DAN'S DAILY WEB-BLOG
"For the past decade, I ( E-mail) have traveled extensively throughout North America. My various travels have led me to forty-nine states, six Canadian provinces, and numerous foreign countries. In preparation for these journeys, I have read books, studied weather maps, watched the weather channel, bought numerous editions of Rand McNally's Road Atlas, checked out library books specializing in the local history of various areas, read and reread the Mobile Travel Guide, and upon arriving, I have been a scavenger of local newspapers and other scraps of information I could find available." (From Four Corners - Click here for the beginning)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - E-mail
Dan Kenneth Phillips enjoys travel stories and loves to meet unusual people. He is the editor of the online e-zine The Web Surfer Travel Journal, selected a top 100 travel site by Net Guide Magazine. For a number of years he travelled around the United States as an educational consultant. It was during that time that he wrote Four Corners - A Literary Excursion Across America. .
At various times in his career he has been: an educational consultant; a builder of a private satellite television network; an engineer who helped put a man on the moon; a video producer; a telecomunications consultant; an editor; a minister, and a travel writer.
He would like to have Four Corners published by a reputable publisher. Interested? Contact by E-mail. His articles have appeared in over two dozen publications. He is married, has one daughter, and lives in Tennessee.
And yes, be sure to check out the Contents of Four Corners before you leave. You might find a story worth reading.
FOUR CORNERS - A LITERARY EXCURSION ACROSS AMERICA
Text and photos by Dan K. Phillips
About the Author
1. Preface (Four Corners )
Includes photographs of Four Corners and the background of why Dan wrote this book.
2. The Photographer - (Tucumcari, N.M.)
Dan goes to Tucumcari, New Mexico, to visit the photographer who took Ian Frazier's picture for the the book Great Plains, a New York Times Best Seller. He discovers that Tucumcari's past is cluttered with untruthfulness. Read the true story of Tucumcari, N.M.
3. An Outlaw and a Politician - (Las Vegas, N.M.)
On the recommendation of a friend, he travels to the Teddy Roosevelt Rough Rider Museum to visit the "smartest lady in the world." There his discovery of the mixture of the wild west and shady politicians, plus the uniqueness of President Theodore Roosevelt, sets the background for this story.
4. The Blues Brothers - (Las Vegas, Nevada )
Riding a Southwest Airline is always an experience. Who would have guessed that riding an airplane,
dressed as Shumu the whale,would take him to the mysterious rhealm of multi-millionaire Howard Hughes.
5. Mysterious Adventures With Mark Twain - (Reno. Nevada )
For some reason, Dan always ends up where Mark Twain was. Read this story of a visit to Virginia City and Reno, Nevada, and read some weird stories of a bunch of "wild consultants" who spend a week in Nevada exploring!
6. The Poet - (San Francisco, CA. )
This is Dan's favorite city. This story describes his first visit to San Francisco to celebrate a wedding anniversary. He discovers the "ghost" of Jack Kerouac and hits several other literary high spots while here.
7. The Distant Listener - (Cape Cod, MA. )
Visiting Cape Cod for the first time, he discovers Henry Beston and Gugliemo Marconi. This leads to a history lesson on the beginning of radio listening and a unique baker (Ollie Ross) known to have picked up every radio station in the world. Was Ollie Ross for real?
8. Hermit of the Essex Coast - ((Jekyll Island, Georgia )
Jekyll Island is a special place for Dan. Study the billionaires who inhabited this island every winter. Listen to their stories of richness and pettiness. Before going to Jekyll Island, you must read about the hermit who's life changed forever because of being here.
9. A Writer and A Preacher - (Savannah, Georgia )
Did you know that the sign indicating where Flannery O'Connor was born is really a lie? Here is the true story of where she was born. And did you know John Wesley once fell in love here and caused a major disturbance because of this love affair. If you have read The Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, you need to read The Writer and the Preacher to capture even more weird tales of Savannah.
10. Patti's - The Best Restaurant in the World (Grand Rivers, KY.)
This is Dan's favorite eating place in all the world. Read this story and discover how a pot-bellied pig named Calvin Swine became the symbol of great American cooking.
Denman Herschel Phillips, my father- (1919-1980), who taught me the meaning of integrity.
Vallie Mae Davies Phillips, my mother- (1913-1999), who taught me the meaning of faith.
Janet Jeanell Phillips, my wife, who taught me the meaning of love.
Melinda Danette Phillips, my daughter, who taught me the meaning of joy.
He knew how to sit immovable, a part of the rock he rested on, until the bird, the reptile, the fish, which had retired from him, should come back, and resume its habits, nay, moved by curiosity, should come to him and watch him.
Emerson's Elergy To Thoreau
A certain taste for simplicity, for humility, self-effacement, silence, and in general a refusal to take seriously the aggressivity, the ambition, the push, and the self-importance which one must display in order to get along in society.
If they will listen, sing them a song.
I would like to thank several people who read this book and gave helpful advice; Carolyn Gregory who did such an important job in chasing commas and correcting my spelling, Shannon Honeycutt for being the first family member to read the manuscript, Lyn Phillips who encouraged me, and Mary Bee Rogers - one of the original blue noodlers - who spent time checking on the accuracies of my aging memory.
And to the travelers: The Reverent Belvin Cox-the best travel mate one could ever find- Terry "Parson Little Joe" Arnold, Mark "Hoss" Seanor, Linda "Miss Kitty" Fore, Rob "Hop Sing" Sauls, Charles "Hoo Doo" Bridgers, the Honeycutts -Alan, Jan, and Eric- Hassan the Lebanese, Judith Wooldridge, Cosette Baker and Wayne Ozment who gave needed input on "The Hat" to buy, Bill Tullar who owns the best restaurant in the world, Richard and Gerri Kay who loved California and showed us the big city of San Francisco, and Prissy who made me always want to come home.
VISIT TO FOUR CORNERS
For the past decade, I have traveled extensively throughout North America. My various travels have led me to forty-six states, five Canadian provinces, and numerous foreign countries. In preparation for these journeys, I have read books, studied weather maps, watched the weather channel, bought numerous editions of Rand McNally's Road Atlas, checked out library books specializing in the local history of various areas, read and reread the Mobile Travel Guide, and upon arriving, I have been a scavenger of local newspapers and other scraps of information I could find available.
I have interviewed passing strangers, walked many miles along strange city streets and unmarked paths to find significant historical monuments, and I have kept my eyes open for unique experiences. I have been rewarded by many surprises. I once met a man with the real name of Robin Hood and a pig named Calvin Swine. Like Columbus, I have not always found what I was searching for, but notable events and chance happenings have occurred that changed my perceptions of an area or revealed unsuspecting insights about myself.
A pivotal point on my journeys was a brown wooden Official Scenic Historic Marker I discovered on Highway 160, near the western edge of the Colorado state line, 124 miles west of the Continental Divide.
One-quarter-mile west is the point where
four States -- New Mexico, Arizona, Utah
and Colorado -- come together. This is
the only point in the United States where four
states meet. A concrete surveyor's
monument marks the common boundary.
The first Four Corners marker was set
in 1875- - dividing territories that
later became states.
A middle-aged Navajo Indian, wearing a checkered shirt, guards the entrance to the monument. He collects a dollar from each car that passes and snores when business stalls.
The monument is a slab of concrete, approximately 20- feet by 20- feet square, etched with the names of the four states: Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. Diagonal lines, birthed at each corner, bisect at the center, marking the official spot where the states intersect.
A brisk tour of the four states takes nineteen seconds. In the corner, bisecting Arizona and New Mexico, is a small tower. A short climb of four steps allows one to chronicle the moment by photographing relatives centered in four states. A favored position is for relatives to act like a bear and get down on all fours. Their left hand is in Utah, their right hand is in Colorado, their right foot is in New Mexico, and their left foot is in Arizona. It is an appropriate picture to carry home and show to friends on a cold winter night.
The monument is surrounded by a giant flea market. A variety of makeshift huts are filled with cheap knives, glassware, rings of varying sizes, necklaces, and a vast array of other jewels of dubious value. Every price is negotiable. Included as part of the admission to the flea market is a place of comfort, a row of portable toilets located in Utah. The entire area surrounding the flea market is circled by a posse of pickup trucks.
The San Juan River passes through Four Corners, and the inhabitants of the area are greatly concerned with problems surrounding the life of the squawfish. Squawfish are rather flabby fish that can grow to five feet in length and weigh as much as 100 pounds. The chubby little fellas can no longer migrate upstream during the spring because of several dams placed along the San Juan river.
Besides the animated talk of the diminishing lifespan of the squawfish, there was much discussion of several important events happening in the Four Corners area while we were there: an exhibition by the master of the chainsaw, Brett Stevens; a flute concert by a native American of some note of whom I had never heard; the world's largest old car race - a 12- day, coast-to-coast journey of pre-World War II antique cars; and the staple of Four Corners- Bingo.
AN IMPORTANT PICNIC
Another note concerned a picnic lunch at the Four Corners Monument. The four governors of the four adjoining states: Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado, were to gather for a picnic. "Something the four states' governors have done about once every 20 years," said local reporter Ray Crow in Cross Currents, A Journal of Life in the Four Corners.
Speculations abounded as to the form the luncheon would take. Would a blanket be spread over the spot marking the four states? Would each governor sit in his own state while feasting with his fellow politicians? Or would the governors play political roulet - that is with each governor sitting in an adjoining state as a gesture of geniune good will.
Certainly, one can see other difficulties in arranging such an event. If each governor had an aid sitting beside them while eating, it would mean that the form of a table would have a star shape with aids lined up in unison with their governor. No wonder they only meet every twenty years. The complications of such a feast staggers ones imagination.
But Four Corners was more than just a dusty flea market interrupted by chainsaw concerts and visiting governors. Prices on the merchandise were reasonable. There were no taxes, since it was located on an Indian reservation. The weather was perfect, and every spare space in the flea market was filled with four-wheel-drive trucks with large tires and powerful engines under the hood.
Growing up in the eastern part of the United States, I was reminded of the symbolic nature of four-wheel drive pickup trucks. These trucks represent the ultimate in freedom. Heaven in many parts of our country consists of a young man sitting in his new four-wheel pickup, a rifle perched circumspectedly behind his head, and an eager bird dog romping precariously in the rear of the truck.
An immediate revitalization took place in me as I watched the Indians lean against their trucks and take long drags from their Camel cigarettes. Such a peaceful sight. "If only General Custer could see them now," I thought. To commemorate the moment, I bought a picture of the flat monument and brought it home with me. To this day it sits on my desk in my study.
With relish and a sense of pride, I wish to mention that my companions on this journey were my wife, Janet, and my teenage daughter, Melinda. Most of the experiences recounted in the following pages we shared together. The frequent use of the word "we" means they were with me. A few of the journeys mentioned include other friends, either business associates or old friends, who accompanied me on these adventures. Some of the descriptions include multiple excursions into the same area. For reading purposes, I have tried to sum up each story as a single entity.
For me, Four Corners is the symbolic centerpiece of the United States of America. Everything about life seemed to connect there. Pieces of our countries historic jigsaw puzzle were united. Four Corners represents a source of hope, a place where revitalization can take place. It is a place of new beginnings, a memorable spot comparable to none other.
There is no experience that compares to being on all fours in four states at once while waving ones behind toward a blinking camera. Even Columbus would have appreciated this.
E-mail the author
To Chapter One: The Photographer - (Tucumcari, N.M.)
TO CONTENTS OF FOUR CORNERS