ANOTHER GOOD FRIDAY PILGRIMAGE ON CALVARY HILL ARIZONA

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.

 * * *

SIZZLING CINCO DE MAYO 2017

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!

200-11

OUR FAREWELL TO MAUI

We moved out of the Rainbow Shower on Wed March 1.  For the last week on Maui, we moved into our new home away from home, a condo in the Kihei/Wailea area. Here are some shots of both…

First, my morning walk from our condo to the beach…

Our “final walkthrough” of the Rainbow shower taken midday…

And our late afternoon back at our Kamaole Sands beach.

UPDATE MAR 4, 2017

OUR FAREWELL TO MAUI – Part 4

Mar 4, 2017
We moved out of the Rainbow Shower on Wed March 1. For the last week on Maui, we moved into our new home away from home, a condo in the Kihei/Wailea area.
Here are some scenes from our morning walk along Kamaole Sands beach.

OUR FAREWELL TO MAUI – Part 5

Mar 5, 2017
On Saturday (Mar 4), we went on a whale watching sunset sailing cruise on the Gemini catamaran off the coast of Kaanapali. Alas, due to a technical glitch with my waterproof camera card reader, those pictures are still trapped on my camera memory card. I may have to wait to get to AZ to retrieve them.
On Sunday (Mar 5), Elizabeth made her final purchase at Kaahumanu Mall – a pair of Hawaiian earrings – which she asked me to record on camera. There was also a Hula show going on in the background.

And in the evening, we went to a lovely dinner party by our friend Rada Kovilic who has a condo in the same resort where we are now staying – Kamaole Sands. Her balcony provided a perfect vantage point for another beautiful Maui sunset.

OUR FAREWELL TO MAUI – Part 6

Mar 6, 2017
We moved out of the Rainbow Shower on Wed March 1. For the last week on Maui, we moved into our new home away from home, a condo in the Kihei/Wailea area.
Here are some scenes from outside our condo and from our morning walk along the Kamaole Park shore. We discovered here what is probably Kihei’s best surfing spot, right next to the small boat harbor. It looked like a smaller version of Ho’okipa Point in our old neighborhood on the north shore of Maui.

OUR FAREWELL TO MAUI – Part 7

Mar 4, 2017
We moved out of the Rainbow Shower on Wed March 1. For the last week on Maui, we moved into our new home away from home, a condo in the Kihei/Wailea area.
On Saturday, Mar 4, we went whale-watching aboard the catamaran “Gemini,” which we boarded on Kaanapali Beach in West Maui. Here are some pictures from that wonderful outing.

Elizabeth and I have gone sailing and whale watching many times before, but never, ever have we seen to many full breaches by these 20-ton (40,000-pound) giants as on Saturday afternoon. It felt as they the whales were waving their watery goodbyes to us.

Just to give you an idea of how bit the Humpback whales are, some of these guys you are seeing in the above pictures are as long as 7 African elephants standing next to each other.

OUR FAREWELL TO MAUI – Part 8

Mar 7, 2017
We moved out of the Rainbow Shower on Wed March 1. For the last week on Maui, we moved into our new home away from home, a condo in the Kihei/Wailea area.
On Tuesday, Mar 7, Elizabeth and I drove up to the 10,000-ft Haleakala (volcano) summit for our final goodbye to Maui. We fly back to Arizona tomorrow (Mar 8).
The weather was perfect all the way up and during an hour or so we spent at the summit. And then just as we headed down the mountain, the clouds and rain moved it. They stayed with us all the way down till we got to lower Kula. We might as well have been driving through a soup, the fog was so thick.
We kept thanking God all the way down for this miracle – of holding off the bad weather until we had a chance to say our high level goodbyes.
By the way, Haleakala is the Fire vortex of Mother Earth and thus a very powerful masculine energy center. On Saturday, however, our wonderful sailing to see the whales and Watery goodbyes we received from them provided the counter balance – the feminine energy farewell.
IMG_1197

UPDATE MAR 8, 2017

OUR FINAL MAUI BEACH SHOT

 
I don’t know how we managed to do this, because it has been raining most of the day over most of Maui today, but if you look at our final farewell shot taken around noon at Kamaole beach in Kihei/Wailea, you would get the impression that there is nothing but sunshine and surf on this magical island.
 
Goodbye Maui! We love you.
Last Maui beach shot 3-8-17

AN EXTRAORDINARY SUNDAY

STRONG WINDS CAUSE STATEWIDE INTERNET FAILURES, FIRST EVER FIRE AT HOME, JAPANESE SILKWORM ART,MAUI POPS BROADWAY CONCERT, RAINBOW BOOKENDS

When I woke up this morning, I had no idea how eventful this day would end up being. It had everything – man-created and God-made events. And all of that was bracketed as if by bookends by this pair of beautiful rainbows – one in the morning, and one in the evening.

INTERNET AND POWER OUTAGE

Strong winds which started during the night brought down the internet today for almost 18 hours. Not just at the Rainbow Shower. Or even Maui. This was a STATEWIDE outage by Time Warner Oceanic Cable, according to their posted message.

The power had also failed at one point during the night. All of my electric clocks were blinking unhappily when I woke up. But at least they were on.

Yesterday, my email was also down most of the day. That was my bad – a man-made problem. I was transferring four of my older websites to a cheaper hosting company. So it was to be expected that some disruptions would happen. Guess today God decided to give me another day off the net by blowing in this storm. 🙂

FIRST FIRE EVER

The strong winds also brought in colder weather. I know, some of you folks in the northeast, midwest or Alaska would laugh at what we consider cold in Hawaii. The temperature inside the house was about 65 at noon.

Our climate here is such that most homes don’t have either a heating or A/C system. When it gets “cold” like this, we just put on an extra layer of clothing (like my cardigan – see below). And still keep the windows open.

Well today, for the first time ever, I decided to light a fire in our fireplace. Until now, this has been merely a piece of decorative furniture. It did not generate much heat. It was just newspapers and kindling. But it looked pretty.

Elizabeth texted me that she wished she were here.  Guess Arizona is also having a cold spell. But at least the folks there have proper heating and A/C in most homes.

INTERESTING DRIVE TO KAHULUI

I like seeing Broadway musicals live in New York. But I am not so crazy about concerts just the hits from musical.  So it was only late last night that I finally decided to buy a ticket and go to today’s Maui Pops matinee concert at the MACC (Maui Arts and Cultural Center).

“Why not?” I said to myself. It’s not like I have some other pressing engagements on a Sunday afternoon.

img_0813

On my drive to Kahului, I was amazed to see a couple of windsurfers braving these strong winds over about 10 foot waves at Ho’okipa Point, one of the world’s most famous surfing spots. There were no other “regular” surfers today. Guess most of them had more sense than that.

Sun, strong winds, mist and tourists undaunted by weather challenges were also all present at the same time in Paia. I just shook my head.

“Guess I am becoming a wimp living in Hawaii,” I mused.  When I was doing my shamanic rites of passage for ordinations in Peru we camped at 15,000 ft elevations in the High Andes and even swam in icy lakes. So icy, in fact, that surface ice cut the skin on my shins as I was walking into the lake.

AMAZING JAPANESE ARTIST’S SILKWORM ART

An unexpected pleasure, and actually the highlight of my visit to MACC, was an exhibit which just opened at the Shaeffer Gallery. Which is right next to the concert venue. Akihiko Izukura, a Japanese master of dyeing and weaving, works primarily in silk by transforming thread into “wind-like” fabrics. He hand-dyes silk with subtle colors made only from natural materials following a process that is over 2,000 years old.

Take a look at some of these amazing creations…

You can find out more about this artist if you click here…. http://mauiarts.org/exhibit-detail.php.

MAUI POPS BROADWAY CONCERT

The concert featured two award winning Broadway stars – Christiane Noll and Doug LcBrecque, along with the award-winning composer and producer – Jason Howland, who conducted the Maui Pops orchestra.

img_0813

The music was good and the singers excellent. But as I said, not exactly my cup of tea when it comes to music. So I left during the intermission.

EVENING RAINBOW COMPLETES BOOKENDS

When I came back home, I was greeted by an evening rainbow.

“Oh, so today, God is gracing us with rainbow bookends,” I thought as I grabbed the camera to capture this memory.

I was about to get in my car and drive to Pukalani Starbucks where I was hoping to connect to the internet. I had already disconnected and packed my laptop. But something made me go back to the office to double check on the status.

Bingo! The internet was back. Which is why you are now able to read these lines and see these pictures.

But the wind is still battering the windows which face the northeast. So who knows, maybe we are not out of the woods yet. But thank God for small mercies. Aloha!

 

 

CHRISTMAS EVE ON MAKENA BEACH

Potential iPhone Problem Leads to Best Christmas Eve Ever!

It’s amazing how sometimes we can turn lemons into lemonade, almost unwittingly. What happened today is a case in point. A potential iPhone malfunction led to my best Christmas Eve ever. The climax was a long way up and down Makena Beach on southwest Maui shore, topped off by some bodysurfing on small – 3 to 5 ft – waves.

Potential iPhone Failure Spurs Me On Into Action

The day started with dark clouds and intermittent rain. Typical for the north shore of Maui where my home is.  So I decided to deal with some techie issues on my new Mac. After about an hour of talking to three Apple advisors, I was happy to have had all issues resolved. But when I looked at my iPhone, I was stunned. After just an hour of talking, the battery had dropped down 44% from 100% at the start of my phone call.

Well, I have been around the computer industry for more decades than I like to recall. So I knew this this was an omen of some hardware failure to come. Soon.  Because this phone (4S) is at least 4-5 years ago. Which makes it a dinosaur in this internet era. 🙂

And since this is now my only phone line and a long holiday weekend is coming up, I decided to do something about it rather than wait for the phone to fail. So I jumped in my car and drove all the way to the other side of the island – Kihei on the west shore of Maui. That’s where a Verizon dealer is located whose staff are much more customer oriented than the regular Verizon store staff. And indeed, they earned their striped again.

BUYING THE NEW PHONE

Within half an hour, I made a deal for a new iPhone SE. The new iPhone SE is almost the same (small) size as my old phone (I hate big phones!), but it’s the latest Apple technology.

You won’t believe the price I paid: One (1) cent! I kid you not. One cent! They had some kind of a free phone promotion going. But the computer needed to record an actual payment. Thus the one-cent price.

Alas, I did not have one cent on me. 🙂 So one of the Verizon advisors, a young man called Taylor, pitched in with his own penny. 🙂

All the while the two Verizon advisors and I were cracking jokes and teasing each other. Other customers who were waiting to be served also had a good time. Everybody was smiling and laughing.

dscf5369

When Taylor was done with processing the order, I offered to buy him and his pal Keilani some Starbucks treats. Both delighted to accept. So I walked over to the Starbucks store in the same plaza and brought them their drinks back.

“This is not a freebie,” I teased Taylor. “You paid one cent for these drinks.” 🙂

Then Taylor started transferring the data from my old phone to the new one. “That will take about an hour,” he told me.

“In that case, I know exactly what I will do for that hour,” I replied.

SPUR-OF-THE-MOMENT MAKENA BEACH VISIT

On a spur-of-the-moment, I jumped back into my car and drove on to Makena Beach. That’s about 12 miles south of Kihei. It’s a magnificent beach which, unfortunately, is on the opposite side of the island from my home. So it’s quite a trek to get there. So I don’t get to do it more than maybe once or twice a year, if that.

Once on the beach, I lost my shoes and walked barefoot through the waves the full length of the – twice. I am guessing that would be probably about a mile and a half. At the north end of the beach, I also jumped into the ocean and did some body surfing on the 3-5 ft waves.

dscf5350

The whole experience reminded me of the years I spent at my Western Australian home – the Bolt Hole. Right now, this is the height of the summer vacations Down Under. So being on a beach at Christmas seemed perfectly natural for me. And a bit wistful and nostalgic. I could practically see my Aussie friends barbecuing their Christmas meal on the beach. But not on Makena Beach.

NUDE MAKENA BEACH AND OUR DUAL MORALITY

Since I did not plan any of this, I did not have my swim suit on. So I just stripped down to my underwear. As you can see from the pictures, even though this is the height of the high season for tourism in Hawaii, there were very few people on the beach. Which speaks both about its relative remoteness and attractiveness for people like me who do not like crowds.

As I took off my shorts and dove into the ocean, I was chuckling under my breath about how fickle we humans can be.

Less than 20 yards away – there was this wall of lava which separates Makena Beach from the nude “Little” Makena Beach (see the photo).

Lava Wall Makena Beacg 12-24-16.jpg

little-beach-makena-1024-cq8On the other side of the wall, beachgoers would frown if they saw me donning a swim suit. But on this side, the north end of the “regular” Makena Beach, I a little felt self-conscious jumping into the ocean in my underwear.

“Silly!” I reproached myself. “Dual morality. Double standards.”

A few years ago, Elizabeth and I actually climbed that wall and walked from stigma into freedom. We also undressed and went swimming naked. Like everyone else on the Little Makena Beach. I was quite proud of Elizabeth, a prim and proper lady on any other day [as befits a former Queen Victoria 🙂 ].

Makena Beach from north 12-24-16.jpg

Here’s also a 1-minute aerial video shot of the two Makena beaches, accompanied by Hawaiian music:

HO’OKIPA POINT SUNSET

After about an hour, I drove back to the store. Everything worked like clockwork. My new phone was ready.

So on my drive back home, I decided to try out its camera. I had heard that the new iPhone camera is fabulous. And my goodness, is it ever. Take a look at these pictures of a rainbow over the Rainbow Shower (my home lies just behind those two humps). And of the sunset at Ho’okipa Point, a famous surfing spot. Crystal clear!

img_0498

Bottom line?

You should embrace problems and face them head on when they crop up. Because you never know what kind of magical experiences may lurk on the other side.

Like this fabulous Christmas Eve of 2016.  Merry Christmas everybody!

 * * *

CHRISTMAS MORNING 2016 AT THE RAINBOW SHOWER

Merry Christmas! Ours was wet and rainy most of the day until the sun finally broke through the clouds in mid-afternoon.

A 20 sec video clip at the Rainbow Shower – Dec 25, 2016

Direct link to Youtube video: https://youtu.be/my5C1VSogE4

IMG_0502.jpg

* * *

CHRISTMAS AFTERNOON 2016, BIG SURF AT HO’OKIPA POINT

img_0506

When the sun finally broke through the clouds in mid-afternoon, I jumped in the car and drove to Ho’okipa Point to see a big surf that was expected today and tomorrow. Was it ever!

In most of the world, on a Sunday, and especially Christmas Day Sunday, many Christians go to church.

Over here on Maui, on this Christmas Day we had an all-day “church service” at Ho’okipa Point, a world-famous surfing spot near my home. For, watching big surf crash against the shore is a spiritual experience. That’s why I made a short video so you can see and feel it for yourself.

Take a look… You may be able to spot in the distance something that in the video looks like an insect. Actually it is a windsurfer braving these big waves. It was the first time that I have seen one in these weather conditions. He/she must be either very good or very crazy. 🙂

A 35-second video clip of big surf – 25 to 30 ft waves – at Ho’okipa Point, one of the world’s foremost surfing spots

Direct link to Youtube video: https://youtu.be/t6MivMUcvzU

WELCOMING BACK BIG SURF AT HO’OKIPA POINT

WELCOMING BACK BIG SURF AT HO’OKIPA POINT

Something made me jump into my car shortly after noon today and drive five miles to Ho’okipa Point, one of the world’s most foremost surfing spots. Not because I expected to see anyone actually surfing today. Because I did not.

I had heard that big surf may be revisiting us in Maui again today. And since I have not had a chance to see any while I was in Arizona in the last 2.5 months, thought I’d make the pilgrimage. They are always spectacular and never the same, Just like no two waves are ever alike.

So here are first some panorama shots I brought home from that outing.

Here are now some regular shots of today’s Ho’okipa big surf.

When I say “big,” keep in mind that everything is relative. These were 20-25 foot puppies. We have seen waves at this spot 40-50 ft high, And at the Jaws, which is even closer to my home, they can be easily well over 60 ft.

So let’s say today we had “medium” size puppies by Maui standards. 🙂

 

ALOHA FROM MAUI!

Just a quick post to let everyone know I got back home to the Rainbow Shower in Maui on time. The flight from Phoenix was longer than expected – 6.5 hrs. Which is like going from London to New York. But all’s well that ends well.

Better than well. Look at the gorgeous sunset that welcomed me home.

Actually, half an hour earlier, I did not think we would have a sunset. The sky was gray and the sun was hiding somewhere far away. Lo and behold…

Thank you, Inti Taiti (Father Sun) and my beloved Santa Tierras of the Rainbow Shower (feminine land spirits, the fairies).

Oh, I was also welcomed by a new hand of bananas, some which are ready to eat right now.

But in that same area, I also found a toppled banana tree and a broken flood light (which is mounted to the corner of the house). Go figure…

Guess we just have to take the good with the bad and make it all better. 🙂

UPDATE DEC 11, 2016

Crystals Music Despacho Activation #2

MAUI CRYSTAL TRANSCEIVERS ACTIVATED, BURIED ON SACRED GROUND UNDER CHRISTMAS BERRY TREE – PART 2

Okay, so back to where we started this morning – the music crystal activation. It was lovely and emotional ceremony. As I had done in Arizona, I placed the crystals on my Clavinova and played some sweet tunes for the Santa Tierras of the Rainbow Shower (land spirits, the fairies). It was mostly various Mozart pieces, like Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Turkish March and Symphony #40, plus my latest creation – Memories of the Alhambra and Anahata (see http://wp.me/p1jFeo-28I).

The idea is that the crystals will act as fairy transceivers and will recognize my music from now on no matter where in the world I may play it.

Then I repeated the same thing on my Steinway concert grand. Not the same music, of course. Just the process of embedding it into the crystals.

At the end, I wrapped up the crystals in beautiful rainbow color Mestana (shaman’s sacred cloth in Quechua, the Inca language), and then trundled off down to the gulch, spade in hand, to bury them under the Christmas Berry tree which sits between the Anahata-Huaca-Ahu sacred place, the Rainbow Shower creek, and the footbridge which I built some 6 years ago.

  * * *

UPDATE DEC 13, 2016

FIRST DAY OF “FARMER’S YOGA” TAKES AN UNEXPECTED TURN

This was my first day of what I have been calling for years my “farmer’s yoga” at the Rainbow Shower. Except that after I had been guiding by the spirit last summer to give up regular maintenance and turn it over to professional landscapers, my farmer’s yoga now consists only of clean up and beautification.

Today, it was 90% clean up and 10% beautification. But the latter yields an unexpected discovery to do with my Music Crystal Transceivers.

You can see above what the Panax trees looked like when I arrived back home. They shot up in height at least 2 feet. So today lopped off the tops of about a dozen and a half plants and transplanted them elsewhere to thicken the green fence. You can see on the right what they looked like after this part of my farmer’s yoga.

Then as I was carrying about a dozen or so leftover saplings to plant them along our western property boundary, something pulled me like a magnet toward the spot where two days ago I had buried my Music Crystal Transceivers as a despacho for the Rainbow Shower Santa Tierras. So I planted one of the Panax saplings right there, sort of to mark the spot the way people sometimes plant trees, shrubs or flowers around the graves of their loved ones.

On the way back up, I also spotted three Starfruit still hanging 0n the tree which bears their name.

“That will be part of my tomorrow’s breakfast,” I said to myself as I picked them off the tree.

The middle shot shows all four now thriving fruit trees I planted in 2009 that line our Orchard Rd.

 

 

 

RETURN TO CALVARY HILL ARIZONA, PINNACLE PEAK, TOM’S THUMB

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 – https://youtu.be/EnnefkWXsVk

El Condor Pasa in Boynton Canyon, Sedona, Arizona – https://youtu.be/CdY0MpWBzDY

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.

 * * *

UPDATE NOV 11, 2016

VETERANS/REMEMBRANCE DAY HIKE TO PINNACLE PEAK, AND MORE…

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

pinnacle-peak-veterans-day-11-11-2016

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.

HALF PRICE FOR VETERANS

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.

PINNACLE PEAK HIKE

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:

EL JEEPO: NOW A “TOURIST ATTRACTION” IN ARIZONA

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.

img_6816

“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.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

 * * *

UPDATE NOV 19, 2016

RETURN TO TOM’S THUMB

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…

img_6856