Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yet Another Post Not About France

We just got back from a trip to the Phoenix, Arizona area. We were longing for a little warm weather and the opportunity to see some old friends. Both Nancy and I have friends from high school in the area. Nancy and Marianne went to school at Bishop Noll back in Indiana, and Bill and I flunked classes and played football and basketball together at Colorado Academy. We were later roomates for a few quarters in college at Western State College of Colorado.
So, Nancy, Fergus and I jumped in the pickup and headed south, through the Navajo Reservation to Carefree, Arizona where Bill and Kathy live in a most gorgeous location. They moved there from Portland, Oregon and are enjoying the warm, dry weather and clear skies. Their home is situated beneath a small mountain of granite boulders and, for a desert, has a tremendous number of plants surrounding it. All native by the way,.....saguaro, palo verde, prickly pear and cholla cactus, among some others I can't name. Also right out their back door are various critters you may or may not recognize. Pictured here are the javelina, mule deer and bobcat. The deer and bobcat were photographed by Bill Minckler right from the terrace at the back of his house.
The javelina are pig-like animals, and are called boars, sows and piglets. However they are not closely related to the pig family, nor are they rodents which apparently is a common mis-perception. Like the sangolier running loose around Southern France (which are in the pig family), javelina are equally wild. They are properly termed collared peccary and are closely related to a few other peccaries in the Americas. Since I'm not a wildlilfe biologist, I won't attempt further description, other than to say these javelina are tough little guys and can kill a dog rather quickly. Several sashayed by us and Fergus didn't even notice them. He was too busy playing with his stuffed animals.

We stayed with Bill and Kathy for a few days, had some delicious meals and some nice wines and saw lots of saguaro. (Saguaro cactus are found only in the Sonoran Desert which occupies parts of Arizona, Californa and Chihuahua, Mexico. ) We then headed down to Mesa to see Marianne and Gary. They wined us and dined us and the next day we set off for the Kartchner Caverns near Benson. It took us all day to drive down there, see the caverns and drive back, but it was worth it. You can Google the cavern and see some pictures, but they won't do it justice. I've been in a few caves and caverns, but nowhere have I seen more fantastic shapes and formations. Water slowly seeps into the ground and dissolves the limestone and then deposits it in stalactites, stalagmites and a dizzying array of other features I can't remember the names of. Whereas in France, the most interesting features in caves and caverns are the pre-historic paintings left by early man, Kartchner Caverns weren't visited by any humans whatsoever until the mid-70's and are pristine.
At the top of the post is a beautiful picture of Phoenix. We didn't see it like this because we never got near downtown Phoenix. The place is huge and has a large and growing population. Here are a few things I've learned about Phoenix while I was there: 1. Someday they are going to have a serious water crisis if they don't begin to conserve water, and; 2. They don't give a shit about the scarcity of petroleum either judging by the number of Hummers on the road.

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