Clear As Mud


March 4, 2017, Camp Verde- One of the features of Arizona life, that escapes many visitors, is the seasonal vitality of our rivers.  After taking part in a Red Cross service activity, I headed to Clear Creek Day Use Area, which offers access to the West Clear Creek, as it heads southeast, towards its eventual confluence with the Verde River.  As you will see, the creek’s name, this time of year, is a misnomer.


There was a party of above 18 people, including two small children, preparing to raft West Clear, as I arrived for a short hike along its west bank.  All were well-suited up for the experience, and I wished them safe passage.  Below, are several things that awaited them.


Of course, there was plenty of open water, behind this particular tree; but you get the picture.


One of the attractions here, in calmer weather, is the jump-off point.


Some people just figure, in the dryness of September and October, that it’s no big deal to leave a memento of industrialism.  More’s the pity.


Once back on drier terrain, I made note of the footbridge, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, way back in 1940.


There was still some energy left in me, so, despite it being the period of the Baha’i Fast, I took in a short segment of Copper Canyon Trail.  The last time, I walked the north segment, which leads to I-17.  This time, I headed southward and up a small mesa.  It is not an especially spectacular trail, but it’s nature and I practically had the place to myself.  An old cowboy, passing by, made note of my Red Cross t-shirt and remarked as how such charities are in debt, before going his way.  While that may have been true, at one point, I’m not so sure that our donors put up with such, anymore.


Anyway, here are a few scenes, which a couple of herds of cattle and I shared, along the trail.  There wasn’t much water in Copper Creek, but it was clear.


It wasn’t long, before I headed up the two switchbacks which led to the mesa top.  There are, actually, about five such mesas, rising up out of Copper Canyon.  The scene in the near distance, is Clear Creek Village, just south of Camp Verde.


It is possible for the discerning eye to see traffic, headed northbound, on I-17.


Despite the winter’s continued scenes of bareness, the promise of Spring is evident, in these wild dandelions.


So, there goes a very full day, spent with our beautiful eastern neighbour, the Verde Valley.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XI: Purification


March 2, 2017, Prescott-  

A handsome, smug man, in his twenties, happens upon a lovely woman, about his age, tries to get a date with her, and is rebuffed.  He stalks her, online, and screen-shoots photos she has posted on her social media.  He finds that, instead of going on a date with him, she went to a rave, at a converted factory.   Incensed, (no pun intended), he goes to the very next rave, finds her, and drops an incendiary device near where she is standing.  He has carefully jammed the nearest exit shut, the device goes off, and 39 people die, in the ensuing blaze.  The woman he wants survives, but is burned over 30 % of her body, and is blinded.

This was the gist of a three-part episode of Dick Wolf’s “Chicago” quadrilogy, which aired Wednesday evening.  It hit hard at me, for several reasons:

  1.  I have had a family member, by the grace of God, survive severe burns and go on to live a full life.  I could not imagine life without that family member.
  2. There was a time in my life, about seven years, when I was rebuffed by women, primarily because of my own awkwardness and quirky behaviour, not because of any particular flaw on their part.  I never harboured any desire for revenge against any of them, figuring we would each find our own special soul.  I did, and had thirty good years with her.  One of the women, I know for certain, also did and has had nearly 47 wonderful years, with a very good man. I’m willing to bet that a good many others have had fine relationships. I’m glad we’ve all moved on, in peace.
  3. I maintain that the worst human loss is that of a parent losing a child.  Thirty nine couples lost a child, in the triptych mentioned above.  My in-laws lost their daughter, nearly six years ago.  My mother lost a son, many years ago.  Some good friends have lost children, over the years.
  4. I know children, still of formative age, who show serious signs of heading in a sociopathic, or at least misanthropic, direction.  Good people, professionals, are doing all they can to head such a fate off, at the pass, in a manner of speaking.  Yet, we can’t save everyone.

This is the season when we Baha’is conduct a Fast, of nineteen days’ duration.  There is a physical component:  Able-bodied people, between the ages of 15-70, take no food or drink, between sunrise and sunset, during those nineteen days.  The more important spiritual component gives rise to examinations of self.  It is all about purification, as the season of Lent, which coincides with our Fast this year, does for Christians, when conducted at its best.  The self-examination aspect is what led me to share the above observations.

The Road to 65, Mile 109: St. Patrick’s Day, Then and Now


March 17, 2015, Prescott-  The wearing of the green, on this day four years ago, found me putting on a day-appropriate t-shirt and taking a grinning selfie, with which I’ll not trouble you.  My face looked contorted, in more of a grimace than a smile. I had at least three chins, to boot. Penny had passed on just twelve days earlier,so as one might guess, the whole thing was to somehow trick myself into thinking that standing alone, in our now-empty Phoenix house, would break the din of sorrow.  Our son had the good sense to be off with friends that evening, and I’ve never been one to cling to anyone in despair.

Each year since, St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone.  I’ve been in Prescott for each of the past three, and generally have opted for either a home-cooked corned beef and cabbage or, as last year, go off with friends to one of the few spots that doesn’t operate on alcohol sales and cover charges.   It’s been a while since I was a twenty-something, so the cover charge is a relic, to me.

Tonight, the occasion was quietly observed at Prescott Junction, which used to be a JB’s, and is now a more imaginative Mom & Pop, albeit with the same owners.  It was, I must say, one of the more ample, and well-spiced, plates of corned beef I’ve had, since leaving my parents’ house, in 1973.  Mom always observed the special days in traditional style, and hers was succulent corned beef.

The meal aside, I get inspiration from the Tall Tale of St. Patrick having smitten the snakes of Ireland.  Here in Arizona, he’d be doing a land office business.  Triumphing over adversity is a step-by-step affair, and when one considers that those we view as evil, often see themselves as on a noble quest, the snake analogy is apropos.  Serpents, after all, control the rodent populace.  I have a very hard time, though, seeing the likes of Islamic State and Boko Haram as anything decent or good.  Relegating strong, intelligent women to the pantry, or the bedroom, is a death blow to any society that is going to advance. Restricting our God-given free will freezes the souls of those who are enslaved by ideology.  We are SUPPOSED TO make choices for ourselves.  Otherwise, no one learns, or advances spiritually.

So, in a few days, my Baha’i Fast will end, winter will gradually give way to Spring, and I will adhere to a normal schedule of activity.  In a few more years, 2021 to be specific, the Baha’i Fast will find me focusing on its spiritual dimension, while not adhering to its physical aspect-as by then, I’ll be 70.  Life, in each of its stages, brings new challenges and blessings.  Erin go bragh!

The Road to 65, Mile 100: Cowles Mountain


March 8, 2015, San Diego- This morning found me up early, as is customary during the Baha’i Fast, which falls between March 2-20.  Getting a solid breakfast at Gramma’s Country Kitchen, my favourite restaurant in Banning, and enjoying watching as the team got everything ready for what promised to be a busy Sunday after-church crowd, I rolled out of Banning relatively early.  The drive through Hemet and Menifee, then on down to San Diego, was smooth and uneventful, save for an overturned semi-trailer, near MiraMesa.

Aram and I both rested for a bit; he, because of having had watch, last night and I, because it was Noon and fasting makes a 30-minute nap especially important.  At 2 PM, we headed out to Cowles Mountain, in Mission Trails Park, on the east side of town.  It is the highest peak within the city limits.

I was my usual self, maintaining a steady pace and taking lots of photos.  It had been a while since I hiked uphill, so it was a rather decent cardio workout.

Here are a few photos, before I put the lot of them in Flickr. Aram, feeling in need of a brisk start, blazed ahead, with my blessing.



We had fine views of San Diego, to the southwest, and the Cuyamaca Range, to the east.



The scrub and sandstone were our hosts, and there were dozens of hikers out enjoying the picture-postcard afternoon.



Lake Murray, a reservoir that is part of Mission Trails Park, is visible from the south face of Cowles Mountain.  It is a popular fishing and boating venue for San Diegans.


I reached the top in about forty minutes.  It being 83 out, the sweat was not shy about making itself known.


George Cowles, a pioneer in the area in the 1870’s, lent his name to the mountain.SAM_4482

On the way down, I got a better sense of the alignment of various boulders.  They are almost like family groupings.


At the foot of Cowles Mountain, near a covered trash barrel, I spotted this canyon, in which lurked- a Sandbag Boa Constrictor! 🙂


This was a truly fine day, capped by dinner at Zorba’s, a Greek cafe between the airport and Point Loma.  San Diego never disappoints.  Neither does my son.