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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How About a Little Poetry?

Michael Wilson | Kofa Mountains

There was a time when Arizona Highwaypublished poetry submissions in the magazine. We don't do that anymore, but we still occasionally receive poems in our email, and once in a while, we post them on our blog.

This one came in recently from longtime reader Stewart James Ritchey, who lives in Mesa.


The night sky awaits
Her lover to arise.
Soft lights smile in her eyes
reflect in her hair.

Slowly, sunrise stirs
in the east,
stretches forth sleepy arms
and holds her tenderly,

Drawing him to her,
she opens to accept his heat, as,
entwining, he whispers
"Come, my love;
we have life to create."

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From a Reader: Aravaipa Canyon's Mysterious 'Doorway'

A strange "doorway" shape in the rock wall of Aravaipa Canyon. | Courtesy of Craig Kent

The cover story in our April issue focused on the work The Nature Conservancy does in Arizona — in particular, at Aravaipa Canyon Preserve southeast of Phoenix. That story spurred Craig Kent, a Tucson resident, to send us an email, which included this photo.

"One of my favorite yearly backpacking trips involves the Aravaipa Canyon," he wrote, "and I've enjoyed the shoutouts to this special place in recent issues of Arizona Highways (which I love and have been reading since the '70's). Every time I hike through the canyon, I am floored by this distinct 'doorway' in the face of the canyon wall and have to believe it is nature-made and not man-made (I pray). With the many resources you have at hand, have you ever heard of any explanation for this freakish wonder? I am just curious, that's all."

To find an answer to Craig's question, we reached out to Mark Haberstich, the director of the preserve. He offered his theory of how this "doorway" formed.

"The layer of rock that covers much of this part of the canyon is called a volcanic tuff," Haberstich said. "It is made up of ash that spewed out of a volcano erupting in this area millions of years ago. Somehow the ash settled against a rectangular rock of another material. The rectangular rock fell away more recently (in geologic time) as the canyon has eroded. This left the distinct 'doorway' impression that stands out from the other tuff around it."

Haberstich added that he's fairly certain the shape occurred naturally, "but I'm sure you could get a lot of interesting explanations."

We hope that answers Craig's question. If you've got a question about Arizona's history, terrain, etc., drop us a line and we'll see if we can help!

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From a Reader: A Doll and Its Blanket, Explained

In our March issue, we featured Jerry Jacka's photographs of Canyon de Chelly. One of the images shows a swastika on the wall of the canyon, but as our editor noted in the magazine, the swastika was a Native American symbol long before the Nazis used it. That's what led Judy Swarens of Carthage, Missouri, to write to us. She sent us the above photo and the following letter:

Enclosed is a picture of a doll and the blanket she has been wrapped in for a very long time. The doll was given to my grandmother as a young girl — she was born in 1898. She was passed on to my mother, born in 1918, and then to me, born in 1942. This doll has not been played with and has her original dress, coat, hat, leather shoes and lace stocking, and petticoat.

When I saw your March 2016 magazine, the picture of the Antelope House Design and editor's letter about the swastika symbol, it was a confirmation about the story passed on about the blanket and what that symbol really represented. The blanket is stitched together out of old flannel cigar box liners and has kept the doll safe for many years.

I really enjoy the magazine — thanks for this article. I have visited Canyon de Chelly — love the country. I plan to keep this magazine with the doll, as it will be passed on to my daughter and granddaughter."

Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Judy.

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