Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XX: Genuineness and Imposture

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April 1, 2017, Superior, AZ-  I returned, briefly, to this roughly beautiful little town, at the edge of central Arizona’s Queen Creek Gorge, to partake of the Gorge’s eastern flank, popularly known as Devil’s Canyon, (I prefer “Spirit Canyon”), and a sandwich, coffee and butterscotch brownie prepared by a friend, Kathy, at Sun Flour Market.

She and the market’s owner, Willa, are prime examples of people who make everyone entering their enterprise feel genuinely welcome, like royalty.  They work hard, as well, and their efforts show: The place was hopping, despite the relatively quiet Main Street.

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I have spoken before, of places where I feel safe.  This establishment is another such place.  I consider the ladies as friends, who love their spouses, AND have intensely caring hearts, when it comes to people in general.  The Easter Tree is a nod to the children, whose parents bring them in, regularly, on Saturdays.  You might note some Easter dresses, to the left of the tree.  While I was there, a little girl talked her parents into buying one of the dresses.  Needless to say, Sun Flour Market will see me, whenever I’m in the area.

I mention imposture, in the title, as well.  I pondered, a great deal, whilst hiking in the canyon, after lunch, as to my own state of being.  Friends will say that I am a genuine soul, and I am honoured by that.  There are plenty of others, including several family members, who would say otherwise, and I have to live with that.  My own personal jury is still out, on the matter.

Most such self-ambivalence stems from work.  Going back to when I first entered the workforce, there were supervisors, like Phil Mitchell, Bob Powers and Sgt. Dave Cummings (United States Army), who saw my rough edges and used whatever sand paper they had available, to turn me into a fairly decent worker.  Fast forward to the late seventies and early eighties, men like Peter Webb, Dr. Mike Duff, and the late Patrick Giovanditto also helped me hone my skills, often ignoring objections from less compassionate supervisors.  My colleagues at Jeju National University, in Korea, were uniformly supportive of my work, during the five years I served as a trainer of English teachers.  Back in the States, in the 1990’s, I got support and encouragement from Eugene Charley and A.T. Sinquah, whilst serving as a school counselor.  Truth be known, many students, teachers and parents also believed in my abilities- far more than I believed in myself.  The people with whom I worked last Spring, at Prescott High School, remain advocates, as well.  These were the people who could see inside my heart.

The people I mentioned above are counteracted, to a great degree, by the majority of those under whom I have worked, including my current supervisors.  Their negative opinions, unfortunately, only bring me back to a state of doubt.  None of them have been able to see inside my heart.  My own vision, often cloudy, requires constant cleansing and refocusing.  All I know is that the safe zones in my world are what make such recovery possible.  Perhaps some day, my work place will be a similar place.  For the next eight weeks, though, I do the best I can, with six of my eight students as beacons of light.

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XVIII: Queen Creek, as A Moat

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March 14, 2017, Superior- After an intensive review of the desert plants, with which I have become so well familiar, thanks to both Boyce Thompson Arboretum and its sister institution, Desert Botanical Garden, I headed up along the High Trail, to have a look at Picket Post House’s exterior (the house doesn’t re-open for visits, until either next year or 2019), and  Ayer Lake, a small reservoir that was drawn from Queen Creek, for the purpose of attracting water fowl and aquatic reptiles.

High Trail goes between  Ayer Lake and Picket Post House, then loops around to the west and south, along the eastern base of Picket Post Mountain.  The first twenty minutes of my hike, on this relatively easy trail, found me in a wealth of company- it being Spring Break for Arizona schools.  There were birders galore, at  Ayer Lake, teen girls with selfie sticks, on the rocks above the reservoir and adventurous boys, who followed me in exploring a couple of ledges, overlooking a western spur of Queen Creek Gorge.  The parents of the kids were close by, enjoying the relative comfort of the thatched-roof ramada.

Here are further scenes of this very full visit.   Ayer Lake, rather still on this mild day, has at least one resident turtle, and several Black Phoebes, enjoying the cold water.

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I saw a couple Red-tailed hawks circling around, as well.  They are said to nest in the rhyolite boulders, which abound in this park that was built from nature, not imposed on it.

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This overlook was most popular with the girls.

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Of course, it had the best view of the reservoir.

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Speckled and striated rhyolite, between lake and mansion, testify to the presence of both copper and iron, in the area.

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Picket Post House itself looms just above these boulders, and almost seems protected by the creek and canyon, which loop around its northern and western flanks.

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The boys and I saw this hint of the coming spring, from the canyon’s edge.

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Here was a sight that caused the boys to turn back from the overlook.

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Picket Post House, seen from a southwestern vantage point, shows its retaining wall.

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I look forward to seeing the place, in its full magnificence, once it becomes part of the park’s exhibits, a year or two hence.

Next up:  The High Trail’s western course.

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XVI: Spirits and Graffiti

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March 14, 2017, Superior-  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Some call the place Devil’s Canyon.  Others prefer Spirit Canyon.  Folks like me look at it, and Queen Creek Gorge, it is.  There seem to be at least three canyons, branching off.  The one I checked out, from the highway rim, is between Superior and the Oak Flat turnoff.  It includes the high bridge over Queen Creek and a maze of rhyolite spires, reminding me of southeast Nevada’s Cathedral Gorge.

Bored local youths have, over the years, added their signatures, hopes and dreams to the pillars.  Most are mildly irritating, to those who seek solace, on the canyon’s edge.  One, though, is a statement that most of us can appreciate.

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For the greater part, though, Queen Creek Gorge is a major delight, for hikers and rock climbers, alike.  It accounts for a good number of the campers who flock to Oak Flat.  On my next visit to Superior, I want to spend a key part of the time checking out the creek bed itself.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES It also looks as if there is a ridge that could accommodate the hiker.

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I always imagine the various face-like features of the sandstone spires, as if they were gargoyles.

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Afternoon shadows mask what the stand-alone spire might resemble.

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These three appear rather comical, yet ever watchful.

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This one, I call Joe Palooka, because he probably isn’t into any funny business.

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The scene on the north side of Highway 60 is every bit as amazing.  I saw an offbeat George Washington, in the figure to the right.

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After about ten minutes of contemplation, it was time to bid adieu to the many spirits who seem to be inhabiting this compact, but extraordinary, canyon system.

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Next up-  Boyce Thompson Arboretum:  The Regional Exhibits

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XV: Free Souls Abound

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March 13, 2017, Oak Flat, AZ-

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES The young couple were a bit taken aback, as I returned to the campsite, where my tent was set up.  They hushed their small, annoyed dog, as I explained I had been at the campsite for a while and had gone to town for dinner.  As they were car-camping, and the campground is free, we were all fine with each other’s presence.  Besides, after some banter, I left them alone, and was content to watch the stars and think loving thoughts. The campground reflected those back.

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Before all this, as there were about 45 minutes until sundown, I took a stroll along an easy trail that led south and west from the campground.  A free spirit, whose own goal was explore all the National Forests west of the Mississippi, had pointed me in the direction of a spring, which he said was a good two hours’ hike from here.  I took the stone path out of the campground and shortly found remnants of another of General Stoneman’s outposts.

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Rhyolite and obsidian abound, in this part of Arizona, as you will see further in “Devils Canyon” (I prefer the name, Queen Creek Gorge, but to each their own.)

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Stone walls were built to last, in the 1870’s.

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I like to pay respects at  memorials to the local departed, wherever I go.  This cross honours the wife of an Oak Flat native.

The campground is of further interest to me, because there is a controversy over just how extensively a planned underground copper mine will be allowed to run, underneath this immediate area.  There are concerns about depleting the water table and about creating a giant sinkhole, under the current campground.  There is some debate, even among Native Americans, as to the sacredness of the site to the Apache Nation.  Several protesters have set up a camp, within the campground, featuring traditional Apache dwellings, called wikieup.  The environmental and archaeological concerns are valid, as is the need for work, among the residents of Superior and outlying areas.  I would probably favour a scaled back mining enterprise, with careful attention to the water table and to honouring any burial sites that may be found.

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