Sunday, December 27, 2009

Phoenix Mountains Preserve

The trailhead

I had a leisurely, low-key Christmas this year. I awoke somewhat early and, after breakfast, spent most of the morning reading and listening to music while sipping on coffee. Around noon, I headed to the Phoenix Mountains preserve in north-central Phoenix to hike to the top of Squaw Peak. It's a 1.2 mile hike from the trailhead to the summit and I'd say it's a moderately strenuous hike. The trail is mostly jagged and rocky, so it can be slow going at times. It's gently rising switchbacks until the .6 mile marker when it becomes increasingly steeper. Once at the top, you have vast views of the Phoenix area.

I'd like to point out that the rules of civilized society still apply on a hiking trail. So, when I come to a halt and press myself against a rock face to allow you to pass, that should prompt a "Thank you" from you. Just throwing that out there. This polite convention leads to a light-hearted moment later on.

Gaining elevation from the parking lot

Some of the usual suspects were seen on the trail:

Inconsiderate, old guy with trekking poles
Wearing-way-too-much-cologne-while-hiking guy
Hyper-kinetic, teen boy with overprotective father
Shirtless dude with manboobs
Trail runners (too crowded for this)

Rock vs. sky

Now, for the light-hearted moment. On the hike down, I came up on a young woman and her mother. I thought they were speaking Russian, but wasn't sure. Then we caught up to an old couple, whom I also thought were speaking Russian. The young woman and the mother were passing the old couple and the old man heard them talking.

Old Man: Russki?
Mother: Da!

So, this foursome stopped on the trail and began conversing in Russian. As they were doing this, they moved to the side to let me pass. Not only did I thank them, (proper, civilized etiquette) but I thanked them in Russian, which drew a surprised smile and chuckle from the young women. It just goes to show you that by just practicing basic politeness, you can advance American-Russian relations - even on a trail in the Sonoran Desert.

Getting closer...

The rare Eff You! cactus

View towards northwest Phoenix

View of Camelback Mountain

Holiday cheer near the summit

End of the road

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Epic Roadtrip, Vol. III

After 2800 miles, I finally rolled into Phoenix in one piece. I left Las Cruces, NM Friday morning for the final 6.5 hour drive to Phoenix. It was a welcome change from the 11 hours stints I was doing. It was a great drive across the desert Southwest on a cool, crisp day.

New Mexico State University

Organ Mountains east of Las Cruces

Are your papers in order? Border Patrol stop on I-10

Disrepair in Lordsburg, NM

Rest area on I-10 in AZ

Desert landscape

More desert

Tucson skyline

Friday, December 11, 2009

Epic Roadtrip, Vol. II

Old school ads in Findlay, OH

I left Fostoria at 4pm on Tuesday to avoid that nice little storm that hit the Midwest. I headed south towards Cincinnati to gain some warmer temperatures; from there, it was on to Louisville. I headed south and west from Louisville through western Kentucky and Tennessee, crossed the Mighty Mississippi at I-155 and finally stopped at a rest area on I-55 in Arkansas for a 2.5 hour nap after 11.5 hours of driving. It was dark during this stretch with a lot of rain and high winds, so no pics. After my nap, I dropped south to I-40 and then to Plano, TX, via Little Rock and Texarkana. Another 9.5 hours of driving and I was exhausted when I reached Dave and Kathryn's in Plano.

After another 2.5 hour nap, I was treated to Jameson & Coke and hummus with sliced cucumber, carrot sticks and bread chips. I was then treated to one of the finest New York Strip steaks I've ever eaten. Tender and juicy and cooked to a perfect medium rare. Grilled asparagus and a baked potato were also included. The night ended with copious amounts of red wine. Many thanks to Dave and Kathryn for their Texas hospitality.

On Thursday morning, I headed southwest to Las Cruces, NM, via Abilene and El Paso, TX. After a night at the luxurious Motel 6, I'll head to Phoenix and arrive there on Friday afternoon.

(enlarge the pics for full effect)

Dave and Kathryn's

Ft. Worth skyline from Rte. 121

An old motel in Clyde, TX

A drive-in in disrepair outside of Sweetwater, TX

Sweetwater Business District?

Windmills and cotton fields

West Texas sunset...

...and another one

The coup de grace

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Epic Roadtrip, Vol. I

Loaded up in Alexandria, VA - Monday, Dec. 7th.

I start a new job in Phoenix, AZ on Dec. 14th. Gotta make the long journey from Alexandria, VA via Ohio. I'm gonna take as many photos as possible on my almost-cross country journey and post them here. I'll probably break up the trip into 3 different posts, so stay tuned!

Give me a shout out if you want to visit me in the desert!

Crossing the Potomac River from Lovettsville, VA into Brunswick, MD

Shotgun shack in West By God Virginia

Just east of Berkeley Springs, WV

Rte. 21 thru Rogersville, PA

Rte 21 thru Graysville, PA

Disrepair in the northern panhandle of West Virginia

Flippin' Jimmy's - Fostoria, OH

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rte. 11 from Winthrop to Naples, ME

Fast Eddie's in Winthrop. Old school drive-in with car hops

Leeds, ME

Church of the Nazarene

Lewiston and Auburn, ME

These two towns are separated by the Androscoggin River and locally known as LA

Bates College in Lewiston

Hathorn Hall - oldest building on campus

Bates College Chapel

The Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston

Great place on Bartlett St. in Lewiston for pastries

Mmmmmm...chocolate chip cannolis

Windows and fire escapes in downtown Lewiston

Benjamin Bates, benefactor of Bates College and founder of Bates Mill...

...industrialist and philanthropist

Wiseman Bridge across the canal in Lewiston

This brick warehouse building recently caught fire and crumbled

Train bridge across the Androscoggin River

Great Falls

These arches in downtown Auburn caught my eye

For my boy in EGR

Mechanic Falls, ME

Mechanic Falls Public Library

Mechanic Falls

Train bridge across the Little Androscoggin

(enter own caption here)

Naples, ME

Lunch in Naples

Church in Naples

Marina on Long Lake

View of Long Lake from the causeway