Benedetto Lupo Plays Mendelssohn Sunday, Nov 28 2010 

The Phoenix Symphony under the leadership of Michael Christie regularly approaches classical music with a fresh approach.  Rather than expecting a soloist to perform an encore, for example, this past weekend’s performance built one into the program.  In fact it was preceded by, Symphony No. 2, written by little known Erwin Schuhoff, who died in the Wurzburg concentration camp in 1942.  Then, Benedetto Lupo selected his favorite, Opus 19b, from Mendelssohn’s “Songs Without Words,” as a solo piano piece for its contrast with his solo piece with the ful orchestra, Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Opus 25.  Antonin Dvorack’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Opus 95 followed the intermission.  This piece, commonly known as “From the New World” creatively incorporates elements such as Native American music and African American spirituals, that Dvorick absorbed after he arrived in New York as the director of the National Conservatory in 1892.  Another wonderful evening of music.

Slate Trail Saturday, Nov 27 2010 

Slate Trail

Slate Trail

Slate Trail, a flat 1.6 mile trail in Cave Creek Regional Park, has pleasant scenic views and Sonoran Desert flora and fauna.  This 2,922 acre park, administered by Maricopa Parks & Recreation, is located near Cave Creek, Arizona.  Slate Trail gets its name because much of it traverses slate in the southeast corner of the park at an elevation around 2,000 feet.  Horse outfitters mainly use the first .2 of the trail until it junctions with Jasper Trail.  Later Flume Trail splits from Slate Trail.  Hohokam Indians stayed in the area from @800-1400.  Mining exploration and development took place in the last 120 years.  Irrigated farming, cattle and sheep ranching were also attempted without much success.  Cave Creek Regional Park’s 13 miles of trail provide another wonderful spot for exploration.  Both Cave Creek and nearby Carefree have enticing restaurants and shops, too.

Wind Cave Sunday, Nov 21 2010 

Wind Cave Trail

Pass Mountain

Wind Cave Trail is the most popular trail in the Usery Mountain Recreation Area, a 3,323 acre Maricopa County park northeast of Mesa.The 1.6 mile trail climbs the western face of 3,312 foot Pass Mountain which is actually in the Tonto National Forest.  The trail follows the edge of a deep, dry wash filled with palo verde trees and rounded boulders through a desert garden filled with saguaro cacti, fishook barrel cacti, chain cholla cacti, ocotillas, prickly pear and hedgehog cacti.  Granite forms the lower slopes of Pass Mountain.  Above the granite are bands of volcanic rocks, including a prominent green, lichen covered stripe.  Atop these bands is dark basalt.  Wind Cave, where the hike ends, is an 80 foot arching cave on the right side of Pass Mountain.  The trail starts at an elevation of 2,049 feet and ascends to 2,835 feet.  In addition to the array of desert plants, this hike offers panoramic views with Phoenix in the distance.

Arizona Senior Open Monday, Nov 15 2010 

The 2010 Arizona Senior Open was held at Tucson’s Palo Verde Holiday Inn this past weekend.  26 chess players over the age of 50 competed for plaques and bragging rights.  My 2.5-2.5 record was disappointing as I played only lower rated opponents.  My third round loss, playing the black pieces in two consecutive games was to Bill Pace, previously from Ohio, who finished clear 3rd with 3 wins and 2 draws.  Two Masters, William Wharton & Spencer Lower, topped the field with 4 wins and a draw with one another.

Butte Creek & Stretch Pebble Wednesday, Nov 10 2010 

Thumb Butte

Thumb Butte

Butte Creek Trail is one of many City of Prescott trails.  As its name suggests, it parallels Butte Creek and is adjacent to a couple of holes on the Hassayampa Golf Course.  Near the 18th tee six deer including one young buck were spotted grazing in the brush separating the tee box and the fairway.  The trail head is at an elevation of 5,500 feet and climbs to 5,850 feet where it connects with trail #321 into the Prescott National Forest and Thumb Butte.  This is the closest trail to our Prescott home.

Stretch Pebble, #443 in the Prescott National Forest, is a short, level, easy hike at the Highlands Center for Natural History (HCNH).  By taking this walk, I completed 8 of the 12 hikes featured as part of the 2010 “Take a Hike” Hiking Spree sponsored by the Prescott National Forest, Yavapai County, City of Prescott, and HCNH.  This is a terrific program which introduced me to more of the area’s outstanding trails.

Watson Dam Wednesday, Nov 10 2010 

Granite Boulders

Granite Boulders

The Watson Dam Trail immediately enters the spectacular rocks of Granite Dells then straddles private land.  At a junction I headed counterclockwise soon following dots of white paint across bare rock and fantastic rock formations.  The trail head was at an elevation of 5,080 feet and the high point among the boulders was 5,160 feet.  At the Watson Dam I completed the loop on the Flume Trail.  Two ducks enjoyed the sunny day on Granite Creek.  After I crossed two short bridges, the flume, which was probably built 80-100 years ago, started.  A flume or aqueduct is an artificial channel for carrying water from a natural water source.   In this case it provided essential water for an orchard.  This trail is one of Prescott’s finest hikes.

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