Desert and Ocean

Joan wrapped up her park service detail and started her shortened furlough. Her parents visited us for a few days before they all went to Oregon and saw her sister via a road trip.

I played tour guide, cooked a few meals, and we showed them the place we call home.

While Joan and her parents made their way to points west, I worked in my home office and did much less exciting things. 😉

But the weekend came, and I flew out. And found me with a nine-hour layover in Phoenix!

Rather than sit in an airport for many hours, I took advantage of the free light rail system in the airport and ended within a mere five-minute walk to the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archeological Park.

Though I went there before, it’s been a few years. And always more to see!

A primary archeological site for the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People (Hohokam); well known for growing cotton and their irrigation canals.

Today the modern canals go not far from the original sites.


By the late 14th century, the area “collapsed due to overpopulation, changing climate, and dwindling water in this desert environment. Draw your own conclusions about today’s world.

This relatively small area remains an island of archaeological protection in a hyper-growing metro area. Many archeological digs need to be performed quickly, and who knows how many sites are buried under a parking lot or strip mall?

A recent Zoom lecture we watched put this issue into sharp relief. However, I read about this issue for Phoenix in “Finders Keepers,” I found it interesting to hear about the problems from the city archaeologist herself.

Of course, I flew in via the nearby airport myself. And there you have it.


Later that evening, I made it to Eugene, OR, and met Joan’s sister and brother-in-law for the first time. After many hours of traveling, I may or may not have presented a groggy first impression.

A relaxing first day the following morning with a visit to an excellent local museum (the oldest sandal known to humans!), I did get to try some delicious Oregon craft beer later that day.

PCO Joan.

My first days did not bring up anything of note (unless you count getting up at 5 AM to be “at work” by 6 AM and working at the kitchen table for most of the day!)

By Thursday, I got to play tourist a bit, and we made our way to the Oregon Coast on Friday.

The native New Englander in me had a sense of deja vu with all the green, the brackish river leading into the bay, and even the local family-style seafood restaurants. As some earlier settlers named a seaside town “Newport” after Newport, RI, I am not surprised other people had similar thoughts!

We even got a little hiking that day, too.

The following day, Joan and I managed to carve out a half-day for our first wedding anniversary. Joan’s sister generously let us borrow her car, and we took off to a different part of the coast.

We went to the well-known Heceta Head Lighthouse via a hiking trail and enjoyed the dramatic views.

I got reminded, a bit, of the Mohegan Bluffs and its lighthouse back on Block Island, RI.

Of course, the more prominent cliffs aren’t present in RI!

We later took a side trail to the beach and enjoyed sitting at the ocean’s edge.

On the way back to the car, we bumped into an Oregon Coast Trail thru-hiker. With his Altra shoes, gaiters, and the requisite HMG pack. I think I confused him when a middle-aged day hiker (me!) said, “Ah! I see you are wearing the uniform!”  My bemused rejoinder seemed to have gone over his sun-hoodie and trucker hat head

Shortly after, we gave a ride to two PCT hikers mixing up their hike due to Oregon fire closures; they relayed that many PCTers planned to also hike the Oregon Coast Trail.  I applaud the hikers for making the most of a complex situation and still enjoying their time out here.

We made our way back for a family dinner, woke up early Sunday, and made it home to Moab by 1 PM MT Sunday.

A delightful visit to meet my extended family and my first time seeing the Pacific since 2018.

As always, we’ll need to return.

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