The Power of Farsightedness


March 19, 2023- I stood atop a small hill, this afternoon. It was the site of a settlement of the Huhugam (also spelled Hohokam) people, at what was the northern edge of their settlement. Salida Gulch is an area where one may take any one of five trails, most of which go up and down fairly steep hills. I went up and down three of them, as a cardiopulmonary exercise-but I digress.

The promontory has a clear 360-degree view, and so was very likely an outpost for sentinels, who kept watch on behalf of villagers living in the creek valleys below. If there were rivals, adversaries or even friendly visitors on the move, over Mingus Mountain to the east, the Bradshaw Mountains to the south, the Sierra Prieta and Granite Mountain to the west, or the forested valley of Granite Creek, to the north, these would easily have been spotted.

The sentries made homes here, and the excavation and retrieval of household implements, when this site was first uncovered by archaeologists, early in the Twentieth Century, indicates that their families stayed in the area as well-contrasting their security system with those more conventional to our own time, in which security patrols live apart from their loved ones, whilst on duty. Recalling that the ancient Aboriginal People had no wheeled vehicles or large draft animals, as far we presently know, the relative proximity of families to sentry sites is quite logical.

The physical farsightedness of these ancestors of the Yavapai, and other central Arizona nations, reminds me of the power that each of us, in our time, can exercise by social and spiritual foresight. Seeing looming challenges, and moving to face these, is needful of 360-degree vision, as well as the presence and support of those closest to us. These features take time, energy and attention-with the requisite maintenance of health and well-being, both physical and emotional.

The larger challenges of life on Earth are not overcome by insistence on one’s own way, by hiding from the world or by seeing oneself and those immediately tied to self as somehow separate from all others. Only through an inherent sense of unity may things like climate change, the attainment of true social justice and the rebuilding of society in such a manner that neither the extremes of wealth and poverty nor the dominance of nations by one self-appointed entity or small claque be faced and the inherent strengths and goodness of humanity be brought to the fore. All people and points of view must be heard, considered, and the most useful ideas brought into the mix.

These thoughts occurred to me, in that time of solitude, atop the small hill, above Salida Gulch.

Broken observation platform, Salida Promontory

No Aztecs, Many Aztecans


March 15, 2023, Santa Fe- The day featured what is almost typical of my visits outside Home Base, this winter: A light, cold, but not overbearing rain. So, I took my umbrella, donned my rain and shine hat (with its flap and wide circular brim, to aid in protection from the two elements) and set my phone to the QC-enabled audio guide, going around Aztec Ruins National Monument. A ranger spoke of Earl Morris, the driving force behind the excavation of the western sector of the ancient community and the original occupant of the house which now serves as the Monument’s headquarters and museum. She also noted that the name of the place came from a Spanish stereotyping of all Mesoamerican First Nations into a single ethnicity: The Aztecs. The Tewas, Tiguas, Towas, Keresans and Hopi who settled Chaco, Mesa Verde and Aztec, before dispersing to their present home areas, had their trade connections with the people of Mexico, but they were entirely separate, culturally and linguistically, from the nation that dominated much of that ancient land. Another focus of the ranger’s talk was the system of roads that traversed outward from Aztec, as well as from Chaco. With no vehicles or beasts of burden, the people likely had to carry cut wooden beams, building stones and other materials on foot, using hauling mechanisms and walking two or three abreast, for almost unimaginable distances, in order to build the communities.

Here are some scenes of this remarkable complex, the pride of modern Aztecans.

Great House, Aztec West ruins
Southernmost of three Great Kivas, Aztec West ruins
Connected apartments, Aztec West ruins
Interior, re-constructed Great Kiva. Aztec West
Central Great Kiva, Aztec West ruins
Doors connecting apartments, Aztec West ruins. These were created because of pot hunting by thieves, in the early Twentieth Century.
View of original doors connecting apartments, Aztec West ruins
Interior doors, Aztec West ruins

The ruins on the eastern and northern sectors of the complex have yet to be excavated to the point they may be safely shared with the public. The ranger also noted that there may well be sites buried under the modern town of Aztec. These could very well be uncovered at some future time, as so many sites have been, around the world.

The rain only intensified, after I left this UNESCO World Heritage Site, so postponed until a later time are Salmon Ruin and other sites in Bloomfield, southeast of Aztec-and a hike up Kitchen Mesa, at Ghost Ranch.

I am holed up for the night at King’s Court, a small, cozy place (and my favourite in this town) not far from either downtown Santa Fe or from Pantry Restaurant, where three people I love dearly provided me with a steaming bowl of Green Chili Stew-a perfect, healthful meal for this chilly evening.

“No Bad Things”


March 12, 2023- “There are no bad things that happen, only things that you like and things that you don’t like-but from which you have not drawn the lessons they offer.” Such was the position taken by a member of the Kaballah denomination of Judaism, in a Zoom session, this morning.

I tend to take a sunny view of many things that happen, and to soldier on through much of the rough stuff. It wasn’t always that way, and I have to own that a fair share of whining has come out of my mouth, over the years. I do draw the line at the slaughter of children, genocide and the greed of the powerful, yet Kaballah sees the Will of the Divine in those events as well.

The silver linings playbook offered by these mystics is arguably worth considering, and I have no idea about how the individual lives of Kaballists have played out-save one, who spent much of my brief encounter with her attacking my character and level of intelligence. I do not regard that individual as having been typical of the mystics.

The organizer of the discussion tends to regard my comments as rather banal, so I limit any responses to the highbrow commenters. Intellectual discourses, at a stellar level, are indeed above my own intellect, but the Kaballist grabbed my interest, with his provocative stances. Suffice it to say, that in the aftermath of a catastrophe, I tend to regard my own role as one of being full on in the cleanup crew. So, in the broader scheme, “soldiering on”, tends to be wont.

In the afternoon, after spending an hour or so with a pre-teen who showed how to do finger knitting (similar to Cat’s Cradle, for the uninitiated) and who tried his hand at origami (I’m no good at that, either), I went to Watson Woods Riparian Area, and hiked along the east bank of Granite Creek. The goal was to ascertain the water level of this creek that feeds into Watson Lake. The area walked was the southeast corner of the preserve, a segment in which I have spent little time in the past. It revealed that the creek is in good shape right now.

Across the creek lies Cottonwood Peninsula, about which more tomorrow. The trail does not distinguish between the intellectual and the raconteur.

A Dozen Years


March 5, 2023- Last night, an extended family member took her last breath and left behind many years of suffering. Hers was a voice of truth, at times hard to hear-but a voice that needed to be heard, nonetheless. Her passing was a bookend to Penny’s transition, twelve years ago today.

I’ve taken stock, a fair number of times since, of my “solo” journey-that hasn’t actually been taken alone. It’s worth looking back, though, every so often. Since bidding her adieu, I have sold a house, on my in-law’s behalf, settled into a solid one-bedroom apartment, gone through five cars, seen the marriage of our son to a strong, confident and beautiful woman, visited forty-eight states (only Montana and North Dakota remain unvisited) and six countries, completed two long local hiking trails (albeit in sections) and volunteered with five organizations, besides my Faith Community.

Most important, though, are the friendships made-both long-lasting and fleeting. Some have also gone on to the next level of existence. A couple have been lost, through miscommunication and the interference of those who saw me as some sort of threat. A few others have turned out to be nefarious, and had to be cast aside. Most, though, will be in my circle until death separates us, albeit temporarily. They will always be in my heart.

There is no real Master Plan to any of this-three of the cars were wrecked by the actions of other people and one just wore out; the house was sold because of a double-taxation scheme, in another state; the travel is a combination of who I am as a person and urges to see people who live far from here. The hikes are also a reflection of who I am, besides being a good way to help with one of my current focuses-weight reduction.

Yet, in another sense, I do follow a Master Plan-one which all of us follow, either wittingly or unwittingly: The Major Plan of the Creator. I am in awe of all that has happened in my life, particularly over the past forty years, and especially over the past twelve. Much, I know, remains to be rolled out, and I look forward to it all, the easy and the hard alike.

Instead Of…….


February 22, 2023, Patagonia, AZ- No matter what one does in this life, there will always be someone who thinks something else should have been done, instead.

I’ve heard suggestions, albeit gentle, that:

Instead of being in southern Arizona right now, I should be back in Prescott, preparing to set up a storm shelter.

Instead of setting up a storm shelter, I should be helping out in understaffed schools.

Instead of doing my “own thing”, I should be checking with those who could really use my assistance, back at Home Base.

I’m not being singled out, by any means. The President, no matter who he (and someday, she) is has more suggestions as to how to do the job, than just about anyone on the planet. Witness how the zero sum crowd equates the current president’s visit to Kiyyiv with unconcern for East Liverpool, or for the Mexican border. Anyone else in a leadership role has similar experiences.

There is another type of “Instead of”. That is when a planned activity is a victim to changing circumstances, and being graceful calls for other activities to take its place.

Thus, on this journey, the ferocious winds and rain that came here, this morning, nixed a hike to the border, in Coronado National Monument. Instead, I came upon San Pedro House, about eight miles north of Sierra Vista, where I spent last night. A delightful, if less taxing, hike in a loop from the small house to the San Pedro River and back, about 1.5 miles, replaced the planned activity. The winds were not as fierce as they were further south and I got to pay homage to one of the last free-flowing rivers in the Southwest.

Here are a few scenes from the privately conserved area.

San Pedro House, Cochise County
San Pedro River, between Sierra Vista and Bisbee.
Willow and Cottonwood, San Pedro Interpretive Trail
San Pedro River, assuming a channel-like flow.
Green Kingfisher Pond, fed by the San Pedro.
Wind-whipped grass, San Pedro Interpretive Trail.
Wooden water bin, near San Pedro House.
Children once played in this cabin, under the live oak.
Secured utility pole, leaning from the high winds, Old Town Bisbee.

After leaving San Pedro House, I headed to Bisbee, hoping to take lunch at High Desert Market and Cafe. It was closed today, so instead I found Le Cornucopia Cafe, just across the street from this temporarily concerning scene, of a tottering utility pole which, as one onlooker put it, could have set all Old Bisbee on fire, had it toppled and set the wires to sparking. The situation was handled swiftly and well. As for Le Cornucopia, their curried lentil soup filled the simple lunch bill very nicely.

Finally, as the wind was still pretty intense and a mix of rain and snow was falling, as evening approached, I came into this old mining town, in northern Santa Cruz County-an area of Arizona that I had not visited previously. Sonoita and Patagonia are picturesque, with the latter having a charming “Old West” hotel. So, here I am at Stage Stop Inn, for the night.

Stage Stop Inn, Patagonia

It always pays to follow the heart. The Universe has yet to steer me wrong.

Nature and Nurture


February 21, 2023, Sierra Vista- The day began, nicely enough, though it was raining in Superior. The rain continued, off and on, while I was taking in Boyce Thompson Arboretum, the town’s crown jewel. I have been here, three times before, but never under cloudy skies or when rain alternated between drenching shower and light drizzle. I was no worse for the wear; nor were any of the seventy or so others, including 57 fourth-and fifth-grade students, who did not let the weather get between them and the bountiful flora-with collections from various arid and semiarid areas around the globe. Starting with our own Sonoran Desert, the park takes in the neighbouring Chihuahuan, the Kalahari, western Sahara, the Mediterranean Rim, the deserts of Asia, of Australia and of South America.

Here are six scenes of nature, taking in its nutrients, on this mid-winter day.

East face of Picketpost Mountain, Boyce Thompson Arboretum
East face of Picketpost Mountain, as the fog is lifting.
Teddy Bear Cholla, rejoicing in the moisture.
Early blossoming camellias
A cardinal looks for food.
A pair of stone watchmen, east face of Picketpost Mountain.

There is much for me to visit, still, the next time I come this way: The Asian and South American desert gardens and Picketpost House, most specifically.

Next up was Biosphere II, the site of an experiment in enclosed living and recreation of natural environments, within that enclosed space. Two teams, each managing a separate mission, worked the space between 1991-1994. The space is presently owned and operated by the University of Arizona, which maintains the site in a good faith synergy with the original vision of Ed Bass and John P. Allen, who themselves were inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s “Spaceship Earth” project.

The site remains the largest closed ecological system ever created. Here are several photographs of the site, taken by my trusty camera, until it ran out of battery.

Staff residences and common building (right foreground), Biosphere II.
Overview of Main Campus, Biosphere II.
View of garden, Central Commons building
Freight Farm-the buildings in which hydroponic farming produces what is needed for the residents to live.
The Lung-which regulates air pressure, within the glass enclosure.
Fog-laden desert scape. This is one of many environments, created and maintained, within the glass-enclosed laboratory. Others include both High and Low Savanna, Rain Forest and Ocean.

Biosphere II was a noble effort, laid low by power-seeking and by human conflict. Nonetheless, the University of Arizona is giving the basic mission of the site its best shot. I am at a loss to succinctly describe the physics of LEO. This article may explain the concept, by which three landscapes are created on site.

Superior Rising


February 20, 2023 , Superior, AZ- The day started with heartwarming, and heart-rending, stories of Black artists of the 19th and 20th Centuries and the conflicted reaction of even the most prominent “abolitionists” of the Civil War era to women of colour who showed a gift for artistry. I confess that my blood boiled, hearing some of the stories. Every person deserves encouragement and a platform for prosocial gifts.

In the early afternoon, I slowly and deliberately made my way out of Prescott, stopping at Costco for gas and a quick lunch, in the overflow parking lot, and in Prescott Valley, to purchase nuts for snacking. Then, it was straight to this old mining town, which I had not visited since before COVID hit. The overall purpose, rain or shine tomorrow morning, is to re-visit Boyce Thompson Arboretum. This afternoon, though, I hit upon a rudimentary, but interesting, little walking loop, from Superior History Park, across the highway from Copper Mountain Motel, and northwestward across a footbridge, past Porter’s renovated Bar and Grill, then eastward into the small, but somewhat revitalized downtown.

Walking across the footbridge, I encountered a man walking with his infant daughter, who was just learning to walk and was gleefully taking steps along the metal bridge. I told them what a joy it was to see someone taking her first steps in such a delightful place. Dad lifted his baby girl up and showed her the dry, rocky bed of Queen Creek.

I kept going, past Porter’s, where a about a dozen people were enjoying the patio and several others were visible from the window. There is a fairly new park on the north side of Main Street, Besich Park, with a new pavilion. Where Sun Flour Boutique was, there is now Bella’s Marketplace and Cafe. Where the original Sun Flour Bakery and Coffee House was, there is now Random Boutique, where the curio shop was, and the more upscale Miners on Main in the old cafe section. Around the corner, heading back towards the highway underpass, is Superior Barmacy, also a dinner-only restaurant, with a small mural of the “Indian Wars” on its east wall. Such is Legends of Superior’s Downtown Loop Trail.

Here are some scenes of the trail.

Mining Elevator, Superior History Park
Picketpost Mountain, from Lower Queen Creek Canyon
Queen Creek, from the Legends Footbridge.
Hematite and copper boulder, Main Street, Superior
Besich Park, Superior
Apache Yavapai warriors, (Mural at Superior Barmacy Restaurant)
Queen Creek, from Stone Street Bridge, Superior

The night’s focus was a Baha’i study circle, which I facilitated on Zoom, focusing on social action. It is clear as day that there will be no end to the need for such a focus. For now, and for the foreseeable future, I will offer such acts of service, small and large, as the opportunities present themselves.



February 16, 2023- Two boys took up my attention, for much of the day-one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Both did their best to dodge work, but I have crafted my own style of dodging, over the years. Each young man was eased into completing at least two hours of work-at his own level and pace, but it was done willingly. I have heard that little good is ever achieved through the use of force-and I am seeing that it is true.

Today was the last day of four weeks worth of substitute teaching assignments. The work ended up being truncated, with snow and ice getting in the way of schooling- three weeks ago and again, yesterday. My first thoughts, on both occasions, were for the safety and well-being of all the affected children. It happened, on the first canceled day, that someone dropped the ball, just a tad, and a busload of students sat for an hour, then gave up and went home. The driver, for his part, kept them all safe and warm for that hour. The issue was communication, back and forth, at higher levels-probably including a call or two to state education officials. There is no truncating the safety of people, especially of children, and it is my understanding that lessons were learned by people long out of school.

My journey to southern Arizona is also truncated-and will be from noon on Monday to late Thursday afternoon or evening. The route will be circular and clockwise-to Superior, Biosphere II, Bisbee and Coronado National Monument, that I may finish a hike to the border, and head back up, through Sonoita, Patagonia and Tucson-making a call on an old friend, before getting back in time for activities on Friday morning-at the very least. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Kitt Peak will happen, later this Spring, as a separate journey.

Some things will never be truncated: My loyalty to, and love for, family and friends-even though I may not see or speak with them much. We will each meet again when it matters most. Just know you are never out of my consciousness.

The Captain’s Trail


February 3, 2023-

Early morning at Watson Lake

It is Hiking Buddy’s birthday, so what better way to mark the occasion than for us to take in an unvisited trail, above Watson Lake. The approach to most trails on the east side of the lake lies in walking a 1/2 mile each way on Peavine Trail, a converted rail bed. This quotidian part of any hike has its own magic, depending on the time of day, as shown above.

Our jaunt was primarily concerned with Captain’s Trail, a fairly short walk up into the southern reach of Granite Dells. Fortunately, it is a loop trail, connecting with Easter Island Trail, which we did the last time we were here. Here are a few scenes of the robust rock formations, left us by glacial action during the Pleistocene Era, aka The Ice Age.

Looks like a family meeting, Captain’s Trail
Signs of an early Spring, Captain’s Trail
Folded serpent’s head, Captain’s Trail
Standing granite slabs, Captain’s Trail
View of Watson Lake, from Captain’s Trail

A birthday lunch at Wildflower Bakery capped the morning, before we had to head off to our respective errands. I got a much-needed haircut, deftly carried out by the manager of Fantastic Sam’s, with my regular barber temporarily out of commission. I would rather have done this, before our hike, but life is not always neat.

It is always enjoyable, to get on the trail with Akuura- and with so many trails in this area, not to mention Sedona, it ought to be a wondrous Spring.

Things I’ve Learned


December 31, 2022– As another Gregorian calendar year heads to the history books and memory n, what is most important, for an individual, are the lessons brought forward over the twelve months now past.

So, here are twelve things I’ve learned, some cogent, others banal-but all useful.

January- The border between the United States and Mexico is neither as chaotic as politicians away the border claim it is nor as smoothly functioning as it might be. I saw many content, focused people at the station in Douglas, AZ and no evidence of hordes of people sneaking through, at Coronado National Monument, a rural station, south of Sierra Vista.

February- Human beings, regardless of how they come to identify themselves, deserve the respect of those around them-and a keen listening ear. Losing someone who has not been completely understood by some of those around her was both unsettling and cautionary. Rest in Peace, Salem Hand.

March- Most of Man’s inhumanity to Man stems from insecurity. Andersonville showed the historical proof of that, both through its physical remnants and through the exhibits on Prisoners-of-War, both within this country and around the world. A more benign case occurred, in Miami Beach, stemming from a middle-aged man, having designs upon much younger women and threatening violence when I cautioned them about one aspect of his proposal.

April- There is no foolproof means of transport. Taking a train, when the route is secure, is a marvelous way to both see the countryside and to make good friends. The system is not without flaws, though, and a fire at a remote bridge resulted in my taking a Greyhound bus, between San Antonio and Tucson.

May- It is never too late in life for people to connect. An odd proposition was made to me, by someone much younger-and was quickly, if politely, deferred. On the other hand, two people who had been alone for several years, found each other and had a lovely garden wedding, making for several years of a solid bond.

June- There are still places where even brief inattention to surroundings can lead to discomfort, even momentarily. I found one briefly “wet” situation, checking out the depth of a bog. Fortunately, it was an “oops” moment, and caused no difficulty to me or anyone else.

July- You can go home again, but family is often going to be swamped with schedules, plans made at the last minute by spouses and friends, or just the crush of dealing with one of the greatest of American holidays.

August- No matter how well a car is maintained, the aftermath of a chain-reaction accident can lead to a total loss being declared, even 1.5 months after it occurs. So it was, for the vehicle that took me across seemingly ridiculous distances, with nary a squeak. Another person’s health issues led to Saturn Vue’s demise.

September- Not all Baha’i school events need include a heavy dose of scholarly presentations. Just being with children and youth, in crafting, dancing and fellowship, is as much a tonic for the soul as any engagement with intellectuals.

October- New friends, made in the wake of a bureaucratic flub, and clear across the continent, to boot, are as fine a result of a mistake as I can imagine. Three Bears Inn will be a place where I could definitely stay for several days, especially en route to the great mountain parks of the northern Rockies. It is all the sweeter when followed by a visit with dearly beloved friends, themselves so much like family.

November- Speaking of family, it is never necessary for my biological family to expend energy on my entertainment. They do so anyway, but just reveling in their presence and celebrating their achievements, is the finest way to spend any time-especially a holiday.

December- As an Old Guard increasingly passes from the scene, among my cohort of veterans, younger people are arising, in service to those who served our nation. I am also re-learning the rewards of patience, with those around me, as we all face increasing uncertainty. They need me, as much as I need them. I also need to be patient with myself.