Parks & Nature Trail
The Arizona-1st has been represented in Congress by Representative Ann Kirkpatrick since 2013. She has said she will vacate the seat in 2016 to run for the U.S. Senate.
Cities & Towns in Arizona-1 include:
- Casa Grande
So…what is in the Arizona-1st? Well, hmm….there’s The Grand Canyon National Park. What could I possibly say about the Grand Canyon that hasn’t already been said, more eloquently, by many others? Teddy Roosevelt, for instance.
“Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American…should see.”
I will say this though based on my own two visits, the old saw about pictures not doing it justice is true. The inverse is also true, however. It doesn’t really do pictures, like this one, justice either. The light and the sky and the colors they produce are never the same and that is really the amazing thing about this place. It is ever changing and it is all encompassing and you will never really know what that means until you go.
One Great Day in the Arizona-1st
A note about this section. One day isn’t long enough to spend in any district – it’s not nearly long enough to really understand the place and everything that makes it unique. But time for both real and virtual expeditions is often limited so I’ve chosen a day to try to encapsulate what the district is like. If you go…and have longer to spend, you should.
Furthermore, these are just the things my family and I would find interesting, many of which I’ve never been to – you probably would find and suggest others. Let us know where it says Leave a Reply at the bottom of the page or better yet, drop us a line if you’d like to write a guest post about any district.
About 30 miles south of Flagstaff, the largest city in this district, is the town of Sedona. Although the year-round population is only around 10,000, the city is well known on several fronts. Red sandstone formations like Cathedral Rock (pictured) dominate the landscape and serve as a backdrop for outstanding hiking and mountain biking. We’ll begin the day hiking this area. While we’re at it, we will look for some of Sedona’s famous spiritual vortexes. What’s a vortex? Wild Sedona.com puts it this way:
“A vortex is a place, usually on or near an interesting rock formation, where people have reported feeling inspired by a beneficial source of energy. If you’re skeptical, that’s okay – looking for vortexes (vortices?) is still a fun excuse for a hike.”
Sold – and personally, I’ll take all the inspirational and beneficial sources of energy I can get.
After a couple of hours of hiking it’s on to Sedona itself for a brief visit. The town is also a very well-known arts community with more than 80 galleries centered around an area of the main drag now known as Gallery Row. The Sedona Arts Center is probably a good place to start.
An old friend of mine went to college at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and a couple of others spent some significant time in the city, known locally as Flag. Everything I’ve ever heard has made me want to
spend longer than the few minutes at a time I’ve spent in passing through on trips to or from the Grand Canyon. The city is at 7,000 feet and Ponderosa Pine is everywhere ; it has reminded me of another Western town, Bend, Oregon, which I love and have called home twice, but more on that when we get to the Oregon-2nd.
The problem with Flagstaff is that darn canyon beckoning…nearby, but still a ways away, so on this particular itinerary the stay would be pretty short too. The timing would be good to walk around awhile downtown and then have an early lunch. Mix was voted the best lunch spot in the Arizona Daily Sun’s 2014 Best of Flag – it sounds good to me -nice looking salads and sandwiches. Other Recommendations? Bring em on below. Also of interest for another journey, The Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail, which can apparently be explored via a 14-person group bicycle known as the Alpine Pedaler includes 13 microbreweries, including several near each other downtown. On this trip, though, we’re driving on.
It is about 83 miles and 90 minutes from Flagstaff to the Desert View Campground at the East Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. Arriving this late in the day, we will opt for a short hike on the Rim Trail and then set up camp. There are whole Web sites devoted to visiting and exploring the Grand Canyon and they are easy to find on the Web. In essence, though, there are three types of experiences: The South Rim, The North Rim and the Inner Canyon.
The South Rim is the easiest to get to and the only part of the park where facilities are open year round. As a consequence, it is busy and crowded, particularly in the summer. Reservations are essential if you plan on staying at the park. Five million people visit the park each year and the vast majority come to the South Rim.
The North Rim is more remote – 207 miles (about four hours) from Flagstaff and much less crowded. But its only open from mid-May to mid-October and unless you are going up toward the Four Corners or toward the Utah national parks, it really isn’t on the way anywhere.
The Inner Canyon is, as the name implies, the area between the two rims. Several hiking trails descend both rims and there are also mule trips to the bottom and raft trips down the Colorado River. The South Kaibab trail goes from rim to rim – 21 miles and there are two campgrounds en route.
On this trip, we would hope to spend the night (first come-first served) at the Desert View Campground, which although it has no showers and is considerably more primitive, is also less crowded and closer to the Canyon. Dinner on this night is a Craib family camping favorite cooked at our site. My grandmother, Mildred (Gram) Craib introduced my family to a recipe she called Chuck Wagon when my brothers and I were growing up and my mom made it many times. Despite the resemblance to a dog food brand (dutifully noted when we were teenagers) we all loved it then and still do. It’s basically a simple chili with an unexpected curry twist. Here’s the way I remember the recipe as I cook it often to this day, particularly when camping.
Calling it a Day:
There are several lodges within Grand Canyon Village and prices vary from under $100 to almost $500 per night. As noted, however, we would end this great day by camping at either the Desert View or Mather campgrounds in the park.
More Days? – More Things to See and Know in the Arizona-1st
- The North Rim – if you have the time, it is worth it
- Arizona Snowbowl – Yes, it snows in this part of Arizona – sometimes a lot – just north of Flagstaff
- Museum of Northern Arizona– A very significant collection of Native American artifacts in Flagstaff – a city in close proximity to several Native American reservations
- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument – Ancient (13th century) ruins from the Hohokam period
- Winslow Arizona – I’ve stood on a corner in Winslow, AZ. You should too.
What Seems to Matter Here:
In a district as large as the Arizona-1st (at about 56,000 square miles, it is bigger than half the states in the country) it is difficult to identify common issues. The district stretches from the northern half of the state, which is most of what’s covered above, all the way down to the suburbs of Tucson in the far south of Arizona. When it makes news, it is mostly because the district is considered one of the more politically competitive in the country, though whether this will still be true when Rep. Kirkpatrick leaves the seat to run for the Senate remains to be seen.
But the environment and environmental management are critical across Arizona. Tourism is a big part of the economy in the “The Grand Canyon State,” particularly in the northern part of the state in proximity to the canyon. As noted earlier, about 5 million people per year visit Grand Canyon National Park and many if not most of them spend some time in the Flagstaff region.
Representative Kirkpatrick’s site lists many of the common “issues” found elsewhere: Education, Energy & The Environment, Health Care, Jobs & The Economy, etc but the bulk of her press releases seem centered on Jobs, Transportation and Veteran’s issues with jobs being the common thread running through all of them. Recently she penned an op-ed piece supporting continued progress on what’s known as the 4FRI initiative, which will become the nation’s largest forest thinning and timbering project across 600,000 acres. It is interesting and worth a read.
Strangely, what’s important to the Arizona-1st may soon change without any changes to the lives of its citizens. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a lawsuit filed by the Arizona Legislature that would turn over a voter mandate that legislative district lines be drawn by an independent redistricting commission. This is a practice used in several states but despite the fact that its voters approved the move; the Arizona Legislature says that is unconstitutional and wants the power to draw the districts itself back.
The motive is pretty purely political as the end result would almost certainly be lines redrawn to favor Republicans since the legislature is dominated by the GOP. Ironically, the same fight is being held in neighboring California with the opposite likely outcome since that state’s legislature is Democrat -controlled.
Gerrymandering is one of the most persistent challenges to a truly representative government we face today. Although the Constitution leaves the power to draw district lines with the states, there are three different approaches used by states across the country and they can get pretty complicated. Most give the power to the state legislature – though the approaches within those are quite different. In Connecticut and Maine, for instance, a 2/3 super-majority is required to redraw maps and in several other states advisory commissions or backup commissions are used to draw the maps if the legislature hasn’t, as mandated by the Census.
A few other states use politician commissions, generally politically appointed commissioners to draw the maps. Finally, a handful of states (including both Arizona and California) currently use independent commissions, which make prohibitions against politicians and elected officials from participating and are directed to choose members meant to represent both political parties equally. This seems the fairest approach to me but the issue is complex – here’s a whole Web site devoted to it. Interestingly, a new bipartisan bill has been submitted to this Congress that would direct the states to use, at least, similar guidelines and create commissions. The Redistricting Reform Act hasn’t gotten much press, primarily because it is unlikely to pass the House and it’s not at clear that mandating that states use the same approach is what the Constitution intends.
What is clear to me is that in the winner-take-all world of electoral politics, drawing district lines purely to benefit one of two national political parties is directly subversive to the will of the American people at the local level and countermands much of the framer’s intent for the House of Representatives. Want to make government more effective? Push your state to end gerrymandering by whatever means necessary….oh…and Take the Pledge!
The start of the Commerce & Industry Trail in the Arkansas-3rd
The Parks and Nature trail is headed for the Nevada-4th.