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!



Expect the unexpected. That has become a modus operandi for me during my Arizona desert hikes. Today, I discovered the “Standing Stones” at Pinnacle Peak, a Scottsdale mountain I have hiked dozens of times over the last 30 or so years.


Expect the unexpected. That has become a modus operandi for me during my Arizona desert hikes. Today, I discovered the “Standing Stones” at Pinnacle Peak a Scottsdale mountain I have hiked dozens of times over the last 30 or so years.

I had no idea they existed when I was guided to revisit the Pinnacle Peak trail. I had intended to dedicate the hike to the Spring Equinox which will take place in a few hours.



This year, I was guided to make a Thanksgiving Day pilgrimage hike back on “my mountain” – Camelback.  And what an experience it was!

This little hump in the Arizona desert is the mountain with whose red rocks I fell in love many decades ago. It is the mountain in whose shadows I had raised my family. It is the mountain on which I had left more blood than on any other in the world (and I have hiked many much bigger ones).

Actually, Camelback would look like a mere pebble compared to some of the giants I had climbed in the Andes and the Alps. Or even in Hawaii. But Camelback has always been MY little pebble. And as close to my heart and soul’s home as any mountain on this planet.

So I teared up when I saw “my mountain” again this afternoon (and again now while writing this).

Amazingly, at the time I was driving my El Jeepo to it, the Arizona classical FM station was playing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto – my favorite of his many pieces. So I also included my own recording of it as background music to this video:

Thanksgiving 2016: My Camelback Homecoming – a film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – Nov 24, 2016 [1:53 mins]

Direct link to Youtube:

When I started climbing it, I seem to know every rock I was stepping on. The trail has been more worn out rutted than when I was there last. Guess it’s what happens when a mountain lies in the middle of two large metropolis – Phoenix and Scottsdale.

I also remembered how the mountain responded to me when I did my farewell hike in March 2009, before moving to Hawaii. For the first time ever, it showed me its heart – literally. I had done hundreds of hikes and spent thousands of hours on this mountain, but Camelback never flashed its heart to me on March 11, 2009 (see

And I could not find it today, either. It was a one-time farewell… the right rock on the right date at the right time with the right sunlight bathing it.

Camelback was also home to my first shamanic Huaca – sacred place, an altar – where I did my first ceremony after being ordained an Inca shaman by the Andean Apus (mountain spirits).

Since Camelback lies in the middle of a large city, there is a strict code about NO FIRES on it. Yet I knew even that far back, that if I did what my spirit guides wanted, I would be protected. And so I was. I finished the fire ceremony and put out the fire afterward without being bother by anyone.

Here’s the place where it all happened. I shot the video from this spot, too:

Happy Thanksgiving!

 * * *

UPDATE DEC 7, 2016


This afternoon, Elizabeth and I went on our farewell hike in Pinnacle Peak in North Scottsdale. I return to Maui on Friday. Elizabeth is staying in Arizona until my Maui property sells. Then she will rejoin me there to help pack and sell our belongings.

It was a mostly cloudy and fairly cool day today. So there have not been many hikers out on an otherwise busy trail. Which was just great. It gave us a chance for a quiet enjoyment of the beautiful desert.


Before the hike, Elizabeth had baked for me a special Saint Nicholas Day “kolach.” I will take it with me to Maui for the celebration of the Djurdjevic family patron saint “slava” on Dec 19.

The cross with the for “c” letters in each corner is part of the Serbian coat of arms. The four “c” letters – which are actually pronounced as “s” in the Cyrillic alphabet – stand for “samo sloga Srbina spasava” (only unity saves the Serb).

The cross and the crest are traditionally baked into the cake, just as Elizabeth did today. She actually made an extra loaf, too. So we could have a taste here. And it was delicious! 🙂

 * * *


This evening, I decided to make my nightly walk around my neighborhood about Christmas lights. I know when I get back to Maui I won’t be seeing any in my Hawaiian neighborhood.  It’s not that my neighbors there don’t celebrate Christmas. They are just not into Christmas lights.

So here are some photos I brought home from my walk, including one very brief video clip:


 * * *

UPDATE DEC 8, 2016


So you think Arizona is all desert and cacti and stones and snakes?

Well, you may change your mind after you look at these pictures I took this afternoon during my farewell to Arizona drive to Saguaro Lake.

It was a beautiful afternoon with temperatures nudging 70F. And because it is an off season for boating and camping the lake was quite still and tranquil. It was basically the ducks and me until another car arrived just as I was getting ready to leave.

So it was a great way and place to say goodbye to my home state. (For now… I plan to be back in spring time).




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.


 * * *

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…

* * *

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

IMG_4150 IMG_4149

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.

IMG_4322 IMG_4326 IMG_4325

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…