Author Archives: Donna

Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden entrance. This year, they are featuring recycled plastic critters throughout the garden.

Monday, March 2: Another brilliant day! Spent the morning bird (and bee and butterfly) watching at the Desert Botanic Garden, a bit of shopping (and a drive home in an absolute downpour), and then a beautiful late afternoon walk in Papago Park. And, uh yeah, I fell. And because I fell on a decline, I stupidly tried to get up the wrong way, facing down, and fell again. Kinda hurty at first but not too serious. This was the coolest of the days but still nice at around 21C. Total steps around 18,000, not counting .

In the butterfly house at the Botanic Garden…a new feature.
Later in the day, a hike on Papago trail, close to the botanic garden.
What a surprise…I tripped!

Stella Time

Stella’s happy place

Every day in Scottsdale, Sharon takes Stella to the Civic Centre, a short walk from their place. It’s a beautiful area in Old Town Scottsdale which hosts the public library, a gift shop, lots of greeeeen grass and flowers, and depending on the day, an Indian craft fair (their word, not mine), a farmer’s market, outdoor music concerts, and as far as Stella is concerned, it’s most important feature, fountains. Many fountains. This is Stella’s happy place.

She knows the way, and at least on one occasion, steered me in the right direction when I was inadvertently taking the wrong way, away from her favourite fountain. The pull on her leash increases as she nears the water, waiting to be released into the cool, blue water.

A dog’s joy is so contagious. She just throws herself into the water, chasing the ball, splashing and dog-paddling in the water, spitting the ball on the deck so that we can throw it again. And again.

It’s probably not technically allowed, but who could deny her this happiness? Lots of people stop and laugh. Finally, when it’s over, she emerges, drenched in diamonds, detonating sparkling gems as she shakes it off. In Scottsdale, Stella is always a little damp.

And when not splashing in public fountains or bopping affably along on the trails, Stella sleeps. HARD.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Sharon and Barb and Stella, Boyce Thompson Arboretum

On my second day in Arizona, Sharon, Barb, Stella and I had a magnificent hike through Boyce Thompson Arboretum, which we visited for the first time last year. I thought it was where Dad, Shirley, Sandra and I had visited in the late 90s, but no, it wasn’t the same place. I just remember Dad pronouncing arboretum as aboratorium.

A tree

The Boyce Thompson is just gorgeous. Sort of like the Desert Botanical Garden, but a little more park-like and family friendly. The picnic area attracts a lot of cardinals, which of course attracts Sharon.

Some sort of Seussian Succulent
My first spotting of a lizard in the wild (I think)

Although we brought a picnic lunch, it was apparently family day and the fundraiser hotdogs were cheap and delicious. I consider myself mostly vegetarian, but a holiday hotdog is not to be missed.

“Rattlesnakes Only Beyond This Point”
UCP please proceed…

The multiple trails were really lovely, although it takes some effort to keep the dog away from the cacti. It was also hot. A perfect, blue sky day. We saw a bunch of cardinals and phainopepla (which look like small, black cardinals), lizards and a tortoisescape at the lake. My iPhone camera was OK, but no closeups.

We followed it up with a return to one of my favourite places from last year – Queen Creek Olive Mill. We ate our delicious dinners (like last year, I had a tray of amazeballs bruschetta) under a grove of olive trees, serenaded by grackles.

And then, as always, Stella’s daily walk to the civic centre about 10 minutes from their place for a dip in the fountain.

It’s Scottsdale Time! (Day 1)

Within seconds of arriving at Sharon and Vic’s condo in Scottsdale. Never underestimate the power of green.

I was in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona from noon on Friday, February 25 to the evening of Saturday, March 7. I have a lot to say about this amazing trip, and thankfully I posted every day on Facebook, so I will be able to draw from that for the blog posts. Because short term memory…

DAY 1 (Feb 28): After breathing in the mesquite scented air and nestling my blindingly white feet in the thick grass outside of Sharon and Vic’s condo in Scottsdale, Sharon, her friend Barb, and I went to a brilliant Maynard Dixon exhibit at the Museum of the West in Old Town. I’d never heard of him before but he was married to Dorothea Lange and was a clear influence on one of my faves, Ed Mell (his painting of cacti was included in this exhibit). More about Ed later!

After that, we had a wander around the green, flower-filled streets of Old Scottsdale, relaxed a bit on the balcony (with Stella), watched the hummingbirds hover overhead, and then had a great meal at one of Sharon and Vic’s favourite restaurants, Rula Bula, in Tempe (Stella got to come with us). It’s a bit weird to sit outside in shorts and a tank top, in the dark! Back home, we associate warmth with long, sun-lit summer evenings, but here, in February, it’s warm and the sun sets around 6:30 pm. A little discombobulating. The temperature was about 21C.

A spectacular first day in Scottsdale. It really helped to take the early flight!

Home of the Desert Rat – Maynard Dixon
Ed Mell
From the sculpture garden attached to the Museum
A Hopi pot from 1500

Stella watching the hummingbirds
Picked fresh from someone’s private yard!

And I Would Walk 21,152 Steps…

Or about nine miles. Not quite 500 but I think the Proclaimers would still be proud. On Sunday (January 5), I finally walked with Tom on one of his marathon hikes to visit his new found haunt, The Sweet Pea Cafe in Laurier Heights. About a three hour walk from Glenora there and back, with a lovely half hour respite for a coconut milk latte (both of us), a strawberry muffin (him) and cheese and herb scone (me). It was very nice, but a much longer walk than I’m used to. I’m very glad we had that mid-way stop. If I had worn my winter boots, it would have been too painful. Thankfully, there was no snow on the sidewalks, so I wore my running shoes. No probs.

View of Mackinnon Ravine from, as Tom calls it, “the Donna McKinnon Bridge”
A not quite frozen over North Saskatchewan River on Jan 5, which I assume is now frozen solid (Jan 10)

It was an absolutely perfect day to walk. We started around 11:30 when the sun was out and the temperature was a frosty -7C. By the end, the sun was still gloriously bright and the temperature had risen to plus 4C. I knew this would be the day to walk, since the following two weeks (I am writing this on Friday, January 10) would be brutally cold. And it is. It snowed 15 cm on Wednesday, and this morning, I waddled to the bus stop under dark skies and -23C temperatures. Double gloves. Hood up. Frown on. Still, it’s sunny so that helps. Sort of.

Tom, shortly after he walked his millionth step (over the past 37 days). Yes, he tracks that kind of thing…

The Sunday walk was a version of what Tom does almost every day. He’s become quite the warrior. Or maybe it’s OCD? In any case, he is unwavering. Not sure how he will do it or if he will do it next week when the temperature drops to -27C as the high for several days, but if there is a way, he will find it. Unfortunately, there is an Oilers game on Tuesday, so we will both have to figure out how to get there without dying. I’m thinking public transit. And lots of Bailey’s.