Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The REALLY Grand Canyon

Hi Kids,
Well, this was our last journey of the year -- and it was a good one!  Mr. Jack, Miss Elaine, Emily and I took the train from Williams, Arizona, 60 miles to the Grand Canyon.  The train was really neat.  The car we were in was a double-decker and we were on top.  It's called a vistadome  (vista means view) and we could see everything on both sides of the train.  They served us snacks, too.  We all liked those!

This is Emily at the Grand Canyon.  Miss Elaine is always careful not to put us in dangerous spots.  It was a loooooonnnnnggggg way down to the bottom of the canyon -- about a mile.

If you look hard, you can see a squiggly line going down into the canyon.  People walk down it to get to the bottom.  Some of them ride mules down.  I think it would be very scary so I'm glad we didn't have time to do it.

This is me, Tiger, at another spot on the rim of the canyon.  The canyon is HUGE!  It runs for about 277 miles -- farther than the distance from Edmond to Dallas!  It is impossible to take a photograph that gives you the true idea of what it looks like.  You can only see little pieces at a time.  But Miss Elaine did her best -- she came home with over 1000 pictures from our trip.  (No, you don't have to look at all 1000!)

Do you see that river in the bottom of the canyon?  That's the Colorado River.  Over millions of years that river carved the canyon into the flat land you can see on top of the canyon.  As the river cut deeper into the earth, it revealed many layers of rock.  The dark rocks right by the river are some of the oldest rocks on earth.  The higher in the canyon you get, the younger the rocks are.  Geologists can "read" the layers to learn how the land was formed.

Here's a secret if you like taking pictures.  Pictures taken late in the afternoon or early in the morning are often prettier because of the light.  Look at some of the earlier pictures in this post.  They are nice but not as colorful as this one.  Miss Elaine took this right before sunset.

She took this picture just as the sun was coming up -- at 5:43 in the morning.  It was really cold that morning.  Emily and I were glad she let us stay in bed!  See how the early light turns the rocks a more brilliant yellow and red?

We loved the Grand Canyon but soon it was time to get back on the train.  Our adventures weren't over, though.  As we were coming back to Williams, we looked out the window and saw masked men on horses racing beside the train.  Soon the train stopped.  Robbers!  (But not real ones!)  They came through the train and pretended to rob the passengers -- just like train robbers used to do in the Old West.  Emily and I played along with their game.  And we got home safely!
It's been a great year and Emily and I have enjoyed sharing our travels with you.  There are lots of wonderful places to see and people to meet.  We hope you have a great summer.  We'll be staying with Miss Kysar and Mrs. Beasley so maybe you could come say "hi" next year when you are 3rd graders.
Tiger and Emily (and Miss Elaine and Mr. Jack)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Original residents

 Hi Kids,
While Tiger and I were exploring Arizona, we discovered a lot about early people who lived here.  The Native Americans who constructed this amazing building lived here over 600 years ago.  We don't know what they called themselves, but the first Spanish explorers called their descendants "Sinagua," which means "without water."

They built their homes into cliffs, using caves in the rock and then building with rock and mud to create rooms and walls.  This particular structure was later named Montezuma
Castle -- after a South American Aztec chief.  

 This is a nearby complex that hasn't survived as well.  The Indians abandoned this site around the year 1400 -- before Columbus, before the Spanish explorers.  We don't know why. 
 Naming the natives Sinagua seems silly.  The Indians were very smart -- they built their homes near water.  This is the stream that flows through the bottom of the canyon.  Life must have been very difficult.  Their houses were high in the cliffs and hard to reach.  Why do you think they built them there?

 We saw more Native American settlement around this beautiful and mysterious pool, called Montezuma Well.  It is mysterious because no one knows how deep it is.  It has a strange false bottom of swirling sand and when scientists try to push measuring instruments into it, the water pressure pushes them out.

Can you see the houses built just under the edge of the cliff?

 This is me, Emily, sitting on a wall over Walnut Canyon.  The Indian houses here are even harder to see -- and harder to get to.

Look very carefully for large holes -- these were once Indian homes.  The model below shows how the Indians got up and down the cliffs.  They grew food on the top of the cliffs, lived in the cliffs and had to carry water up from the bottom of the canyon.  Aren't you glad we don't have to do that?   See you soon.
Emily and Tiger

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

BOO-tiful Arizona

 Hi Kids,
When Miss Elaine told us we would be going to a ghost town, Tiger and I were a little scared.  She explained that a hundred years ago, Jerome, Arizona, had been a busy mining town with thousands of people living there.  When all the copper in the area was mined, there was no more work so almost everyone moved away.  Many of the buildings started to crumble and fall apart.  Miss Elaine drove through Jerome when she was your age -- a long time ago.  The streets were empty and the buildings were abandoned.  It was a real ghost town.

 The building on the left only has the front remaining.  Fortunately there were buildings still standing and after a number of years, people started moving back.  A lot of them were artists, depending on what they created to make a living.  Tourists started coming to see the art and the ghost town.  Other people started restaurants and places for visitors to stay.  

If there are any ghosts here now, they are hiding.  We didn't see any!

The town is built on the side of a steep hill.  The streets zigzag back and forth because it is too hard to drive straight up.  There are many stairs that go from the bottom street in town to the top.  People use them because it is a shortcut -- but it's a hard climb to get to the top of town.  The hill is so steep that many of the buildings have their front doors on one level and their back doors a floor or two below!  This would not be a good place to sleepwalk!

 Our favorite store was the kaleidoscope store.  Have you ever looked into a kaleidoscope?  The name comes from three Greek words -- "kalos" meaning "beautiful," "eidos" meaning "shape" and "skopeo" meaning "to look at."  Looking in a kaleidoscope, you see beautiful shapes.  It's made with mirrors and loose bits of colored glass, beads, etc.  One of the kaleidoscopes was so big that Miss Elaine could take a picture inside it.  Isn't this pretty?

 We had lunch in Jerome, then drove down into the valley which is called the Verde Valley.  Do any of you speak Spanish?  If you do, you'll know that "verde" means "green.  Can you see why they named the valley Verde?

The Verde River flows through the valley and has cut canyons in the rocks.  We took a train ride through some of the canyons.

 The train cars were very comfortable -- and they had snacks!

It was a little chilly so Emily stayed inside with Mr. Jack where it was warm.

Tiger liked riding in the open car where he could see better.  He liked the cool wind in his fur.  

As you can see, the scenery was very beautiful.  We saw lots of beautiful places in Arizona.  We'll be sending more blogs soon.  

Tiger and Emily