Good times on the Verde River in Arizona

Stream of kayakers on gently flowing river

Yesterday I paddled the Verde River in Central Arizona with a Meetup group of about 53 others I’ve never met. We all had one thing in common: Love of adventure.

Verde means green in Spanish. I suggested we rename it Marron River after the Spanish word for brown. Check out the pics and video below to see what I mean. One of the locals guiding us on the trip said, “Na – it’s always like this for a few days after a big rain. We just call it dirty Verde.” Cracked me up and stuck with me.

Verde means green in Spanish. We just call it dirty Verde.

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This was about the halfway point of our float. I’m on the down river side of a large chunk of rock that created a nice eddy where I could sit still and take a break. The other kayakers are resting near a rock formation one local told us is called Salamander Rock.
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This was about five minutes after we all launched and I was near the front of the pack. Look at the parade of kayaks that contnue as far as you can see up river.
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Shady spots like this provide periodic reprieve from the intense Arizona sun.
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Nothing fancy about the shuttle ride for this trip. We just piled as many people as we could into pickup trucks to go from the end point where we left our cars back to the starting point where we left our kayaks.

Had a great time with cool people and saw some amazing sights. My favorite was an array of ancient cliff dwellings. Actually had a little fish jump into my kayak too. By the time I realized it and tried to help him back into the river, he jumped back out of the kayak.

I’m working on a more detailed write up with more pics and video for my new blog. Be sure to follow AZ Wonders if you’re not already, as I’m quite a bit more active with that one.

A building that shades itself


By Paul Fiarkoski

My office is in Downtown Tempe AZ. I often walk by this building designed as an inverted pyramid. Seems like such a smart design for the Valley of the Sun.

Unlike most office buildings that get super hot from intense sunlight beating on them, I never see any sunlight directly hitting the glass on this building. I’d like to know more about the energy efficiency of the design, such as how does it compare with more modern buildings with good LEED ratings.

About the building

  • Tempe Municipal Building
  • Construction completed 1971
  • Designed by the architectural firm of Michael & Kemper Goodwin

The road trip of a lifetime


In October 2015 my 17 year-old daughter and a few of her friends talked me into chaperoning/chauffeuring them on a 5-day RV road trip from Phoenix, AZ to Telluride, CO via Monument Valley in the Four Corners region.

It was just me and six high school seniors. I tried to teach them a few things about responsible road travel and fellowship.  Instead, they taught me a few things:

  • Live in the moment. There’s plenty to worry about later on.
  • Look for things to laugh about and, if you don’t see them, make them happen.
  • The day doesn’t end until you say it does.
  • There’s some mighty fine dining to be had in the upper, back room of a grungy pizza joint.
  • Rainy days can’t dampen the spirit of adventure.
  • Living in today’s world requires a lot of recharges.
  • My daughter’s going to be alright.

As with most vacations, it’s best to let pictures (and video) tell the story. Check this video one of the young men made:

Awesome hike: Hidden Valley in South Mountain Park, Phoenix


Wow! That was, and still is, my reaction to this short detour trail off of National Trail in the South Mountain Park in Phoenix, AZ. Hidden Valley is an awesome tribute to the forces and beauty wpid-wp-1423458166079.jpegof nature.

Hidden Valley trail is aptly name because it’s a trail you can hike only after a 2-plus mile hike in on either National or Mormon trail. As such, the .9-mile segment of the hike labeled Hidden Valley is not overrun with other people. If you don’t see the sign, you can walk right by it and not even know what you missed.

In January 2015, I hiked the entire length of National Trail (approx. 14 miles) and saw nowhere near the natural beauty that awaits hikers on the Hidden Valley segment. Oddly, some of the most magnificent features are within a few hundred feet of National Trail itself.

Here are some of the more notable features from Hidden Valley in South Mountain Park:

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Here is the hike summary via Mapmyhike .

If you go, be sure you have good stable shoes and socks – no flip flops – and a couple quarts of water.

 

The work ethic of teens these days


Those of us of the Gen X generation and older often pass judgment on the teens of today with statements like these:

  • They have it so easy.
  • They don’t know what hard work is.
  • Where’s the work ethic?

I’ve been guilty of the same sort of prejudices.

Recently, my teenage daughter turned that all around for me. Less than one week after her 17th birthday, she reported to work for her first job: at 5 a.m. – on a school day! She’s lifeguarding at the neighborhood Y. The pool is outdoors. It’s January. We live in Phoenix. But still, it’s chilly in the morning, and on this morning it happens to be raining.

“Lifeguarding is not work,” some would say. “All they do is stand around and twirl a whistle.”

Having seen the effort she has put into it, I can now contest the previous statement. Lifeguarding is skilled labor at a minimum. Prior to even being granted an interview, she was required to give up two full weekends and two weeknights for the prerequisite training. She now knows every aspect of keeping others safe at the pool: first aid, CPR, dealing with panic, hypothermia and more. She paid a handsome sum out of her own pocket for the training with no hint of being reimbursed. She passed a series of in-class quizzes, plus two water tests, and a grilling of an interview with both her manager and the manager’s manager.

Today was her first day on the job. I was awakened at 4:15 a.m. by the sound of her getting ready. Although she’s pretty self sufficient, I got up to see if she needed any last minute help so she could scoot out the door on time. She was good. She had prepared everything she needed the night before: Clothes for work, clothes for school, her lunch, and gear for swim practice after school.

To say I am proud of her would be an understatement. But, the purpose of this post is not to brag about my daughter, although I could do so all day long. My hope is that you will join me in looking a little deeper into the plight of today’s youth. In many ways, they face far more challenges and obstacles than many of us did when we were growing up. Let’s show them our respect with words of encouragement and gratitude. Thank you!