Wednesday, June 27, 2007

You walk like a sissy

I emerged from a parking garage downtown this morning at about 7:30am. I was attending a conference. As I hit the pavement a homeless woman started shouting at me. I couldn't hear what she was saying at first but as I got closer, and between her f'ing and blinding expletives I discovered that she was telling me that I walked like a sissy.

I challenge anybody to have had a better start to their day than I had.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stars and Stripes on Piestewa

I went for my evening stroll up Piestewa today and when I got to the top I noticed that someone had put the star spangled banner on the least accessible peak of the 3 peaks at the top. I'm not sure why it's here. Does anybody know? I thought at first that it might be for the anniversary of Lori Piestewa's death but that's on 23rd March. It might be in preparation for 4th July but it seems a bit early...

I have tried to make it a rule to take my camera with me whenever I go hiking now because it seems that there's always something different or new on each hike - even the repeated ones - such as today.

The temperature at the bottom was 107 at the end of the hike - I forgot to check what it was at the beginning.

I'm particularly proud of this next photo of the flag that I took. I had to climb across to the bottom of the third peak to get the shot. Can you see the moon in the background doing a little bit of waxing? Do you know how you can tell if the moon's waxing or waning? If you're in the northern hemisphere and you can cup the moon with your right hand then it's waxing. (If you can't see the moon in the picture then click the picture and it should open the full sized version of the photo.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

100F at midnight

Last year Rob recorded us hitting 100F at midnight on 23 July 2006. For you non people (i.e. you people) that would be 38C. We have an advertised price of 115F (46C) at 4pm today so I'm wondering if we're going to hit the magic 100F at midnight tonight?

By the way, if you ever need to do conversion quickly and easily and you're in front of the computer then Google will do it for you in their search box. Just type "115f in c" and voila.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Name that film

I'm just watching AFI's 100 films on telly and heard a great quote. "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here, this is the war room." Can anyone tell me the name of the film and who said it?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Smokin' Piestewa

I took another hike up Piestewa this evening. It was about 105F when I set out from the bottom so not a cool hike. After 32 minutes I reached the top where I sat and wondered if not being able to breathe was worth the exercise and view.

About 5 minutes after I got to the top a vagrant arrived. This was a bit surprising as all the other hikers had high tech hiking boots, camel backs, Kevlar walking poles, altimeters, and heart rate monitors. He had a pair of torn grey flannel pants, a dirty button down shirt and unlaced very worn trainers. His hair was dirty and platted and some of it tied back with string and when he smiled through his matted beard you could see that alternating teeth were missing.

I had this urge to shout out "dad" but then I realised that although my father aspires to a status such as that he stills has far to go to get there.

He was carry a plastic shopping bag in his hand and from it he produced an almost finished bottle of water, some iced tea and a disposable camera. I offered to take his photo for him however he said that he could take his own but I'm sure that he just didn't trust me and thought I'd run off with his camera. We chatted for a short while and I learned that he was up there to watch the new moon. It was only going to be visible for a short while as it chased the setting sun in the east. I was somewhat surprised at his knowledge of the stars and moon phases but considering that I know next to nothing he could have told me anything and I would have believed it.

As I was about to leave he opened his plastic bag and pulled out some paper and what I thought was tobacco and rolled himself a joint. I started my journey down the mountain with Wern Snell of Colitas rising up through the air.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Last Con

On Monday evening 4 June 2007 my wife and I took an evening stroll through the desert. I call this "The Last Con" because she swears that she isn't going to be conned into another night desert walk with me again. She's had enough of rattlesnakes.
Let's take the photos in order.
It takes us about 20 minutes walking along the side of the canal (Central Arizona Project Canal) until we're into the desert in a part of Reach 11 called the Arizona Horse Lovers Area. As we enter the desert the sun is setting. You may have been able to work this out from the first photo.
We we're in there for about 10 minutes when we encountered rattlesnake #1. When a rattlesnake shakes its tail it doesn't actually make the sound of a rattle it's more like the sound of an angry cat hissing. I immediately swung the flashlight to the hissing sound and then back to where my wife should have been standing. I swear that Carl Lewis couldn't have covered that distance in the time that she had. I coaxed her back to hold the flashlight while I took some pictures. You can see how well camouflaged it is even with light. Of course, in the dark it's invisible.
Another 20 minutes further on we came across the second rattler. This one was far more relaxed and wasn't interested in shaking its booty at us. However, it was heading straight towards us and didn't appear interested in changing course so we had to take a slight detour to get past it without encounter.
I've no idea how I'm going to convince her to come on another night hike with me. Any ideas?

Zoot Sprint Triathlon Lake Pleasant

9 June 2007 - Zoot Sprint Triathlon. We were planning on doing this as a relay but we couldn't find a runner so I swam, Fred cycled and we both ran.
This was a fantastic triathlon! The water was clear and warm and an absolute pleasure to swim in. Time 18:50 for 1,000 meters. The run was tough but very enjoyable as we ran along the Pipeline Canyon Trail through the desert and so did very little road running. My running time was 33:30 for about 3 miles. Using the word running is of course an exaggeration as it consisted of walking and plodding. I think that our total time was 1:48:00 so this our figure to beat next year.
This all took place on the west side of Lake Pleasant which is about 45 minutes north west of Phoenix.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lost in Translation

In the video I posted in the last blog you hear me say that I think that the animal is a meerkat. On watching the video my wife tells me that no one will understand me because a meerkat is a South African animal and no one will have hear of it. She was bloody right as well.

Wikipedia tells me that a meerkat comes from the mongoose family. So that leads me to wonder if that animal is in fact a mongoose? But looking at some pictures of mongeese tell me that it probably isn't.

...Pause while he goes off and does some more searching...

Okay I think I have the answer. I found to images of a Ring Tailed Cat (Bassariscus astutus) and I believe that is what it is.

What am I?

Here is a video clip that I took at the top of Piestewa Peak today. This animal that looks like a small fox but has a ringed tail and the demeanor of a cat comes strolling along and hangs out with me at the top. I poured some water into a hole in the rocks at my feet and he (she/it) drank a fair amount of it. I'm sure he was looking for food but I know that's wrong so I didn't give him any.

Anyway, what is he? What type of desert animal is this. Very friendly and laid back, almost domesticated. And what the hell was he doing 1,200 feet higher than the closest house if he is a scavenger? (I'm assuming that people have been feeding him but at the peak? Why not lower down?)

The other persons voice that you hear in the video is someone who arrived at the summit with me and he said that he's been hiking to that peak for 20 years and had never seen anything like that. I think that 20 years is a hell of a long time to get to the top considering that it only took me 36 minutes but then that heavy panting you hear at the beginning of the video is the 20-year hiker catching his breath.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Piestewa Peak

Before you get confused, the picture is of Camelback from the top of Piestewa Peak. The reason you can't see the shape of the camel's head is because you're looking right up its nostrils.
I hiked up Piestewa Peak today. It used to be called Squaw Peak but I've been told (and I have no idea how true this is) that it was renamed in honor of a Native American called Piestewa who died in the Iraq War.
It's a 1.2 mile trail with an elevation gain of 1,200 feet and it took me 36 minutes to get to the top which I know is slow because plenty of people overtook me on the way up. I took a very leisurely stroll down because my wife had caught up with me by then and it was getting dark so we couldn't see the path that well.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Big Images

In the past I've downsized the images before posting them on the web. Recently I've noticed that is doing an excellent job of resizing the smaller version for me which allows me to post the full sized image in the blog. If you want to see the full image then just click on it and you can see much more detail.

Big Earl's Greasy Eats

I'd seen Big Earl's Greasy Eats on the news a few months back. It made the headlines because Donald Sutherland was there shooting a new movie called Jolene which is due in October 2007.

The movie is based on a short story by EL Doctorow and follows the journey of a young woman as she travels across the country for ten years. Apart from Donald Sutherland the case will also contain Jessica Chastain, Rupert Friend, Theresa Russell, and Shannon Whirry.

Enough about the movie, it's not even out yet. Some friends were in town and we'd just been evicted from our local mall because our friends had their Chihuahua with them and our mall security weren't having any Chihuahua in their mall.

On seeing Greasy in the name of the restaurant I guessed that they weren't going to be as fussy and they allowed Timone (the Chihuahua) to run riot and knock over blades of grass and terrorize a colony of ants.

If you're ever in the town of Carefree, AZ, I highly recommend you try the Big Kahuna Chicken burger and the sweet potato fries with a vanilla malt shake. I do not believe that combination can be improved on. My wife thinks that the sauce they put on that burger was the best she's ever tasted (I would certainly put it in the top five) and I completely agree with her that the vanilla malt shake was the best that I have ever had.

Big Earl's Greasy Eats is at 6141 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
(480) 575-7889

Tell them that Big Guy sent you - but only if you want to completely confuse them because they have absolutely no idea who I am.

I've found their hiding place

I've solved one of life's big mysteries about where tumbleweed hide. I've had tens of thousand of letters, emails and phone calls about my recent blog post Tumbleweed that questions where they go when it's not windy.

Two weeks ago while walking in Reach 11 I found their graveyard. Hundreds of tumbleweed tucked under the Honey Mesquite, Palo Verdes and Creosote Bushes. See photo for evidence.

This is the Elephant's Graveyard for Tumbleweed.

Blue Moon Hike

Two nights ago (or was it three?), there was a blue moon and I conned my wife into going on a night hike in the desert with me. I did that by delaying the hike until just before sunset so it became dark shortly after we started.

We came across a baby rattlesnake in the first 10 minutes of the hike which set the tone for a very skittish wife. We almost missed the rattler because it looked like a stick lying across the trail. After that all sticks were potential serpents.

Surprisingly, we saw very little wildlife activity after the sun fell. I was expecting to catch the reflection of pairs of eyes in the bushes every now and then but nothing.

We when got back to the car my wife said: "There's no way I would have gone out there with you if it was this dark when we started."

The con worked.

Echo Canyon

I've been wanting to hike Echo Canyon for a long time and today I did it. It was a spur of the moment decision.

The Echo Canyon trail is 1.2 miles long (one way) and 1,264 feet to the summit at 2,704 feet.

Time going up was 45 minutes and down was 21 minutes with a 15 minute rest at the top.

The picture shows a rail to help hikers up and down the extremely steep parts. This is one of two rails. On the was down I sat on the rail and slid instead of walking.

The other way of getting to the top of Camelback Mountain is by approaching it from the east side on the Cholla Trail which is longer (1.5 miles) but not as steep.

I'm planning to hike with some friends from the south to the north rim of the Grand Canyon later this year and so I'm going to have to do plenty more of this type of hiking to train for that.