Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hike with Sue

My friend Sue and I went on a hike up on Mingus Mountain earlier this week. It was a nice crisp 49 degrees when we started out. This trail has fabulous views on the Verde Valley, Sedona, San Francisco Peaks, Prescott and Chino Valley areas. It is pretty amazing.
The last time I was on this trail, it was raining and you couldn't see the views.
If you look closely you can see the snow on top of the mountains in Flagstaff.

I may look grouchy, but I wasn't.

New Bot

Cosmic bear

Friday, October 22, 2010


Jet's Culinary Tour

Today was the second of our DYI culinary tours. This time Beth's husband, Jet, put it together.

We had a really nice time. I enjoyed checking out some places that I had never been before. We started at Gallo Blanco. It's in the Clarendon Hotel on 4Th ave and Clarendon. They have turned it into this really neat little boutique hotel. It has a really cool pool area. See the water wall on the back? And all the cool colors? Lezlee, you would love this. And there is also a cool rooftop bar area too. We went up there to enjoy the view.

So we started with an appetizer there called Chichirones. Which are usually like pork rinds. But here it is really crispy fried cheese that they fold into a cone. It comes with an spicy aioli dipping sauce. They were awesome. And beautiful! The texture was almost as crispy as potato chips. I would recommend them!

And then here is a view of the pool area from the rooftop.

Then we went to the Grind. I had heard of this place. They grind their own meat for burgers and whatever. They were hopping at lunch time. Dan Majerle, the former Phoenix Sun was there. We were with the cool folks, I guess. We got an appetizer of Brie cooked in their coal fired oven, with thyme and olive oil, served with strawberries with balsamic and crostini. We also got a sweet and spicy hamburger. Both were fabulous and great to split four ways.

Then we went to Pizza Ala Metre. This got a best neighborhood Italian restaurant in Phoenix New Times. They start you with some of their bread and tomatoes with onions, garlic and balsamic. Then we got a great antipasto salad of veggies and then gnocchi with marinara sauce. I didn't get a photo of the gnocchi. Too busy eating, I guess.

Then we went to the Copperstate Coffee for baked goodies. This is a pumpkin Whoopie pie.

There was a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese middle. This got best cupcake in New times. It was very good.

And finally a nice moist brownie.

I am enjoying all this so much. I am thinking I may have to do one of these for my birthday. We keep thinking of new ways to do it. We could do a breakfast one, or all different types of hot dogs or Asian food, or whatever..... Food, Friends, Talk. What could be better?

Monday, October 18, 2010


Latest crobot, retrobot!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Chiricahuas Kicked my Butt!

There are some places I have gone back when I was really overweight and really wished that I could go hiking there. The Chiricahuas is one of those places. It's a National Monument and is down in the South Eastern corner of Arizona, very close to both the New Mexico and Mexican borders. Lucky for me, I have a friend who is willing to go on a lot of these adventures with me. I am not sure that I would always go by myself.
I mapquested the distance and it said it was very close to a four hour drive. We left at 5AM. With bathroom and breakfast stops, it was closer to 5 hours before we were at the trailhead. We stopped at the visitors center and paid our 5$ entrance fees. We consulted with the ranger lady there. She suggested a slightly different hike than we had been planning. We were going to go out and back to the Heart of Rocks on the same trail. That would be a 7.3 mile hike. She suggested a loop instead that would take us through some additional scenic areas and would be 8.5 miles. Feeling like the Superwomen we are, we thought, no problem.

It was a beautiful day and a beautiful area. The air smelled so clean. Most of my photos are in open areas, where there are large vistas and views, but actually there was quite a lot of dense pine, oak and juniper woodlands that was quite shady and pleasant. The ranger lady told us we were going to get rained on. We felt very confident that we would be fine, especially after she didn't have any ponchos to sell us. Cindy says I have weather juju. We did get sprinkled on very lightly a few times, but nothing to bother us at all. After we were done, the heavens opened and the wind roared. We were very glad not to have been stuck on the trail in that. We would have quickly been miserable.

One of the cool things were the view that just went on forever. It was gorgeous.
The rock formations are from a millions of year old volcanic eruption. They were volcanic ash that formed into a mineral called rhyolite. They had cracks and layers in them at the time of their formation. Over the years, the forces of erosion have made them look a little like Bryce Canyon, only grey. One of the coolest things about them is the multi colored lichens all over them. Some of the lichens are neon green. None of my photos do them justice.

The formations are mostly in Rhyolite canyon in a couple of different areas. Here is one of our first views going in. Can you see how FAR the view goes? It's amazing.

At the balanced rock formation, you go off into a side 1.1 mile loop through what is called the Heart of Rocks. The trail had lots of ups and downs before, but this is even narrower, steeper and lots of rock steps. It is really cool though, to be down among these formations. They have given a lot them some fun names.

Lots of wildlife is in the area, but mostly we just saw lots and lots of these husky lizards. They are lots bulkier than what we see in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. And they have some cool collars on.

This is Pinnacle balanced rock.

This is an attempt to give you an idea of what the lichens looked like.


Views in the Heart of Rocks.

This is appropriately called Duck on a Rock.

Cindy on one of the more wooded parts of the trail.

Beautiful vista across to the opposite side of Rhyolite Canyon. Which we were soon climbing, up, up and up. The whole trail had been up and down, but really wasn't bad. But somehow the last 3 miles of up, just about killed me off. I had to stop several times to catch my breath and let my pulse go back down a little. I was sore before we were even done. We ran into some people who were coming in the opposite direction on this hill. They said they had just passed a rattlesnake coiled on a rock a few turns ahead of us. Thank goodness we never actually came across that snake. I don't think I was capable of jumping out of it's way by that point.

But it was all so worth it. It was beautiful and I was so happy to have done it. I have always thought of myself as more of the slow and steady type when it came to hiking, but the last part was slow and dragging for me. Cindy was doing much better than I was.
But here is what I did: got up at 4 AM. 5 hours of driving. 6 hours of hiking, 8.5 miles, up and down and then another 4 hours of driving in the same day. I got home just after 9pm. It was a long day!

Friday, October 8, 2010


My latest one. He was a bit of a pain.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Canine Camping Trip

I grew up going camping. Pretty much all of our family vacations involved camping, plus many short weekend trips.
As a young adult, I went camping with the Singles wards. Then later, we had our "all ladies" camping trips.
So I am not a stranger to camping. Still It had been a while since I had really gone tent camping in a campground. I had gotten rid of a lot of camping stuff. Then over the last year or so, I had accumlated some equipment again. I had a small tent that I had never put up. I started thinking maybe I would try a little camping trip.

In addition, I always felt guilty leaving my dogs behind when I would go do things. It's hard to have dogs with you all the time. It inhibits what you can do. Plus my dogs aren't exactly back woods dogs. I call them wussy city dogs. So evolved the Canine camping trip. I didn't really seek out anyone to go with me. I wasn't sure how much of a pain my dogs would be to someone else, plus my tent was really big enough for me, my dogs and another person. I wouldn't have turned someone down if they really wanted to go though. No one really seemed to. So then, my first, completely SOLO camping trip and Canine camping trip.
I chose a campground up near Mormon Lake by Flagstaff, thinking it would be cool and have pine trees. It was also a little farther away than I thought. Flagstaff is about 2 hours, it takes about 3 hours to get to the Mormon Lake area.
It felt like I was taking so much stuff. When you have it all piled up, it looks like a lot. Plus a VW sedan, isn't actually equipped to give you a lot of space for camping equipment, plus room for the dogs to ride in the back seat.
Dobbie does fine in the car. He gets in, lies down and doesn't move. Winston on the other hand, has always had some car anxiety. He likes to go, because he thinks he is going to the dog park. This was a really long ride to the dog park. And he won't sit down and relax. He stood and shook, shivered and panted the whole way. He was really thirsty when we got there.
I was able to get the tent up by myself without too much trouble. Thank good ness it was small for that reason. When I got all the stuff out of the car, I realized I really didn't have that much stuff. It was just a small car. I just had what I needed.

It was dusk and I took the dogs for a walk. They always have to be on a leash in the campground. Dobbie has never gone to the bathroom on a leash. I was worried about that. We left the campground on a trail and after I felt we wouldn't be detected, I let them off leash. I was worried, because other than the dog park, they really hadn't been off leash like that. I was hoping they wouldn't run off. They surprized me! Dobbie was pretty much always at my side. This is what he looked like most of the time, right next to me. Winston liked to think he was the leader of the pack and was always out front around 25 feet or so. But he would come back when I called him and let me put him on leash. We had a little fire, lots of bugs and so went to bed early. Not too cold, not too hot. We did fine that first night. Hearl LOTS of coyotes howling and elk bugleing. All night. That made me a little nervous about taking the dogs off leash, coyote snack.

The dogs never barked. They were perfectly good. We went for a longer hike in the morning. Here is the view I enjoyed up Mormon Mountain. And the dogs were off leash the whole time.
When I was in camp, I put the dogs in my old portable dog show pen. This is chateau de canine.

And I even learned how to use the video part of my camera that I had never used. Here is a small clip of the dogs hiking with me. I had sat down for a minute and Dobbie is off with Winston instead of being next to me. Winston would let the end of his tail drag in the dust as he lead the pack. Pretty funny. But he kept a close eye on me and didn't get too far away. I was proud of him. By the second morning though, I was done. Done being dirty, done sleeping on the ground. Even on an air mattress, my joints were all sore. Done using an outhouse. Done fighting bugs. Done being cold. Done not being able to stand in my tent and having to crawl in and out. I was up at 6:30, packed by 8:30 and on the road by 9! Home by noon and cleaned up by one and tried to take a nap before having to go and work all night. Very exhausted after a 12 hour shift!
An interesting experience. I don't know when I'll go back. The dogs did fine, really. And I think I am more inclined to bring them hiking now. I think I might need a taller tent to go again, but then I would need to go with someone to help me put it up. We'll see...