Sunday, December 26, 2010

Camelback Mountain

Approaching my nemesis

Yesterday was my 2nd annual Christmas Day hike. Last year, I hiked Squaw Peak and this year it was Camelback Mountain. Instead of waiting until mid-day to hike, like last year, I got an earlier start. I started from the trailhead at about 8:25 am with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-50s. There are two ways to summit the peak and I took the Cholla Trail, which is on the east side of the mountain.

The trail starts as a series of switchbacks up a moderately steep slope. This alone is a pretty good workout. The first two-thirds of the hike is like this. Then, you crest a ridgeline and this is when the fun starts. Not only does the trail get steeper, but the majority of this section of trail consists of scrambling over rocks. Good times. It took me about 50 minutes to summit, where I took a 20 minute break to drink water and eat some cashews. The return hike to the trailhead took me 40 minutes.

It was a very pleasurable hike and a good workout. My hips, thighs and glutes were a bit sore this morning.

OK, let's start hiking

Gaining elevation

Overlooking the East Valley

View to the south

View to the north

Cresting the ridgeline

A steep dropoff along the ridgeline

Looking north from the summit

Resting hikers on a breezy summit

View of Squaw Peak from the summit

Christmas on the summit

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Farm Redux - Morning Glory Café

In last week's episode, I had lunch at The Farm at South Mountain. I returned this week to have breakfast at the Morning Glory Café. It was a cool, sunny morning with chirping birds and crowing roosters. There was a slight breeze, but it was deflected by the natural canopy over the patio. All of the seating is on the outdoor patio and it's very informal.

My meal was delicious and made with fresh, local ingredients. I highly recommend this place; not only for the food, but also for the setting and ambiance.

Approaching the café

Omelet with biscuit and home fries, coffee and Bloody Mary

I was one of the first arrivals

An hour later, the place is filling up

The waitstaff area

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lunch @ The Farm

The Farm

I was a Cincinnati Bengals fan for 35 years; that's enough nonsense for anyone. So, instead of spending 3 hours on a Sunday following a ridiculously amateurish sports franchise, I've decided to use that time for more productive and pleasurable pursuits, such as having a quiet lunch at an outdoor café or gouging my eyes out with a dull spoon. Today was lunch at The Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix.

There are 3 restaurants at The Farm: The Morning Glory Café for breakfast and brunch, The Kitchen for lunch and Quiessence for dinner. I had a leisurely lunch at The Kitchen, then walked the grounds. It was a beautiful Fall day under warm and sunny skies. I think I'll go back next Sunday for breakfast at Morning Glory Café.

Skeeter! Skeeter! Skeeter!


Your items are put in a basket to either eat on the patio or in the picnic area

Grilled chicken on a bed of spinach with tomatoes, dried cranberries, goat cheese and spiced pecans. Blueberry scone on the side.

A big shade tree covers the entrance to the patio

View from the patio

Picnic area under the pecan trees

Greenhouse and gardens

Morning Glory Café

Maya's Farm

Artists' Studio

The Retreat

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Vulture Mine, Wickenburg, AZ

(Ed. note: A recurring theme in my posts is that of "disrepair." I try to post a few pictures that show a place or thing that has fallen into disrepair; I'm fascinated by it. This entire post is on disrepair. I'm not going to lie, I was giddy as I toured the mine.)

On the recommendation of my brother, Steve, I paid a visit to the Vulture Mine, which is about 12 miles southwest of Wickenburg, AZ. The mine has been closed since 1942 and has been privately owned by an individual since the late 60s.

According to the caretaker, the son of the owner is doing a little mining as there is still, supposedly, a lot of gold below ground. At one time, it was the most productive mine in Arizona.

The entry fee was $10 and it was worth every penny.

Caretaker's office

As usual, I signed the guest register

Start of the self-guided, above-ground tour

The Assay Office - "to assay" means to analyze ore to determine the amount of gold, silver or other metal in it. So, every mine had an Assay Office.

The Assay Office

Let's get assayed

Every place needs a good bullion storage room

Is someone in there?

The Glory Hole - "In 1923, some "personal miners" were working in one of the large underground chambers. The Vulture Mine, a hard rock mine, had no need of support timbers. The mining company found it necessary to leave about forty percent of the ore in place as supporting columns. One large chamber had ore columns that were very rich in gold. The personal miners were chipping away at these columns when they suddenly gave way. One hundred feet of rock over their heads collapsed on them. The cave in killed seven miners and twelve burros. There was no hope of rescue.

"Above ground, what had been a small hill became a pit. The collapsed chamber area became known as the "Glory Hole." Ironically, the miners soon discovered that the new Glory Hole was an excellent place for personal mining.

Their name, not mine

a big sinkhole

More sinkhole

The Main Shaft - it reaches a depth of 3,000 ft and goes down at a 35º angle

Looking down the rail into the entrance of the main shaft

A huge winch above the main shaft

Twisted rails and timbers

Another view

The blacksmith shop next to the main shaft

The Ball Mill-

The Ball Mill

Metal, timber and light

Funky lighting

Barrels and drums

I don't even know what these are

And what the hell is this?

The Power House - in a metal building near the Ball Mill is the power house. A big diesel engine ran a generator that provided electricity for the mine.

You need power to run a mine

The power house is big

Control Central

View of the diesel engine from ground level

View atop the engine on the catwalk

Another view from the catwalk

That's one big generator

The Hanging Tree and Wickenburg house
- Henry Wickenburg was the mine's original owner and owned it from 1862-1866. At the age of 85, unable to care for himself anymore, he shot himself in the head with a Colt revolver. The town of Wickenburg surrounds his grave.

By all means, I will watch my step

The tree didn't look tall enough for hangin'

The Wickenburg house

Pretty sparse


Random disrepair -

This seemed to be some sort of bunk house

Another bunk house?

I think the warranties have expired

That dormer needs a little caulk

Do I dare enter?

Come in and sit a spell

A small stove and oven

A big stove and oven


OMG! Is that a specter or poltergeist?