Phoenix Zoo: January 2017 Thursday, Jan 26 2017 

Himalayan Baboon

Hamadryas Baboon

Yesterday I left the snow on the ground in Prescott for the warmer temperatures of Phoenix. Although today’s temperatures were cold for Phoenix, a clear blue sky back-dropped our first visit of the year to the Phoenix Zoo. We were rewarded with active animals. Four giraffes stretched their necks to feed from a tall circular holder while a Watusi cow in the same exhibit ate from food placed behind a large stone. Most of the Arabian oryx were nibbling at their grub. I crossed a chain link barrier to take a picture of a stately ostrich. The male mandrill posed like a statue. The dominant male Hamadryas baboon nestled close to a viewing window and waved. One otter was atop a hollowed log and his mate peeked out before deciding to return to the log’s inner warmth. An Andean bear slept next to a viewing window, too. We discovered an exhibit that used to have pelicans and other critters now has several American alligators. Most of them found spots next to the bank, but one could be seen resting at the bottom of the pond. A Galapagos tortoise was munching his food. The Aldabra tortoises were sunning themselves. Sheena, an Asian elephant kept busy searching for food in containers that required truck dexterity. A pied imperial pigeon was nibbling on grain. A Western crowned pigeon strutted around the enclosure that allows us to be inside it for close encounters with several colorful birds. The orangutans had entered their exhibit shortly before we arrived. We watched baby Jiwa handily move across ropes attached to posts before settling down with his father, Michael. Across the way Kasih held a handful of food while Daniel traveled with him. They eventually climbed on top of a structure in the exhibit. Even the young komodo dragon was active. We learned that he smells by extending his long, forked tongue. Today was a great day to be in the Phoenix Zoo, and many human mothers visited today with their young in strollers.

OdySea Aquarium Saturday, Jan 21 2017 

Lionfish

Lionfish

Our visit to the new OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law and we paid her way for her upcoming birthday. Two million gallons of water feature some 50 exhibits of 500 different species and more than 30,000 animals. Be sure to look up when in the lobby as there are giant hanging fish bowls. We put on 3D glasses to enjoy the great photography of whales and sharks in “Underwater Giants.” The Living Sea Carousel is an interesting twenty-minute seated ride passing by Open Ocean, Sea Turtle Reef, Sea Lion Sound, and Shark Waters. I took a lot of pictures, but only those where the animal was stationary had a chance of being in focus. Some of my favorites include African black-footed penguins, lionfish, roundtail chub, Siamese crocodiles, a tiger shovelnose catfish, California spiny lobster, and California king crab. OdySea Aquarium is a state-of-the-art aquarium, and a surprise to be found in the desert.

Lights of the World Monday, Jan 16 2017 

Acrobatic Show

Acrobatic Show

Last night we visited “Lights of the World” located at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler. We learned about it when we attended this year’s Arizona State Fair. Claiming to be the largest light festival in the country, it has been open since November 18 and will run through January 29. We claimed some good seats for the first acrobatic show. There were several impressive examples of strength and agility. The young women smoothly glided through acts of contortion. They performed faultlessly with gymnastic moves while keeping a twisting rope device in motion or thrown in the air. Two young men hopped into separate, connected rotating cages. One of them clamored outside, atop the cage where he juggled, jumped rope, and even kept his balance while blindfolded.

Saint Basil's Cathedral

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

The U.S.-China Cultural and Educational Foundation sponsored some 75 displays and 30 carnival rides and games, too. Dinosaur Park presents several different dinosaurs that children could not resist reaching out and touching. I was impressed by a Stegosaurus and a 25-foot high T-Rex each constructed from 10,000 recycled bottles. Children could also beat on Korean drums, swing in a hanging circle of color, or stand on one of multiple dots that then changed color. One of the largest displays presented a representation of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square. Other famous representations include the Eiffel Tower, Egyptian pyramids, the London Bridge, Dutch windmills and giant shoes, the Lost Kingdoms of the Maya, and the Statue of Liberty. China, of course, was well represented with Beijing’s Temple of Heaven and a Chinese opera stage. A slinking 217-foot dragon was constructed using 20,000 china plates. A 16-foot high panda was surrounded by numerous smaller fiberglass pandas that kids loved. Terracotta warriors and a blue-and-white porcelain treasure also showed off Chinese treasures. Exhibits celebrated both Christmas and New Years. “Lights of the World” gave me an opportunity to take lots of pictures.

Prescott Quads #9 Saturday, Jan 7 2017 

Thirteen area chess players battled over the chess board on Saturday, January 7, at the Pine Cone. This U. S. Chess rated tournament directed by Prescott Chess Club President Tom Green, was divided into three sections based on rating.

Henry Ebarb & Jim Briggs

Henry Ebarb & Jim Briggs

Candidate Master Jim Briggs, Chino Valley, and Class A player Jack Burden, Flagstaff, tied for first in the top section. They split $80 for their one win and two draws.

Dan Patton & Cortney Reagle

Dan Patton & Cortney Reagle

Bill Cheney, Flagstaff, and David Steeves, Prescott, tied for top honors in Section B. They shared $80 for recording two wins against one loss.

Dan Tyler, Prescott, and Cortney Reagle, Flagstaff, shared first in Section C. They split $80 for winning two games and drawing each other.

 

Tucson Mountain Park Monday, Jan 2 2017 

Cholla & Golden Gate Mtn

Cholla & Golden Gate Mtn

On New Year’s Eve we hiked on the North Trail from the Desert Trails RV Park into the adjacent Tucson Mountain Park. We followed the Caliche Flats Trail to the Ironwood Picnic Area, We returned via the Ironwood Trail and Prospector Trail. On this beautiful day we encountered several mountain bikers and heard steady sounds coming from the Tucson Mountain Park Shooting Range. On New Year’s Day we took a short route on the Coyote Loop and a gravel road before the rain forced us to hurry back to our RV. About two hours later the sky had cleared and we headed out again along the Far West Trail and some unmarked trails from Jay’s RV Park. We crossed the boundary fence for the Pima County Tucson Mountain Park and followed the Prospector Trail before returning on the Old Indian Path. Teddy bear chollas glistened in the sun while the brown colored buckhorn cholla looked dead. A few of the saguaras were distressed with their arms pointing down. Some very large fishhook barrel cacti were in bloom. The Tucson Mountain Park has many more trails for us to explore on a future visit.