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Wood Bank and Hunters for the Hungry

October 2, 2013

Arizona – Wednesday, September 25

I drove down to Flagstaff last night, and this morning we set out to explore. I headed for the historic part of downtown Flagstaff, along the old Route 66. I stopped at the visitor center, which is right in the old train station, and is still used by passenger trains. A lot of freight trains come through too. Tula and I set out for a walk, and when she’d had enough, I continued on a bit more, and ended up covering 3 miles. Then I stopped for a big hotdog from a street vendor that had lots of people lined up his cart. I stopped by the post office and wrote out another set of post cards, and by then it was 1:00, and the Northern Arizona Food Bank in Flagstaff opened.

The food pantry has a lot of different programs, and I was intrigued by 2 of them, and I wanted to make a donation to each of them. The first one was a “wood bank” for people who heat their homes with wood, and the other program was Hunters for the Hungry where hunters can get extra game for the needy. I went inside the building and met Kerry, the executive director. He told me about the many programs that the food pantry is part of and showed me around. We went out back to look at all the wood. I hadn’t run across a wood bank before, and to do so in Arizona puzzled me at first – in my mind the southwest is always warm, but that certainly isn’t the case! Kerry told me northern Arizona can get cold in the winter and Flagstaff had an unusual amount of snow last winter. Flagstaff also borders a large Indian reservation, and many of the people who live on it rely on wood for cooking and heating, and wood is not a plentiful commodity. Many of them live so far out in the desert that it’s not practical for natural gas, and some of them live in traditional hogans and propane isn’t the best choice either. So wood is a necessity, and many volunteers cut and split wood – even the local prison fire fighting crew! There were about 120 cords of wood already split in preparation for the upcoming colder weather, and over the years since the wood bank was implemented, they’ve given away nearly 4 million pounds of split fire wood. I was so interested in the wood program I didn’t hear as much about the Hunters for the Hungry program, but it’s a wild game recovery program that has provided more than 174,000 meals of elk and venison since 2001. So I made a donation to each of those programs since I really liked both of them.

And then I was off to the Grand Canyon. It was about an hour and a half away, and I stopped along the way to walk Tula along a mile-long wildlife path out in all the pine trees. This part of Arizona is really pretty with meadows and lots of big ponderosa pine trees. On the other side of the road from the wildlife trail was a tiny little chapel in the woods – they’re always so unexpected and peaceful to run across. It was late afternoon by the time I got to the Grand Canyon, but at least by then the crowds had begun to thin. As I went through the entry station (it costs $25 to get in – my annual national park pass has been a wonderful thing to have!) there were flyers posted urging people to use caution while visiting the park. The rangers have to rescue an average of 250 people from the depths of the canyon every year, and most of them are fit young men. I had just enough time to stop in the visitor center to ask about good walks, and the ranger said the rim walk would be a good one. And Tula could go on part of that one. We headed over to the rim, and the first view of the canyon just about takes one’s breath away – it’s awesome. And it was fun to hear similar reactions from other people coming up behind me. There were lots of foreign people there – I heard a lot of people speaking French, and others speaking eastern European languages. There are a couple big observation areas that are fenced in, and Tula and I went down to those to admire the view. After a while I put her back in the van, and started off along the rim trail. Beyond the initial observation areas, there were no fences or guard rails or anything, and there were quite a few outcroppings to step out and get good views, yet it never seemed scary or dangerous. My photos just can’t do it justice. People were starting to find good perches to watch the sunset, and I stopped to watch the sunset too. I didn’t know which way to look – to the west to see the sun go down, or to the east where the setting sun turned the canyon rocks fiery red. Once the sun was down, I continued my way along the rim walk in the pretty post-sunset light. After I’d walked a couple miles, it was time to turn around so I could get back before it was totally dark. By then, there were only a few people still out walking, and I had long stretches of the rim walk all to myself – it was just me and the canyon and the wind, and then the stars began to come out. It was spectacular. There was a little sign that explained how the Colorado River continues to carve out the canyon – at the rate of one thickness of paper a year. That description really helps make one sort of understand how long it’s taken to make the canyon as deep as it has. It was an incredible thing to see, and I’m so glad I had the time to drive up and see it. Altogether I walked 4 1/2 miles there. The Grand Canyon “village” was a mile or 2 away, and I drove over there and stopped by the cafeteria to get a dinner to go, which I enjoyed as I started the drive back to Flagstaff.

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One Comment
  1. I’m so glad you were able to get into that national park before the govt shut down; and I pray they will resolve their differences so that you won’t encounter any “closed due to shut down” signs during the rest of your trip.

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