15​.​) ℘ The Blue Occupation [i]

from by Jesse Livingston

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] The sign read PHOENIX, because that was what I wanted. I wanted to get to Phoenix, so I drove down Route 17 through the Agua Fria National Monument. The guidebook said:

The Agua Fria National Monument is located 40 miles north of Phoenix.

Brief Description
The 71,100-acre Agua Fria National Monument contains one of the most significant systems of prehistoric sites in the American Southwest. At least 450 prehistoric sites and four major settlement areas are known to exist within the monument. This area contains two mesas—Perry and Black Mesa—and the Agua Fria River Canyon. In addition to its rich record of human history, the monument contains a diversity of vegetative communities, pristine riparian habitat, topographical features and a wide array of wildlife. Elevations range from 2,150 to 4,600 feet.

Take Interstate 17 to either Badger Springs or Bloody Basin Road.

Permits Required
Activities that were permitted on these public lands before the designation, such as grazing and authorized rights-of-way are still allowed, except for new mining claims. No new permits will be authorized until a monument management plan is completed.

Recreational Opportunities
Prehistoric archaeological sites, such as stone pueblos and rock art, are numerous but remote and inaccessible. Currently, no sites have been developed for public visitation. Visitors who encounter archaeological sites are encouraged to observe, enjoy and photograph them while leaving all artifacts as found for others to discover and appreciate. Artifacts are a non-renewable resource, so we must take care of what remains. Defacing archaeological sites is vandalism and is punishable by law. Additional activities include wildlife viewing, photography, primitive camping, hiking, hunting and rugged back-country vehicle travel (no off-road travel allowed).


Visits to the area require special planning. Potential hazards exist, including rugged and unmarked roads, poisonous reptiles and insects, extreme heat and flash floods. Visitors should bring plenty of water and gasoline, and stay on main roads. Four-wheel drive is recommended.

The part about Facilities and Safety made me smile. It was good to be in a place where potential hazards exist. I hadn’t brought any spare gasoline, and I was thinking about the tank and whether I had enough to make it forty miles when I saw him up ahead on the side of the road with his thumb stuck out. He was smiling and pretty good-looking when I slowed down to stop beside him.

“Hey, man,” he said, “you goin’a Phoenix?”


from A Thousand Lifetimes in an Hour, released December 21, 2012



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Jesse Livingston Denver, Colorado

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