A Trip Of Excitement

May 22, 2019, Wednesday

The odometer read 75,355 when I drove away from my condo in Phoenix at 4:08 AM.  The temperature 61 degrees.  All hours in this essay are stated in Arizona sun time altho New Mexico is one hour ahead on Daylight Savings Time.

My brain did not want to wake up this morning.  I was busy rushing around putting last minute things in the SUV and did not notice its recalcitrancy until I began driving.  Things seemed foggy.  Altho my reflexes were fast, concentration seemed difficult.  About the time my brain decided to put itself on full power the sun came up right in front of the windshield and driving remained difficult.  But I was glad to be out of the big city before the morning traffic rush hour.

At the beautiful Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) rest stop in the Salt River Canyon I took a ten minute nap and felt much refreshed.  But the 40-45 mph winds in 50 degree weather at the Maverik gas station in Show Low, Arizona was a bit too refreshing.

The wind gusted up to 50 mph along US 60.  I mulled this situation over and over.  Would I be able to set up even the small two-man tent I had brought along for one-night stands?  If rain wasn’t threatening would I be able to set my bedroll on the ground so that one wheel protected my torso from the wind?  I would need to find large rocks to put on the windy side to keep bedroll and blankets from blowing away.

When I approached Pie Town, New Mexico at around 11:30 I was surprised to see there was a pie place open.  The other one was closed; that place had already sold out of today’s home-made pies.  I stopped at The Uncovered Wagon Café AKA The Gathering Place and went inside.

A1g, Pie Town, Ag, The Gathering Place, 22may2019

When getting out of the SUV and walking into the pie café I was wobbly on my feet.  Apparently the worries about wind had festered deeper in my mind than I had realized and had brought on a heavy attack of road hypnosis-like symptoms.

Not only did this place sell pies all day they had breakfast and lunch/dinner menus.  The restaurant was open 8 AM to 5 PM.  All the pies were baked in small, round containers that held about 2 pieces worth of pie.  I chose a blackberry pie.  Neither the waitress/clerk or the owner would take my money before I ate the pie.  The little pies were served cut in half so part could be taken home for later.  It was piping hot fresh out of the oven.  I ate the whole pie.  $10.95 plus tax.  The owner was interesting.  He was dressed in bluejeans and black shirt and gun in holster.  He wore a dark brown, almost black, cowboy hat inside the café, something a real cowboy would never have done, even during my early lifetime.  But establishments no longer provide hat racks beside the doors.

A1a, Pie Town, Aa, The Gathering Place, owner is bent over on left; is also wearing a gun in holster on right hip, 22may2019

Owner is on left behind counter.

Tables were trestle-style and held 8 to 10 people.  I ended up having a two-hour stop here because an interesting couple soon sat down opposite me.  Rani (Narni) and Bob (Pappy) Merz.  They were residents of Washington state on their way cross country south to north.  They had transported a small horse (Rani called it a pony) and a small covered cart to the Mexican border.  There, Rani got out the information and maps she had collected off the Internet from bicycling groups and she started her back-country, good graveled roads, trek paralleling the Continental Divide up to the Canadian border.  Bob drove the back-up camper in which they slept each night.  Two nights ago when Flagstaff received two inches of snow the Merzes woke up to white ground wherever it was that they were in southern New Mexico.  In fact, she and the pony were in rain and snow most of the day.  She was prepared with rain gear plus an extra-heavy black plastic bag for her feet and boots and she stayed dry.  She indicated the cold had been unexpected and unappreciated.

A2a, Pie Town, Horse-cart, A, Rani and Chirpa, 22may2019

Rani and Chirpa.

Rani told me she had practiced for this trip by taking a gravel road 200-mile loop trip in Washington state last summer.  Bob did not accompany her so she carried a tent and camped out.  In this adventure the female is getting to have all the fun!

Rani gave me a business card:

Great Divide Extravaganza

bobnrani@yahoo.com

travel.topicwise.com/doc/hitchedhiking2019 — a blog she is writing as she travels along

A2e, Pie Town, Horse-cart, Ae, 22may2019

Rani had read about Pie Town and its home-made pies in some bicycling web sites.  So she and the pony had trekked a short distance on pavement in order for the humans to enjoy this treat.  The pony was 15 years old, out of an expected life span of 30 years.  After they finished dinner and pie we three went outside and I took pictures.  Then I got in my SUV and as I drove away I saw a sheriff’s car near the pony and cart and a sheriff talking to the Merzes.  In this small town part of the state he had probably been told about the pony and cart that were in front of the café and had come to meet the trekkers.

I arrived at Datil Well Campground site #6 at 1:25 PM.  I erected the brand-new little two-man tent without difficulty, then I laid out the rainfly and reached for the two poles that go with it.  I only found one pole.  I had done a trial setup at a camp site last fall after I bought the tent.  I don’t know how I managed to lose a pole.

The tent hung from its poles.  In other words, the poles were a short distance above the tent.  I realized that the rainfly would thus not be touching the top of the tent, even without its own poles, so I draped it over the tent and affixed the corners.  Two projections remained, one for the door and one for the window on the opposite wall.  The projections on the door side had loops for stakes, so I staked them down.  The projections on the window side had cords to be staked down.  Completed, the rainfly protected the tent just fine without the poles to hold the two projections rigid.  With those rigid poles the rainfly would function as a runaway umbrella in strong winds.  I may be glad I have lost a pole.

While setting up the tent my face kept bumping into stobs of dead branches.  One cut a one-inch or so line along my left jaw line and another punched a shallow hole in my right forehead.  Both spots bled in complaint.

I began putting gear in the tent.  I could barely get my body under the rainfly.  I walked around and took a good look.  I had put the rainfly on backwards.  I was in no mood to, or I lacked the energy to, redo the rainfly.  The difficulty of getting bedding and body in and out of the tent today and tomorrow morning was a little irritating, but not as much as unattaching and reattching the rainfly would have been.

B1b, Datil Well, Ab, tent with rainfly back over the door, 22may2019

I set my chair and folding side tables in some shade and spent the remaining hours reading and working crossword puzzles.  I was able to strip down to only a moderate-weight cotton long-sleeved shirt (and jeans and shoes and socks) for several hours in spite of the wind.

I chatted with a couple of campers who walked by.  One was a 30s young woman.  She and her husband sold their house five years ago and, with their two children (now grade-school ages), traveled the country in an RV.  The husband, a landscape architect, is now home schooling parent.  The woman, with a biochemistry degree, wrote inserts and other material for a company that produced new medical equipment.  She did most of her work on her computer and sometimes on-line.  At times she was required to be in person at conferences and she and her family would travel there.  What a wonderful life!

 

May 23, Thursday

During the night the wind rustling the tent and swooshing thru treetops was a pleasant lullaby.  The wind died completely a half hour before dawn just as I started breaking camp.  But it soon picked back up.  I had slept well but I didn’t have much energy when decamping.  Then I remembered I was above 7,000 feet in altitude, having come up from around 1,100 feet elevation yesterday.  The nearby town of Datil was at 7,379 feet elevation and the campground was a littler higher.

I drove away at 4:37 AM, temperature 46 degrees.

Driving across the San Augustine Plains there were places where heavily-loaded 4titude was broadsided by winds that pushed him towards the oncoming lane (two-lane paved highway).  With my hands guiding the wheel 4titude was able to return to the center of the correct lane.  Over and over.  Winds may have been 70 mph or stronger.

I stopped at McDonald’s in Socorro for a breakfast “griddle” with bacon.  Their breakfast griddle/biscuits are tasteless and almost inedible without the bacon.  Just west of Fort Sumner I took a 25-minute rest and nap break.  In Fort Sumner I bought two of Allsup’s Hatch Green Chili Burritos and ate them around 11:30 AM.  I filled in calories for both meals with peanuts while driving.

On the High Plains east of Fort Sumner strong winds buffeted 4titude, rocking him a little but not pushing him off course.  I began wondering if I would have to wait til tomorrow morning to set up the 6-man tent.  The plains are usually calm for a short time before dawn, with the calm generally lasting til shortly after sunrise.

At 12:35 I arrived at site 14 in Oasis State Park, New Mexico.  Agnes said the temperature was 90 degrees.  The strong winds were not too bad so I contacted my daughter Terre.  She came out from Portales and helped me set up Agnes, then went back to finish some computer stuff at the grocery store where she works.  She was getting the work done today so she could get off early tomorrow.

I took a large bowl over to the water pump at the edge of my campsite.  I held the bowl under the spout and lifted the pump handle up high.  The water came out with extreme force and showered my legs and one arm.  The coolness felt good.

Shortly before sundown I heard distant coyotes calling back and forth.  Heard two doves calling each other.  Some other birds were chirping.  Saw and heard a raven.  This is why I like tent camping.

All afternoon a massive cloud had been building to the east.  At 8 PM it began throwing lightning around.  Altho overhead and to the west lots of stars shone I closed my tent door against possible rain when I went to bed.

 

May 24, Friday

It did not rain last night.  At 3 AM coyotes began yapping and actually howling.  There was a small group off the southwest end of the campground that was answered by a lone coyote off the north end.  The northern animal had a lovely, but short, howl.  At 3:45 an owl hooted nearby.  I arose with the birds in the early dawn at 4 AM.

Before sunrise, cattle began bawling and continued to do so for a couple hours.  Dairy herds demanding breakfast.  However, the cows sounded upset.  Perhaps they were demanding to be milked.  Maybe they were moaning not mooing.

The milk fed the Southwest Cheese Factory, a huge cheese operation that lies about halfway between Portales and Clovis.  Coyotes joined in with the bawling cattle from time to time.

Low temperature this morning was 52 degrees.

D1a, Portales, Portales, A2, city sign, 24may2019

My daughter is one of the 17,000 Friendly People.

I ran a few errands in Portales.  Bought ground pork and ice.  I cooked the meat and put it on the ice in an open heavy plastic container.  Then I prepared biscuits.  Terre arrived shortly after 12 noon while the biscuits were baking.  When they were done I packed them away and Terre and I washed dishes.  I washed, she dried, and I restowed the now-clean items into bins and SUV.

Terre drove us to the Eastern New Mexico University campus, one of New Mexico’s land-grand colleges.  We toured the Blackwater Draw Archaeology-History Museum.  We had learned last year that it is closed on Terre’s days off so she made it a point to get off early today while the museum was open.  Even tho spring semester had ended and summer session would not begin for another week the museum was womanned and open.  The girl at the desk seemed young enuf to be a student.  She was very eager to tell us about the museum and to chat otherwise.  Blackwater Draw was where the first Clovis Man was discovered.  The site is a couple miles from Oasis State Park.  The museum was small but interesting.

D1a, Portales, Portales, A, Blackwater Draw Museum, 24may2019

This life-sized saber-toothed tiger greets people as they enter the museum.  Its paws are huge.

Then we stepped into the nearby geology museum but soon stepped back outside.  There was some odiferous chemical in the air.  It began giving Terre a headache.  I feared worse repercussions on myself in a few hours.

The afternoon was hot, probably in the low 90s, so we stopped at the Farmers Grocery Store where Terre worked and shared a pint of ice cream.  Back at camp I finished cooking a sloppy joe main dish.  On the side we had biscuits with jelly. Our stomachs were pretty full.

The wind had become strong.  After dish washing duty we decided to play a new game I had purchased at WalMart this morning, called Sequence.  Because the game had a deck of cards we moved inside the tent to play.  As we got acquainted with the game, Terre described the it as being a cross between Old Maid card game and Tic-Tac-Toe.  We soon began to appreciate the Tic-Tac-Toe challenge aspect of the game.

Ever since a bout with heat exhaustion in the Grand Canyon when Terre was on a teenage backpack she’s had to limit her time in direct sunlight and in heat, even when wearing a hat on her head.  Unfortunately, the tent was facing the west.  I had Terre sit in a chair as far back in the tent as possible, I moved the table up against her, and I sat on the door side of the table.  Sun pounded my back and neck and head.  I sweated but did not mind because I like to feel summer heat.  The memory keeps me going during the winter.

Terre’s fone rang and she answered it.  I relaxed and looked at her, wondering who she was talking to.  I noticed a pink spot (colloquially called “red”) above the bridge of her nose, a spot on each cheek, and a strip across her nares.  The interior of the tent was hotter than the exterior.  Terre is the special-order person at the store.  After she promised to drop by the store first thing in the morning, on her day off, and order a special fertilizer, she hung up.  I told her about her pink spots and that I had some ice in the SUV.  I packed a quart-sized zippered plastic bag with a few handfuls of ice.  Terre put a few cubes in her cup of drinking water then balanced the bag on top of her head.  I did not have anything simple to tie it down with but she was very careful not to move her head.

After a couple more rounds Terre went home to water the grass.  The same beautiful, frightening cloud had come up on the eastern horizon.  I took a picture.

C1a, Portales, Oasis State Park, Da. sunset on storm cloud that is east of Portales, 24may2019

May 25, Saturday

About 3:50 AM a small group of coyotes began singing near the campground in the light of early dawn.  Doves answered and soon other birds chirped in.  When I arose shortly after 4 AM the temperature was 66 degrees and did not go lower.  It was going to be a hot day.  But then I went outside the tent, noticed that 4titude had a light layer of dew and that the sky was overcast.  Maybe going to be a wet day.  It was both.

Each day an almost full-grown juvenile cottontail inspected my camp, hoping I was dropping a few crumbs around.  When he saw me he would hop into the shade of a tree where he believed I could not see him even though there were no branches or leaves hiding him.  This morning as he hopped across the parking area where 4titude sat a scaled quail came walking across the other part of the parking spot.  Cottontail saw the quail, stopped, and watched the bird with a wary, somewhat frightened look on its face.  While still several yards from the picnic table where I was sitting the quail saw that I had not provided any food for him and he turned and walked away.  Cottontail sniffed the air and decided he was not interested in my hot cocoa or my cold, canned baked beans and he hopped away.  When I told Terre about the confrontation later she remarked that Cottontail was right to be wary because even small raptors were able to kill and carry away rabbits.

A pair of somewhat colorful birds often sat in the trees in my camp site and chirped at me.  The male had bright yellow on the lower half of his breast.  This morning, while hopping in the edge of the low plants at the edge of my camp site the birds gave me a good look at their tails.  The outside of each tail was rimmed with a very thin strip of bright, glowing white.  The yellow on the female was a lighter color.  I looked for them in my bird field guide, a 1970s edition of the National Geographic Society’s Field Guide To The Birds Of North America.  They were Western Kingbirds.

Terre arrived around 8:45 with the information that the zoo in Clovis would be open 9 AM to 4 PM today.  There was a 30% chance of rain, but we decided to go to the zoo while the cloud cover would keep the sun off Terre and keep the temperature down a few degrees.

We got in my SUV.  I put my foot on the brake, inserted the key and twisted it.  4titude only said “whirr-whirr.”  I tried the operation several times but nothing more than the soft sound happened.  I thought the battery had done the usual Phoenix heat thing of dying precipitously, without warning.  To make a long story short, the next hour or so proved that all 4titude needed was a jump start and he made no more objections to working.  He did not go ”whirr-whirr” again during the trip.

We drove to Hillcrest Park, parked near the entrance to the zoo, walked over to the entrance but it was closed.  Permanently.  The zoo’d had a major face lift and, in the process, the entrance had been moved to the east side of the zoo, the opposite side.

E1a, Clovis, A1b, park and zoo, mural on outside of toilet building, 25may2019

Mural on toilet house in Hillcrest Park.

E1a, Clovis, A1c, park and zoo, toilets, 25may2019

Women’s toilet room.

4titude took us to a new parking lot and we parked right in front of the new entrance.  About that time my smart fone said that there was now a thunderstorm watch out for Clovis.  I paid the entrance fee and we began looking at animals.  The zoo was small but had an interesting variety of exhibits.

Before we had walked very far my smart fone issued a stronger warning, “severe thunderstorm watch for Clovis.”  We decided to see as much as we could before the clouds got serious.  Pretty soon it began sprinkling lightly.  After a while a light rainfall began.  Still nothing to worry about nor to need raincoats for.

E1b, Clovis, A4f, elands, 25may2019

We had seen perhaps half the exhibits when the rain suddenly became heavy and contained a few pellets of hail.  Terre studied the map in the brochure we’d gotten at the gate and began leading us down paths that the map indicated would take us to the entrance gate.  We got there, but it was the locked, old entrance at the west end of the zoo.  The rain had increased from heavy to very heavy.

There were two, small zoo pickups parked beside the old entrance building.  A ranger stepped into one and a woman and about 3 children crowded into the passenger seat.  I walked over and asked the driver if we could get a ride somehow.  He suggested we stand under the awning at the old entrance and he would come back for us.  So Terre and I got out of the rain.  We were thoroughly soaked and felt somewhat cold but were not chilled.  In fact, neither of us ever reached the shivering stage.  That surprised me.  The air temperature must have remained in the 70s even tho the raindrops were cold.  The metal awning over us yelled at the touch of heavy raindrops and heavier, but small, hail stones.

The old office was still in use.  After a few minutes a man came out.  He said he could take us one at a time in the 4-cylinder pickup still parked near the awning.  He drove the vehicle under the awning.  I climbed in and asked him if my daughter could sit in my lap.  He said she “could give it a try.”  I helped Terre figure out where to put her feet and legs and she was able to shut the door.  He radioed the other driver to tell him he was now ferrying us.  When he got to the parking lot he paused beside 4titude and said we could stay in the pickup til the storm let up.  I replied that we were already thoroughly soaked so we would get in our vehicle.  We gave him our heartfelt thanks and waded thru an inch or so of water to get in 4titude.

Although the rain was still pouring in heavy sheets, I turned the windshield wipers on high and headed for dinner.  I put “Cotton Patch” in Clovis, New Mexico into 4titude’s Navigator and took off according to her directions.  At the first intersection I noticed that a small pickup coming from our right turned onto the street we were on and drove the direction we had just come from.  Then I noticed that a vehicle a block away on our left turned and did not drive down the street I was preparing to turn onto.  I paused a moment and looked.  Water was over what curbs there may have been.  I told Terre that my mechanic had told me I could drive in water that came as high as the bottoms of my dimmer lights if I drove slowly so that waves of water would not be lifted high and get in the air intake valves that were somewhere above the height of the tops of the head lights.  My problem would always be the force of any stream I was trying to cross, rather than the depth of the water.  The water in the flooded street appeared to be only a couple inches deep and did not have much force.  The wind seemed to be pushing the water rather than its flowing on its own.  So I drove slowly up the street.  4titude handled as tho he were on dry pavement.  Neither the strong wind nor rain fazed him.  I am continually amazed at the power of this vehicle.  It has so much, much more power than my 1983 and 1999 4-cylinder Nissan pickups had.  I have been told that this 2014 6-cylinder Toyota 4Runner of mine has more power than the 2010 8-cylinder Toyota 4Runners.  I believe it.

At The Cotton Patch we took another soaking as we dashed the few steps to get under the awning across the front of the restaurant.  Stepping into the restaurant was disappointing.  The air was very few degrees warmer than outside.  At least fresh rain was no longer resoaking us.  I told the waitress we wanted a table in the warmest part of the restaurant.  She led us to a booth away from the front door and told us that the rest of the seating areas were under air conditioner vents.  We put our dripping bodies on the waterproof benches and order dinner, followed by dessert, a Root Beer Chocolate Cake with a very sweet chocolate sauce icing.  Ice cream on the side.

Our clothes did not begin to dry off but we did not begin shivering.  We enjoyed our meals.  Especially as we watched the sun begin shining out the windows.

The water-bearer gave me the password for the free WiFi.  The waitress explained that the reason I could not access their WiFi was because their Internet system was down and their TVs were not working.  I wanted to check the weather forecast for the next several days.  I have the cheapest Verizon plan available and it has limited data points because I rarely use data points.  With the free WiFi I would not have been charged data points to check anything on the Internet.  So I did not get weather report.

I turned on the heater in the SUV and we and our clothes began to warm up.  We had to drive thru some deepish water on our return to my camp site.  Approaching Oasis State Park the scent from dairy cow leavings was strong from the soaking.

We were still pretty wet.  The wind was rather strong so back at camp we arranged the table and chairs inside the tent again to play Sequence.  Terre sat deep in the tent and was in the shade for most of the afternoon.  My back was right at the door and soon the sun began drying me off.  After a couple hours the sun reached Terre and she had to begin dousing her head with water to keep her internal body temperature within limits.  The sun dried all my clothes except the waistband to my jeans, probably because of the leather belt around my waist.  After a while I realized that sweat was replacing rainwater in my waistband.  The high temperature at camp today was in the mid 80s.

After about five rounds of Sequence I suggested to Terre that we both drive into Portales and cool off by sharing a pint of ice cream.  At the Farmers Grocery Store chose a non-dairy coconut milk brand and sat down in a booth.  The little plastic spoons from the delicatessen could not make a dent in the iced dessert.  They had worked all right in the regular ice cream fresh from the freezer yesterday.  I went out to 4titude and retrieved two stainless steel spoons.  With them we were able to gouge out bites, but the dessert stayed extra firm all the way to the final bite.

 

May 26, Sunday

There had been strong winds much of the night, strong enuf to keep pushing the side of the tent over my face.  Coyotes sang off and on during the night, many more times than usual.

Temperature was 66 degrees at 4 AM and remained there for several hours.  The sky became totally overcast.

I began the day’s diary typing.  Cottontail hopped slowly across the entrance of my tent.  It saw me sitting at my computer at the table in the tent and hopped away faster.  A sparrow hopped close enuf to see there was no food for it at my camp site, then flew away.  I had been typing my diary in the mornings because in the evenings the strong winds were blowing around dust and fine sand that could infiltrate and destroy my computer.

Typing finished, I sat outside and ate breakfast.  Then drank a third cup of hot cocoa and watched a pair of sparrows bring twigs to finish building a nest in an elm tree beside the picnic table.  In return, the birds sat on branches between deliveries and watched me.

Breezes awoke and brought off-and-on light mist.  I went back inside the tent.  When the mist no longer was in the air I spent an hour or more walking the campground road and identifying wild flowers.  I wrote down ten that I identified and took pictures of eight more that I had never met before.  I wouldn’t know til I put the fotos on my computer at home whether or not the pictures were sharp enuf to use for identifying the plants.

I drove to town and refilled three water jugs.  When I was back at camp I simmered the rest of the ground pork I had cooked Friday.  Simmered it in a taco-like sauce.  Buttered remaining biscuits from Friday.  Dinner from fresh ingredients tasted good.

Most of the afternoon there were clouds around on all horizons but blue sky above this area.  While I was washing, drying, and putting away dishes the winds became very strong and Agnes rattled a lot.

I tackled 4titude’s windshield and windows, inside and out, removing pollution from inside and yesterday’s dust and raindrop messes from the outside.  By the time I finished a wall of water interspersed with virga was approaching from the west.  The air temperature suddenly dropped.  The ground wind, very strong, was hitting Agnes from the east.  Then harassment of Agnes decreased altho wind gusts remained annoyingly strong.

At 6:30 I began writing these notes.  I had just survived the far outer edge of a tornado for the second time in my camping life.  I was sitting in the tent reading a book to keep my mind off the surrounding storms.  I heard a whirring sound outside the left side of my tent.  Less than a minute later the whole front of the tent lifted and tried to roll over.  The other edges began lifting, also.  The tent had come completely loose from its moorings.  I pushed the large patio table off me and worked my way frontwards.  The rim around the bottom of the door hit me in the chest.  The worst thing was that I had a basin of water sitting on the floor near the door.  It turned over and the large puddle got part of the floor and some gear wet.

I waded thru the puddle, got my feet in my shoes, stepped out and grabbed one corner tent pole because the tent was trying to blow away into sage and yucca and prickly pear cactus (with beautiful yellow blossoms today) and other prickly things that would have poked many holes and shreds in Agnes.  All of a sudden the tent took off, about a foot off the ground, pulled me to the ground, and drug me several feet.  It lodged against a small berm.  That, plus the weight of my body, stopped onward movement but the wind was still exceptionally strong.  It seemed to be going at 100+ mph and I was determined not to let go.  In my mind I thought of pictures of people and cartoons in which something similar was happening.  I wondered if I could hang onto the tent long as long as the wind would blow.

I let go of the pole with my right hand and fished around in the belt holster and popped my smart fone out.  I tried to call Terre but the connection would not go thru.  No wonder, there was a ferocious cloud over us all.  I then tapped a text message and sent it.  In about a minute the text did manage to get gone.

At that moment four neighbors came to help.  And, also at that moment, the wind diminished spectacularly and in the calm came rain and a few pieces of hail.  I pulled some heavy items out of Agnes, then the neighbors helped me move her to firmer ground.  They held her down while I hammered stakes into her holding loops.  She seemed unhurt. My bedroll and the top layers of the camping foam under it were dry.  On me, the wettest thing was my bluejeans.

I thanked the neighbors and finished putting the gear that had ejected out of the tent back inside.  Just as I finished, Terre and Jim drove up.  I told them what had happened.  Jim suggested that a small microburst had hit my campsite.  I later found out that none of the RVs had felt the extraordinarily strong wind.

Tomorrow was Terre’s day off.  She was already planning to spend it with me watching movies on my laptop and playing Sequence, and going to a restaurant for dinner.  We would still do at least the last two, between spreading gear out to dry after the picnic table and 4titude’s hood dried off.

The first similar experience was in 1990 or 1991 on a Fort Worth Sierra Club Chapter work trip along a northern portion of the Buffalo River in Arkansas.  We were helping build a trail alongside the river.  The day we arrived we were ferried across the river, which was running a bit high due to a week of continuous rain, and we made camp in a small meadow on the bank of the river.  The meadow was perhaps 15 feet above the top of the running water.  On the second day it began raining part of each day.

The night after the third or fourth day a strong storm came thru.  I was sleeping in an orange nylon tent with an extra-large white rainfly over it.  Terre will remember that tent but maybe not the rainfly.  The foot end of the tent bent in the wind til it was almost lying on my body; the front end would have extended outwards.  A fine mist filtered thru the two layers of waterproof nylon.  Enuf mist to get things wet.  That took a very, very strong wind.  Then there was a period of calm.  Then the strong wind came back but from the opposite direction.  It blew the back end of the tent almost down on my head and body and pushed the front end outwards.  As I recall, a few tents blew down.

The Forest Service ranger who was directing our trail work and was camped with us radioed headquarters.  He was told the john boat was in use and was a day away from us.  He told headquarters that the river had risen several feet and was not far below the edge of the meadow.  Our ranger was also told that a tornado had touched down quite a ways upriver and had damaged a bridge.  We seemed to have been visited by the edge of the storm, probably by a much milder tornado.

A few hours later the john boat appeared and ferried us and our gear, two at a time, back across the river.  It was still raining lightly so the administrator had arranged for snacks and drinks under a pavilion.  After everyone was safely across the administrator provided transportation to get us back to our vehicles.  I think we had originally carried our backpacks from vehicles to river’s edge.

After I returned to Fort Worth I sent the administrator a letter of thanks.  He wrote back, stating that the third day after we were rescued the river rose over the bank and flooded the meadow where we had been camped.  I believe that was to have been our last day at camp.

Returning to Oasis State Park.  The light thumps of water dripping off an elm tree onto Agnes and the evening cooing of doves and chirping of birds was comforting.  But I needed to somehow sop up excess adrenalin so I could sleep tonight.  As the last rays of the day’s sun filtered thru below the western edge of the huge cloud it lit wildflowers in the plains outside my tent door.

C1a, Portales, Oasis State Park, C2c, site 14, evening view from tent 23may2019

Only the plastic outer cover of a library book I had brought got wet and it would be easily dried off.  One of my personal paperback mystery books did not fare so well.

I was pleased I did not lose my summer cabin.  Agnes was an old friend.

Because Agnes and I came out unscathed this was an adventure that is fun to remember.

 

May 27, Sunday

No sore muscles.  No new bruises.  I put my wet socks and jeans back on.  My fone buzzed and told me the high today was expected to be 87 degrees.  There was not a cloud in the sky but there was a thin, cloudy layer of fog lying on the plains just past my tent site.  The fog burned off during dawn, before the sun was anywhere near arising.

During an exercise walk this morning I saw a Bullock’s Oriole, now called Northern Oriole, Icterus galbula.  That was exciting.  The bird had an orange belly with some orange going up his neck and onto his face.  He probably had some extra orange because it was courting season.  I could not see the rest of his markings.

The short rain that came directly after the microburst yesterday put muddy streaks on 4titude’s clean windows.  I washed and dried them again before hanging bedding on the doors to dry.  Then I set all gear out to dry in the sun and/or wind.

Terre arrived mid morning and we hung the inside tarp over a soft bush.  Had to weight it down because breezes were strong.  We played Sequence on the picnic table til the wind became so strong it started to blow the board away.  So we put the tarp back on Agnes’ floor and restocked the tent.  I hammered some loose stakes back in place.

C1a, Portales, Oasis State Park, Aa2, tent in strong wind, 23may2019

Agnes in the wind.

We set up Sequence on a table in the tent and played til early afternoon.  The right side of the tent began collapsing all the way into the tent.  Luckily, the table was on the left side of the tent.  The poles bent over almost to right angles.  We began checking and reworking the stakes every ten minutes or so.  The wind was pushing in the side of the tent and the tent was temporarily collapsing in spite of being well-staked down.  The wind seemed to be averaging 40 to 50 miles per hour with gusts to 60 or 70 mph.

During one of our checks Terre showed me a six-inch rip in the rain fly.  That had been the whirring noise I heard just before the front of the tent lifted up in my face.  When I decamped the next morning I found a second tear, a smaller one.

In the early afternoon Terre drove us to McDonald’s for Big Macs with bacon.  The locally-owned restaurants all close on Mondays.  Then we went to the store where she works, Farmer’s Country Store, and ate Freanna honey yoghurt.  Delicious.  It is made in Clovis, New Mexico in an old Danish style and has recently begun being distributed to other states.

Back at camp the wind was still as strong.  We reworked loose stakes, then played Sequence and checked the stakes every two rounds.

Terre left at about 5:30.  Around 6 PM coyotes sang to the departing sun.

Shortly before sunset the wind died quickly to a light breeze.  Agnes stood back upright and the tent, itself, looked none the worse for wear.

The high temperature today was 75 or 78.

C1a, Portales, Oasis State Park, Ea2. sunset on storm cloud that is east of Portales, 26may2019

Sunset to the east.

May 28, Tuesday

During the night there was a light breeze that never stopped.

I drove away from camp site at Oasis at 5:20 AM.  Temperature 52 degrees.  I backtracked into Portales and had breakfast at McDonald’s.

Long, slim, heavy clouds with virga trailed above me.  I was heartened by seeing lots of blue sky in the west, the direction I was going.  A strong wind was blowing.

I took a couple of ten-minute naps.  One was at Fort Sumner and the other was somewhere between Vaughn and Willard.  I had not found a substitute for caffeine that I no longer imbibed due to problems it had been causing me.

Between Vaughn and Willard, closer to Willard, I saw flags flying on a tall pole in front of a lone house beside the highway.  The American flag was at the top and a confederate flag was just below.  Not good.

I arrived at site 13 at Datil Well NRA campground at 1:20 (AZ time).  Temperature 64 degrees.  Light breeze with gusty winds.

B1d, Datil Well, A, view from site 13, 28may2019

View at site 13.

While walking the campground road I saw a cottontail.  Saw the lower back and tail of a large raptor as it flew into trees.  Birds are rare here.  I don’t know why.

Even tho clouds were getting thick, the camp host said the 5 PM (NM DST) weather person reported that there wouldn’t be any rain here tonight.  The Weather Channel on my smart fone agreed that there would be no rain tonight at Datil Well NRA.  It said the low tomorrow morning would be 38 degrees.

So I did not put up a tent.  I chose a spot that was not on sand and laid out the camping foam.  I arranged the bedroll and two heavy blankets on top, then set three large rocks on the edge of the blankets on one side of my bed.

With trepidation, I saw virga around and overhead in late afternoon.

B1d, Datil Well, B2, tree beside my bedroll at site 13, 28may2019

Neighbor standing right beside my bedroll.

 

May 29, Wednesday

Stars had filled the sky when I went to bed last night.  It was fun to study stars briefly when I awoke to turn over (taking careful management of bedroll and blankets).  Shortly after midnight half of the stars were obliterated.  Large clouds continued to move across the sky.  The moon rose at three AM and dawn rose just before 4 AM.

When I tried to put the first armload of bedding in the SUV the doors would not respond to key clicker.  I used the key itself.  Did not happen again this day.  Perhaps my arthritic fingers were too stiff in the morning cold and could not depress the clicker button correctly.

I drove away at 4:22.  Agnes said the temperature was 43 degrees in the piñon forest in the campground, but a quarter mile away on US 60 the temperature was 39 degrees.

On US 60 about nine miles from the campground I almost ran into an elk.  All of a sudden in the dim light of early dawn I saw a set of brown hindquarters with skinny legs a few yards in front of 4titude.  I hit the brakes just as the elk turned its head to look at me.  Elk and companions skedaddled very quickly.  4titude came to a stop about one foot before the place where hindquarters had been standing.

I came out from under the clouds somewhere in the vicinity of the NM/AZ border.  I ate breakfast at McDonald’s in Springerville, Arizona.

In the ponderosa pine forest just south of Showlow, Arizona, I saw several mule deer grazing in the wide ditch beside the highway.  Compared to the very brown elk they looked gray.

At Globe I took a ten-minute nap.  Even tho I was not far from home my eyelids did not want to stay open.

When I arrived at the QT gas station about a mile beyond my condo it was 12:40 noon.  Temperature was around 84 degrees.  After quenching 4titude’s hunger I dropped by the local McDonald’s and had a Double Big Mac with Bacon and dropped by Sprouts Farmers Market and purchased a pint of “So Delicious” brand of coconut milk ice cream alternative.  Ate it all as soon as I got home, before unpacking 4titude.

Odometer 76,777.  Total trip distance driven was 1,422 miles.

I unintentionally lost a pound during this trip!

 

 

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Omitted, A Trek in the Maroon-Snowmass Wilderness

I have begun scanning slides I took years ago and depositing them in my computer.  Many of the slides have degraded but the set from this trip are in good shape so I decided to publish a blog of the experience.  The slide camera I used took half-size pictures, thus getting double the number of pictures per film cannister.  The scanner only projects one size slide and puts extra black borders around the unused portion of the scanned fotos.

 

This was a trip of omissions.  The first omission took place on August 19, 1983 while I was driving George Cohen and myself, Sylvia Lee, to the trailhead from which we would start our five-day backpack.  The Forest Service had omitted placing or replacing directional road signs to Snowmass Creek Campground.  Eventually we found the campground and, farther on down a dirt road, the parking lot that we were looking for.

Signs at the parking lot stated camping was not allowed there.  Around 5 pm, in spite of threatening weather, we saddled up our backpacks and walked about three-quarter mile up the trail where we found a small, somewhat flat meadow in which we could make camp for night one.  We camped at about 8,600 feet elevation.

 

Maroon-Snowmass Aa, Bear Creek Canyon entering Snowmass Creek Valley, 20august1983

Lovely country we tromped through.

The second omission was, thankfully the lack of a deluge that late afternoon.  Clouds had been throwing thunder and lightning as we had shouldered our packs and gamely set off.  When the lightning realized it didn’t scare us, it moved its thunder elsewhere.  During the night we had only light, intermittent showers.

At supper time George and I found out we both had made mistakes with our grub.  George’s swollen sardine can hissed and spit at him as he opened it, so he threw the sardines away.  I discovered I had omitted one breakfast and all my snack bars when I packed.  That was almost half of the food for this trip.  George found a huge puffball mushroom, about one foot in diameter and weighing about three pounds, which he nibbled on to stretch his rations until it began to look dead around the edges.

Maroon-Snowmass Ad, George Coen and puffball just below Snowmass Lake, 20august1983

That evening we also found yellow brookcress for salad and large dandelion leaves for toilet paper.

George and I were both wildflower aficionados and discussed the flowers and plants along the trails each day.

After supper we hung our food bags on a high branch in a nearby tree, high enough that bears could not reach them.  George had good aim.  He tied a rock to one end of the hanging rope and threw the rock over a very high branch.  We tied the food bags to the other end, hauled them up, and secured the rope.  Hoping the bears would not figure out the rope system.  Just before dusk a party of four young men set up camp at the edge of an aspen grove close by.  They stared and pointed at our hanging sacks and, just after dark, they started to pull our food down.  They had omitted noticing our camp and us.  We intervened.

During the night we were serenaded by coyotes and owls.

The next morning we regretted omitting the wade through a pond which had covered the trail due to a deadfall jam.  As we pushed through shrubbery edging the low spot the small trees shook off the night’s raindrops, wetting us thoroughly while I, wearing hiking shorts, worked my way through a batch of stinging nettles.

The wildlife omitted showing hospitality.  In the afternoon, as we approached Snowmass Lake, I saw a gopher run into its burrow and push dirt up with its hind paws to close the entrance.  A chipmunk, chattering loudly, ran towards me, then dodged into a hole in the foliage just off trail.  We heard and glimpsed several pika, but they, too, quickly disappeared from sight.

We made camp our camp a short ways below Snowmass Lake, at elevation of about 11,200 feet.

Maroon-Snowmass Ae, Snowmass Lake, 20august1983

Snowmass Lake.

Mosquitoes were bad.  That evening I studied the topographic maps carefully and learned we had three major passes to cross, instead of two.  The Forest Service had omitted naming the highest pass, had even omitted the word or symbol for “pass” from their planographic map of the White Mountain National Forest in Colorado.  My original itinerary had us covering the miles of all three passes in one day because I thought there were only two.  I told George we could not linger one day at this camp as planned to explore the area.

Maroon-Snowmass Af, Snowmass Lake, 20august1983

Snowmass Lake.

The following morning George, a habitual early riser, did not get up until after I had risen.  He had a touch of food poisoning from eating sardine juice which he had omitted throwing out with the sardines the evening before.  He insisted he was well enough to cross the passes.

We headed for Buckskin Pass, elevation 12,462 feet, and Willow Pass, at a similar elevation.

Maroon-Snowmass Ag, View while climbing up west side of Buckskin Pass, 21august1983

View while climbing up to Buckskin Pass.

On the way up Buckskin Pass I saw a disembodied, furry brown tail waving and floating along the trail several switchbacks above me.  When I caught up with the tail I found a marmot attached.  On top of the pass, friendly chipmunks and a semi-friendly pika snooped for lunch crumbs they hoped we had (accidentally) left on the ground.

Maroon-Snowmass Ak, Snowmass Mt. double-pronged, Buckskin Pass, 21august1983

Double-pronged Snowmass Mountain from Buckskin Pass.

Maroon-Snowmass An, Sylvia Lee and Snowmass Lake from Buckskin Pass, 21august1983

Sylvia Lee on Buckskin Pass.  Can you see Snowmass Lake to right of center of foto?

As we were descending a small airplane passed low overhead, almost grazing the tundra on Buckskin Pass.  George, a WWII veteran, commented, “That looks like one of ours.”  We stumbled about six hundred feet down Buckskin Pass then up the same distance to Willow Pass.

Maroon-Snowmass Am, Snowmass Lake from Buckskin Pass, 21august1983

Snowmass Lake from Buckskin Pass.  Tiny bit of water visible in foto.

On top of Willow Pass I scared a juvenile pika when I shed my pack with a thud.  After a while the animal came back out of its hole and began plucking grass and flowers, stems and petals.  After making a few piles the pika picked up a bunch at a time and scurried to his burrow to store the food for winter.

Maroon-Snowmass Ap, Sylvia Lee's pack on Willow Pass., 21august1983

Sylvia Lee’s backpack on top of Willow Pass.

We descended a few hundred feet down Willow Pass and found an area where we could erect our shelters.  George carried a plastic tube tent that was open at both ends.  I hung up a long, wide, ripstop nylon tarp and shaped it like a pup tent but I left both ends open.  I resist being cooped up when it is not necessary.

As we were lounging at camp that evening we heard an intermittent roar as of a large truck trying to pull itself up the pass.  A grey cloud soon appeared with a leaky faucet someone had omitted turning off.  The thundercloud eventually finished passing overhead and left behind only a few puffs, and we retired.

During the night a mouse must have omitted listening to its warning radar because I was rudely awakened by four small, furry feet climbing across my head.  I yelled, “Get out of here!”  The animal did not return.

Maroon-Snowmass Aq2, North Maroon Bell from Willow Pass. Sleeping Sexton to right., 21august1983

Maroon Bells from Willow Pass.

The next morning we scaled the nonexistent pass, elevation 12,680.  About a third of the way up the pass I regretted the omission of a defroster from my equipment as I slid across a sloping, frozen snowfield.  The snow and yesterday’s horse tracks had iced over during the night and were slippery to walk on.  No give, no footing for me.  But with its claws a marmot ran easily across the trail and disappeared.

After safely crossing the ice and rounding a corner of the mountain, I and the trail began ascending a wide ravine.

Time passed and I began to worry about George because he had not appeared around the mountain corner.  The snowfield was hidden from my view.  Had George slipped, fallen, and hurt himself badly?  On top of the unnamed pass I hid my large pack and put on a smaller day pack.

Maroon-Snowmass At, 8.10am on unnamed pass west of Willow Lake, elev. 12,680, 22august1983

Sylvia’s backpack on Nonexistent Pass, AKA Marmot’s Pass.

As I started back down the trail I spied George.  I retreated back to the top of the pass.  While I waited several pika scurried around.  I saw, and heard, two marmots have a brief fight, then watched one chase the other out of the territory.  We saw so many marmots as we hiked on down and through the valley that we decided to name the saddle “Marmot Pass.”

George explained that he had been held up at the edge of the snowfield, first by a conversation with a ptarmigan, then with a weasel.  He had sat on the icy snow for about a half hour communing with the animals.

At lunch George found two minnow-sized fish in his drinking water.  He had omitted inspecting his canteen after filling it from a tarn near Willow Lake and had swallowed one fish before he realized part of his water was solidified.

Maroon-Snowmass Ar, Pond near our camp near Willow Lake, where we got water, 21august1983

Pond near Willow Pass where we got drinking water.

The final omission was my sleep on our fourth and final night.  About dusk I heard some spitting and turned around in time to see two red weasels inside camp having a brief spat.  After shedding a few pieces of fur each, the weasels disappeared until after dark.  While I was dozing soon after wrapping myself in my bedroll one weasel slipped in under my tarp.  When the animal could not find any food at my bedside (we had, as usual, hung it from a tree) it gave a disgusted snort, then proceeded to climb across my head and into my sleeping bag.  I yelled and the animal fled.  The animal stayed away for a few hours then returned and crawled on my head.  Again I yelled, “Get out of here; you don’t belong here!”  The animal left, but every time I started to drop off to sleep the weasel returned and climbed on my head or tried to burrow under my neck.  I did not get any more sleep that night.

Maroon-Snowmass Ay, my tent on East Snowmass Creek, 22august1983

The shelter where I was visited by the weasel all night.

The next morning George suggested the weasel smelled my pet cats on my clothes and was looking for kittens for dinner (in my sleeping bag with me in it!).

Maroon-Snowmass Au, Above timberline along East Snowmass Creek, 22august1983

Above timberline along East Snowmass Creek.

The last day, hungry and leaner, we walked the two miles on out along East Snowmass Creek.  We looked forward to cold spit baths and clean clothes where Old Faithful was parked, followed by motor-propelled, cushioned seats.  The trail came out on the dirt entry road a quarter mile from the lot where my little pickup was parked.  Because I was exhausted from lack of sleep that two and a quarter miles to comfort that day seemed like ten miles.

In spite of numerous omissions during this trip the flowers had been brilliant, the air wholesome, the rain gentle in its timing, the atmosphere clean, relaxing, and companionable, and my head began hatching plans for future trips with a larger supply of comestible provisions.

 

West Pinto Creek

April 15, 2019

Tonto National Forest, Globe District

This being a spring of unusual wildflower exhibitionism the trip today was extra delightful.  Masses of Bluebonnets (Lupinus arizonicus) and pink Rosy Desert-Beardtongue (Penstemon pseudospectabilis) lined the paved highway.  They also lined the thirteen miles of one-lane dirt road from the Pinto Valley Mine to the trailhead.

W Pinto Creek Trail, Cg, Peek-a-boo, 15april2019

Peek-a-boo sycamore tree beside West Pinto Creek.

Speaking of that road, it was somewhat steep and wasn’t very rocky or eroded but it had one bad feature.  Much of the way there was steep a uphill incline on one side of the vehicle and steep downhill on the other side, and no way for two vehicles to pass.  Were two vehicles to meet, one would have to back up quite a ways, including backing around corners, to find a spot wide enuf for the vehicles to pass each other.  Even then, each driver would have to pull the outside mirrors against the bodies of the vehicles, put the outer wheels as far off the road as possible, and keep fingers crossed during the process of the vehicle on the outer edge slowly crawling past the stationary inner one.  If one vehicle were a wide cattle truck….

W Pinto Creek Trail, Cf, a creekside scene, 15april2019

A creekside scene.

We saw many different flowers alongside the one-lane road.  The more unusual ones were white Arizona Mariposa Lilies (Calochortus ambiguas), Wind Flowers (Anemone sp.), large white-flowered evening primroses (Oenothera californica or deltoides), and Mexican Gold Poppies (Eschscholzia californica).

While we were saddling up at the trailhead Jeanie opened a container of home-made chocolate chip cookies and offered us a snack.  We each took one cookie and relished the taste.

W Pinto Creek Trail, Fb, Returning to trailhead, 15april2019

Bluebonnets and Sore-Eyed Poppies (globemallows).

As we hiked the West Pinto Creek Trail we stopped to look closely at a few of the many types of flowers blooming.  One we’d never spotted before was the borage Cola de Mico (monkey’s tail) AKD Quail Plant (Heliotropium curassavicum).  One set we saw was growing among the blue-flowered waterleaf plants called Scorpionweed (Phacelia sp.) and looked like white scorpionweeds until we caressed the plants and felt the borage prickly hairs on the stems.  Very unusual to us was pink-flowered Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia sp.).  We’d all only seen this edible plant with white flowers.

W Pinto Creek Trail, Cia, pink Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia sp.), 15april2019

Pink Miner’s Lettuce.

There was a flowering plant that did not seem to fully fit any description in my books.  Nature loves to serve us mysteries and challenges.

The most eye-catching were the magenta flowers of a hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus sp.).

W Pinto Creek Trail, Cc, Demonstrating a rocky crossing, 15april2019

Rock balancing demonstration.

If anyone in the group did not know Poison Ivy (Rhus radicans) they did long before the end of today’s hike.

One time when we were walking over the very rocky edge of the stream overflow area we noticed a granite-like rock that was made of very thin layers.  It looked like a cross-section of a tree being exhibited to count its growth rings.

W Pinto Creek Trail, Gb, Tree Ring Rock, 15april2019

Rock with thin, tree-ring-like layers.

We lunched where the Campaign Trail crossed West Pinto Creek, but we didn’t.

W Pinto Creek Trail, Ec, Scenery at lunch, 15april2019

Lunchside scenery.

On the way back to the vehicles our leader, Gene Adkins, got to the bottom of a short but steep stretch of trail and sat down on a rock, facing us descending hikers.  When the woman in front of me approached Gene he told her to go to the left.  She moved to her left and edged around him.  Gene kept saying, “To the left!  To the left!”, and finally pointed to the right.  When I came up to him I said, “Which way were you telling her to go?”  About that time Gene realized that his left was not our left and we all had a laugh.

But the incident that led me to write this blog was a conversation about dandelions and their close cousins, Silver Puffs or Starpoints (Microseris sp).  All we saw today were fresh seed clusters.  We were pointing out to the uninitiated that the seeds of Silver Puffs were arranged in five-pointed-stars patterns, the stars then being gathered in a circular cluster, while dandelion seed heads were simply soft, dense circular stands of linear seeds.  Val exclaimed that Silver Puff seed puffs were “organized dandelions!”

W Pinto Creek Trail, Hb, Microseris Puff, 15april2019

Starpoint puff.  The flowers, grey stalks and leaves are from fleabane plants.

W Pinto Creek Trail, Ha, Dandelion Puff, 15april2019

Dandelion puff.  None of the tangle of plants belongs to the dandelion.

When we were unsaddling back at the vehicles Jeanie opened a second container of chocolate cookies, added the remaining cookies from the morning’s snack, and passed them around several times.  There were enuf cookies for each of us (nine people) to have three or four cookies each.

The walk had been 5 to 6 miles up and downhill, with no hills being very high.  The GPS instruments were divided, about half in half, as to the mileage.  Each hiker could pick a preferred mileage.  Mine was six.

 

 

Bushnell Tanks Trail Loop

Mazatzal District, Tonto National Forest

March 28, 2019

Bushnell Tanks loop, Eb, Mexican Gold Poppies, 30march2019

Mexican Gold Poppies.

There were thirteen of us today.  After we gathered at the Bushnell Tanks Trailhead we counted heads several times to make sure we had this lucky number.

The graveled road accessing the trail was blocked off at the top of a short rise so the roadside ahead could revegetate itself.  We parked near the barricade.

Our first steps followed the gravel road down the other side of the rise and walked past a huge pile of gravel.  At a sign indicating the Arizona Trail was that-away, we turned south onto a footpath that went steeply downhill from the road.  A heavy layer of very fresh gravel overlay the dirt path.  One woman’s feet slipped out from under her and she sat down rather abruptly on the gravel but was unhurt.  She was lucky.

When we got off the gravel we saw strings of fresh green horse diarrhea that seemed to have come from three horses.  Someone had not been feeding their mounts the correct diet.  I was near the end of the line of hikers and looked closely at the stuff.  No one had stepped in any of it.  We were lucky again.

We soon came to Sycamore Creek.  Because of the unusual amount of rain this state has had this past fall and winter the creek was running well.  The leader, Gene, found a plausible set of stones and crossed the creek.  He turned around, said, “There’s one long step,” put his foot on one of the stones, and held out his hand.  A few people, one at a time, crossed successfully on the stones.  Because I’ve never been good at balancing on stones or logs I walked a short ways upstream to where the creek widened and was shallower, and I waded across.  The water only came up to my ankles at the deepest.  A few hikers followed me.

Just as I reached dry land I heard a noise and looked downstream towards the stepping stones.  One man was toppling.  He fell into the water and rolled all the way over about one-and-a-half times.  He quickly maneuvered himself to dry land and stood up.  He said his foot had slipped as he pushed off a rock in order to get himself across the “one long step.”

Bushnell Tanks loop, Ab, Sycamore Creek where man fell in, 30march2019

The rocks the well-balanced hikers used for crossing the creek are at lower right.

At least the man was now on the side of the creek with those of us who had crossed the running water.  The man said he was all right.  His trousers were soaked from upper thigh to tips of boots, but his waist, belt, and other upper clothes were dry.  I asked him about his cell fone.  He unhooked it from his belt.  That area of his clothes was completely dry and so was his fone.  He was lucky.

We followed the footpath a short ways up the hill to the intersection with the Arizona Trail and turned westward on the trail from Utah to Mexico.

As we walked along, the man who had fallen began to realize he was growing bruises and bumps from having bumped his head, and that a ligament in his right shoulder — the only joint that had an artificial replacement — was quite painful.  But he had no trouble keeping up with us and enjoying the scenery.

We were now walking on the lower skirt of the north slope of a high hill.  Directly across Sycamore Creek was the southern face of Mount Ord.

Bushnell Tanks loop, B, Mt. Ord Mexican Gold Poppies, 30march2019

Mount Ord.  The yellowish patches on the lower skirt of the mountain are fields of Mexican Gold Poppies.

We began seeing beautiful wild flowers at our feet, and we could see that the land across the creek was not similarly blessed, except for the patches of yellow flowers..

On the south side where we were strolling there were a couple places with small “fields” of flowers, especially of Mexican Gold Poppies and the desert lilac shrubs.

Bushnell Tanks loop, D, Ceanothus greggii and Mexican Gold Poppies, 30march2019

The white shrubs are desert lilacs, better known by their genus name, Ceanothus (Ceanothus greggii).  The yellow flowers are Mexican Gold Poppies (Eschscholtzia mexicana).

For the most part flowers, or small groups of flowers, were scattered.  But there were a lot of flowers and quite a variety of them.

An engaging little plant Microseris linearfolia, sometimes called Silver Puffs, was scattered all along the trailside.  This little flower mimics the larger Salsify flower (genus Tragopogon) but is a different species.  The species of Microseris that lives in Globe opens early in the morning and closes by 9 am.  The Silver Puffs that looked sunnily up at us today stayed awake all day.

We stopped frequently to talk about or to fotograph flowers or other scenery.  We were lucky that Gene is a patient leader.  We felt we had been very lucky to hike thru the bountiful beauty today.

Bushnell Tanks loop, C, scenery, 30march2019

We eventually followed a footpath back down to Sycamore Creek.  Gene traipsed downstream and did not see a viable spot for getting certain of us across with dry feet, so he headed upstream.  In the meantime, the man who had fallen at the first crossing successfully crossed on some rocks and sat down and began eating lunch.  After a long wait we saw Gene strolling along the opposite bank.  He joined the other man and began eating lunch.

I waded at the shallowest spot but water came just over my boots and flowed inside.  Some people followed me and others waded deeper water.  The last two or three to decide to cross took off boots and socks and waded across barefooted.

I sat down beside Gene and said, “You left us to fend for ourselves.”  He said something about being a poor leader.  He later explained to all of us that, altho he had crossed at a spot where he kept his boots dry, getting to that spot was very difficult.  It appeared that he did not want to suggest that we wade the creek, so he left it up to us to figure out how to join him.  I thought that was an interesting form of leadership, of teaching self-reliance and woodsman skills.  Huh!

During the mile or more back to the vehicles we were on the Mount Ord side of Sycamore Creek.

Bushnell Tanks loop, K, hillside that had the flowers, 30march2019

View of hillside with wildflower display that we had contoured along.

We crossed fourteen sides streams, only four of which I waded.  One or two who, earlier, had waded barefoot now tromped thru the water with feet shod.  We had not seen or crossed any feeder creeks when we were contouring the hill on the south side of Sycamore Creek.

We told Gene we’d had a lovely time enjoying the flowers and scenery.

Now I have finished arranging the fotos in this blog so I shall return to arranging fotos for my book of the history of Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

 

Without-Name Waterfall

Without-Name Waterfall near Sears-Kay Ruin

Tonto National Forest, Arizona

March 9, 2019

Most of us hikers for the day met in the church parking lot and carpooled.  I rode in the leader’s car, in luxury in a Lexus, a step up from my Toyota 4Runner.  We went on Cave Creek Road a short ways beyond the turnoff to Bartlett Lake and parked in a small lot beside a fence with a horse gate, i.e., a bar that horses (and people) step over.  A sign merely read “Trailhead.”

The “What Would Jesus Brew?” group joined the “Heavenly Hikers” and me and asked us to help them collect wild yeast today.  We were each handed a plugged test tube with a pale yellow liquid inside.  The broth and inside of the tube were sterile.  The man handing out the tubes explained how to collect plant specimens and put them in the tubes but he failed to tell us that the broth was beer.  If he had, we might have returned with no liquid remaining in the tubes.  But with desired plant pieces in the tubes.

Both the trail and the waterfall had no names.  Perhaps the reason the waterfall has no name is because it dries up for much of the year.  However, after good rains water will fall off the rocks until the spring upstream runs dry.  Arizona had just had some good rains and, with hopes in our hearts, we set out to find the hidden waterfall.

Tonto NF, A, Waterfall trail near Sears-Kay Ruin, 9march2019

With two saintly groups from All Saints Lutheran Church escorting me on this hike, I felt as though I was ascending into heaven.

The leader had pre-walked the route, wrote that it was 3.6 miles round-trip, then got sick and sent his wife, who had never been in the area before, to lead the hike.  He gave her a map, gave her some verbal instructions, and showed her which arroyo we were to walk down.  She had no trouble leading us to the waterfall.

Tonto NF, B, Waterfall trail near Sears-Kay Ruin, 9march2019

The hike was upside-down.  We started from the highest point, worked our way down, then, later, slogged our way back up.

Knowing the sun and exercise would warm us we were wearing only light outer layers of warm clothing.  But underfoot there was ice! on top of the small pools of water that had collected in boot and horse prints that had trod the trail while the mud was wet.

We soon saw one disturbing note.  It was an invasive, exotic, bright orange African Daisy plant gaily waving its flowers at us as we walked past the lovely plant that did not belong in our desert.

Tonto NF, Mb, Waterfall trail near Sears-Kay Ruin, looking up at Mexican Gold Poppies, 9march2019

Nearby, we enjoyed the beauty of a patch of Mexican Gold Poppies just beginning to open their petals for the day.

Tonto NF, Bb, Waterfall trail near Sears-Kay Ruin, looking up at Mexican Gold Poppies, 9march2019

After a couple hundred yards we left the trail.  We turned right onto a foot path that descended steeply to a dry, sandy wash.  We slogged in that wash for almost a mile.  At one point we took a pause to study a stripped-down, rusty sedan shell resting calmly on its back.

A section of cliff-like boulders lined a portion of the wash.  The sandy area widened out and in one place we stepped down a check dam that had probably been erected by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the nineteen thirties when they were fighting the terrible erosion that existed across the deserts of the Southwest.  The dam had done its job and now held silt that had backed up and filled the wash to the height of the little dam.

We met a woman coming our way.  She said she had lived in the area for eleven years, had hiked to the waterfall regularly, and that it had more water today than she had ever seen.  Not surprising, because she had moved into this desert area in the middle of a prolonged drouth* that maybe had now broken and maybe had not.  Our expectations soared.

Eventually we arrived at the edge of the stream that we figured must come from the waterfall.  There was a US flag on a hill across the stream from us and another one on a hill just south of us.

Someone had set stepping stones in the creek.  However, their steps were wider than my hips and legs could handle at this time in my life. (All right, I’ll say it — I am 78 years old.)  So I waded.  Both crossings.  The air temperature was probably in the mid 50s and the creek water did not feel much colder.

Tonto NF, J, Waterfall trail near Sears-Kay Ruin, Waterfall, 9march2019

When we reached the lovely waterfall some people climbed the side hill and stood beside the top of the fall.  I chose to stay near the bottom where I could see all of the falling water.  For such a short waterfall (maybe 15 feet tall) it made quite a roar, a pleasing sound.  Between the water’s falling roar and a slight, cool breeze, I could imagine that I was high up in the mountains somewhere instead of down on the edge of the Sonoran Desert.

Tonto NF, Jd, Waterfall trail near Sears-Kay Ruin, Waterfall, 9march2019

Some people ate lunch, some of us ate snacks, and others ate nothing except the wonderful calm and scenery.

Soon, stomachs and other things drew us to our feet to hike back up to the vehicles.  Once comfortably seated, the inhabitants of most of the vehicles continued on up the highway about a half mile and parked in the small lot for the Sears-Kay Ruin National Monument.  We added another mile to our day’s mileage by walking up to and around the ruin.

Sears-Kay Ruin National Monument, AZ, G, pueblo ruins, 9march2019

Eight of us (out of perhaps 18) ate lunch together at the Ravens View Restaurant not very far back down the highway from the turnoff to Bartlett Lake.

Tonto NF, Z, Ravensview Restaurant, 9march2019

We’d had a wonderful day of food for the soul and the stomach.

*Southern spelling of the word, pronounced with a whispered “th” at end of word.  Non-Southerners spell the word as “drought” and pronounce it with a definite “t” spit out at the end.

Two Crenulated Saguaros

Tonto National Forest, Globe District

March 4, 2019

AZ Trail Cb, scenery Ab, 4march2019

Scenery we were going to enjoy.

We carpooled at the meeting place and 29 people sat down in nine high-clearance vehicles.  The hike leader, Gene, with his sweep Al, took the lead in the caravan.  Gene drove us over Gonzales Pass and past the entrance to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum (BTA).  As we approached the Superior (town) airport Gene explained to us who were in his red 4Runner that the helicopter hoveringover the runway was lifting up a piece of geo-physical survey equipment.  It was attached to a long line that was attached to the underbelly of the helicopter.  This equipment was a round object held in place in a huge (metal?) circle by several bars going from the round object out to the ring.  The helicopter would fly a grid over the land and Resolution Copper Mining Company would receive information about underground conditions.  Gene said the magnetic and gravitational fields that the earth send out tell information about the earth’s crust.

AZ Trail A02, Helicopter and geo-physical instrument, 4march2019

The helicopter flew over a wide swath of desert foothills and low mountains near where we hiked.  We saw the contraption several times during the day.

Gene then added that he had forgotten to turn off US 60 onto the Forest Service road he intended to drive on.  Gene later told the people in the other vehicles that he had known exactly when the helicopter was going to lift off and had planned the short, extra excursion on purpose.  Those twenty-five people weren’t buying it.

Gene made a U-turn and headed back towards Gonzales Pass.  When we were at the turnoff to BTA we turned north onto FR 8.  After about a mile and a half of dirt road we came to a “Y.”  Gene turned left onto FR 650.  We drove on this road for a few miles, then we parked. It had been very slow going with the vehicles because the recent rain had washed away a top layer of soil and exposed the rocks that had been underneath.  Looking at the Tonto National Forest planographic map it looks as tho we may have driven four and a half miles on FR 650.  I won’t guess at the driving time.  It was slow.

A short distance before we parked we passed a dense strand of Mexican Gold Poppies alongside the dirt road,S and yellow fields of same flowers on the adjacent hillside.  We convinced Gene to stop and the back seat people all got out, walked a few feet back, and took pictures.

AZ Trail Ac, FR650, gold poppies Aa3, 4march2019

Our objective for this hike was about one-and-a-half miles up a section of the Arizona Trail beside which we had parked.  Soon after we started hiking Gene leaned down to pick up something from the ground.   He then began feeding the group small bites of dusty, dirty food.  He identified it as canaigre (Spanish) or desert rhubarb (Rumex hymenosepalous).  Some people accepted bits of leaves and others chewed on very small pieces of stalks.  We all agreed the plant was tart.  Bill thought it would make delicious rhubarb pie because he loves the pie made tart.  Myself, I always preferred mother’s very, very sweet rhubarb pie.

AZ Trail Cc, scenery Ac, 4march2019

Scenery along the way.

Because the rhubarb — canaigre — was so well received, further down the trail Gene snipped some thin leaves and stalks off a different plant and tried to feed them to us.  He said the plant was called odora (Porophylum gracile).  Most of us merely smelled the crushed plant pieces but a few tried chewing them.  One of those that chewed said the plant tasted “perfumy.”  Others said nothing.  I crushed a small piece of stalk and smelled it.  I smelled turpentine.  It did not go into my mouth.

When we came to the area of the first crested saguaro Gene paused the group.  Several of us climbed the little hill and took pictures of the interesting, tall cactus.

AZ Trail Db, crenulated dog saguaro Ab, 4march2019

The abnormal growth looked like a head.  The group said it was a devil’s head.  To me it looked like a dog’s.

Just around the bed we came to a wide ravine and walked up it a ways to eat lunch on a nice set of small boulders, altho it was only about 11:25 a.m.  Just uphill from us was the second crested saguaro.  Of course, many, or all, of us took pictures.

AZ Trail Fb, ravine side crenulated saguaro Ab, 4march2019

One woman returned from her uphill climb with a short stem of lovely little yellow flowers.

AZ Trail Gb, Yellow Bells near ravine side crenulated saguaro Ab, 4march2019

Gene identified them as Whispering Yellow Bells (often shortened to Whispering Bells; Emmenanthe penduliflora).  He said he had seen the flowers only once before and that had been ten years ago.  I had only seen them in books.

After a nice belly-filling rest we began to walk back down the ravine.  Bill said, “Ouch!” and swallowed an expletive.  He hobbled to the nearest rock big enuf to sit on and took off a hiking boot.  A cactus spine had gone all the way thru the sole of the boot and had tried to go into his foot.  A couple of the hikers had small pliers or all-in-one tools.  Even using the tools, Bill could not pull the spine thru and out of the shoe sole.  He was able to successfully operate on the sole (as he put it) and snip off the end of the spine enuf that he walked comfortably back out to the vehicles.

AZ Trail Ja, FS 650 scenery Aa, 4march2019

More lovely scenery.

While driving back out on FR 650 Gene turned off onto FR 2378.  We drove a short distance and stopped at an old rock corral and adjacent rock fence.  Gene wasn’t sure if the structure had been built by early Spanish settlers or even earlier by native Americans, but he was sure they were a couple or more centuries old.

AZ Trail Kd, FS 2378 old stone corral Ad, 4march2019

When we were back on FR 8 Gene took some of us on yet another side trip.  Three vehicles demurred and continued over to US 60 and the parking lot where the other vehicles were waiting for the return of hikers.  Six vehicles of us drove on a more primitive dirt road to the Historic Pinal Cemetery where we took fotos of a small monument to Cecelia Blake, who was better known as Mattie Earp, Wyatt Earp’s wife.

AZ Trail Lb, Pinal Historic Cemetery Ab Mattie Earp, 4march2019

Finally, Gene drove back to Gold Canyon.  Three of the five of us in Gene’s 4Runner were car enthusiasts.  I learned about suicide doors on cars.

An Unexpected Day

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My ticket stub.

My friends from Dallas, Leza and Betty, had been in Tucson helping a friend of Betty’s.  They finished Friday morning, March 1st.  Since Leza retired from the media world she has been enjoying participating in Renaissance Faires around the country by singing to the accompaniment of her guitar. She calls herself The Moor of Dundee and she has costumes to carry out that theme.  So early Friday afternoon she called someone in charge of the Renaissance Faire out east of Gold Canyon and was happily accepted to play and sing the following afternoon, March 2nd.  Only one day because she and Betty had to drive to Santa Fe, New Mexico the next day, March 3rd.  Betty then texted me and we made arrangements to meet near the front gate in the morning.

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This was a group of visitors who unfolded themselves from the van that parked next to me.  Perhaps at least a third of the visitors were dressed in costume.

Leza had a very enjoyable several hours singing just outside the door to the exhibit of “The Sea Fairies – The Living Mermaids.”  The line of people waiting to go inside the building was roped off and snaked back and forth.  Leza sang to the end of the line as it was moving horizontally alongside the building.

Adults enjoyed her songs and children were so entranced by some of her songs and by the guitar that she stepped up against the rope and let the children “play” her guitar while she sang songs she knew they would enjoy.  By the time she finished a short repertoire the people who had been listening had gone in the building and Leza began again with a new crew of listeners.  They all had a blast.  It was a joy to watch her happiness in performing.

But before the hour set for Leza to begin singing we three wandered around,

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We met some interesting visitors to the Faire who were not part of the entertainment crew.

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I am on the left end and Leza on the right.

then took in a couple of shows.  The second one was “Hey Nunnie Nunnie!  Silly Songs of Counseling.”  Two women, dressed as nuns, started the show with jokes about constipation.  One that I was able to jot down was:

  1. What do you get when you mix holy water and prunes?
  2. A holy movement behind.

They sang a song about some constipated Biblical men.  Each verse began with “There were five constipated men in the Bible….”  And continued: “The first was Cain.  He was not Abel.”  “The third was Solomon.  He sat for forty years on the throne.”  “The fourth was Noah.  He nearly filled the ark.”  “The fifth was Balaam.  He could not move his ass.”

They mentioned that there was only one constipated woman in the Bible.  It was Eve.  “She passed the apple.”

The ”nuns” have performed their show many, many times as they have toured the country following Renaissance Faires.  Their timing was done to perfection, and the show was hilarious.

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Betty and I left Leza as she started her wonderful hours of singing and strumming to an audience and we went to see “Cirque du Sewer ―Cats, Rats & an Acro-Human.”  The woman performing was an amazing acrobat.  She did part of her performance on a half-inch rope.  The animals interacted with some of her acrobatic skills.  For instance, when trying to convince a small rat to leap from one stool to another one several feet away she did a head stand then opened her legs into a split with each foot almost touching a stool.  The rat quickly ran across her legs because it knew there was a food treat waiting on the other stool.

The rats were delightful although they had no idea they were performing.  The cats were rescues.  Two of them were not yet full-grown, but they did some performances in response to the woman’s hand gestures along with treats she held in her fingers.  She fed them a treat after the successful completion of each action.

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All three of us attended the first show of choice.  You thought I had left out the first show by accident, didn’t you?  But I saved it til last because I was one of the performers!  At “The Ded Bob Sho” we sat about six rows down from the stage.  Ded Bob was a dummy, a very white skeleton.  The ventriloquist worn a monk’s tan cassock with cowl.  A dark brown net veil hung down from the cassock in front of the man’s face.  The ventriloquist could see out fairly well but we could not see his face.

Ded Bob had quite a spiel.  He harangued the audience and at times picked on specific people.   He had three rules for the audience, one of which was “Pay Attention.”  He explained each rule fully and delightfully.

During one of his harangues he picked on a slim, pretty, young woman.  I forgot what he was “upset” about.  He stood in front of her, told her to stand up, then told her to repeat after him:  “I am a Bobster,” which she repeated.  Followed by “I am a Bobster Zombie,” which she repeated.  I did not quite catch the third sentence but the young woman repeated it, then covered her mouth with her hand and got a look of horror on her face.  Ded Bob chuckled.  Ded Bob told the young woman to accompany him onto the stage.  Ded Bob brought out a huge maul (paper filled with something extremely lightweight) and bopped the young woman on the head.  He asked her to do a few things, then told her to sit on a bench that was at a back edge of the stage.

Ded Bob accosted a young man (late 20s or early 30s; great physique and face was not bad looking).  He asked the man to repeat “I am a Bobster” and “I am a Zombie Bobster.”  I don’t remember the third question he posed to the young man, but it was not the one he had asked the young woman.  On the stage he bopped the young man on the head, had the young man do a few things, then told him to join the young woman on the bench.

A couple people got up and left.  I wondered what time the next show on our list started and how far it was from this show to the next one.  I picked up the brochure, unfolded it… and in my peripheral vision I saw Ded Bob coming up the aisle we were sitting next to.  I looked up to see what was going to happen next and Ded Bob was thrust towards my face:  “You were reading, weren’t you?”  I nodded in affirmation and stared boldly at him.  Ded Bob asked me to stand up and repeat “I am a Bobster” and “I am a Zombie Bobster,” which I did.  He then studied me intently for a moment and did not ask a third question (there are times when having a lot of age-related wrinkles on my face comes in handy), but he did tell me to accompany him to the stage.

On the stage, Ded Bob produced the maul and bopped me three times on the head, then said, “Now behind.”

Aa foto by Chern-Hughes

I quickly covered my butt with my hands, more quickly than Ded Bob could get the maul that low.  Ded Bob made some remark and ditched that bop.  I don’t remember the few things he asked me to do on the stage before he told me to sit on the bench with the other two.

I do pretty much remember what took place after he gave several more minutes’ worth of spiel.  He told the audience he was now going to use us to tell a story.  He told the young woman and young man to stand to his right.

Ded Bob then told me to join them on stage.  I stood to the right of the young couple.  Ded Bob said, “No! Stand here on this side of the couple!”  Well, the ventriloquist was standing next to the couple; there was no room in between; so I walked over and stood behind the ventriloquist.  It seemed to take the ventriloquist a few seconds to realize where I was then he half-turned and Ded Bob told me to stand at his left, which I did.

The story began with the young man adoring the young woman, but she spurned him.  The couple acted out Ded Bob’s words.  The young woman turned her back on the young man and strutted back to the bench where she sat down.

The ventriloquist then stepped away from being between the young man and me and said the young man now turned his affections to the other woman.  The young man made some appropriate motions.  Ded Bob said the woman did a sexy dance and indicated I was to improvise something.  Now, I have two left feet.  I have taken ballroom dance lessons but never “graduated.”  However, on this day I did some slight shimmying that I remembered from 1930s movies while I took short steps to the left, and at the same time I did modern, vertical, shoulder-led arm up-and-down movements.  To my surprise, the young man followed alongside and imitated me.

Ded Bob brought out the huge maul and told me to bop the young man on the head.  Ded Bob then said the young man fell to the floor, unconscious.  The young man obligingly fell and lay flat on his back.  Ded Bob told me to rifle the young man’s pockets.  I knelt beside the man and patted the pocket nearest to me, then looked up at Ded Bob.  Ded Bob told me to rifle through the “middle pocket.”  I stayed quite still and wondered what the young man was thinking and expecting.  Ded Bob said there was a roll of dimes in the third pocket but I still stayed motionless.  Ded Bob gave a short spiel, in which he said the middle pocket was now holding a roll of quarters, then told me to return to the bench, and told the young man to wake up and go sit on the bench.

Ded Bob made a few more funny remarks to the audience, during which I heard him say we zombies were finished now we no longer were zombies.  I thought he was dismissing us so I stood up and started across the stage to the stairs I had come up earlier. (It pays to have a slight hearing loss which is not fully cured by hearing aids.)  The ventriloquist stepped in my way and Ded Bob said, “She’s trying to escape!”  He shoved three poles in my hands and told me to go sit on the bench.

I sat on the bench holding the poles.  Each pole had a jester’s hat with an elongated tail.  Ded Bob finished his show then said we three would walk thru the crowd and hold the jester-looking hats out so people could put their dollars in them.  We went out among the crowd.  People reacted pleasantly towards me.  I was surprised they wanted to interact, briefly, with me.  I said “thank you” as they stuffed their dollars in the “hat.”

To go back some ten minutes or so — when I got up on the stage and looked out at the hundred or so folks sitting and standing and looking at the stage I was not frightened nor ill at ease.  I was glad for the years of history walks and history talks I had given at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and for the two recent talks about the arboretum that I gave to a couple of organizations off the arboretum grounds.  And for the fact that when I do those talks I move around to some extent in front of the people.

After the Sewer Cat show Betty and I collected Leza.  Leza was ready to take a break.  We walked past several of the exhibits with Leza moving at a slow pace so she could study and appreciate the wares on exhibit and for sale.  One thing that stopped us for a minute or two was a very tall, talking tree.  Inside the tree was a man on stilts.

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Leza bought herself a lunch then went back to sing some more.  Betty had eaten a huge bagel earlier and I had snacks in my daypack.

Leza had so much fun she may decide to come to this Renaissance Faire every year from now on.