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Tue, Feb. 18

Hutchins pens book about AZ

When Terry Hutchins started his research on what you can find on Arizona roadsides, he never imagined it would someday develop into a guidebook.

He said everything started with a little excursion.

“I led a science teacher trip to the Grand Canyon,” Hutchins said. “I thought I was going to sit on the bus and do nothing. But they (the teachers) started asking me a lot of questions about stuff along the way.

“I wasn’t able to answer a lot of the questions and I thought it (the information) would be good for tourists.”

Combining the concepts of college road logs, which offer information about the area of study, with what he found along the road, Hutchins formed his own style of book.

“I took the idea of the road logs and added other areas like geology, human history and then also other areas of general interest, like bridges and canals,” he said. “The intent when I started was not to publish a book. It was just sort of fun.

“Some people thought it was interesting, so I sent out some guides in California and Gem Books was interested.”

His book entitled, “Arizona Roadside Discoveries,” published by the Gem Guides Book Company of Baldwin Park, Calif., recently hit bookstore shelves.

The guidebook describes what people will find travelling eight popular tourist routes in Arizona, using Phoenix as the hub. The first route maps out the Grand Canyon. The second route is from Cordes Junction to Prescott. The rest start in Phoenix and connect with Kingman, Quartzsite, Yuma, Tucson/Casa Grande, Globe and Payson/Heber.

The guidebook started as a pastime.

“It took probably three years of serious work — it was kind of a hobby,” said Hutchins. “Whenever we would drive somewhere, I would take a note book and jot down stuff and then go back and research it.”

The work would not have been possible without the support of his family.

“My wife, Denise, had to drive of course and Liz (Elizabeth, his daughter) probably got tired of stopping at every intersection to look at rocks,” Hutchins said. “They were both encouraging and helpful. And Denise helped me when I was having problems describing things — she always had words.”

Hutchins, who graduated from high school in Williams, said students should never give up on dreams.

“I was certainly no scholar at Williams High School,” he said. “You get out of it what you put into it. It comes down to that a lot of the time.”

Dorothy Hutchins, Terry’s mom, still lives in town. Northern Arizona University is where Hutchins received his teaching degree in science.

“Arizona Roadside Discoveries” includes human history, fauna, flora, geology, general interest items and suggested stops. Each of the facing pages has a description, which includes an aerial photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, items of interest photos and a description of what to expect at each milemarker.

“The descriptions on the page facing the aerial photo and map will acquaint the traveler with roadside features that may otherwise go unnoticed,” the book states.

Whenever Hutchins, who works as a teacher in Mesa, didn’t know the answer to one of his questions he counted on people he knows.

“I have friends that specialize in different areas,” he said. “They also gave a lot of advice and told me things I missed.”

“Arizona Roadside Discoveries” is available at Barnes and Noble, and can be ordered from any bookstore.

Extra thanks go to Larry Hutchins,— Terry’s brother and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad employee, Larry Lanstaff and Steve Trussell — Mesa Public Schools, Gail Lichtenhan — Arizona Mining Association and AJ Lombard — Mesa Community College, for their help with the book.

Hutchins also suggests looking at Byrd Howell Granger’s book, “Arizona’s Names: X marks the Place.”

“It was an important reference book, and is highly recommended for those who wish to learn more about the events and people who shaped this region in the early days,” the book states.

At the end of the book are six appendixes consisting of interesting sites found at the end of the eight routes, Arizona cactus, wildflowers of Picacho Peak, desert plant adaptations, common Arizona rocks and a desert survival challenge. A glossary is also included.

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