Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sitting Bull Falls, Lincoln National Forest - Fri., Oct. 6, 2017

Today, we start our three-day West Texas Trail Walkers weekend with a serious 14k hike called Sitting Bull Falls. Bob and I were getting ready to leave the 5th wheel when I received a text message from my friend, Susan. She and Darren had done the worker's walk yesterday at Sitting Bull Falls. Her text said, "Wear pants today for the walk, otherwise your legs will be scratched and bleeding."

Whoa! Both Bob and I had shorts on. We immediately changed into long pants. Unfortunate because today's high temperature is supposed to be 92 degrees.

It took us about 40 minutes to drive to Lincoln National Forest. The West Texas Trail Walkers were very organized at the start point. We had already pre-paid for our walks and banquet, so we only needed to check in.

Geared up with hiking boots, water, snacks, hiking poles, hats, and sunscreen, Bob and I took off up the hill. And boy was it up! Steeply up.

The parking lot is in the center of the photo
A good place for a photo (and a rest!)
Beautiful day and scenery
We crossed this solid rock field
The ladies behind us coming along the rock
The 5k turn-around was at The Grotto. Being out in the desert and arriving at this pretty pond was very refreshing.

Bob at The Grotto
The Grotto
The water is so clear
To continue on with the 14k walk after The Grotto, we passed through a fence stile and out into the canyon. It was hot and uphill. But the scenery was outstanding. The trail was narrow and rocky. Rocky meaning lots of loose rocks were on the trail. It's a good thing we wore our hiking boots. They helped with stability, as did my hiking poles.

Bob on the trail
Very rocky canyons
We came out on top of a plateau and had views all around. No shade, however. The trail at the top was a road, so we had space to move around without worrying about catclaw cacti, and could avoid the rocks more easily.

At the top are a water pump and a water tank. I didn't see any way to get water there, though. It's good we're carrying lots of water. 

We had written walk instructions given to us by the West Texas Trail Walkers. That was good because there were very few park trail markers. 

At the top, we kept walking, knowing we needed to make a sharp right turn. We walked and walked and then finally found the place where we needed to turn toward Last Chance Canyon. 

Bob checking out the pump
Other hikers
More canyon scenery
Bob on the trail
Goldenrod in bloom
Here's what our trail conditions were like
Local denizen
Not much wildlife presented itself on this hot afternoon. Yesterday, Susan and Darren saw mountain goats running up the cliffs. Today, no mountain goats, even though we stopped to rest frequently and scanned the canyon walls.

There were, however, interesting rock formations. I enjoyed the scenery immensely,  but it was very hot!

Here's one of the few trail markings
put in place by the park
Just imagine hiking up and down these canyons
in  90-degree heat
"Color me orange and call me a pumpkin,"
said the round rock.

We just passed our 10k checkpoint, which meant we had 4k left to do. When the photo below was taken, I was getting seriously whiny. Still, the canyon scenery was spectacular.

Feeling a little "peak-ed."

We came out of the canyon and into a grassy field. There were no trail markings that we could see. There were dense trees on one side, a deep, watery swamp on the other. No way was I walking through that swamp! I got myself tangled up in a chest-high catclaw bush and had trouble extricating myself. That made me even whinier. I kept telling Bob we had lost the trail. He kept going and I followed by going through the trees and tall grasses. We came upon a barbed wire fence that had been pushed down in one spot by a flood a few days earlier. We were able to get across it.

Finally, he stumbled upon the trail. It was farther to the left of where we were. The real trail actually had a stile through the barbed wire fence.

We had to cross a creek on some stones, go up and hill and then the trail leveled out through tall grasses and some cacti. I could see the road. Civilization! Surely at this point, we would head to the road and be done with this hike.

Then I looked ahead, up the hill. I saw people hiking up the hill. That's where our walk went. So disheartening! 

I don't usually do 14k (8.7 miles), because I like the 10k (6.2 mile) length. Every once in a while, I'll do an 11k or 12k. Let me tell you, doing a 14k on a tough hike like this one, in this heat, was overwhelming to me. The thought of climbing that hill just did me in. I started crying. But, I dragged myself up it, wondering who is so sadistic as to put an uphill like that at the end of a long walk. (My apologies to the people who laid out this walk, but those were my feelings at that time and place.)

We walked at least another 15-20 minutes to make it to the 13k checkpoint. Kudos to Susan and Darren Medlin. They win the award for the best checkpoint ever. When we stumbled into the checkpoint, Susan handed us ice-cold water from their cooler. They had two lawn chairs there and invited us to sit. I sat. They offered us potato chips. I ate two of the snack-size bags. And Susan had a huge umbrella which she held over the chair. I told them all I needed was someone to feed me peeled grapes. LOL. Susan said they did the worker's walk yesterday, so they knew exactly what people would need when they got there.

The people coming into their checkpoint were so exhausted that they offered to give people a ride back to the finish point. Out of six of us who came in when we did, five of us opted to ride the last 1k back to the finish. (Bob continued walking the last 1k back to our truck. What a guy!) 

You heard me say the name of this walk was Sitting Bull Falls, but so far you haven't seen any falls, have you?

When we got back to the finish table, they told us, "You need to go see the falls." I'm like, "Where are they?"

"400 yards up that trail," was the reply.

OK. I'm definitely going to see the falls. We didn't come all the way out here, tempted by seeing waterfalls, just to miss them because we were hot and tired.

After using the restroom and splashing cold water all over my face and neck, Bob and I set out to see the falls. If you know us, we "collect" waterfalls and go see them wherever we can. Thankfully, the walk to the falls was easy, on a wide, paved path.
The trail to Sitting Bull Falls
Sitting Bull Falls is quite nice and runs year-round because it is fed by a spring. There was also a nice breeze coming through the canyon. Bob walked down to the pool and put cold water on his head, face and neck. I stayed up on the platform and saw a snake swimming in the water (not near Bob).

Bob at Sitting Bull Falls

Me and Bob
Sitting Bull Falls
Bob cooling off (I'm surprised he didn't jump in!)
Other Volksmarchers taking photos...
...and being photographed
On our way out of the canyon, we stopped at Susan and Darren's checkpoint to make arrangements to have dinner together. We thought we'd go to the No Whiner Diner and meet there around 6:00 p.m. Their son, Travis, was coming to visit from El Paso. (He's currently stationed at Fort Bliss.)

We headed back to the 5er and showered. When it was time to meet at the restaurant, Susan and Darren called to say the No Whiner Diner would not be re-opened until Monday. Scratch that. We decided to have dinner at Chili's. And that was a very good decision. We had an excellent meal and drinks. 

Me and Bob
Darren, Travis, and Susan
Ice cream for dessert sounded good to us. Susan and Darren remembered seeing an ice cream parlor called Kaleido-Scoops when then drove around town. All they remembered was that it was a white building on the left side of the main street through town. We were in the lead. We drove and drove, but finally found the place. The ice cream was great! After eating our scoops, we went back to our 5th wheel and they returned to their motel room.

Tomorrow, we have a decision to make about which walk to go on. See you on the flip side.

Hit the Road Jack - Thurs., Oct. 5, 2017

This morning, we woke up early to beat rush-hour traffic through Phoenix. Bob's cousin told us if we left by 7:00 a.m. we'd be okay. Well, we almost made it. There was some pretty heavy traffic, but we avoided a little of it. 

Today looked to be about eight hours of driving. Bob and I took turns driving. The weather was hot, but no high winds. 

Usually, I don't listen to books on tape when I'm driving because so much is going through my mind in traffic that I can't concentrate. However, on long-distance trips with minimal traffic, books on tape help when there's no music to listen to. 

Bob brought along five books on tape and we made it through four of them. We listened to three Janet Evanovich books, and Lee Child's "Tripwire." We enjoyed all of them.

Around 10:15 a.m., we drove through Texas Canyon near Benson, Arizona. That's the place with the beautiful rock canyons and a Rest Area. We didn't stop this time, but Bob was driving so I took a few photos as we went through.

El Paso is a city we hate to drive through. At 3:00 p.m., we had some stop-and-go traffic but we headed off of I-10 at Airway Blvd. to go to Montana Ave. which would be the highway to take us to Carlsbad, NM.

Once we exited El Paso, we made good time to Carlsbad. We checked into Carlsbad RV Park and Campground at 6:30 p.m. It will be nice to spend three nights in one place.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Indoors to Outdoors - Part 2, Wed., Oct. 4, 2017

Continued from Part 1...

From MIM, we drove to Scottsdale to meet Bob's cousin, Charis, and her husband, Michael. They live in a lovely home overlooking the mountains. It had been a number of years since we had been to their place. They still have their dog, Maui. 

We took some time to hang out on their back patio, converse, and watch the mountains change color to amberish orange. It was a beautiful evening. 

Charis and Bob
The view from their back deck
Isn't this a great backyard?
Michael and Charis
Since we spent our day around musical instruments, I should mention that Mike makes (and plays) Native American flutes. Silly me, I forgot to take photos of his flutes. Maybe next time. (Or maybe he'll send me a photo of them that I can post in my blog!)

For dinner, we opted to go to Four Peaks, a restaurant and sports bar. We sat out on their patio. The evening was nice and there were misting machines to keep us cool. Bob and I had pear hard cider. For dinner, I had a southwest burger and fries which were delicious! Baseball was on TV, so the guys were happy. 

After dinner, we drove back to their place and then jumped into our truck for the ride north to Cave Creek Regional Park. OK, Mike and Charis, it's your turn to visit us in San Antonio! Thank you so much for your hospitality.

That's it for tonight. The end to another fun-filled day.

I've Got the Music in Me! - Part 1, Wed., Oct. 4, 2017

Or..."The Day the Music Died" Came Alive!

Bob is in training for the San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in early December. At dawn, Bob was out running around Cave Creek Regional Park. He came back and showered. We were on our way to visit Bob's Aunt and Uncle, but I wanted to meet someone who worked at the park to say "hi" from Dave and Faye Malouf.  

We took a short drive to the Visitor Center at the park. I went in and met Ranger Dave. He has worked with Faye and Dave in the past and said he can't wait for them to arrive later in October. (They'll be working there again.)

Cave Creek Regional Park Visitor Center

Ranger Mark
Today was an awesome day. We had all day in Phoenix with no shortage of things to do. We started our day visiting with Skip and Sally at their beautiful home in Carefree, Arizona. 

Sally took us to see the early set up of Carefree's "Enchanted Pumpkin Garden." So far none of the beautifully carved pumpkins are out, but we did get to see the playfulness of the artist in what's already set up.

Free the pumpkins!
Pumpkin boxing ring
These scenes are set up around Carefree's Town Square area. Sally, Bob, and I walked around the town square. It's lovely with sculptures, fountains, playground, and an outdoor seating area.

Sculpture in the Carefree's Town Square
A pretty fountain area
Me and Bob (photo by Aunt Sally)
Aunt Sally with Bob
We then headed back to Skip and Sally's home to visit. They have all kinds of wildlife on their property and the common ground between the homes. I particularly like the quail. They are so cute.

Skip and Sally's place in Carefree
Lots of quail!
These quail are just outside their sliding glass door.
I'm glad I didn't scare them away.
Stalking their food. LOL.
Our visit with Skip and Sally was just about up. I was able to capture one fist bump between Bob and Uncle Skip. (Uncle Skip is undergoing chemotherapy so we can't have much physical contact.)

Uncle Skip and Bob fist bumping
We said our goodbyes and see ya next times. Our next adventure today is the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix. The last time we passed through, Aunt Sally raved to us about this museum. She told us it's a must-see. Today's the day!

I'm going to preface our museum experience today by saying that I love museums, but don't usually spend two days in one. The last time we went to a museum that we should have spent two days in, was the Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. (We only spent one day and we were exhausted!) 

Suffice it to say, the MIM in Phoenix also offered a two-day admission. We had four hours total to spend this afternoon. It quickly became obvious that a two-day admission would be the way to go if we were to do this again.

Let me paint a picture for you of how overwhelming this museum is. First off, this museum has five curators who put the collections together. 

When you pay your admission, you are given a headset. Each artist or country area has a display of clothes/costumes, instruments, and video(s) with accompanying music. At each "area," your headset plays music or interviews with musicians. As you walk through the museum, your headset picks up the music for that area, so in the space of two minutes, if you're walking from one place to another, you could hear, three or more different types of music. It is a very aural experience!!

Good to start with a definition of sound
(They thought of everything.)
It was lunchtime, so we ate first in the museum's Allegro Cafe. It was good, but a bit expensive.

The MIM is laid out geographically (on the upper level). There are also rooms on the lower level: Target Gallery (for special exhibitions), Orientation Gallery (with a short orientation video), Artist Gallery (world-renowned musicians and musical innovators, i.e, Santana, Elvis Presley, Kronos Quartet, etc.), Mechanical Music Gallery (instruments that play on their own), Conservation Lab (where instruments are restored and preserved), and Experience Gallery (where you can play the instruments).

After lunch, we started on the first floor in the Orientation Gallery. We watched the slideshow and then gazed in wonder at the guitar room, and also a room with more obscure instruments.

Guitars, lutes, lyres
Lyre guitar (look at that face)
Rickenbacher "Vibrola"
(electric Spanish guitar)
The octobasse
The octobasse above was invented by French violin maker Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume and first exhibited at the 1849 French Industrial Exposition in Paris. Apparently, giant double basses date back as far as the early 17th century. Vuillaume's design is unique because it is played using a system of levers, activating a mechanism that pulls the strings against the frets. Of the three he made, two of these instruments survive today. MIM's octobasse is the only playable example in the Western Hemisphere.

The octobasse was intended not to double orchestral basses, but to play long sustained tones under them. The composer Berlioz wrote that "any festival orchestra with over 150 players ought to have at least three of them."

Below is the Paigu (goblet drum), the oldest object in MIM's collection, dating to the Neolithic period; a drumhead would have been tied to the hooks around the rim. This drum was used by the Yangshao people, Shaanxi Province, China, circa 4,000 BCE.
Paigu (goblet drum)
Next, we hit the Artist Gallery. Wowzers! This room alone took over an hour to go through. In the Artist Gallery, we found John Lennon, Taylor Swift, Elvis Presley, the Kronos Quartet, Dick Dale, Santana, John Denver, ceremonial drums from the Chinese Olympics Opening Ceremony, etc. What an introduction! Each artist had one to three pieces of music you could listen to. An aura of amazement hung over us. What have we gotten ourselves into?

MIM Artist Gallery highlights:

Chinese ceremonial drum
Video of Beijing Olympics opening ceremony
Such precision
Bob listening to Dick Dale surf music
I love Carlos Santana
History of cymbal making
Mechanical Music Gallery Highlights:

While we were in the Artist Gallery, an announcement was made that in the Mechanical Music Gallery they were going to demonstrate the Apollonia. Cool, I walked into the next room and waited for them to play it.

The Apollonia
Explanation of the Apollonia
Bob went outside to take a work call and I thought he was going to miss the Apollonia. He sauntered back in just before they started. I loved the huge "dance organ." It reminded me of roller skating to organ music in my youth. The Apollonias were used in dance halls and in traveling shows.

Since we were pretty much finished with the Artist Gallery, we stayed in the Mechanical Music Gallery and checked out orchestral music boxes, coin-operated music boxes, barrel organs, hand-cranked organs, and singing birds. The singing birds are like music boxes. You wind them up and the birds sing (such a pretty sound). 

The Xorgan (below), despite its compact size, is one of the loudest instruments in the collection.
Xorgan (barrel organ), Odessa, Ukraine
Pierement (mechanical organ)

Orchestral music box with Mandarin figures
striking bells
Bob kept saying, "We've got to go upstairs." We still had to go through the musical instruments for 200 countries and territories! We had about 2 hours left. Oh, my. 

Bob and I went separate ways. Bob wanted to start in the United States and Europe. I wanted to go more esoteric and exotic with instruments I wasn't familiar with. I started in Africa.

There isn't enough room in this blog to put in the many interesting things I saw and learned. So, here are some of the interesting items. You MUST go there and immerse yourself in the museum. You MUST! (I sound like Aunt Sally.)

Here we go...

Burkino Fasa

Xylophones amplified by gourds and
spider-egg casings (though paper and plastic
are now common substitutes)
Ghana: Ashanti and Fanti peoples

Ntan (mother drum of the Ashantis) and Ompe (footed drum of the Fantis).

Ntan and Ompe drums
Southern Sudan: Shilluk (Malakal people)

Tom (lyre)

Yaktaro (spike lute)
 South Korea: Court Music (The prettiest instruments)


Close up of the birds on top
O (scraper)
Mongolian instruments and costume
Ancient Vietnam:
Central Java: Shadow Puppets and Musical Storytelling

Shadow Puppets
Explanation of shadow-puppet theater
Central Java instruments
Time was quickly running out. Bob came and dragged me to the Europe and U.S. exhibits.


England (via southern Germany): 
A replica of the oldest extant keyboard instrument, a southern German clavicytherium.

Clavicytherium (harpsichord)
French/German/English?: The history is complicated and long
Naturhoorn (Nature horn)
Italy: Milan (Lombary region, circa 1900)

"Octochordis" mandolino lira
 European Street Festivals:

European street festivals
Explanation of street festivals
European Street Festivals
Costumed figures
Photo above: I don't know about you, but I could see someone wearing that big brown costume in the back and making people think they're Bigfoot!!

Hungary: Budapest

Kitorna (wheel fiddle)
In addition to the music, the instruments, the costumes, and the culture, there was a lot of fraudulent activity surrounding the authenticity of the instruments:

Cembalo (harpsichord), Italy
The cembalo above consists of an authentic soundboard placed within a fraudulent case -- possibly a combination of furniture parts and newly applied paint in a poor imitation of Baroque style.

There are also exhibits of the production of violins, and pianos.


United States:

Pianaccord (Denver, Colorado)
Reproducing Piano from Ampico
(American Piano Company)
Below is an explanation of the difference between a player piano and a reproducing piano. Who knew?

Reproducing piano
Instruments are not only functional but can be astonishingly beautiful as well!

I love the dragon-head design on this guitar!
Art on the back of a banjo
Miscellaneous stuff:
Drum set
Hip hop display
Ibanez triple-neck electric guitar played
by guitar virtuoso Steve Vai.
(The only one of its kind.)
Grand Harmonicon (We used to "play glasses"
at home. Crystal wine glasses worked best.)
The explanation below could be why the Harmonicon fell out of favor...

Lead poisoning??? Wow!
Alice Cooper
Large horns
Beautiful building
At the entry
The museum was closing so we had to exit the exhibits. The gift shop, however, stayed open an extra 15 minutes. So, we shopped. I got a souvenir pin of a black and white guitar for my collection.

For dinner, we are meeting Bob's cousin, Charis, at their home in Scottsdale. From there we will go out to eat. To be continued...