Balancing Rock & West Lake Trails Sunday, Apr 14 2013 

Granite Mountain

Granite Mountain

Yesterday we hiked Balancing Rock Trail #349 and West Lake Trail #351 in the Granite Basin Recreation Area just outside Prescott, Arizona. We started our hike at the Cayuse Equestrian Trailhead where a group mounted on mountain bikes were beginning their own exploration of the area. We hiked through shady forests of ponderosa pine and alligator juniper with panoramic views of stately Granite Mountain. We previously hiked this same route in August 2009 when different wildflowers were in bloom. We enjoyed the white flowers on the pointleaf manzanita which sports a smooth glossy reddish bark with crooked branches. There were also patches of miniature woolstar decked out with star-like blue to light purple flowers. This flat hike is well worth repeating. The following reflection in remembrance of Emily Dickinson during National Poetry Month:

While walking long,
ponderosa pines
whispered their Truths
chiseled Granite —
bo(u)lder still there —
Listening now …
Life’s a Treasure!!

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Mormon Trail Sunday, Apr 14 2013 

Phoenix Dustscape

Phoenix Dustscape

On Tuesday we hiked the Mormon Trail, the closest South Mountain trail to the Phoenix home. Dust lingered in the sky from the previous day’s storm. While the clumps of brittlebush had peaked and the creosote was showing the white fuzzy balls of its fruit, the desert globe mallow and ocotillo were beginning to display their orange and red colors. Light blue flowers adorned buckbrush. A cholla was beginning to unleash an orange bloom. A pleasant morning walk close to home.

Tempe Festival of the Arts 2013 Sunday, Apr 7 2013 

Paul Miles

Paul Miles

The Tempe Festival of the Arts features an outstanding range of high quality art. More than 375 artisans were selected for this year’s show displaying 2-D and 3-D mixed media, clay, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, painting, photography, sculpture, and wood. The magic of Shawn Greer baffled us with questions about “How does he do it?” We briefly listened to Jake Jacobs playing Celtic folk music on a dulcimer. Keith Johnson invited us to try his steel drum. We took a break at the Art of Beer where we listened to the acoustic blues of Paul Miles on the Festival Stage. My beer tastings included Four Peaks Brewing’s IPA and Sleepy Dog Brewery’s Leg Humper, a hefeweizen with a hint of banana; Red Rover, a smooth red; Tail Chaser, too bitter an IPA for me; and Wet Snout, a full-bodied, chocolaty dark beer . The food court offerings tempted us but we deferred. We were entertained by a couple of children. A six-year-old fashionably dressed in pink with matching hat was capable of forming fish lips as well as smiling without her front upper teeth. Escorted by her grandparents, she didn’t initially consider them her “family.” Another young girl posing in front of a giant rabbit sculpture needed to tell us that her face had been painted. We avoided paying for parking by using the Tempe Center for Arts parking lot. The walk along Tempe Town Lake gave us our first views of the new dam and walking bridge. On our return we heard four musicians playing chamber music in the shade adjacent to the Tempe Center for the Arts’ infinity pool which merged with Tempe Town Lake would create a unique location for a late afternoon wedding. Sometimes we forget that we live in the desert.