East Bay Loop Trails Saturday, Nov 30 2013 

Willow Lake & Granite Mtn

Willow Lake & Granite Mtn

Yesterday we parked along Willow Lake Road where we connected with the Willow Loop Trail which we followed to the East Bay Trail. The last part of this connector required careful steps around mud and wading through a large puddle. We then climbed granite boulders on the East Bay Loop closest to Willow Lake. Waterfowl were plentiful below the Willow Lake dams. We circled back on the other side of the East Bay Loop. We avoided the mud and water on our return by bushwhacking through a field. As I returned to our car, a  coyote crossed the Willow Loop Trail and posed for a photo atop boulders. Another enjoyable fall hike.

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Arizona Capitol Museum Saturday, Nov 23 2013 

Arizona Capitol Museum

Arizona Capitol Museum

Phoenix set a new record yesterday for the amount of rain falling on November 22nd. We took this opportunity to visit the Arizona Capitol Museum. The capitol was built at the turn of the century prior to statehood in 1912. Although we had seen literature that said there were tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., we discovered we were on our own. A volunteer on the main floor did provide us with an overview of the museum. We took our time exploring the capitol’s nooks and crannys, signage helped us understand what we were seeing. We learned, for example, that the gubernatorial election on November 7, 1916 was controversial. Initially, Thomas E. Campbell won by 32 votes. The incumbent, George W P. Hunt, argued that there was voter fraud. After Campbell served eleven months of the two year term, it was decided that he had lost by 43 votes. It was interesting to see a replica of the USS Arizona and to learn about its history. On the third floor, the House chamber has been reconstituted during the Constitutional Convention period. The hall walls have art works such as examples of Arizona landscapes painted by David Swing for the 1939 Goldengate International Exposition in San Francisco. I especially liked “San Francisco Peaks” and “Saguaro Cactus Forest.” Statues on the fourth floor such as “Buffalo Soldiers,” “Harvey Girls,” “Suffragette,” “Cattle Rancher,” and “Navajo Code Talker” inform about Arizona’s past, too. The Arizona Capitol Museum makes for an interesting interaction with Arizona history.

Javelina Trail Revisited Sunday, Nov 17 2013 

Chimney Ruin

Chimney Ruin

We hiked the Javelina Trail #332 yesterday. The cool, windy conditions led to an invigorating walk along this trail using the bed of the old Peavine Railroad. Our 2.2 mile trek from Iron Springs Road to an old corral and chimney ruin seems lonely today. Perhaps it wasn’t as isolated when the railroad tracks were only 0.5 miles away from 1895 to 1962. A single mountain biker passed us as we returned to the trailhead. An older couple readied themselves and their dog to hike as we exited. Prescott experiences four seasons. It won’t be long before winter visits.

Canyon Loop Trail Tuesday, Nov 12 2013 

Forest of Saguaros

Forest of Saguaros

A few years ago we visited Catalina State Park in the spring with the intention of taking the Canyon Loop Trail, but the rushing water in the Sutherland Wash discouraged us from attempting to cross either end of this loop trail. Yesterday there was no water in the wash. The trailhead elevation is 2,700 feet. We started the counterclockwise hike with the steep initial climb on the Romero Canyon Trail. It soon leveled off and we were surrounded with Sonoran Desert terrain at the foot of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains. After 0.6 miles we junctioned with the Canyon Loop Trail which descended with a 50 foot drop into the mesquite woodlands of Romero Canyon. After 0.9 miles the trail joined with the Sutherland Trail for 0.8 miles back to the trailhead through a forest of healthy saguaros. We completed our morning trek with the 1 mile nature trail where a perky roadrunner crossed our path. We returned to Phoenix using the Pinal Pioneer Parkway, a 42-mile two-lane highway that crosses an untouched section of the Sonoran Desert between Oracle Junction and Florence. We stopped at the Tom Mix Memorial where the cowboy movie actor died on October 12, 1940. The memorial reads: “In memory of Tom Mix whose spirit left his body on this spot and whose characterizations and portrayals in life served to better fix memories of the Old West in the minds of living men.”

2013 Arizona Senior Open Monday, Nov 11 2013 

The 2013 Arizona Senior Open chess tournament was held this past weekend at the Holiday Inn Palo Verde in Tucson, Arizona. This year’s event attracted 19 players including 3 from Texas and 1 from South Dakota. In chess, anyone age 50 or older is considered a senior. There were 9 players in their 50s, 5 in their 60s, and 4 over 70 (plus one who didn’t identify age). I was initially ranked fourth by rating but finished in a tie for 9th. An even result of 2.5-2.5, but a disappointing performance. I played four opponents in their 50s and one over 70. John Irwin and Morry Holland tied for first place with 4-1 records. These two players also finished 1-2 last year. One of my losses was to the tournament winner. The winner of this year’s plaque for best 60+ resides in Texas?! Special thanks to Enrique Huerta for holding this state championship event each year.

Tucson Botanical Gardens Friday, Nov 8 2013 

Tucson Botanical Gardens

Tucson Botanical Gardens

Tucson Botanical Gardens, a 5.5 acre oasis in the heart of Tucson, is a place of beauty, inspiration, and education about the natural world. Originally the home of Bernice and Rutger Porter, the Gardens now consist of seventeen specialty gardens representing a variety of gardening traditions and botanical themes. The Tropical Greenhouse exhibited a multitude of tropical butterflies amidst exotic plants. The Thorneville Garden Railway, conceived and created by Thorne Pierce and Gary Martin, features a running train circling tiny buildings and miniature mountains. The Greg Pierson Sundial displays the time (after certain adjustments). A whimsical bowling ball sculpture struck me with humor to spare. The Plants of the Tohono O’odham Path honors the relationship between native peoples and the plants of the Sonoran Desert, many of which are used for food, basket-making, construction, and medicine. We enjoyed lunch at the Botanical Cafe. Numerous benches memorialize special friends of the Gardens. The following quotation especially touched me:

Friendship, I think, is the choicest flower
that grows in nature’s garden.
It will always flourish if watered by truth,
guarded by sincerity
and shaped by the gentle boughs of virtue.

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