Saturday, April 21, 2018

We Visited "Canyons of the Ancients" for my 60th

Yeah, irony...

Saturday, the 14th

On the way to Cortez, Colorado, we made the obligatory stop at Four Corners.

We enjoyed very nice accommodations at Kelly Place, which has a nice collection of black on gray ware found on the premises over the years.

Sunday, the 15th

We prepared for our explorations by visiting the Anasazi Heritage Center.

There is a 12th century pueblo and kiva at the top of the hill above the center.

Next, we visited Lowry Pueblo, in Canyons of the Ancients.

The roof in the background protects a kiva.

I am always fascinated by the 700-900 year old timbers that still serve as roof beams or lintels.

Off to Painted Hands Pueblo.

The eponymous hands.

60 year old man meets 700 year old wall.

Sleeping Ute Mountain.

The trail to Horsehoe, Hackberry, and Hackberry View in Hovenweep National Monument.

Monday, the 16th

The Hovenweep National Monument headquarters has a very accessible loop from which to see many structures.

You can see all the dwellings without the descent and ascent into the canyon if you're willing to retrace your steps.

We returned to Holly Pueblo Monday.

Holly Tower and Holly House.

Holly Tower perched on its rock pedestal.

Three spiral pictographs.  The Ancestral Puebloans here had kivas but not nearly as much rock art as we find in the Agua Fria.

Back into Canyons of the Ancients for a ramble through Sand Canyon Pueblo.

You can walk the length and breadth of the pueblo on well-marked (but rough) trails.

The ruin is mostly rubble piles like we are used to encountering in the Agua Fria National Monument.

Spectacular views make it possible to imagine Sand Canyon in the days it was a thriving community.

Tuesday, the 17th

An artist's impression of the Sand Canyon Pueblo. We saw this at the Crow Canyon Archeological Center Tuesday morning.

We drove home through New Mexico so we could have a look at Shiprock.

I Have a Chapter in a Book

In response to a book written by a man I admire...

I have a chapter in a book recently published at  It was written in response to a book authored by Justin Brierly, host of one of my favorite podcasts. Justin's book is titled Unbelievable?: Why after ten years of talking with atheists, I'm still a Christian, What follows was my proposal for the introduction to our book, Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we remain skeptics. Another intro was chosen, but this explains why I engaged in our modest enterprise.

I like Justin Brierly. I recall that I started listening to Unbelievable? With Justin Brierly in the summer of 2009, shortly after he aired an episode featuring second-tier angry atheist, University of Minnesota-Morris Biology Professor, PZ Myers. For ninety minutes Professor Myers rubbed me raw, much more so than the Christian guest, Denis Alexander. What amazed me most though, was the host of this UK radio program and podcast put on by Premier Christian Radio. Justin Brierly, though obviously a Christian, was genuinely even-handed. It was unlike any religious or skeptical podcast I’d ever listened to.

I began listening to the show’s back catalog. I was pleased. More importantly, I was impressed. Where most opinion programs erect a straw man representation of their opponent’s viewpoint and then take great relish in knocking it down, Justin actually put both sides of an issue on air in real time and then insisted that each side hear the other out. These discussions weren’t debates per se, more like spirited dialogues. In the main - there are exceptions - under Justin’s skilled moderation, each speaker treated the other with respect. I subscribed to Unbelievable and have been anxiously awaiting each week’s episode ever since.

Justin read out feedback - email responses, Facebook posts, and Twitter tweets - discussing previous episodes at the end of each week’s show. Again, Justin demonstrated his commitment to balance by giving voice to opinions from both sides of the topic. I wrote to him. He often graced me with a personal reply, answering points I raised. In time, Justin even read one of my comments on air. I must admit I hadn’t been that excited since the local TV lunch time personality read my name on the birthday’s list when I was in kindergarten.
After a couple years the program added a comments section beneath each episode at the Premier Christian Radio website. Over time many listeners and fans have come and gone, but a core group remains. For most us it is the only place we have ever met. The comments section becomes an “after party” where we assemble weekly for a debate which frequently lasts until the next episode is aired. These are the people who have written the book you are now reading.

“So what?” you ask. Radio personalities and talk show hosts have fans. You are just another somewhat odd fanboy. The thing is, when I discovered Unbelievable?, with Justin Brierly, I was not a believer and am not one now. I - and if I may speak for my fellow writers - do not share Justin’s religious faith but we have become and remain loyal listeners and avid fans.

The writers of this volume are varied in their perspectives, personalities, and passions. Some have never held any religious faith. While none are evangelicals a few are believers. Some are agnostic, still seeking any truth to be found at the core of the story. Others are angry, hurt by the experiences they suffered at the hands of fellow believers who turned out to be not very Christ-like at all. There is at least one mythicist, who believes the entire story is a fabrication. Most of us accept that there was a man named Yeshua, an itinerant Jewish preacher from the Galilee, who met a violent end at the hands of the Romans for inciting the rabble during a major Jewish holiday.
One might paraphrase the subtitle of Justin’s Unbelievable book, “Why, after ten years of listening to as kind and sensible and even-handed a Christian as Justin Brierly, why we are still not believers.” As Justin says. “Conversation matter.” We hope you enjoy our contribution to this decade long dialog. Perhaps you will even find it useful.

Note: Some time after my initial proposal for an introduction, we decided our response to Unbelievable?: Why after ten years of talking with atheists, I'm still a Christian, would be titled Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we remain skeptics. Click on the link to enjoy it for free. See you there.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Another Bellygun

I suppose it's possible to have too many...

Traded a fella my Ruger Bisley Single Six 22, which I wasn’t using, for a Smith & Wesson Model 642 (a stainless take on the classic Centennial Airweight 38), which ought to be a convenient companion on our hikes. It came with a couple pocket holsters, another set of grips (I like these for now), some speedloaders, and a street action spring kit (which slicked up the action nicely). Not a bad trade.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Weekend in Page, Arizona, USA

Them slot canyons ain't gonna visit themselves...

We arrived in the early afternoon Saturday and puttered around town a bit. We ate very well all weekend. RD's Drive-In offered up some tasty eats for lunch on Saturday. Big John's Texas BBQ was excellent, but too crowded to get into for supper Saturday . We enjoyed a fine lunch there on Sunday though. The Dam Bar & Grille has a salmon special served only on Saturdays which is to die for. Their house Damber on draft is very nice and I recommend it highly. The State 48 Tavern was open long enough for us to have a late supper Sunday.

Vicky at the lookout south of Glen Canyon Dam


The Colorado River just south of the dam

Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado

Sunset overlooking Lake Powell

We went to Upper Antelope Canyon Sunday. It was awe inspiring but as crowded as the line for a new ride at Disneyland. About 9,000 people visit it every day, unless they get really busy. A special treat was visiting Mountain Sheep, Owl, and Rattlesnake Canyons. It cost more - okay, a lot more - but it was worth it. On Sunday only the four in our group and our guide entered Mountain Sheep Canyon. Only one other group visited Owl or Rattlesnake. Much better...

Ancient worm tubes cast in rock

Inside Upper Antelope Canyon