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Arizona

Brief getaway to Oak Creek Canyon, north of Sedona

Brief getaway to Oak Creek Canyon, north of Sedona

— After spending several months hanging around the Valley waiting for things to return to normal during the global pandemic, Kathryn and I finally decided to get away for a couple days to a higher elevation and cooler weather. With two other couples from our church, we rented a vacation cabin for two nights in the Oak Creek Canyon area. Although the mailing address of the cabin was Sedona, the reality is we were almost a half-hour north of town.
Heartfelt welcome back to tooth number 14

Heartfelt welcome back to tooth number 14

— For roughly thirteen months, there’s been a hole in my mouth where tooth number 14 was supposed to be. Earlier this week, I received the crown for my implant, finally finishing the job of refilling the hole. An implant isn’t necessarily supposed to take over a year. Based on what I understand, though, it also shouldn’t be rushed. Spending a little extra time after the extraction to wait for the bone in the jaw to set is a good thing.
Ramping up the Camino prep

Ramping up the Camino prep

— Now that I’ve been home from Mexico City for almost a week, I’ve begun ramping up my preparations for the Camino de Santiago, which I anticipate starting just after Easter. Specifically, I’ve been hiking more. Although I want to work out my walking muscles and increase my stamina, I’m not trying to create a typical week of hiking — partly because I have other things to do while I’m home, and partly because I don’t want to leave everything on the hills near Phoenix and not have anything left for the Camino.
Sunrise selfie

Sunrise selfie

— Notwithstanding the nasty weather in Phoenix earlier this week, it’s hiking season here again, at least for me. I like to start my hikes really early in the morning. I don’t wait for dawn. I prefer to get underway at the beginning of civil twilight. Sometimes I start even before that. One of the great things about getting an early start is seeing a sunrise along the way. On a recent hike at Shaw Butte a couple weekends ago, the sun was just coming over the horizon at the same time I was reaching the high point of my trail.
Car is in the shop today, so I’m using public transit

Car is in the shop today, so I’m using public transit

— Most days I drive myself to work in my own vehicle. As much as I’d like to take public transit and let someone else do the driving, it’s not practical in my situation. As much as I complain about my commute, it’s only about an hour and 20 minutes round trip. If I were to take public transit, it would be an hour and 45 minutes each way. That’d be two hours and 10 minutes more time spent commuting every single day.
Subtle but shameless promotion finally pays off

Subtle but shameless promotion finally pays off

— Most of my traveling bags are of the type with loop-and-hook fasteners for patches. Most people who own bags like these, if they don’t put a “morale” patch of some sort, put a tape with their last names. For several years, I’ve been taking a different approach. I display a patch with the domain name of my blog. Earlier this morning, I began my trip back to Phoenix. While I was waiting for my Chick-fil-A order at the airport in Pittsburgh, a guy introduced himself to me and showed me what was on his phone.
My customary airport rant has been canceled for lack of outrage

My customary airport rant has been canceled for lack of outrage

— This is the point in my travels where I usually go on a rant about the TSA. Today, I can’t. Every TSA agent I interacted with today was pleasant, courteous, and professional. I’ve heard and read a number of horror stories about checking in firearms at the airport, concerning both the airlines and TSA. This was my first time, so I prepared myself for the worst. I didn’t have a problem from either American Airlines or TSA.
The long journey home from Montpellier is underway

The long journey home from Montpellier is underway

— After fifteen days in Montpellier, France, our long journey home to Phoenix is underway. The upside of getting an early start is not having to rush. The downside is a lot of time spent waiting. We unwittingly arrived at the airport an hour before check-in was scheduled to begin for our flight to Paris. We used the time to enjoy a coffee and the sandwiches Kathryn made us last night from food we otherwise would have had to throw out.
Bags packed, ready to go

Bags packed, ready to go

— Kathryn and I were up and at ’em early this morning to start our long trip from Phoenix to Montpellier, although compared to our normal weekday schedules, it was like we slept in. Even after a couple leisurely cups of coffee, we finished our last minute chores way ahead of schedule. We’ll leave for the airport in about two hours, giving Kathryn extra time to say goodbye to the cat. We’ve arranged a petsitter who will be here the entire time we’re gone, so the cat will be well cared for.
Saying goodbye and good riddance to tooth number 14

Saying goodbye and good riddance to tooth number 14

— Two weeks ago, I arrived bright and early at my dentist’s office for what was supposed to be a routine crown replacement on tooth number 14. It didn’t go quite as planned. In a mouth full of otherwise relatively healthy teeth, tooth number 14, a molar on the upper left side, has been nothing but trouble ever since it first poked through my gum line. When I was a teenager, it was always one of the teeth most prone to cavities.
The maiden voyage of my parents’ new motor home, Eloy, Arizona

The maiden voyage of my parents’ new motor home, Eloy, Arizona

— The maiden voyage of my parents’ new motor home last weekend was a smashing success, even though everything seemed to be working against us, at least at first. Friday was a miserable day weather-wise, at least by Arizona standards. Cold and wet are not two words one often uses to describe the weather in this state, but last week was both. The drive to the campsite involved several downpours. Luckily we weren’t heading north, as there was snow falling at the higher elevations.
Think you’ve imagined the perfect New Year’s Eve?

Think you’ve imagined the perfect New Year’s Eve?

— If you could spend New Year’s Eve anywhere in the world, where would it be? Until yesterday, the plan for Kathryn and me was to ring in the new year around a propane fire at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona, enjoying a quiet evening to ourselves, drinking some beers with starlit skies above us. However, as the date drew nearer, we saw the temperatures were forecast to be unseasonably cold, with snow also a distinct possibility.
Thirteen relatively short years for me in Arizona

Thirteen relatively short years for me in Arizona

— The date most commonly associated with Arizona is February 14, when Arizona became the 48th state in 1912. For me, though, August 3 is Arizona Day. It’s the date when, in 2004, I first arrived in Arizona for what was supposed to be a relatively short stay while I figured out what to do with the rest of my life. Thirteen years later, I’m still here, much happier, maybe a little wiser, and I’ve figured out that not all things in life need to be figured out.
Hiking along Horton Creek Trail

Hiking along Horton Creek Trail

— Last weekend, Kathryn and I decided to take a break from our usual summer routine of doing absolutely nothing in the sweltering Phoenix heat. Instead, we made a day trip to the slightly cooler Payson area to do some hiking along Horton Creek, just under the Mogollon Rim in Tonto National Forest. We got an early start Saturday morning, leaving around 6:30 to make the roughly 90-minute drive to Payson. We had a hearty breakfast at Crosswinds Restaurant, a diner at the airport, before continuing the last half-hour or so to the trail, arriving around 9:30.
How to order coffee at McDonald’s in Phoenix

How to order coffee at McDonald’s in Phoenix

— I like drinking coffee. I enjoy eating fast food. I live in Phoenix. You might be inclined to think I’d be a master at ordering a cup of coffee in a local McDonald’s. You’d be mistaken. Years ago, it wasn’t such a challenge. I’d visit a McDonald’s and ask for a small coffee. I’d get a Styrofoam cup with brewed coffee. I’d then turn around and find the condiment station, which would have the creamers and sweeteners and those cool plastic stirrers with the arches on the handles.
Dazzo’s in Wikieup, Chicago hot dogs halfway from Phoenix to Las Vegas

Dazzo’s in Wikieup, Chicago hot dogs halfway from Phoenix to Las Vegas

— Roughly halfway between Phoenix and Las Vegas is a place — I hesitate to call it a town — called Wikieup. It’s a perfect spot to stop for a bathroom break and a bite to eat. On previous trips, we’ve often stopped at the Wikieup Trading Post. They make a pretty mean patty melt. The problem is that it became played out for us, stopping the same place every time. That, and the fact their bathrooms are beyond disgusting.
Mission San Xavier del Bac, the White Dove of the Desert near Tucson

Mission San Xavier del Bac, the White Dove of the Desert near Tucson

— During our recent weekend trip to Tucson, Kathryn and I took an opportunity to visit Mission San Xavier del Bac, just outside the city. As luck would have it, there was a Mass scheduled there Saturday morning. It was to celebrate the 366th birthday of Fr. Eusebio Kino, the Jesuit priest who founded the mission way back in 1692. So we made sure to schedule our visit to coincide. Mission San Xavier del Bac, the White Dove of the Desert, exterior view
Arizona road trip: Tonto Natural Bridge, Strawberry, Jerome

Arizona road trip: Tonto Natural Bridge, Strawberry, Jerome

— I had a chance Sunday to get out of town for several hours and enjoy some parts of Arizona I hadn’t ever seen before. The weather was warm and the sky was clear. It was a perfect day for an Arizona road trip. The morning started out great. My travel companion arrived at my place around 9 am with breakfast burritos from Filiberto’s, which I’d never had before. They are basically scrambled eggs, breakfast meat, potatoes and cheese, wrapped in flour tortillas.