What a joy! When I woke this morning it was already 60F degrees!! I’d blocked out time in the afternoon to walk, but it was early enough and warm enough that I could walk before I sat down to work.
One of the fun aspects of walking is seeing what everyone else has done with their homes and property. I’m planning to have someone do some small building work for me outside this spring, based on ideas I’ve gotten over the last few months as I walk. I like Craftsmen/Mission style and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style. When it comes to art work or selecting items for my home I’m always attracted to stone/metal/wood. You’ll see that in the privacy screens.
There are also some homes that tickle my fancy every time I see them. The small house pictured here is so appealing – the colors, the facade. Attractive and makes me smile every time I go by. I also love the carve out on this very old house – what a clever way to get light and air!
I want to build a privacy screen along my back property line. I’m being very careful to NOT call it a fence, because for that I’d need permits. 🙂 But I’m calling it a piece of art that I can position in such a way that it gives me more privacy AND is attractive to all who see it. I also want to grow ivy and/or other plants on it. I want it to have some sort of bin at the bottom for additional soil. But I need a swinging panel as well between the existing privacy screen and the new one, because I’ll need to get to the back side of both. Mark says “not a problem”.
I do need to fix my brickwork from last fall, and I’m not going to change it – just level it – but I do enjoy seeing what others have done. I love the grass in the one photo. I could definitely see myself pulling up my lawn and putting in something much ‘wilder’ instead, especially if it meant I no longer needed the lawn mowed. 🙂
I have mentioned before about my Superbowl parties. I’ve been hosting them for DECADES. It started over 25 years ago. My father had entered a “Win a Superbowl Party” one night when he picked up his Chicken Holiday dinner. To his great surprise he won the contest. There he was with I don’t remember how much fried chicken and other fried items, pounds and pounds of coleslaw, potato salad and macaroni salad. He gave it all to me and said “Have a party.” Oooookay, my daddy wants me to throw a party, I’ll throw a party.
That year it was small. The 8 family members (including my pre-school aged son and elementary school niece) and 2 friends from across the street. The next year as all of the hoopla began about the Superbowl my niece said to me “When is your party, Aunt Ahuva? You always have a party.” My niece is very very good at saying to me after one occasion “you ALWAYS do x”. And then I find myself doing X. 🙂
The party has grown to be a big event. We fly our son home for the weekend. We move the furniture out of the living room, piling it either in the driveway or on the front porch if the weather is bad. We set up folding chairs. I’ve bought a TV strictly for the party AND had my brother-in-law build a stand just for that TV. Both the TV and the stand spend the rest of the year in the basement. We (my husband, brother-in-law and I ) make a LOT of food. All the guests bring food and drink as well. By the time everyone has arrived you can no longer see the dining room table. Hot drinks and desserts are in the breakfast room, where we also have a second TV going (heaven forbid you miss a commercial when you go to that room). Out on the deck, just outside the door, we set up the cold drinks and the desserts that need to be kept cold. Paper goods and plasticware are arranged around the dining room. There are hot chafing dishes set up on the sideboard in the dining room as well.
Very few of the 40-some people who come to the party actually care about the game. 🙂 Oh, many of us do like to watch football games, but we have a core of NY Giants fans. Enough said, right? If I recall the loyalties properly, others have had better fortune: Patriots, Steelers, Cubs. For most people it’s about the food, the friends, the commercials and the boxes.
We set up a grid, 10×10, or really 11×11. We write one team across the top and another down the side. We block out the 11th row & column. People ‘buy’ a box for $1 box, writing their names into the grid. Someone acts as banker, collecting the $s and then handling the payout.
Once all the boxes have a name, we remove the blocking from the 11th row & column. We begin to pull numbers out of a hat, 0-9. As we pull a number we write it into the next box on the 11th row, then do the same down the 11th column – picking from a DIFFERENT hat with the folded up pieces of paper, bearing the crucial numbers. From that point on the score becomes personally relevant. We start at 0-0 and pay out $1 a score change. When the score changes, we find the intersection of the last 2 digits of the scores. We pay $10 at the end of the first quarter, $15 at the half, $10 for Q3, and the remaining pot at the end of the game. 🙂
The last time we had the full blow-out was February 2020, just before the pandemic. Last year I was completely bummed – no party. My friend Pam did convince me to put together a Zoom event. It was okay, much better than not doing anything, but it was a pale shadow of the true party. This year I knew that people were still not ready to come and exchange air inside the house. It doesn’t matter that everyone we would have invited has been vaccinated and boosted. Our emotional state had not caught up to the physical. I fled to Tempe, as you know, and I told my son that were were going to have a party even if it was just the 2 of us.
Before I even left I called the Thirsty Lion, a gastropub within walking distance (3077 W. Frye, Chandler, AZ) of the hotel. I told the lovely hostess on the phone, Joyce, that I wanted to reserve a table for 4 outside for the whole length of the game. 🙂 I asked my son to invite friends to join us. By the time I landed he’d found 4 others to join us, late-notice though it was. *laughing* He had to spend a lot of time explaining that it was NOT about the game. In the meantime I decided we could STILL do the boxes if folks would play along. I texted my niece on Friday and asked if she would put together a digital grid. I emailed all of the party regulars explaining where and how the digital grid would work. I told them to trust me about the finances – I’d figure out how to pay out when the time came.
My niece made a fantastic grid. More folks played along than I had anticipated. I guess we are all missing the ‘real’ party. We also set up a group chat for everyone during the game but fewer played along there. We had AZ, NC, DE and CA in the group chat. 🙂 We tracked the scores and the grid and posted to the chat. 🙂 Meanwhile there at the Thirsty Lion we kept our waiter Jeffrey hopping bringing food and drink through the entire game. Jeffrey (unless of course it is Geoffrey) was one of the BEST EVER waiters. Good spirited, upbeat happy, joking with us all, fitting right in. We didn’t call him Jeffrey by the way. We called him Aaron Rodgers because he was wearing Rodgers’ jersey.
I had an absolutely fantastic time. I cannot thank our friends enough for joining in long distance and in person to have a party with me. I was ‘high’ from that joy well into the next day. I’m still smiling as I write this post. And as my son said – we didn’t have to clean up or move furniture!!! Maybe next year when we resume in person I should rent a large room at a restaurant. *grin*
I love the Arizona deserts: the rocks, the cacti, the mountains. There is a LOT of desert. That’s why it’s even more stunning to find blue blue water nestled among the mountains. After we hiked up to Praying Hands and back, the afternoon was still young, and I’d not had my fill of gorgeous scenery, fresh air and sunshine. We’d seen signs for Canyon Lake on our way to Lost Dutchman State Park and so we thought we’d head that direction. According to the maps, Rt 88 would lead us directly to Canyon Lake. Canyon Lake is one of 4 reservoirs created off the Salt River.
I was slightly better this trip than I’ve been in the past. I only pulled the car over once so that I could inhale scenery and take pictures. It is so beautiful. My photos never quite capture the magnitude of the views, but I keep trying. Rt 88 is an incredibly twisting curving winding 2-lane road. When we headed out of Lost Dutchman the posted sign said ’25 mph”. I mentioned to my son that I thought perhaps that was unduly cautious and wondered why. He said, being prescient, that maybe it was because the road was going to be twisting ahead. (I was driving, he was looking at maps.)
Rt 88 is definitely twisty. With beautiful views. There was a lot of traffic on the road. It was a Saturday, gorgeous weather, out in the country. A LOT of motorcycles. We came around a curve to a stupendous view but there was no place to stop. As soon as I saw a spot ahead I pulled over – as had several other cars. Unfortunately where I was did not have as great a view as the middle of the road just prior to my pulling over. I decided that it was probably NOT a good idea to walk back and stand in the middle of the road by a blind curve. 🙂 Just take my word for it.
I got back in the car and we continued on and reached the overlook for Canyon Lake. Breathtaking. As we made our way down Rt 88 to the lake I pulled over yet again to take photos from another angle. Between the rock faces and the water I wanted to stand there and stare forever.
We got down to the actual parking and boat launch area and got out of the car to walk around a bit. We shared the water’s edge with some ducks. I took a video of the gentle lapping of the water at the edge – poetry for my soul.
There is a little town, Tortilla Flat, right along the lake. It was jammed packed with people. It looked to be the most amazing “tourist trap” I might have ever seen. My son kept describing it as the epitome of kitsch. 🙂 Yes, we were probably being unduly harsh. There IS a US post office there – it’s a real town. And if you click through on the link you will see that there is an official population of 6. I really should have taken some photos but I had no idea I was going to want them. 🙂
According to the website: “Tortilla Flat is an authentic remnant of an old west town, nestled in the midst of the Tonto National Forest, in the Superstition Mountain Range. Tortilla Flat started out as a stagecoach stop in 1904 and neither fire nor flood has been able to take away this historic stop along the Historic Apache Trail.” We did see lots of folks enjoying ice cream and further down the road a motorcyclist told me that the “best fudge ever” can be had in Tortilla Flat.
We decided we were not in the mood to deal with all those folks so we continued east on Rt 88. According to the map we could reach Roosevelt Lake, another reservoir created off Salt Lake. More twists and curves and bends, but now there were very few cars.
The road climbed up and there was an overlook and a sign. The sign said that the road was closed ahead and that there was no pavement past the sign (that was true – we could see that). I pulled over and got out to take some photos. There were 2 motorcyclists there as well and I asked one of them if it was true about the road.
He said that it was, that the Woodbury Fire of 2019 that raged through Tonto National Forest had destroyed the road and the bridge. He said that the only way we could reach Roosevelt Lake was to go back to the highway (a good 30 minutes away) and head NORTH, and then approach Roosevelt Lake from the north. I did a little research once I was home and it was not actually the fire that destroyed the bridge. It was the horrendous rain storms in 2020 over the fire-scarred terrain which caused massive landslides and wiped out the bridge.
It was already late in the afternoon by that time, and it would have been getting dark by the time we reached the lake. We’ll have to do that another time and hope that the roads are open and we can get there. There is, of course, a lot of controversy over re-opening Rt 88. Arizona DOT has said they will NOT reopen the road until it is reforested (which will take years). We will have to get there from the north when we go.
We turned around and headed back the way we’d come, all the way back to Chandler. By that point I was exhausted. I’d gotten something in my eye at the last stop and my eye was hurting and tearing – I made my son do the drive back home. I got into the hotel pool & hot spa to recuperate before we headed out to dinner. I leave you with this video of gentle waves upon the shore. 🙂
Last time I attempted to hike Superstition I discovered that it makes a huge difference if the hike is going up and up, or more around and up. I was back in AZ and although it was a very short trip, I still had a day that could be spent hiking. I’m in much better shape than I was when I attempted Fremont Saddle via the Peralta Trail. All those mornings back home walking 2.75 miles, not to mention the TWO hills and the gradual incline, have definitely given me more stamina. Yes, I’m well aware that gasping my way up a suburban street is NOT akin to hiking up a mountainside, but it is some exercise. I did some internet surfing and discovered Treasure Loop to Praying Hands. I read the description MUCH more carefully based on my hard-won knowledge. It looked do-able.
We decided to give it a try on Saturday, a day when we had absolutely nothing else planned. We could spend all day hiking if that’s what it took me – zillions of rests. The elevation gain did not look that difficult – only 834 feet compared to 1430 feet. The distance was also much less round-trip: 3 miles compared to 4.7 miles. And we were hiking in February, NOT early September. We checked with my son’s friend and although he made some faces, he thought I was probably able to do it. 🙂
It is only about 40 minutes from Chandler to the trailhead in Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction. We got there a little after 11 am. *laughing* I probably should NOT put this here but oh, well, you know that for a supposedly smart woman I can do some pretty dumb things. 🙂 First, we ended up parking in the overflow parking because of a sign in the road talking about the parking being closed. Upon later closer inspection the sign was only intended to convey the information that you could NOT park overnight. But it WAS in the road and there was another car leaving that area coming at us, so we took it to mean the lot was full. 🙂 As it happens, I think that ended up being a good thing for us.
We parked in the overflow and then tried to find the trailhead. Go ahead, laugh. I was getting a little worried about us that we could not even find the trailhead for Treasure Loop and what – I wanted to hike up to Praying Hands? 🙂 We wandered around the Cholla day-use area and decided it was NOT what we wanted. We made our way up the not-closed road to the Saguaro day-use area. Again, we saw lots of parked cars but no obvious trail-head. I was beginning to feel cranky. Just as I spied a sign that looked to be a trailhead sign, a gentleman called to us to say the trailhead began behind the restrooms. We went that direction but it was NOT the trailhead for Treasure Loop. Those of you who know me can imagine just how cranky I was at this point. I snarled my way over to where *I* thought the trailhead sign was and YES! I was correct!!! So we started out on Treasure Loop #56. If you click any of my links, or read anything online, you’ll see that all of the guides say start at the Cholla day-use area.
I’m going to tell you that my son and I disagree with all of those trail guides. We started from Saguaro and ended at Cholla. Starting at Saguaro means you do the steepest, rockiest part FIRST, when you are still fresh and eager. The mountains are ahead of you, in all their beauty, and you start climbing immediately. The Cholla side of the loop is nearly flat, in comparison. Which makes it boring and a bit ho-hum. There were a handful of other groups of hikers – I’d guess fewer than 15 – both going our way and coming back towards us. All of these hikers were friendly and calling hello and smiling. My recollection of hiking Devil’s Bridge was that although the vast majority of the hikers WERE friendly and warm, there were definitely the groups who belonged walking in the city, where avoiding eye contact and smiles is considered the norm.
For the most part the hike up was easy enough, but hard enough that we did need to pause a few times to catch our breath. We had a good cadence. You reach what seems to be the top of Treasure Loop where there is an aluminum bench. 🙂 We paused there to take some photos. We didn’t realize we were at the top until we met some other folk coming the other way (from Cholla) and they told us that we were. We could still see the Praying Hands a bit away, so we knew there had to be more to the trail. I remembered from when I found this trail originally that it was a loop with a line leading away from it – like a hanging pendant.
We kept walking the way we’d been going and did indeed come to a sign pointing to Praying Hands. This path was definitely narrower and we could see it was much steeper than what we’d been doing. All of that fit my recollection of the first description I’d found. I keep talking about my “first” description because we downloaded an app: Route Scout which is an app from Hike Arizona . It wasn’t working for us. *grin* Oh be quiet. We were doing just fine without it.
We headed up this trail towards Praying Hands. Definitely steeper. Definitely more loose gravel. Only 2 other groups doing this path -a group of 4 young women, and a young couple. We took some photos of the women all on one of the rocks, with the world spread out below them. 🙂 In return they taught me how to use Airdrop on my iPhone so that they could have the photos. 🙂 My son and I ALSO got up on the rocks for them to take pictures of US, but I chickened out and we stood on the CLOSER part of the rock ledge, not on the place where they stood. Honestly it is simply so gorgeous up there. I wish I could post every single photo. I took far fewer photos than I usually do. I wanted to experience the climb while it was happening, and many of the photos would look the same. What IS interesting was how the perspective changes. Rocks that looked so far away as we started got very close and LARGE. Then as we kept hiking up to Praying Hands they got smaller and smaller. We thought we’d come a long way at one point, but when we got up to Praying Hands and looked back at the huge rock at the top of Treasure Loop – wow. That huge rock was not a long trip at all.
We made it all the way to the top. The 4 young women had gotten there before us and we could see them off to our right, on a rocky ledge along the mountain face. The young couple reached us at the top flat ledge, where there was a pyramid of rocks. We could see Praying Hands across the way. I thought we were done. The young couple hiked down off the ledge and onto a very gravelly, OPEN SIDED path heading towards Praying Hands. Again, those of you who know me will recognize my reaction: heck, if THEY can do it so can I. Sigh. My son looked at me because he could see this next bit of path was not going to be fun. I said yes, we’re going. And we did.
Reader, I hated it. 🙂 But we baby-stepped our way along that gravelly, long-way down on the left, irregular path all the way to the base of Praying Hands. We took a photo and pasted it to Facebook so you know that it really happened. 🙂 I also posted that I had no idea how I was going to get back down. Because that last little piece was really scary. Not for that young couple obviously but it was for me. Up is SO MUCH EASIER than down. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life up there, and I’m told calling for helicopter rescue is very expensive and frowned upon, so I knew I’d have to get down that steep loose gravel.
Of course within my first 5 steps I slid and landed on my tush. My son’s friend asked me later “were you wearing proper hiking boots?” Of course not, don’t be silly. I don’t OWN proper hiking boots – I was wearing my sneakers. Hey – at least I wasn’t wearing sandals. 🙂 One of these days I really will invest in hiking boots and a walking stick. Once I was down there on my butt, and my heart rate returned to normal, I decided that was indeed the best way to continue. That’s what I did for that scary part. I reached a part where I could stand without too much fear, and for that part I proceeded on all 4s – 4s being my hands and feet, not knees. I’m probably mistaken about that being more balanced and secure but it felt better to me to have more contact with the ground and to be closer to the ground. It really is a VERY steep drop from that point. Trust me – I looked.
We made it back to the flat area with the rock pyramid. There were some steep parts from there back down to Treasure Loop, but they were fine after what had come before. There may have been one other place I trusted to my tush over my feet. We reached Treasure Loop and walked to the Cholla Day Use area. As I said to start, by then that part of the trail felt like walking on level ground. 🙂 All in all we were hiking for 3 hours. It was lovely – not too hot, sunny, not too crowded with other hikers. There was just enough challenge and risk (for me) to make it exciting. It was still early in the day so we decided to head toward Canyon Lake. But that’s a story for another day. 🙂
I am a Jersey girl, born and bred. My idea of Paradise is the Jersey shore, more specifically somewhere on LBI (Long Beach Island for those of you who need a translation). But no matter how deep my roots, and they are very very deep, I can no longer endure February in NJ. My memory tells me that once upon a time when I was younger our winters were COLD but sunny. We had snow more often than rain. Now it seems that we are lucky to see the sun once every 2 weeks. The temperature is in the high 30s, low 40s, not cold enough to feel like winter but too cold to be at all enjoyable. Add to that covid and the 2nd year in a row when I can’t throw my blow-out-Superbowl party –> well, I need to run away.
I planned to head to AZ to spend a week with my son around his birthday. One thing and another and I decided that week was not going to work well. I picked a different week and HE couldn’t make it. 2 days after I cancelled THOSE tickets/plans, we had another disgustingly damp, gray, miserable northeastern weather event. I told my son I didn’t care if he couldn’t take off to join me, I was coming to AZ. I neeeeeeed SUN and HEAT.
I guess a lot of people felt the same. I could not get tickets for the days/flights I wanted. (I learned that the PGA Phoenix Open was happening this weekend.) So I made a shorter itinerary and got the plane & the hotel. I am staying at the Hilton Phoenix Chandler, where the people are absolutely wonderful. It’s becoming my home away from home. 🙂 I flew out on a Thursday afternoon, arriving that night. I took Friday as a vacation day and my son took off Friday afternoon to join me.
I spent the morning reading at the pool, soaking up warmth and light. We headed to Tempe to the promenade along the Rio Salada. I guess they call that area, or part of that area, Tempe Town Lake. We parked by one of the boat launches. When we got out I heard the most interesting bird chirps. Of course the moment I tried to record it he stopped cooperating but I did manage a very short bit. We started strolling along the river. It was heavenly. 🙂 There are plaques set into the concrete wall along the river. Some plaques are pictures, some have inspirational sayings, some have thoughts to ponder. My favorite image is NOT here because apparently a bird did not agree with my opinion and left a physical comment on the plaque. I liked the picture a lot but not enough to clean it off for a photo. 🙂
After walking for a bit we went and got some lunch at the Varsity Tavern. This was NOT where we thought we’d end up. We ate here back in October 2020, during the depths of the pandemic, and we were very very disappointed. Perhaps because we were comparing it to The Corner Room, a Penn State tradition, and a very fond and special memory for us. We were hungry and they could seat us so we gave it another try. I’m very glad we did. Our meals were delicious, and our waitress was great. Without question Varsity Tavern is back on our list of places to dine. 🙂 After that I had a somewhat unusual request: I wanted to go to a book store. When my son first moved out here, and I flew out to help him look for a place to live, we often had to kill time between appointments. One such time was spent in a bookstore, Changing Hands. It was a wonderful wonderful bookstore, with all the side gifts and items you want in a book store, as well as a HUGE inventory of new and used books. We discovered 2 new authors that day. We headed there after lunch and I had the joy of buying books for my son (we read a lot of the same authors).
If you are interested, I bought him Arkady Martine’s “An Empire Called Memory” and “A Peace Called Desolation” and Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House. In return he has loaned me 3 very heavy books: Margaret Weiss & Robert Krammes’ The Dragon Corsairs trilogy. The amusing bit about THOSE books is that I have actually read at least the first 2. I’m not a very careful reader most of the time and have a habit of skipping parts that don’t interest me. 🙂 It was YEARS later that I discovered that the pirate ships were in the SKY, not water. Which finally cleared up that whole section where they sailed DOWN to somewhere else and all the action was happening, so I thought, under water. 🙂 Oops. There was no way I wanted to carry that weight on the plane so I have handed them over to the front desk to mail home for me. Yes, I AM a princess, why do you ask? 🙂
All the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown) And the sky is gray (and the sky is gray) I’ve been for a walk (I’ve been for a walk) On a winter’s day (on a winter’s day) I’d be safe and warm (I’d be safe and warm) If I fly away (if I fly away) Caribbean dreamin’ (Caribbean dreamin’) On such a winter’s day apologies to John Phillips/ The Mamas & The Papas
I got home from my morning walk and realized if I did not escape I might just break down and cry until April. I’m not heading to the Caribbean but I AM heading to Tempe, AZ. Yes!!!!