Marcus Landslide Interpretive Trail Sunday, Feb 24 2013 

Marcus Landslide

Marcus Landslide

The Marcus Landslide Interpretive Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve opened in October 2012. This second largest landslide known in Arizona was discovered in 2002 by two Arizona State University (ASU) graduate students, Brian Gootee and Dr. John Douglas. They named the trail in honor of Dr. Melvin Marcus, a professor of Geography at ASU. The interpretive signs, funded by the McDowell Sonoran Conservatory, provide possible reasons why a huge landslide occurred here 500,000 years ago during the Ice Age and tell about interesting geographic and geologic features. It is estimated that 194 million cubic feet fell off the mountain probably in less than two minutes. The slidemass is 4,000 feet long and 1,650 feet wide.  The trail is 3.8 miles long with 280 feet of elevation change. Forests of cholla line many parts of the trail and there are many interesting boulder formations such as mushrooms, boulders with a narrow stem and flared top.To the east of the trail lies the Verde River basin. Distant views of the Four Peaks and the Superstition Mountains, including Weaver’s Needle, reward the hiker in the final mile long loop. After this hike we rewarded ourselves with brunch at the DC Ranch Herb Box in Scottsdale.

Advertisements

Leonard Monti Trail Tuesday, Feb 19 2013 

Hayden Butte Vista

Hayden Butte Vista

The Leonard Monti Trail, dedicated in 1994, climbs the Tempe (Hayden) Butte in downtown Tempe. Leonard Monti, born in Hibbing, Minnesota in 1912, opened Monti’s La Casa Vieja, near the base of this butte in 1956. It is said that he took a daily walk up Hayden Butte often with Hayden C. Hayden, grandson of Arizona Territorial Probate Judge Charles Trubull Hayden, and Weldon Shofstall. This short but steep hike goes from an elevation of 1180 feet to 1495 feet in about a third of a mile. The letter “A” for ASU adorns the south face of the butte which is adjacent to Sun Devil Stadium. There may be as many as 500 petroglyphs in the area. Archaeologists were doing restoration work during our hike yesterday. There are wonderful views in all directions. My photograph shows Hayden Mill, Tempe Town Lake and in the distance, Phoenix.

Arizona Renaissance Festival Monday, Feb 18 2013 

Tournament Arena

Tournament Arena

Yesterday was a weather perfect day for attending the 25th Annual Arizona Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace. We arrived shortly before the gates opened. Our initial walkabout found us in front of any crowd as we oriented ourselves to the entertainment venues, food choices, and artisan displays. The glass ornaments at Uncommon Adornments, for example, caught my eye framed as they were against the azure Arizona sky. Our first entertainment stop was at the Palace Theatre for world music and dance by Ghazaal Beledi. The belly dancers, some with tattoos and piercings, were comfortable in their colorful costumes. The Merriment Stage featured the gypsy music, comedy and dance of the Vodca Family. Two dancers each balanced a sword atop their long, blonde hair while slowly exercising difficult maneuvers such as full prostration. As we passed the Falconer’s Heath we saw the fiery conclusion of Adam Crack’s Fire Whip Show. There were many food options. We chose a tandoori chicken dish and steak ‘n ale downed with beer. The petting zoo offered several different animals. The sheep hungrily licked food from the hands of children. A duck enjoyed the shade and a small pond. In another area of the Festival one could ride one of three elephants, a camel or a llama. Back at the Palace Theatre we enjoyed the playful antics of Don Juan and Miguel in their rendition of “The Renaissance Man.” Don Juan’s daughter joined in the comedy and displayed her whip expertise, too. Several musicians played period instruments throughout the grounds. We enjoyed listening to Sarah Marie Mullen take requests for her harp. Many fair-goers as well as performers wore period clothing. We visited a clothing shop and were taken aback at the cost of clothing pieces such as $425 for a coat. We completed our day’s entertainment at the King’s Tournament of Champions, the arena has the Superstition Mountains as a backdrop. Our favored knight, Max, was the victor. A few stilted performers stood tall in costumes such as the jester Barely Balanced or the living tree Greenman. We only scratched the surface of the entertainment options at the Arizona Renaissance Festival which continues each weekend until the end of March.

Andreas Delfs Conducts the Phoenix Symphony Sunday, Feb 10 2013 

Andreas Delfs, Conductor Laureate of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, conducted the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra last night. The first piece on the program, contrary to the printed program, was Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto in D minor for Two Violins and String Orchestra, BWV 1043. Only a small number of musicians were on stage and the strings performed while standing. Guest artist Anne Akiko Meyers and Phoenix Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Steven Moeckel engaged in a spirited dialogue with various melodies. The second piece, with a full orchestra and seated strings, featured Anne Akiko Meyers in a very different role as the violin soloist in Samuel Barber’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 14. Her virtuosity with this work was well received by the enthusiastic audience.  After an intermission Andre Delfs displayed dramatic flair without a score as he conducted Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Opus 68. The fourth movement featured an interesting French horn solo answered by a flute. In response to the audience’s standing ovation, Delfs recognized both of them along with a clarinetist and the Concertmaster, but did not include the tympanist. Another memorable evening of music in Phoenix.

Shaw Butte Trail Sunday, Feb 10 2013 

Shaw Butte Vista

Shaw Butte Vista

Shaw Butte is one of the northernmost summits in the Phoenix Mountains. The four-mile scenic loop trail starts at an elevation of 1,390 feet and ascends Shaw Butte to an elevation of 2,149 feet. It climbs a rugged service road to Shaw Butte which is crowned by clusters of towers and antennas. Along the way barrel cacti, a few saguaros, and scattered paloverde trees grow among the basalt boulders. After hiking to the top of Shaw Butte, we bushwhacked our way to the continuation of the trail around the Butte. In the future we will save time and effort by simply backtracking to catch the trail. It was surprising to see the concrete remains of the Cloud Nine Restaurant which burned down in November 1964. I have since learned that this unusual location for a restaurant opened in 1961 and shuttled patrons up the mountain for dramatic views of Phoenix. As we continued descending the rocky switchbacks down the steep flank of the mountain, we observed first one and then a second para-glider enjoying the windy day. As we neared the parking lot, we passed a flood control retention levee. While this hike is recommended in Stewart M. Green’s The Best Easy Day Hikes Phoenix, the City of Phoenix web site rates it as a moderate to difficult hike.

Phoenix Zoo Revisited Sunday, Feb 3 2013 

African Lion

African Lion

While much of the country wondered whether we would have six more weeks of winter, we enjoyed another warm, blue sky day. Many of the Phoenix Zoo animals were actively enjoying the day. Duck pairs walked on the edge of the central lake or took a leisurely swim. A half dozen turtles sunned themselves on a large log in the water near the shore. We entered the double doors of the avian area to encounter close up views of several free-roaming birds. The masked lapwings crossed the shallow water moat to walk near where we entered. A straw-necked ibis posed for us. Two great argus pheasants, the male carrying at least three feet of tail feathers, strutted back and forth in front of the exit. As we departed, we spotted some birds that appeared to be looking for a way into the avian cage. In the African section of the zoo, a Speke’s gazelle munched on strewn hay while framed by a branch of a downed tree. While taking in this scene, a pair of mourning doves preened unconcerned on a tree branch just above me. The southern white rhinoceros took a slow walk while inspecting his territory. The African lion, with troubled breathing, sat atop a well placed rock appearing every bit a king while surveying the crowd of onlookers with side to side looks. Another good day at the Phoenix Zoo.