Casa Grande Ruins Saturday, Apr 23 2016 

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Yesterday we visited the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument near Coolidge, Arizona. We learned that in 1694 the Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino (1645-1711) was the first European to see this distinctive building. He named it “Casa Grande,” Spanish for “Great House.” It is four stories high and 60 feet long, the largest known structure of the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People, the current preferred name rather than the previously used term “Hohokam.” These people built irrigation canals to support growing a variety of agricultural crops. They were active starting about 300 BCE and continuing until around 1400. Casa Grande was probably built around 1350. On October 31, 1775 Juan Bautista de Anza described the ruin in his journal while camped along the Gila River. He and his party of colonists traveled all the way to the Presidio in Monterey, California where they arrived on March 10, 1776. There is speculation surrounding the purpose of Casa Grande. For me, the evidence of their astronomical interest is most telling. At sunset on the summer solstice, the longest day, there is a small hole where sunlight becomes visible on a wall. Other holes similarly display the vernal equinox in March and the autumnal equinox in September. Additionally, there is a hole where the moon “stands still” in the sky every 18.6 years. Remarkable. Another interesting highlight of the trip was seeing the oval indentation identified as one of some 200 ball courts in Arizona. The Visitor Center film, “Casa Grande: Home of Many Stories,” was a good introduction to this, the country’s first archeological reserve established in 1892.

Chalk It Up! 2016 Wednesday, Apr 20 2016 

Marbles Champion

Marbles Champion

On Sunday we walked down to the National Bank parking lot where the 8th annual Chalk It Up! event was taking place. In past years we have visited the site on Montezuma and Sheldon on week days immediately following this street painting festival. It was much more interesting to visit during the event. The professional artists were amazing. We were especially impressed with Willie Zin’s work. He presented in 3-D Norman Rockwell’s famous September 2, 1939 Saturday Evening Post cover “Marbles Champion.” We watched Naomi Foster from Aurora, Colorado complete her child portrait. “Total Eclipse” was another piece of colorful art that captured my imagination. We watched the “Hoops Fixation” entertainment. Although we missed the New Moon Tribal Belly Dance, we took note of their exotic costumes. This is another interesting annual Prescott tradition.

Wolf Creek Loop Trail Saturday, Apr 16 2016 

Wolf Creek Trail

Wolf Creek Trail

Yesterday we hiked a portion of Wolf Creek Loop Trail #384. The trailhead is .4 of a mile on County Road 101 beyond where the pavement ends from the Senator Highway. We crossed Wolf Creek and hiked clockwise through ponderosa pines, scrub oaks, and granite boulders. Where the trail intersects the Hassayampa River, we saw a sign for Payoff Springs. Four deer crossed the trail in front of us and we observed the largest doe eyeing from a camouflaged position. At one point the trail uses Forest Road 74. Where it diverged we stayed on it to the Lower Wolf Creek Campground. We were impressed with the stone-based picnic tables. We returned to our car on County Road 101. We hiked a little more tha three miles. In the future we intend to hike the other half of the Wolf Creek Loop Trail.