Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XCVI: Twisters and Turns

6

July 11, 2017, Van Wert, OH-   My drive from Elkhart and Goshen was uneventful, until I reached the Ohio state line.  I had an idea, that I might stay in Lima, a northwest Ohio town, with a Baha’i connection (one of the early American Baha’i teachers was from there.)  That went out the window, as soon as I reached the first Ohio highway rest area.  Rain began falling, copiously, to say the least.  Thunder and lightning were, of course, a huge part of the mix.

I then and there decided to make my way to the closest town, Van Wert.  It was the right move.  No sooner had I checked into downtown Van Wert’s only motel, than a tornado alert came on the cellphone, and the motel manager began the process of evacuating her family, and all of us tenants, to the YMCA tornado shelter, across the street.

We spent about forty minutes in the Y’s basement, before the all-clear was sounded.  The twister had struck a town just north of Van Wert, but left us alone.  The night, after that, was peaceful.

Here is the undisturbed scene, the next morning, at Fountain Inn and at the Y.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

By now, Van Wert had grown on me, so a little exploration was in order.  There are two fine breakfast places in town.  I chose Truly Divine Bakery, figuring a little hubris is merited by people who have to live under the threat of tornadoes.  The other place, Balyeat’s, lists itself as “nationally known”, so I also thought Divine needed a boost.  The place has exemplary pastries, and marvelous breakfast sandwiches, so it was the right choice.  A group of A.M. Lions was having their meeting at Divine, so that was another good sign.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAM_8512.JPG

Midwest towns are, on the whole, homey, clean and standard.  There are often one or two surprises, though.  Van Wert has an impressive Courthouse.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It also boasts Brumback Library, the first county public library in the U.S.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Finally, there is the Marsh Foundation for Children and Families, serving the needs of high-risk children, since 1922, when George and Herlinda Marsh, a prominent Van Wert couple, saw the need for such a center in northwest Ohio.  The spacious campus  now tends to the needs of young people, from all over the country.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

So, Van Wert is a solid community, and well worth the time taken.  I stayed on U.S. 30, driving through Lima, but continuing on, in the interests of time, and of not knowing when another storm would present itself.  The highway did take me to two other appealing cities:  Mansfield and Canton, subjects of the next two posts.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIV: One Lady’s Flame of Learning

8

July 10, 2017, South Bend-

The University of Notre Dame has long been the stuff of legends, particularly when it comes to college football. There is, of course, far more to this fine institution, so it was ironic that the stadium was off-limits to the public today, with intense construction work being done, in and around it.  My tour of Notre Dame, courtesy of a long-time correspondent, focused on everything else that makes this campus such a great institution.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Our tour began near the Joyce Center,  a performance center, named for one of the University’s prime movers, Reverend Edmund P. Joyce.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I am always drawn to student art.  This metal dinosaur was produced by a team of Notre Dame students, and is one of a wide variety of projects, visible around campus.  While I was there, several pieces were being transported to storage, saving them during the summer construction.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Horticulture is as vital here, for aesthetics and soil enrichment, as it is at any great public place.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I give you two views of Touchdown Jesus, the lovely, famed, and rather presumptuous, mural which faces Ara Parseghian Stadium.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Rev. Drs. Joyce and Hesburgh are seen, discussing their vision for Notre Dame.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

There are several panels, along the wall of the University Library, depicting symbols from the Old Testament.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

There are four concrete pavilions, in the center of campus, honouring those who fought in World Wars I & II, Korea, Vietnam and the ongoing conflicts in western Asia.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

In the central fountain of these pavilions, is a steel ball, representing our shared planet.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Washington Center, Notre Dame’s administrative center, is topped by this golden dome.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Along the central corridor of the Washington Center are several portraits, depicting the life of Christopher Columbus.  An ornate crown may also be viewed, at the north end of the corridor.

My guide and I next proceeded to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  The modernesque features of the interior stand somewhat in contrast to the interiors of several much older cathedrals of, say, western Europe. Nonetheless, the artistry does a fine job of telling the Eternal Story.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The High Altar, the Altar of St. Peter and the Altar of the Blessed Mother appear, lined up.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Basilica’s ceiling calls attention to the Divine Sacrifice.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This tree shows its resilience, after a sacrifice of a different sort.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It was now time for my guide to head back to her other duties, so from here, I spent several minutes on my own.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

That time was spent in the Jordan Center for Science.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Center’s biological and medical research is wide in field, most notably its research into blindness.  The Museum, closed when I was there, has an extensive collection of skeletons and taxidermy.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Sundial hearkens back to a time when naturalistic observation meant the difference between life and death.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This has been one of the more fascinating campus tours, along with that, four years ago, of Princeton University, courtesy of another longtime correspondent. So, farewell, Notre Dame and Ara Parseghian Stadium.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

 

The Time Necessary

14

June 19, 2017, Cave Creek-

This morning, I read of Juneteenth, the delayed news of southern slave emancipation, and how it took two years, minimum, to reach Texas.

Shopping for water and ice, to help with a brief trip to Superior, I encountered the daughter of a friend, whom I have not visited in some time.  She was mildly cordial, the consequence, I’d say, of my lengthy physical absence, from their lives.  I feel the need to connect with them, at least for a few hours, before heading out of the area for nearly a month.

Driving to Sun Flour Market, for a brief visit with one of my closest soul connections, I was able to communicate all that was essential, in snippets of conversation, punctuated by intuitive insight, in ninety minutes, or so, around her busy management of the restaurant.  Like me, she gets the most accomplished, in a short time, through close attention to detail, while still being able to converse a bit- and put things together.  We can understand, and care deeply for, each other and for each other’s loved ones, with minimal talk.

Driving back to the Valley, I stopped at Local Jonny’s, to visit with  some of  my young angels.  They had today off, and were nowhere to be found.  A respite is always vital, if only for a day or two.

I need little of anyone’s time, or so I tell myself.  A new friend, whose acquaintance I made today, has a wealth of insight into the realm of the spirit.  I look forward to delving into her treasury of awareness,  and its connection to my Faith,in the days and months ahead.

There is time for me to finish downsizing; time to complete a set of cotton covers for the products of Days for Girls; time to help with any fire emergencies; time, always, for spiritual growth.  How much time will I have to devote to each?  It’ll depend on how much is necessary, to fully and lovingly attend to the task.  My lilies know this.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

A SoCal Break, Day 1, Part 2: Point Vicente

6

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESJune 12, 2017, San Onofre-   

Since first visiting Palos Verdes Peninsula, west of Los Angeles, a couple of years ago, I have wanted to go back and actually walk a bit, from one of the overlooks, down to the beach and back.  This afternoon, I chose the southern end of the peninsula, at Point Vicente, to make that hike.

The Point Vicente area is the site of a U. S. Coast Guard lighthouse, one of three in southern California- the others being at Point Loma, in San Diego, and at Point Conception, between Santa Barbara and Santa Maria.  As an active Coast Guard facility, it is off limits to visitors, save for a few hours on a certain day of the week.  This was not that certain day.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Point Vicente does have a lovely Interpretive Center, operated by the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.  The small museum, focusing on marine mammals and other aquatic life, is supplemented by a crew of docent volunteers.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

There is also a spacious viewing platform, with a particularly fine view, today at least, of Santa Catalina.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

In between the platform and the island, however, there is much to hold a visitor’s attention.  Beach plum is as plentiful here, as it used to be at the beaches of Massachusetts, when I was a kid.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Once down to the narrow beach, it is possible to walk for about 1/4 mile, before a field of boulders renders the walk questionable, at least in the eyes of locals.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Small rocks jut out of the open water, as they do all along the Pacific Coast, the result of continuous volcanic activity, over the eons.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Kelp is also plentiful, though the mollusks which feed on it are much rarer in southern California than they were, even ten years ago.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The rock below gave me the sense of a stranded turtle, looking seaward.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Flowering plants, like these daisies, always seem to find a niche, whether on the shore or in the desert.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I could not remember whether these are hydrangea or Oregon grape.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Palos Verdes’ trail system is also part of the California Coastal Trail, which “when completed” will provide access to 1200 miles of California shore line, from San Ysidro to the Oregon state line- after which, of course, the Oregon Coast Trail takes over, clear to Astoria.  I’m not getting any bright ideas, mind you, though there were four middle-aged people who made the trek from Crescent City to San Ysidro, in 2003.  The Trump Corporation has even granted an easement across its National Golf Course, south of Point Vicente.

Point Vicente, by the way, got its hybrid name from Captain George Vancouver, after his friend, Friar Vicente, when his ship rounded the peninsula, in 1790.   The connection, then, is with Mission San Buenaventura, some 92 miles to the north northwest.

A good day’s exploration done, I called it a rest, and headed southward, arriving here at San Onofre State Beach, a bit after 7 PM.  Tomorrow will bring a more sanguine visit with a friend of several years and a bit of collecting ocean water.

 

 

Single- Track Through Paradise

10

May 28, 2017, Cave Creek-

I have now gone from one point of angels to another, meaning from Superior to Cave Creek, via Globe and the Apache Trail.  This road (AZ Highway 88) is mostly single track, offering enough room for vehicles heading one way to pass, whilst those going in the opposite direction wait their turn.  It’s good for people to do this, at least a few times in their lives.  I last drove the AT, in 1983, with Penny in tow.  She was petrified and made me promise never to bring her there again. Today, she and my other spirit-minders made sure I paid close attention.  With scenes like the one below, it might not have been so easy, had my main focus not been on the well-being of everyone on the road, including yours truly.  Fortunately, there were also plenty of turn-outs.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

There are two lakes along the Apache trail, between Roosevelt Dam and Goldfield. Here is a view of Apache Lake.  When I taught at Villa-Oasis School, in the late 1970’s, this was one of the places groups of kids were sent for camping weekends.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Imagine how the Salt River must have flowed, before these reclamation projects took root.

At Fish Creek Hill, I drove up a 10% grade, made doable by the dryness of the road, and the cautious courtesy of all comers.  One is rewarded at the top, by  amazing views of the Superstition Wilderness.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Fish Creek Canyon looks like a fun place to hike and camp- in November.

I drove on, and found the pavement had resumed, about 1 1/2 miles west of the overlook.  So did one young man behind me, who chose to pass, on a double yellow line, in a 15-MPH curve zone.  The look on the face of the driver who had to stop and wait for him was classic.  I would not want to be on approaching driver’s bad side. Itchy Foot was the only one who broke courtesy, on the 44-mile drive.

I stopped at Tortilla Flat, a small tourist haven, close to Lost Dutchman State Park, in the heart of the Superstition Wilderness.  Siphon  Draw and Boulder Canyon are two popular hiking trails, accessible from Tortilla Flat.  Again, late Fall and early Spring are the best times for this area.  Tortilla Flat does offer a wide variety of cool treats, and I thoroughly enjoyed a sarsaparilla float.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Back in  1900’s Arizona,, sidewalks, and even some roads, were made of planks.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Having had a nice relaxing break, I headed on towards Apache Junction, then up through the Valley, to pay my Memorial Day respects to Penny.

There is one more attraction on the Apache Trail, before one gets to Goldfield (another, slightly more upgraded “ghost town”),  This is Canyon Lake.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Each of the lakes and vista points along the Apache Trail is worth a day or two, in comfortable weather.  People, nonetheless, go there, even in the heat of summer, at least where there is water.  Looking back, I spent most of my summer days in and around water, as a child and young adult, so the appeal is a no-brainer.  It beats being inside.

I stopped at the Cemetery, anchored Penny’s flag, and one other, and thought of how fortunate I’ve been, with her presence, since 1980, and since 2011.

As I pulled up to Local Jonny’s, a lovely young woman, who seemed to be an advanced medical or law student, given her heavy briefcase, was securing her dog’s leash to the gatepost.  There weren’t many inside, so  Alicia was  glad I stopped in, and in ten minutes, I had the last of her pitcher of iced tea and a cilantro chicken salad was placed in front of me.  Jonny’s salads are good for two meals, so I have Monday’s lunch in my cooler, as the drive back to Prescott begins.

Having angels surrounding me, in all directions, including above, is a comforting state of affairs.  Oh, and an e-mail from the chief of department leaves the door to my staying in Prescott ajar, at least.

 

 

 

 

Tonto National Monument and Roosevelt Lake

6

May 28, 2017, Roosevelt, AZ-  The day started with a wait to check out of  Copper Mountain Motel, Superior.  It was uncertain whether Ms. Amy would be up and at ’em, as stuff was going around, and had stopped at her doorstep, yesterday.  Well, she was over it, by 8:15.  I checked out of my superb room, with its reminder of what we are, as a nation.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

Globe, and breakfast, were next.  I spent about an hour with John and the dogs, watching as a hapless, and hopeless, individual ran over John’s flush hose, while trying to park at the RV clean-out station.  Some folks are worse off than I am, it seems.  We found the Copper Hen to be closed, so it was off to Judy’s Cook House, on the west end of town.  A few billowing clouds showed that the Pinal Fire was still a threat to the area, but was yet far from structures.  I heard nothing from the Red Cross, all day, so the fire is apparently being kept away, on this end.  Judy’s gave us a satisfying breakfast, and after solving a few of the world’s, or at least Globe’s, problems, John had to go straight back to customer service, at the Batting Cage, and I was on to Tonto National Monument, and Roosevelt Lake.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Batting Cage and RV Park are across the tracks from Globe Station.  Trains aren’t very frequent, these days.

Roosevelt Lake was named for Teddy, who of course had much to do with the reclamation of the West, as well as establishing places like Tonto National Monument.  It is visible from several points along the trail to the Lower Tonto Ruins, as well as offering four different recreation points.  The northernmost of these has a Visitor’s Center, which is closed for the holiday weekend.  The second photo below shows the marina near the Visitor’s Center.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Now, more about Tonto National Monument.  Here is a glimpse of the Upper Ruins, which are closed until November, due to the heat factor.  It takes 3-4 hours, roundtrip, for the guided tour.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Lower Ruins trail is open year round, so I enjoyed that area, as well as the indoor exhibits.  As I said earlier, views of Roosevelt Lake are plentiful from the trail.  The Huhugam, and the Salado people who replaced them, made good use of the then-free flowing Salt River, whose waters comprise Roosevelt, Apache and Canyon Lakes.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Here are some views of Lower Tonto Ruins.  Much of the wooden beams and braces are the original mesquite and ash used by the Salado people, in their construction.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Caliche, a calcium-based clay, is sticky when wet and hard as concrete, once dry.  It was the prime building material for the Salado people.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The docent told us that these beams are original Salado work, dating from 1150, or thereabouts!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Nooks and crannies abound, in the Lower Ruins.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

There certainly seems more room in this complex, than in the Huhugam dwellings at Tuzigoot and Pueblo Grande.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Below, is a kitchen cave.  Note that mano and metate are both caliche.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Amaranth was one of the Salado people’s staple foods.  It is the bright red plant shown below, and was also used in dyes.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Having had a brief, but brisk, hike up to the ruins and back, I headed towards Roosevelt Bridge and Dam, two miles further north. The Dam was dedicated by its namesake, Theodore Roosevelt, in March, 1911.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Bridge was completed, and opened, in October, 1990, after eighty years of vehicles being driven atop the dam.  Penny and I did so in 1983, and after we continued on to Apache Junction, via AZ Route 88, she made me promise never to do that again, with her in the car.  You will learn why, in the next post.

 

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XXIII: Great Lakes and Muddy Rivers

4

April 12, 2017, Prescott-  Every major transportation route, from airlines to roads, seems to lead to Chicago, or at least within its magnetic sphere.  For me, there is an added draw:  The Baha’i House of Worship for North America, in Wilmette, north of the city.  The House of Worship’s location, overlooking Lake Michigan, highlights the fascination I’ve long had, with the Great Lakes.  I would frequently visit “the Temple”, regardless, but the lake is a draw, in itself.  A few dips in its waters, as well as at Indiana Dunes and Fruitport, MI, have been a tonic, on a hot day. I have also been alongside Lake Erie, in Toledo, Cleveland and Erie, as well as Lake Superior, at Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The lakes are only part of what I have enjoyed about the east central region, between the Great Plains and the Atlantic Coast.  Chicago, as problematic as its internecine battles have been, remains a majestic city.  So, too, does St. Louis, especially with the Gateway Arch, and nearby Cahokia Mounds, highlighting the importance of the confluence of two great rivers.  Speaking of which, Cairo, IL has a special place in my heart, marking the union of the Ohio and the Mississippi.  I have prayed at Trail of Tears State Park, in Missouri and at Scioto Hills, Ohio, for the recognition that mankind is one, and that the Aboriginal nations feel vindicated of their long ago suffering.  I have felt intensely welcomed in Des Moines , in Cape Girardeau, New Madrid, and Rolla (MO), Quincy (IL), Francesville (IN) and Fruitport (MI).  Two of the best meals I’ve ever had, were in Dixon and in Vandalia (IL).

The Indigenous People of the riparian region may have irritated Abraham Lincoln, whose heritage I have honoured, in New Salem and Springfield (IL) and in Hodgenville, KY.  There would, however, not be as rich an overall heritage, for the Midwest, were it not for Cahokia, Chillicothe (OH), Pipestone (MN)  and the remaining nations that grace nearly every state in the East Central swath.  Too bad  that Honest Abe didn’t get to know the Native peoples better.  It may have made a great difference in the fates of their descendants.

I have plenty of family in this vast region- in Avilla and Blue Springs, MO, plus  Jeffersonville, IN.  Friends abound here, as well, in northern Illinois, the Twin Cities, Wisconsin, several parts of Missouri, eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, across Indiana, Little Rock, New Orleans, and eastern Alabama.

There remain many parts of the mid-section that pique my interest, from northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, to bubbling, revitalizing cities, like Kansas City, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Detroit.

I will be back across, on the way to/from a family reunion, in mid-summer.  It’ll be a fine thing to feel the water, and the warmth of Midwest welcomes.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, No. XXII: Wonders of the Middle Realm

6

April 9, 2017, Prescott- Yesterday, I wrote of the western third of the contiguous United States, which is where I have spent most of my time, since 1992.  Being from the East Coast, and preferring surface travel over flying,  especially when the weather is good, I have developed an affinity for the regions which many call “flyover country”.  The Great Plains and South Central regions may not have the jaw-dropping grandeur of the Mountain West or Alaska, but there is plenty worthy of spending one’s time.

The Rockies, of course, are the heart of the Mountain West.  In many visits to the heights of Colorado, I have felt most at home in Longmont, Loveland and Denver, where I have family.  Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods and Seven Falls have helped make Colorado Springs another “feel at home” stopover.  One of these years, I will find my way to the summit of Pikes Peak.  Boulder, also, has welcomed me, several times, with wonders ranging from Pearl Street Mall, and Boulder Books, to Eldorado Canyon, which I hiked in the rain, whilst carrying an umbrella.  The Tetons and Yellowstone invite me back, as well, with visions of geysers and Grizzlies.

As the Rockies recede into the Great Plains, I find Spirit Tower (forget the name, “Devil”), Medicine Wheel, the Badlands, Black Elk Peak (formerly Harney Peak), Scott’s Bluff and the determination of the Indigenous People of the prairie as riveting as any great mountain or canyon.  Little towns like Deadwood, Belvedere and Custer(overlook the name) (SD), Burlington, Granada and Walsenburg (CO), Wellington,Dodge City and Hays (KS) have been as welcoming as any place in the West.  There is, to my mind, a goodly amount of sophistication and culture to be found in Omaha, Lincoln and Wichita, as well.

Friends in Amarillo and Enid (OK) have helped make those cities almost necessary pit stops, on any eastward trek that takes a southern route.  Texas, like California, is a world unto itself.  I was captivated by the warmth I felt, across the state, from the great cities of El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston to small communities- Grand Saline, South Padre Island, Laredo, Marfa, Sanderson, Quanah and Temple.  There wasn’t much happening in Luckenbach, when I happened through there, but the locals were glad I came, anyway.  Revelations abound, across the Lone Star State, from the view of the Rio Grande’s confluence with the Gulf of Mexico, to Pedernales Falls, northwest of San Antonio, or the wild canyons of the Llano Estacado and the Trans-Pecos region.  My favourite museum section remains the Music Hall, at Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History, near the Texas State Capitol (itself an extraordinary edifice).  Then, there are the five missions in San Antonio- a very full day of discovery!

Oklahoma has no end of variety, but I will content myself with sending kudos to Lake Texoma and Lake of the Cherokees, Black Mesa(the state’s highest point, at its juncture with New Mexico and Colorado), Tonkawa and its monument to Chief Joseph, of the Nez Perce, and the heartfelt, humbling memorial to the victims of Oklahoma City’s tragic bombing, in 1995.  Oklahoma City remains the only place where I have been mistaken for a county employee- being invited to an employee barbecue, as I walked by, on the way to the Memorial.

I will continue to skip the temptation to fly over, as long as the weather is not too harsh.

 

Mocoa, Mosul, Memphis

7

April 4, 2017, Prescott- 

Three rivers converged,

burying some bodies,

and taking others into the maw

of the Amazon Basin.

Five nations’ armies converge,

blasting some innocents to smithereens,

sending others into the maw

of  pseudo-Islamic madness.

Four men converged,

in a sultry  neighbourhood.

One killed another,

sending America into the maw

of an outpouring of grief,

which the nation has yet to overcome.

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XIV: Picketpost Mountain

4

March 13, 2017, Superior, AZ- Spring Break started in earnest, this morning.  A drive down to my dentist’s office took care of a moderately vexing issue, then I stopped at Scottsdale’s lovely Baha’i Center, to recite my morning prayers, in its serene courtyard.

Superior, and the Upper Queen Creek Watershed, have long been on my radar screen as a venue for exploration.  Picketpost Mountain forms a spectacular backdrop for Boyce Thompson Arboretum, a compendium of desert flora, from around the globe.  Like its counterpart, Desert Botanical Garden, in Phoenix’s  Papago Park, “The Boyce” manages to educate a wide-ranging public, on the value of deserts and the importance of preserving the life that is found in them.  Much more about all that, later.

My immediate draw, even before getting to the town of Superior, was a brief (2-mile, round trip) hike in the eastern approach to Picketpost’s base.  This gave me a foothold on Arizona National Scenic Trail, the length of which may yet be in my future.  It was also not enervating, as I am in the last week of a sunrise-to-sunset fast, of 19 days’ duration.

Here are some of the sights that greeted me, in the lushness of the Sonoran Desert landscape.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This work station is managed by the Federal BLM, two of whose workers were on hand, when I first pulled in, to make sure I wasn’t planning on camping at the site.  Picketpost dominates Superior’s western approach, much as Pike’s Peak lords over Colorado Springs, and the San Francisco Peaks, over Flagstaff.  It was named by soldiers stationed here, under Gen. George Stoneman, in 1870, as it was a good spot for a sentinel post. Here are some of what await the serious hiker. (I would consider it in October, not before.)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The wall is a remnant of General Stoneman’s western camp.  The bulk of his operation was what is now the town of Superior, 3 miles further east.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

As you will see, continuously, in this series, the rains have been good to Arizona, this winter.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Thanks to my zoom,  here is a close-up of the top ridge, from a good distance.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

In the opposite direction, Weaver’s Needle says “Hey, remember me?”  I surely do, and what a marvelous trek that was!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I have encountered many heart rocks, all symbols that the Universe holds me in a good place.  Diamond-shaped rocks are a sign of one step further.  Superior would join Prescott, Bisbee, Flagstaff, Sedona, Tubac and Chloride as a special Arizona place in my heart.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Next up:  Oak Flat