Peavine Trail Observations Wednesday, Jul 29 2015 

Granite Mountain Reflections

Granite Mountain Reflections

We took advantage of no parking fee on Wednesday to visit the Peavine Trailhead near the Prescott Lakes Parkway. We found moths, possibly lunate zale moths, resting on the outside wall of the toilets. As we approached the trail, an elaborate City of Prescott mowing vehicle was cutting down swaths of weeds. We observed a city firetruck positioning itself near the fire practice area. Yes, there is lots of activity on this trail, especially on Wednesdays, In addition to other hikers, we encountered a Scottsdale cross country team (boys and girls), several bicyclists, and two women with horses. We found a diamondback rattler slithering alongside the trail, too. We noted individual plants that had found enough soil to root on the granite cliffs. We enjoyed a view of the reflection from the granite dells on backwater from Watson Lake with a distant view of Granite Mountain. All in all, an interesting walk on the former railroad bed.

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2015 Shootout on Whiskey Row Monday, Jul 27 2015 

Arizona Gunfighters

Arizona Gunfighters

On Sunday we walked to downtown Prescott to take in the final day of the 10th Annual Shootout on Whiskey Row. This annual event sponsored by the Prescott Regulators and Their Shady Ladies was located on an empty lot at the corner of Goodwin and Montezuma. The viewing stands and better sound quality improved the event from early years when we watched it take place in the middle of the street. We thoroughly enjoyed the Arizona Gunslingers re-enactment from the afternoon of October 26, 1881 in a vacant lot to the rear of the OK Corral in Tombstone. The showdown occurred with Virgil, Morgan and Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday being on one side and Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Claiborne on the other side. The OK Corral gunfight lasted about 30 seconds. When it was over, Frank and Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton lay dead and Ike had run from the fight. Morgan and Virgil were wounded and Doc had only a scratch. The Arizona Gunfighters recreated this legendary confrontation with a professional costumed cast of more than 30. Stuntman Buck Montgomery shared some trade secrets followed by a humorous skit. We then wandered the streets to see the booths for the event. We watched and listened to the wit of Johnny Hotshot during his Gunslinger Show. The Shootout on Whiskey Row is improving each year.

Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum Saturday, Jul 25 2015 

Coyote

Coyote

The Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, located on 95 acres near the Saguaro National Park (West), offers visitors a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum and aquarium. We visited after a rain which made the temperature on a July morning much cooler than normal and likely accounted for the animals being so active. We started with the exhibit of reptiles, invertebrates, and amphibians where we spotted an Arizona black rattlesnake like the two we have seen on hikes in Prescott. We noted that two speckled rattlesnakes were of different coloration. We learned that the colors blended with the type of desert where they can be found. A spiny-tailed iguana kept his eyes on us while the Gila Monster had burrowed into a crevice for a nap. Beware of touching a Sonoran desert toad, also known as a Colorado river toad, because it secretes a poison on its skin. Upon exiting the building a parrot greeted us by spreading its wings and moving up and down barren branches of a tree. A nearby overlook provided panoramic views of the Sonoran desert. We discovered that the museum has a very active volunteer docent program. We learned about saguaros from one docent, for example, and about gold prospecting from another. The earth sciences center featured a cave and a room explaining what we know about the forming of the earth and its moon. On our walk through the mountain woodland we found a two white-tailed deer. One was feeding while the other was drinking water. The black bear paced back and forth in front of its cave. One Mexican wolf paced around the other napping in a small pit. Along the half-mile desert loop trail a coyote jumped atop a rock for a commanding view. Farther along the trail several javelina were foraging for a snack. The cactus garden contains a wide variety of cacti. In the riparian corridor two coati could be seen on a small hill. A river otter enjoyed swimming in his pool. Several bighorn sheep showed us how adept they are at climbing on a steep rock hillside. A bonytailed chub posed for me in his aquarium. I made a quick pass through the walk-in aviary. Immediately inside the Ironwood Art Gallery, a docent showed off a kestrel.The following words sum up how important it is for us to respect the earth and all its inhabitants:

Extinction is a final state of being from which there can be no reovery, no going back, and no going forward.

Red Bird-of-Paradise

Red Bird-of-Paradise

The colorful blooms of the red bird-of-paradise contrasted with green foliage background. I quickly walked through the hummingbird aviary and the Warden aquarium. Before we exited, another docent showed us how far a cute screech owl could turn his head. The Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum is a wonderful learning experience.

White Stallion Ranch Saturday, Jul 25 2015 

White Stallion Statue

White Stallion Statue

This past week was spent experiencing the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. In 1965, Allen and Cynthia True took over the property of 200 acres with 17 rooms and 17 horses. Their sons Russell and Michael and their families now run this dude ranch that has grown through judicious purchases to some 3,000 acres adjacent to Saguaro National Park with 41 rooms, a 4-bedroom Hacienda and more than 150 horses. The logo on their vans captures an interesting play on words with “White Stallion Ranch: a True Western Vacation.” How True. Visitors from all over the world visit this unique property and are recognized by flying each countries flag near the entrance.

Tucson Mountains

Tucson Mountains

With some trepidation I awaited being introduced to my assigned horse for my first trail ride. Montana stands at 15.1 hands and weighs 1,100 pounds. During that first ride I was tested when Montana took several opportunities to nibble grass or tree leaves. He even straddled a bush which our wrangler indicated was an effort to scratch his belly. That first ride was a long one that left my backside bruised. The next morning we started early with a stop midway for a trail breakfast. The setting featured a shaded Ramada below the Tucson Mountains. Panther Peak is at an elevation of 3,435 feet. The break in the ride made it more enjoyable for me. Montana didn’t seek any unauthorized nourishment during this ride and I rewarded him after dismounting with a treat which he greatly enjoyed. With each additional ride I became more comfortable. My last ride was the best because the temperature was cooler after it had rained earlier in the day.

Watercolor Sunset

Watercolor Sunset

The Tucson sunsets were fantastic. The clouds and colors varied each night. On a couple of nights the afterglow on Panther Peak was special. On our last night the sunset was awash with shades of red that made my photograph look like a watercolor painting. The area has been the backdrop for numerous films and TV shows such as Arizona (1933), Backlash (1956), The Last Roundup (1948), The Last Outpost (1951), Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice (1968), Minnie Skirts (1968), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002).

The ranch offers a wide range of entertainment from country Western line dancing to looking through a telescope to see craters on the moon and the rings of Saturn, from seeing live wild critters to listening to guitarist Bill Ganz singing cowboy songs. Loop Rawlins demonstrated his prowess with a rope, spinning guns, and cracking a bull whip in his “Wild West Show.” There were opportunities to learn about natural horsemanship, crafting a leather belt, painting a Western scene, learning how to groom a horse, and how to throw a lasso over a cow’s horns. The large solar heated swimming pool was a great place to cool down. The game room offered pool, table tennis, foosball, and air hockey. There is a basketball court and tennis court, too. There is even a petting zoo with goats, a deer and other animals. I was pleased to find a large wooden chess set in the lounge near the office. We also visited the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum which will have a separate entry.

We shared connected rooms with two grandchildren. Each of the large rooms had a couch and lots of drawers for storage. One room had a desk while the other had a table with four chairs. The rooms are decorated with interesting art and wall hangings. The entrances to both rooms offer a recliner and lounge chairs. The grounds around the rooms feature a groomed landscape with many varieties of desert plants nicely labeled. The ranch has a gift shop filled with cowboy hats and other Western clothing as well as quality art items.

Each breakfast has a special and each guest fills out an order telling what type of egg, pancake, and toast are desired. Juices, coffee or tea, and fruit are always available. Lunches and dinners use a buffet style with lots of choices and always offer something uniquely Western. Before dinner there are appetizers available in the bar. Alcoholic beverages are self-served and recorded using a chit system. Tempting desserts are available after dinner. Lemonade, ice tea, hot tea, and coffee including specialty coffees are available at all times. The food is great!

The White Stallion Ranch offers a unique Western experience that will not disappoint.

2nd Annual Prescott Open Saturday, Jul 18 2015 

Jeff Harden

Jeff Hardin

Jeff Hardin, Prescott, won the 2nd Annual Prescott Open chess tournament. The tournament attracted 17 chess players and was played in two sections at Yavapai College on July 18th. Hardin, initially the second highest rated player in the section, won $100 for his two wins and one draw. His draw was against the highest rated player, Prateek Pinisetti, a tenth grader in Chandler and former National 7th grade champion. He and Jim Briggs, Chino Valley, split the $50 second place prize money for their records of one win and two draws.

Jess Montour

Jess Montour

In Section B, Jess Montour, Flagstaff, was undefeated. He won $100 for his 3-0 record. David Steeves, Prescott, and William Cheney, Flagstaff, split $50 for their two wins and one loss. Each of them only lost to Montour.

As a longtime chess tournament director, I finally selected the SwissSys software. It was very easy to set up and print pairings and wall charts. When doing pairings by hand I would have used a cross round pairing for the odd number of entries in Section B eliminating two of the byes. After the tourney, I contacted the software designer and he let me know how to do a cross round pairing using the SwissSys.

Exploring the Constellation Trails Saturday, Jul 11 2015 

Lost Wall

Lost Wall

The Constellation Trails are accessed by parking near the Phippen Museum. The museum specializes in Western art which helps explain why the mail box is topped with a saddle sculpture. To access the trails one walks through a 6 foot high tunnel under Highway 89. We have previously chosen to hike the outside trails counterclockwise. Yesterday we chose to start with the Ranch Road Shortcut which is the outermost clockwise trail. We then took the Rock Wall Trail with nice views of the Lost Wall, a wall of uniquely shaped granite at the southern-most point of the trails. The Constellation Trails are on the opposite side of the Dells from the Willow Lake trails we hiked recently. We returned via the Ridgeback Trail with loops on the Hulley Gulley and Ham and Cheese. A new bench at the west end of the Hulley Gulley recognizes the 70th birthday of “Mike” on 1-26-15. The Constellation Trails provide different scenic views depending on how one chooses to hike them.

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