Arizona Highways Wins 17 IRMA Awards

Matt Jaffe's story on the elusive jaguarundi earned one of three golds for Arizona Highways at this year's IRMA conference.

Arizona Highways took home 17 awards, including three golds, from the International Regional Magazine Association at this week's annual conference in Denver.

The awards covered magazines published in 2017.

The three golds for Arizona Highways went to writer Matt Jaffe, in the Nature & Environment category, for A Little Cat Goes a Long Way (September 2017), about the elusive jaguarundi; photographer Scott Baxter, for his portrait of the late Jim Harrison for Dear Jim ... (April 2017); and Editor Robert Stieve, for the headline on Growing, Growing, Gone (January 2017), a story about a ponderosa pine in the Grand Canyon.

The magazine's silver awards included Kelly Vaughn's The Maverick (July 2017), a profile of Blue Range rancher Sam Luce; an extensive portfolio of Monument Valley (December 2017); and photographer David Muench, who received a silver in the Magazine Photographer of the Year category. The magazine's monthly department, The Journal, and the publication's overall art direction, by Barbara Glynn Denney and Keith Whitney, also received silver awards, as did the March 2017 cover, which featured a Saguaro National Park illustration by Chris Gall.

Rounding out the silver awards were Baxter, for portrait series (The Maverick), and Derek von Briesen, for single photo (In the Frame, January 2017).

"This is such a tremendous honor for the magazine and the entire staff," said Arizona Highways Publisher Kelly Mero. "We're extremely fortunate to have such an incredibly talented and gifted team of people with a passion for producing a first-class product. These awards speak volumes to their tireless efforts in striving for that perfection."

The awards continue a run of success for Arizona Highways at the annual event. The magazine won 16 awards in 2015, 20 in 2016 and 22 last year.

Here's the complete list of Arizona Highways' awards this year:

Gold. Nature & Environment. A Little Cat Goes a Long Way by Matt Jaffe.
Bronze. Travel Feature. Fringe Benefits by Matt Jaffe.
Bronze. General Feature. Identifying Flying Objects by Matt Jaffe.
Silver. Profile. The Maverick by Kelly Vaughn.
Gold. Headline. Growing, Growing, Gone by Robert Stieve.
Bronze. Column. Editor’s Letter by Robert Stieve.
Silver. Single Photo. In the Frame by Derek von Briesen.
Silver. Photo Series. The Big Pictures: Monument Valley.
Gold. Portrait Photo. Dear Jim ... by Scott Baxter.
Silver. Portrait Series. The Maverick by Scott Baxter.
Silver. Magazine Photographer of the Year. David Muench.
Award of Merit. Illustration. Canyon de Chelly by Chris Gall.
Bronze. Art Direction Single Story. The Big Pictures: Red Rock Country by Barb Denney.
Silver. Overall Art Direction. Barb Denney & Keith Whitney.
Silver. Department. The Journal.
Award of Merit. Special Focus. December 2017.
Silver. Cover. March 2017.

0 Comments Add Comment

Sing a Song to Summer

Chelly Hall | Near Eagar

The following appeared in the June 1970 issue of Arizona Highways.

Summer is here. It's that time of the year. Our portion of our planet and the sun have moved into that particular position where at times you might imagine if you get out into the noonday sun you are an egg being fried sunny-side up, but such imaginative tremors come only from not understanding nor knowing what summer in Arizona really is like.

Hot? Of course! Yet nearly a million people live in Arizona's two largest areas — Phoenix and satellite cities of the Salt River Valley and Tucson, both essentially desert areas. We know from observation as well as exposure they seem to do as well or even better than folks in other parts of our fair land where oppressive humidity makes a summer day sheer torment.

Remember, there are essentially two summers in Arizona — summer in the desert and summer in the mountains. A desert dweller in a few hours can be in the heart of a high, cool forest, testing his skill against wily trout, wonderfully content with a relaxing and invigorating weekend or vacation far from the beaten path.

And, of course, the miracle of modern air-conditioning has transformed a desert summer into a delight forever. You sleep cool, you live cool, you work cool, you shop cool! A million desert dwellers cannot be wrong. We present them as witnesses for our defense and eulogy of our desert summer.

— Raymond Carlson, Editor

0 Comments Add Comment

Feeling Flat: Lessons From a Desert Ordeal

Susan Stocker | Sonoran Desert

Twenty years ago, my dad taught me how to change a car tire.

That's Part 1 of this story. Part 2 was late last month, when I used that knowledge for the first time — and learned some valuable lessons about traveling in Arizona's less-visited areas during the hot summer months.

As I've written on our blog before, my job at Arizona Highways takes me to some interesting places. On a recent assignment, I was in Western Arizona, checking out something for an issue of the magazine that you'll read later this year. And when I say Western Arizona, I mean Western — about two and a half hours northwest of Phoenix, to be exact.

My destination was at the end of a 25-mile dirt road that started smooth and wide, then got rough and narrow. Then it got rougher and narrower. Then it started going over some hills. Then those hills became more like ... well, mountains. But I made it without much trouble, got what I needed and started the drive back to the Valley.

About 5 miles into my return trip, it happened. A strange chime, and a flashing orange light on the dashboard. And a message on the dashboard screen: "Low Tire Pressure."

I should mention at this point that I was driving an Arizona Department of Transportation vehicle, which we often do at the magazine — you might not know this, but Arizona Highways is a division of ADOT. So all these stimuli were unfamiliar to me, but it wasn't hard to figure out what had happened: I hit something, probably a sharp rock, and punctured a tire.

My brain started rationalizing: Maybe it's a slow leak and you can make it back to civilization. I got to a flat part of the road and opened the door. Hissssssssss. I could feel the air rushing out of the tire, which confirmed that I wasn't going much farther on it.

At this point, I should set the scene. I was 20 miles from pavement, on a road that literally has only one destination: a place most sane people don't visit during the summer. I had zero cellphone service; in fact, I'd noticed that my signal had disappeared shortly after I'd gotten on the dirt road. I was in an unfamiliar car, and I wasn't sure how well the emergency jack would work on dirt. Oh, and did I mention that the car's temperature gauge read 114 degrees when I stopped?

In short, if I didn't get the spare tire on the car, I was going to be there awhile. I knew this, and I'm pretty proud of myself for not panicking. Not when I couldn't find the lug wrench (it was attached to the jack). Not when I couldn't get the lug nuts off (I finally got them to budge with a good kick on the wrench). And not when I started jacking up the car and the jack dug ever so slightly into the dirt (it ended up working just fine).

Once I got the spare on, I had to nurse the car another 20 miles back to the paved road with no further margin for error. Thankfully, I made it without more trouble, and my day trip ended with me at home on my couch, rather than rationing water in the Sonoran Desert.

I told my dad about it later. "Not panicking is half the battle," he said. So that was one thing I did right. The other: I told my wife where I was going and when she could expect me back. If I hadn't come home that night, she would have known something was wrong and been able to give the authorities a general idea of where I was. In all likelihood, I would have survived, even if the tire change had gone awry.

But I could have done some other things differently. For one, I didn't take enough water — because I didn't think I'd need it, because I wouldn't be out there long. But you never really know how long you'll be out there, do you?

It also would have been wise to travel with someone — a friend, a co-worker, whomever. That person might not have been much help in this situation, but two people usually make better decisions than one person does. And if your traveling companion has a different cellphone provider, maybe he or she will be able to get a signal when you can't.

Finally, I should have filled up the gas tank before hitting the dirt road. I had about half a tank when the tire blew, but a full tank would have bought me some more air conditioning time in the event I got stuck out there.

I guess the best way to put this is that even though I made it out of this situation fine, I'd give myself a C-plus, at best. And in some situations, that wouldn't have been good enough. I'm learning from my mistakes, though. As I'm writing this, I'm out on another assignment, this one in Southern Arizona. It's still hot, and I'm still bumping over dirt roads with rocks jutting out of them. But this time, I'm keeping the gas tank full. And taking more water than I normally drink in a week.

I'm still traveling solo, though. (Nobody's perfect.)

— Noah Austin, Associate Editor

One Comment Add Comment

Where They Fell

Chelsea Rose | Scottsdale

The following item appeared in the Arizoniques section of the May 1989 issue of Arizona Highways.

Memorial Day brings to mind solemn national cemeteries. But many of Arizona's territorial war dead still lie where they fell. We know some of their names and often how they died, but the exact locations of their final resting places are unknown.

Consider Maj. James F. Millar and three privates who died in an Apache ambush in March, 1866. They were buried at the site somewhere south of Florence. A young doctor, a member of the California Volunteers, escaped the ambush and fled, wounded, into the Arizona desert. His body was never found.

Two years later, two brothers and their sergeant were ambushed as their cavalry escort protected the U.S. mail. These three lie somewhere northeast of Scottsdale.

Some words spoken in the fifth century B.C. still have meaning for Arizona. "For heroes have the whole earth for their tomb," said Pericles, Athens' famous general. "There is enshrined in every breast a record unwritten with no tablet to preserve it, except that of the heart."

— Jim Schreier

0 Comments Add Comment

Printmaker Richard Jackson Remembers Jerry Jacka

Jerry Jacka lines up a shot at Lake Powell. | Courtesy of the Jacka family

Our April issue, on newsstands now, honors legendary photographer Jerry Jacka, who contributed photographs to Arizona Highways for parts of seven decades before his death late last year. For the issue, we asked those who knew Jerry best to share their thoughts about him.

One of the people we asked was master printmaker Richard Jackson, who worked with Jerry many times over the years. While his full thoughts were too lengthy to include in the issue, we're happy to share them here.

I met Jerry in 1978 or 1979.  I had just moved to Phoenix, Arizona, from Illinois to start a new photo lab. I had read and admired the images presented in Arizona Highways while living in Illinois before moving to Phoenix. I had always dreamed that someday I would make prints for some of the photographers whose images I admired and were published in the magazine.

It wasn’t too many months after starting my new photo lab, Jerry Jacka walked into my lab. With all due respect to everyone else who had come in before him, I thought Jerry was my first important “really big deal” photographer that crossed my threshold.

The first time he came in, he didn’t give me an image to print.  He wanted to meet me and find out what services I was offering and, I think, just check me out. It wasn’t long after that he came in again, but this time he wanted me to make him a 16x20 print from one of his beautiful 4x5 transparencies. He asked me if I could match the print I made to his original transparency. Of course I said yes. I was pretty young, and thought I was a pretty good printer and this was my chance to prove my skills to none other than Jerry Jacka.

He didn’t like the print I made.  At first I couldn’t understand why, since I thought it was a really nice print. I put my all into making it the nicest print I thought it could be, and so when Jerry looked at the print and didn’t jump for joy, I was crushed. Not only did he not jump for joy, he proceeded to explain why the print didn’t work for him. He needed a little more detail in a shadow area, slightly more density in another place, and the color was a bit too warm overall.

Well, of course, I made those changes, and when he saw the second print, he liked it. I was pleased about that, but for some time, couldn’t understand why he didn’t like my first print. 

I made more prints for Jerry and other photographers and continued to run into the same issue. About half the time, I would need to make a second print with corrections indicated by Jerry and the other photographers for whom I was printing. This was even though I thought my prints were quite good.

Then one day I had an epiphany: The print I am making is not my print! It’s Jerry’s print. So what if I started asking questions of Jerry before I print to find out what he wanted before I go into the darkroom? That approach worked much better. Now my first-print approvals went way up! Once I started thinking about the needs of my client first, I got better results for them.

The reason I tell this story is I believe it was Jerry who first helped me realize that finding out more information about an image, and even the story behind the image, helps me create a print that then helps Jerry tell his story better for his client.

Learning about your subject in as much detail as possible was always Jerry’s approach to his creative photography and storytelling. He did his research. He met his subjects and got to know them before he pulled out his camera. His beautiful, groundbreaking photography of Native American artwork was because he knew what was important to the artist and then did whatever it took to present the artwork in a way that captured the artist's vision. He was a genius at doing this over and over again.

Jerry never compromised for his love of his family, his love of his work and the love he showed to so many he touched.

It was an honor to make some of Jerry’s prints over the years. He taught me so much by the example of excellence he set for himself. I owe him a lot and will miss him always.

— Richard Jackson

0 Comments Add Comment

For You: Sunny Days to Come

Chad Coppess | Monument Valley

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following appeared at the end of the December 1951 issue of Arizona Highways. Happy New Year!

Friends meet and part, going their separate ways through the maze and patterns of life woven by the stern fingers of destiny. They give something of themselves to each other. Neither time nor distance takes away the influences left by the warm traits of personality and comradeship; nor lessens the pleasant memories of joys and happiness shared, one with the other.

Friendship is one of the great compensations of living. How sparse, indeed, would one's life be without friends!

A friend cheers you in your triumphs, lends solace in your sorrows. A friend demands nothing of you; he gives everything cheerfully. He shares his life with you; so that your life is made more complete by the precious gifts of friendship.

As the New Year begins, one remembers one's friends, both near and far. When the Old Year dies and the New Year is born, a new page unfolds bright and crisp and clean for our story to be written there upon.

We hope that as the new story on the new page of the New Year is inscribed for you, there will be each day and every day to come, for you and yours, much happiness and sunshine and the warmest wishes that friend can extend to friend.

— Raymond Carlson, Editor

0 Comments Add Comment

Just an Old-Fashioned Christmas

Lyle Bown | Grand Canyon

The following text appeared in the December 1949 issue of Arizona Highways. On behalf of the magazine's staff, we wish you and yours a happy holiday.

Your neighbors or the choir from the little church down the street will gather before your house and sing the ancient songs of Yule on Christmas Eve. The Christmas tree in your house will send its merry, twinkling light of good cheer through the unshuttered windows, sharing with the stars in a Christmas sky the happenstance of guiding the way of a neighbor or a stranger passing by. There will be gifts around the Christmas tree, large and small it matters not. It isn't what you give but how you give it, it isn't what you receive but how you receive it that bespeaks the spirit of the Holy Season.

If your dear ones are far away, they will be with you this day, your thoughts and their thoughts, your love and their love, your memories and their memories encompassing the intervening miles. If your loved ones are with you they will be closer than ever, because family affection and trust has always been the inspiration of this day since the first Christmas long ago when a Child cried in a Manger and patient beasts of burden munched the dry straw.

Among you and yours there will be charity for the less fortunate, comfort for the lonely, solace for those who sorrow, sympathy for the ill, compassion for the proud and selfish. Among you and yours there will be reverent gratitude and humility for all that has been given to make this day for you richer and happier and more complete.

In short, we wish you just an old-fashioned Christmas.

— Raymond Carlson, Editor

0 Comments Add Comment

Jerome's First and Only Wild-Turkey Thanksgiving Banquet

A wild turkey on Mount Lemmon, near Tucson. | Stan Lowery

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story appeared in the now-defunct Along the Way section of the November 1993 issue of Arizona Highways. On behalf of everyone at the magazine, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

Jerome's First and Only Wild-Turkey Thanksgiving Banquet
By William Hafford

It's been said confession is good for the soul. Sometimes it can also be good for a laugh. I'm thinking particularly about the 1936 Thanksgiving banquet my father cooked up in Jerome, Arizona.

This affair took place in a town established on a mountainside called Cleopatra Hill, where the upper limits of the community were situated some 1,500 feet above the lower limits. Where, after dark, people locked their doors, went to bed early, and slept while the streets of the town shifted and settled. Large fissures often appeared overnight in the narrow asphalt thoroughfares. Buildings moved and leaned, and once the jail slid down the hill on which it perched.

The reason for Jerome's existence was copper. Mining operations had created an 88-mile maze of tunnels under the town and deep into Cleopatra Hill. This tunneling caused the mountainside — and the town — to remain in slow continuous motion.

In 1936, Jerome -- its copper deposits playing out -- was losing population fast. At the time, it appeared to be heading toward ghost-town status.

I had come to the town with my father, a civil engineer who was surveying for a stretch of highway.

Around the first of November, my father began talking to his survey crew about a turkey-hunting expedition into the wilds of the Mogollon Rim country. The turkeys, he believed, would be perfect for a huge Thanksgiving banquet that, he may have thought, would also serve as a sort of salute to a community that soon might be no more.

I recall that a group of ladies met in our living room one day to discuss the arrangements for the big event. And soon every square foot of banquet area in the local Conner Hotel had been reserved for Thanksgiving eve.

My father and his survey crew disappeared into the wilderness for a full three days, returning one early evening with so many turkeys that they entirely filled the bed of Buddy Cleveland's pickup. Now plans for the banquet moved ahead with vigor.

The Conner Hotel was not a fancy establishment by today's standards, but it was the only place in town that could accommodate a major banquet with a guest list of more than 200 people.

On the evening of the affair, the hotel's long tables were bedecked formally with white linen and candles. The men wore ties and jackets; the women, their finest dresses.

The event was a total success, complete with sparkling conversation, the clink of silverware and glasses … and beautifully browned turkeys, two or three to each table.

I was terribly proud of my father's accomplishment. Throughout the evening, the guests lavished him and his hunting companions with compliments. Said the mayor's wife, "I can actually taste the flavor of the wild acorns and piñon nuts."

Remarked a mine foreman, "I'm spoiled. I'll never eat another barnyard turkey again."

In the years that followed, I was graduated from high school, went on to college, moved to another state, and raised a family of five children. Then, about 45 years after the wild-turkey banquet, my father, then in his 80s, was felled by a stroke.

I traveled west to Phoenix to visit him. He had lost all use of one arm, and it took great concentration for him to coax even slight movement out of his right leg. His speech was slurred and sometimes difficult to understand.

We sat in his den reminiscing, when, at one point, he asked, "Do you remember the wild-turkey banquet in Jerome?"

I said I did, and for a few minutes we relived the occasion and all of its small-town glitter. Then, with a slight smile playing at the corner of his mouth, he said, "There's something I need to tell you. I and all of the men who went on that hunting trip took an oath of secrecy, but I think it's time I told someone.

"We wandered the Mogollon Rim for three days and never saw a single turkey track. But there was no way we could return home empty-handed. So we followed imaginary tracks to a poultry farm down in the Verde Valley where we paid the going price for a batch of standard barnyard birds."

I felt the smile forming. "What about all those remarks about the taste of wild acorns and piñon nuts?" I asked.

"Imagination. People have vivid imaginations. Corn and poultry feed. That's what those birds were raised on."

I laughed aloud, raised my hand to slap my knee and knocked a glass of iced tea to the floor, cubes scattering across the carpet. When I bent down to pick them up, I happened to look across at my dad. He had lapsed into a pensive mood, looking at the wall -- or perhaps beyond it -- looking back down the path of his long life. Seeing things that now existed only in memory. Reliving the past, knowing time was short.

Two weeks later — his confession made — he passed away.

0 Comments Add Comment

An American Home

"Mountain Home" by A. Frank Purcell | Arizona Highways Archives

As the United States entered World War II, the above photo and the following essay appeared in the February 1942 issue of Arizona Highways.

This, an American home, stands today as the citadel of liberty and freedom before the storm of destruction hurling its fury over the seven seas and the intervening continents of the world today. Neither prince nor potentate, neither king nor colossus is half as important as the person who herein dwells. He alone will dictate the final paragraph that History, the sharp penman, writes today in the story of freemen prevailing and persevering against bestiality and brutality.

This is the home of an American citizen. It might be a cottage in Maine by the sea. It might be an apartment on Park Avenue. It might be a farmhouse on a Kansas prairie. In this particular case, as here pictorially portrayed, it is a ranch home in the hills of Yavapai County, Arizona. But wherever it may be — this American home — it represents the mightiest monument against Oppression there is today.

This American home is something more than four walls and a roof. Its nails were driven at Valley Forge, at Gettysburg and in the forests of the Argonne. The spirit that binds it together and makes it the impregnable fortress of freedom that it is was written in the Constitution, the Bible, the Bill of Rights. This American home didn't just happen. It is the result of the rightful thinking of free and courageous men and women since the golden age of Pericles of Athens centuries ago. Many people in many ages contributed to the lasting quality of the American home as it stands today, for the cause of freedom knows no beginning or no ending. The tired voice of Abraham Lincoln proclaiming the proposition that all men are created equal sums up in words of granite the philosophy of the American home and the country where it is enshrined.

The folks who live in such a house live simply and quietly. They are intrinsically people of peace — but great is their fury when their home is endangered and their philosophy of living is threatened.

From such homes as this ranch home in the hills of Yavapai County come young men of spirit who in a few short weeks become the equal of the automatons drilled and tested for years. It brings out the old knowledge that you fight when you have something to fight for.

So the years pass, the sun comes up and sets, there come days of peace and days of war, but through the turmoil the American home remains solid and firm.

Herein Freedom sits down with you to breakfast, and Liberty joins in the evening prayers. Here Kindness and Goodness and Charity help do the cooking and here Courage and Honor and Resolution and Fortitude sit around the table like members of the family. Here Independence does her knitting. Here is Greatness.

Favored, indeed, are the people who live in such a home.

— Raymond Carlson, Editor

One Comment Add Comment

Arizona Highways Gift Shop Welcomes Eirini Pajak

Arizona's native plants are a favorite subject of photographer Eirini Pajak. | Keith Whitney

Featured this month in the Arizona Highways gift shop is a nature photographer who should be familiar to recent readers of the magazine.

Eirini Pajak began contributing to Highways a few years ago — you might remember her from It's in the Details, her portfolio in our January 2015 issue. But at least one of her photos has been in seemingly every issue since then.

Many of Pajak's images feature a photographic technique known as focus-stacking. She shoots with the lens almost wide open, then manually focuses through the plane of the flower, one millimeter at a time. She then "stacks" the images using a computer program. Doing so allows her to control the depth of field in the background and get focus through the subject.

Pajak studied photography in college but didn't keep up with it after she graduated. A decade later, a monk at St. Anthony's Monastery in Florence, where Pajak often attends services, suggested she start photographing wildflowers. "He added, specifically, not to overlook even the tiniest flowers," she says. That suggestion has shaped her photographic style.

"I've seen so many amazing images of poppies and lupines, but there is a whole world of neglected — and often quite tiny — flowers that are no less beautiful," she says.

To get a look at Pajak's work or purchase a print, stop by the gift shop, located at 2039 W. Lewis Avenue in Phoenix. It's open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. A portion of the purchase price benefits Arizona Highways' mission of promoting travel to and through Arizona.

0 Comments Add Comment