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.
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.
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
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:
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 of 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:
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!
For my first hike of 2015 I chose to hike the entire length of National Trail on South Mountain in Phoenix, AZ – 14 miles in total. I put together a video with the Go-Pro camera Santa brought the family for Christmas.
Check out the trip summary on Map My Hike and the video below:
I was so enamored with the Ironman competition after my first experience as a spectator in 2013, that I had to go back for more this year. For the unitiated, an Ironman Triathlon is consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.
This year’s edition was noticeably cooler than 2013 and it appeared to affect the athletes, especially in the swim to bike transition. Many of them looked like frozen penguins after shucking off their wet suits. I was happy to hear that many of the finishers were from my old stomping grounds in the Denver-Boulder area of Colorado.
2014 Ironman Competition – Tempe, AZ
In case you’re wondering, like my wife is, whether I have my sights set on doing the Ironman of my own some day, the answer for now is an emphatic “No”. The run portion would be the death of me. 🙂 My personal fitness goal is to hike 12 miles to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and up the other side, then back to wear I started, sometime before my 50th birthday – October of 2017.
Until then, I hope you enjoy the slideshow above and posts from my various hikes.
On Thursday, November 6 the earth was treated to a beautiful “Beaver Moon” – a Native American term given to the full moon in November, signaling the time to set traps to catch beavers in the active pre-winter cycle before ponds freeze.
Here in Phoenix, the sun set at 5:33 p.m. and the Beaver Moon rose nine minutes later. I left my house promptly at 5 p.m. and caught both the sunset and moonrise from the top of a nearby peak in South Mountain Park.
Here are some pics from the experience:
While I had daylight to see by on my way up the hill, my trip down was guided by moonlight. Since the desert trail is composed of a light tan colored dirt, the moon lights it up quite nicely, although there were a few steep spots with questionable footing where I chose to click on the flashlight.
Hiking by the light of the moon was a nice way to add a little variety to a trail I have hiked dozens of times.
I have heard some good things about Saguaro Lake about 30 miles northeast of Mesa, AZ but it took me over two years after moving to Arizona to make my first visit. There is plenty to do at Saguaro, and my first experience was hike on the Butcher Jones Trail – a scenic, fairly easy hike with varied terrain, flora and fauna.
A friend and I arrived at the trail head parking lot, which also serves the lake’s only designated beach, around 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning in mid October. About a dozen people beat us to the punch and were already taking to the trails and water.
Bob and I began our leisurely stroll along the eastern shore and took it easy as we meandered along the well-marked path. The trail hugs the shoreline for about a mile, then dog-legs to the left across a stretch of desert before intersecting with a bay just of the reservoir’s main channel.
What stands out most to me about this hike is the presence of water, which is in short supply in Arizona. In addition to the numerous scenic views of the lake below, the trail winds through some of the thickest foliage you will likely find this close to the desert floor.
Whether you’re visiting Arizona or live hear, if you like moderate hikes with great views, you owe it to yourself to give Butcher Jones Trail at Saguaro Lake a try.