'Pure Land' Wins National Outdoor Book Award

Annette McGivney | Courtesy of the author

A book by a frequent Arizona Highways contributor recently was honored with a top prize at the National Outdoor Book Awards.

Annette McGivney's Pure Land, which recounts a 2006 murder in the Grand Canyon, won the Outdoor Literature category at this year's awards. As the judges wrote:

Havasu Creek.  Its aqua colored waters, quiet pools and breathtaking falls, deep in the Grand Canyon, is one of the most beautiful places in all of the American Southwest.  It’s truly a backpacker’s paradise, and many thousands have made the eight-mile hike into Supai, a small, remote Indian village, to spend time there.  But in 2006, the serenity of Havasu was shattered when a young Japanese woman was murdered by a Native American.  Author Annette McGivney, Backpacker Magazine’s Southwest Editor, investigates the circumstances behind the incident.  What emerges from her investigations is a captivating and an extraordinarily well crafted story, and one which takes a surprise twist as she finds her own life inexorably drawn into the narrative.

McGivney wrote on Facebook that she was "honored and grateful" for the award.

In late 2017, McGivney spoke to Arizona Highways about the book. If you missed it then, you can check out our Q&A with the author. To learn more about Pure Land and read an excerpt, visit the book's website.

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The Lucky Shirt

Jesse Sensibar | Courtesy of Tolsun Books

The following is excerpted from Blood in the Asphalt, a new book by Arizona author Jesse Sensibar. It appears here with permission from Tolsun Books.


The burgundy 2007 Ford four-wheel drive truck was traveling west from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Kingman, Arizona when the driver lost control near Winona and rolled the truck. The owner of the truck was killed. We towed the truck to our storage yard where it was parked on the gravel in the back corner near the gate, backed in against the eight-foot chain-link fence.

In spite of the owner being deceased, I fully expected to hear from somebody about the wreck; family members would want to come and collect personal effects. In spite of being totaled, the truck still had significant salvage value. Insurance companies would be sending adjusters and possibly investigators to minimize risk and figure out cause and liability, pay tow bills, and arrange for the truck to be sold for salvage.

But nobody came. The truck sat in the storage yard for almost a month. I had a phone number for the owner’s parents, and finally I had to call and speak to the father of the owner of the truck. I said how sorry I was for his loss and explained my situation. I asked if he knows if his son had any collision insurance on the truck, and he told me that he did not. I explained to him, gently, kindly as I can, that the truck is sitting in our storage yard, and about my large towing and storage bill, but offered that the bill could be paid if I could sell the truck. If he could send me the title, I would not ever have to bother him again with any of this. He told me he would see what he could do. I told him again how sorry I was for his loss, and I apologized for having to ever bother him with this sort of thing.

A week after this conversation I received a letter from the owner’s mother which detailed the cold, callous, and heartless phone call her husband had received from a “representative” of the company. The letter went on to say that her son was carrying “valuable collectables” in the truck, and that if the towing company would send them to her, she would send us a title.

I looked in what is left of the truck because nobody else wanted to get anywhere near it if they didn’t have to. The closest thing I found to something of value was a center console full of change and a few dollar bills. I went back to my desk and filled out the paperwork to begin the lengthy process of filing with the state of Arizona for an abandoned title on the truck.

The truck sat forlornly at the back of the storage yard through the winter and into the spring, ignored, but not completely forgotten. Sometimes I looked out the window and saw it sitting at the back of the yard quietly mocking me. Mocking me for my failure to communicate with the dead owner’s father. Mocking me because in spite of my best efforts I still had come up short. Still had come across as callous and coldhearted. Mocking me by its very presence, sitting there taking up space, accruing storage fees that would never be paid. It laughed quietly at me and whispered, You could have done a better job, you could have tried a little harder, could have been a little nicer. But it only whispered, like so many other things in my busy life, and I was used to ignoring the quiet voices. At some point in the spring the title finally arrived and I was legally free to sell what was left of the truck and finally marked the tow bill “paid.”

Before we drug the truck up from the back of the yard, I decided I wanted it searched. I’d been doing this for years, and when things strike me as odd, there is usually a reason for it.

I sent my girlfriend’s 18-year-old nephew out to search the truck, and I sent one of my employees out to watch him do it. The Kid had a bad attitude. Wanted to be a hustler but he didn’t have any hustle. Wanted to be a player but he didn’t have any game. All he really did very well was smoke pot and get beat up.

I sent my driver, Purcell, out to watch him because the last thing I wanted was for the Kid to find a bunch of drugs or a gun and decide to steal it and really get himself in trouble. I told the Kid about the money in the console and said he could keep all the folding money if he brought me all the change. They disappeared and returned a half hour later. How’d you do? I asked. Purcell took off his shades and rolled his eyes. The Kid was happy. He’d found $26 and a bunch of clothes that were three or four sizes too big for him, just the way he liked them, along with one large knife. I told him he could leave the knife and sent him on his way. After the Kid left, Purcell laughed and said if I really wanted that truck searched he’d better go back to do it. I told him not to sweat it.

Later that afternoon I wandered out to the truck to check it out for myself. I noticed that the Kid’s idea of searching the truck consisted of throwing everything from inside of the cab through the missing back window and into the bed, taking out the things he wanted, and leaving everything else in the bed of the truck to be eventually picked up by the wind and scattered around my yard where someone would someday have to pick it all up. This came as no surprise to me. I’d expected nothing more from him.

I started tossing the things he had left in the bed of the truck back into the cab through the missing rear window when I picked up the shirt. It was a burgundy and black plaid with thin yellow stripes, dirty from six months in the cab of a badly rolled pickup truck with all the windows busted out of it. The first thing I noticed was that it seemed like a heavy-weight, possibly high-quality shirt. Once I shook the busted glass and chunks of dirt out it I looked at the tag. Not only was it an L.L. Bean shirt, but it was actually going to be big enough to fit me. 

I checked the front chest pockets. When I squeezed one of them, something inside of it mushed flat between my fingers but then expanded like it had a little spring to it when I let go. There is only one thing in the world that does this, especially after half a year out in the weather, and from a lifetime association with pocketfuls of cash I knew exactly what it was. I was expecting to find a few dollars, some twenties, a ten and a bunch of ones. Maybe if I got lucky a hundred bucks, if not so lucky maybe 17 or 38 dollars.

What I found was 940 dollars in still new-looking $20 bills. Forty-seven $20 bills folded in half makes a nice-feeling bulge in your shirt pocket. Too thick to put in your wallet, especially on a long drive from Albuquerque to Kingman, it will make your wallet so thick that it will cause your back to hurt before very long. Sooner, rather than later, if you are a guy who already wears a shirt in size XXL-REG.

So you put it in the pocket of the shirt you are wearing on that day. That day you are going to die. That day you are going to get crushed to death by your own pickup truck as it lands on top of you in an icy ditch near Winona, Arizona on a freezing morning in January. You are not actually wearing that shirt when death comes for you because if you were it would end up in the morgue and then the Department of Public Safety evidence locker with the rest of your personal effects, but it is the shirt you are wearing that day, otherwise it would not have your 940 dollars in it, which would become my 940 dollars, because you took off your shirt before you were killed because the heater in your almost new truck worked so well. And your shirt becomes my lucky shirt, not because I found 940 dollars in it, but because I have seen so much death up so close, so many people die as you have died that I have become so familiar with it, perhaps too familiar with it. So familiar, so comfortable, that now the shirt you were wearing the day you died becomes my lucky shirt, because you died in it. Because I have seen so much, I know that it can and does happen to anyone, someone any day, every day, myself included.

But now I have your shirt, and your shirt becomes my lucky shirt, because I know that the chances of two people dying in the same shirt are slim indeed. So I wear your shirt without any remorse, without any fear, in total disregard for our social norms of shying away from death and our dead because I know that my chances of dying are high, but I know that the chances of two men, even two large men, dying in the same shirt are very, very small.


From Blood in the Asphalt by Jesse Sensibar. © 2018 Jesse Sensibar. Reprinted with permission from Tolsun Books.

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New Book Shares Arizona Trail With Children

Rodo Sofranac and his wife, Susan. | Courtesy of Rodo Sofranac

Author Rodo Sofranac is passionate about Arizona’s diverse environment, children’s literacy and giving back to his community. Those passions unite in his latest project: the children’s book The Red Tail Tale on the Arizona Trail, which he wrote with his wife, Susan.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part educates young readers about the Arizona National Scenic Trail, the second shares the illustrated story of Rowen’s adventure, and the third saves space for the reader to add his or her own adventure story.

Illustrations by Mark Sean Wilson and photographs by Yvonne Kippenberg combine with Sofranac’s words to showcase the geology, animals, plants and people of the Arizona Trail. Kippenberg, whose photography has been published by Arizona Highways, traveled around the state to capture the sights that make the trail special.

Rowen, the main character, is named after Sofranac’s second grandson. Sofranac said after his son and daughter-in-law selected the name, he researched its origins and discovered it means "redhead" in Gaelic. But he figured the chances of them having a redhead were slim.

“They picked the name, and a couple months later he pops out with red hair and blue eyes. I thought, Holy moly, this is cool,” he said.

With the red-tailed hawk considered the unofficial mascot of the Arizona Trail, Sofranac had a theme going. “I had the red-tailed hawk, and when [Rowen] was born, I had my two redheads,” he said.

His grandchildren's influence on the book didn’t stop there. “My goal was to write with a 9-year-old in mind," he said. "Fortunately, our oldest daughter has a now-going-to-be 10-year-old, so I’d always have Beatrice read it."

Sofranac hopes readers take away three things from the book: an awareness of the importance of the Arizona Trail, a desire to visit and use it, and stewardship of the trail and other lands. “Those are the three things I kept in mind as I was writing, without being heavy-handed about it, but encouraging," he said. "I feel comfortable the book accomplishes that.”

The Sofranacs use 100 percent of the profits from their book sales to produce, purchase and donate more books to schools, libraries and nonprofit agencies working on literacy. For the newest book release, however, up to 100 percent of the profits generated will be donated to the Arizona Trail Association. So far, the couple has worked with more than 110 organizations on four continents.

“We want to help kids get joy out of being able to expand their mind and knowledge of the world," he said. "You’re not going to be able to travel to see everything, but you can certainly read about everything."

To learn more about The Red Tail Tale on the Arizona Trail or Rodo Sofranac’s other published books, visit his website. (The book is also for sale in the Arizona Highways gift shop, at 2039 W. Lewis Avenue in Phoenix.)

— Kirsten Kraklio

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New Book Details Pluto's Arizona Connection

Courtesy of Lowell Observatory

The distant planet (or dwarf planet) of Pluto will forever be tied to Flagstaff's Lowell Observatory, the place where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930. And that connection endures: Lowell's scientists played key roles in the recent New Horizons mission, which sent a space probe hurtling past Pluto.

That relationship is the focus of Pluto and Lowell Observatory: A History of Discovery at Flagstaff, a new book by Kevin Schindler, a longtime Lowell employee who's now the observatory's historian, and Will Grundy, a Lowell planetary scientist who heads one of the New Horizons teams.

"We have a lot of visitors who come up here and are excited about learning about Lowell, and particularly Pluto," Schindler says. "When they leave, they're always asking, 'Is there something I can read to learn more?'"

That was part of the reason for writing the book, but Grundy says New Horizons added a new chapter to Pluto's story — one that wasn't included in earlier books about the planet.

That mission is the focus of the second half of the new book, but Grundy notes that even before New Horizons, Pluto's story was tied to Arizona. In the 1950s, for example, a Lowell telescope was used to determine Pluto's rotation period. Later, another telescope in the area helped discover Pluto's moon Charon, and methane on the planet's surface was detected at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson. "It's almost sort of like our little planet," Grundy says.

Schindler says the book is a culmination of his more than 20 years at Lowell, during which he learned about Tombaugh's history and the circumstances of Pluto's discovery. He did additional research at New Mexico State University, where Tombaugh's post-Lowell correspondence is kept. "There really was a lot of neat stuff, especially the personal stuff — letters between him and his parents, and how they found out about the discovery," he says.

The book includes contributions from Tombaugh's daughter and son; from Lowell trustee W. Lowell Putnam, the great-grandnephew of observatory founder Percival Lowell; and from S. Alan Stern, principal investigator on the New Horizons mission. Additionally, Lowell Director Jeffrey Hall and astronomer Gerald van Belle wrote an epilogue on the well-known debate over whether Pluto is a planet or a dwarf planet.

That debate "resonates with people in a way that doesn't have anything to do with science," Grundy says. "They stick up for the underdog."

Schindler adds: "The closer people live to Flagstaff, the more outspoken they are that Pluto is a planet."

Kevin Schindler and Will Grundy's book Pluto and Lowell Observatory: A History of Discovery at Flagstaff is available at Lowell Observatory and on Amazon. Proceeds from sales of the book support the observatory's educational and scientific endeavors.

— Noah Austin, Associate Editor

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The Infamous Murder at a Phoenix POW Camp

Courtesy of Arcadia Publishing/The History Press

When residents of the Phoenix area think of Papago Park, they likely envision unique buttes, hiking trails, Hole in the Rock, the Phoenix Zoo and residential areas. But during World War II, a section of that part of the desert was home to Camp Papago Park, where about 375 Americans guarded more than 4,000 German prisoners.

Writer Jane Eppinga recently published Death at Papago Park POW Camp, a book that covers the history of the camp — including the murder of Werner Max Herschel Drechsler and subsequent executions of seven men implicated in the crime.

Eppinga said she first stumbled on the topic about two decades ago. "I was reading a military book and saw that there was a footnote about an execution at Papago Park," she said. "The more I started looking, the more involved I became in it. It’s such a strange story."

There wasn’t much information to be found at first. Eppinga said she used a Freedom of Information Act request to access court-martial papers, which she finally found in the National Archives. “I went to Washington, D.C., and actually looked at the archives and folders and got copies of the court-martial,” she said.

She also spoke to members of the military, such as Captain Jerry Mason, who provided photos for the book.

During the course of her research, Eppinga said, she was most surprised to see how Drechsler — who had provided German secrets to U.S. Navy authorities — was handled when he arrived to the camp. “Why the Americans didn’t take better care of him is what is amazing to me," she said. "They knew that he would be recognized by his compatriots in Papago Park. He only lived about seven hours once he got to Papago Park.”

Seven decades later, Eppinga said she finds that the topic of what happened at Papago Park still brings mixed reactions. “There’s still feelings, if you bring it up, of what was wrong or right in the case,” she said.

To learn more about the case and purchase Death at Papago Park POW Camp, click here.

— Kirsten Kraklio

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Meet the Author of Our Wildlife Guide in Tucson

Bobcats are among the Arizona species featured in the Arizona Highways Wildlife Guide. | Maribeth Brady

Do you have your copy of our new Arizona Highways Wildlife Guide yet? If not, you can pick one up this week in Tucson — and get it signed by the author.

Brooke Bessesen will appear from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, February 10, at Antigone Books (411 N. Fourth Avenue), a Central Tucson institution since 1973. Bessesen will talk about the book and sign purchased copies. Joining her will be Arizona Highways Art Director Keith Whitney and some of the photographers who contributed images to the publication.

Subscribers to the magazine may remember Antigone Books from our September 2016 issue. Tucsonans continually rank Antigone among the city's best independent bookstores, and it's also a trailblazer — it's the first 100 percent solar-powered bookstore in the United States.

The Arizona Highways Wildlife Guide contains detailed information on 125 of Arizona's native species — mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. It's been a rousing success so far and is about to head into its second printing. If you can't make it to the Tucson signing, you can pick up a copy on our website.

Bessesen has worked with wildlife for decades and recently has focused on conservation research. A longtime certified veterinary technician for the Phoenix Zoo, she also writes scientifically under its auspices. To learn more about the author, visit her website.

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Book Excerpt: Capturing the West on Film

Tourists view the Grand Canyon at Bright Angel Point in 1929. | Fox Movietone News Collection, Moving Image Research Collections, University of South Carolina, MVTN 2-970, June 3, 1929, Time Code Reading 03:08;00;18.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Today, we present a selection from the new book Celluloid Pueblo: Western Ways Films and the Invention of the Postwar Southwest, by Jennifer L. Jenkins. The book tells the story of Western Ways Features, which Charles and Lucille Herbert founded in 1936 to document the landscape, regional development and cultures of Arizona and the Southwest. To purchase the book from the University of Arizona Press, click here. See more photos from the book at the end of the excerpt.

In late May of 1929, Charles and Lucile Herbert drove into Arizona in an REO Speedwagon with 1200 pounds of motion picture and sound gear.  Their primary assignment from Fox was to capture the sounds of the West with the new Movietone synchronized sound recording system which had debuted in 1928.  For nearly three weeks they recorded Southwestern vistas, cowboy songs, Native dances and artisans, a Cowgirl beauty pageant, tourists at Grand Canyon, and 2000 head of bawling cattle—which the home office rejected because the deafening mooing, recorded by a sound truck parked in the middle of the herd, sounded artificial. (Hence the later need for Foley sound, so real sounds could be faked.)  In 1929, the Herberts’ audio-visual documentation offered the nation and the world a fresh view of a mythic place in the public imaginary. Images of grand occidental landscapes and Native peoples defined the West in the U.S. imagination of the day, just as the cinematic West defined “America” for the rest of the world. The southern Arizona footage captures Borderlands activities in late spring: cattle round-up, cactus bloom, and warm days at the Indian School at Mission San Xavier del Bac. These subjects distinctively define borderlands Arizona by the picturesque trifecta of ranches, exotic flora, and Spanish colonial missions.  This collection also includes craft films of Navajo silversmiths and weavers, sheep and goat-herding on the Navajo reservation, and footage of the Prescott-based Smoki Indian burlesque.  The Herberts’ Arizona sojourn culminated in six reels of sound film about Grand Canyon. This 1929 footage, shot for newsreel appeal, records the sights and sounds of recreation and tourism, regional development and boosterism: in short, these reels illustrate the position of the West in the cinematic construction of Modernity in the final summer of the Twenties. 

Attention to exotica marks all of the Herberts’ Arizona Movietone films, which are aesthetically positioned between the stateliness of the past and the gawkerism of the moving image. Over and over Herbert visually quotes 19th century landscape painting and silent film, while adapting the frame to Modernist ideals through mechanistic technology. Sound is an amelioration and a curiosity, but the picture truly tells the story. So with Cactus Bloom.  With remarkable economy, Herbert manages in eight shots to convey the scale and proportion of the saguaro cactus, the delicacy and appeal of the flowers, the comparatively verdant desert setting in which the cacti grow and bloom, and their statuesque command over humans in the environment. Even with the saguaro as subject, the god-in-nature sublime of the 19th century is scaled down, humanized and human-centered by the intervention of the motion picture camera.

The San Xavier footage shows the children at play in the schoolyard, a patio space originally built as a cloister for the adjacent Mexican Baroque mission church. The architecture of the space presents arches and finials to frame the shots, while the quadrangular layout of the patio presents natural linear perspective for composition.  The playground contains a wooden slide, a swingset, see-saws, and a very low basketball hoop and backboard.  Placed at the southwest corner of the cloister, the camera is well-positioned to pan the space, capturing the children as relaxed, laughing and truly at play. When the school-bell begins to ring, the recording capabilities of Movietone sound are evident.  These decibel levels rival the Ronstadts’ cattle in sheer volume and intensity.  As the bell-ringing continues, the nuns arrange the children in double lines to march past the camera to the classrooms on the east side of the playground.  Experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison included this sequence in his pastiche of found film, Decasia (2002), using the nitrate decomposition on the film as an aesthetic element.  The eerie Michael Gordon score, combined with the rippling images of black-clad nuns leading the children into the shadows, lends a sinister tone to the sequence in Morrison’s film.  With original sound in place, this footage presents a lively group of youngsters returning to the classroom after recess.  Herbert sets the frame at long shot and child’s eye level, recording the activity of a typical school day.  He is particularly adept at fixed-camera work here, using pan shots to track the figures’ movement so naturally that it feels like a movement of the viewer’s eyes.  Yet the camera remains in its corner throughout the sequence, which includes a scan of the play yard, the line-up and marching, and the children’s entry into their classrooms, cheered on by the ubiquitous reservation dog. The final shot is a vanishing point composition down the cloister arcade toward an arch that frames the Santa Catalina Mountains to the north. Franciscan Sisters stand on either side of the passageway, framing the arch that frames the vista, and reminding us of the Catholic containment of the transhumant Native peoples of the region. This is a classic Charles Herbert image, with foreground, middle, and background arranged in concert to create a complex and aesthetically meaningful image.

The Herberts’ time at Grand Canyon captured a specific period in history: June 2-14, 1929.  Whereas many of the other Arizona films depict a somewhat timeless West, the Canyon reels are tied to specific events leading up to the opening of the first steel bridge over the Colorado at rim-level. The earliest reels show tourists boarding biplanes for Canyon flyovers and aerial tours. A few days later, the Herberts  witness Native demonstration dances outside the Hopi House concession on the South Rim and follow tourists as they saddle up for mule rides. The final reel depicts the June 14, 1929 opening of the original Navajo Bridge. In all cases, the then-new process of synchronized optical sound captures unscripted comments from bystanders who were often unaware that their comments were being recorded.  Unlike the more staged films shot in southern Arizona and along the border, the Canyon reels contain spontaneous crowd remarks that add a dimension of realism characteristically omitted by newsreel editing. These films offer a remarkable time-capsule glimpse of the Canyon during the final summer of the Roaring Twenties, when tourism was in full swing and visitors flew over, rode into, and drove across Grand Canyon.

For more information about Celluloid Pueblo: Western Ways Films and the Invention of the Postwar Southwest, click here.

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Get Your New Arizona Highways Wildlife Guide Signed

People involved in producing the Arizona Highways Wildlife Guide attend a book signing at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. From left to right are Arizona Game and Fish Department photographer George Andrejko, Arizona Highways Art Director Keith Whitney, contributing photographer Peggy Coleman and author Brooke Bessesen. | Courtesy of Brooke Bessesen

The new Arizona Highways Wildlife Guide, which features 125 of our state's native species, is getting rave reviews. And if you missed our book-signing events last month, you're in luck, because another two are scheduled for November.

Author Brooke Bessesen and others who contributed to the book's photography and design were on hand at September's events at Changing Hands Bookstore locations in Phoenix and Tempe, and at Barnes & Noble in Scottsdale. Bessesen says both events were a success and saw big attendance numbers.

Next month's book signings are Saturday, November 5, at 2 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 701 S. Milton Road in Flagstaff; and Saturday, November 12, at 6 p.m. at Encanterra Country Club, 36400 N. Encanterra Drive in San Tan Valley. You can keep up on other signing events by following Bessesen on Facebook.

If you can't make it to an in-person event, you can always buy the book at the Arizona Highways online store (or in person at 2039 W. Lewis Avenue) or on Amazon.

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Book Excerpt: After the Blue Water Left

EDITOR'S NOTE: Today, we're pleased to present an excerpt from the new book A New Form of Beauty: Glen Canyon Beyond Climate ChangeThe book, published by University of Arizona Press, combines Peter Goin's photographs with essays by Peter Friederici in an examination of how the Colorado River basin, particularly Glen Canyon and Lake Powell, is being impacted by the longest dry spell in modern history — one that shows alarming signs of becoming the new normal. A selection of photographs from the book follows the excerpt. It will be released October 31; to learn more or order the book, click here.

Hite is the little marina and National Park Service enclave way up in Utah where the Colorado River slowed and Lake Powell began. No: scratch that. It was.

1999: From the roadside pullout high on the cliffs above, the sparkling blue water is alive with boats, a tourist brochure come to life. The lake is brimful: no bathtub ring mars the rocks. The little settlement below hums with activity. Big SUVs back down the ramp to launch speedboats equipped with giant outboards. Families emerge from a little store laden with sodas, bags of ice, bait. Up at the overlook, an interpretive sign tells the story of Cass Hite, an early gold miner in this country. He left behind his name, but little else. No wonder: he was looking in the wrong place. The riches to be found here, it’s clear, were not buried in the ground, but rather to be extracted from the desert’s real treasure—its water.

2004: The blue water is gone, dozens of vertical feet of it seemingly evaporated into the hot air. In its place, much lower and narrower, a chocolate-brown river runs between cracked mud flats. A lone generator runs somewhere, but the traffic is gone, the store and ranger station shuttered. Ridges and swales of sand and clay have pooled in parallel series, making the roads and buildings seem an afterthought, hopeless as shaking a fist at the dry desert wind: it is a wilderness of sediment, crinkled and fractured, reminiscent of the pile of gunk left in a driveway after a really dirty car has been washed. Long cement ramps slope down from the buildings toward the river, turning into gravel and then into dried mud in a drawn-out and finally hopeless pursuit of boat-launching opportunities. Up here, on the rim of the interpretive sign, someone has pasted a bumper sticker: “Free the Colorado.” The years of what look like drought have been a boon for those who have always hated the dam and what it stands for, returning dried-up stretches of once-drowned tributaries to something of the sandstone grandeur that they’d once had.

Next to the bumper sticker someone has scrawled, in jagged black pen strokes, “Will the last person to leave please turn the Hite out?”

2014: Desolation is the new normal, at least if you are measuring according to what we once thought of as the typical give-and-take of a reservoir. Lake Powell has experienced a lot more taking than giving, and the water has not returned to Hite. From above many of the mud flats look green with tamarisk and tumbleweed. But the lake is a fading memory. And it becomes increasingly hard to remember what the place looked like when the water was higher. Stand on a canyon rim, and even though you know that the water below has through eons carved out the cubic miles of rock that are now filled with air it is a big leap to imagine the land the way it once was. Same with the many dozens of vertical feet and trillions of gallons of Lake Powell that have evanesced into sky: even where their passage is marked with the chalky white of the bathtub ring, the mind’s eye has trouble painting deep still water on the scene.

This is a landscape of grief, in other words, where the heart’s desire to remember with precision what the place was like—whether that means for you the predam canyon, or the sparkling lake—collides with the brain’s trickling loss of memory. It will not be the same place again, and we cannot remember our way back to just how it was. Grabbing onto the way it was is like grasping for lost youth, a quest as pathetic as it is doomed. Sure, the geographical coordinates may be the same. But what is at Hite now is neither old river nor not-so-old lake. It is a new sort of place, one that poses new questions for us.

The most immediate is: is this what the future looks like for us, not just on the once-shore of a once-lake but throughout the arid West and so many other arid places worldwide—a cracked and blighted desolation, dirt gathered under unwashed fingernails, tumbleweeds clogging the irrigation canals, hordes of modern-day Okies fleeing a new Dust Bowl and facing an uncertain welcome in what they hope will be wetter climes?

There is a fair chance of that. And so a prudent society, in the face of impending shortages, might decide that the population in its most arid regions should at a minimum not grow any more. Maybe it should even shrink to accommodate the great likelihood of future shortages.

Between 2000 and 2014 Arizona’s population grew by well over a million people—almost 25 percent. The Arizona Department of Water Resources, expecting continued population growth, predicts that the water demands of the state’s residents will grow by another 20 to 25 percent within the next twenty years.

The job of the engineers and the politicians and the bureaucrats is not going to be enviable: figuring out how to get water to the places that need it, or whose people are most willing to pay for it. Figuring out whose taps to shut off.

And the job for the rest of us everywhere is also a challenge: figuring out how to reimagine this place, and every place.

Copyright 2016 by University of Arizona Press. Republished with permission. To purchase A New Form of Beauty: Glen Canyon Beyond Climate Change, click here.

All photographs by Peter Goin.

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Get to Know Arizona's Animals in Our New Wildlife Guide

Evelyn D. Harrison's photo of a Gila woodpecker appears in the Arizona Highways Wildlife Guide.

More than 100 of the animals that have appeared on Arizona Highways' pages for decades are on display in a new guidebook.

The Arizona Highways Wildlife Guide, which is now on sale on the Arizona Highways website and at select booksellers around Arizona, features 125 of the animals, from pronghorns and peccaries to Gila monsters and humpback chubs, that call the state home. It's organized by animal type, with four sections: mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians and fish.

Wildlife expert Brooke Bessesen wrote the text for the book. Bessesen is a longtime certified veterinary technician for the Phoenix Zoo who also writes scientifically under its auspices. Yvonne Kippenberg's photo of a coyote graces the book's front cover; other photographs were provided by Arizona Highways contributors and by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, which additionally provided special assistance in editing and fact-checking the book.

"The wildlife guide is an excellent addition to our collection of guidebooks," says Kelly Vaughn, managing editor and books editor of Arizona Highways. "We’re thrilled to feature some of Arizona’s most interesting native species."

The Arizona Highways Wildlife Guide is available at the magazine's online store, www.shoparizonahighways.com, where shoppers can also purchase other guidebooks, coffee-table books, children's books, calendars, holiday cards, décor, jewelry, accessories and more.

Arizona Highways, published since 1925, has subscribers in all 50 states and more than 120 countries, and it's regarded around the world as the authority on Arizona travel. In addition to the new Wildlife Guide, the magazine also publishes guidebooks on hiking, camping, fishing and photography. For more information, visit www.arizonahighways.com.

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