Thunderbird Park: An Evening Lesson

Bradley Crim | Sonoran Desert

EDITOR'S NOTE: We occasionally receive poetry submissions from our readers, and while we no longer publish those submissions in the magazine, we occasionally feature them on our blog. Mark Cooney recently sent us this one. Thanks for sharing, Mark.

Thunderbird Park - an Evening Lesson
By Mark Cooney, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Sonoran Desert
To some desolate and bleak
To be conquered, overcome
But it signals with its beauties and frustrations
To mankind

Palo Verde's green tangled serpents
Foreground to sun's scarlet farewell
Yonder rough hewn peaks
Nearby crags of slate gray rocks
Look scorched from desert kiln
Behind last light illuminates
Sandpaper desert peaks
Amid electric buzz of cicadas

Desert breeze pulses
Like breath of a dragon
The city encroaches
On this desert preserve
People settle here by millions
But the desert reacts subtly
Beyond its fiery rebuttal

Palo Verde, like brood of snakes
Fights against the workman's saw
Somber rock walls say
"Try to conquer me"
And cicada's electric buzz says
"Do not bother me"

The desert cries like you or I
"I want to live - to fight another day"

Thunderbird Park,  Phoenix, Arizona  7/2005

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From a Reader: The Spirit of the Cowboy

Julie Knight | Sonoita

From time to timeArizona Highways receives poetry submissions from readers. Dianna Cunningham, a resident of Northeast Phoenix, sent us this one in response to our August issue (on newsstands now) on Arizona's Western culture. Thanks so much for sharing it with us, Dianna!

The Spirit of the Cowboy
By Dianna Cunningham

The cowboy embodies
the spirit of the west.

Like his father before him,
he lives life to its best.

His passion for living
shows in his face.

His bedside companion
is the wide open space.

Hard work and honor
are always his style,

Every new challenge
he takes on with a smile.

He’s mastered the art
of working the land

And when a friendship is needed
he’ll lend you a hand.

While others search for fortune and fame
and chasing the dream of the glory;

The cowboy’s dream lives on forever
As part of the great western story!

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From a Reader: Native American Trucker

Hikelust | U.S. Route 163

As longtime Arizona Highways readers know, we used to publish reader-submitted poetry in the magazine. We no longer do so, but we still receive occasional submissions from readers. One of them, Paul L. Prough of Lewistown, Pennsylvania, submitted this one. We hope you enjoy it.

Native American Trucker
By Paul L. Prough

Eight-teen wheels drove down the road
carrying a great big heavy load;
with lots of lights in front and back
and a sign on its door that read Applejack.

The man behind the wheel that day
had a nice little home in Santa Fe.
He drove long distance back and forth,
sometimes south and sometimes north.

He started driving at age forty-two
and drove his truck like a buckaroo.
He had a wife and a son to support
and always liked being at his own homeport.

He had been in the Service for twenty good years
and learned his trade with the Corps of Engineers.
He once saved his squad and called a hero
and was proud of his heritage as a true Navajo.

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From a Reader: Duke

Maggie Irwin | Douglas

An Arizona Highways reader named Lucy Ogletree recently sent us the following poem, along with this account:

"My mom, dad and my older brother and sister moved from Arizona in 1948 with their cattle and horses to Georgia. Mama hated leaving Arizona — she loved the land and the people. They worked at the Elkhorn Ranch on Sasabe Star Route, helping the Millers get the newly acquired ranch ready for dudes, and also raised cattle while Daddy attended the University of Arizona.

"When our horse, Duke (Daddy's top cowpony on the ranch and in Georgia, who turned out to be the best kid's horse ever), died, Mama wrote a poem about Duke, who traveled with them from Arizona. The poem is not only about the horse, but also about Arizona. I have always envisioned it in your magazine."

While Arizona Highways no longer publishes reader poems in the print magazine, we're happy to share this one here. Thanks so much, Lucy, for sharing it with us.

By Cynthia Curtis
Submitted by her daughter, Lucy Curtis Ogletree

Back to the mountains of the setting sun,
Back to where the deer and the javelina run,
Back to the cactus, the rocks, and the sand,
Back to the sunglow of the golden land ...

Home is the heart, where it has longed to be,
Home where a horse and a man can be free ...
Lord, here is Duke, we commend him to you,
His bearing is kingly, his spirit is too ...

Let him run, let him graze, 
If he's tired, let him tarry,
But most of all Lord,
Give him children to carry.

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You Tell Us: What's the Coolest Building in Arizona?

Taliesin West, Scottsdale | Flickr user Teemu008

A recently published list of 25 "must-see" Arizona buildings is sure to spark disagreement among the state's residents.

The list, compiled by USA Today and the American Institute of Architects, was created by asking members of the AIA's Arizona chapter which structures in the state are most significant.

Included on the list are some obvious choices, such as Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona and Mission San Xavier del Bac near Tucson. But there also are some surprises, including Montezuma Castle National Monument, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick near Scottsdale, and the Northern Arizona University Science and Health Buidling in Flagstaff.

Of course, this list was created from an architectural perspective. There are plenty of other, more personal reasons to love a building. So, we'd like to know what you think. In your opinion, what are Arizona's must-see buildings, and why? Let us know in the comments.

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From a Reader: The Wilds of Suburbia

A Cooper's hawk in Sabino Canyon near Tucson. | Brianna Clements

EDITOR'S NOTE: A piece on Cooper's hawks in our October issue brought back memories for Arizona Highways reader Chris Angle, who shared this account of a childhood encounter with one of the birds.

The Wilds of Suburbia
By Chris Angle

“Chris, one of our hawks is caught in Eric’s hockey net.”  My best buddy, 12-year-old Seth, burst through my front door, breathless, churning his arms — typical body language when he was happy, excited or nervous. It was common for the hawks to shoot through the airspace, whooshing above our yards, so when I heard Seth, I wasn’t surprised that something like this had befallen the bird.

The Cooper, passing through Eric’s backyard, had zoomed directly into a hockey net casually slung between two trees. In a panic to escape, it had further entangled itself and was now hanging upside down, screeching, its eyes wide with fright, its head feathers standing at attention in fight-or-flight mode. The hawk’s behavior swung from fiercely fighting to free itself, its one free claw viciously swiping out randomly, scratching hopelessly at the net, to sagging with exhaustion, panting and hissing in distress.

The neighborhood kids, buzzing with excitement, had all gathered in the yard. White-faced and unnaturally still, they were memorizing every detail for the dinner table that night. There was nothing we could do. Troy, Seth’s dad, called the Animal Protection Services team, who quickly arrived, the rumble of their rescue truck announcing itself at the top of our street. They calmly covered the hawk’s head, shushing it, and then cut it free. Troy and the kids sprinted down the street, tracking the hawk as it flew away, skirting the tops of the trees so close we could hear the rustle of the leaves as it raced toward Little Dry Creek, another nearby popular hawk site.

As the summer spent itself, everywhere we went, we would endlessly retell the story of our hawk’s near-death experience and our role in saving it — a life-affirming story not just for the hawk … but for us as well.

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From a Reader: My Arizona, 'Tis of Thee

Christy Thomey | Chloride

From time to time, Arizona Highways receives poetry submissions — owing, at least in part, to the fact that we used to publish reader poems in the magazine. We no longer do that, but we do occasionally publish them on our blog. This is one of those occasions.

My Arizona, 'Tis of Thee
By DL Hubbard

I've known the look in the coyote's eye
And felt the pulse of the frightened hare.
When eagles soared in endless sky,
My senses quickly joined them there.

And while on paths down canyon walls,
Through echoed rays of frail light,
My thoughts, it seemed, made room for all
That freed my soul and bared my sight.

I've glimpsed beyond the stars at night,
On moon-swept ridges, perched my soul,
And with the owl's nocturnal flight,
I've feasted out of Nature's bowl.

Still, in my view of outer space,
No answers to the vast unknown;
Mere cosmic dust, within my place,
On this small earth that I call home.

Some warm and lazy afternoons,
I've watched the baby quails parade
Down sandy wash, with rippled dunes,
'Neath tender palo verde shade.

And on its bank, an ironwood grew,
A mighty fortress, countless years,
Encouraging me with what it knew
'Bout threatening storms that may appear.

When currents try to knock me down,
The same as with the grand, old tree,
The floods will soak into the ground,
And give new life and growth to me.

And buzzing rattler in his bush,
Or tucked beneath his pile of stone,
Has warned me it's unwise to push
Some things much better left alone.

Across the deserts, I have gazed,
Towards vistas to eternity,
Dismissing thoughts of numbered days
Or rational uncertainty.

Yet, on a mound from distant past,
With shards of pottery in the dirt,
I've been reminded nothing lasts,
For all returns to Mother Earth.

With countless treasures I abide,
They flood me with an earthly glee;
Like endless, ever-changing tide —
My Arizona, 'tis of thee.

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From a Reader: Collecting Arizona's Stretched Pennies

Courtesy of Richard Keller

Stretched (or smashed) penny machines are a familiar sight at landmarks in Arizona and elsewhere. And an Arizona Highways reader is on a quest to stretch a penny at every machine in the Grand Canyon State.

Richard Keller lives in Tolleson, a suburb of Phoenix. "I was born and raised in Arizona," he writes in an email. "My wife, however, has lived in many states. We both love Arizona!

"We got married two years ago in White Tank Mountain Regional Park. On our honeymoon in Christopher Creek, she asked to stop and get the smashed (elongated) penny in Payson. I had never heard of them before. I asked how she knew where it was. She introduced me to They have the locations of every penny machine in Arizona.

"For our first wedding anniversary, I surprised her with our first 'Penny Trip.' We went south and got pennies from every penny machine in Tucson, Tombstone, Fort Huachuca, Bisbee, Benson and all the other places with penny machines in Southern Arizona.

"We were both hooked. Since then, we have gone on many other trips around Arizona. Out of 138 penny machines in Arizona, we are only missing one. We just got back yesterday from Page and the North Rim and South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

"We have seen more of Arizona than we would have ever seen without the penny machines. We even stayed at the Wigwam [Motel] in Holbrook. We love Arizona even more! We just thought you might let others know they can go on 'Penny Trips' also.

"On our last two trips, we have been collecting passport stamps from every state and national park in Arizona. My wife buys postcards and stamps them on the back. We have visited 20 parks so far. Now that we have come to the end of our penny trips, we are going to go on 'Park Trips.'

"Since a lot of the pennies are on Route 66, we have received certificates for completing all of Route 66 in Arizona."

We so appreciate Richard sharing his story, and we agreed that others might want to do something similar. You can click here for the list of penny machines in Arizona. Happy hunting!

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From a Reader: Arizona Wildflowers in Switzerland

Mexican goldpoppies bloom in Marianne Schneider's yard in Switzerland. | Courtesy of Marianne Schneider

Arizona Highways has subscribers in more than 100 countries, and Marianne Schneider, who emailed us recently from her native Switzerland, is one of them.

"For more than a decade, I have been an Arizona Highways subscriber, and I have deeply admired (and with envy) your wildflower issues," she writes, "although we spent one or two months in Arizona and Texas every year to see them on the spot."

She continues: "In 2012, I bought me a bag of goldpoppy seeds, and, as you can see from the attached photos, beautiful wildflowers grow in Switzerland as they do in Arizona. I am very proud of my goldpoppy meadow, although it does not have Arizona size."

Beautiful pictures, Marianne. Arizona natives and frequent visitors will recognize these as Mexican goldpoppies (Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana), which are a subspecies of California poppies. They're frequently found in the Sonoran Desert, and we wouldn't have guessed they would thrive in the Swiss environment, but perhaps we underestimated them.

Do you have any Arizona-native plants growing in your yard or garden outside Arizona? Send us a photo and let us know!

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On a 'Voyage' to See Arizona's National Parks

Stuart Kaner and his grandson, Brenden, at Tonto National Monument. | Courtesy of Stuart Kaner

It's always a thrill to hear that Arizona Highways has inspired someone to explore Arizona. Stuart Kaner, who recently got in touch with us, is no exception.

"I'm a soon to be 65-year-old grandfather with a 12-year-old grandson (Brenden)," he wrote. "Your August 2016 issue on the 22 national parks [in Arizona] inspired me/us to visit all of them.

"We mapped out a total of nine trips, and made the first one last Friday to Tonto National Monument. We're putting a scrapbook together to document the (what we figure will take two years) ‘voyage.’ I just didn't want to be remembered as the Ziede (grandpa in Yiddish) that only took him out to eat.

"I know this will remind him and his children, and so on, as to who I was and how much I loved him. Thank you for providing us with more than just beautiful pictures and articles!"

We so appreciate Stuart sharing his and Brenden's story with us, and have asked them to get back in touch once they've completed their "voyage." The above photo shows Stuart and Brenden during their visit to Tonto.

What adventures has Arizona Highways inspired for your family? Drop us a line and let us know.

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