Tag Archives: Arizona

A Revised Beaten Path

Updated from 2015:


Despite my rebellious nature, I’ve become a slave to routine. Where my young, healthy body once took life as it happened, I now must deliberately prepare myself for each day. This takes me considerably longer now than ever before, even longer than when I had my four young boys in tow.

With the aging process grinding away on my physical self, my routine somehow became unforgiving and unappreciative of my mental self. One little skip can result in an almost immediate blunder, frustration and sometimes bruises.

The new routine is grudgingly predictable:

1. Wake up – This can take a while.
1.1. Take a thorough inventory of every joint and vertebra, then gently move them.
1.2. Be sure my brain is also awake enough to rise without injuring myself or others while getting to the bathroom and then the kitchen. Prayer typically comes into play here.

Note: I’ve come to accept (not like) the sometimes intimidating, frightening, occasionally surprising, (and embarrassing when involving witnesses,) waking process. I often inadvertently successfully integrate other tasks – mostly for fun. I.e. Prayer while in bathroom. Shame or pride? Omniscient. Omnipresent. Look them up.

2. Clean soot from floor and counters. Wood stove heat. Enough said?
3. Water and coffee (slamming sixteen ounces of water before coffee seems cruel, but empirically it’s a good practice).
3.1. I like Krups (yeah, when affordable).
3.1.1. Who are we kidding? Refillable K cups require forethought and more motion. Default to Mr. Coffee pot and microwave to reheat.

4. Bathroom time. Again, this could take a while.
4.1. Contemplate actual need for visible eyebrows.

5. Fuel – The most forgiving point, interchangeable with items 4 – 4.1. Rather than burn muscle on my power walk, I must force down food and supplements.
5.1. Disregard notion about forgiving. Do not forget fuel. (Um, I’m Out of Gas – Again story (c) 1995).

6. Stretching – With bursitis, tendinitis and joint pain I’ve learned to not minimize the importance of stretching or give into temptations to “stretch as I go”.
6.1. There are better ways to meet the neighbors than screaming, “Call 9-1-1,” from the ground.

7. Sun block. Should have learned about skin cancer attending grade school in central Arizona.
7.1. By this point the searing sun will be above the tree line. Surgical excisions are costly. Do not trifle with this.

8. Lace up, walk toward door.
8.1. Yes, you turned off the lights. If you left the coffee pot on, you need another one anyway.
8.2. Everything else can wait an hour, continue walking through the door.
8.3. Just walk away.

9. Incorporate socializing and checking on family while warming up (before heavy breathing begins).
9.1. Offspring and siblings sufficiently annoyed. Now punch it, Chewie.

10. Shower, deodorant, lotion, dress, then get to work.
10.1. I work at home, clothes are optional.
10.1.2. Gravity is rude. Forget 10.1.

All of this reaffirms my philosophy: Relax and enjoy the ride, no one gets out alive.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”

2 Corinthians 4:16 (NKJV)

Go Readers. Redefine life along the way.


Featured image courtesy Pixabay



Filed under A Door Ajar

The Long Haul

I just made another addition to my voided driver’s license collection. Over the past three years, exactly 35 months, 3 weeks and 3 days, I’ve lived in Illinois, Washington, Texas and Colorado, also visited family in Arizona and driving through New Mexico twice in that time. I’m now back near the Tri-Cities in Washington State; near enough to the delta of the Columbia and Snake rivers to hit a ball into either major waterway.

Speaking of hits, Cubs Win! But this isn’t about baseball or the 2016 World Series. That’s a confirmation it was time to come back to the only place I actually felt at home. Surely I earned some time to drop a line in some water and rest a bit.

This latest chapter began with our branch of the family together here on The Ranch. Over the last decade Cole became our brother here – Lord, help him. Although sister Roan and Opal are still in Texas and Seagh walks beside Jesus now, such fond memories were born here I never wanted to leave. But that’s another story.

Six weeks ago I Googled the stats: It’s 908.6 miles from Erin’s house on the Western Slope of the Rockies to the hills and slopes of Finley. Days later Cole drove from Finley to Erin’s to collect me.

Five weeks ago Erin and I had talked it out, cried it out (separately, of course – it’s how we roll) so there was nothing left to do but the leg work. Days after I’d decided it was time to move on it took one phone call. In a few more days Erin and I loaded the boxes, and Cole tied down most of my worldly belongings into his trailer. With quick, teary-eyed, squishy hugs, very aware we were running out of daylight, Cole and I left Erin’s company and were on our way. Home. Where my hiraeth impetus can find peace.

Another four weeks later I’ve unpacked, burned the well-worn boxes and arranged the apartment to my liking, so I’m ready to return to work.

Following are photo highlights of our journey north and west. The photography from a constantly-moving vehicle doesn’t do the scenery justice, but we made excellent time. It’s not like I’ll never make the drive again and take the time to shoot it right.

img_1500 img_1506 img_1512 img_1520 img_1537 img_1542 img_1543 img_1558 img_1566 img_1572

With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed. In your might, you guide them to your sacred home.”

Exodus 15:13 (NLT)



Filed under Notes from the Apex

Journey Reflections

As my body continues to rebel against time and gravity I appreciate life more than ever before. I’ve been reflecting upon memories, mostly the snap shot images, and some videos from my history.

Film camera selfie: Roo inside tent

AZ boyzNot that long ago, I was known for impulsively grabbing a day pack, and taking off. I didn’t think long about it then, I simply went. With the boys, friends or sometimes alone, we’d explore the land, lakes, rivers, the ocean, whatever we encountered. Subject and adverse to aches and pains now, I plan more these days.

Today those memories took me to three journeys long ago.

Farthest back was a drive from the east side of Scottsdale, Arizona to Crown King. Off the beaten path on some barely paved roads, much of the area was still remote in the early 1980’s, so it naturally appealed to me.

AZ VistaMy favorite part of that trip was the return to Phoenix, cresting a hill on Highway 17 a stretch north of what is now the Carefree Highway. As the Valley of the Sun laid out before me, I stopped to take in the miles of nearly pristine dessert between that rise and the the remote edges of Phoenix. The springtime desert wove a tapestry beneath a glorious sunset of dazzling gold, silver and sapphires, struck with silhouettes of saguaros, chollas, organ pipes and the sloping hills.

CA CoastSeveral decades later, driving around Deer Valley reminded me of yet another adventure years earlier in 1980’s California:

On a rare occasion that my companion and I weren’t pressed for time, we began driving the mini truck from Arroyo Grande bound for Whittier. Instead of taking the interstate, we took Highway 101, and diverted to smaller coastal roads, stopping frequently to refresh and explore the towns.

At one point of the casual drive we stopped in Lompoc. There we noticed a man and woman sitting with large backpacks. We greeted them, struck up a conversation and learned they were from West Germany. That was before the Berlin wall collapsed. Somehow between their pigeon English and our gooney-bird German, we decided to intertwine our adventures together for a while.

malibu From Lompoc they rode with us, taking turns riding in the bed of the truck. We’d removed the camper shell before departing and took the back window out so we could talk back and forth with our new friends. With our company the different route took on an even broader perspective, making the journey more exhilarating.

los-angeles-downtown-cityscape-3000x2000_28675Though we’d been there often, we rediscovered Santa Barbara through their maiden visit. From Malibu we back tracked a little up to Highway 101 again. Though further inland, we wanted to relive the first spellbinding view of the Los Angeles basin with them, the couple in the cab so they could view the city head-on. Though the traffic was denser and noisier, we were spellbound.

We drove through the center of Los Angeles to the Bonaventure Hotel, specifically to ride the exterior glass elevators.

Olvera_Street_Los_Angeles_California_blogWe’d intended to take a meal at one of the dining establishments at the Bonaventure. We ate at a taco stand on Olvera Street instead and couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Back in the truck, having shot several canisters of film (before digital photography) we were full of food, and wonder. So caught up in the adventure, we bypassed Whittier and drove on to Anaheim, marveling over the city lights.

The couple opted to stay in Buena Park and meet up with other fellow sojourners in the morning. We located a nice, affordable room for the night within walking distance from their connection the next day.

la basin nightI don’t recall much of the conversation we shared over a bottle of wine, cheese and bread on their hotel balcony. I marveled with them over the magnitude of Los Angeles County. The lady said several times how big it is and how glad they were that we met.

Reluctant to part, even in the wee small hours of the morning, the little truck nearly drove itself back to Whittier. Having seen Los Angeles through their eyes, I became humbled. I felt ashamed for becoming indifferent to the beautiful, marvelous place we lived; from the coast to the foothills of the Angeles National Forest and the amazing metropolises of Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Sdale from Cback1988

Roo atop Camelback Mt. 1988

In Arizona 2007, the same feelings I experienced exploring Los Angeles years before overwhelmed me again. I rode in awed silence with my sister from my Aunt’s house that was nestled into the foothills of the North Mountain Reserve at the end of 15th Avenue. Although it looked hugely different, vastly developed, it was still Phoenix to us.

We grew up there when Deer Valley Road seemed to mark the edge of the world and visits to my aunt felt like a trip to the wilds. Now the bustling city reaches beyond the hills with no break before heading up Highway 17 toward Black Canyon City. The long miles of landscape between Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa are now filled with towns spreading outward. Once again, filled with wonder I let go of exactly where I was, where I’d ever been before and watched through the eyes of my German friends long ago.

Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.” Psalm 119:35 (NLT)



Filed under Longreads, Notes from the Apex