Phoenix Zoo: October 2016 Saturday, Oct 29 2016 

Carved Pumpkin

Carved Pumpkin

We were greeted near the entrance of the Phoenix Zoo by a friendly witch. Carved and painted pumpkins lined the walk along part of the Arizona Trail. The same area featured decorated doors that are likely used for treating young guests during timely evening programs. In terms of animals, both Sumatran tigers were active with the male pacing back and forth in front of a viewing window and the female circling a water pool before deciding to take a nap in some shade. A young mandrill posed in front of a window while across the way the male Himalayan baboon was also sitting near a window. The two California condors were on the ground immediately in front of us; the male relentlessly pecking at the female. One golden eagle posed on a branch close to the viewing area while the other stayed farther back in the shade. The lego sculptures continue to attract visitors, the polar bear and cubs not far from the camel ride, the peacock as one exits the zoo. Visiting the Phoenix Zoo is always a treat.

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2016 Arizona State Fair Saturday, Oct 29 2016 

AZ State Fair

AZ State Fair

Yesterday we took advantage of Fry’s Free Friday to attend the Arizona State Fair. As usual we started in the cooler temperatures of Veteran’s Memorial Stadium where we toured the fine art and photography exhibits. This year, in my opinion, the fine art entries were grouped by subject which made comparisons easier. Many of the photographs left me in awe. “Lights of the World” gave us a taste of a special event that will be held November 18-January 29 at Wild Horse Pass. Using modern cutting-edge technology and lights, this display is in the tradition of a Chinese lantern festival.

La Grande Wheel

La Grande Wheel

Out on the grounds we enjoyed a new show, “RePercussion” making noise using buckets, pots and pans. We also visited the Cultural Stage for a colorful hoop dance by a father and his thirteen-year-old son. We took advantage of the $2 food list:sesame chicken with noodles from Wok the Way, a Japanese hot dog from Fhat Dawgs, a frozen banana at H & M Concessions, and an Oktoberfest beer. The livestock barn housing cows was empty; in another building we did walk by hungry goats, feeding piglets, caged poultry, including a prancing gobbler, and unusual Belgian rabbits. A short walk on the Jurassic Trail featured five life-size animatronic dinosaurs. A giant display of pumpkins caught my attention, too. This was our first time visiting the fair long enough to see the lights on the rides. Striking were the the three Ferris wheels, especially La Grande Wheel. This year’s State Fair ends tomorrow.

Prescott Quads #8 Saturday, Oct 22 2016 

Kevin Chor

Kevin Chor

Nine area chess players participated in the Prescott Chess Club Quads #8 held at the Pine Cone on Saturday, October 22nd. This U. S. Chess rated event, directed by Prescott Chess Club President Tom Green, was divided into two sections based on rating.

Candidate Master Kevin Derek Chor, an eleven-year-old from Phoenix with the 5th highest rating for his age in the U. S., was undefeated in the top section and received $50 in prize money. Dan Patton, Prescott Valley, finished in second place and received $25 for his record of two wins and one loss..

Thomas Keenan

Thomas Keenan

Dr. Thomas Keenan, Prescott, won Section B and $50 with a perfect 3-0 record. David Steeves, Prescott, won the $25 2nd place prize money for his 2-1 record. Kevin Miller and Roger Gibson, both from Prescott, split the 3rd place prize money of $10 for their 1.5-1.5 result.

Garden Party Loop Trail Wednesday, Oct 19 2016 

Garden Party Trail

Garden Party Trail

Thumb Butte Road is now paved beyond the Thumb Butte parking area. For yesterday’s hike, we parked at the White Rock parking area adjacent to the road to Camp Willow Springs. Garden Party Trail #324, anew trail for us, was completed in 2015. For this loop it connects with Garden Grove Trail #392, Javelina Trail #332, and West Trail #318. This 1.8 mile loop has a low elevation of 5,860 feet and a high elevation of 6,030 feet. On the last stretch of trail we encountered one mountain biker and two hikers heading in the opposite direction. We enjoyed another pleasant “Take a Hike!”

Homestead Trail Monday, Oct 17 2016 

Trail Gate

Trail Gate

The annual fall “Take a Hike!” program sponsored by the Highlands Center for Natural History always features trails around the Center. This year’s hike starts on Homestead Trail #305, follows Forest Road 9401T to connect with Gold Pan Trail #444, and returns to the Center via Highlands Trail #442. This 2.3 mile hike is considered easy, although there are lots of ups and downs from a low elevation of 5,410 feet to a high elevation of 5,580 feet. I was pleased to discover that some trees and shrubs now have identification markers. This year’s trail guide points out areas where the understory brush has been removed. Known as “mastication,” the mechanical removal of vegetation, this is one of many fire management treatments used by the Prescott National Forest to restore natural habitats and forest health.

New construction is underway near the Highlands Center. Every time we visit, I enjoy viewing Heather Johnson’s “Equipoise” sculpture. She uses four animals to symbolize four elements of creation: a raven for air, a badger for earth, a horned lizard for fire, and a roundtail chub for water.

Charcoal Kiln Trail Sunday, Oct 16 2016 

Walker Charcoal Kiln

Walker Charcoal Kiln

According to a sign at the site, Jake and Joe Carmichael built the Walker charcoal kiln around 1880 to convert oak wood into charcoal, which gives about twice the heat of unprocessed wood. It was possible to get about 40 bushels of charcoal from a cord of wood. The charcoal was used in nearby smelters as a chemical-reducing agent to extract silver from its ore. This charcoal kiln was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. We walked about 0.2 of mile on Charcoal Kiln Road to Charcoal Kiln Trail #303 which is at an elevation of 6,300 feet. The trail is only 0.1 of a mile, but leads to this interesting historical site. At one time Walker was a bustling place for gold and silver mining. Now the area has mainly summer cottages, although some of these “cottages” look more like mansions. The Walker charcoal kiln is an interesting destination for one of this year’s “Take a Hike!”

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