TOO GREEN, IT HURTS MY EYES ! U.S. MIDWEST PRODUCES MORE PHOTOSYNTHETIC ACTIVITY THAN ANY OTHER SPOT ON EARTH…
Missouri votes today to protect their right to Farm. Many in the Mid-West believes Farming is their God given right to till the soil and take produce to market. Regardless of how their votes tally, it seems they are right about God endorsing the 100,000 family farm making up Missouri and the surrounding green states which each summer bust out with lots of crops.
The NASA’s Orbiting Satellite Carbon Observatory have given climate researchers an unexpected global view from space of a nearly invisible fluorescent glow that sheds new light on the productivity of vegetation on land. A “signature” of photosynthesis, the solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence is an indicator of the process by which plants convert light from the sun into chemical energy. As chlorophyll molecules absorb incoming radiation, some of the light is dissipated as heat, and some radiation is re-emitted at longer wavelengths as fluorescence. The new data allows monitoring solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence on a global scale, opening up a world of potential for studying vegetation on land.
The Midwest United States boasts more photosynthetic activity than any other spot on Earth as seen from space as chlorophyll emits some absorbed light as a fluorescent glow.
I love to drive the blue highways of the midwest, crossing states like Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio and Nebraska, those two way traffic highways which are pretty narrow back there, no shoulders to speak of, lots of streams and real rivers flowing beneath the numerous bridges needed to keep traffic moving. I remember summer as a time of heat, humidity and growth. I moved to Arizona forty years ago, so I have forgotten much about life in the breadbasket of the U.S., I moved to Tucson which is the front door of the Sonoran Desert and have learned to love, hike and enjoy the American Southwest which is a lot browner…
Folks who live in the Midwest would say I’m crazy. In fact, there are folks there that say that, BUT one summer I drove back to the heartland of the Midwest landing in the middle of the Missouri and found myself mesmerized by the greenness of everything around me. I drove on and on getting deeper into the green and soon leaves were climbing over buildings, entering some through broken windows and transforming brick, wood and mortar into vegetation. But the farmlands overwhelmed me the most until finally I saw a place so green I had to pull over and make a photograph. Settling into the scene I find myself standing next to the road and composing a field of hay which to my “desert” eyes is glowing in green when the farmer himself drives by and stops to see what’s all the excitement is about. He rolls down his window, letting a/c blast from the interior and says, “what’s the picture”?
“This field”, I reply, “it’s so green that it hurts my eyes”! The farmer rolls his eyes, rolls up his car window and kicks up a little gravel as he pulls away toward town. He didn’t stick around for me to explain that the Midwest region of the United States boasts more photosynthetic activity than any other spot on Earth and all that chlorophyll emits absorbed light as a fluorescent glow and if he didn’t have his sunglasses on-he might see it himself, maybe!
Scientists are excited about the new fluorescence measurement because it gives them insight into how Earth’s plants absorb carbon dioxide. The future of Earth’s plants depends largely on water. Plants need water to carry out photosynthesis. When their water supply runs low, such as during times of drought, photosynthesis slows down.
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TUCSON’S DOWNTOWN NEW STREET CAR SYSTEM ROLL OUT OVERWHELMINGLY RECEIVED BY 60,000 RIDERS EMBRACING THE NEW RIDE
The new Tucson Street Car System was rolled out for public inspection last weekend much with the fan fare of a Walt Disney Production this pumpkin of a RTA project, might well bloom into a Cinderella story, if the 60,000 riders who participated each buy a monthly pass. Realistically, Tucson expects the daily fare to run around 3600 riders each day, instead of the 17,000 who rode Friday, the 25,000 who rode Saturday or the 17,000 counted on Sunday, today each trip costs $1.50 or $4 for 24 hours or $40 for monthly coverage.The free weekend was a lot like Disneyland’s Log Ride, each car was filled (about a 100 people), and the backup buses picking up overflow from the Street Car were filled of folks too tired to wait for another Streetcar. Saturday night in the middle of the 25,000 crush, the Street Cars filled up, and stacked up somewhere because around 9 pm no street car could be found. Six passed us going West and after more than an hour one East bound street car showed up and filled up remarkably tightly, but riders seemed to embrace the armpit laced journey. I noted Mayor Rothchild on that last Street Car on the “Street Car to NoWhere”… he or someone arranged for stranded voters to be picked up and taken to their cars. Where the rest of those street cars went I can not say, perhaps they all stacked up on the bridge across the Santa Cruz.
In fact, at that point, I noted how “Eastern” an experience this Street Car ride had become. It reminded me of train rides I have had in the “rustbelt” of the East Coast, and found there is an element in Tucson who wants to embrace more of an Eastern lifestyle. Many of those folks live near downtown and now find themselves living along the Street Car route and will no doubt embrace this new conveyance into their travels. There is another part of Tucson who scarcely noticed, in spite of the $OneBillion rollout investment for infrastructure, they will never go downtown and will not benefit greatly from the City’s new toy.
The tightening up of downtown parking continues to push motorists into parking garages. It will continue to get worse, Tucson plans adding parking meters to what little open parking still exists, you don’t like parking meters? Wait until you get one of the $187.50 parking tickets, you won’t like them any better. This is summer, wait until the snowbirds and next semesters students arrive, there will not be any parking at all. Realizing last weekend as a “learning moment” I joined friends on Saturday afternoon, to go downtown and meet another couple for dinner, we parked at the University Medical Center, walked to the Street Car and rode downtown.
Pretty easy travel getting on a car and heading into town (the day before I hit the UA just before 5 pm and the street cars were all packed solid and everyone knew each other) but after 8 pm, when the Street Car was supposed to quit on Sunday (the overflow bus was full also) conductors continued to run because people continued to line up for the street car.
But last weekend was also about adventure. Kids loved it! Most kids saw very little since their point of view was at the belt buckle level-but still they soldiered on… The UA types seemed jazzed since this Street Car is really aimed at them and the 5000 plus UA students now living downtown, they will get the most from this investment, while others will have to pay the freight. Sixty police officers were assigned the New Street Car system last weekend and there will be additional staffing, in addition to the already increased downtown policing to deal with the new reality there. Many have complained the Street Car is not “bike friendly” and recent studies show 87 bike riders who have already had serious injuries and for others, the new system has disrupted their daily commutes. I witnessed a young women bike rider accidentally ride into the track which grabbed her front wheel–froze it–which spun the young rider headfirst into the pavement as the rear wheel continued to travel, paramedics were called. The long roll out has hindered businesses, keeping away shoppers for almost 2 years, the route saw business’s fold and solicited “the Street Car to NoWhere” mood among the survivors. It wasn’t surprising to see members of the Tucson Transportation Staff drinking Friday celebrating the launch of “SUNLINK” Tucson Street Car, their baby to present to the public. At each of the 20 stations along the Street Car route, volunteers lectured those waiting in safety, and they offered cold water bottles from a kid’s swimming pool, filled with bottles and ice.
And last weekend was festive. Folks turned out for the new ride and showed great patience and few seemed disappointed. Many supporters believe the new street car system is breathing new life into Tucson’s once dead downtown. The truth is–Downtown has been growing and gathering critical mass for the past few years, local investment, the Rio Nuevo projects buoyed by key local movers and shakers who continue to mold this city around the history that built it. Projects like the San Augustin Mercado on Tucson’s westside, or the greening of the San Augustin Mission Gardens at the base of A-Mountain, are still buds of growth, which few Tucsonan’s have yet discovered. Perhaps the completion of the Street Car which now runs into that development will provide the incentive needed to launch west side infill. In the next 3 to 5 years, developers plan to build 700 to 800 additional residences, both high and low end. That construction should begin in the fall, while more retail and a questionable “boutique hotel” are also planned.
Advocates look forward to the day when the system expands further east to Wilmot Road and eventually north up La Cholla to the Pima College North Campus. Light rail in Phoenix which runs from Mesa to downtown has been really successful and has helped make downtown Phoenix vital, but so has moving ASU’s Walter Cronkite School there. Presently, the Tucson Street Car runs 3.7 miles from the University of Arizona along University Blvd to North Fourth Avenue through Downtown on Congress across the bridge spanning the Santa Cruz River back under I-10 along Broadway back to Fourth Avenue.
Regular fares will now be charged on the streetcar. A one-way trip is $1.50. Kiosks at the Streetcar Stations will sell for $4 for the next 24 hours, and these machines accept only exact change and credit cards. Passes can be purchased online or at any of the municipal transit system three centers.
Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every 10 minutes 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. every 20 minutes
Thursday-Saturday nights: 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. every 30 minutes
Saturday: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every 20 minutes
Sunday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every 20 minutes
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THERE’S A BUS COMING IN ! WAS THE ORACLE IMMIGRATION PHOTO OP, A PROTEST OR WAS IT PERFORMANCE ART, YOU DECIDE ! THE U.S. POLITICAL WORLD IS A STAGE NOT REALITY !
The Mexico-U.S. Border across the SouthWest has long been ground zero for political debate between the American liberal left and conservative right, today, that debate finds new strength in the thousands of Central American children hot-footing it across our fences in hopes of finding safety in the long reported “Land of the Free”. In spite of recent press, this has been happening for years and has again reached critical mass due to the numbers of children finding sanctuary in Texas and now overflowing into new states like California and Arizona where locals have long been divided over whose responsibility it is to provide for those who arrive here in the newest invasion.
Much like the American Civil War, a battle for human rights masked as a struggle for states rights, some have opened their arms and embraced those crossing our borders in need for safety and others, like in Murrieta, California have chosen to repel them from their communities. Murrieta named after Basque immigrants who first settled what is now one of the fastest growing communities in California surfaced in headlines recently when the city’s mayor and residents blocked the arrival of buses carrying Central American immigrant children who were to be processed there.
In Arizona, a politically-damaged Sheriff, whose sees his political future embolden by the onslaught of illegals in the state made a point of alerting the Conservative Right of a busload of Central American immigrant children arriving in the small community of Oracle, 30 miles north of Tucson, a 100 mile drive to the U.S.-Mexican Border.
This calculated move had the desired effect, all the Nation’s media fearing another Murrieta, converged on the bottleneck in the road where the buses carrying 50-60 children were expected to be stopped there and turned around. Any media organization who missed this potential slow-summer news story, would have looked likes fools and perhaps biased.
Any Conservative political who missed this opportunity to show up and preach their hatred for the Obama Administration was obviously asleep at the switch knowing full well this was going to bring out a charged community of activists who seldom missed an opportunity to push their agendas, aka, another Murrieta, and lots of national press.
“This is a lawless and godless administration putting Americans at risk and we’re not going to take it” said Russell Pearce of SB10-70 fame who was escorted by the Arizona State Militia as he milled around in the crowd, speaking into every microphone he could find. “I’m here as an U.S. Citizen'” he said. “I came here to stand up for the rule of law and I’m going to do whatever it takes. (Stopping that bus by whatever means it takes) I will defend America and will stand with these people.”
Perhaps 200 activists, sheriff deputies and an entire posse of media from all the big outlets arrived hours before the buses was expected to pass through their choke point on the back road to Southern Arizona’s highpoint, the Santa Catalina Mountains, which lead to the Sycamore Canyon Academy, a home from troubled youth, many of whom are in the Arizona criminal justice system. Speaking to a charged audience–the Sheriff made his case for everyone obeying the rule of law and promised that “everyone’s rights would be protected”… The Arizona State Militia “was asked by the State to provide security” for dignitaries who showed up to speak their minds. As you might expect, arguments broke out — people spoke their minds while music played in the background, tunes like Dixie, Born in the USA, set the tone for the day.
It wasn’t until Ruben Moreno, a leader of Mariachi Luz de Luna, a Tucson Mariachi group arrived from behind the checkpoint and took everyone by surprise when the group of a dozen musicians and activist came walking up the road holding signs that read “Open your Hearts, not your Hate!”, “Show the Children Love” (heart) and the large group greeted them with some yelling, pushing, then attempted to drown out the traditional mariachi sound with their own refrain until Moreno’s trumpet solo broke out with “America the Beautiful”. Literally quieting and taking the wind from the sails of the hatred raining down on him–his group of mariachi and hispanic activists, all the cameras were on him. TV loves good video and great sound.
Then the buses arrived! Children on board pressed their faces against the windows, peering out at the crowd holding signs, waving U.S. flags (some upside down), POW-MIA flags, “Don’t Tread on Me” said some and screaming at the children “Go Home”. It was great sport for the YMCA campers who had every right to be there and had never had as much fun as being the center of a national news story they scarcely understood. Still one political tweeted from the scene “Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law”. He later reported, “I was able to actually to see some of the children in the buses. And the fear on their faces … This is not compassion!” When Adam Kwasman was then told by a reporter that the children on the yellow school bus were actually YMCA campers from Marana, Kwasman said, “They were sad, too,” and admitted he made a mistake. The kids I saw, and photographed on the bus were having the time of their lives.
Tuesday was a day for performance art! When I arrived in Oracle, I first encountered a large group of Oracle protesters six were costumed as Guardian Angles aligning the road that the Central American children would see first, signs screamed “Bienvenidous a Todos”, “All Children deserve Human Rights, All Children are Children of God, So are You !”, a 25 foot white banner lined the roadway proclaiming, “AMOR (heart) LOVE”…not the worst first impression!
Several miles further up the back road to Mount Lemmon you ran into the main protest, a pickup with a generator and a stereo, truck loads of water for the participants and two outhouses were setup for those attending. Impromptu, I don’t think so, this was a planned political event and the target for the whole event never showed up, the buses from Nogales carrying 40-60 illegal Central American Children. Around l pm, everyone was told by sheriff deputies that they had received word that the buses would not be coming that day. So pretty quickly people folded their signs, downed their water bottles and took off for lunch someplace cooler and less toxic. Conservative politicians had turned out to make this day all about them and their upcoming race for election.
“They are using fear and hatred in hopes of generating demonstrations like those in Murrieta” says Latino civil right group Somos America. Republican Rich Nugent (R-Florida) told a radio show Monday, that the children crossing into the U.S. are “gang affiliated”, he promised listeners. “When you have those types coming across the border, they’re not children at that point. These kids have been brought up in a culture of thievery. A culture of murder, rape. And now we are going to infuse them in the American Culture.” It’s just ludicrous, Nugent said.
Bob Moore standing on a hill overlooking the protest said, another sheriff, would have created this day differently. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is on our side he said to me. Turning to his phone video Moore does a “selfie” of himself in front of the protest and speaks into his phone. “Lot’s of patriots here–lot’s of freedom-loving Americans”. Then he turns back to me and says, I’m 62 years old ! I figured by now I would be traveling the USA in an RV but instead I’m buying beans and bullets and protesting the government he said. “I’m here for my grand kids, he concluded.
Another sign that caught my eye read: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuge of your teaming shores. Send these, your homeless, the tempest tossed, to me!
I will lift my lamp beside the Golden Door …” taken from the inscription carved upon the Statue of Liberty that greeted all of our ancestors when they arrived in New York harbor, decades ago.
TEXAS GOV. RICK PERRY SENDS 1000 NATIONAL GUARD TO THE US-MEXICO BORDER TO AID THE HUMANITARIUM CRISIS CAUSED BY CENTRAL AMERICANS REFUGEES…CLICK HERE
THE WITCHES BREW: DESPERATION AND HOPE, CHILDREN ON THE BORDER
There is a perverse irony to the Murrieta protests, given that the rallying cry for the anti-illegal immigration movement is “What part of illegal don’t you understand?” By blocking the buses, the protestors were engaged in the illegal act of interfering with law enforcement.
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THE DRIEST & HOTTEST YEAR IN 500 YEARS ! THE RELENTLESS SOUTHWESTERN DROUGHT: EXPERTS SAY ‘GET USED TO IT’…WILL ARIZONANS BE THE NEXT ‘CLIMATE REFUGEES’ ?
The odds of a 10-year drought afflicting the southwestern U.S. have increased to 80%, and the chance of a “megadrought” gripping the Southwest for more than 30 years has increased to 50%, scientists now say in a new study by Cornell University, the University of Arizona and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Lake Mead has dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level — 7 feet above the level at which the federal government would declare its first shortage on the Colorado River, the lake is 39 percent full.
“How urgent it is depends on what you think the risk is,” said attorney Wade Noble, who has represented Yuma-area (above) irrigation districts for 30 years. “If the risk is high that the water is not going to be there … then something needs to be done in the immediate future, not next year.”
ALL EYES ON LAKE MEAD AS SHORTAGES GROW…..
Since December 2004, the basin of the Colorado River lost nearly 53 million acre feet (65 cubic kilometers) of freshwater, almost double the volume of the region’s largest reservoir, Nevada’s Lake Mead, the researchers reported. About 75 percent of the total — about 41 million acre feet (50 cubic km) — came from groundwater, the new study found.
“We don’t know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don’t know when we’re going to run out,” Stephanie Castle said. “This is a lot of water to lose.” Castle and her co-authors tracked groundwater loss in the basin with NASA’s twin GRACE satellites (for Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment). The satellites circle the Earth, monitoring the slight changes in Earth’s gravity from increases or decreases in ice and water.
In the Spring of 2014 the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has reached the highest level in human history, exceeding 400 parts per million in April. Ice cores taken from Antarctica with air bubbles as old as 800,000 years has not revealed a level higher than 300 ppm. “This should be taken as a warning,” said Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist with the Carnegie Institution’s department of global ecology at Stanford University. “It is time to stop building things with tailpipes and smokestacks. “If we fail to heed this warning, our children will end up living in a world that is much hotter than any human being has ever experienced,” Caldeira said.
Clifton-Morenci Stacks at sunset, Arizona’s Oldest Copper Mine and Smelter since 1849.
Scientists predict this 2014 summer we will experience a new global record for all time HOT … ! Nature reported within 35 years, a cold year, will be warmer than the hottest year now on record.
Thirty nine climate models were used to make a single temperature index for places all over the world, findings estimated when major US cities’ average temperatures will never again dip below that of the hottest year in the past century and a half. Data showed Phoenix and Honolulu would swelter as early as 2043 with 2049 taking San Francisco, and by 2071 Anchorage Alaska would melt.
Sharon Megdal, director of the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona, says she doesn’t want to alarm people, but she thinks our water situation could be serious.
“I don’t want to get people worried. If there is a shortage in 2016, it won’t affect the Colorado River water to Tucson and Oro Valley, but it’s getting real,” she said. “I think the reality of a shortage is resonating with people.”
Megdal believes “toilet to tap” water is in Tucson’s future believing the city will have to implement new systems for recycling water, including cleaning waste water for use again by the customer. Much of Arizona’s water comes from the Colorado River via the Central Arizona Project, but the river is in trouble, Megdal told AZ Illustrated Nature. “The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the manager of the Colorado River says there’s a two percent chance of a shortage in 2015, but a 50 percent chance in 2016, Megdal said. “The Colorado River flows, are based on rain falling on the headwaters and how much water they’re releasing from Lake Powell to Lake Mead.”
Former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said last year that to avoid a water crisis, Arizona should partner with Mexico to establish desalination plants to bring water north, if the Colorado River’s flow continues to suffer. The U.S. Department of the Interior could declare a shortage as early as 2017.
Stocking up for the 4th of July Holiday, buying fruit, ice tea and hotdogs–I ask my grocery checker what folks are buying to cool off today …. “Water!” she says, “people are loading up on water”.”I never thought I’d see the day she says–when folks would pay good money-a dollar or more-for a plastic bottle of water”, I mutter pushing my cart across the parking lot. “Now we can’t keep it on the shelves” and we are running out!
As many already know, Tucson’s historic Agua Caliente Park is experiencing the extended drought and changes in the water table. The stream that feds the ponds is not currently flowing and, although Pima County is pumping well water to augment the pond, it is insufficient to counteract the water loss. Continuing drought has been blamed for dropping water table, as well as, the significant amount of palm trees and cattails that use lots of water. The park originally was once a three pond compound which has shrunk up and has now only the main pool. Twelve new nearby wells have reportedly dropped the water acquirer and additional pumping has been unable to replace the monthly loss. The County wants now to bail on the two ponds and shrink the main pool.
Last Spring something mysterious happened in deserts of the West. In the Mojave Desert’s Joshua Tree National Park. we’re talking about blooms on the Joshua trees that are larger than locals say they’ve ever seen, the reason may be grim but the effect was beautiful. “I don’t know what happened this year, but it was an incredible display,” Virginia Willis, a 15-year resident, told ABC. Biologists have said they think the blooms are a stress response by the trees to climate change, specifically, to no rain. Joshua Tree National Park receives two to five inches of rain a year but this year only received 7/10 of an inch, the Los Angeles Times reported. The theory is that the trees are producing more flowers, and thus more seeds, in an effort to survive with less rain. And locals hope it works, because right now the iconic trees are in decline. “We haven’t had a new, young Joshua tree emerge on our Wickenburg study site in almost 30 years, and there have been a number of trees that have died,” desert ecologist Jim Cornett told USA Today. “They’re just not getting the kind of environmental conditions that they require to survive.” The Wickenburg Joshua Tree Forest also produced large blooms and maximized seed output “It’s more than interesting, it’s probably unprecedented in anybody’s recent memory anyway,” Cameron Barrows, an ecologist at the University of California, Riverside, told ABC.
Get used to the heat!”, says Jonathon Overpack, a UA Scientist, “Expect 130 degree days and by 2050, the Colorado River will probably be dry.” “Once the Central Arizona Project (canal) goes dry for one year, Arizona is dead,” Overpeck warns. “People won’t want to live here anymore.” Economic calamity will result. The question isn’t whether the man-made Colorado River and its reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell will go dry, it’s when.”
Phoenix will become the largest ghost town in history-extending to every corner of the Valley of the Sun. The few folks who remain will do so mostly to provide services for people passing through.
The date is January 1, 2114 and Phoenix is dead.
Scientists predict this 2014 summer we will experience a new global record for all time HOT … !
“Temperatures are more frequently going beyond the bounds of what we’ve seen before,” said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. It wasn’t just Phoenix that simmered last summer. It was the fifth-hottest summer worldwide since record-keeping began in 1880, and the 15th-hottest in the United States, Crouch said. Most of the hotter areas were in the West. Nationwide,it reflects a warming trend of 1 degree over the past century. In Arizona, the increase has been about 2 degrees, he said. Higher temperatures can affect moisture in the air, Crouch said, leading to more floods and longer droughts. “When it’s wet, it will be wetter. When it’s dry, it will be drier,” he said.
It isn’t your imagination-since Phoenix recorded its all-time high of 122 degrees on June 26, 1990-it has just gotten hotter, last summer was the hottest in Phoenix since U.S. record-keeping began in 1895. 2013 was the 6th hottest year in Arizona since 1850, the National Weather Service says the average temperature in Phoenix was 95.1 degrees from June through August. Tucson recorded its second-highest average temperature, 88.3. John Glueck, a meteorologist notes those temps were partly from heat-island effects, the tendency for concrete and asphalt in urban areas to retain heat, raising night-time temperatures. Every day last summer in June the temps pushed past 100 degrees, and news stories promised all-time heat records and Phoenix finally topped out at 118, Death Valley reached 128, pushing the all-time Death Valley record, of 134 degrees at Furnace Creek Ranch, recorded on July 10, 1913 it’s the highest or hottest temperature ever recorded in the World.
Valley residents better prepare to swelter through more days like the June 26 record temperature when in 1990 the heat soared to 122 degrees in Phoenix, the hottest recorded day in the city’s history. That extreme heat does more than make people sweat. Temps climb over 119 in Phoenix, cancels air flights because excess heat affects a planes’s ability to take off and land.
The American Southwest will be ground zero for extreme heat. The Southeast and Upper Midwest of the United States will add 27 to 50 extra days each year when temps hit at least 95 degrees by 2050. By 2100 45 to 100 additional days when days exceed 95 degrees. These ground temps will make being outdoors so difficult, labor productivity will drop. Demand will increase for air conditioning, requiring more power thus increasing costs.
In the Southwest, we have plenty of drought experience. The region has been in drought much of the last 14 years, including several years of unprecedented drought, first early in the 21st century, and then eclipsed by the burning dryness of the last two years. Burning dryness because we’ve literally seen unprecedented wildfire, but also because Southwest droughts of the last two decades have been hotter than any time since we started keeping track reports Johnathan Overpeck.
Today throughout the South West individual states are fighting their own battles with drought, Las Vegas is paying its residents $2 a square foot to pull out their grass and lush gardens, the landscape is changing slowing. Nevada is removing wild horses and cattle from all federal rangelands. Wyoming is seeding clouds as part of a long-term “weather modification program,” officials in Colorado say the state’s southeastern plains are experiencing Dust Bowl conditions, and the entire western U.S. has been beset by ferocious wildfires across an ever-more combustible landscape. In small towns all across New Mexico residents are subsisting on trucked-in water, and others are drilling deeper wells. Eighty-seven percent of New Mexico is in drought, the last three years have been the driest and warmest since 1895. All of New Mexico is officially in a severe or exceptional drought, water reservoir storage statewide is 17% of normal, the lowest in the West. Wildlife managers are hauling water to elk herds in the mountains and blame drought for the high number of deer and antelope being killed on roadways.
Thousands of Albuquerque’s trees have died because homeowners under water restrictions can’t water them, and in the NM state’s agricultural belt, low yields and crop failures are the norm. Livestock levels in many areas are about one-fifth of normal, and panicked ranchers face paying inflated prices for hay or selling off their herds.
Last year was California’s driest on record for much of the state, and this year, conditions are only worsening. Sixty-three percent of the state is in extreme drought, and the Sierra Nevada snowpack is just 10 to 30 percent of normal. Last year was California’s driest in 119 years of records, Los Angeles and other cities around the state recorded their lowest precipitation amounts for a calendar year. Urban areas are feeling the pinch, the Metropolitan Water District, which serves about half of heavily populated Southern California, has been using reserves to meet residents’ needs, and plans to do the same next year, said spokesman Bob Muir. If 2015 is also dry, rationing may be required. Water levels in key reservoirs have been dropping when they should be rising with winter rains, storage in Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, the two largest reservoirs in California, is at 57 percent. Gov. Jerry Brown has asked Californians to reduce their water use by 40% in this drought emergency. Lake Mead’s water levels is eight feet above the cut off level where a shortage is officially declared and rationing goes into effect for Nevada and Arizona, and at that point, Hoover Dam’s hydroelectric output could be seriously jeopardized and may brown out the Vegas Strip. Lake Mead could be dry by 2020 and Lake Powell will never fill up again. “This strikes me as such an amazing moment” says Barry Nelson, an analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council, “It’s three-quarters of a century since they filled Lake Mead. And now at the three-quarter-century mark, the world has changed.”
In the winter of 2005, Lake Powell reached its lowest level since filling, an elevation 150′ below full pool. Lake levels recovered during 2005 – 2011, but the resurgence of extreme drought conditions have provoked a steep decline in 2012 and 2013, with the lake falling 35′ over the past year. As of August 18, 2013, Lake Powell was 109′ below full pool (45% of capacity), and was falling at a rate of one foot every six days.
LAKE MEAD GOES DRY, THE VEGAS STRIP BROWNS OUT – WILL VEGAS BECOME THE NEW CHACO ?
Looking back in time through the tree rings, scientists have determined that the current Southwest drought, beginning in 2000, is the fifth most severe since AD 1000. Devastating mega-droughts have occurred regularly in the region, one struck during the latter 1200s (probably driving people from the region) and another in 1572-1587, a drought that stretched across the continent to the Colonies. Few conifers then abundant in the Southwest survived including piñon, ponderosa pine, and Douglas fir, despite lifespans approaching 800 years; those species have now regrown.
By the Classic Period, 1150 to 1450, the Hohokam irrigation systems could deliver water to over 110,000 acres and support the largest population in the Southwest. It was the largest canal irrigation system ever developed in the prehistoric New World. The Hohokams created a sustainable agriculture that survived for at least 1,500 years. From 1200AD to 1350AD, their irrigation systems delivered water and fed the Southwest, today, canals still follow prehistoric routes, and many were built by cleaning out original Hohokam canals.
The Hohokams were also the only prehistoric culture in North America to rely on irrigation networks to raise crops. They transformed their environment creating fields that stretched as far as the eye could see.
Scientists studying the drought say the extensive damage done to trees shows what the future holds for other forests worldwide face rising temperatures, diminished rainfall, and devastating fires.
As air grows warmer, its capacity to hold water vapor increases exponentially, which speeds evaporation and sucks more moisture out of trees’ leaves or needles, as well as the soil itself. If the vapor pressure deficit sucks out enough moisture, it kills trees.
Global warming will make feeding the world harder and more expensive, a warmer world will push food prices higher, trigger hunger among the world’s poorest people and put the crunch on delights like fine wine and robust coffee, says the Panel on Climate Change in a 32-volume report. Food prices are likely to go up in a wide range of 3 percent to 84 percent by 2050 just because of climate change, said the United Nations scientific panel.“We’re facing the specter of reduced yields in some of the key crops that feed humanity,” panel chairman Rajendra Pachauri said.
We will still get good years—wet years—but they will be more and more the exception. A better bet is to expect more drought and plan for it.
Climate change is affecting today’s world’s oceans as well as every continent and it’s going to get much worse if emissions are not curbed, scientists say in the sweeping report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last spring. The report asserts that ice caps are melting and global water supplies are being affected. Important for many island and coastal countries, the pace at which sea levels are rising is endangering coastal areas. The list of problems reads like an unending parade of misery, including rising acidity in the oceans, a threatened world food supply, and possibly mass migration and violence as a result.
January 2014 was recorded as the warmest January in fifty years in Arizona. Tucson’s Ski Valley on Mount Lemmon lost the whole ski season to the lack of snow in the southernmost ski area in the United States. Sabino Creek, a mountain stream fed by snowfall and rain stopped running three weeks early this year. Residents of Oracle on the North side of the Santa Catalinas find their beloved oak trees receding and withdrawing up the mountain. Fires and tree die off makes longtime residents like Rick Volante, think their forest may soon become a grassland. Elsewhere in Arizona, plant species are scaling the Sky Islands growing uphill to reach higher altitudes and cooler habitats.
Last year Drought covered 30 percent of Arizona–this year it has almost doubled to 57 percent settling in the southern counties of Pima, Pinal, Cochise and Graham, where residents there are being hammered the hardest.
U.S. Forests shows stress, 20th-century temperature records show a connection between drought and tree mortality associated with huge wildfires and bark-beetle outbreaks, like we have seen here in the past two decades. Projections say forests by 2050 in the Southwest will be suffering regularly from drought stress at levels exceeding previous megadroughts. After 2050, 80 percent of the years to follow will exceed those levels.
“The majority of South West forests will not survive the temps projected”.
In 2013 the USDA designated a Drought Disaster Areas in Arizona where Navajo Reservation water supplies were being compromised by the springs drying up and folks turning to shallower wells that might have been impacted by uranium or arsenic. On January 9, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated Apache, Maricopa, Navajo and Pinal Counties as primary natural disaster areas due to drought. Eight other counties were named as contiguous disaster counties Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Pima, Yavapai and Yuma.
The tragic Wildlands firefighter death toll taken last summer when 19 members of the Arizona’s Prescott Granite Mountain Hot Shots died fighting a wild fire near Yarnell, Arizona, it was the worst tragedy since 1903. More than 500 homes were lost in a firestorm of epic proportions in Colorado Springs, where wildfire triage wanted to save “every other house” but saved only one in four homes. In California the Fire season just didn’t end last year which prompted Gov. Edmund Brown, to declare a state of emergency. “It’s not if–it burns,” he says. “It’s when.”
After a year of asking Californians to cut back their water consumption, water use has gone up one per cent. A $500 Water Waste fine has now gone into affect…
Thomas Tidwell, the head of the United States Forest Service, told a Senate committee on energy and natural resources recently that the fire season now lasts two months longer and destroys twice as much land as it did four decades ago. Fires now, he said, burn the same amount of land faster.
The Slide Fire’s 1200 firefighters are now just winding down with a 32 square mile damage footprint wiping out iconic Oak Creek Canyon which would just now beginning to pull in Phoenix tourists for cooler get-aways and now will not attract any tourist, causing huge damage to the high country economy when it is just beginning the season. Flagstaff averages a 100 inches of snow a year, last season, the area received 19 inches of snow, they now fear fire.
The present 11-year drought, says Nelson, has caused the Colorado River to deliver considerably less water than users were promised. The Bureau of Reclamation’s current plan calls for an increase of up to 40 percent in the amount of water delivered to Lake Mead from Lake Powell, the big reservoir upstream, a step that may help equalize the amount of water in each reservoir and possibly avoid triggering the shortage declaration that cuts off towns like Tucson from the concrete tit.
Nate Stephenson, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), based near Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, says that if climate warming continues tens of thousands of the ancient Sequoia trees will be at risk in the coming century from destruction. “In 25 years, we would see trouble for sequoia seedlings, then in 50 years trouble for the whole population,” Stephenson said. “In 100 years time, we could lose most of the big Sequoias.”
The threat that climate change poses to giant sequoias is indicative of a broader danger to tree species worldwide. A study published in December in the Journa Science found rising death rates among trees 100 to 300 years old across a wide range of global landscapes, from forests, to savannas, to cities. The study noted that mortality among older trees is linked, at least in part, to higher temperatures and drier conditions, according to a paper in Nature Climate Change.
A 2010 study conducted by 20 researchers worldwide and published in Forest Ecology and Management documented dozens of cases of “significant tree mortality” on every continent (except Antarctica) over the last 40 years — all of which were linked to heat and drought. According to Craig Allen, a USGS research ecologist based in New Mexico and the Forest Ecology and Management paper’s lead author, ‘Old trees and ancient forests everywhere are arguably at risk.’ Mortality rates have not only risen in dry regions, but also in wet forests. “Old trees and ancient forests everywhere are arguably at risk,” says Allen. “If projected temperatures rise by 4 degrees by 2100, that warming alone could cause most old trees to die sometime this century.”
A new study center at the University of Arizona thinks residents of the Sonoran Desert are lucky to be the canary in the coal mine. “In Arizona, many opportunities will come from the fact that we are early adapters. We have so much focus here on drought and extreme temperatures that we’ve actually developed techniques to deal with them: artificial groundwater recharge, reuse of waste water, conservation and efficiency.” We’re going to have to adapt to more huge wildfires, prolonged heat waves, electricity brownouts, floods and more drought in the future, thanks to climate change, says the new director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions that will try to help people do that. “That’s really how people experience climate change,” says director Kathy Jacobs.
The center is a virtual center, with no formal office or headquarters, and with only Jacobs and an assistant as full-time staff. It operates out of the UA’s Institute for the Environment headquarters in the Marshall Building near Main Gate Square. Being prepared is a key theme the center will focus on. Starting operations in January, the center’s basic purpose is to help people in Tucson, nationally and globally adapt to a changing climate by offering management options and practices aimed at protecting lives, property and the national environment from its impacts. The center will connect with the UA’s climate science community, so ideas stemming from climate research have a better chance of becoming reality. “How do we make science useful?” Jacobs said. Helping manage risks that come with climate change, particularly a cascading series of risks such as public health problems from a major heat wave that damages the electrical grid. “Managing risk is the central nut we need to crack here,” Jacobs said “Risk is a complicated, interdisciplinary problem — it’s hard to understand the factors for risk.”
Last year’s drought scorched over half of the U.S. last year. Now that drought is targeting the Southwest and western Plains, according to Mark Svoboda, climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center. Svoboda says the Southwest and Great Plains are likely to see the drought deepen, and it’s possible the drought will reach the Pacific Northwest, like Oregon and Idaho. At the end of last summer, about 65 percent of the country was experiencing drought. Today, the extent of the drought has dropped to 48 percent — but it is far from over Svoboda warns.
The Union of Concerned Scientists reports misinformation about climate science on cable news channels is pretty common. A study found that last year, 30 percent of CNN’s climate-related segments were misleading, compared with 72 percent on Fox News and just 8 percent for MSNBC. The methodology for the study was quite strict: segments that contained “any inaccurate or misleading representations of climate science” were classified as misleading.
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OLD TUCSON’S MESCAL CHANNELS THE OLD WEST’, IT’S PRICELESS, BUT MOVIE SETS ARE NOT BUILT TO LAST ONLY FILM MAGIC LIVES ON !Since 1913 over 126 movies and television shows have been filmed in Southern Arizona; from Oklahoma! to McCLintock! to The Bottom of the Bottle, movies and television shows provide an economic boost to southern Arizona, which continues to inspire film companies as “the homeland of the Old West”, picking up movies like the recent Hangover III that was partially filmed in ‘Nogales because vestiges of the past still linger on the landscape, perhaps forgotten in the desert, but celebrated in the Spirit of the Old West. Old Tucson Studios set the pace in Southern Arizona for decades beginning in 1939 with “ARIZONA”‘ filmed at the studio. Dozens followed John Wayne, Glenn Ford, John Huston, Steve McQueen, Danny Glover, Clint Eastwood, and the Highwaymen, new generations followed, like Young Riders.
In the 1960’s MESCAL was built originally for TV filming “The Young Riders” and Michael Landon’s “House on the Prairie”, but classics followed like Jose Wales, The Quick and the Dead, Stagecoach with the Highwaymen, Buffalo Soldiers with Danny Glover… For almost 20 years, Frank Brown has been the Sheriff in these parts. Frank is the sole resident of MESCAL except for Samantha, a stray black cat, that follows him everywhere.Frank is the caretaker of this slice of the Old West. He jokes and laughs about working with some of the greats in todays film making, Val Kilmer told him he regretted his “I’m your Huckleberry” line in Tombstone when facing down Johnny Ringo. Today he says, “No one ever comes up to me anymore and says Hello, It’s always, “I’m your Huckleberry”. Just for the record, there is no way that movie should have been called “TOMBSTONE”, it would have sold out as “DOC HOLIDAY”. Val Kilmer stole the whole show from Kurt Russell. We walk through the Saloon where EARP (Russel) walks into the bar and straight up to Billy Bob Thorton who is dealing cards and bad-mouthing everyone around. Earp back hands Billy-Bob a couple good licks and says “You gonna stand there and bleed or you gonna peel that smake wagon”? Brown giggles to himself as we exchange lines from the scene and relive the moment. Franks loves this job.
Brown is retired Military, been married six times and all of them got new houses and cars, and he paid for them all so he likes living alone, “I love being by himself”. He is on duty 24/7 week-in, week-out. Sometimes kids show up late expecting to party on the site and when I show up, and slide a shell into the shotgun, you can hear their assholes puckering. Brown hasn’t had much problem, he scares away someone, at least once a week.
Sam the cat is nice and friendly but Frank has an allergy to cats and can’t pet her so she is always underfoot begging for the attention Frank can’t provide. Samatha showed up about two weeks after Henry, the mouser at Mescal for fourteen years disappeared, SAM has been there now for six years.
As we wander through the streets Frank relates stories about each building and points to a staircase constructed for just one scene years ago, the OK Corral where the Earps went toe-to-toe with the Cowboys it is now a grassy lot. The Ghosts of Steve McQueen, Michael Landon and David Carradine linger along the Boot Hill built for the filming of TOMBSTONE. Just West of town stands the dead tree used in the movie “Maverick” where Mel Gibson is being hung on his horse and rattlesnakes are thrown at his horse’s feet.Brown originally found the tree in the Sonoita area and dragged it to the site for the filming, later in 2007 winds topping 70 mph knocked down the tree and 20 building on the Mescal site, each had been constructed for a scene or a movie in the past. The tree was resurrected by 3300 pounds of concrete, many of those twenty buildings still lie as stacks of lumber aging in the sun, just awaiting the next movie crew to blow in and start hammering away building something new.
Frank is a little frustrated because his efforts to get MESCAL recorded as a historic park or memorial, have gone nowhere, mainly because nothing here is built to be permanent. Nothing but Frank Brown, who is permanent, Mescal has had four caretakers, the first was “Tex”, the second was “George”, then the couple, “Bill and Marlene”, and now, “Frank”, who says “you betcha” if asked if he wants to die there. He has a trailer, Old Tucson provides power, water and septic. He seldom leaves, he likes the peace and quiet, often thinks he was born too late in the last century.
Frank takes pleasure preserving his small piece of the “Old West”. The Oklahoma Land Rush was filmed here and history will remember Mescal as the place where movies were made that glorified the Old West and opened a window to the world here before Statehood. Frank feels history all around him. He thinks his Dad and kin folk would be proud of the fact he wears a badge every day, he comes from a long line of Marshals, Sheriffs and Constables and Franks wants Mescal to last as long as he does. So they can just carry him over to Boot Hill and erect another cross to balance out that composition.
Until that day, Frank’s too busy to worry, “if you want to die–just sit there, but if you want to live, keep moving and honestly the seventy-nine year old “hopes to die getting shot jumping out of some window”. In the meantime, Frank is learning to shoot a 70lb compound bow to fill his Elk tag for this fall’s hunt. So, this summer, arrows will be flying once again where Fort Apache was filmed to grace the BIG screen. MESCAL TOUR INFORMATION
According to Wikipedia Old Tucson Studios was built in 1938 by Columbia Pictures on a Pima County-owned site as a replica of 1860s Tucson for the movie Arizona, starring William Holden and Jean Arthur. Workers built more than 50 buildings in 40 days, many of those structures still stand.
After the filming of Arizona was completed, the movie set lay quiet for several years, until the filming of The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945), starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. Other early movies soon were filmed including The Last Round-Up (1947) with Gene Autry and Winchester ’73 (1950) with James Stewart and The Last Outpost with Ronald Reagan. The 1950s saw the filming of Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1958), Cimarron (1959) and Rio Bravo (1959) among others. In 1959, entrepreneur Robert Shelton leased the property from Pima County and began to restore the aging facility. Old Tucson Studios re-opened in 1960, as both a film studio and a theme park. The park grew building by building with each movie filmed on its dusty streets. John Wayne starred in four movies at Old Tucson Studios. Rio Bravo (1959) added a saloon, bank building and doctor’s office; McCLintock! (1963) added the McCLintock Hotel; El Dorado (1966) brought the storefronts on Front Street; and with Rio BRAVO (1970) came a cantina, a jail and a ranch house.
In 1968 Old Tucson began adding tours, rides and shows for the entertainment of visitors, most notably gunfights staged in the “streets” by stunt performers, the 13,000 square foot soundstage was built to give Old Tucson Studios greater movie-making versatility. The first film to use the soundstage was Young Billy Young (1968), starring Robert Mitchum and Angie Dickinson.
On April 25, 1995, a fire destroyed much of Old Tucson Studios. Twenty-five buildings, costumes and memorabilia were lost in the blaze, 100 pieces of fire equipment was deployed and over 200 firefighters from every fire department in the Tucson metro area, including Davis Monthan Air Force Base and the Arizona National Guard fought the wind-driven fire for four hours. The loss included all of Kansas Street and Front street to the wash on the east side, the corner store on the west, and the entire sound stage. The Mission area was destroyed along with the Mission, the Greer Garson house, and the cantina from Rio Bravo. Damages were estimated to be $15 million. Fortunately, there were no human or animal casualties.
Old Tucson served as an ideal location for shooting scenes for TV series like NBC’s The High Chaparral (1967–1971) where the ranch house survived the 1995 fire: Little House on the Prairie, and later, Father Murphy, featuring Merlin Olsen and “Petrocelli”. Three Amigos was a popular comedy shot there in the 80s, using the church set.
From 1989 to 1992 the show The Young Riders filmed at MESCAL Old Tucson’s sister site. The main street appears prominently in 1990s westerns such as Tombstone, a mirror set still exists at Mescal, AZ and is featured in The Quick and the Dead which filmed all of the town of Redemption scenes there.
In 2013, Old Tucson and Mescal was featured in “A Hot Bath An’ A Stiff Drink”.
DIRECTIONS TO MESCAL MOVIE SET: From Tucson, follow I-10 East. Take exit 297 for J-Six Ranch Rd towrd Mescal Rd. Turn left onto South J-Six Ranch Rd (signs for Mescal Rd). Continue onto N. Mescal Rd (dirt road). Turn left into drive. TOURS ARE $10 EACH. EXCEPT FOR TOURS DAY, MESCAL IS CLOSED TO VISITORS.
Elsewhere in Arizona on June 1960 Apacheland Studios opened for business and filmed its first TV western, “Have Gun, Will Travel” in November 1960 and its first full length movie “The Purple Hills”. From the beginning as Superstition Mountain Enterprises in 1959 as Apacheland Studio until its demise in 2004 as Apacheland Movie Ranch, this historic Arizona landmark has seen Hollywood’s finest western actors walk the streets on Kings Ranch Road in Gold Canyon, Arizona.Actors such as Elvis Presley, Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, Ronald Reagan and Audie Murphy filmed western television shows and movies, such as Gambler II, Death Valley Days, Blind Justice, Charro!, Have Gun, Will Travel and The Ballad of Cable Hogue at the western movie studio for some or all of the filming. The last full length movie to be filmed was the 1994 HBO movie Blind Justice with Armand Assante, Elisabeth Shue and Jack Black.
WELCOME TO APACHELAND….CLICK HERE
On May 26, 1969, fire destroyed most of the Movie ranch. Only 7 buildings survived. The sets were soon rebuilt but then almost 35 years later on February 14, 2004, 2 days after its 45th anniversary, another fire destroyed most of the Apacheland. On October 16, 2004 Apacheland closed its doors to the public permanently.
The cause of both fires remain a mystery.
Many films, not all of them Westerns, were shot at Old Tucson Studios, either in whole or in part;
1945: The Bells of St. Mary’s
1947: The Last Round-up
1950: Broken Arrow
1951: The Last Outpost
1955: Strange Lady in Town
1955: Ten Wanted Men
1955: The Violent Men
1956: The Broken Star
1956: Walk the Proud Land
1957: 3:10 to Yuma
1957: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
1957: The Guns of Fort Petticoat
1958: Buchanan Rides Alone
1958: The Badlanders
1958: The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold
1959: Last Train from Gun Hill
1959: Rio Bravo
1959: The Hangman
1961: The Deadly Companions
1962: Young Guns of Texas
1964: The Outrage
1965: Arizona Raiders
1965: The Great Sioux Massacre
1966: El Dorado
1967: Return of the Gunfighter
1967: The Last Challenge
1967: The Way West
1967: A Time for Killing
1968: The Mini-Skirt Mob
1969: Heaven with a Gun
1969: Lonesome Cowboys
1969: Young Billy Young
1970: Dirty Dingus Magee
1970: Monte Walsh
1970: Rio Lobo
1971: Wild Rovers
1972: Joe Kidd
1972: Night of the Lepus
1972: Pocket Money
1972: The Legend of Nigger Charley
1972: The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
1973: Guns of a Stranger
1974: Death Wish
1974: A Knife for the Ladies
1974: The Trial of Billy Jack
1976: The Outlaw Josey Wales
1979: The Villain
1980: Tom Horn
1981: The Cannonball Run
1986: ¡Three Amigos!
1989: Gore Vidals Billy the Kid
1990: Young Guns II
1994: Lightning Jack
1995: Hard Bounty
1995: The Quick and the Dead
2000: South of Heaven, West of Hell
2002: Legend of the Phantom Rider
2004: Treasure of the Seven Mummies
2005: Miracle at Sage Creek
2007: Legend of Pearl Hart
2008: Mad, Mad Wagon Party
2011: To Kill a Memory
2013: Hot Bath an’ a Stiff Drink
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MEXICO’S ONLY CORAL REEF, CABO PULMO ON BAJA’S EAST CAPE, NEEDS PROTECTION FROM GREEDY DEVELOPERS WHOSE LUST FOR 23,000 NEW ROOMS WILL KILL THIS PARADISE !
The first time I visited Cabo Pulmo I drove right past it. True it’s unique beauty lies beneath the waves in this enormous bay which is quite shallow and nurtures young life and marine treasures. The view from the road was the same view that I had enjoyed for the past 100 miles since leaving La Paz so when I drove past this faint truck path disappearing into the sand and dunes who knew it would led us to a farmhouse and a gate and the most outrageous campsite on the Baja. Over the years I visited three or four times each time I was more excited and pushed out from the shoreline, further and further. Once we rented tanks in La Paz and diving at Cabo Pulmo in 20′-45′ of water our tanks lasted forever. Free diving allowed you to get a better overall view but the tanks made things more personal, the colors, the life and the over whelming size of this undersea garden which is unique to the Sea of Cortez because of the temperate weather, the shallow cove captures the natural solar power from the sun and never dips beneath 70 degrees. In those days I tried to know something about the marine biology of the area, so I had some idea of what I was looking at and what not to touch. Cabo Pulmo has one very curious affect on one resident, the Gineafowl Puffer, which is black with white spots all over its body. Apparently, at one moment in the Gineafowl Puffer life, they have a golden moment, literally a golden phase, where their black and white spots disappear and they turn gold. The reef is a protective place where they can dress outlandishly and not get harvested for their pretty hue. Camping on the beach allowed the early riser to watch the sun climb out of the Sea of Cortez lighting up the world as it rose.
All eight of these bars extend out from the beach and are easily visible, resembling rocky dikes that project from the sand and continue into the sea. Marine life around the coral reefs include; the White-banded Angelfish, Moray eels, lobster, puffer fish, Yellowtail, Surgeon fish, Pork fish, Butterfly fish, Parrott fish, Moorish Idols, Hawk fish and blennies. Along the deeper reefs, schools of grunts with larger game fish and large grouper appear, as well as a greater abundance of gorgonians and sea fans,” this is the picture painted by the “BAJA CALIFORNIA DIVER’S GUIDE, which guided me to Cabo Pulmo the first time back in the 1980’s. The outer Cabo Pulmo reef lies two miles from the point and features 60′-70’dives into caves and crevices covering with rich layers of sea fans. http://www.cabopulmopark.com/
“The coral reefs in Pulmo Bay consist of eight long bars of igneous rock, upon which coral and other marine flora and fauna grow.;
Since I last visited this sleepy cove, the Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort, has grown up around a small, rustic, romantic village of palm-thatched bungalows that are located right in front of the National Marine Park of Cabo Pulmo just 60 miles up the Sea of Cortez from Cabo San Lucas on the gulf side. Cabo Pulmo is a quiet village that has no salesmen or trinket sales to bother you, no paragliders or noisy jet skis, you can walk for miles on the beach and not see anyone at times. The village of Cabo Pulmo has it’s own well and the quality of water surpasses most water found elsewhere on the Baja Peninsula.
The village is off the grid and relays totally on its own solar power.
Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort sells lots on the East Cape of Baja California Sur, Mexico all with panoramic views of the Sea of Cortez, desert and mountains. Lots are said to sell for prices ranging from $39K to $200K and taxes are about $100 per year!
A new 23,000 room hotel complex called “Cabo Dorado”, has been proposed for Cabo Pulmo which is strikingly similar to two previously canceled projects that were proposed for 3,769 hectares in the exact same location as the other. These projects would change the current landscape entirely, Los Pericúes wanted to include nine hotel lots (eight of which were proposed as unobstructed beach front) and 6,650 residential units built on two 18-hole golf courses.
Now for the third time, the threat of massive coastal tourism and real-estate development has returned to Cabo Pulmo National Park, one of the world’s most robust marine reserves and home to a critically important coral reef system. The new mega-resort project, now called “Cabo Dorado”, raises the specter that Cabo Pulmo’s fragile coral reef and the local community’s fresh water supply could once more be at risk.
Here’s what we know so far about Cabo Dorado:
The 3,770 hectare project is proposed on the same lands – just north of and adjacent to the Cabo Pulmo reserve – where first Cabo Cabo Cortés and later Los Pericúes were also proposed.This new mega-resort would be built in five phases at a cost of at least 3.6 billion dollars. The project would have 22,500 rooms, nine hotels and more than 6,000 residences. There would be two golf courses, sports facilities, beach clubs, a 14 kilometer aqueduct, a new airstrip on the site but a project of this scale and scope would also generate 711,900 kilograms of waste per day and could extract up to 4.8 million cubic meters of water from the local aquifer of this arid, desert region. Apart from the proximity to the fragile Cabo Pulmo coral reef and the marine life it supports, the proposed project site is home to 26 species considered at risk under Mexican law, including endemic plant species and endangered sea turtles.
The sheer scale of the proposal has brought concern about the Cabo Pulmo reserve, a gem internationally recognized and treasured by both the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and it was designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. Representatives from both of these international organizations after a visit recommended that Mexico restrict future large-scale development in the vicinity of the park to avoid the risk of damaged habitat.
UNESCO and Ramsar are not the only ones to have weighed in about the risk of large-scale development in this region. The IUCN’s World Conservation Congress in September 2012 issued a resolution urging Mexico to guarantee the protection of Cabo Pulmo, including from the risk of large-scale tourism and real-estate developments.
Fortunately Cabo Cortés was eventually halted by former President Calderón in June 2012, but it should never have progressed as far as it did. Now, with a new project proposed near Cabo Pulmo National Park it is absolutely critical for Mexican authorities to ensure that history does not repeat itself. A project that would endanger the fragile marine and terrestrial ecosystems near Cabo Pulmo and the neighboring communities must not be allowed to move forward as Cabo Cortés did. A bad project that threatens one of the country’s and the world’s crown jewels must simply not get the green light – no matter how many times or who proposes it.
Subject: SAVE NORTH AMERICA’S ONLY CORAL REEF…CABO PULMO!
This petition is about saving God’s treasures on this Earth. I have visited Cabo Pulmo and I have dove into this bay and can testify how beautiful all of this reef can be, with the schools of colorful juveniles and huge schools of jacks, grunts and barracuda. Proposed development will only destroy the reason people want to go there. To enjoy the pristine beauty unique to the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) we need to fight to save it now.
That’s why I created a petition to Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, which says:
“Cabo Pulmo reserve is an internationally recognized treasure it is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. As North America’s only Coral Reef it has been recommended that Mexico restrict future large-scale developments in the vicinity of the park to avoid the risk of ruining what nature has built.”
Will you sign this petition? Click here:
Thanks! Pass this along to like-minded individuals….
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The first skateboarding wave washed across the United States in the 1960’s. Like all fads from the coast I had seen the hula-hoop and had little hope skateboarding would last long, locals nailed their sister’s skates to the bottom of a board and went for the downhill. You either knew if you were a skater or not, I was not the right stuff and knew it instantly. Historically the first skate park was made of plywood on a half acre sand lot in Kelso, Washington in 1966 and it had lights. The first modern concrete skate park opened in 1976 in Port Orange Florida and Carlsbad California, followed by indoor parks in less temperate climates but high insurance premiums caused the first wave of skateboarding died in court, but realized a resurgence followed in the United States when legislation in states like California’s 1998 law that said skateboarding is an inherently “Hazardous Recreation Activity” and cities will not be held liable for claims of negligence resulting in a skateboarding injury. Skateboard construction improved and skate parks have become more common.
Today some cities put in skate parks with features not designed for skateboarding, but are street legal for skaters, other not. Tucson’s has a number skate parks in different parts of town, Tucson was once one of the best skateboarding scenes in the country, which is a little known fact about earlier times when Tucson skateboarders had permission to skate “THE BLOCKS” at El Presidio Plaza after 5pm until 1994. Rumor has it Skateboarders got the skate park at Randolph Park in exchange for no longer skating at “The Blocks” downtown. Today Tucson Skateboarding is a new force and has hopes of becoming politically active and wants to approach the city council in hopes of taking back “The Blocks”, and Tucson’s claim to top ten spots in the US to skate. Downtown Tucson has a new skateboarding shop opened by two brothers Kenzo and Zen Butler and their partner Jerry Jordon have moved into The Arches, a high ceiling warehouse at 35 E. Toole Ave and have spacious floor space and stylish fashions, boards at their The BLX Skate Shop dedicated to the “Golden Age of Skateboards” and the Skateboard culture which has its own set of values and language. Since downtown is the heart of this skateboarding culture, BLX is pronounced “Blocks” named for the feature now off-limits to skaters, but a short distance away. Skateboarding is a popular recreational activity among children and teenagers — especially boys. In recent years, skateboarding spin-offs, such as long-boarding and mountain boarding, have become increasingly common. Although it is a fun activity, skateboarding can result in a serious injury. In 2011, skateboard-related injuries accounted for more than 78,000 emergency room visits among children and adolescents 19 years old or younger. On average, about 52% of skateboard injuries involve children under age 15. Eighty-five percent of the children injured are boys. Many injuries happen when a child loses balance, falls off the skateboard and lands on an outstretched arm. Skateboarding injuries often involve the wrist, ankle, or face. Injuries to the arms, legs, neck and trunk range from cuts and bruises to sprains, strains, and broken bones. Wrist fractures are quite common. Wearing wrist guards can reduce the frequency and severity of these fractures. Facial injuries, such as a broken nose or jawbone, are also common. Severe injuries include concussion and other head injuries. There are many things that parents and children can do to help prevent skateboarding injuries, such as carefully selecting safe places to ride, and wearing protective gear, especially helmets. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under age 5 years should not ride skateboards. Children aged 6 to 10 years old need close supervision from an adult whenever they ride a skateboard.
Practice tricks and jumps in a controlled environment, such as a skate park that has adult supervision and appropriate access to emergency medical care.
Be considerate of fellow skateboarders, especially those who are younger and/or less skilled. Take turns on ramps or other equipment.
Learn the basic skills of skateboarding, especially how to stop, slow down, and turn. Be able to fall safely: If you are losing your balance, crouch down on the skateboard so that you will not have as far to fall. Try to land on the fleshy parts of your body rather than your arms. Relax and roll.
Skateboard according to your ability level. Skateboarding skill is not acquired quickly or easily. Do not take chances by skateboarding faster than your experience allows, or faster than is safe for the surrounding conditions.
Practice and master each skill before moving on to a more challenging trick. Staying in good physical condition can help to prevent skateboarding injuries.
Directions to follow to Santa Rita Skate Park I-10 Fwy Westbound – exit Starr Pass Blvd/22nd St, take 2nd right at 22nd St, left at 3rd Ave into Santa Rita Park.
Albert M. Gallego Skate Park Santa Rita Park 3rd Ave and 22nd St GPS 32.207522,-110.963395 Date Opened 2009 Square Footage 12,000 Just off the 10 Fwy in Tucson lies Santa Rita Skatepark.
The Albert M. Gallego Skate Park is located within the Santa Rita Park and should be on your list of places to go. This park opened in 2009 after almost 10 years of fundraising and plan changes. Santa Rita consists of three separate bowls: The Bonnie Bowl (a 12’ deep keyhole), a 4-6’ deep flow bowl, and a good size kidney. The Bonney Bowl is a classic 80’s style keyhole. It felt 12’ deep and fast. The shape is not perfectly round, but slightly squashed and the lip is finished with tiles and orange pool coping. The flow bowl varies in depth from 4′ to 6′ with a clamshell in the middle and a couple of hips. The bowl is finished with metal coping. The last bowl is a righthand kidney with an 8′ deep end and 3′ shallow end. This bowl is pretty mellow and good for beginners learning to carve. Santa Rita skate park opens at 6am and has lights until 10:30pm, which is necessary considering the daytime heat of the desert.
Now go check this one off.
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THE CIVIL WAR IN THE SOUTHWEST: A GREAT SHOW, GREAT BATTLES, GREAT RE-ENACTERS, GREAT TIME TO CLEAN UP THE BACKGROUND, ANNOYING CAR ALARMS !
Few people have watched the Civil War in the SouthWest as many times as I have. It is a great show and it celebrates the small but important role the southwest played in the Great American Civil War. Over the years, the quality of the troops have excelled and their numbers have grown. All that equipment and period gear, they buy and donate their efforts to make this incredible performance come together each year in March. The quality of cannon now on the field, all privately owned, this year fell shy of ten, far beyond performances in the past. More than 2,000 people turnout each day to wander through the tent village visiting with folks living in the past. They watch church sermons, yesteryear entertainment, troops drill and snoop through the regimental camp inspecting the lifestyle of blue and grey troops on the front lines of the worst war in America. You can buy a ball cap or a confederates cap, pick whatever side you wish, cheer for your heroes, however, the smart money is on the boys in gray, the Johnny Rebs and their rebel yell, just saying. 2014 performance like every March, Picacho Peak State Park hosts a re-enactment of the Civil War battles of Arizona and New Mexico, including the battle of Picacho Pass. The re-enactments now have grown so large that many more participants tend to be involved than took part in the actual engagements, and include infantry units and artillery as well as cavalry. To add to the excitment, flash pans down field explode to add to the feel of combat and give the cannon fire a sense of completion and reality. This year, cannon fire set off a car alarm in the middle of the battle, it screamed and annoyed for seemingly endless period of time. Picacho State Park has grown a lot over the years, they have expanded their campground which now wraps around the battle field, so everyone gets recreational vehicles in all their battle pictures. March is also Picacho peak season for visitors, cause in two months, few if anyone will be there. But maybe for the weekend of the battle perhaps closing off that area and during the battle it should be closed to spectators. Encircling the battle with spectators really takes away from the ambiance’ everyone has worked so hard to achieve. Young re-enactors have really added a spark to the performance, their ad lib mid-battle give the real feel of lead flying, their numbers are on the rise and this battle will only get bigger and the space needed greater. Right now battles are fought on a dog leg so the cannon isn’t fired at the target, but we know what they mean–right! Presently the crowd in pushing out in the middle and to see both sides of the battle folks have to walk back and forth, photographers have to jockey for position, but in the days when everyone is a photographer, there is usually someone in your frame. Professional photographers in such a setting realize that they have a responsibility not to get in the middle of everyone’s photograph, folks videoing with their phones never seem to think about it. The safety officers do a good job of keeping the cavalry from running through the spectators and few injuries come from horses or gunfire, perhaps sunburn and scrapped knees on young ones running when they shouldn’t. Why not more shade for folks spending a whole day in the sun, lots of older folks, many would benefit to bring their own chairs, sun lotion, cool drinks and shade.
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It was family time around the Rodeo arena Friday when 200 participants turned out
for the Gila River Indian Communities’ annual Junior Rodeo sponsored by the Mul-Chu-Tha
Festival and Rodeo in Sacaton, Arizona. Everything is scaled down in the Junior Rodeo for the
next generation of Cowgirls and Cowboys, there are contests for ages six through seventeen.
Stick horse racing is introduced early as five year olds push their steeds through their paces around
the red pylons, there were a few falls, some tears, but everyone a winner.
Barrell racing was again a question of scale, with thirty-five pound cowgirls, pushing these 900 pound horses through their route. Still the mutton busting capture your heart and imagination. The gate would open and these bags of wool on legs come running out and mostly you can’t see the rider buried in all the wool, until they rolled off onto the ground. Many just lied there unmoving, and mothers would rush out but mostly they shook it off, with a few tears, but many took it in stride and moved on. Junior Rodeos
are made up of all the Indian rodeo talents in the State of Arizona the same folks hit many the
same rodeos coming in from Whiteriver, Windowrock, Sells, or San Carlos, Arizona representing
the Apache, Navajo and O’odham Tribes like the Tohono, PeePosh, Akimel, Maricopa are all Piman
tribes. These talented contestants get their start at Junior Rodeos and Sacaton’s rodeo gave all the
little guys and gals all the time they needed and encouraged everyone to participate. Few showed
but a few tears were shed over the steer riding. All riders wear a protective vest which one steer
was able to hook and twirl his rider over it’s head on its horn. That rider was a bit dizzy. There were a
few hard falls, but no injuries, there was however an arm cast or two in the crowd. There were some
very professional riders who scored well and finished lst, 2nd, 3rd, others got their share of hard knocks
and some great experience. These guys and gals will work for the next year to hone these cowboy skills and next year they will be a little bigger and the lasso a little smaller and a little easier to throw…..
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A GATHERING OF WARRIORS; IRA HAYES WELCOMES HOME TRIBAL PATRIOTS TO SACATON TO CELEBRATE THE WARRIORS’S FIGHTING SPIRIT !
American Hero IRA HAMILITON HAYES, a Pima Indian born to the Colorado River Community in Sacaton, Arizona was celebrated for the 69th time in 2014 for his role in World War II where he fought the Japanese for the Island of Iwo Jima. Hayes and other soldiers fought to take the islands summit and once there with four other soldiers they raised a battleship’s flag big enough for everyone on the island to see. The photo of that flag-raising by Joe Rosenthal has become symbolic of American Fighting Spirit and each year for 69 years Indian Tribes from all over the United States have sent color guards to Arizona to participate in this warrior gathering where they celebrate this warriors life and honor all warriors before and since.
Tim Murphy and William Radebaugh dressed out in the WW II battle gear Ira Hayes would have worn fighting on the island of Iwo Jima, to serve as a honor guard for Ira Hayes statue which was the magnet for all attending the parade. Many wanted to be photographed with the hero! in honor of Hayes and all vets including those from World War II, a disappearing generation, but Oliver Babbitt an Iwo Jima survivor walked the entire parade with a hip native American escort. Color guards from all over the United States poured into Sacaton Saturday some like the San Carlos Apache drove in that morning, others held up at the Ak-Chin Casino but several thousand participants funneled into Sacaton, lining up for the parade and after the flyovers, for two hours paraded through the streets of Sacaton for several hundred participants. The B-17 flying fortress, the “Sentimental Journey” performed four fly-overs for the parade, followed by six biplanes flying in formation and trailing smoke in their wake. Vietnam vet David Vigil communed with the statue of Ira Hayes, towering over the life size 5’6″ likeness, calling him a “hero” for his service, noting a hero is a soldier who did a good job. Still the streets of Sacaton filled with people of all walks of life, ages and ways of life, everyone a patriot, everyone rejoiced in their warriors. The Arizona Patriot Guard Motorcycle Unit contrasted by numerous ROTC drill teams.Following the parade that perhaps had 5000 participants from reservations, Legion Posts, color guards from all over Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Colorado, to name a few. Pat Rice from Chandler noted seldom will reservation culture single out one individual and hold him up — so for Ira Hayes to get a send off like this every year, it’s amazing he said. With the U.S. now in a time of peace Rice wondered if the next generation will lose the reality for war and hopes events like this will keep the reality alive. At the end of the parade all the visiting color guards, ROTC and ceremonial units came together for a “massing of colors”.
Tohono Oodham Royalty Malaya Antone, 21, left with her court[/caption]
The battle for Iwo Jima was particularly bloody, being the only battle in which the U.S. Marine Corps suffered more casualties than the Japanese Army. The Japanese were well entrenched on the island when the U.S. decided to invade. Iwo Jima’s, a mountainous island proved extremely difficult for U.S. troops. However, Iwo Jima proved of extreme tactical importance to the U.S. policy of island hopping to the Japanese mainland. For this, the military command decided that the 26,000 American casualties was worth the island.
Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is a historic photograph taken on February 23, 1945, by Joe Rosenthal. It shows five United States Marines and a United States Navy corpsman raising an American flag atop Mount Suribachi, a 546-foot dormant volcanic cone situated on the southern tip of the island during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. The photograph was extremely popular, being reprinted in thousands of publications. Later, it became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and came to be regarded in the United States as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war, and possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time. Joe Rosenthal, an Associated Press photographer, is the man behind the photo. The raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, 69 years ago, is perhaps the most iconic image of World War II. No other picture so succinctly and evocatively captures the triumph of the Allied forces, while also highlighting the critical role that U.S. troops played in the Pacific. The picture has become an enduring symbol of the steadfastness and strength of the Marine Corps.
The annual parade is the efforts of the IRA HAYES AMERICAN LEGION
POST NO. 84 IN SACATON, AZ EACH THIRD WEEKEND IN FEBRUARY
Three Marines depicted in the Associated Press photograph, Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley, and Michael Strank, were killed in action over the next few days. The three surviving flag-raisers were Marines Rene Gagnon and Ira Hayes, and sailor John Bradley, who became celebrities after their identifications in the photograph. The image by Joesph Rosenthal later inspired Marine Felix de Weldon to sculpt the 1954 Marine Corps War Memorial, located next to Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C. The Iwo Jima flag-raising has been depicted in other films including 1949’s Sands of Iwo Jima (in which the three surviving flag raisers make a cameo appearance at the end of the film) and 1961’s The Outsider, a biography of Ira Hayes starring Tony Curtis, the new book “Flag of our Fathers” inspired Clint Eastwood’s movie. In 1961, Ira Hayes’s life story was the subject of the movie, The Outsider. The movie inspired songwriter Peter La Farge to write the The Ballad of Ira Hayes, which became popular nationwide in 1964 by singer Johnny Cash. Hayes was portrayed by actor Adam Beach in the World War II movie Flags of Our Fathers in 2006. In July 1945, the United States Postal Service released a postage stamp bearing the image. The act of raising the flag captured by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal became the photo on the biggest-selling American postage stamp of all time.
The five Marines together with Navy corpsman John “Doc” Bradley raised the second American flag and flagstaff. Bradley from 3rd Platoon, was part of the original 40-man patrol that climbed up Mount Suribachi. Hayes fought on the island until the battle was over on March 26. Killed and wounded losses were heavy, he was one of five Marines remaining from his platoon of forty-five including corpsmen. The raising of the second American flag on Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945 was immortalized by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal and became an icon of the world war. Overnight, Hayes and the other second flag raisers became national heroes except for Harlon Block who was misidentified for several months as Sgt. Henry Hansen from 3rd Platoon.
When he enlisted in the Marine Corps, IRA HAYES had hardly ever been off the Reservation. His ambition was for him to be an “Honorable Warrior” and bring honor upon his family. A Dept of Defense website Ira Hayes is called a dedicated Marine. “Quiet and steady, he was admired by his fellow Marines who fought alongside him in three Pacific battles. Ira Hayes was a noted World War ll hero. Although he had a normal childhood on his reservation, his life changed dramatically when war broke out and he joined the Marine Corps. After he completed courses under the U.S. Marine Corps Parachutist School at San Diego, California. He was lovingly dubbed “Chief Falling Cloud.” Ira Hayes was assigned to a parachute battalion of the fleet Marine Force.”
One Tempe Vietnam vet found standing along the parade, seen saluting the American flag and waving to the passing color guards, said he comes every year. “This is the only place I have ever been were I truly feel honored for being a Warrior.”
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Today for the first time since the 1959 revolution, Cubans will have the right to buy new and used vehicles from the state without government permission, taking one more step toward economic freedom on the island. The newly en-acted reform allows Cubans to buy and sell used cars from each other, but must request authorization from the government to purchase a new vehicle or second-hand one, usually a relatively modern rental car, from State retailers. The newspaper Granma said, “the retail sale of new and used motorcycles, cars, vans, small trucks and mini buses for Cubans and foreign residents, companies and diplomats is freed up.” Newer car models are largely in state hands and sold used at a relatively low price to select individuals, for example, Cuban diplomats and doctors who serve abroad, then often resell them at four or five times the price.The Cuban state maintains a monopoly on the retail sale of cars. The liberalizing of car sales was one of more than 300 reforms put forth by President Raul Castro, who took over for his ailing brother Fidel in 2008, and approved in 2011 at a congress of the Communist Party, Cuba’s only legal political party.
The changes put a greater emphasis on private initiative, which was largely stifled under Cuba’s Soviet-style system, and less government control over sales and purchases of personal property like homes and cars.
Havana Cuba is a cool place. Americans tourist will be captivated by the “Yank Tanks” still in use in this 500 year old city, they ebb and flow through traffic all around you, they never disappear for Cubans they are a way of life. This time warp in this Caribbean city began when America pulled out and left this communist leaning community behind and off limits. To trade with Cuba was “Trading with the Enemy” and no one excused not even the world famous “Pappa Hemingway, who was forced to leave his beloved Cuba and Cadillac behind. Cuba had a wonderful rail line which the Italians had installed and allowed for transportation all over the island, particularly in the cities. When the Americans arrived the first time, Ford, Chevy, GMC all made the Island “smoking good deals” for buses, large trucks and cars. The population who had been served by rail, changed to automobiles, buses and trucks and rail service diminished and when it became run down, it was discarded. Meanwhile American cars, buses and trucks filled the local needs until the spare parts became scarce because of the U.S. boycott … after that, innovation and genius has been required to keep all these cars on the road. Many have been “cherried out” and still have original parts, many more have been crossed with spare parts from the Russian Lada’s or whatever might fit or work. Some Cuba lovers fear opening the Island up to the Americans again will ruin it! Folks fear car buyers will arrive and will buy up all the treasures, all the color, and material culture, like old the U.S. cars leaving behind the worn out and tired, stealing again, the island’s life blood and reason for others to come.
Today to travel outside of Havana, you need to hire a car and a driver. Most cars come with drivers and for many, that car is their livihood so you have to put up the driver and feed him also. There are some local buses and they can provide slow transportation but there is no security beyond its bumpers. One day after touring the Havana Cemetery, my comrade and I, were asked if we needed a ride by am un-marked “cab” driver in a Russian Lada. Nice fella, who usually was a maritime marine but Havana was his home port and he leaves his car with friends. When we got in the Lada, it was a bit stuffy in the warm tropical sun so I reached for the window crank and found none. I asked the driver, who gladly pluck the handle from his shirt pocket and passed it back. After I returned the crank, he offered it to my friend and then returned it to the safety of his shirt pocket. This “illegal” cab was one of hundreds and usually operated a little cheaper than the main cabs running from the Park Lane Hotel which catered to the high-end foreign tourist. Tourist staying elsewhere often come here for drinks, the view off the roof, and to check email and to surf the internet to find out what’s happening elsewhere. Cabs can be found here and some feel “safer” taking these cabs rather than just hailing one on the street.
Personally I walked for miles wearing cameras and a smile and ran into no problems. Downtown Havana has numerous nice young men and women who police various neighborhoods. They usually stood on the corner and occasionally wrote something down. I always thought they knew more about where I was going than I did. Never saw them say anything. One day a young fella came up to me and said quietly “give me all your money”. I smiled and I said “no problema” and walked off, leaving the confused thief behind.
Before September 2011, only automobiles that were in Cuba before the 1959 revolution could be freely bought and sold, which is why there are so many cars from the 1950s or before, most of them American-made, rumbling through Cuban streets. There are also many Soviet-made cars, dating from the era when the Soviet Union was the island’s biggest ally and benefactor. Newer models are largely in state hands and sold used at a relatively low price to select individuals, for example, Cuban diplomats and doctors who serve abroad, who then often resell them at four or five times the price. Cubans and foreigners still need government permission to import a new or used car, a regulation Granma (the Cuban Political newspaper) said was not been lifted. The new regulation is expected to include stiff taxes, currently 100 percent for new cars, with the proceeds going to fund the country’s decrepit public transportation system, the newspaper said.
A new Kia Rio hatchback that starts at $13,600 in the United States sells for $42,000 here, while a fresh-off-the-lot Peugeot 508 family car, the most luxurious of which lists for the equivalent of about $53,000 in the U.K., will set you back a cool $262,000. But even many of the used cars had huge asking prices, such as a 2009 Hyundai minivan that listed for $110,000.
“Let’s see if a revolutionary worker who lives honorably on his salary can come and buy a car at these prices,” said Guillermo Flores, 27, a computer engineer. “This is a joke on the people.”
Isn’t this wonderful? There are 66,000 vintage cars in Cuba, all fifty to sixty years old, most held together with duct tape and baling wire. So, what’s the point of selling cars without the red tape when a used car will cost the average person ten years wages? Cubans don’t love the Yank Tanks but they are all they have and they are making do until trade opens once again with the U.S. mainland.
SEE MORE ON THE SOUTHWESTPHOTOBANK’S CUBAN CAR’S GALLERIES…………CLICK HERE
TAKE A VIDEO TOUR OF MY HAVANA VISIT……..CLICK HERE
CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF CUBA AFRICAN SANTERIA CEREMONY
OLD AMERICAN CARS IN HAVANA ARE NURCHURED NOT LOVED….
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