Joshua Tree National Park, part three

November 1, Thursday

Almost all was stars in the sky this morning.  The clouds had moved to the eastern horizon where they were a narrow strip.  Temperature was 49 when I dressed and dropped to 44, then rose to 45 just before dawn.  The morning was cold and windy.

Even so, after breakfast and a pretty sunrise I walked the rest of the campground and finished my notes.  When I returned to my camp site the new neighbors in site 95, from British Columbia, explained that they needed to find a first-come-first-serve campground where they could spend several nights, after driving their over-the-cab pickup camper all the way down from Canada.  Their daughter was coming up from Los Angeles to join them.  They had not been given a Park brochure when they entered yesterday.  I had heard that some of the entrance stations were out of all of the literature they might ordinarily stock. I gave the couple the brochure that I had been handed when I first entered the Park on Monday.  I also had with me one I had acquired on my only previous visit to the Park, which was in 2010.  The two brochures were exactly the same.

I forgot to type the day’s adventures yesterday evening, so I strung a blanket from 4titude’s driver’s side window onto his back to make shade so I could read my laptop, then began re-living yesterday.  At 9 AM two big, grey, very noisy helicopters flew over the campground.  They were probably on a practice flight from the Marine Base at Amboy just northwest of Twentynine Palms.  The largest marine base in the United States.

At 10:40 I finally began the day’s sightseeing.  The temperature was 59 degrees and windy.  After driving on a paved road through an extensive Joshua Tree forest I turned onto Bighorn Pass Road, a sandy graveled road one-and-a-half lanes wide with sparse turnouts.

AE Driving JTNP, B1, 1nov2018


AE Driving JTNP, B2, 1nov2018

Fotos of Joshua Tree forests.

I turned onto a narrower road and drove a short ways to a small parking area with toilet building.  One vehicle was already parked in the lot.  From there I hiked to both Barker Dam and the Mill Site.

The two trails began side-by-side, in two places.  You could park in the large parking lot and walk the Barker Dam Loop Trail then drive to the small parking lot and hike to the Mill Site.  Or vice-versa.  Or, you could do what I did: park at the small lot, follow the sign to Barker Dam and after about one-third mile find yourself unhappily at the large lot you ignored and from there walk the Barker Dam Loop (1.3 miles), walk one-third mile back to the small lot and from there walk a mile to the Mill Site and a mile back to the small parking lot.  Or you could make up your own combination.

AN JTNP, Barker Dam trail, Aa, 1nov2018


The Barker Dam Loop Trail wove among huge boulders covered with boulders.  Fascinating and something to fotograph.  This trail was billed as a nature trail and it actually did have signs with interesting information about plants scattered along its length.

AN JTNP, Barker Dam trail, Ba, 1nov2018

AN JTNP, Barker Dam trail, Bb, 1nov2018

AN JTNP, Barker Dam trail, Bc2, 1nov2018

Foto:  Looking closely in center of picture you can see the pond behind Barker Dam.

AN JTNP, Barker Dam trail, Be, 1nov2018

The double-row circular object is not alien or Celtic.  It is a watering trough below Barker Dam.  A pipe from the dam kept the trough filled with water for the ranchers’ cattle.  The water in the foto is below the dam; it is a pond left-over from recent torrential rains that washed out and/or spilled deep mud on the road t the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park.

AN JTNP, Barker Dam trail, Bf, 1nov2018

The narrow spot beside the dam where only the slim can continue on down the trail.  That is my aluminum hiking pole in the foto.  (Does it look familiar?  It is the handle of a deceased mop.)

AN JTNP, Barker Dam trail, Bj, 1nov2018

Foto:  This is what a young Joshua Tree looks like.  No discernible trunk.

AN JTNP, Barker Dam trail, Bi3, 1nov2018

There is a set of prehistoric petroglyphs a hundred yards off the Barker Dam Trail.  Unfortunately, some destructive-enterprising person painted over them so they would show up better.

After returning to the small parking lot I walked the Wall Street Mill Trail across relatively flat sand.  The hike was sort of a drudge but the ruins were in a pretty setting.

AM JTNP, Wall Street Mill Trail, Ah, 1nov2018

This part of Joshua Tree National Park that I had been driving and walking through was a fotographer’s dream, or perhaps nightmare because all the fotogenic pieces cannot be fotographed in finite time.

I had a late lunch at a picnic table in the Hidden Valley Day Use Area.

AP JTNP, Hidden Valley, Aa, 1nov2018

The temperature was 64 degrees accompanied by cold gusts of wind.  While rummaging for my lunch items I found the summer sausage and pepperoni.  Luckily, they didn’t need refrigeration as long as the original wrapper was intact.

Then I returned home to Agnes.  A bank of wispy clouds had blown in.  In the late afternoon, in spite of breezes, I felt warmer than late yesterday.  Either this evening was warmer or I was becoming somewhat acclimated to cold weather.  High today was mid 60s.

There were pink clouds in the eastern sky and pink to red clouds in the west this evening.

AB JTNP, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Al3, 1nov2018

Pink clouds in the east were reflected in 4titude’s windows, adding charm to the sunset.

AB JTNP, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Am1, 1nov2018

Blood red clouds in the west reflected in campers’ eyes.

November 2, Friday

Low temperature this morning was 43 degrees.  As usual, I warmed myself with a cup of hot cocoa early in the hour and a half before dawn.  Lots of sky in the beautiful stars.  Crescent moon lit up the landscape.  There were only occasional very light, itinerant breezes, almost not noticeable.  It was a wonderful pre-dawn morning.

When dawn began to provide light to see by, I cut myself a few ounces of summer sausage for breakfast.  I put the remainder back in the SUV.  While I was still relaxing after breakfast a coyote trotted slowly by my camp site, turning its head to keep an eye on me.  The animal may have been attracted by the scent of the summer sausage.

The ranger who did the early morning drive-thru to check the campground also swept the bathroom floor and put in six more rolls of toilet paper.

After repacking 4titude I drove away at 8:35 am, shortly after dawn.  The mid 60s temperature was warm when I was in the sun.  There was still no wind.  This would be a perspiration-producing day here in the desert.

AN JTNP, Trail going from Mill to Barker Dam trail, A5, 1nov2018

At 10:07 am I was at the intersection of the park road and I-10.

At first, I had as much rear view viewing as when I did driving from Phoenix to the campgrounds.  But soon, the slippery nylon-covered sleeping bag began to ooze out wider and covered up much of my viewing space.  At a pit stop I pushed the bag back into a tighter form, but it soon slid into the viewing space again.

Odometer 68,357 at 1:55 when I arrived home.  Total miles drive was 781.  This had been a short trip.  If you are not interested in dog breed names, you may want to stop your reading here.


*Pronunciation of Shih Tzu;

Downloaded 12nov2018 from


“…for the correct pronunciation of Shih Tzu let’s look to the Oxford English Dictionary, which is the world’s most comprehensive single-language print dictionary according to the Guiness Book of World Records.  It is the premier dictionary of the English language.

“According to this trustworthy, top-class, reputable resource, the correct pronunciation is: (shē’ dzōō [the bars above the “o” should be connected into one bar]).

“The mark, the, shown above the first “e” is called a diacritic mark.  Specifically, it is a macron.  Diacritic marks are used to show the sound value of the letter to which they are added.

“The macron of: means that the letter is pronounced as a long vowel.  The short vowel would be said as “eh” …And the long vowel that we are discussing here is enunciated as a long “E”, as in the word “bee”.  Therefore, the first syllable is the word: She.

“The dzōō may seem a bit trickier…however, it is a simple roll of the d into the z of “zoo” (dah-zoo).

“There is a heavy emphasis on the first syllable…The “She”…followed by the second syllable, the “dzoo”.  When said as ond single word, the 2 syllables flow together, thus making the pronunciation: Sheedzoo.

“The American Shih Tzu Club verifies this, as they have officially and publicly confirmed that the pronunciation of Shih Tzu is: “Sheed-zoo.”

“The AKC officially verifies this as well.”



Joshua Tree National Park part two

October 31, Wednesday

I had been cozy and warm in bed all night but getting dressed was even colder this morning.  Then the temperature dropped on down to a low of 43.

It was windy all night and still windy this morning.  I managed to set the little stove a foot away from my tent, on the leeward side, and boil water for hot cocoa.

AB JTNP, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Af, 31oct2018

Foto: my hot savior.

I sat in the doorway of the tent where I had some shelter form the wind.  Set my cocoa on a little table just outside the door.  After drinking the warmth, I went back to bed for one-and-a-quarter hours.  After I finished shivering I fell asleep, much to my surprise.  I re-arose at 7:15 when the sun was a few degrees above the horizon.  Temperature still 43 degrees.  In another 45 minutes the temp had risen into the 50s.  The risen temperature was much more comfortable for eating cold beans from a can.

The wind came from the east til daybreak, then switched back to the west.  At that point, I was glad I had the new sun shade AKA wind shelter for shielding my little stove and me.

Craig and Sheila were returning home to Yucca Valley today.  They said the wind hit their cab-over pickup camper broadside and rocked the rig back and forth at times.   I slept thru all the noise and flapping against me of my tent.

Craig said they had an excess of water in their tank and he gave me 3 gallons to refill my 4-gallon wash-water jug.

Shirley mentioned Pioneertown old movie set west of Yucca Valley, then said she enjoyed walking the one-mile jungle walk at Covington Gardens in the Morongo Preserve that was farther east of Yucca Valley on CA 62.  She said it was a favorite spot of bird watchers.

I headed for the Pioneer Town.  I drove and drove and drove, thru Twenty Nine Palms, scenic countryside, Yucca Valley, scenic countryside, and Joshua Tree village.  After leaving CA 62, Pioneer Road wentnorth through fotogenic, rocky hills.

Pioneer Town, California, Aa, 31oct2018

Foto of Pioneertown Road scenery.

Not to be driven on rainy days because the paved road went through one deep wash with no culvert.

In Pioneertown a cold wind was blowing but I took time taking fotos.

Happy & Harriet’s restaurant was not open today.  I had hoped to have a snack and get information from them.

Pioneer Town, California, Ba, 31oct2018

Foto:  Doesn’t this building look like it was once part of a Western movie set?

From the highway I was able to take pictures of “studio B” which is now privately owned as the Willow Ranch.

Pioneer Town, California, Ci, 31oct2018

Pioneer Town, California, Cb, 31oct2018

Pioneer Town, California, Cf, 31oct2018

There were other old buildings in town, but I left them for another day.  They may have been on private, “no trespassing” property, also.  If someday I was going somewhere else in the vicinity, it would be worthwhile to make the ten-mile (one way) drive to Pioneertown for the scenery along the roadside and a quick look at a well-preserved old Western movie set.

On the way back through Yucca Valley I stopped at Wal-Mart and bought a folding table to use in the sun/wind shelter.  I bought a black table because it will probably get dirty.  Yesterday, to cook dinner on my camp stove, I brought out the white table from my tent, but I had to move gear to do so.

The Old Schoolhouse museum was on the same road as the JTNP Oasis Visitor Center on the south edge of Twenty-Nine Palms.

Twenty-Nine Palms, Bm, Schoolhouse Museum, 31oct2018

The room at the far left was the original schoolhouse.  As more families with children moved into the area, the middle room was added, and right room added last.  Finally, a new school was built and this building was put out to pasture.

Twenty-Nine Palms, Be, Schoolhouse Museum, 31oct2018

I sat in desks like these during grades 1 thru 6.  We brought our own ink bottles and set them in the ink wells at upper right of each desk.

Twenty-Nine Palms, Be2, Schoolhouse Museum, 31oct2018

Twenty-Nine Palms, Bh, Schoolhouse Museum, 31oct2018

This foto give me some idea of what it must have been like for my father and his sister to ride to school together on one donkey.Twenty-Nine Palms, Bj, Schoolhouse Museum, 31oct2018

There were several general historical exhibits like the above diorama of a typical small mine.

After asking directions, I found the Stater Brothers grocery store in Twenty Nine Palms where I bought a summer sausage to replace the one that was sitting at home in Phoenix.

In the park I stopped to fotograph a scene in the sky.  There was a contrail left by an airplane that had flown horizontal to the earth, probably a passenger plane headed for Los Angeles.  Another contrail was still in progress going vertically up into the heavens.

AE Driving JTNP, Ca, 31oct2018

Note the Joshua Tree in center of foto and compare it with the yucca (different species) in the foreground.

Something shiny was heading almost straight upwards.  Was it a plane or a rocket shot out of Amboy Marine Base?  I could not see the shape of the glistening, silvery thing well enough to determine its shape.

High today was only in the mid 60s.  The cool front was cooler than expected.  The wind was as unpleasant as expected.

In the late afternoon I walked much of the campground to note on paper the camp sites that would be comfortable for me and those that would not.  To my surprise I found camp sites with no tables and some with no area for setting up even one tent.  It looked as though the Park had attempted to increase the number of sites in the campground to accommodate some of the excessive numbers of RV visitors, and had assigned camp site numbers to what used to be spare parking sites.

AB JTNP, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Bf, 31oct2018

On one table there were three hand carved jack-o-lanterns.  Father, mother, and baby (with a pacifier in its mouth).  I chatted with the occupants asking, among other things, where the baby was.  It was in the making, a “baby-to-be.”  Mother and father were wearing matching black T-shirts with a white skeleton on each.  I asked them to pose by the table and I took a picture.

There was a broken-up bank of clouds on the western horizon and a beautiful sunset which I tried to capture on my smart fone.

AB JTNP, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Ai3, 31oct2018

Above foto: Note Agnes’ leg at lower left.

AB JTNP, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Ai1, 31oct2018

Neighbors in 97 came out to enjoy and fotograph the beauty.  We chatted and I petted their 7½ -month-old puppy, a Shih-Tzu named Gracie.  Very soft hair.  The couple began talking about the elections in CA and AZ, and the fact that they rely on the Affordable Health Care Act insurance for insurance they can afford that covers people with pre-existing conditions.  They are retired and in their mid and late 50s.  Somehow, I managed to bring up Scott Kelley’s book, Endurance…, and got them interested in reading it.

Six complete and 2 partial rolls of toilet paper remained, and this was only Wednesday night….




Joshua Tree National Park, part one

October 29, Monday

After clearing out of the campground I bought gas in Parker, leaving the gas station at 9:28 AM, headed south to connect with I-10 west.  I saw a line of heavy dust blowing westward.  Perhaps a mile south of Parker I had to stop behind a long row of vehicles.  The dust had settled.  Apparently a vehicular accident had just taken place.

Cars near the head of line were making U-turns and heading back to Parker.  I had been parked in the line less than a minute, trying to decide what to do, when a ladder truck passed with lights flashing.  It was followed by an ambulance.  The accident was very fresh.  Rather than sit an hour or more while things were cleaned up, I made a U-turn then stopped at a firm spot beside Arizona 95.  I deleted the route I had chosen to get me to Joshua Tree National Park and selected a different route.  The new route took me straight thru Parker to an intersection just north of town and put me on California 62.

California 62 was more interesting to drive than I-10.  This highway was not for a rainy day.  For a little more than a hundred miles there were no culverts across the many, many washes and across a couple of lowland plains.  Correction, there were two new culverts.  It was a paved, two-lane road that curved a lot, except when going straight as an arrow across the plains.  No gasoline stations, no buildings of any kind, no toilets….  Not much traffic and no communication towers that I could see.  I was later told cell fone reception does occur once in a while, here and there.  I was glad I had an audio book on CD for companionship.

I loved the highway signs:  “Drifting sand,” “Soft shoulders,” “Flash Flood Area,” “Subject to Flooding”(referring to the two lowland flood plains), and “Call Box” (where were the communication towers for the 3 call boxes?).

I soon came to a California Agricultural Station.  The man asked, “Where are you coming from today?”  That was not the question I was expecting and it took me a few minutes to come up with the name of the place I had departed from.  That was the only question the man asked before waving me on.  I wonder if he was breathing my breath and assessing my general attitude and motions, looking for alcohol or drug inebriation.

At 11:43 I arrived at the North Entrance to Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP).

AA JTNP, sign, A2, 29oct2018

All my life I have called Joshua Tree a national monument but its status was changed to national park in 1994.

After reporting to the ranger I drove to Jumbo Rocks Campground.  At the entrance a sign said “Campground Full” but as I drove thru the campground looking for my site, I noted that a lot of vehicles had not yet arrived to take their reserved sites.

AB JTNP, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Be, 29oct2018

There were few tent campers in the campground.

AB JTNP, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Bb, 29oct2018


Above are fotos of Jumbo Rocks Campground.  Notice the Joshua Trees in the lower fotograph.  A species of yucca.

I found my way to site 96 in the Jumbo Rocks Campground and set up the tent.   The light breezes caused no difficulty with erecting the tent.  I did not put up a rain fly in spite of the large segment of thin clouds that came over the park, because the weather report said that there was no rain in the clouds.  I had faith.

AB JTNP, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Ac, 29oct2018

Campsite 96 and Agnes, sans rainfly.

AB JTNP, Jumbo Rocks Campground, 29oct2018

The temperature rose to the mid 80s then, around 3:30, dropped suddenly to the high 70s as the projected low front pushed some chilly breezes ahead of it.

I chatted with my small-RV neighbors in site 95, an older couple.   Their RV is visible in the foto above. They lived in Yucca Valley just past the northwest edge of the national park.  They described Pioneertown which was west of Yucca Valley.  They made it sound so interesting I decided to drop by while I was camped here.

Being without a rainfly meant I had skimpy wind protection and little privacy.  I waited til darkness settled in to take a cold sponge bath without any light, not even moonlight.  Too many clouds were shielding the moon.  Afterwards, I was relegated inside the tent to take advantage of what wind protection it provided.  Only a few moths landed on my reading glasses and eyes, so I continued reading books.  The moths were very small.

October 30, Tuesday

Temperature was 53 when I dressed this morning, a lot chillier than the low 60s I had risen to the previous mornings.  The sky was full of stars and a waning moon, except for the southeast edge of the horizon where the lights of Palm Springs erased the stars.  The temperature then dropped on down to a low of 48, but was at that low very briefly.  My hot cocoa chilled more quickly than I expected.  I had to drink it faster.  For other morning beverages, instead of air temperature water I drank hot water and hot tea.  Have you ever taken pills with sips of warm-warm water?  It’s not too bad.

I spent about a half hour trying to set up my new pop-up sun shade.  I finally heard voices in the cab-over pickup RV next door in site 95, so I knocked on the door and Craig (wife  Shirley) came and helped me figure out the contraption.  It was supposed to pretty much set itself up in 30 seconds.  Craig found the plastic cloth of instructions that was sewn into the carrying bag.  That was the key we needed.  The sun shade had not been correctly put together in two places, but Craig figured it out and we set up the structure.  The sun shade had one complete side; the other three were open-air.  We set the complete side towards the prevailing wind.  It would work for a windbreak for cooking, also.

I drove to the JTNP Mara Oasis Visitor Center on the south edge of Twentynine Palms.

AG JTNP, Mara Oasis Ranger Station, Ab, 30oct2018

Mural on wall of Mara Oasis Visitor Center.

AG JTNP, Mara Oasis Ranger Station, Ad, 30oct2018

Statue in patio of Mara Oasis Visitor Station.

I asked several questions of the gift shop volunteers at the desk, then toured the gift shop.  One of the volunteers ran up to me and told me a ranger was about to lead a walk, so I stepped outside and joined the group.

Ranger Cynthia led us around the Oasis of Mara just behind the Visitor Center.

AG JTNP, Mara Oasis Ranger Station, Ah, 30oct2018

The only palm native to North America, genus Washingtonia.

AH JTNP, The Oasis of Mara, Ab, 30oct2018

Close-up of Washingtonia palm fronds.

AG JTNP, Mara Oasis Ranger Station, Ai, 30oct2018

AG JTNP, Mara Oasis Ranger Station, Ai2, 30oct2018

The above two fotos are of a grave of an 18-year-old young woman who was emigrating west with her family.  During the journey she had contracted tuberculosis.  The wagon train stopped at this oasis to rest and water up.  The young woman died while they were at the oasis and she was buried here.

Besides talking about wildlife and plants, Cynthia spent more than half of the time talking about land management, especially about water management in that part of Joshua Tree National Park that sat next to a growing city that was taking water from the same aquifer as the Oasis of Mara.  There was no longer any natural water keeping the oasis wet and lush.  JTNP buys water and trucks it to the Oasis.

At the very end of the walk Cynthia talked about the fact that in 1994 the park recorded about 1.3 million visitors but this year they were headed for 3 million.  Cynthia said the increased popularity of the park may be due more to social media than traditional publicity.  The number of rangers to safeguard the park and the visitors was still the same in 2018 as it had been in 1994 — 120 bodies.  Not counting volunteers.  The excess feet, vehicles, dogs on trails (signs state dogs not allowed on trails), and wandering trash from visitors creates a headache the rangers cannot keep  up with.  Cynthia asked that when we talk about our trip to the park we suggest to our friends that they remember their manners if they come to visit.

Someone mentioned that Arches National Park now uses a “carrying capacity” regulation.  Arches determined the maximum number of vehicles (or people) that the park could safely accommodate.  When that number has been logged in the front gate is closed and no more visitors can access the park that day.  Cynthia said Joshua Tree was not considering a “carrying capacity” regulation but that starting November 2 they would be starting their second season of using shuttle buses to carry day visitors through the park.

It was 11:30 so I decided to sightsee my way back to camp and then cook a hearty lunch. Odometer 67,978 at return to camp.

I set up cooking equipment then began gathering the food items.  I could not find the hard kielbasa sausage and the summer sausage but I found the cheese.  At least I did have some protein.  I decided to use the rest of the pre-cooked link sausages I had packed for breakfasts.  The whole enterprise took an hour and a half but the meal was tasty.  Almost can’t go wrong when cooking chopped onion into a casserole or stew.

AB JTNP, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Ag, 31oct2018

My new sun and wind shade.  I also put my cook stove and implements on the table when preparing meals.

There were no camp hosts at this campground this fall.  There were no hookups of water and electricity, much less sewer, for camp hosts.  Craig and Sheila, my neighbors in site 95, who come often, said this was the first year without camp hosts.  They also said the toilet buildings were being cleaned only once a week on Monday by rangers and that the rangers added fresh toilet paper rolls each Monday.  Since there were no camp hosts to check the toilets daily, the rangers installed two more toilet-paper-holding bars in each bathroom and the three bars held a total of twelve rolls.  Most campers seemed to take care to keep toilet seats clean.

AB JTNP, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Bc, 29oct2018

Foto of Jumbo Rocks Campground.

High temperature today mid or high 70s, but in the shade the breezes have felt very chilly.  Step in the sun and get hot.  Warm clothes went on and off, on and off all day.

Craig and Sheila invited me to join them at a small campfire at their site.  We chatted about a number of things, this park, and other travels.  Craig pointed out a satellite that was passing by overhead.  Boy, was it going fast!  I told Craig and Sheila about Scott Kelley’s book of his year in the space station.  Told them it was full of information but was very readable.  I described some examples.  They are both going to see about getting copies, maybe on Kindle or tablet.

Balanced Rock 2018

Saturday, November 10, 2018 Sandy Dwyer led me, Sylvia Lee, on a short hike in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve to see the Balanced Rock.  When we stepped out of her car at the Granite Mountain Trailhead parking lot cold wind blew against us in the chilly, 66-degree morning.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Balanced Rock hike, Au, 10-nov2018

Foto:  Teddy Bear cactus in foreground.  Saguaro cactus forest in center.

As we started walking we were struck by the fresh green of shrubs, grasses, and other forbs on this fall day when plants would have been expected to be drably entering their winter resting phase.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Balanced Rock hike, Ae, 10-nov2018

The feathery petals of this plant give the plant its name of Fairy Duster.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Balanced Rock hike, Ag, 10-nov2018

Golden Eye (Viguiera) at base of a giant saguaro cactus.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Balanced Rock hike, Af, 10-nov2018

A who-knows-how-many-great-grandmother saguaro.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Balanced Rock hike, Al, 10-nov2018

Frothy grass in fall color.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Balanced Rock hike, Ak, 10-nov2018

foto: Quintuplets

The recent rains had done temporary wonders for the drought-stricken desert.

Our eyes were also drawn to the variety of shapes of rocks and boulders littering the desert floor and small hills.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Balanced Rock hike, Ad, 10-nov2018

foto: saddle tree rock.

People passed us going both directions: lots of bicyclists, a few joggers, and some fellow hikers.  Other animal life was scarce.  A fly, only one fly, buzzed my ear from time to time.  One phainopepla, sitting on a small tree, looked us over briefly before flying away.  Sandy, in the lead, saw one very small lizard as we started climbing the rock pile at the base of Balanced Rock.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Balanced Rock hike, Am, 10-nov2018

Balanced Rock is first seen only by its mushroom-shaped top.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Balanced Rock hike, Ap, 10-nov2018

Large boulder doing its balancing act.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Balanced Rock hike, An, 10-nov2018

Sandy at base of Balanced Rock.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Balanced Rock hike, At, 10-nov2018

foto: The steep, rutted, “flat”-sided rock face provides the ascent and descent route to the base of Balanced Rock.

By the time we began our trek back to the trailhead, the day had warmed and we took off our warm outer layers.  The warmth had drawn a busy red ant colony out of their burrow and they skittered around on the footpath.  An occasional black bee fed from blooming fairy duster flowers.

The 4.4-mile hike was interesting and fun.

The following is for fellow wildflower enthusiasts:

Flowers Blooming November 10, 2018

Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)

one Desert Lavender tree (Hyptis emori) at NE base of the balanced rock

Jimson weed, (Datura wrightii)

a white buckwheat with flowers along individual stems

Desert Senna, (Senna covesii)

Golden Eye (Viguiera deltoidea)

Desert Wishbone (Mirabilis sp.), white flowers

Euphorbiaceae, Rattlesnake Weed? (Chamaesyce albomarginata?)

Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)

Pygmy cedar (Peucephyllum schottii), yellow composite, no ray flowers; longish, slim leaves.

Chuparosa (Justicia californica)

one white Daisy plant, Blackfoot?, (Melampodium leucanthum?), pink stripes on backs of flower petals; longish, thin leaves

Snakeweed, (Guitierrezia sp)

one Mexican Gold Poppy, (Eschscholzia californica)



The Desert Bar AKA Nellie E. Saloon

Aa, Phoenix, 4titude packed, 25oct2018

4titude packed and waiting in my carport.  I had more visibility thru the inside rear view mirror than this foto looks like I would have.

October 26, 2018, Friday

Leaving town, 4titude and I made a stop at Sprouts to buy a couple of fresh food items.  Bobbi called as we were approaching the grocery store.  I used 4titude’s Bluetooth to answer my fone and we chatted.  Her historical fiction book of the early days of the arboretum and associated things will soon be ready for me, and others, to read and to write comments for the book’s jacket.  Then it will head for printing and the gift shop at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

At 9 AM, errand completed, I headed out for Buckskin State Park.  I forgot to note the odometer reading.  Later, at Exit 122 the odometer read 67,601.  On the return trip I noted the readings from Exit 122 back to the condo.  That distance was 25 miles.  67,601 minus 25 = 67,576, the odometer reading when I left home.

Getting on I-10 from 7th Avenue is difficult and hazardous.  At best it is possible to move two lanes left immediately after entering I-10 so you can remain on I-10 heading west.  If you have only middling luck you will end up on I-17 north and have to work your way back to I-10.  At worst….

I took Thomas Avenue west to 67th Avenue and pulled into a parking lot on the SW corner of the intersection.  There, still excited at the thought that Bobbi’s book will be ready soon, I set the Toyota’s Navigator to Joshua Tree National Park, then returned to    I-10 west and cruised with the heavy traffic.  After a while I remembered I was not headed as far as Joshua Tree today.

When I stopped for gas I deleted the Joshua Tree route and set the Navigator for Buckskin Mountain State Park.  The Navigator’s voice’s instructions this day were impeccable.  Also, the Navigator has a little box with a handy arrow and the mileage to the next turn or major intersection.  That feature was very useful because it told me which lane I wanted to be in.

I passed a gold-colored early 1940s or late 1930s Chevy pickup pulling a small 1950s white and hot pink camping trailer.   I wished I could take a picture of it.

I left I-10 and turned north on Arizona 95.  At a couple places on AZ 95 I crossed a set of wide white stripes that fool the cattle into thinking the set-up is a metal cattle guard with empty areas between bars.

A sign at the edge of Parker claimed the elevation of the town was 417 feet.  (The elevation at my condo is approximately 1,100 feet.)  I passed through Parker and continued north on AZ 95.  The scenery was wild and chopped up with various desert peaks and ridges with colored layers.  Plants added various shades of green and the Lake Havasu portion of the Colorado River provided an occasional bright blue strip.

MA, Lake Havasu, from AZ 95, A, 29102018

At 12:30 noon 4titude and I arrived at camp site 5 in Buckskin Mountain State Park, on the Arizona side of Lake Havasu.

AB, Buckskin Mt. SP, A1, 26oct2018

I set the tent up, washed its sandy door zipper with a wet rag, then poured water over the net door so it would stretch.  The net had shrunk in dry heat and I had not been able to close the door for well over a year.  After the water treatment the two zippers resisted starting, but once moving they moved easily.  Until I unzipped them to fill Agnes with gear after the doorway had dried.  Then, when I tried to zip the door again the zippers resisted, and when they finally moved, the zipper behind the moving part parted company.  So I was to have no screen door during this trip.

AC, BUckskin Mt. SP, Agnes at site 5, 26oct2018

Foto of the last time Agnes’ door was zipped.  Site 5, Buckskin Mountain SP.

I crossed my fingers and hoped no scorpions or centipedes would wander in and decide to warm up against my body during the night.  Scorpion stings are not much worse than bee stings for me, but the pain of a centipede bite ranges up there with a rattlesnake bite, altho maybe it doesn’t last as long.  One night in Aravaipa Canyon a centipede crawled in my sleeping bag while I was asleep and bedded on the calf of my left leg.  The creature wasn’t happy when I shifted position and it bit me.  My leg swelled to three times its normal size and the very painful chemical burn inside my blood vessels lasted about 24 hours.  Of torture.  The swelling took weeks to go away, and more weeks passed before my leg was completely healed.

The east edge of my camp site on Ranger Drive was about 120 feet from the Colorado River’s Lake Havasu bank.  There was one site, #11, directly between me and the river, but it was empty.

AC2, Buckskin Mt. SP, Lake Havasu from site 5, 26oct2018

I was glad to see other tents in the campground.  This small piece of the camp ground seemed to have been intended only for tents and small RVs.  Most sites in the extended campground did not have flat spaces for tents, but people put up some tents somehow.

After a couple of hours a woman parked in site 6 and told me my tent was in her tent area.  I had set my tent in the only flat spot nearest my parking area.  I emptied my tent, then I stopped a man who was a park volunteer.  We decided that if we moved my picnic table I could put my tent in that flat area.  The muscular man on the other side of my camp site saw me trying to lift one end of the heavy metal table and rushed over.  He and the volunteer moved the table, then helped me drag Agnes, and the tarp under her, to the new flat spot.

I later chatted briefly with the muscular man and his vape-smoking wife.  They had been to The Desert Bar spring of this year and told me a little about it.  Parking was no problem around noon but by late afternoon the parking area would be overflowing.

Lots of children, lots of bicycles, several dogs, lots of tents, even more RVs, lots of noisy boats.  Also, a roped off swimming area along the edge of Lake Havasu.  Wonderful place to relax if you don’t need quiet (I didn’t).

The sun went to bed early, being fall, and I had to start using a headlamp for reading at 6:15.  There were very few mosquitoes but I couldn’t keep the moths away.  The moths were small and frequently would fly up my nose and make me sneeze over and over.

The sky was full of stars.


October 27, 2018, Saturday

The moon shone thru netting on the side of my tent and lit my face all night.  I arose shortly before dawn broke (the sun lingers lazily in bed this time of year) and greeted the Big Dipper, but it and its friends soon faded away.  Low temperature this morning was 600 F.  Number six, from Tucson, agreed sixty degrees was chilly and required extra outer clothes.

I drank hot cocoa and read a book in peace.  The moths were asleep.  Because I am lactose-intolerant, this year I decided to go one better than half-and-half for the cocoa.  I put about 2 tablespoons of cream in a cup of water and heated it to use with the hot cocoa mix.  The resulting drink tasted as though it had been made with milk.   To my delight, heated cream-water does not form a scum on top like heated milk does.  Cream also does not spoil very rapidly, which was important because I did not bring an ice chest.

As the last blush of pink was leaving the few strips of clouds in the sky, birds began chirping and I noticed a rig in site eleven.  When had it come in?  A pop-out camper and a black SUV.

At 11 AM I set off for the day’s outing.   I typed The Desert Bar into the Navigator but it didn’t know of any such place.  Probably because the bar is accessed only by dirt mining roads.

I didn’t pay attention when exiting the park and I ended up going south on Riverside Drive instead of AZ95.  Riverside Drive crossed Cienega Springs Road, which was the road I wanted, so I turned the corner.  After a short ways Cienega Springs dead-ended into a high abutment of the recently-revised AZ 95.  I returned to Riverside Drive, followed it to AZ 95, turned north and soon arrived at Cienega Springs where it left on the east side of highway 95.

A sign at the beginning of Cienega Springs Road stated the road was unmaintained (i.e., very rarely worked on), but the road had been graded recently because heavy rains a few weeks earlier had eroded it very badly.  It was not the rutted, challenging road that was described on the Internet last year.  In places, the freshly-graded  road was already bumpy and washboarded.

BA, The Desert Bar, Ma, 27oct2018

Foto of scenery when driving from AZ95 to The Desert Bar.

My wayward drive took me only 45 minutes instead of the 60 minutes my neighbors said they had expended on the drive from the campground to The Desert Bar in April, and they had not taken any unnecessary side explorations.

After arriving at The Desert Bar AKA Nellie E. Saloon I wandered around for a while and took pictures.

BA, The Desert Bar, Ac, 27oct2018

The bar and first-built patios.  Note that everything is powered by the extensive solar panels.

BA, The Desert Bar, Ae, 27oct2018

One of the two parking lots.  4titude is third vehicle from the right in the first row.

BA, The Desert Bar, Ba, 27oct2018

The entranceway takes visitors onto the second level.  The sign on the left says “No drinking in parking lot.”  The one on the right reads “No beverages entering or leaving.”

I was not allowed to bring into the bar compound my home-brewed iced tea or the water I had in my vehicle.

BA, The Desert Bar, Bm, 27oct2018

View from the back of the saloon compound.

BA, The Desert Bar, Bh, 27oct2018

Foto of Sylvia seated in The Lucky Rocking Chair made entirely of horseshoes.

At 12:30 I finally was thirsty so I bought a can of Coors Light and was given a plastic pint bottle of water.  The beer was $3, the water was free, perhaps because of the numerous wrinkles on my face.

BA, The Desert Bar, Bb, 27oct2018

The bar.

BA, The Desert Bar, Be, 27oct2018

Newspaper clipping on wall of barroom.  Caption reads “Eagle’s Nest Shaft at the Empire-Arizona Mine.”  This is the area (much enlarged during mining) on which The Desert Bar is built.

BA, The Desert Bar, Bc, 27oct2018

The barroom.

BA, The Desert Bar, Af, 27oct2018

A steeple that has nothing under it.

Out on one of the decks I found a shady table under an umbrella.  Soon, a woman joined me and began chatting.  She invited me to join her family at a nearby table in the shade.  I did, and was taken under wing by a three-generation family.  My befriender and her husband were parents-grandparents.  Her daughter and son-in-law (handsome fellow!) were parents of a toddling 10-month-old boy and a 3-year-old girl.  There were too many names and I soon forgot them all.

I took an hour sipping my beer so my blood level would be ultra-safe for driving home to Agnes.  We chatted about this and that.  The grandparents had a vacation home near Parker and came up frequently to both their house and The Desert Bar.  Grandfather owned a plumbing business in Las Vegas but would be retiring soon and leaving the running of the business to his employees.  Grandmother was looking forward to becoming an RVer.

At 1 PM a 3-person band began tuning up, then began playing mostly rock music, some of which was danceable.

BA, The Desert Bar, Bt, 27oct2018

We found a shady place on the level of the band and watched couples dance to the music.

BA, The Desert Bar, Bu, 27oct2018

Foto:  Two women are dancing by themselves on the left; their husbands got tired and sat down.  On the two right two females are dancing as a couple.

It looked like fun, but I can’t dance.  As a teenager I took dancing lessons twice at Arthur Murray’s Dance Studio, and later friends tried to teach me but my brain could not comprehend.  In those days, the first step in learning to waltz was to learn how to use which foot went where when making a box.  That I learned.  But stepping around a box does not get a person across a dance floor.  I never could to get out of the box!  Much less learn any other couples’ dances.

Grandmother went off to dance with granddaughter, and grandfather and I chatted.  He said the owner of this bar complex will only say, “Good day,” if he says anything at all to customers.  The bar is only open on weekends and the owner spends those days at his home several yards away from the saloon buildings.  Grandfather said the owner wore black trousers and black shirt, and dyed his hair black and combed it back in a high pompadour.  I had learned on The Desert Bar web site that the owner was 75 years old this year.

Finally, I was hungry and excused myself.  Grandmother had told me that food at Ruperto’s Mexican restaurant in Parker was far superior to the burgers and hot dogs at The Desert Bar.  She gave me good directions for finding the place.  Ruperto’s advertised that it was open 24 hours a day seven days a week.  I bought two burritos.  A burrito that cost only $4.90 couldn’t be very large, could it?  It could.  I ate one and one-half burritos and wrapped the rest up for the morrow’s breakfast.  Grandmother had been right; the food was good.

BA, The Desert Bar, Ob, 27oct2018

Foto when driving from The Desert Bar back to AZ 95.


October 28, Sunday

Low temperature was 60 degrees.

I walked to the ranger station and asked if there was any rain expected with the thin cloud cover that was beginning to cover the park.  The answer was negative.  I picked up a brochure and noticed that near the building was an entrance for about 2 miles of looping trail.

AD, Buckskin Mt. SP, Ag, Lightning Trail Aa, 26oct2018

Foto of display at the beginning of the Lightning Bolt Trail.

I walked back to my camp, put a lidded mug of water in my daypack, grabbed a hiking pole, and retraced my steps.  I took some pictures at the trailhead then began walking up the steep trail.

AD, Buckskin Mt. SP, Ag, Lightning Trail Ad, 26oct2018

Just below the top of the ridge there was a very narrow, steep portion of the path that had been eroded so that it was very narrow.   Above and below the eroded portion were rock steps.  On the right, the hillside was steep upwards.  On the left, the hillside was an eroded gully that was extremely steep.  From several yards below the steps I took a picture and thought about the situation.  I decided I should not continue onwards.  Not too many years ago I would have walked up those rock-slippery steps and across that short narrow section of trail while hiking by myself, but that was before the damage to the sciatic nerves of both legs began to affect my balance.  I might have traversed that section of path successfully today, and again….

This portion of the campground where I was camped, or perhaps all of the park, had been protected from the prevailing winds these three days.  Outside the park the air had been moderately to strongly windy.  The lack of wind at camp made it easy for me to set up my tent the afternoon I arrived and easy to cook on my camp stoves each day.  I was not accustomed to such heaven in camp.

This day I had on my menu to bake a dinner in my makeshift skillet oven.  I measured flour into a bowl then went hunting for baking powder.  I visualized my last sighting of the can; it was still sitting on a shelf in a kitchen cabinet.  The recipe called for a large amount of baking powder and a small amount of baking soda.  I measured out the small amount of baking soda, remembering what the biscuits felt and tasted like years ago when mother, in preparing dinner for out-of-town guests, had accidentally measured out baking soda instead of baking power.  The biscuit recipe I was using for camping contained quite a bit of butter plus milk.  To simulate milk I added some cream-and-water and “stirred” the dough.

Then I went looking for parchment paper on which to knead the dough and pat it out flat.  I went through the SUV twice and found no box of parchment paper.  I was surprised that I had removed it from the cooking utensils boxes after I returned from my trip this past June.  I wrote a note to put parchment paper back in the larger utensil box that was partly empty.  (Later, when I was unpacking at home I found the parchment paper box squirreled away in a bag of canned food.)

For the first time in my life I had added the correct amount of liquid to the biscuit dough and after I kneaded it lightly in the bowl the dough was no longer sticking to my fingers.  I patted it out on an enamel plate and cut it into small pieces.

I added chopped deli ham and thinly sliced whites of green onions to the biscuit bites, poured it into a greased, round, metal cake pan and set the pan on a trivet in a preheated skillet.  Put a lid on the skillet and looked at my watch.  Hardly one minute later I remembered I was supposed to have shredded, or at least chopped finely, some cheddar cheese and mixed it in with the other ingredients.  I went looking for the cheese to chop and spread on top of the “casserole” but found none.  In visualizing the block of cheese the last place I remembered seeing it was in the refrigerator, and it apparently was still there.  When packing, I thought I had read my lists and checked things carefully.

In half of the expected baking time I smelled burning biscuits so I turned the burner off.  The dinner wasn’t bad.  It was all right for hungry taste buds on a campout but would hardly have been edible at home.  Without the cheese the taste was too bland.  The biscuit bites were well-browned all over, from the undisciplined baking soda.  They had an unusual flavor but did not taste of baking soda.

The temperature apparently rose to the low 90s again today.

Thin clouds finished pretty much covering the sky.  They would have been worrisome if the weathercasters had not promised the clouds did not carry rain.  The thin fluffs had all disappeared by soon after sunset and a dome of stars covered the park.

The night cooled off faster than the previous two evenings, but was still relatively warm.  A promised cool front was starting to come our way.  The warm, still evenings were appreciated.  I could sit at the picnic table and look up at the stars every once in a while.

I was not the only forgetful camper.  Sally, site 6, from Tucson, and her daughter and son-in-law from elsewhere, all forgot to bring a can opener.  Sally borrowed mine.

Many campers in this area of the campground left today.  Children had to go back to school.  However, this area filled completely with RV replacements.  Only site 6 and I were tent campers.


October 29, Monday

Clouds returned during the night.  Even with them holding warmth close to earth, the temperature dropped to a low of 61 degrees.  Just as the stars began fading I heard an owl start calling from across the narrow lake.  Soon there was a pink blush on some of the thin, stringy clouds.

This was moving day.

In the near future this blog will resurface as Joshua Tree NP.



Misadventures Outing 2018

Boyce Thompson Arboretum Book Club Trip To Wupakti


The Boyce Thompson Arboretum Book Club had read Letters From Wupatki, edited by Lisa Rappaport.  They were letters written by Courtney Reader Jones, wife of David Jones.  David was the first Park Service ranger assigned to the then newly-created Wupatki National Monument.  Many of the book club attendees had never been to this national monument so a field trip was arranged by the book club leader, Vicki.

Vicki and I met at the agreed-upon WalMart parking lot meeting place in east Mesa.  Vicki said Cathy had just called to say she was sick and could not join us.  In spite of Millie’s being a no show, Vicki and I got off to a positive start.

While we were chatting during our drive north, Vicki suddenly remembered what she had forgotten to bring.  After sending the rest of us (there were other members driving by themselves) a note to bring a lunch and plenty of drinking water for Tuesday, she had forgotten to pack either.  Luckily, this was something we could remedy in Flagstaff.

At the Museum of Northern Arizona we met two other book club members and we took, a long, slow walk through the exhibits.  Vicki was charmed by the exhibit of painted skate boards.  And we all learned a little more about the early inhabitants of Arizona from other exhibits.

B, Museum of Northern Arizona, Aa, 22oct2018

The museum was founded in 1928 by zoologist Dr. Harold S. Colton and artist Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania , and is dedicated to preserving the history and cultures of northern Arizona and the Colorado Plateau.

Kathy, who had driven up alone, asked the money-taker at the door if there was a nature walk on the premises.  The young Indian woman handed Kathy a map of a nature trail, explained where the trail was, and offered maps to the rest of us.  Only Kathy accepted a map but she forgot and left it in her car when she went back to change shoes for the little hike.

When I see that an institution has a short “nature walk” I assume that it is well marked with a border and arrows as necessary.  I should have learned by now that there are institutions whose on-the-ground directions are inadequate and often missing.  We found the trailhead because it was well-marked with a sign.

Bb1, Museum of Northern Arizona Nature Trail, Vicki and Pam, 22oct2018

After several hundred yards we found ourselves impounded in an elevated wooden viewing structure.  We backtracked a short ways.  Then, out of curiosity, I stepped outside the rock boundary of the path and followed a shoe-beaten path to the edge of the shallow canyon made by the Rio de Flag as it passed by the museum.  When I got to the edge I was at the top of a stone staircase.  I called the others to join me and we stepped down to the bottom of the canyon.

Bb2, Museum of Northern Arizona Nature Trail Ab, stone stairway, 22oct2018

We enjoyed the sight and smell of nature as we walked along the edge of the narrow marsh that sometimes carried Rio de Flag running water.  After we crossed the marsh the trail divided.  One path seemed to go back to the stone staircase and the other seemed to go farther up the little marsh.  We opted to turn right to explore new territory.

After a while we came to the second sign on the path.  It said there was poison along the trail ahead.  I pointed out which plants were poison ivy

Bb4, Museum of Northern Arizona Nature Trail Ad, poison ivy, 22oct2018

(Poison ivy in fall color.)

and we walked perhaps a hundred yards and read the third, and last, sign on the trail.  It said this was the end of the poison ivy portion of the trail.  I thought it interesting that the persons setting out the signs had assumed all trail walkers would be going the direction we were doing, because the map had indicated there were two choices of direction at the trailhead.  I decided I wanted to photograph both the “beginning” and “end” signs, so I walked quickly back to sign number two.  When I got close I discovered that the side facing me was a “end” sign.  I only needed to photograph two signs of one signpost, and needn’t have taken the extra little walk.

Bb3, Museum of Northern Arizona Nature Trail Ac, poison ivy, 22oct2018

I joined my friends and in another several yards and I was standing at the edge of a wider marsh area which had been eroded by recent heavy rains.  A loose metal pipe sat among the debris.  I could not see any trail on the other side of the marsh, perhaps two yards away.  The map had shown a series of two or three interlocking loops, but without the map we did not know where to look for footpaths.  We decided we weren’t interested in working our way through the mess at that spot to see if the trail still existed, and we returned to the staircase and climbed out.

We, from the Sonoran Desert, had all enjoyed the little walk through a bit of damp nature.  On the drive from the museum to the motel we dropped by Fry’s (a Kroger store) and Vicki purchased her missing items.

Then we checked in at Sleep Inn.  Kathy in a room by herself; Pam, Vicki, and I in a room together.  I asked if we could have three keys.  The clerk quickly coded a third key and handed it to me.

Vicki let us into the motel room.  As we went back and forth to the two cars Vicki and Pam were successful in using their key cards.  However, mine only worked the first time I tried and never again.  Luckily, Pam and Vicki were inside the room each time I returned and answered my knocks.  I went back to the clerk and told him my key would not work.  In fact, I went twice and the second time he coded two keys, then walked to the door of the room with me.  Of course, the key worked when he inserted it.  But never again.  Made me think of Longfellow’s “Nevermore!” raven.  I thought there must be something wrong with their key-coding machine.

In the motel room we submerged ourselves in individual enterprises until 6 pm, at which time we discussed possible supper places, then called Kathy.  After some dickering we realized none of us wanted to go anywhere for supper.  We’d had heavy lunches and each of us had light snacks for supper.

I decided to take my evening shower.  After the usual preparations I stepped into the shower stall and was faced with a handle setup I’d never seen before.  There were two handles, one close to the shower wall and the other between that handle and the air.

Ca, Shower fixture 1, 22oct2018

The inner handle was the larger so I pulled back and forth on it.  That handle only moved through a narrow arc, perhaps of 40 degrees.  I left it at its rightmost end, then grasped the smaller, outer handle.  tI barely moved.  Meanwhile, the water had become very hot.  Rather than waste water while I figured out how to change the water temperature, I took a quick, too-hot shower.

Vicki was second into the shower.  She subsequently reported that the outer handle did not seem to do anything, but by moving the inner handle to a point about halfway along its short arc she had gotten water of the perfect temperature.  Now you all know that I am not at all mechanically inclined.

Vicki and Pam continued perusing or playing games on their smart fones and I continued reading a murder mystery book, a real book with pages.  I became very sleepy and decided to go to bed at my usual time.  Because I cannot tolerate the formaldehyde in most mattresses sold in the US since perhaps the 1970s, I had brought my sleeping bag.  When I mentioned I had forgotten to bring a pillow Pam offered two of the four pillows on her double bed.  I put the head of my sleeping bag in the alcove by the door, an area that was relatively dark, and soon was asleep.

In the morning I awoke, dressed quietly, and held the door open with the largest part of my body while I set all my gear outside in the hall.  I made a couple trips to stow belongings in my SUV, then sat in what looked like a comfortable chair in the lobby and read more of the murder mystery.  Unfortunately, the chair was not comfortable and all the chairs in the lobby were shaped the same.

The morning started off with a sad situation.  At 5:30 a homeless woman walked into the lobby and curled up in a chair.  She had come in through a back door.  Altho she had on a (raggedy) parka, she was shivering.  The temperature outside was around 40 degrees Farhenheit.  The clerk approached and talked with her.  He dialed 911 on a cell fone, then handed it to the woman for her to talk to the dispatcher.

After she had handed the fone back to the clerk the woman turned to me and said, “That damn Indian stole my shoes!  They were snow shoes.”  Then she went on to say she had been kicked in the torso four days earlier and was now bleeding internally and was in pain.  I made some, hopefully soothing, remarks but did not ask questions because it was now obvious she was in pain.  The woman said she had been sleeping under a bridge and that she had last seen her husband four months ago.  She said she had recently found the place where he was working but when she went in and asked about him she was told he had quit working there a week earlier.  During our conversation a homeless man walked into the lobby, coming from the direction of a back door.  He saw me and the clerk as well as the homeless woman and changed direction and went quickly out the front door.

About 15 minutes after the 911 fone call six EMTs entered the lobby.  They had come in a big ladder truck.  One checked the woman’s blood pressure while another asked her about her emergency then asked a few other questions.  All this was done quickly, then they helped her walk out to the fire truck.  She was Robin Bayfield, born in 1969.  The woman was lucid, spoke very good English and explained her condition well to the EMTs.  Made one think, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

At 6 o’clock the breakfast bar opened.  I chose a table and looked at the other diners while I ate freshly-scrambled eggs and freshly-cooked bacon.  I watched one young man rotate a handle 180 degrees on small machine.  It was a waffle machine that made an individual, round waffle about 8 inches (?) in diameter.  A waffle machine that could be rotated so each side of the waffle could get equal heating from the heating element on which the round, flat, covered pan sat.  Both sides of the waffle would brown nicely.  I’d never heard of such a thing.  Have you?

Vicki was the first person to join me.  She said the card keys she and Pam were issued were not working in the door this morning.  Luckily, each time one of them had wanted to get back into the room, the other person had been in the room and answered the knocking.

Pam and Kathy joined us and had light breakfasts.  A shock of thunder boomed loudly through the breakfast bar and the lobby.  Through a window we could see that it had begun raining, raining fairly hard.  A half hour later there was another terribly loud boom of thunder.  Then soon the rain began letting up and we went out to our cars.

When we checked out I told the clerk that the door lock to the room was not working, was not accepting the key cards.

I had not used my Toyota’s Navigator system very many times because I’d had more frustrations than successes.  I had been wanting to get familiar with it and several months ago I taped a sign on the dash reminding me to type my destination into the Navigator.  The sign never reminded me.

After breakfast, Vicki and I got in my car and I began keying in “Wupatki National Monument,” our destination for the next several hours.  The Navigator brought up two of such.  One had a building icon in front of it and one had a tree-and-grass icon in front of it.  I thought perhaps the building icon referred to the visitor center at the national monument, so I chose it.

When we were on US 89, near the north edge of town, the Navigator voice told us we were now at our destination.  Vicki checked a map on her smart fone and said there had been a Wupatki Street at that point.  I pulled over onto the side of the road and chose the other “Wupatki National Monument” icon.  Except for one misstep, that icon got us to the visitor center at the national monument.

The National Park Service prefers that people approach Wupatki by entering Sunset Crater National Monument first, so the number of visitors can be logged by the rangers.

D, Sunset Crater, Visitor Center 23oct2018

While in Sunset Crater NM the Navigator voice told me to turn right.  The paved road on the right led to a parking area for a walking trail.  I could see that from the park road and did not make the turn.  The Navigator picked itself up and did not try to lead us astray again.

The fun we had with Toyota’s 2014 Navigator system plus the scenic drive through lava flows between Sunset Crater and Wupatki, even though the drive took us a lot longer than we had expected, put Vicki and me in a good mood.

At the Wupatki Visitor Center we met up with Pam and Kathy (who had had breakfast with us), and also with Cynthia and Willa who had driven up for only the one day.  The latter two had arrived perhaps an hour earlier and had already walked among the ruins.  It had not rained at Wupatki this morning.

E, Wupatki National Monument, VC 23oct2018

When we asked about being able to get a good look at the CCC-built house that had been the home for several park rangers, Ginny, the manager of the gift shop, offered to accompany us.  Non-employees were not allowed to approach the house alone.

G, Wupatki NM, CCC House A3, 23oct2018

Ginny also used my camera and Vicki’s to take group pictures of all of us attendees, except Mary who had also already toured the ruins and had taken off for home.  After the fotos were taken Cynthia and Willa set off for home.

We four overnighters took much more time to tour the ruins.  The sky was heavily overcast which made fotographing a dream, in a way.

Eb, Wupatki National Monument, Wupatki Ac, 23oct2018

We did not have to worry about how sunshine was affecting our pictures.  Each person, except me, read each section of a booklet when we stopped in front of numbered posts.  (I have a learning disability and often do not enjoy reading nonfiction, although I read a lot of it. Today was R&R; only easy or fun stuff.)

Eb, Wupatki National Monument, Wupatki Aa, 23oct2018

I’m sorry you cannot read the writing on the board.  It says that predecessors of the modern Pueblo Indians lived in Wupatki 900 years ago.

Eb, Wupatki National Monument, Wupatki Ac, 23oct2018

The remaining ruins of Wupatki.

Eb, Wupatki National Monument, Wuparki An, 23oct2018

Eb, Wupatki National Monument, Wuparki Aj, 23oct2018

I did read the billboard explaining the geologic feature called a blow hole.

F, Wupatki NM, Blowhole, A2, 23oct2018

The creator of the board admits lack of knowledge of exactly what the below-ground chamber looks like.  I think the person liked dinosaurs and created one for the blowhole illustration.

The Park Service had built a very low wall around the blow hole to protect and stabilize it.

F, Wupatki NM, Blowhole, A7, 23oct2018

The first home for the second park ranger and his wife were two second-floor rooms on the “back side” of Wupatki pueblo.

Eb, Wupatki National Monument, Wupatki, Aw, First Ranger 23oct2018

Part of the pueblo had already fallen in, and the roofs of those two rooms also gave way several years later.

Eb, Wupatki National Monument, Wupatki, Ax, First Ranger 23oct2018

The picture above shows what remains of the two second-story rooms the second ranger and wife lived in the first couple of years on the job.  The boulder is the one the ladder is leaning against in the foto (second) above.

We all used the flush facility, then went three separate directions.  This must have been about 2 pm.  Vicki and I looked at the map on the brochure that had been given her and decided to see Lomaki Ruin and the Box Canyon Ruins, which are all within a very few yards of each other.  We drove and drove and drove and finally came to the turnoff and parking lot for Lomaki.

H, Wupatki NM, Lomatki and Box Ruins, Ab, 23oct2018

We parked and walked to the small Box Canyon Ruins.  One building had its wall right at the edge of the cliff edge of the shallow canyon.  The other ruin was only a few feet from a cliff edge.

H, Wupatki NM, Lomatki and Box Ruins, Af, 23oct2018

Vicki and I then started towards Lomaki, a small ruin sitting away from the canyon.

H, Wupatki NM, Lomatki and Box Ruins, Ah, 23oct2018

A few large raindrops suddenly pelted us.  My raincoat was in the SUV.  Covering my fone in its belt holster, with my vest and my hands, I hurried back towards my steel shelter.  During the last two minutes of my harried walk tiny hail stones joined the rain drops which were now falling close together.  Vicki gave up on Lomaki and returned and climbed into the SUV a couple minutes later.  We drove away at 3:11 pm.  The rain let up for a few minutes so I stopped and got our lunches and drinks out of the back end.  We filled our stomachs as I drove along.

We had driving rain interspersed with no rain all the way back to Mesa.  Unfortunately, there were also areas of highway construction.  When we had approached Flagstaff the day before I had noticed that the two ramps that used the central median to join I-17 were closed for reconstruction.  One of them was the ramp to get from I-40 onto I-17.  This day as we approached the intersection I watched for detour signs to get us to I-17 south to Phoenix.  I never saw any.  The I-40 freeway narrowed to one lane going west, then widened out onto freshly-paved two-lanes.  After a while, Vicki said, “Sylvia, are we going the right direction?  Something doesn’t feel right to me.”  In a few yards we passed a green highway sign that listed mileages to the wrong towns.  I turned around at the next exit and overpass, and five miles later we joined I-17 south.

There had been an accident beside the off ramp to the Sunset Point Rest Area.  A sedan was lying upside down in the deep gutter.  It’s trunk was open and contents were scattered around.  The only people I could see were state policemen; the people from the car had apparently already been ferried to a hospital.  The police ignored 4titude, so I drove on and parked near the door to the restroom.  I do not think either Vicki or I could have waited to drive on down the highway to the next available toilets.  The time was about 4:30.

Just as I pulled up to the curb and turned the engine off the rain stopped and hail started falling.  The hailstones were larger than English peas.  I told Vicki that I knew from experience that hail gets a person a lot less wet than rain, so we walked quickly into the rest room.  When we came out a hard rain was falling.  The hailstones were smaller but the rain was wetter.  We waited for a while under the large awning of the rest room building but it looked as though the storm was large and would last a long time, so we walked to the SUV.  Water was running swiftly and deeply along the curb, running three or four feet out into the parking lot.  Had to wade to get in the vehicle.

Gerry had called and offered to meet us closer to central Phoenix than the east edge of Mesa where he had dropped off Vicki to meet me yesterday.  I had suggested Tempe Marketplace.  We arrived there at 6:20.

At 7:09 I arrived home and soon succumbed to sweet dreams of pleasant trip memories.



My Fourth Of July Dinner was edible


To prepare my special Fourth of July holiday meal, I started first with preparing dessert.  For this I made soda spice bread in my microwave oven.  That was not my intention.  It was supposed to have been a spice cake.  The recipe was from a page of microwave recipes a friend had fotocopied and emailed to me.  The heading of the page was “Cakes.”  The name of the recipe of interest was Early American Gingerbread.  I wanted to cook a cake in the microwave because I do not run my conventional oven during the hot months here in Phoenix, Arizona when the micro oven would be fighting against the efforts of the air conditioner to cool my condo.

I decided to turn gingerbread recipe into a spice cake.  I eliminated the half cup of molasses from the recipe and added two tablespoons more of water and added nutmeg and cloves to the mixture of spices.  When my electric mixer finished beating the batter, it had the consistency of a yeast dough.  It did not pour and it was difficult to transfer from mixing bowl to my glass bowl with tube in center (modified Bundt pan for baking in microwave).

Soon after turning the microwaves on to batter the batter I began smelling soda bread.  My brain berated me, “You forgot to delete the baking soda and use baking powder!”

When the soda bread was done and had cooled for a few minutes I ate a small slice.  The bread wanted to crumble and was almost tasteless.  While I was chewing I noticed an egg, still in its shell, sitting on the counter.  It had not made its way into the batter.  I sliced the rest of the soda bread and froze it for future purposes, then washed and dried the dishes.  The dry soda bread should make good bread crumbs for recipes that use crumbs.

The morning was still young.  Baking time had been only 5 minutes.  I adjusted the leavening to baking powder on my recipe notes, switched from all-purpose flour to cake flour, added another two tablespoons water, and of course, baked another round.  This batter had the consistency of real cake batter.

But it had too much leavening for the intense heat of the microwave oven.  The cooked cake had little holes all around inside it.



The cake was dry, altho a little less dry than the soda bread, and still had very little flavor from the spices.  The intense heat of the microwave must be causing the oils of the spices to evaporate and leave the cake.  I made a cream cheese-with-cinnamon icing.  The cinnamon gave the icing an off-white color.  I placed some red and some blue M&Ms around on the top of the cake.  Thus, my July 4th cake was topped in red, off-white, and blue.  With the thick, very sweet icing, the cake was somewhat tasty.


July 4th 2018 cake, C


Then came putting together the meal itself, a Fourth of July Vegetable Flag.  Kroger (grocery stores) had sent it to me in an email of sale items I could buy at the local Fry’s grocery stores.


July 4th Flag by Kroeger, Inc.

Last week I had copied the recipe and gone shopping.  During the weekend, while visualizing the ingredients I realized I had nothing for making red stripes.  I checked the recipe.  There were little cherry tomatoes lined up in rows.  I decided to cut the cherry tomatoes in half, but first I had to get some into the condo.  I walked the three blocks to the Safeway grocery store at 6 a.m. Sunday, before traffic was awake and clogging the streets.  At that early hour I was able to jaywalk at the “T” where my street ends when it meets the street in front of Safeway.

Safeway, Phoenix, 1july2018

I brought a container of cherry tomatoes home and put them in the refrigerator.  While again going over the flag in my head, I realized that I had bought yellow cheese instead of white cheese.  That’s why my flag has red and yellow stripes.

I had about ¾ cup dried black beans in the pantry so yesterday I cooked them to use for the stars in the flag (according to the recipe).  There were more cooked beans than I needed for the flag.  I refrigerated the beans for breakfast.  This morning I ate the black beans — all of them, unintentionally.  After some thought, I pulled from the freezer a bag of red, white, and blue M&Ms.  I sorted out a bunch of blue candies and white candies and used them to build the star area of the flag.  I didn’t have to change the name of the recipe because M&Ms are vegetables.  The sugar is made from vegetables (usually sugar cane or sugar beets) and the chocolate is made from the fruit of a cacao tree, which is vegetable matter.


July 4th Vegetable Dish