The Southwest United States

The American southwest
is a wonderful destination for family trips, anniversary celebrations, and honeymoons. Why?  Because the beautiful scenery appeals to everyone, and the quality of accommodations is so varied that there is something appropriate for every taste.

One can stay in Best Westerns with pools and large bedrooms or in luxury resorts with private casitas and fireplaces.

David Ahouse took these pictures on a family holiday with his children, Hayley and Cameron.  They began their nine day trip in Albuquerque and moved on to Gallup, Petrified Forest National Park, and Grand Canyon, and thence to Utah, Mesa Verdi in Colorado, Santa Fe, and back again to

Albuquerque.  But there are so many possible itineraries—another popular one is to begin your trip in Phoenix and go on to Sedona and Grand Canyon.

With a bit of exploring you, too, can find beautiful natural arches like these many places thru out the area.  The wind and rain do amazing things to rock and soil.

Mesa Verde, Spanish for "green table", offers an unparalleled opportunity to see and experience the unique cultural and physical landscape in which the "ancient ones" lived. The culture represented at Mesa Verde reflects more than 700 years of history.  From approximately A.D. 600 through A.D. 1300 people lived and flourished in 

communities throughout the area, eventually building elaborate stone villages in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls. Today most people call these sheltered villages "cliff dwellings".  The cliff dwellings represent the last 75 to 100 years of occupation
 at Mesa Verde. In the late 1200s, within the span of one or two generations, they left their homes and moved away.  No one knows why.

The Grand Canyon is everything one can imagine and more.  The canyon rims tower a mile above the Colorado River. Warning!  You need to plan months in advance to take one of the famous mule rides or to do any white water rafting!

A bit off the beaten path, Petrified Forest National Park in Northern Arizona is three million years old. Huge volcanic explosions over many years covered these decomposing old growth trees.  The force of the blast flattened and buried the forest in deep layers of mineral rich, muddy ash.  Today we walk on  the very same soil into which water, laden with the silicates in the ash, seeped down, filling up 

the spaces left behind by the decomposing tree fibers, replacing the wood cell by cell with crystallized silica, until the entire tree became stone. All the petrified treetops point in a southwest direction.  At other periods during the last three million years, oceans covered this area.  Petrified fish and shells can still be found—along with petrified worms, snails, and clams.

The Painted Desert, a part of Petrified Forest National Park, extends for miles. The varied colors in the rock strata date from different geological ages.  All the shapes and colors are made up of rock and soil

The Four Corners region, so-called because four states (New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona) converge here, is the setting for Tony Hillerman’s famous detective novels about Navajo Reservation Police Officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn. You may know them from the recent PBS productions of several of these books, including Thief of Time, Skinwalkers, and Coyote Waits.  Here are Hayley and Cameron  at the exact convergence point!
Throughout the whole Southwestern  region the sunsets are especially spectacular because of all the dust particles in the air. This sunset is from Gallup, New Mexico.


Harriet H. Ahouse | Independent Travel Consultant
Vista Travel, Inc.
10 Rogers Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142
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