Saturday, April 25, 2009

Furlough Friday #5

Yesterday was my fifth of twelve furlough days, and this time I had planned a 100+ mile bike ride. The ride was to have taken me up AZ-87 to Fountain Hills, then north around the McDowell Mountains to Rio Verde, west to Scottsdale, then north to Cave Creek and Carefree, then south through central Phoenix, and then through ASU on the way home.

Unfortunately I never felt quite right when starting the ride, despite making good time in getting to Fountain Hills. I stopped there for a bite to eat and then head north. By the time I started heading west, I started to feel more aches and pains and my pace slowed. It is important to point out that I was pretty much in the middle of nowhere. After all, Rio Verde is nothing more than a golf community for snowbirds and people with too much money on their hands after retirement (or so it seems).

I limped back to Scottsdale and worked my way to the 101 so that Dawn could pick me up. I still managed to pedal over 50 miles, but fell short of seeing some of the places I wanted to see. The heat was not a factor since it was partly cloudy and only got to the upper 80s.

So now I need to figure out if I want to try again in two weeks or one of the other rides I had been thinking about.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Forest of Cacti

This weekend we took a drive to the Usery Mountain Regional Park. The park is located between the eastern edge of the county and separates Mesa from the Tonto National Forest. We started the day by hiking up Pass Mountain to Wind Cave. The hike felt truly like a hike in the desert due to all of the cacti and the terrain. The kids had a blast hiking to the wind cave, where the wind has carved out an overhang in the mountain. Bees have since bored into the cave and you could hear a continuous buzzing from behind the rock wall. There was only one spot where you could see honey comb leaking out of the rock.

The view of the valley was spectacular. On the closet mountain is a huge sign pointing the way to Phoenix. Apparently the sign was build by Air Scouts in the 50s to help lost pilots.

Unfortunately, we were not able to hike around Pass Mountain because of the late start and increasing temperatures. We are expecting 100 temperatures on Tuesday, but there is a chance it could get to 100 on Monday. May 1st, is the "average day" when we get to the 100s.

Below are pictures from the hike:

I have also included pictures from the Army ROTC's departure to their drill weekend on Thursday:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Furlough Friday #4 on South Mountain

Friday was the fourth of my twelve furlough days and it was also the day of the girls' "spring holiday" from school. We picked up Dawn from campus and drove up to the top of South Mountain using the same road that I biked up two weeks ago. We went to several of the lookouts on the mountain and found the spots that ESPN, ABC Sports, Fox Sports, etc. like to use for those scenic pictures of Phoenix and the valley. From here you can easily see Chase Field and and the Cardinal's football stadium in Glendale, as well as the entire valley. Unfortunately, it was a very windy day so there was a lot of dust and clouds obscuring the clear views of the distant mountains that ring the valley. But we were able to take a lot of great pictures anyway.

Saturday was a special day as well. It was the first time in over a month that it rained. The official rainfall for March was "a trace".

Here are some more pictures, you can click on them for a larger view: