Today, I did my annual Good Friday pilgrimage on Calvary Hill Arizona.  It is a 6-mile hike with an elevation difference of 1,600 feet, plus another 6-mile bike ride (see the map).

It took me 3 hours to do this bike-hike–bike round trip pilgrimage from my Scottsdale home.  The temperatures were in the upper 80s, which is normal for this time of the year.  But for some reason I felt quite tired at the end.  It must be that darn desert pollen this year and the allergies that it is causing.

Anyway, I paid my respects to Yeshua as I do on every Good Friday.

“This is my church service,” I explained later on to my son-in-law who is visiting here from Vienna, Austria, with my daughter and their four children this Easter week.

Four years ago on Good Friday, Master Sananda (Yeshua, Jesus) took me to a place in the McDowell Mountains above Scottsdale that resembled the Calvary Hill in Jerusalem on which he was crucified two millennia ago.  And he left for me to find there some very special sacraments (see my 2013 Desert Quest (PDF))

Ever since that Good Friday 2013, I have been returning to this holy place in the Arizona desert whenever I needed Yeshua’s counsel and guidance. Over time, I identified on this rough mountain trail the 14 stations of the cross. In the fall 2013, I even created the music I play while on this pilgrimage.  It is timed to coincide thematically and geographically with each Station of the Cross.


On my way down, I also stopped and prayed at this beautiful Pachamama rock that resembles a Native American shaman with a buffalo spirit inside. I discovered it originally in 2008, just under the Calvary Hill summit.

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Elizabeth and I just got back from a drive to the west side of Phoenix where we got a Cinco de Mayo cake at the Rancho Mercado, a wonderful Mexican store. (no, this is not our actual cake but it gives you an idea).

The main event, however, happened when we got back in the I-17 to drive back home. The temperature gauge on our car read 111F. Yes, I kid you not – 111F (44C) in early May!

Even for an old desert rat like myself, this is some kind of a record. I have never seen temperatures this high in the Phoenix area for Cinco de Mayo. Even back home in North Scottsdale, the temperature was 107F (42C).

By the way, Cinco De Mayo is a Mexican holiday which commemorates the Mexican Army’s surprising victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862. But here in the southwestern United States, it is yet another excuse to party, drink and sing and be merry.

So Happy Cinco de Mayo!



The Arizona desert is finally starting to show its beautiful springtime colors. They are late this year because of a lot of winter rains, we are told. Better late than never.

This morning Elizabeth and I decided to walk to our nearby grocery store instead of driving. And were rewarded with these gorgeous colors.

A little over years ago, I took a picture of this very same clump of Prickly Pear cacti with fuchsia-color bloom under a Palo Verde tree.  Elizabeth liked the scene so much she created a painting from it.

I just found that photo. It was taken on Mar 18, 2014. Look at how much more resplendent the flowers were – THREE WEEKS EARLIER into spring that year. That’s unequivocal proof of how late this year’s desert bloom is – lagging behind about a month.


This morning, I noticed our first two springtime roses in full bloom. The golden-orange one came from the south side of our yard, the crimson-red one from the north side.

I don’t know what that means. Hope it does not portend Wars of the Roses in the desert. 🙂 I prefer to think of them as Morning Glory Arizona-style.

(see Wars of the Roses from British history –


UPDATE APR 5, 2017


Take a look at these two beautiful cactus flowers Elizabeth and I saw on our walk this morning around our neighborhood.

They almost look like sunflowers. Who would think that something so prickly could be so dainty?


UPDATE APR 6, 2017


I just got back from a bike-hike-bike ride to and from the Calvary Hill Arizona – the name I gave four years ago to a special trail in the McDowell Mtns above Scottsdale.  I did not know until I got and looked at my “on this day” posts that I did the exactly the same thing three years ago on the same date.

On my way there, I stopped the bike at a home in our Scottsdale neighborhood to take this picture of another beautiful cactus in bloom.




Apr 23, 2017



Yeah! I have finally returned to my favorite trails in the McDowell Mountains above Scottsdale – the Calvary Hill Arizona.

This is a 6-mile hike with an elevation difference of 1,600 feet that emulates the Calvary Hill in Jerusalem, including the 14 stations of the cross. The summit is at the exact same elevation – 2,500 feet. All this was revealed to me by Master Yeshua at Easter 2013 during my 2013 Desert Quest (bob-bike-5-12-133check out my 2013 Desert Quest (PDF) and Calvary Hill Arizona-Sept 2013). Here’s also a map of my that trail.

When I reached the summit, I played two tunes on my flute for the Mountain Spirits and the Santa Tierras (land fairies): Amazing Grace and El Condor Pasa. Here are my earlier recordings of these famous tunes:

Amazing Grace by ALTZAR – Calvary Hill Arizona –

El Condor Pasa in Boynton Canyon, Sedona, Arizona –

And then I sent my love to the Santa Tierras at the Rainbow Shower who I know have been missing my music and attention.

So what took me so long to return? (I have been in Arizona over a month now).

Well, during my last days of working at the Rainbow Shower in Maui, I sustained an injury to my right knee tendons that hampered my walking. And the only thing you can do with tendon injuries is give them time to heal. So instead of hiking, during the last month I have been swimming laps every morning, gong on bike rides 2-3 times a week, and taking short walks around our neighborhood.

So today was the first serious “road test” for me knee. And knock on wood, I am still walking on it. 🙂

The temperature was in the mid 80s and the vistas beautiful. So I brought some home with me so I can share them also with you all.

On my way down, I also stopped and prayed at this beautiful Pachamama rock that resembles a Native American shaman with a buffalo spirit inside. I discovered it originally in 2008, just under the Calvary Hill summit.

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UPDATE NOV 11, 2016


How was your Veterans Day? (Remembrance Day in Europe and elsewhere – the end of World War I in 1918).


Mine started in dreamtime during the night. I had a dream in which people wearing a camouflage hat I have had for years (at least 8, maybe 10). In my dream, the hat symbolized a “peaceful warrior.” It was part of the outfit members of the new Trump Army wore. The hat features a stylized star with a diamond inset, symbolizing the sun.

You can see here at sunset this evening, along with a view of the American flags at my Eagle’s Nest home in Scottsdale.


Earlier in the day, I drove in my El Jeepo to Cave Creek to try to buy some cheap household items I need now that Elizabeth has moved all of her kitchen stuff out. The lady at the counter of the Kiwanis second hand store looked at me and asked, “are you military?” I was wearing my “peaceful warrior hat and an American flag scarf around my neck.

“No,” I replied smiling.

“Not in this lifetime,” I whispered to myself. I was pretty much finished with my warrior lifetimes by the start of 19th century. But that’s not something I would want to share at the checkout counter of a second hand store in Cave Creek, Arizona.

“Not unless you count working for 10 years as a war correspondent?” I wanted to say. But I didn’t. The items I was buying were cheap enough as it is.

“Just out of curiosity,” I said, “why did you ask me if I was military. Are you offering some special discounts to veterans on this day?”

“Yes, 50% off,” the lady replied.

“That’s great,” I said. “It’s a nice special tribute to our military.” An older man behind me was also smiling approvingly.


By the time I got back home, I already had my own special tribute planned out. I was going to hike the Pinnacle Peak for the first time since coming back to Arizona a month and a half ago. And to do that, I was going to take my El Jeepo to the trailhead for the first time.

The hike itself was easy and uneventful. I have done it a number of times before in various temperatures ranging from freezing to 110F.  Most people I had met smiled at me and said something nice. As I did to them.

Along the way, I also said my prayers. Including the pledge that I dedicate this hike to all the veterans around the world who fought in all noble causes and were willing to sacrifice their lives for them.

Here are some picture I brought back from the trail:


When I got back down to the parking lot where I had left El Jeepo before starting my hike, I saw a young man sort of hovering around it. He was snapping pictures of El Jeepo with his camera.

“Isn’t this a cool car?” he said when he noticed me watching him.

“Glad you think so,” I said. “It’s mine.”

“Would mind now taking a picture of me, too, with my Jeep?”

And so he did.


“I call it El Jeepo,” I explained.

The man cracked up. “That is so cool,” he said, laughing out loud.

It turns out he was the owner of that red motorcycle you can see in the above picture to the left of the two Saguaros.


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UPDATE NOV 19, 2016


One reason this 4,000-ft peak on the McDowell Mountains above Scottsdale is called Tom’s Thumb is – you guessed it – it sticks out like a sore thumb over this mountain skyline. 🙂 Take a look.

I don’t know why, but today I felt compelled to go back to this trail. Maybe it’s because they are calling for a rare rain here in the Arizona desert tomorrow and the next few days.

Anyway, Tom’s Thumb is the hardest of all the hikes in my North Scottsdale neighborhood. The trail itself is actually quite nice, fine gravel, almost sand in places. – by contrast to the Calvary Hill Arizona trail, for example,  which is very rough, big rocks and stones everywhere.

But is is quite steep. Which means, your heart and lungs work overtime on the way up, and your feet, thighs and joints on the way down.  Often slipping and sliding. Ergo, my baseball shoes with cleats.

My baseball shoes with cleats and bright orange socks attracted a lot of attention on the trail, “like traffic signs,” I used to joke when people would comment about them. 🙂

It was a beautiful afternoon and a great hike with wonderful panoramic views, especially to the north and to the east. Take a look…









Sedona header 6-04-15


Today, Aug 22, I recorded a video message as my farewell to Arizona from this long, hot summer.Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 1.40.38 PM

On Monday, I fly back to Maui. Elizabeth is staying on longer to spend more time with her kids and grandkids.

So without further ado, here’s the message…

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Bob 2015-08-22 at 11.12.45 AM IMG_4340 IMG_4341 Bob 2015-08-22 at 11.12.19 AM

UPDATE AUG 23, 2015…

Pinnacle Peak – from the ground up

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Pinnacle Peak header

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August 10-13, 2015



IMG_4334 Two Coffee Pot panorama shots, taken an hour-and-a-half apart…

Aug 13, 2015 – Part 4: SEDONA & PHOENIX “HABOOB”

We did the Teapot Trail round trip in two hours, roughly between 8:50AM and 10:50AM.  When we started, the temperature was around 85F. returned to the trailhead, it was 96F. Not surprisingly, we were the only car left in the parking lot. 🙂

Elizabeth was a real trooper to have done it all the way, especially as she is not a regular hiker.

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After we got to about a half way point under the Coffee Pot, I told her we can turn around and go back anytime. I did not want her to overexert herself.

“Just say when,” I told her.

IMG_4330She never did. Not until we got to the end of the Teapot Trail, way down in the valley where it hits the Soldiers Pass trail, where I took this picture (right).

As I said, a trooper. 🙂

Maybe that’s because we were both working off a pizza from last night in Sedona. Which had been preceded by a sopapilla for Elizabeth, the day before in Albuquerque. And followed by a Belgian waffle this morning at our Sedona hotel (shared between the two of us).

 Under Guardians of Sedona 8-13-15 img_2724

The above two picture were taken at roughly the same spot on the trail nearly two years apart. My longtime Sedona friend, Heather, also an Inca shaman and I had nicknamed the magnificent mountain range you see in the background the “Guardians” (of Sedona). It is interesting to compare the big difference in light and shadows between late October and mid-August.

Under Coffee Pot 8-13-15 IMG_4333 IMG_4327

Sedona10_18_08 011On our way back, Elizabeth was up for another challenge under the Coffee Pot. During our first hike together on this trail in Oct 2008, she climbed up on the ledge below this rock formation. You can see her doing it in the right photo. So she wanted to try it again.

It was hard, but she did it. And as she usually does whenever she accomplishes something physically challenging, she raised her arms and yelled “Geronimo!”

I have no idea when she uses that particular expression. And neither does she. But that’s just what she does.  And then she slid down the big red rock with ease, practically on her butt (middle picture) above. 🙂

IMG_4335 IMG_4337

Going back was hard – for both of us.  Elizabeth was taking frequent breaks in the shade of Juniper bushes. At about 3/4-point of the trail, while sitting on a pile of rocks, she asked, “are we almost there?”

We next went to the nearby Safeway store to hydrate – a jug of milk for me; a frappuccino for Elizabeth. And then headed back home to Scottsdale, where it was 111F upon arrival! And it has stayed that way or hotter all weekend.


Phoenix 8-11-15

This is apparently what Elizabeth and I had missed while attending the “Salome” (opera) performance in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Aug 11 – a desert “Haboob.”

Haboobs are dust storms that travel across the desert like a tsunami across the ocean. Except that these are 2,000-foot high “tsunamis” engulf everything in sight.

The odd thing is – when we got back home yesterday, there was no evidence of any extra dust or wind debris around our home. It’s as if all this sand and dust had vaporized in the 111F heat.


Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 1.04.22 PM article-2179556-143C01F6000005DC-417_964x640 Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 1.05.07 PM

Here’s a report about it…

VIDEO: Haboob windstorm blankets Phoenix with choking red dust

Meanwhile, this is what was happening in Tucson that same evening…

Tucson 8-11-5

Also see…




Aug 12, 2015 – Part 3: ALBUQUERQUE AND SEDONA

When Elizabeth and I travel, we rarely make definitive plans for each day. We only put major stakes in the ground.  In this case, the Santa Fe opera. The rest, we improvise.

So when we woke up the morning after (the opera), we had no idea where we would go next.  Before we left on this trip, I had hinted to Elizabeth we might go up to Durango and Mesa Verde again (see Mesa Verde: Playing with Windharmonic OrchestraJune 15, 2012).

“But I don’t really feel like going back there again,” I said. “Why don’t we just go to Albuquerque, see what there is to see in the Old Town, and then head back to Sedona for a pizza dinner and a hike tomorrow morning?”

Elizabeth agreed. So that’s what we did.

So here are first some pictures from the Old Town Albuquerque, one of the oldest cities in American (founded in 1706 – see the plaques).

IMG_4311 IMG_4314   IMG_4317 IMG_4318

Elizabeth tried to do some shopping at this Casa de Armijo (2nd from left) while I wondered around the square enjoying a beautiful day and learning about Albuquerque’s history.

Then Elizabeth developed a sudden craving for a Sopapilla at her favorite restaurant here – Little Anita (she used to live in Albuquerque a long time ago).

“Sopapilla and a pizza? Isn’t that bad and worse?” I thought but didn’t say anything.

You see, we both love pizzas. But since nowadays we gain weight from just looking at one, we only eat it once or twice a year at Sedona’s Oak Creek Brewery.  And that’s what we were planning to do later on this evening.

Anyway, Elizabeth enjoyed her luncheon snack and then we hit the road back west toward Flagstaff and Sedona.

On our drive from Flagstaff to Sedona, our new Honda Hybrid must have set some sort of a record.  The car dashboard registered 104.3 miles per gallon!

Of course, it was mostly downhill. But still. Not many people can boast that kind of mileage.  Except for our Leaf in Maui, of course. With a fully electric car, our mileage per gallon there is INFINITY. 🙂

Anyway, here are some photos of paintings Elizabeth wanted me to take during our walk through Tlaquapaque after that scrumptious pizza dinner.

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Also see…