Granite Gardens Trail: Revisited Saturday, Aug 20 2016 

Rock Stacker Trail Vista

Rock Stacker Trail Vista

The Granite Gardens Trail is composed of several interesting small trails. We started by climbing the Rock Slacker Trail which provided us with interesting views of slick rock we would later hike and a view of Granite Mountain. The Grotto Trail involves squeezing through a narrows. We prepared for our hike with walking sticks, hats, and suntan lotion. We forgot insect repellent. The mosquitoes kept make buzzing sounds around my ear, and I accumulated three bites on my right arm. We crossed the central valley and hiked up the slick rock where I circled the Castle Rock Trail in the opposite direction from our last hike in this area. We then exited via the Stairway Loop. At the base of the multi-step staircase we encountered three young people preparing to do some serious rock climbing. Sacred thorn-apples were blooming in several places. The Granite Gardens Trail is a unique spot to experience what makes Prescott special.

Phoenix Zoo: August 2016 Monday, Aug 15 2016 

Mandrill

Mandrill

If you can manage it, visit the Phoenix Zoo on a Monday morning. Very few people are likely to be there and it is easy to focus on the animals that are active. We encountered a Watusi Cow posing closer than we usually see it. A Common Eland was grazing nearby while a Masai Giraffe fed from a high mounted feeder. The Marabou Storks are ugly. The male Hamadryous Baboon surveyed his exhibit from a perch half-way up a tree. A Mandrill chewed on a branch rather than eat lettuce. We discovered an Andean Bear finding a treat in a paper bag. A Rhinoceras Iguana sunned itself while a squirrel tasted some green delicacy atop a stump. A Sumatran Tiger arose from resting near a window and paced back and forth. The pink-backed pelicans were called for their feeding with a gong. Bess, the orangutan mother, rested in a prone position and then came to rest on a window next to us. It was interesting to see so many active animals despite temperatures around 100 degrees.

3rd Annual ChessHelps Tournament Sunday, Aug 14 2016 

3rd place Under 20000 trophy

3rd place Under 20000 trophy

I won the 3rd place trophy in the Under 2000 section of the 3rd Annual ChessHelps Tournament held Saturday, August 13, at BASIS Chandler High School. Initially ranked 8th out 22 competitors, I played three higher rated opponents and finished 3-1. My only loss came in the third round against Joshua Goldring, who went on to win the section 4-0. I was in a three way tie for 3rd place but had the best tie breaks by playing the eventual winner and beating another 3-1 finisher, Sean Innes, who received the 5th place trophy.

Some 138 chess players participated in five sections of this U. S. Chess rated event. There was also a section for those who wanted to try tournament chess that was not rated.

Grandmaster Rogelio Barcenilla and Master Peter Fenger tied for first in the Open with 3.5-0.5 scores. Ravi Diwakarla was the top finisher in the Under 1600 section with a perfect 4-0 record. Patrick Cruz won the Under 1200 section with a 5-0 score. Claire Cirelli, Flagstaff, who finished in a tie for second in her section of the recent Prescott Open, took home the 5th place trophy for her 4-1 record in this section. Srikar Potharaju was the top Under 500 player with a 4.5-0.5 score.

This tournament came about because Prateek Pinisetti, a junior at BASIS Chandler, with support from his parents, developed this concept of a chess tournament as a fund raiser. ChessHelps is an organization dedicated to help raise funds for the BASIS Chandler school and KIVA, a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Pinisetti has participated in the last two Prescott Open chess tournaments.

Chessie Trunkston Sunday, Aug 14 2016 

Chessie Trunkston

Chessie Trunkston

On our way to Phoenix we took a side trip to Carefree, Arizona in order to see a Ray Villafane sculpture using 30 tons of sand. This nine foot life-size elephant named Chess Trunkston is playing chess with a field mouse named Hershel Higginbottom. Sue Beatrice collaborated on this work. Carefree’s town center is devoted to the arts. This incredible sand sculpture is located in the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion of the Carefree Desert Gardens and will be on view until September 5th. Another of his sand sculptures, “Owl With Babies,” is located nearby. I also enjoyed walking under a waterfall while children nearby cooled off in a water fountain. Arthur Norby’s sculpture “Stampede” is also worth seeing. We learned that Ray Villafane will display his pumpkin carving craft again this October. Perhaps we can visit.

Horse Camp Loopiness Sunday, Aug 7 2016 

Horse Camp Trail View

Horse Camp Trail View

Although we have previously hiked the 2.2 mile Horse Camp Loop Trail #383 going in both directions, today I accidentally abandoned the trail at about the halfway point. The trail crosses two dirt forest service roads. When we arrived at the second road, I didn’t see a trail marker and so we followed the road. Then, when we found where it reconnected with the trail, I chose to return via a different forest service road. This road was the first that we had crossed. Once we returned to the junction with the trail, we hiked back to our starting point. We usually bring a map, but not today. Please remind me that we should never hike without a map. We saw several wildflowers. I especially liked a clump of sacred thorn-apple. My wife spotted two deer. Two individuals on motor bikes passed us while we were returning on a forest road. Two talkative hikers were just starting out as we completed our walk. We did take a quick look at the Groom Creek Horse Camp where the camp host intercepted us. Campers must have at least one horse to camp in this campground. A half dozen horses and their riders returned from a ride as we departed.