Cirque de la Symphonie Sunday, Feb 27 2011 

Guest conductor Michael Krajewski led the Phoenix Symphony in a fun filled night highlighted by the physical feats of the Cirque de la Symphonie guest artists.  Vladimir Tsarkov displayed mime and juggling during several of the specially selected orchestral pieces.  His captivating Red Harlequin act with colorful red and yellow rings spinning to the music introduced us to this evening’s awe inspiring entertainment.  Elena Tsarkova combined her graceful gymnastic ability with contortion to leave us wondering “How can she do that?”  We were also left wondering after her magic act moved the guest conductor’s tux coat under her bound arms.  Irina Burdetsky, performing perfect control of hula hoops melded with contortionist dance moves, made for a memorable close to the first half of the program.  In the second half of the concert Simon Chabin exhibited his multiple talents.  Especially memorable was his juggling a giant cubic frame that caught the light so that it appeared in unusual configurations during his acrobatic modern dance routine.  Ravel’s Bolero was the musical backdrop for an amazing finale by former Polish national hand-balancing champions Jaroslaw Marciniak and Dariusz Wronski.  Jarek and Darek embodied strength and agility in their remarkable performance.  Cirque de la Symphonie transformed an evening of music into a captivating three dimensional choreographic show testing the limits of human athletic abilities.

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A Love Not Forgotten Sunday, Feb 20 2011 

The 2nd annual Gala black tie event sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association’s Desert Southwest Chapter was a special evening to remember.  A vivid rainbow marked The Phoenician in Scottsdale as we arrived.  Was this an omen for a pot of gold?  Surely the sponsor’s hoped so for this well planned fund raiser.  As we imbibed wine and tasted appetizers, we moved among the tables filled with sports memorabilia, golf outings and other special offers to place bids during the silent auction.  We successfully bid on a couple of items: sparkling matching jewelry pieces (a ring, ear rings, and bracelet) and tickets for both the Grand Canyon Railroad and the Out of Africa Wildlife Park.  It was also possible to make a $50 donation for a mystery bag.  The gourmet dinner in the Grand Ballroom started with an endive arugla salad with a delicious square of triple cream brie.  The tender beef filet entre was seared to a perfect medium rare and served with a tasty mozzarella risotto.  Fresh raspberries topped the chocolate mousse desert.  A half dozen special outings formed the basis of a live auction.  Someone at our table successfully bid on the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 outing.  Indy car driver Lyn St. James sat at the adjacent table while local political figures such as the mayor of Tempe and athletes such as LPGA golfer Danielle Ammaccapone joined the festivities.  The Sonoran Seranade Big Band provided background music during dinner and performed for dancing later.  Their wide repertoire even included versions of popular music by Phil Collins and Santana.  This gala fund raiser for a good cause was a night not to be forgotten.

Mint Wash & Willow Trails Monday, Feb 14 2011 

Mint Wash Trail

Mint Wash Trail

Our Sunday excursion in the Granite Basin Recreation Area turned into a hike of about seven miles.  We parked at the Granite Basin Lake Boat Launch and proceeded along the Mint Wash Trail which borders the Granite Mountain Wilderness Area.  Last fall we explored about 3/4 of a mile of this trail to its junction with the Mint Wash Connector.  On this pleasant temperature day we continued another couple of miles before looping back on the Willow Trail.  After eating our lunch near the junction of the two trails, we discovered that we were close to Williamson Valley Road as we saw two large, beautifully situated homes perched at the end of Love Lane.  We headed back to our starting point via the Chimbly Water Trail and the West Lake Trail.  Several mountain bikers and two mounted horses also took advantage of the perfect weather on these relatively flat trails.  Another great day for exploring Prescott area trails.

Ambrosia Sunday, Feb 13 2011 

The progressive rock band Ambrosia played in the Yavapai College Performance Hall last night.  Three of the four musicians who started this band in 1970, Joseph Puerta, vocals and guitar, Burleigh Drummond, drums and percussion, and Christopher North, organ, were on stage with a couple of additions, Doug Jackson, guitar, Mary Harris, keyboards, and a saxophonist for the last piece.  Our balcony seats provided a good view of the stage.  The sound quality, however, was not as clear and precise as I would have liked.  The vocals were muffled, or maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t using my hearing aid, and North spent much of the time fiddling with his speaker.  Ambrosia has accumulated five Grammy nominations and can name drop collaboration with Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Alan Parsons, an Leonard Bernstein.  One has to admire individuals doing what they love for 41 years and counting.

Usery Mountain Regional Park Trails Sunday, Feb 6 2011 

Usery Mtn Regional Park

Usery Mtn Regional Park

While much of the United States is recovering from a week of icy cold snowy weather, those of us in the Phoenix area are enjoying a warm (65 degrees), sunny day.  We drove to the Usery Mountain Regional Park to partake in some easy hiking on flat trails through the desert landscape.  This park has 30 miles of trail over 3,600 acres.  We had previously hiked to Wind Cave, the most popular park destination.  Today we parked at the Horse Staging Area and started walking on the Blevins Trail.  At the intersection with the 0.8-mile Meridian Trail, we continued east, starting a loop.  We next traversed the County Line Trail, a 1.0-mile north south trail between the Meridian Trail and the Ruidoso Trail.  The 1.3-mile Ruidoso Trail runs south and east between the Meridian Trail and the County Line Trail.  Once we connected again with the Meridian Trail we exited on the same Blevins Trail where we started.  Several mountain bikers and a few horse people were on the trails.  A super day for a hike.