Tag Archives: Arizona

That Blue Southwestern Sky, by Beverly Hicks Burch

That blue western sky

Just look at that blue western sky.

And, it you look close enough in the foreground you’ll see something on the ground that will take away all the horrid memories of this past dreary hot summer. 

Yes, that is snow! I can feel the cool fall breezes creeping upon us any day now, and it’s not a day too soon for me. This has been a miserable, hot, choking, smoke filled summer filled with wildfires burning every where with ash falling like grey, dirty snowflakes.

This picture is more my idea of Nature at it’s best. I took this particular picture from our train on the way to the Grand Canyon. As we approached the South Rim the clouds became more abundant. White fluffy harbingers of wonders to come…

Tall & Handsome calls it his southwestern sky…

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Right Reserved

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Filed under Arizona, Grand Canyon Railway, Photography, Picture of the Day, Southwest, Tall & Handsome, Weather

American Spirit, by Beverly Hicks Burch

That Says it All

I took this picture in Jan. 2009 from our Grand Canyon Railroad train as we were pulling back into the station at William, AZ. This car was setting in the yard at the station and I loved the name. We were returning from an inspirational visit to the Grand Canyon.

Why have I picked this picture today? Solely for its name…On the eve of 9/11 I believe it has been American Spirit that has carried us this far and helped us survive the past ten year. I truly believe we are on the verge of loosing that American Spirit to an amalgamation and hodgepodge of nothingness and “political correctness” that is leaving us weak, dispirited, directionless and disheartened.

On this anniversary on 9/11 I hope we can reflect back on the unity and strength we mustered on 9/12 and the days after to survive and get past the worst terrorist attack in history on US soil.

In Oct. of 1941 after the Blitz Winston Churchill gave a speech at Harrow School. I would like to quote, in part, a section of that memorable speech. It was fitting then, it is fitting now:

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” ~Winston Churchill, October 29, 1941~


© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved


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Filed under 9/11, American Spirit, Arizona, Grand Canyon Railway, Photography, Picture of the Day, September 11, Trains, Travel, Winston Churchill

Rocks of Ages, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Last glimps of the River

In Jan. 2009 Tall & Handsome presented me with the wonderful opportunity to strike off one of the items on my bucket list…and, that was to see the Grand Canyon. It was one of the most romantic, memorable and special times of my life.

The Grand Canyon itself was spectacular. Seeing it for the first time was almost like a spiritual experience. It is one of the most awesome sights I have ever seen. Every spot seems to have its own personality with it own colors and sunlight and shadows. To use one word to describe it? Exhilarating…

This is one of my favorite pictures and one of the last I took of the Canyon. If you look hard enough you can see the Colorado River at the bottom of the Canyon. It’s in the center of the picture…that slight ribbon of blue water meandering through the arid, mighty cliffs, turns and rocks that tell the ages of the Grand Canyon…

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved


Filed under Arizona, Colorado River, Grand Canyon, Photography, Picture of the Day, Southwest, Tall & Handsome, Travel

As Green As It Gets, by Beverly Hicks Burch

As green as it gets

This is about as green as it gets in the Sonoran Desert. If you recall, I wrote the other day about my trip to Arizona with Tall & Handsome back in January 2009. I took this picture from a speeding vehicle (figuratively, of course) as we were driving between Tucson and Scottsdale.

The Sonoran is one of the largest and hottest deserts in North America…and, you thought I was kidding about Arizona being hot. The desert covers parts of Arizona, California and Mexico.

That land formation is considered a “mountain” and those stick like things growing up the side of the mountain are saguaro cactus. You’ll find this distinctive cactus growing only in the Sonoran. They can grow to be rather large and it can take up to 75 years for one of those “arms” to form on a cactus.  They have an incredible life span…150 years or more and they are protected in Arizona where great lengths are taken to save them. It’s not unusual to see some of the larger and older ones supported and staked up with guy wires. Another fascinating thing about this cactus is the fact that birds think nothing about hollowing out holes in the trunks to make homes for themselves.

As an East Tennessee/Alabama girl, I’m use to lush green landscapes and flora. When I first visited Tall & Handsome in New Mexico we had a debate on the colors of the southwest. I said everything was brown and dead looking and there was that perpetual sunshine thing (not a good thing for a gal that likes a good rainy day). He let me know the colors were called “earth tones”. Yeah, right…potato…po-tot-o…

I just know one thing…this is about as green as it gets…

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Arizona, Cactus, Photography, Picture of the Day, Saguaro Cactus, Sonoran Desert, Southwest, Tall & Handsome, Travel

El Tovar, the Grand Canyon and Tall and Handsome, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Reggie in the El Tovar

What is you heat index going to be today? Upper 90s? 100+? Hot, humid and miserable? Are you ready for fall…or even winter?

How about a little “power of suggestion”? Do not adjust your dial…your are now headed to the “Outer Limits and the Twilight Zone”…well, actually, the Grand Canyon.

This picture was taken in Jan. 2009 which just happened to be the time I visited one of the great wonders of the world…the Grand Canyon. Yes, I know..January…

You see, Arizona can be a very hot state…in my opinion cursedly hot. I hate hot weather…and it hates me. There’s no love/hate relationship there…it’s hate the whole way. As a result, I knew when I would have to visit the Grand Canyon, which just happened to be on my “bucket list”, and that would have to be during the cool season in Arizona.

Well, good luck on that one…at least in part…

You see, when we were there we also spent time in Scottsdale and Tucson which is south of the Grand Canyon and closer to the Mexican border. The temps there in January were what I would call almost comfortable…in the 70s and maybe the upper 60s. But, let me tell you something folks, if you live there too long your body and mind must go through some kind a genetic alteration because these delusional kind people were thoughtful enough to turn the heat on if the temp fell below 75. Burrrrrr! As a result, I went around feeling like I had fur growing in my nose a good portion of the time I was down in that area of the state unless I was outside.

But, the weekend we headed north up towards the Grand Canyon something wonderful began to happened…the temperature began to drop! Made me want to shout “Glory”! Then as we drove a little further north, something miraculous began to happen…snow began to show up on the ground outside the car window.

So I learned a valuable lesson…it’s colder in northern Arizona…

…and I really do mean colder.

We drove as far a Williams, AZ where we spent the night and then caught The Grand Canyon Railway the next morning for a ride straight to the South Rim and the Village that set on the South Rim of the Canyon. The train ride is an experience I would recommend you enjoy at least once. It’s full of surprises, refreshments and glorious scenery that you enjoy leisurely from you large train window.

Meet the engine up close

Upon arriving at the station we were greeted with more snow and a blast of Artic air and scenery that verged on the spiritual. As a bonus on our last day there is starting “spitting snow” as the westerners say. It was so cold I thought I would freeze my tatas off…it was glorious!

The picture of Tall & Handsome was taken at the El Tovar a historical lodge that sits 20 ft. from the South rim of the Grand Canyon…now that’s a place with a view! Notice the fire in the background…that wasn’t for looks it was there to give refugee from the bitter cold outside.

I asked T & H the other day if this was his “go to pose” he learned from his modeling days. Yes, I just let a teeny, tiny little cat out of the bag. T & H had a very brief career as a print model for men’s clothing. I’ve actually seen one of the ads…cool guy in shades…tall and handsome in any era…

© 2010 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Arizona, El Tovar, Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon Railway, Photography, Picture of the Day, Tall & Handsome, Travel

Endangered Species, by Beverly Hicks Burch

That Says it All

American Spirit, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Back in January I took a trip out to Arizona and the Grand Canyon with Tall & Handsome. We decided to try the train ride from Williams, AZ up to the South Rim on the Canyon…and we’re so glad we did. It’s a trip worth doing at least once in your life time.

Keep in mind while we were there the temps were totally different than they are right now. They were bordering on frigid!

We stayed overnight on the South Rim and when we got up the next morning (Sunday) it was cloudy and as T & H calls it, “spitting” snowing. In the South we call it snow flurries.

I kept the camera out on the train ride back to Williams and as we were pulling into the train depot I happened to capture this photo.

To me this photo say it all…it captures a rarified and endangered species in the USA…something called the good old fashion American Spirit…just like the picture, and the railroad of days gone by, it seems like our spirit today has taken a beating given everything happening in the world. Our Spirit is a little over cast, a tad blurred…and certainly fleeting…

I say bring back the American Dream…and the American Spirit…

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.


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Filed under Arizona, Photography, Trains

Shadow Play, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Shadow Play

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Today’s picture is one of many from our trip to the Grand Canyon in January.

There are so many sweeping, stunning and breathtaking vistas at the Grand Canyon that it’s really hard to digest it all. How can something this large and magnificent be on this planet in the middle of “nowhere”? It is a desolate area…

Can you imagine being the first human to view this natural wonder…or even the first European?

So many colors seem to fill the Canyon…and they are ever changing. Take this picture for instance. The normal rusts, tans, browns, and yellows are muted by the shadows of the clouds overhead…and all this was set against the blue back drop of the Arizona sky. It was absolutely stunning to view in person.

I hope this picture conveys a fraction of that…

Enjoy today’s picture…

It will leave you speechless

Shadow Play

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Arizona, Grand Canyon, Photography, Travel

Symbol of Days Gone By, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Grand Canyon Train Depot

Today I want to share with you a picture and a little history of a time long gone from our history.

The picture is of the Grand Canyon Train Depot and it just happens to be the first spot where this Southern gal met the Grand Canyon Village for the first time. I managed to capture the shot from the moving train as we were leaving the station headed back to Williams after our weekend at the Canyon. Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t catch the full “essence” of the quaint old building. It seems I do not share with Superman the ability to stop a speeding train…in other words, the train wouldn’t stop long enough for me to catch the shot I would have liked.

The Depot was designed by Francis Wilson at the turn of last century and has stood at its location on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon since 1909. The main building material used during its construction was logs, making it one of 14 log constructed depots of is time. Three log depots remain today and The Grand Canyon Depot is the only one still serving as a depot. At one time, travel by train was the choice of travel by the elite and upper class…now it’s view more or less as a novelty.

Originally built to service the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, the depot now receives guest arriving for visits to the Canyon aboard the Grand Canyon Railroad. This route runs from William, AZ to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and back. It is a delightful trip to take.

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Arizona, Francis Wilson, Grand Canyon, History, Photography, Railway Depot, Travel

Arizona Pincushions, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Baby Cactus

This was a planter of cacti at a gas station north of the Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ area. We had stopped on our way out of town up to Williams, AZ where we were going to spend the night, then catch a train the next morning, Saturday, to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

This counts as green out that way (West) …everything else is pretty much brown, or as Tall & Handsome calls it “earthtones”.


© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Arizona, Cactus, Plants, Photography, Road Trip, Tall & Handsome, Travel

The BamaSteelMagnolia(TM) Diaries – Chapter 3: Compass or Where in the World is Bev? by Beverly Hicks Burch

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries –

Chapter 3: Compass…or Where in the

World is Bev?

By Beverly Hicks Burch

What’s your idea of adventure? I realize the idea or concept of adventure is relative to each individual. To some a few dashes of habanera sauce over their food or going mustang one day when they forgot to wash their underwear (translate: they venture out the front door sans underwear ^-^…oh, yeah, it happens) is adventurous.

Now, I’ve never considered myself a particularly adventurous person. I guess because I view adventure as jumping out of an airplane with a thin piece of fabric between me and death (some call it skydiving); or jumping off a tall building or bridge with a big rubber band tied around my ankles as adventurous (some call that bungee jumping); or spelunking…you know crawling around in small, dark, damp, bug and bat filled caves as adventurous and fun…and I just don’t have an inclination in going in those places…EVER…and that’s why I’ve never view myself as adventurous.

So you can imagine my surprise when my Momma told me one time she thought I was adventurous. I was as the British say, gobsmacked.

It happened back in January of 1988. My paternal grandmother had just passed away. Versie, or Mamaw as I called her, and Mom to her boys, was one of a kind…and sometimes that “kind” was like a stubborn ol’ mule. She definitely liked being noticed and sometimes she wouldn’t stop short of antics to attract attention.

Well, in typical Versie fashion, Mamaw passed away during one of the worse winter storms in our “neck of the woods”. Oh yeah, we’re talking bitter cold, ice and snow…remember we’re talking the South where most of the time we’re not prepared to deal with the powdery, icy stuff.

Just the “S” word causes marathon bread and milk lines in the grocery stores and school closings. An inch of winter wonderland will shut a city down…and with this particular storm we were talking several inches and roads that looked like ancient glaciers. Yep, Versie would garner a lot of hoopla getting her family together for her final farewell.

You see, Daddy was still working in project management for Rust Engineering in Birmingham, AL. At the time he was running two jobs in Broward County, FL and he was on the job site in sunny, snow free Florida when word came. Mamaw was not doing well and, finally had not made it through her final crisis.

Daddy set about immediately trying to line up a flight from southern Florida back to East Tennessee were Mamaw had been living. The weather was so bad many airports were closed and when Daddy finally was able to get a flight headed North that just might get him to East Tennessee, well, it was via Pennsylvania. No kidding.

Then on top of that, his luggage was lost by the airline…floating around in airline Hades. When Daddy touched down outside of Knoxville all he had was the clothes on his back and all you snowbirds know, sunny Florida wear just won’t hack it during the frigid breath of Old Man Winter.

Well, Momma being the true Steel Magnolia she is just wasn’t going to stand her man being out there in that condition…Old Man Winter didn’t know who he was facing. Momma packed up some warm cloths for Daddy, called me and let me know my Daddy needed us urgently. The family snowball was rolling downhill like a steam engine. (Of course we would have gone for the services you silly goose! But, that was later, this was NOW!)

At the time I was a “minivan” mom. We loaded up my minivan with Momma, my disabled younger sister, my ex (Gomez is his code name for my writing), my son and me and we headed out at the blistering speed of a snail pace! Hand to God, I kid you not…

You see, we were driving on big sheets of ice or as I fondly (no, I wouldn’t say hysterically) called them…glaciers. I sat in the third back seat of the van, feeling every slip and slide the van made, saw cars as we passed them lodged in ditches where they had spun off the road and I was white knuckled every time we passed a monster 18 wheeler.

As some point, I must have muttered something like, “I hope we don’t end up as ink spots under the 18 wheels of a big truck” because I heard my little Momma say, “Why, Bev I thought you were adventurous.”

“Huh? What does dieing under the wheels of a truck have to do with being adventurous, Mom? Why on Earth do you say I’m adventurous?”

“Because you like to travel.”

Well, there it is folks…maybe I am adventurous because I do like to travel. So, there’s adventure spelled “Bev” style and the reason I chose the Compass block for The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diary Quilt.


Compass Block – The BamaSteelMagnolia Diary Quilt

I guess I do have a little bit of wanderlust in me and I love to see how the “other half” lives. Sometimes I’d like to pretend I was a raven hair gypsy with big gold hoop earrings and a “traveling wagon” just going across the world seeing this big wonderful Earth that God created. I even love to travel by car…

I’m the type that enjoys the trip as much as the destination. Sometimes I think air travel hampers that, especially nowadays. Air travel is no longer “glamorous”. I think air travel has actually created “flying cattle”. I had the “privilege” to experience that first hand recently. But I digress…

I’ve seen some wonderful things and have been some wonderful places. I value the Creation, i.e., the beauty of our World just as much as anything man-made…and many times more so. Memories are burnt into my mind and can never be robbed from me by anyone…only time or age, but they are memories of places I will always cherish.

I would be hard pressed to name just one favorite…would it be standing on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine breathing in the surreal view of the North Atlantic, sitting at a sidewalk café in old Quebec City? Watching bison in North and South Dakota? Standing in awe at Mount Rushmore? Smelling the sulfur as it filtered past my nostrils as I gazed out over the vast caldera at Volcano National Park in Hawaii?

Dancing Bev May 1991

Did Bev have fun in Hawaii?

Trying to comprehend the unbelievable vastness of Lake Superior, driving Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia? Watching the glow during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, or seeing in person the wonder of the mysterious stairway in Loretta Chapel in Santa Fe? And which lighthouse do I say, “This is my favorite one.” Oh, no that’s an impossible task, but I will never forget climbing the spiral staircase of Split Rock Light in Minnesota as the smell of burning birch wood wafted up towards me.

Bev Gooesberry Falls MN June 1987

Bev at Gooseberry Falls, MN ca 1987

Heavenly! Will I even forget the view of New York Harbor from Miss Liberty? No, who would?!

Bev & Pam in NY Nov. 1983

Bev & Pam, my sister, on Liberty Island, ca 1983 – note the Trade Towers over my shoulder

One experience I am so very thankful for is the privilege of being able to stand atop one of the World Trade Towers in the observation deck and view Manhattan and the surrounding area as the sun went down and the lights in the City sprang to life. I will NEVER be able to have that experience again, it is lost in history. Unfortunately there are generations of Americans who will never have that opportunity either…that is a tragedy…

In January I had the opportunity to do something on my “things to do before I die” list…or as it’s called nowadays, the “bucket list”. It has been a lifelong goal and dream of mine to visit the Grand Canyon. Tall and Handsome and I took some time to do that last month, and it’s a trip we will never forget.

We just had a weekend, but we are soooo glad we went, and we enjoyed the way we visited. You see he was in Arizona on business for a couple of weeks, but had a free weekend. He was at the offices in Tucson and Scottsdale. I shared a few pictures from there…”rooms with a view” type things previously in my blogs.

Well, that Friday when he left work we drove north to a little town called Williams, AZ where we stayed overnight. Believe me when I tell you…there is a big difference in temperature. Down in Tucson and Scottsdale if the temp fell below 70, the heat was cranked up big time! This Southern girl thought she would DIE. I mean that it sleeve weather and open window weather where I come from!

But, as we drove north we began to see that aforementioned white stuff…yeah, snow! And, boy did it get colder…

Williams is about an hour from the Grand Canyon, but we opted to take the train from Williams right to the village on the South Rim. It was such a neat and novel experience and I would recommend you try it at least once. Once we arrived at the South Rim, we were right there…and the tour company had a tour bus lined up for us. The tour took us along the South rim for some breathtaking views of the Canyon.

I can not tell you what it was like to see it for the first time. T & H and I both agreed it was almost emotional. It was stunning, it was breathtaking… I’ve come to the conclusion there isn’t a superlative or adjective big enough to fit the Canyon. One of my first thought was, “How can you look at this and not realize there is Something, Someone bigger than man?” We both agreed that we hope we never become too jaded to appreciate the wonderment of this kind of natural beauty.

It will leave you speechless

Every View You Speechless

The eye never tires of these views

You Never Tire of These Views

Clouds were moving in from the left

A Walk in the (Snow) Clouds

Look close and see the mighty Colordo River

Can You See the Colorado River?

Don't ask - I don't think I could get my mouth to do that again if I tried

I DO NOT Know How I Got My Mouth to Do That! T & H said he looks like a Mighty Whitey…it was Sooooo Cold and Windy

Meet the engine up close

Our Homeward Bound Engine

It was cold while we were there (actually the best time for me to be there given my health problems and how badly heat affects me). Highs were in the 40’s and 30’s and the lows were in the teens. Yes, there was snow in spots and places and the forecast called for more. As we looked out across the wind swept mouth of the Canyon, I remember watching as the clouds grazed the Northern Rim and I thought, “We’re walking in the clouds”. (The elevation was over 7,000 feet and that was an experience in itself for a two time lung cancer survivor!)

We were taken to our lodge and after eating we both were so exhausted we collapsed into bed. I wanted to be ready for the next day…wanting to capture as much as I could before we had to catch the train back.

We were greeted the next morning with snow flurries as we made our farewell round in the Village at the South Rim. We caught shuttle buses to take us around to the shops, wandered through the lobby of the El Tovar which sat right on the South Rim and then left the warmth of the fireplace to brave the brisk wind and spitting snow to walk over to the Hopi House.

And then, to the Rim for a few final glimpses…last looks just to burn into memory the views, the colors of this National treasure…I had a hard time tearing myself away…

We went on to the train depot, and as the train gently carried us south, my tired body and mind tried to take in everything I had just seen.

So, there it is…adventure BamaSteelMagnolia style…and the very reason for the Compass block. There is no way that block would be left out of my diary quilt. My points my not be quite as sharp as they were years ago before illness started taking effect, but my thought on that? C’est la vie! So what?! My points and quilting are a lot like the travel I love so dearly…I love the trip as much as the destination or end result…

Now, if only that Compass would tell me where I’m going next…

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Arizona, Birmingham AL, Diary Quilt, Gooseberry Falls MN, Grand Canyon, Hawaii, Knoxville, Lighthouses, New York City, Photography, Quilt Block, Quilt Blocks, Southwest, Tall & Handsome, Tennessee, Travel, World Trade Towers