Category Archives: Phoenix

Are you safer hiking alone, or with a buddy?

I do most of my hiking alone, and without issue. Some people feel it is safer to hike with a friend. Honestly, there are various angles to the safety issue. If you go hiking, the most common bad things that can happen to you are:

(1) Exhaustion
(2) Dehydration
(3) Slipping or Tripping
(4) Being bitten by spiders, ticks, bees, etc.
(5) Getting lost after dark

It is very rare that humans are attacked by animals or other humans while hiking, so that is not an issue that I wish to consider. Hiking with a buddy will not help you be less exhausted or dehydrated. Hiking with a buddy will not make it any less likely that you will trip or fall. You can laugh loudly while your friend cracks a joke, opening your mouth wide enough for an insect to come inside as well. Lastly, this is a more serious issue — if you hike with a friend, you will be more likely to be adverturous, and get lost after dark.

Two of the most dangerous hiking trips happened with friends. We were having a good time exploring a new trail. When you are with a friend, you pay less attention to the twists in the trail and more attention to your friend which means you are more likely to get lost coming back. I was smart enough to bring multiple flashlights with functional batteries with me. My friend brought none. I brought plenty of liquids. My friend didn’t bring any. My friend wanted to meditate for 45 minutes as the sun was getting lower and lower. I didn’t want to be a party pooper and rush her, but seriously — this is dangerous. You don’t want to get stuck on a mountain in Sedona with the sun setting. The fact that the spirits I call “The guardian spirits” were upset with our/her presence made it much worse. The spirits there had a reputation for making sure people would lose their way, and it almost worked with us. They just don’t like certain people, and nobody knows why. They are protective of their sacred land and Sedona is sacred to the local tribes. In any case, we barely made it out alive. The sun had completely set by the time we made it to flat ground, and fortunately we knew what to do from then to get to the car.

My other dangerous experience was with another friend. It was in the Southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. We hiked in the desert. The trail unfortunately twists and turns and goes through long sections of washes. The problem is that you lose the trail when you are hiking on a sandy wash. Coming back at night, it is easy to lose track of where you are supposed to go. You could easily dehydrate and die out there with nobody to save you. Luckily, my friend remembered the way back. So, we didn’t die. But, I don’t want any more close calls.

You are safer hiking where you know the trail. If you are hiking in a new place, it might make sense to take notes as to where the trail twists. It might help, or might not help jog your memory.

I know you’re all wondering — what about the hiking expedition and the rattlesnake? I considered throwing rocks at it from a distance, but decided to go and take the longer trail back down. Why take chances with a rattlesnake taking a snooze on a sandy trail at Griffith Park?

The End.

Oh, by the way, before it slips my mind. You are much safer hiking with a group that knows the terrain. That eliminates the possibility of getting lost, and someone can go for help if you get injured. Groups don’t always provide a pleasant social atmosphere as hikers are notoriously unfriendly. Yes, it is the rock climbers who seem to “always” be friendly. I’m not sure why that anomaly of nature exists, but it seems to always be that way.

Assuming you like hiking more than rock climbing, but value the “quality” of your accompaniments:

Heaven = going hiking with rock climbers
Hell = going rock climbing with hikers

Most museums are empty, but not this one…

I recently went on a road trip from CA to NM, TX, and AZ. It was interesting to visit various museums along the way. But, I noticed that the art museums, history museums, and other museums of interest were generally empty except for me. There was one very unique museum of soaring which is so unattended that you have to make an appointment to get in to see their collection of gliders. What makes a museum attractive to guests? Is it the presentation? Is it the theme?

The last museum on my trip was the Yuma Territorial Prison museum. This museum was packed. Everybody wanted to see the prison. Art, they can live without. History — who needs it. But, a prison — that’s what everyone wants to see.

The hotel lady asked, “What brings you into town?”
Me: “I’m going to prison”
Lady: “What did you do?”
Me: “I didn’t do anything!”
Lady: “So, why are you going to prison if you didn’t do anything?”
Me: “I want to visit this prison. In fact I want to go so badly, I’m willing to PAY them to have them let me in!”
Lady: “Most people want to get out of prison, but you want to go to prison!”
Me: “Only for a quick tour!”

So, I saw the gift shop, and paid my six bucks!
“You mean I have to pay to go to prison?”
“Yup!”
“How much do I got to pay?
“Six bucks!”
“Six dollars? To go to jail? … Oh, all right… here’s ur six bucks!”

I watched an enactment of a shoot-out that happened more than 100 years ago. Two ladies were deprived of their rights to walk alone at night, and nothing was being done about their safety. The Sheriff’s assistant robbed them, and they were upset. So, they go into an argument with the mayor, shot him, and then shot the Sheriff and his assistant. The blanks they used were too loud and I got a ringing in my ears. I with they could warn you before they shoot their guns!

Next, it was through the Sally-port and into the main exhibits. I saw all of the memorabilia, and information about many of the inmates. One girl shot her brother because he objected to her dancing at local saloons. Another guy was locked in the “Dark Room” for 120 days. He never caused any problem after that. There were prisoners of all descriptions and all backgrounds including Navajos, Apaches, Mexicans, Anglos, and even Mormans who were arrested for practicing their religious beliefs. What’s wrong with having multiple wives? With all of the guys being killed in gun battles, someone has to marry the leftover damsels in distress, right?

The prison was next to the historic railroad bridge. This railroad is super busy with trains crossing every few minutes. That railroad line historically was the only year-round line of transportation coast to coast. The reason for the Gadsden purchase was to have a reliable route of transportation from East to West in the depth of Winter! Additionally, Yuma is the winter lettuce capital of America supplying 95% of Americas lettuce during winter months! I never new that before my visit!

Next, I visited the cells. They were just brick and concrete buildings with iron ribbons grating the large domed doors. It had an open-aired design so that people wouldn’t suffocate during the summer. How did these hombres survive in 120 heat in the summer? Were they offered enough water? I would dehydrate really fast under those conditions. They had sewer rats running around the filth in those days. What I saw was the “cleaned up” version of that prison. Later on, the cells were used to house hobos during the depression. It was conveniently close to the railroad which is why it was popular. Please note that this prison was only used to house inmates for a few decades in the 1800’s, and after that was a homeless shelter, and then a museum!

My last stop in the cells was to the dark cell. A 20 foot corridor led to a very dark room. In the old days the door was shut, so no light got in. What a horrible punishment! If you have ever been to a cave before and turned the lights out, it is like that!

Last, I watched a video about the history of the prison. After that, it was taco time. I had some very nice Barbacoa and Carnitas with freshly made thick tortilla chips and salsa. Yum. Yuma is a great place for good Mexican food, and don’t miss the Chinese buffet at Lin’s if you like great Mongolian BBQ, ribs, dumplings and other Chinese fare!

Review of the Mission in Scottsdale, AZ

I discovered The Mission while I was looking on the Internet for Southwestern restaurants in Scottsdale. It was surprisingly near my hotel, so near that I decided to walk there. There is a swank outdoor private patio with a large fireplace and screens that seclude you from the road. Inside is a bar and dining area that are a bit dark, so I prefer the patio. The food is quite good, but one of the most striking features of the restaurant is a great mix of Latin, hip-hop, and R & B, which created a very relaxed and cool atmosphere. It’s like being in a movie; if Don Johnson, Fifty Cents, a really sexy woman in her late 40’s, and some Cuban Mafia bosses had to agree on a restaurant, this would be it.

I chose a table on the patio and started out with a glass of Campo Viejo Tempranillo Grand Reserve from Spain. I sipped it slowly as I perused the menu and absorbed the hypnotic atmosphere. The wine was robust with a slight aroma of smoke or leather…It suggested to me the Pork Belly Pibil (pork belly with garnishes), which I ordered. I mixed the pork belly with each garnish, one by one, and enjoyed each unique blend of flavors–the pickled red onion, avocado, and banana habanero aioli included in this dish. For an entree, I ordered Chilean Salmon; the tomato jam was an unusual addition and, when paired with the salmon, created a blend of flavors like nothing I had ever tasted. I liked the restaurant so much that I returned several times to try more of their eclectic menu.

On another occasion, I had the pork shoulder tacos; it arrived with a side dish of red onion, cilantro, and pineapple glaze. They said it was for two people, but I set to work making tacos (they provided 10 corn tortillas). The pork was sweet but a bit spicy and soft. In general, at Mexican restaurants, the pork dishes are usually the most flavorful. On yet another visit, I sat at the bar and enjoyed the Diver Scallops; I talked with the Native American bartender about the food and Navajo culture. I asked him if he was from an earth clan or a water clan, and he quickly replied “water” before I even finished asking the question. It was great to hear some of his stories about strange happenings on the Reservation that could not be explained. People at the bar talked about other hot-spots in the Phoenix metro and mentioned some new, very trendy restaurants in North Phoenix that I intend to visit.

All in all, the Mission is a mesmerizing place to dive into the world of Latin fusion. Bring a friend and savor a few of the special dishes. Note to self: Don’t forget to bring your scuba gear if you want to try the Divers Scallops again.

Mission Accomplished!

Suncreen on your left arm and the spirits.

Suncreen on your left arm and the spirits. My experiences traveling to Arizona over the years.

It’s funny. Normally, when you grease up, you put sun screen on your arms, face, neck, and that’s about it if you are going hiking. But, when I drive to Arizona, my arms get very dry and irritated with the sun bearing down on them. My left arm and my right hand get hit the worst. So, I make it a tradition to put sun screen on my left arm whenever I visit Arizona or drive in the desert for extended periods of time.

Driving to Arizona has always been an experience, as long as I can remember. I will never forget one of my earliest trips to this mystical state. I was in a car with a bunch of friends from meditation. I remember three specific individuals of the four I was with which is not bad considering this was about twelve years ago.

The minute we crossed the border, the atmosphere changed. The energy lightened. It was a different world we had entered. An elderly Indian spirit welcomed me. I thought at the time I was just imagining it because I was tuning into the Arizona energy. I pictured a Native American flute song as well. I have since learned that I lived in Arizona and New Mexico among other states in past lives and am deeply connected to the spirits there. It was not my imagination at all. It was real.

The air is much lighter in Arizona. Energy can pass through more quickly. I feel the energy of the land more in Arizona as well. The land seems to have a rhythem over there — a sort of deep humming. It is brighter there too. There is more energy in the air, and signs are brighter. Whenever I come back to Los Angeles, it takes my eyes 36 hours to readjust. It just seems really really dark. I guess my pupils get so contracted that they have trouble opening up when I come back to California.

The minute I cross that bridge over the Colorado river coming back to Los Angeles, there is a huge feeling of relaxation. Then, when I get to Indio, I notice how smoggy the air is. Phoenix has relatively pure air. Sure, I love Arizona, but the energy is too much to be there more than a few days.

In fact, the energy is so strong that I can’t have much coffee or alcohol — if any. It really depends on which hotel I stay at. Certain parts of the Phoenix metro are a little more relaxed in their energy, but when I stay in Old Town Scottsdale, my heart rate will get far too fast if I have ANY coffee or alcohol. In Los Angeles I can have lots, and my heart rate only goes up a little. Bizarre.

My final comment is that there is one nice thing about driving back home from Arizona at night. That is that I don’t have to put sunscreen on my left arm!

A review of Hampton Inn — Scottsdale, AZ

I was excited because I was able to stay at a Hilton brand hotel for $79 a night with my AAA discount. I had never been to the Phoenix area in the summer, but I go to Phoenix regularly to energize myself: a short visit to Arizona can recharge me for two or three weeks.

Score of Hampton Inn — Scottsdale, AZ
Overall: A-
Cost: $$
Room: B+
Front Desk: A
Housekeeping: A
Breakfast: A
Other Services: B+
Location: A

The staff was professional and friendly (housekeeping, front desk, restaurant). I asked the woman at the desk some questions about the humidity. Not only did she give me some excellent answers, but she slid a printout under my door with weather info on upcoming days–without my having to ask her for it. Very considerate.

My room was immaculate and the carpets and paint were new. I had a single King room facing the pool. There was an extremely comfortable chair where I was able to sit and meditate. There were two quirks: the toilet seat would slam down on its own (you could not put it all the way up). I jokingly told myself perhaps this was the work of a playful female ghost who didn’t like men leaving the seat up. Another small issue was that the sheet on the bed was not wide enough to be tucked in, so it came completely off by the third day. Strange.

The hotel has a beautiful breakfast room with a vaulted ceiling. Breakfast was open until 10– very thoughtful. Excellent lean ham and eggs with a choice of juices, cereal, breakfast potatoes, and the usual assortment of goodies.

There is also a pleasant fitness room and business room. I used the business room quite a bit and enjoyed the well-functioning computers, but then on the third day the mouse mysteriously stopped working…perhaps done by the same imaginary ghost who put down the toilet seat in my room. Maybe she doesn’t like to see men overworking on vacation. However, computer # 2’s mouse did work, so I was able to finish my emails and updates for my newsletter.

This hotel is conveniently located near a wide assortment of top-notch restaurants. I dined at The Persian Room and had a lamb and rice pilaf dish; the portions were big and the service was excellent. This hotel is 8 miles North of historic Old Town Scottsdale, known for its art galleries, fine shops, restaurants, and bars. In general, Scottsdale has a greater variety of high-end restaurants per square mile than perhaps anywhere else in the world. You will find many of the same high-end restaurants that you find in the Beverly Hills area, yet there are more fine restaurants in Scottsdale, per square mile, than in any other place in the U.S. You will find familiar restaurants such as PF Chang’s, Sushi Roku, Benehada’s, Fogodechao, Buca de Beppo, Il Fornaio, Houston’s. There are also many unique restaurants (not part of a chain) and bars in Scottsdale of a caliber hard to find in any other area.

This particular Hampton Inn is in Northern Scottsdale near Bell Road and earns an A- . Apart from three relatively small issues, this was a very comfortable, considerate, and thoughtfully-run hotel. For the very small price they charged me, I received a very high quality hotel experience, and the best hotel in this price range–with the exception of hotels connected to casinos.

Gatorade Tea on a Warm Phoenix Afternoon’s Hike

I love Phoenix and travel there regularly. I find that Arizona has a mystical energy to it that picks me up. My acupuncture swears that it helps my heart and lung meridians. My astrologer (who lives with us) thinks it is a magical state as well. But, she says that the energy of Phoenix is related to the sun and Summer! She is right! She said, I should go during the Summer. I always avoided Arizona during the Summer for obvious reasons. 110 degree weather? Who wants that, especially when you are hiking! But, hotels are cheap, and I needed to recharge myself, so I got in my trusty Toyota and went to the hotel that I had booked.

I stayed at the Hampton for $79.
A bargain for a Hilton hotel. Very nice staff and comfortable building. The heat didn’t bother me for some reason. I spent the early part of the afternoon in my easy chair meditating. When I go on trips, I will typically meditate for four or more non-consecutive hours. I need to get in touch with my spiritual side, and that is hard when I am working 10 hour days at home. I stocked up on Gatorade. Then, I drove to the hills near Fountain Hills and did my 90 minute hike in the cactuses that I am so fond of.

Hiking close to nightfall
I had chosen my dates based on cooler weather. It had rained a bit and the weather would be under 100 the first day and not that bad on subsequent days. I hiked on the second day. It was only 103 in the late afternoon. I hiked around and enjoyed it tremendously. But, the sun was setting. My shadows were getting longer and longer. My shadow got to be 30 feet long. I started to panic. How much longer to the end of the loop? Finally it ended with 20 minutes to spare. I’ll be more careful next time. It gets dark on a cloudy night.

May I have some milk and sugar for my Gatorade tea?
The following day, I did some work from the hotel. I wanted to save time, so I hiked near the zoo. They have a circular trail that is 11 minute per loop. It’s right across the hill from the beautiful botanical garden which I am so fond of. The hike the previous day, I had Gatorade relatively recently purchased from the store. But, this day, I had day old Gatorade. It had been sitting in the trunk collecting heat. The Gatorade was boiling on this 107 degree day. It tasted like I was having Gatorade tea! I called my assistant and asked if she could bring milk and sugar for my Gatorade tea. For some reason the heat didn’t bother me, but I couldn’t stand hot Gatorade. I learned my lesson. I will always go to the store to get chilled drinks from now on whenever I hike in the Summer. Luckily, during my 90 minute hike, the temperature dropped to 101, and my Gatorade became warm and more pleasant to drink.

I learned my lesson
This was my first trip to Phoenix in the Summer. I have been a few times in the late Spring, but never before in August. I did okay for my first Summer trip to Phoenix. I learned a few valuable lessons. Next time I will be prepared!