Walking the Highline, NYC

May 16th, 2016
Jenna Kernan at the north entrance to the Highline on 34th St. West.

Jenna Kernan at the north entrance to the Highline on 34th St. West.

Death Avenue to Urban Sanctuary 

I have to hand it to NYC Friends of the Highline for seeing possibilities in the rusting elevated, abandoned train track that once ran on above Manhattan’s Lower West Side.

“I am grass.  Let me work.”  Carl Sandburg

I finally made it to the Highline.  This is a walk I have had on my list for years and apparently I am not alone because I was one of nearly six million visitors each year.  This elevated train track, abandoned in the eighties was slowly rusting away, but along the way grass grew up.  Seeds deposited by birds, traveling on the wind found precarious purchase on the abandoned stretch.  Trees began to grow above the street between the trestles’ and along the track.

Redbud blossoms on the L track over 10th Avenue

Redbud blossoms on the L track over 10th Avenue

WEST SIDE COWBOYS

Originally this track delivered food to the city replacing the 10 Avenue train the past the sailors boarding houses stretching along the river and through the meatpacking district of the Lower West Side.

At the entrance on 34th Street, I greeted by a black and white photo of what looked like a cowboy preceding a train.  Having done no research beyond how to reach the park, I did not know that these men were hired by the New York Central Railroad to precede the train waiving a bright red flag to help clear the tracks of crossing pedestrians with mixed results judging by the earned moniker Death Avenue for the number of collision between iron horse and human pedestrians.

Railroad ties make for modern seating on the Highline with Author Jenna Kernan

Railroad ties make for modern seating on the Highline with Author Jenna Kernan

MOLDERING METAL TO URBAN GREEN SPACE

Built in the 1930s and defunct by the 1960s, moldering through the 1980 and scheduled for demolition 2001 but repurposed beginning in 2004 until the lower section of the elevated park opened in 2009.

I first heard of this 1.45 mile walk from my editor.  She warned me to avoid weekends as they are super crowded.  But I went on the weekend and…it was super crowded.  But it was a special opening of the spring season and there was music and dancing and food all along the way.  Not the fastest walk and definitely not a power walker.  But that’s okay because there was so much to see and do.  We strolled this lovely promenade enjoying view of the city, the street and Hudson all along the way and pausing to appreciate the clever landscaping and flowering trees.

Open space for public performance.

Open space for public performance.

WALKING THE HIGHLINE

Being above street level gives an interesting perspective.  I really approve of the conscious plan to mimic the plants, grasses and trees that arrived unassisted to the abandoned stretch of track.

The architecture fits seamlessly into the walk and echoes the tracks.  There are plenty of pull outs and stopping places including some innovative seating.  I admired the seats that looked like stacked rail trestles.

We reached the end of the Highline all too soon but continued our adventure through Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District that is now a very hip neighborhood that buzzes with activity.

The south end of the park has several eateries, a store and live artist performers

The south end of the park has several eateries, a store and live artist performers

WHERE: The High Line is a public park build on elevated rail line from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues.

More Information:

Highline Website

Highline blog


 

Apache Reservation Visit

April 24th, 2016
Sculpture of an Apache Warrior greets visitors to the San Carlos tribe's casino

Sculpture of an Apache Warrior greets visitors to the San Carlos tribe’s casino called Apache Gold

I drove up from the south with a brief detour through the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, but don’t worry, I didn’t lose my shirt at Apache Gold, the tribe’s casino.

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The view from the lower cliff dwellings once home to the Salado Indians around 1300 AD

This photo was taken from the Lower Cliff Ruin in the Tonto National Forest.  Beyond the Saguaro cactus you can see the turquoise water of Roosevelt Lake.  We hiked up to the top and I had an idea that I’ll be using in the second book in my upcoming Apache Protectors: Tribal Thunder series.

Trading post outside on of the reservations

Trading post outside on of the reservation in the city of Globe

In Globe, AZ there is a really terrific trading post & store that features many native art and jewelry and the raw material for making camp dresses and regalia, which can be purchased on time.

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Author Jenna Kernan at the border between the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and the White Mountain Apache Indian reservation

Just inside the reservation I met two Apache women selling jewelry. I purchased a pair of peridot earrings because I know that San Carlos Reservation as some of the finest peridot in the world.  They asked were we were from and I told them from New York.  As we were leaving I heard one woman say to the other, “Why would anyone come all the way from New York to see this?”  Funny world, isn’t it?

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Inside the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation

Certain parts of the reservation are open to the public.  You can even rent your own lake or hire a guide for some hunting.  We visited the museum, Kinishba ruins and bummed around.  The ruins are spectacular and had me wondering about the people who once lived there.

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Salt River in the White Mountains of Arizona

The drive up to the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation was full of hairpin turns and steep grades.  The Salt River gorge is spectacular.

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General George Cook’s Headquarters now a museum and historic site.

General George Cook lead Apache scouts in the Apache Wars in a series of bloody conflicts.  Many recognize Apache Warriors by their iconic red headbands.  Why did they wear them.  Some say they were order to wear them others say they chose to wear them.  Either way they were chosen to distinguish them from unfriendly Native Americans.

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Kinishba Ruins on White Mountain

We parked our car and walked in.  We were the only humans here but we did meet a few free range cows.   Maybe I should call Clay Cosin to come round them up!

The ruins are extensive with many rooms, windows and floor structures still in place.  It was hard to imagine three floors, but that was apparently what was once here.

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Tribal Police Headquarters on White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation

My imagination ran wild at seeing the tribal police SUVs that I had only seen before in photos and YouTube videos.  I kept wanting to go up and ask someone if I could speak to Tribal Police Chief Gabe Cosen.  We only spent a day in San Carlos and White Mountain Indian Reservations.  But the trip really helped me feel and smell and experience a place that until that day, I had only ever imagined.  I’m taking that frybread off on my taxes!

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Pinyon and Ponderosa Pines are everywhere in the White Mountains of Arizona and the snow is still on the mountain in February.


 

“Mayberry on Acid”

April 17th, 2016

“Mayberry on Acid” reads the sign in one of the many tourist shops that climb the main street of Bisbee, AZ.  The town sits eight miles from the border of Mexico and I visited in February because of a recommendation of a man sitting next to me on a bar stool in Tuscon.

“You should go!” So I did.

Bisbee, AZ is a mountain resort town that sits nearly on the Mexican border

Bisbee, AZ is a mountain resort town that sits nearly on the Mexican border

The town’s elevation attracts tourists because it is about 10 degrees cooler here than in Tuscon.  You might need a burro to climb the main street or reach one of the guest houses.  Many of these accommodations feature fabulous views, streets that would put San Francisco’s crooked street to shame and stairs, stairs and more stairs.

The Copper Queen Hotel is the jewel of the town past, present and future.

The Copper Queen Hotel is the jewel of the town past, present and future.

We stayed in the Copper Queen.  You can’t miss it.  This is the biggest building in town.  I was built when the Copper Mine opened, then a hard-rock mine.  It remained there for the famous, the working class and the working-girls.

Famous folks stayed at the Copper Queen.

Famous folks stayed at the Copper Queen.

Two plaques drew my attention.  President Teddy Roosevelt stayed here, of course, and actor John Wayne, also of course. The names of other plaques were not familiar but I discovered they are former working girls and one is a resident ghost.  They still rent his room, though.

The Copper Queen is still a grand old lady with a checkered past

The Copper Queen is still a grand old lady with a checkered past.

Entering the lobby and looking at the safe tucked behind the counter and the old room keys, I really felt I should ask for a brandy and a cigar.

A t-shirt in one of the shops advertises Bisbee as Mayberry on Acid

A t-shirt in one of the shops advertises Bisbee as Mayberry on Acid

There are many artists in Bisbee and creative folks.  This is a fence made of old metal headboards that I found really creative.

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Not all the sights are awe-inspiring. This is the remains of the Lavender Pit – an open pit copper mine.

900 feet deep scar sits south of Bisbee – the Lavender Pit is named for the man who founded the mine, not for the color of the stone.

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The bars that were once filled with copper miners are now filled with tourists drinking margaritas.

I sat at the bar in this popular Mexican restaurant and watched the bartender making Margaritas like a Margarita-making machine.  They are the most popular drink there, he said.  I watched a petite woman finish hers and weave out the door with her date who looked none too steady on his feet.  Seems like a one-and-done drink.


 

ROAD TRIP: Boot Hill in Tombstone, Arizona.

April 2nd, 2016

Boothill in Tombstone, AZ at sunset.

“The only stone out there you will find is your tombstone.”

That is supposed to be what soldiers told the founder of the town of Tombstone, AZ.  But they were wrong.  Ed Schieffelin found silver.  A lot of silver.  But those soldiers were right about one thing.   Bunches of people did find their tombstone there.  I know because I recently visited Tombstone, AZ cemetery otherwise known as Boot Hill.  Many graveyards are called this because of the number of men who died with their boots on.

3-Fingered Jack Dunlop.

3-Fingered Jack Dunlop. I wonder if one of the fingers he lacked was his trigger finger.

Tombstone is a misnomer here because, although each grave is piled with stones to keep out critters, the markers are made of wood. Tombwood just sounds wrong, though.  Doesn’t it?

                      1881 – Hanged.

A woman working in the gift shop told me the weather is so rough on the wood they have to remake the markers every seven years.

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        You know the OK Coral?

The most famous residents here are the losers of the shootout at the OK Coral (Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury and Tom McLaury).  But there is no shortage of interesting ways to die here.

Some markers have the cause of death but no names.

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Here lies an unfortunate teamster killed by Apaches. Cause of death, but no name.

Some have no name or cause of death.

This marker reads only: Two Chinese

This marker reads only: Two Chinese

Sometime you get the name and the cause of death but no real answers as to why or how this happened.  Here is the grave of George Hand who was, apparently killed by Indians.

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George Hand -Killed by Indians

Some markers are just plain tragic.  This man’s marker reads: Here lies George Johnson Hanged by Mistake 1882 –He was right and we was wrong, but we strung him up and now he’s gone.

George bought a stolen horse, rode it into Tombstone where he was arrested and hanged for horse theft.  No one believed his story and the truth arrived too late for Mr. Johnson.

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There is no way to correct some mistakes, like, for instance, hanging an innocent man.

Most of the deaths were violent, but not all.  My brochure, purchased for $2, relates that one cowboy who laid to rest in an unconventional manner.  His friends lassoed his ankles and dragged him into his grave because no one really likes to touch a person who died of smallpox.

There are some markers renowned for their poetry, rather than for containing the famous remains of famous folk.  This one is often quoted.  Perhaps you have heard of it:

HERE LIES

Lester Moore.

FOUR SLUGS FROM A 44

NO LES

NO MORE

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                        Poor Lester

They don’t really know all the stories of all the men and women laid here to rest.  I’m left to wonder about just what happened to some of these folks because their graves give no clue.

I can’t really imagine what Tombstone was like in its heyday, but I do know it was not boring.


 

RT Top Pick! – Tribal Law

March 24th, 2016
RT Book Review Top Pick!

RT Book Review Top Pick!

I am so thrilled to tell you that RT Book Review selected Tribal Law as a TOP PICK for May!

This is my very first top pick and on a book that required a lot of work.

I loved this story and feel a glowing satisfaction at the acknowledgement that hard work (and a great revision letter) did payoff.

Complete RT Book Review for Tribal Law

Complete RT Book Review for Tribal Law

“If you’re not reading about the charming Cosen brothers, you’re really missing out.”  

~RT Book Reviews on Tribal Law~

Pre-order link for Tribal Law

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