Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7: On Friday, it was 29C so we went to the Phoenix Zoo in the morning. I’m not a huge fan of zoos at the best of times, and it was so hot we only lasted an hour. It seemed nice enough, but it’s always tough to see animals in cages. A lazy afternoon, followed by Stella’s final dip in the fountain. Can’t take a damp dog on a plane.
With a late flight on Saturday, we had time to go to the Heard Museum Indian Fair and Market in Phoenix. We went to Heard last year, and it was spectacular. This year, we did a quick tour and then wandered the packed aisles of the vast, outdoor market. The art was absolutely stunning. Had I been able to afford any of it, I would have bought about three or four paintings and a few Hopi Kachina dolls, but yeah, no. I did purchase a card by Navajo artist Baje Whitethorne, who signed it. His stuff was amazing.
We then went for lunch, I can’t remember where now, but I ate possibly the best veggie sandwich I’ve ever eaten. And it was at an outdoor cafe. I kept thinking as we were sitting there about all the people wandering around, living their lives, oblivious to the suffering of Edmontonians back home.
As expected, after a much delayed flight, we got home at about 2 in the morning on March 8, in a blizzard. Another amazing vacation in Arizona. Possibly my favourite, although it was great last year to have Joanne, Cathy, Larry and Steve with us as well. It is paradise, that place.
Little did we know that things were about to change dramatically around the world. It’s a good thing we got out of paradise when we did….
Thursday, March 5: This morning, we went to the Gilbert Water Ranch. It’s a riparian preserve, which means it’s a wetland and therefore a popular bird-watching area. Stella is a fan of chasing the tiny rabbits. Lots of egrets, quail, cormorants, a great blue heron, a Cooper’s hawk, ring-necked ducks, hummingbirds, Canada geese, and other assorted bird life. None of which I managed to capture well on my phone. However, I do having a photo of a turtle eating a fish taco (without the taco). Riparianastic!
Weirdly, Sharon met a book club friend from Edmonton, who was also birding, so while they caught up with each other’s bird and personal bizness, I walked with Stella, bracing myself for every time she saw a rabbit. It’s a very pleasant walk. Flat, birdy, and entertaining for all.
Wednesday, March 4: I first fell in love with the paintings of Ed Mell in the late 90s. A gallery in Old Town Scottsdale had a few of his artworks, and I was immediately smitten. When I got back to Edmonton, I ordered his coffee table book. Today, Sharon and I went to his first 50-year retrospective exhibit at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in the very quaint Wickenburg, about an hour out of Scottsdale. It was utterly amazing.
Mell’s cubist-influenced desert land and skyscapes are so unique, so beautiful. I see a little Lawren Harris in his work, but instead of the cool, boreal colours of Canada’s north, Ed Mell fills his canvases with the colours of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts.
No way this could have happened if Sharon and Vic didn’t happen to have a place down here, and I didn’t happen to be here while the exhibit was running, so yeah, I’m pretty grateful. What a dream.
On the drive up to Wickenburg, we stopped by the Hassayampa River Bird Reserve to do a little bird watching. Cool place (literally), like a little oasis in the middle of the desert. No interesting bird sightings, but lots of beautiful bird song. After that, we had delicious Mexican in Wickenburg, and then the exhibit.
Once we got home to a very excited Stella, we walked over to ‘her’ fountain, which gasp, had been drained. Too much dog hair? Luckily, there is a deeper water feature not too far away, so we watched Stella swim for a bit before she dropped her ball down the drain. Hopefully that won’t cut off the water supply to Scottsdale.
Tuesday, March 3: Big hike today, in Cave Creek along the Go-John Trail. Three hours and ten minutes, up and down the trails, some minor scrambles, in 25C heat.
STUNNING scenery. Incredibly colourful rockery (from terra cotta to green), studded with almost alpine-like wildflowers. Lots of saguaros and other cacti. Gorgeous blue sky. My first ‘big’ hike since that fateful and frightening scramble in the Superstitious Mountains in 2017. I liked this one much better.
Several stops along the hike for us to rest and for Stella to drink water and cool off in the infrequent shade of mesquite and other desert bush. It felt like an accomplishment once we finished, but we loved it. Well, I think Stella would have liked it to end earlier, but she was a trooper.
Stella, Sharon and I then ate lunch/dinner at the Horny Toad in ‘downtown’ Cave Creek – next to the town of Carefree, on the Carefree Highway (and yes, I did play Gordon Lightfoot’s Carefree Highway on my phone in the car). That was a superbly righteous meal of hamburger, fries and a large, ice-cold pop. It’s rare that I actually earn my lunch, or am that hungry and thirsty. It’s nice to be physically exhausted for a change.
I think I must have jarred my iphone when I tripped yesterday on the Papago Trail. I couldn’t get it to stop taking videos every time I wanted to snap a photo. It’s a new phone, I got it just before leaving, so some of its functions are unfamiliar. Anyway, once I got home, I turned it off and on, and that fixed it. As always.
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 .
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.