SQUARED UP ARIZONA SUNSETS #12 – Marilyn Armstrong

ON THE SQUARE – ARIZONA SUNSETS #12 – Marilyn Armstrong

I was amazed at the sunsets everywhere in Arizona. Just when I thought they couldn’t be better, the next night would be even more brilliant.

And so it went from one night to the next night, glorious sunset after sunset. In the mountains and even from city streets. Some nights, the sunset was so red it turned the mountains red, too.

Sunset – Phoenix

In the Phoenix mountains

More from the Phoenix Mountains

Sunset reflected on the Superstition Mountains

RED MOUNTAINS IN A PHOENIX SUNSET – Marilyn Armstrong

Sue Vincent and I have been talking about pictures you take that are so different that no one even believes they are real. So here are my scarlet mountains which are reflections of the red sunset in the west. The mountains are east of Phoenix.

When I first saw them, I didn’t even believe they could be so red. I’d never seen a sunset so red it reflected a whole range of mountains. So these are the pictures. No filters. No special processing. Just the reflection of a scarlet sunset on the mountains nearby.

WANDERING IN THE DESERT – Marilyn Armstrong

WANDERING, BUT NOT LOST, IN
THE sOUTHWEST dESERT


Ironwood in the desert

Phoenix sunset – Photo: Garry Armstrong

For a woman raised in New York and living in Massachusetts, the desert is another world. The colors of the sky. The mountains jutting into the sky and giant cacti growing across the landscape. We have spent two vacations in Arizona and each has been glorious.

Sunset

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Another sunset

A PILGRIM’S TALE – Garry Armstrong

Our Arizona vacations were trips back in time to some of my favorite western movies and TV shows.

Those cactus covered fields and surrounding mountains evoked memories, especially of the John Wayne-John Ford classic Westerns and the areas around Phoenix are similar to some of the areas in Utah where Wayne and Ford made many of their iconic films.

In the aftermath of my first Arizona post, there were requests for my oft-told story about meeting Duke Wayne. So now, a few years after the second trip, here it is again. If you’ve heard it before, head for the nearest saloon, Pilgrim.

Forty-three winters ago, as I reckon, it was John Wayne versus the anti-Vietnam War crowd at Harvard and the surrounding areas of The People’s Republic of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Duke was cheered and jeered as he sat atop an armored “half-track” which moved slowly through the crowd as light snow fell. Some dissidents lobbed snowballs at Wayne as they shouted in derision. The Duke smiled and waved. At one point, everything stopped as the legendary star hopped out to shake hands amid a flurry of snowballs. It was a bad situation for a reporter attempting an interview.

I called in a few favors and somehow, Duke and his entourage slipped into an empty theater. What felt like an eternity to me, I waited alone on stage for John Wayne to appear. Suddenly, the stage lit up. I froze.

“Hello, Garry!” boomed the Duke in a friendly voice as he ambled in that familiar gait across the stage. After the greeting,  my TV persona kicked in. I shook hands with my hero, beaming with pleasure.

I was oblivious to the cameras and how much time had passed. Later, I would learn from the tape that it had been a pretty long interview. Me swapping stories with Wayne including some anecdotes about my stint in the Marine Corps which impressed the Duke. He laughed when I recalled how I’d upset several drill instructors during basic training with my irreverent behavior.

The interview ran long. Towards the end, a press agent had to pry Duke loose to resume his “march” to Harvard.

During a formal, group interview at Harvard, Wayne singled me out as “his pal and former Gyrene.” I remember basking in the glow of that moment as other reporters glared at me. Later, as the crowd dispersed, Wayne approached me and said, “Good to see ya again, Gyrene”.

I offered what must’ve been a dumb smile and said, “Good to see you again, Duke.” I could see, over my shoulders, my crew smirking and giggling. I didn’t care. This was the interview I’d dreamed about.

Back in the newsroom, I walked around the newsroom repeatedly asking everyone if they knew who shook my hand that day. Finally, someone told me to throw some cold water on my face and get on with my job.

They didn’t get it. I had spent “private” time with the Duke. With Hondo, Sgt. Stryker, Ethan Edwards, Capt. Nathan Brittles, and Rooster Cogburn … among so many others. Damn — I had swapped stories with the man who really shot Liberty Valance.

Sadly, there were no personal pictures from that memorable day. No autograph. I’d always felt uneasy about asking celebrities for these artifacts.

Ironically, this gesture apparently opened the door for more candid conversations and some unforgettable social afternoons and evenings with Hollywood legends, Royalty, Presidents, sports heroes, wise guys, godfathers and even Mother Theresa who singled me out from a crowd, chastising me about news coverage. I never figured that one out.

Topping all those memorable days and nights was my afternoon with the Duke. Back here in Arizona, where the Duke galloped through so many westerns, I think maybe … mebbe … I can top that encounter in the future.

That’ll be the day!

RUGGEDLY SILENT – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Tuesday – RUGGED and FOWC with Fandango — Silent

Rugged and silent, the Superstitions loom over the bleak desert near Phoenix, Arizona

Following them … and not by much of a distance, either … were a mixed bag of posse wannabes. A few professional lawmen, a clutch of bounty hunters, and anyone else that had a gun and a horse and could be drug up by the sheriff and the railroad people.

A cactus sunset near the Superstitions

The horses were exhausted and it wouldn’t be long before they collapsed unless they were allowed to stop, rest, drink, eat. For that matter, it wouldn’t be much longer before they, themselves, collapsed.

Whose idea was this, anyway? They could have hit a bank or a Wells Fargo shipment. Hell, they could have hit half a dozen stagecoaches without setting off this kind of frenzy. It was those railroad guys. They really didn’t like bandits. Which they were. Damn.

Don’t you hate it when that happens?

It was getting dark, now. The sun was setting over the mountains. Where could they go? Ahead were the Superstitions … and there was nothing up there but jagged rocks. Where was water? Some grass for the horses and a place to lay themselves down and breathe.

In the distance, they could hear the hoofbeats of oncoming horses. They looked into the fading sun and they knew.

It was over. For good, this time.

SQUARE UP ARIZONA SUNSET – Marilyn Armstrong

ARIZONA SUNSETS – Marilyn Armstrong


I was amazed at the sunsets everywhere in Arizona. Maybe it was because it never rained, but the colors were amazing. Just when I thought they couldn’t be better, the subsequent night would be even more extraordinary.

And so it went from one night to the next night, glorious sunset after sunset. In the mountains and even from city streets. Some nights, the sunset was so red it turned the mountains red, too.

Sunset – Phoenix

 

AND HELL’S COMING WITH ME … – Marilyn Armstrong

Wyatt Earp: All right, Clanton… you called down the thunder, well now you’ve got it! You see that?
[pulls open his coat, revealing a badge]
Wyatt Earp: It says United States Marshal!
Ike Clanton[terrified, pleading] Wyatt, please, I …
Wyatt Earp[referring to Stillwell, laying dead] Take a good look at him, Ike … ’cause that’s how you’re gonna end up!
[shoves Ike down roughly with his boot]
Wyatt Earp: The Cowboys are finished, you understand? I see a red sash, I kill the man wearin’ it!
[lets Ike up to run for his life]
Wyatt Earp: So run, you cur… RUN! Tell all the other curs the law’s comin’!
[shouts]
Wyatt Earp: You tell ’em I’M coming… and hell’s coming with me, you hear? …
[louder]
Wyatt Earp: And Hell’s coming with me!


Hell is definitely coming …

The dust rose from the desiccated, dusty road that is Main Street in Tombstone. The horses looked hot and tired. They had every right to be. It was godawful hot. In the sun, more than 125 degrees and I don’t care, dry or not, that’s like sitting in an oven. Add basting and soon, you could be Thanksgiving dinner somewhere.

Tombstone

I think when it isn’t quite as hot, you can ride the stage. When the temps are that high, it’s not good to stress the horses more than they are already stressed merely by pulling the coach. Slowly pulling the coach. It’s a pretty big carriage, though they are also huge horses.

Still, heat kills. It’s bad enough to make horses pull the stage in such weather, but to add the weight of passengers might be too much. Those big horses come dear, you know. The interior of the stage is probably pretty hot too.

As we wandered around the town, we bought souvenir tee shirts. One for me, one for Garry. Of course, we did. Wouldn’t you? They were pretty pricey, so we bought only two. We also bought some books. And a calendar. I think we would have bought the coach, the horses and maybe the saloon if we could have. We really liked Tombstone.

We also love the movie. I really don’t know how many times we’ve watched it. Often enough so we both know all the lines. the scenes. We laugh before it’s funny because we already know. So being in Tombstone was awesome. No, I mean it. Really awesome. As in “we were struck with awe” and also, we didn’t fall down with heat stroke, though I’m pretty sure we were pretty close to it.

Garry bought a tee-shirt that said “You tell ’em I’M coming…” and mine said, “And Hell’s coming with me.” You had to see us together to really feel it.

These days, our sense of justice has been so deeply damaged, we have returned to watching Westerns to get some of that old justice juice going.

The movie is “Tombstone.” It was shot in Tombstone, Arizona in 1993. They more or less rebuilt the town to make the movie and have kept it that way. It brings in tourists. We are exactly the kind of tourists for whom they are always waiting.

We would gladly have spent more money, but retirees don’t have a lot of spare money. And, to be fair, we own many, many tee-shirts already. I had settled for taking pictures and staying in the shade. No wonder they had covers over the sidewalks. Even for Arizona, that was a serious heat wave, but at least the shade made it possible to inhale.

We watched Wyatt and his crew clean up the west. They killed them all. The move is full length, but it always feels too short. Garry says that’s how you know a movie is perfect because you don’t want it to end.

I didn’t want it to end.

LOVING THE WORLD IN PICTURES

Weekly WordPress PHOTO CHALLENGE – Favorite Places

This week, share an image of your happy place, a secret spot you love, or a faraway location you return to again and again.


The road home

I’m a really happy traveler. When I finally actually travel — more and more rarely as I get older — I always love wherever I am. Whether it’s a tourist trap in Pennsylvania or a fairy circle in Sligo, the Church of the Manger in Bethlehem or one of our local dams and rivers, it’s a favorite place. I love cities and the country.

Arizona

I prefer living in the country, but I loved living in Jerusalem, adored the weeks I spent in London and wished we could have spent more time in Dublin and tons more in San Francisco.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I loved Gettysburg, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan. And before you tell me that Brooklyn and Manhattan are really one city — in theory they are, but they are sufficiently different to not be the same to me. Since I’m the writer here, I get to say.

Beacon Hill – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Yesterday, for a few hours, I even loved Chestnut Hill.

Every place is – in its own way – different and interesting. Even the gritty and grimy places have their own charms.

Spillway on the canal

Bridge over the Blackstone

If I had one favorite place and absolutely had to choose, it would be the mountains and I am not that choosy about which mountain range. I love when I am up above the world. The sky seems closer and the air weighs less.

WILD HORSE PASS: THE SHOWDOWN – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Story by Garry Armstrong
Pictures by Garry & Marilyn Armstrong

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THE STORY OF THE POSSE FROM HELL – Garry’s Tale

More than a week in Arizona and we couldn’t lose them. We couldn’t see them. The big country that protected us shielded them, too. It was the posse from Hell!

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We kept to the high country, hoping the cactus, tumbleweed and narrow trails would distance us.

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Scorpion Gulch was the way to the mountains and beyond. We saw a few pilgrims here and there taking in the view. They ignored us. Good for them.

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This was the same trail used by Waco Johnny Dean, Long Tom and Dutch Henry Brown in the relentless chase for that Winchester ’73.

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The same trail used by Sheriff Pearly B. Sweet and the posse from Welcome and Carefree who pursued Bob Hightower, Pete and the Abilene Kid, the three Godfathers.

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There was no losing our posse from Hell.

Rawhide, we figured, might be a good place to lose those guys … whoever they were.

Rawhide — a place where dudes are welcome. We wouldn’t be noticed as the pilgrims sashayed up and down Main Street. Maybe the posse from Hell might have paper on a few of these strangers.

Rawhide also was a good place to grab some grub. Maybe even some shut-eye. But no time for real fun if you get my drift. Those pilgrims kept giving us shifty looks.

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Back on the trail, I thought we saw an old saddle pal. He rode with us in the old days. He was a good old boy. Turned out he was dead and just a statue, probably done in by the railroad men who dogged us for too many years. Close up, our old pal still looked good. They don’t make men like him any more.

We had to move on. No sense chasing memories. We wanted to head back to the high country and the safety of those mountains. But time was running out. We knew the end was near.

Just as well. We were running low on luck and bullets.

The posse from hell finally cornered us at Wild Horse Pass. They stayed with their long guns as we faced them down. It was a long day’s siege into night.

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We would not go quietly. We could see the fear in their eyes as we held our position. Clearly, we  had them on experience, as we stared across the pass and other confrontations which have blurred over the years.

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In the distance, we heard the strains of “Shall We Gather At The River” sung mournfully by the good folks at The Light of The Desert Lutheran Church. Was this a boot hill elegy?

Print the legend.

ROADS AND STEPS – CEE’S WHICH WAY PHOTO CHALLENGE

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – February 2, 2018


This Which Way challenge is all about capturing the roads, walks, trails, rails, steps, signs, etc. we move from one place to another on. You can walk on them, climb them, drive them, ride on them, as long as the specific way is visible. Any angle of a bridge is acceptable as are any signs.


Photo: Garry Armstrong 

By the Mumford – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Snow on steps

Road to the lake

The corner by the barber shop – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Dam across the Mumford

THE FORGOTTEN PHOTOS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Marilyn found them. An entire folder of my pictures from January 2016 in Arizona. Apparently, they were never opened since she downloaded them.

Nice surprise. She fixed them up and here they are. Hope you like them!

JANUARY IN ARIZONA – YELLOW MOUNTAINS AND SUNSET


A cactus sunset – near the Superstitions

ARIZONA MOUNTAINS – NEW PHOTOS FROM LOST FOLDERS

Saguaro along the mountains

I have been going through my folders. My photography folders. There are an awful lot of them and within each folder are even more folders. While searching for missing photographs, I have discovered there are thousands of photographs — good ones — which were never processed. Why not? Because I moved on to the next batch of photos and never went back. Two weeks later, I didn’t remember these photographs existed.

Phoenix Mountains and a saguaro

The good news is that I have some amazing pictures simply waiting for me to get to them. The bad news is that even after I find a great batch of waiting photographs, when I go back to work on them, I probably will have forgotten them.

Shadow of the mountain

The exception to this are vacation photographs because these are always in separate folders by events — so I know where they are. Which is why the first new batches you’ll see will be from Arizona 2016.

Three mountain peaks

I can find them. They are listed in the “A”s. And there are a lot of pictures those folders.

Wide mountains with saguaro

SOMETHING OLD – THURSDAY’S SPECIAL

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: TRACES OF THE PAST Y3-10


The old town of Tombstone was rebuilt to make the movie “Tombstone.” That’s the one with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer and it was all shot in this town. The OK Corral is here, too and you can see the gunfight every day at 3 pm, in season. So it’s old … but it has been rebuilt. It’s a great place to be. Everything looks just like the movie, including the saloon. Except, of course, you can buy modern tee shirts and all that kind of stuff.

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