THE LAST FEW WEEKS

May 12, 2012

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... have been flowing by, much like water flows in the above photo of the Scottsdale Waterfront “Canal Walk”.

Time marches on, they say, and it does.

Yesterday I spent a laid back day doing some local exploring.

With a doctor appointment in Scottsdale, I decided to take the bus from my place to there. For me the bus stops are very convenient, the beginning one is at the end of my street, down the hill. At the doctor’s office it is across the street from the building with his office. Since I got an early start and would otherwise reach the doc’s office more than a half hour early (and you KNOW, they are never on time, so an early arrival would be pointless), I exited the bus at Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall, about a mile from my destination. This allowed me an easy stroll down Scottsdale Road to the office, still ahead of my appointment time. As I passed over the canal at Scottsdale and Camelback Roads, I told myself to come back and investigate this place. 

After my doctor appointment, I walked down Scottsdale Road and had a late breakfast at the US Egg restaurant. I thought of boarding the bus at the stop across the street, but saw the bus was coming up the street already and that I would miss that one since I’d need to walk to the next cross walk, cross the street and then go back to the stop. Too much rushing though, since I was already in such a carefree mode. Ahh, what the heck, another bus will come by in 20 or 30 minutes, and I have nothing waiting for me at home that must be done, no other place to go, no commitments, so just enjoy the fine, sunny, warm day. 

I needed to get some Mucinex from the drugstore anyway, so, instead of worrying about the next bus, I wandered up the next block and made my purchase at the Walgreens store. Still in no particular hurry, and thinking about what I might do with the rest of my day, I considered a movie at Camelview theatre, but the timing was off by more than an hour for the nearest showtimes. Instead I wandered up Scottsdale Road again and then waited at one of the bus stops. While I waited there at noon time some people were going off from their offices and work to lunch somewhere. I just people watched for the remainder of the time at the stop and, after boarding the next bus, in just a few stops, I exited again and walked back to the canal to see what was there. 

There are some condos on either side of that stretch of canal with several busy restaurants on the lower levels, some “stacks” that are artfully placed (which reminded me of the Titanic’s smoke stacks), a bridge across the canal that resembled a fallen stack, some interpretive signs, artwork, cantilevered decks jutting out into the canal, another bridge with flower boxes along the rails, palm trees, yuccas, and other nicely landscaped plants along the meandering pathways on either side of the canal. A very pleasant and scenic stroll, with some history garnered from the signage along the paths. The Hokoham Indians built extensive irrigation canals from 940 - 1140 A.D. to water their crops. When the white men came they again revived and used the remnants of those ancient canals to water their farms and the vast stretches of citrus orchards that once flourished in this area. As time passed the canal systems were expanded, new ones constructed, old ones reinforced with concrete. 

Standing there by the canal, I watched the flow of water, the life giving source that keeps us all alive, and how this transformed the desert I call home into a productive, verdant paradise. As more vegetation was able to grow and thrive, so too were more and more people drawn to the Arizona desert allowing them to work, play, grow and flourish. 

As I watched the flow of water, I felt very content to just drift along at my own relaxed pace this fine day. No hurries, no worries. 

Soon enough, I did get back onboard another bus going up Scottsdale Road to Shea Blvd., where I would then board another bus that would actually let me off near my house. But instead of getting back on the Rt. 106 bus, I walked to the Shea 14 movie theatre and went in to see “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”, a fine movie about a local sheik whose passion for fly fishing prompts him to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen desert and his efforts with several British experts who help him bring it to reality. There is, of course, a message here that transcends the conflicts of ideologies, cultures, nationalities and politics. 

The movie and my peaceful walk along the canal seemed to have completed a flowing water theme loop that I allowed myself to experience and enjoy this day.

Other than mystical water musings, the past couple of weeks have not been spent idling away the hours.

Last week my brother Elwood and sister-in-law, Linda arrived for a week’s visit. We did enjoy some good time together until last weekend when I left for a trip I organize to Kingman, AZ and the Rt. 66 Fun Run. 

Before I left on my trip, we enjoyed a ride on the Phoenix light rail from Christown Mall to the end of the line in Mesa, as I pointed out places of interest, landmarks, and some history.On the return ride, we disembarked in downtown Phoenix, where I pointed out some places of interest, toured the Wells Fargo Museum in their  downtown office building (very worthwhile), enjoyed a late afternoon ice cream treat, and continued the light rail train ride back to our starting point. After a later dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant, Via de los Santos on N. Central, we completed our day with very full bellies. 

But, for me the highlight of this family visit was a trip to Luke Air Force Base. Since Elwood works on Offutt Air Base near Omaha, Nebraska, he suggested we drive out and and see about going on base. His base pass would allow us (in theory) to enter Luke AF Base.  As we approached, he told Linda and I to have our drivers’ licenses out to show the guard, as this is the entry procedure for civilians accompanied by authorized base personnel. Now, I must admit, I was a bit nervous about getting on to a military base and somewhat thought we’d be told to skedaddle as we approached the guard hut. But, surprisingly, he just took Elwood’s pass and admitted us without question. He didn’t even bother with our driver’s licenses. 

So, there we were on the Luke AF Base. 

“Boy, that was easy”, I said. 

Now what? I had no idea where we were going, what we were going to see, no map, no questions asked by the guard. Seeming like a lack of security, I started to wonder if we were going to end up thrown in the brig or escorted off the base with a full deployment of military police, tanks, dogs, armed soldiers, a hasty scrambling of the jets and a total lock-down of the base. 

Man, what an imagination, eh! ? 

Since we were all novices on the base we drove in a bit, saw the airfield and saw several jets under jet ports (car ports for jets) where many mechanics were working on the aircraft. We parked my Santa Fe and walked to a respectable distance from the air field and jets, hardly able to hear each other for the loudness of the jet engines. Though we stood within 100 feet of the jets, no one came over to ask us our purpose or intentions for being there. I was taking pictures with my iPhone, Linda with her camera (a real threatening group of spies, if ever I saw any). 

Elwood did stop a man though and asked what type jets they were. F-16 Fighter Jets.

So these are the ones I’ve heard about and seen over the blue, sunny skies of our Arizona desert. OK then, cool!

Down the runway a group of jets appeared from nowhere and landed, then a group of them down the way were preparing to take off, while others we had been watching get prepped, started to taxi down to the end of the runway also.

Since our view was obstructed by buildings, I suggested we drive down toward the end of the runway to get a clearer view. Not far down we parked in a lot at the end and watched, views unobstructed, to see more jets come in for landings, and the others with deafening roars, blasting off down the runway and up into the wild blue yonder.

Watching all this over the hour we were on base, made me pretty proud to see these jets in flight and the men (and women) who devote such time and skills into maintaining and flying these fighters. It really did put a chill down my spine - in a good way, of course.

Never, would I have imagined I would be standing on an airbase watching jets being prepared for flight, seeing them scream down the runway and blast into the air, nor to see them, rather stealthily approach, and roar down for landings. 

It was a definite highlight of the visit with Elwood and LInda. It’s is doubtful, I’d have ever been this close to such action if he had not suggested we visit Luke. 

(Makes we want to start singing the Air Force anthem song). 

As I have, for the past 9 years, organized and led a group of our car guys to Kingman, AZ for the Rt. 66 Fun Run, Friday, May 4 was the day we started our trip for the whole weekend. 

In my absence, I lent my Santa Fe to Elwood and Linda so that they could go exploring on their own. On my suggestion, they drove to Tucson to visit Saguaro National Park, the old Spanish mission (White Dove of the Desert), San Xavier del Bac, and other places of interest. 

Back to the Fun Run weekend, this year, I offered to make it a true road-trip weekend with longer, scenic routes. About 20 of the total (and largest yet participation) of 36 chose to follow the new routes. We veered off after Wickenburg to ascend Yarnell hill, passed through Yarnell, briefly pit stopping in nearby Peeples Valley, then up through Kirkland Junction, Skull Valley, skirting the north side of Prescott, up through Chino Valley and up to Ash Fork and I-40.  At Seligman, we exited and met up with Tom Spear and enjoyed a delicious lunch at Westside Lilo’s. Many followed Tom’s lead, and his favorite choice, of bratwurst on a bun, mind you a FOOT long brat!

In Seligman, the starting point of this 25th Annual Rt. 66 Fun Run, we continued on this longest remaining section of the historic US Rt. 66 for 80+ miles to Kingman.

Traditionally, we have run this section of Rt. 66 on our return drive to Phoenix, but doing it in reverse was just as much fun and a nice change of pace. With an (also traditional) stop in Hackberry, AZ along Rt. 66 to visit the eclectic, funky, historic old filling station/ souvenir/ curio shop and my usual group photo op. Finally, we mounted up and continued on to Kingman and the KIng’s Inn Best Western. 

As though we had not eaten enough that day, I had arranged dinner at Dambar in Kingman, where we met at 7 and enjoyed another fine meal and camaraderie.

Prior to the Fun Run on Sat. May 5, we had an early morning briefing for the judges to choose their judging categories and other work assignments for volunteers.

With several hours to kill a group of us chose to drive about 25 miles north to Chloride, AZ where a whole town yard sale was in progress. Chloride is off the beaten path, was once more thriving with mining activity in the area, but now is an interesting collection of very modest homes, trailers, dirt streets, and lots of artsy folks. For many, scrounging in the desert of any type of cast offs is all they need to create some “diverse” and “off beat” artwork. Some is welded statuary of old metal parts, made into animals, people, or who knows what. Others are broken glass blended into wire strands or old chicken wire to form hanging sun catchers, and others are more elaborate, like one consisting of several rusty old car seat springs strung together, declining from a higher to lower level with pieces of broken blue glass secured in the springs and titled “flowing springs”. Clever, funky, and vast are some properties with their own “yard” art.

With time ticking away, we opted to stay in Chloride for lunch at the only eatery in town. With the days’ yard sale festivities and influx of out-of-towners, it was a hopping place, replete with a one man band, singing favorite old songs.

Upon speeding back to Kingman to our appointed meeting place and duties, we barely made it for the timetable I had pronounced at the morning meeting. 

For the Fun Run, I prefer to record the judging results, but this also requires a lot of prep time sorting judging forms and clipboards for each judge, so that when judging began at 3 p.m., all their materials were ready and they could hit the streets and begin their tasks. 

With the help of Amy, for the past several years, we have managed to have all materials sorted and ready before the judging team comes back. After the judges are done, they return to us and Amy and I then record the information on several poster boards for the participants to see at the rewards/ trophy ceremony in Topock, AZ the next day, Sunday. Those participating, drive from Kingman to Topock for that final leg of the Fun Run and weekend festivities. 

(Our group, judges and volunteers, head out of Kingman, as quietly as possible)...

On Sunday, many of the group headed straight back to Phoenix, while 13 of us followed the new routing that I had mapped out heading southwest from Kingman on I-40 to Lake Havasu City, AZ. There we stopped to see the London Bridge, which was dismantled in London and brought over to AZ to be reconstructed near the Colorado River.  The 1831 bridge spanned the River Thames in London, was taken apart in 1967 and rebuilt in AZ in 1971. 

After departing that wee bit of merry old England, we next stopped in Parker, AZ and enjoyed another lunch meal at Tommy’s Paradise Cafe. While I thought I had read they faced the Colorado River and that we would have riverside tables, we were informed that the “view” was the full length river scene mural which was on the wall behind us.  Oh well, what the heck, it was time for lunch and it was a pleasant place, with good food to boot. 

On the road again (can’t wait to get back on the road again), we continued down along the Colorado River, through some rugged desert scenery, picked up AZ 72, angled down to US 60, stopped at the Salome Cafe, but instead went next door to Don’s Cactus Bar (couldn’t pass up a stop at a place with my name on it) for soft drinks, then completed the remaining 100 miles back to Phoenix. By 4:30 pm, I was in my house.

On Monday, my brother and sis in law went to the Phoenix Zoo, and also visited our State Capitol (wished I had gone for that). I believe they enjoyed their visit, and I was happy they had planned out things to do and see on their own. I was able to enjoy my previously planned activities, yet spend time with them and get to see new and exciting things (the F-16 JETS!).

Now, I suppose you may be wondering about Phiona...

Yes, there is news.

The new rear seat springs, made by Snyder’s in Ohio, should be on the way back to Aatco Upholstery by now. Chavel at the shop had the front seat dismantled several days ago and was getting ready to stretch the new coverings on it. When he gets the seat cushion, he will be able to complete that part also. But, other than the seats, for now, that is all he can do until the car is painted and released from the body shop (1st Class Collision).

After the upholsterer, I stopped at the body shop, where Steve (the painter) said he was ready for me to pick out the blue color. While he searched for his color samples, I chatted with one of the employees and learned that they were nearly done with body work with the epoxy primer on the car, were about ready to put a base primer on and then would be ready to apply the paint. Then more prep work, polishing etc, and I may have my car back. However, Steve could not locate his plain color samples. He did have the “modern” samples with metal flakes, etc, but those would not be appropriate for a 1934 vintage automobile. I’ll need to go back this next week to choose the dark blue color.

But I’m not holding my breath. There always seems to be something or the other that interferes and Phiona waits until the other work is done. That’s actually OK with me. I want to see this all come together as a “done” project, meaning done RIGHT, the first time, so I will not put a ending date on the project.

Besides, it is starting to get hot out and I have less desire to drive Phiona very far, if at all, in this sweltering heat. As I told someone in Ohio recently, for us car guys in Arizona, the seasons are in reverse, i.e., while they put their cars away for the winter months, we are out enjoying our vehicles in our pleasant Fall, Winter and Spring seasons. So, when it gets to be Summer in AZ, it would be like winter storage time for us, and we store the cars away, out of the heat. Difference being, we CAN still enjoy our cars even if it is hot. At least in my case (even if I decide to venture cross country in the summer months), I still do drive Phiona in the early morning hours or after the sun goes down despite the heat. 

With summer approaching and the heat increasing here, I’m starting to think about my summer escape from Phoenix. Since I’ve missed my camping, hiking and exploring, usually up at the Grand Canyon North Rim and into Utah, for several years, this is the year I’d like to go back and explore more of the area and enjoy the quiet, solitude and nature. 

    One last thing, I am working to start with a new website host. Apple’s iWeb is being discontinued in about 30 days with no plans to support it after that. When I have more information I will include that with this site and hopefully it will transition without complications.

    Remaining calm and going with the flow.

                        We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.

                                   (Taoist Proverb)