Prismatic Spring in Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park. The sterile blue water in the pool’s center is too hot to support life (87 degrees Centigrade or 188 F). Pure water selectively absorbs red wavelengths of visible light, making the center deep blue. But in cooler water along the edges, microbial mats of thermophilic (heat-loving) cyano-bacteria and algae thrive. Yellow, orange, and red pigments are produced by the bacteria as a natural sunscreen. As a result, the pool displays a spectrum of colors from the bright blue water of the center to the orange, red, and brown algal mats along the edges. Summer mats tend to be orange and red, whereas winter mats become dark green.

Morning Glory Pool is a colorful hot spring in Upper Geyser Basin. Microbial mats of cyano-bacteria and algae color the pool brown, yellow, and green. The pool’s center lacks the high temperature pure blue water seen in previous decades. Its glory has faded as objects tossed in by vandals have blocked hot water inlets.

Over thousands of years, Mammoth Hot Springs have built huge white travertine terraces including Terrace Mountain (and Minerva Terrace), the largest known carbonate-depositing spring in the world. The Mammoth Hotel and Fort Yellowstone are built upon the  old Hotel Terrace formation. Hot water from Norris Geyser Basin within the Yellowstone Caldera travels underground via a fault line through limestone and deposits calcium carbonate at Mammoth Hot Springs, outside of the active supervolcano’s caldera.

The American bison (scientific name “Bison bison”) is also known as buffalo, despite being only distantly related to true buffalo. Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae.

The Yellowstone River (a major tributary of the Missouri River) flows through the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, located downstream from Yellowstone Falls.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park contains the major peaks of the 40-mile (64 km) Teton Range and part of the valley known as Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Teton Range began their tectonic uplift 9 million years ago (during the Miocene Epoch), making them the youngest range in the Rocky Mountains. A parkway connects from Grand Teton National Park 10 miles north to Yellowstone National Park.

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USA: NEVADA

Below, view Tom Dempsey’s favorite images of Nevada. Photogenic desert parks and sights near Las Vegas include: Valley of Fire State Park, Cathedral Gorge State Park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and Hoover Dam. My other Southwest USA articles by state include Arizona, ColoradoNew MexicoUtah, plus Texas.

Travel tips: Many cheap flights (Southwest Airlines) conveniently fly to Las Vegas from many US cities. Drive from Las Vegas just 2 hours to St George, Utah, or 3 hours to Zion National Park, Utah. Rent a recreational vehicle (RV) for campground comfort:

  • Jucy Rentals, jucyrentals.com (Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New Zealand): The Jucy “Champ USA” (a converted Chrysler Town & Country car) has back gate cooking, two double beds (one made up inside and one via outside ladder in a pop-up tent/storage on top), inside eating table, 17-20 mpg gas mileage, with off-season lower rates through March 31. (No toilet, no hot water, no hot shower.)
  • www.CruiseAmerica.com: fully-equipped 19-foot RV and larger.

Nevada favorite images


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Below are more extensive galleries.

Valley of Fire State Park

Photos from Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada: Rainbow Vista, White Domes area, The Fire Wave, Atlatl Rock, Arch Rock Campground, fossilized sand dune patterns, eroding conglomerate rock, Beavertail Cactus flower blooms, barrel cactus, Desert Primrose/Dune Evening Primrose, golden sunset, and Petroglyph Canyon Trail to Mouse’s Tank.


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Cathedral Gorge State Park

In Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada, admire fanciful mud castles, eroded from million-year-old lake sediments. Camp overnight to experience colorful golden sunrise and sunset light on the natural monuments and pinnacles. Photos by Tom Dempsey.


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Hoover Dam in Black Canyon

These photos of Hoover Dam in Black Canyon, on the Nevada/Arizona border (formerly known as Boulder Dam), were captured by Tom Dempsey from the pedestrian walkway on the new Colorado River Bridge completed in 2010 (also known as the “Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge”).


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Southwest USA favorites from Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada


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My Southwest USA articles include: UtahArizona, ColoradoNew Mexico, and Nevada.

Recommended Nevada guidebooks from Amazon.com

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USA: UTAH

Visit Utah to be amazed by the world’s best concentration of colorful desert canyon scenery, as illustrated in the following galleries by nature photographer Tom Dempsey. As of 2015, Utah has attracted me to visit 16 times, more than any other area in the world! Related articles: Southwest USA (Arizona, ColoradoNew MexicoNevada, Utah) and Texas.

Utah favorite images


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Parks of Utah

Galleries below include photos with detailed captions from the following impressive parklands:

  1. Zion National Park
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park
  3. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
  4. Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park, near Moab
  5. Arches National Park
  6. Moab area: BLM land
  7. Natural Bridges National Monument
  8. Goblin Valley State Park and nearby BLM slot canyons
  9. Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument, and nearby Shay Canyon on BLM land
  10. Goosenecks State Park
  11. Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, in Utah and Arizona
  12. Capitol Reef National Park
  13. Dinosaur National Monument
  14. Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, in Arizona and Utah
  15. Southwest USA favorites from Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada
  16. Recommended Utah guidebooks

1. Zion National Park

Photos from Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, by Tom Dempsey: The Court of the Patriarchs tower over the North Fork of the Virgin River. Hike the West Rim Trail to Angels Landing, Scout Lookout, and beyond, with snow on ground. A seasonal waterfall plunges from Weeping Rock. West Rim Spring plunges in a seasonal waterfall over desert varnish on a Navajo sandstone cliff seen from the Temple of Sinawava. Lichen grows into polygons. Snow melts on Checkerboard Mesa. Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja) flowers bloom.
Unusually diverse plants and animals congregate at Zion, where the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert meet. A free shuttle bus greatly improves park ambiance with quieter roads and less crowding.


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2. Bryce Canyon National Park

Sunrise and sunset make great photo opportunities in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. For example, sunset spotlights eroded hoodoos in the Queen’s Garden (one appears like a profile of Queen Elizabeth with gown). Bryce is actually not a canyon but a giant natural amphitheater created by erosion along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The ancient river and lake bed sedimentary rocks erode into hoodoos by the force of wind, water, and ice.


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3. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a large, wild park with great hiking in desert and slot canyon scenery in southern Utah. Approach most sights via dirt roads (often impassible when wet), or some on paved roads. These photos by Tom Dempsey are from recommended hikes to Lower Calf Creek Falls, Zebra & Tunnel Slot, Willis Creek slot canyon, Bull Valley Gorge, Cottonwood Wash Road & Narrows, and Rimrock Hoodoos.


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4. Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park, near Moab

Photos from Canyonlands National Park, near Moab, Utah, by Tom Dempsey include: Mesa Arch, sunrise, White Rim Road, Grand View Point Overlook on Island in the Sky, Colorado River canyons, Orange Cliffs Overlook, Green River in Stillwater Canyon, snowy Henry Mountains, Intrepid Potash Inc. Cane Creek Facility, snow on La Sal Mountains, Needles Outpost Campground, Lost Canyon to Peek-a-Boo Trail, Needles District, Echinocereus triglochidiatus (common name Claret Cup Hedgehog, Mojave mound cactus, or Kingcup cactus), Cave Spring Trail, and Historic Cowboy Camp. Nearby, Dead Horse Point State Park provides a dramatic overlook of the Colorado River and high mesas and cliffs of Canyonlands National Park.


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Arch View Resort makes a good base for visiting both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Utah

My wife Carol and I enjoyed staying in our Volkswagon Eurovan Camper at comfortable Arch View Resort, an RV park 10 minutes north of Moab on Highway 191, halfway between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Arch View Resort has a quieter setting than busy Moab, pleasant views, and full services (unlike nearby National Park campgrounds): 14 cabins, 42 full hook ups for RV water and electricity, 20 tent areas, tree lined spaces, hot showers, general store, laundry, Shell gas station.

Starting an hour before sunrise, we drove from Arch View Resort up to photograph Mesa Arch in Canyonlands NP. Standing room for the best photographs at Mesa Arch viewpoint is limited to about a dozen people looking through the arch to distant sandstone buttes. On Palm Sunday April 9, 2006, Mesa Arch was crowded with other photographers until an hour after sunrise when I could finally move in my tripod. If you want the best tripod spot and fewer photographers, try arriving 40 minutes before sunrise, midweek, and avoid Easter week.

5. Arches National Park

Photos from Arches National Park, Utah, by Tom Dempsey: Devils Garden trails (Landscape Arch, Broken Arch, Skyline Arch, Partition Arch, Navajo Arch, Double O Arch, Pine Tree Arch), the Windows Section, Balanced Rock, Double Arch, South and North Windows, Turret Arch, Courthouse Towers, the Three Gossips, Entrada Sandstone eroding into arches, towers, buttes, snowy La Sal Mountains.


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6. Moab area: BLM land

Near Moab in Utah, we recommend the following great hikes on BLM federal land. [The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior that administers American public lands.]

  1. Corona Arch: Hike 3 miles round trip up Bootlegger Canyon to the half-freestanding Corona Arch, also called Little Rainbow Bridge, which has an impressive opening of 140 feet wide by 105 feet high. Bowtie Arch is a cool bonus en route.
  2. Fisher Towers: The impressive Fisher Towers are eroded from Cutler sandstone capped with Moenkopi sandstone. Hike the Fisher Towers Trail 4.5 miles round trip with 800 feet gain.
  3. Hike Negro Bill Canyon to Morning Glory Bridge, a natural bridge of Navajo Sandstone spanning 243 feet, the sixth largest rock span in the United States.


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Above, browse the gallery and thumbnails easiest with a mouse device. But mobile devices display just a fixed picture, so please touch (click) to enlarge as a set of images with full captions (where Add to Cart button lets you buy photos).

7. Natural Bridges National Monument

In Natural Bridges National Monument (near Blanding, San Juan County), walk to three spectacular natural bridges (visited separately from roadside pullouts or connected via a worthwhile loop hike of 6 or 9 miles). White Canyon Creek has cut Sipapu Natural Bridge with a span of 225 feet through a meander of white Permian sandstone of the Cedar Mesa Formation. Kachina Bridge spans 192 feet. Owachomo Bridge spans 180 feet. More photos by Tom Dempsey include: desert varnish coating gorgeous walls; and yellow wallflower (Erysimum asperum) growing in black cryptobiotic soil crust.


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8. Goblin Valley State Park and nearby BLM slot canyons

Admire fanciful hoodoos, mushroom shapes, and rock pinnacles in Goblin Valley State Park, in Emery County between the towns of Green River and Hanksville, in central Utah. The light-colored Curtis Formation caps the reddish-brown suite of rocks called Entrada Sandstone where the park goblins form. On the desert floor bloom vetch flowers, in the pea family. Snow caps Mount Ellen, at the northern end of the Henry Mountains, rising prominently south of the park.

A short drive outside the State Park are some wonderful hikes on BLM land. Hike the memorable 9 mile loop up Little Wild Horse Canyon and back down Bell Canyon. Scramble up and down sandstone ledges, through occasional shallow water holes and fascinating narrow slots. Ding Canyon and the main Wildhorse Canyon are also worth visiting. On the other side of the reef is Crack Canyon, one of our favorite places to see an amazing variety of rock patterns,  4 miles round trip (or longer if you can surpass a rope ascent and more obstacles). The Navajo and Wingate sandstone of the San Rafael Reef was uplifted fifty million years ago into a striking bluff which runs from Price to Hanksville, bisected by Interstate 70 at a breach fifteen miles west of the town of Green River. The San Rafael Reef (and Swell) is one of the wildest places left in Utah


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9. Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument, and nearby Shay Canyon on BLM land

Below are photos from Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument, plus nearby Shay Canyon on BLM land, in Utah, USA, by Tom Dempsey.

  • Newspaper Rock: The cliffs that enclose the upper end of Indian Creek Canyon are covered by hundreds of ancient Indian petroglyphs (rock carvings), one of the largest, best preserved and accessible groups in the Southwest USA. The petroglyphs have a mixture of human (feet, figures), animal (deer, pronghorn, buffalo, horse), abstract and material forms of uncertain meaning. Starting about 2000 years ago, humans have chipped away the dark natural desert varnish to reveal lighter colored Wingate sandstone beneath.
  • Shay Canyon petroglyphs: Nearby on BLM land, an unmarked trail crosses a creek and leads up the wash of Shay Canyon to a remarkable gallery of petroglyphs including flutists, mountain sheep, abstract human figures, and a long-necked bird.


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10. Goosenecks State Park, Utah

Goosenecks State Park overlooks a deep meander of the San Juan River near Mexican Hat, Utah, USA. Millions of years ago, the Monument Upwarp forced the river to carve meanders over 1,000 feet deep (300 m) as the surrounding landscape slowly rose in elevation. (Panorama stitched from 10 photos.) (© Tom Dempsey / Photoseek.com)
Goosenecks State Park overlooks a deep meander of the San Juan River near Mexican Hat, Utah, USA. Millions of years ago, the Monument Upwarp forced the river to carve meanders over 1,000 feet deep (300 m) as the surrounding landscape slowly rose in elevation. (Panorama stitched from 10 photos. Clicking image reaches Add to Cart button for purchase.) © Tom Dempsey / Photoseek.com

11. Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, in Utah and Arizona

Below, view photos from Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell, in Utah and Arizona: Willow Creek Canyon, Broken Bow Arch, Llewellyn Gulch, petroglyphs of bighorn sheep chipped into desert varnish, pink cactus flower, frog held in hands, Bishop Canyon, LaGorce Arch, Hite Crossing Bridge (built 1966), and Hite Marina high and dry above the Colorado River in 2015 (at the former upstream limits of Lake Powell). I also photographed an interesting Anasazi kiva (ceremonial room) restored at Three Roof Ruin, on Escalante River Arm of Lake Powell. Just 8 miles outside the park, don’t miss the elegant slot of Leprechaun Canyon in North Wash on federal public BLM land between Hanksville and Hite.

Photos from Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell, in Utah and Arizona, include: Willow Creek Canyon, Broken Bow Arch, Llewellyn Gulch, petroglyphs of bighorn sheep chipped into desert varnish, pink cactus flower, frog held in hands, black-tailed jackrabbit (desert hare, Lepus californicus), Bishop Canyon, LaGorce Arch and houseboats. An Anasazi kiva (ceremonial room) was restored at Three Roof Ruin, on Escalante River Arm of Lake Powell.


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12. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

In Capitol Reef National Park, don’t miss the walk to impressive Hickman Natural Bridge, and optionally onward to Rim Overlook, seeing evocative sandstone patterns exfoliating from fossilized sand dunes. On the Capitol Gorge Trail, walk to the Tanks & Pioneer Register; optionally adding a hike to the Jurassic sandstone monolith of Golden Throne. The gallery below also includes photos of scenic Grand Wash, Petroglyphs Boardwalk, and Fruita Schoolhouse (built in 1896) and Historic Orchard.


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13. Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

Visit the real Jurassic Park at world-famous Dinosaur National Monument. The park’s Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry displays a spectacular logjam of fossilized Jurassic dinosaur bones protected by the huge Quarry Exhibit Hall. Although most of the monument is in Moffat County, Colorado, the Dinosaur Quarry is in Utah near Jenson. Dinosaur National Monument is on the southeast flank of the Uinta Mountains straddling Colorado and Utah at the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers. The only Apatosaurus skull in the world was found here because the sand-sized sediment preserves bone in great detail without compressing its fragile bones. Later discoveries of so-called “Brontosaurus” bones are a misnomer, as all bones of this sauropod (long necked dinosaur) should now be labeled Apatosaurus. More photos by Tom Dempsey include: Camarasaurus skeleton, Apatosaurus louisae leg bones, Allosaurus head, stegasaurus plate, ancient American petroglyphs, and Split Mountain Campground’s colorful geologic formations. Not all dinosaurs are extinct, since birds are actually the descendants of small nonflying theropods.


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14. Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, in Arizona and Utah

Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area overlaps both Arizona and Utah. Fossilized sand dunes have eroded into the Coyote Buttes striated formations such as “The Wave.” Over 190 million years, ancient sand dune layers calcified into rock and created “The Wave” in the northwest corner of Arizona near the Utah border. Iron oxides bled through this Jurassic-age Navajo sandstone to create the salmon color. Hematite and goethite added yellows, oranges, browns and purples. Over thousands of years, water cut through the ridge above and exposed a channel that was further scoured by windblown sand into the smooth curves that today look like ocean swells and waves. For the permit required to hike to “The Wave”, contact the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), who limits access to protect this fragile geologic formation.


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15. Southwest USA favorites from Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada


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16. Recommended Utah guidebooks

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USA: ARIZONA

Visit Arizona, USA, for exceptional sights in Grand Canyon National Park, Havasu Canyon within Havasupai Indian Reservation, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Chiricahua National Monument, Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson, Superstition Wilderness near Phoenix. Related articles: Southwest USA (UtahColoradoNew MexicoNevada, Arizona) and Texas.

Arizona favorite images


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Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon began forming at least 5 to 17 million years ago and now exposes a geologic wonder, a column of well-defined rock layers dating back nearly two billion years at the base. While the Colorado Plateau was uplifted by tectonic forces, the Colorado River and tributaries carved Grand Canyon over a mile deep (6000 feet / 1800 meters), 277 miles (446 km) long and up to 18 miles (29 km) wide. In 1979, UNESCO honored Grand Canyon National Park as a World Heritage Site.


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Photos from Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, by Tom Dempsey, include: South Rim, Yavapai Point, Maricopa Point, Powell Point, Hopi Point, Mojave Point, Pima Point, Grandview Point, Colorado River seen from Moran Point and Lipan Point, Bright Angel Trail, rider on horse train. A flying hummingbird feeds on Indian Paintbrush flower.

Havasu Canyon, Havasupai Indian Reservation

On the Havasupai Indian Reservation, Havasu Creek flows over Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls through Havasu Canyon, part of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. The beautiful color in the pools of Havasu Creek is caused by carbonate minerals settling to the bottom, turning it white, and acting as a reflector of the surrounding green and brown mossy cliffs plus the blue sky. This unique color combination creates a striking turquoise pool, and one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world.

Havasupai (or Havasu ‘Baaja) means “people of the blue-green water,” and their people have tended fields in the Grand Canyon for at least 700 years. The Havasupai also lived at what is now called Indian Garden on the Bright Angel Trail in the main Grand Canyon, but they were evicted by the National Park Service in the 1920’s. Their brush shelters (wickiups) and gardens were destroyed at Indian Garden, leaving the Havasupai Tribe just 518 acres in Havasu Canyon. In the more enlightened year of 1975, fully 187,500 acres of canyon and rimland were returned to the tribe. As of 2005, about 450 of the tribe’s 650 members live in the village of Supai. As of this 1999 photo trip, Supai is the only town in the United States which still receives its mail by mule train.

Tom and Carol Dempsey in Havasu Canyon, April 1999: Having registered for camping permission from the Havasupai Tribe (external link) a few weeks in advance (as recommended), Carol and I parked our car in the dirt lot at Hualapai Hilltop and backpacked the 8-mile dusty trail downhill into Supai Village. About 25,000 tourists visit each year, so advance reservations are recommended. We checked in at the tribal office, then hiked 2 more miles to the campground, passing the wonderful Havasu Falls, one of the most surprising desert oasis experiences in the world. Impressive Mooney Falls was a short walk further downstream. To more fully experience the isolation of this desert oasis, walk to Supai instead of riding a horse or helicopter. But next time we’ll consider having the mule train carry our packs, to make the desert walk more comfortable. Thank you very much, Havasupai people, for sharing your very special canyon with visitors.

Helicopters carry in people and supplies, but the loud chop-chopping roar disturbed my appreciation of this beautiful natural setting. Out of nowhere, a porta-potty suddenly flew over our heads. Helicopters repeatedly flew full porta-potties, one at a time on a very long cable, out of the heavily-used campground, for disposal elsewhere. A composting toilet would seem to be a more cost effective solution. The densely-packed and worn campground in this narrow canyon would have benefited by further restricting the number of visitors per day.


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Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park

Flash floods in Southwest USA deserts have carved slot canyons into Navajo Sandstone creating astoundingly beautiful natural rock cathedrals. Drive to Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park east of Page on Highway 98 between mileposts 298 and 299 in Arizona, USA. Turn south to Upper Antelope Canyon toll booth and parking lot, which has a 4WD shuttle and guide to reach the slot entrance. Or turn north on Antelope Point Road (Navaho Route N22B) to Lower Antelope Canyon (or “the Corkscrew”) parking lot.


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Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Photos from Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell, in Utah and Arizona, include: Willow Creek Canyon, Broken Bow Arch, Llewellyn Gulch, petroglyphs of bighorn sheep chipped into desert varnish, pink cactus flower, frog held in hands, Bishop Canyon, LaGorce Arch. An Anasazi kiva (ceremonial room) was restored at Three Roof Ruin, on Escalante River Arm of Lake Powell.


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Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Left and Right Mittens, Merrick Butte, and a balanced rock punctuate the horizon in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, USA. The Western movie director John Ford set several popular films here. (© Tom Dempsey / Photoseek.com)

Left and Right Mittens, Merrick Butte, and a balanced rock punctuate the horizon in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, USA. The Western movie director John Ford set several popular films here.

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 Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, in Arizona & Utah

Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area overlaps both Arizona and Utah. Fossilized sand dunes have eroded into the Coyote Buttes striated formations such as “The Wave.” Over 190 million years, ancient sand dune layers calcified into rock and created “The Wave” in the northwest corner of Arizona near the Utah border. Iron oxides bled through this Jurassic-age Navajo sandstone to create the salmon color. Hematite and goethite added yellows, oranges, browns and purples. Over thousands of years, water cut through the ridge above and exposed a channel that was further scoured by windblown sand into the smooth curves that today look like ocean swells and waves. For the permit required to hike to “The Wave”, contact the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), who limits access to protect this fragile geologic formation.


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Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson

The Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, shows an impressive variety of live native wildlife and plants. A coati (member of the raccoon family, Procyonidae) climbs a tree. A handler presents a live Barn Owl. Pink cactus flowers bloom.


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Superstition Wilderness, near Phoenix


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Hike to Weaver’s Needle, cactus, and jagged rock formations in Superstition Wilderness (“the Superstitions”), in Tonto National Forest, near Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

Chiricahua National Monument

The Heart of the Rocks Loop Trail (7 to 9 miles) makes an excellent day hike through fascinating arrays of hoodoos in the far southeast corner of Arizona, in Chiricahua National Monument. 27 million years ago, huge volcanic eruptions laid down 2000 feet of ash and pumice which fused into rhyolitic tuff. This rock has eroded into fascinating hoodoos, spires, and balanced rocks which lie above the surrounding desert grasslands at elevations between 5100 and 7800 feet. At Chiricahua, the Sonoran desert meets the Chihuahuan desert, and the Rocky Mountains meet Mexico’s Sierra Madre, making one of the most biologically diverse areas in the northern hemisphere. Colorful cliffs of rhyolite (solidified volcanic ash layers) rise 2000 feet above white sycamore trees in Cave Creek Canyon, in Coronado National Forest, near Portal, Arizona.


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Southwest USA favorites from Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada


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See my separate articles by state for Southwest USA (Arizona, ColoradoNew MexicoNevada, Utah) and Texas.

Recommended Arizona guidebooks from Amazon.com:

Search for latest Arizona travel books at Amazon.com (look for updates every 1-3 years):

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