Week twelve @ BTA

Sunday February 6th 2022

Sunday morning, and it’s just seven o’clock, I kind of slept in this morning, it was near midnight when I finally hit the hay. The blog got published as scheduled and there have been a number of hits already, I guess all those snowed in folks on the eastern seaboard needed some morning entertainment. I may have to rethink the Sunday morning blog release or maybe I just need to be more diligent at keeping it up with daily entries, because I was a couple of hours tying up loose ends from mid week, before being able to publish.

It’s a warm but cloudy morning here in Arizona, with an eight o’clock start time today we just have time for a vitamin, some cereal, and a coffee (with Baileys) and were out the coach door. We like to get there a few moments early, to switch on the computer and prepare to receive visitors, and be ready for the gate opening at eight, and we often also assist the morning store staff by moving the display racks out from their night storage spots in the store itself. But this morning as we stood by the still locked store door, there were a number of vehicles entering the lot and still no staff to unlock the store and allow us to get our money drawer and key to open the admissions booth. So by the time I have the computer terminal turned on and are able to process guests, there is a lineup before eight and then of course the credit card terminal decided not to energize this morning, I think that it was not seated properly in its cradle overnight, and because the battery won’t hold a charge it was discharged, and then it has to re-charge enough to be able to turn on. Ten minutes later the world is all good again, with everything up and running and the lineup is gone.

So there was no quiet walk through the arboretum this morning, that makes three days in a row, and I do really kind of miss it, so no photos to start the blog this Sunday, but I promise there will be soon, so by noon at the end of our shift, we had completed a busy morning, maybe not Saturday busy but much busier than a Friday. So we are done our shifts till 8 o’clock Friday morning, Miss Laurie put together a small charcuterie board for lunch, cheese, several meats, pickles and crackers. Just a regular lunch for us, something to eat slowly to enjoy the flavours, with a cold adult beverage in the Arizona sunshine.

Miss Laurie has arranged a get together with all the other host volunteers for this afternoon at four o’clock in the common area. It had been a while and because we do not all work in the same areas and some work opposite shifts, so this is after everyone’s shift, and it’s just a couple of beverages and some snacks, the outcome is yet to be determined, but that happens after my nap in the afternoon sunshine. I’m pleased to report that the evening was a success, everyone got to met all the hosts and as the days are stretching out a little further, everyone stayed until the sun set, and there seemed to be good conversation amongst the group. There are now seven couples so the one couple is camped on the other side of the arboretum, up near the picket post house, so some of the group had not met them before this evening.

By seven o’clock everyone was gone and the area cleaned up, we settled in to catch up on YouTube, have a little more dinner, watch 60 minutes, and headed for bed by nine thirty. Our work shifts are intense but after working only two and a half days later, we have four full days off.

Monday morning and I’m up way too early this morning five o’clock, just because of a nature call, but Mr. Sam needed a couple of treats and then he likes to curl up on my lap, and to be real honest I kind of enjoy this little tradition in the mornings as well. He is a very affectionate cat, and will spend hours sitting or laying on our laps, and on these cool mornings he is like a furry hot water bottle. So the cat is on my lap and I’m starting to draft this weeks blog.

A walk through the arboretum this morning, I took some less traveled paths, and seen more signs of some javelinas, there were lots of bird life this morning and I have to admit that I walked some paths that I have never been on before. The morning sunshine made for some spectacular views, and although I got a bit of late start, I walked for a full hour and only seen my first guest as I exited through the visitor center.

On my return to the coach Miss Laurie made me sausage and eggs for breakfast, yes some of those “Maple, Apple, Pecan pork sausages”, and while you might think they sound too sweet but there is a subtly hidden little bit of heat that just adds some punch to the flavour profile. Miss Laurie was doing this weeks laundry this morning and thought she wanted to go for a hike in Arnett Canyon so I loaded up the drone and the GoPro along with some water and we drove to the trailhead.

This area of Arizona has so many hiking trails that it can almost be confusing, and when they name some of them the LOST trails you might even think a little unnerving. But here in Arizona LOST stands for “Legends of Superior Trails” and we were headed for that trail through Arnett Canyon. The map below was located at the trail head and showed a number of trails even the “Arizona Trail” which crosses through this area, it starts at the Mexican border and treks north to the Utah State line and is 800 miles long. And while the map board was loaded with information did very little to explain the local hikes or the LOST trails, so when we returned to the coach I found the LOST trails map.

Map at Picket Post trail head
Legends of Superior Trail map

This map details the trails so much better, and with the addition of a second vehicle would make these trails one way hikes instead of our halfway and turn around. This was an excellent hike, and knowing it was just one ridge south of the arboretum, and was burned in the Telegraph fire last summer, left us feeing saddened by the damage but really thankful for the hard work of the firefighters to save the Arboretum from this disaster.

I feel that I need to add some details of a near loss of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, last summer from the Telegraph Fire that that started southeast of the town of Superior early in June and burnt until early July before finally being contained at the Arboretum property line. The telegraph fire was the sixth largest fire in Arizona history and destroyed 180,000 acres. The reason I bring this up is that the canyon we hiked through today was scared from that fire less that a year earlier. It made parts of todays adventure seem very sad, when you see century old saguaro cactus destroyed, as well as the loss of wildlife in the area, I can not imagine the anxiety of knowing this fire was just a few hundred yards away, and being almost helpless to protect this ninety eight year old treasure. But obviously someone felt that way as well and decided to direct water bombers in to drop their slurry along the boarders of the Arboretum to save it from being destroyed.

Telegraph fire map

After our return to the coach about three hours later, a bowl of soup for lunch followed by a shower to wash the dust off, and I must admit the temptation to take an afternoon nap was running strong. But I resisted and spent the afternoon napping in my recliner in between researching information for this blog. As we closed in on dinner time, we got a last minute invitation to join Tom & Kathleen and Mary and Lincoln for enchiladas around their fire pit along with a beverage or two, but again the cool evening sent us scurrying back to the coach to warm up and watch the most recent episode of 1883, before turning in, and as I checked my activity app and notice 14104 steps, well over my daily average, maybe could explain a few new aches and pains this evening … jus’saying.

Tuesday morning and a big welcome to February, a whole month of 2022 already in the books, it is hard to believe that we have been here almost three months. So time does fly when you are having fun, we have just verified that little phrase. It is another sunny morning, as I can’t seem to get my butt in gear this morning to take that early morning walk through the arboretum.

The weather forecast for the next week is not maybe what we would hope for but as I watched the national weather forecast this morning I guess we really can’t complain. And a couple days under sixty is very doable, when there are getting freezing temperatures as low as Florida. Notice all those sunny days for the next week as well.

And after speaking with family back in Ontario 50°F (10°C) doesn’t seem as bad as the weather they were describing, we sure are glad that border opened!

So what is happening today? I foresee a walk in the Arboretum today, it’s just too beautiful not to spend some time there again today, I’m also hoping to get back to some video editing, but I think breakfast will be first on the agenda. In fact I can smell it cooking as I type on my laptop, breakfast this morning has a cheese omelet with some more sausages and as I was sitting enjoying it, I get a ping on my laptop that Tom Brady is retiring. Oh wooppee!

I have never been a Tom Brady fan, it’s not that he was anything but a capable quarterback, I think that that handful of super bowl ring proves that point. No I think its just that level of arrogance that some athletes take on, as they just have to be the center of attention whether it is because of their cheating or the need to announce their retirement after they were unable to get to this years big event, but want to try to steal as much attention as possible from the super bowl, and I’ve seen way too many athletes retire way too many times, after a few months out of the spotlight they usually manage to resurface again to try steal some more headlines. So goodbye and good riddance Tom and if you took Arron along with you, that would be OK as well, as he is starting to implode as well, and after this seasons display of stupidity and arrogance. Its time to move on and let the young guns to step in and take over, and my prediction is you will not be as missed as everyone might think.

Sorry for that little rant, they sometimes just sneak out, when I least suspect them. So I have been kicking around the idea of upgrading my video editing program, to something easier to use, what I find with program that I use now that a video with a number of videos clips it becomes too difficult to operate, it works well with two or three clips but because of multiple cameras, I’m ending up with well in excess of ten clips, then throw in a few photos, an introduction and an ending. And it just becomes two difficult to work with it, so I have downloaded a new program for a 7 day free trial, so I spent close to three hours trying it out and piecing yesterdays hike into a video that I think will be watchable, it’s a learning process but the eze of using the program seems much better and with close to twenty clips from GoPro, DJI Drone, iPhone, and still photos it seems easier and photo overlays are much easier. I have hit some sort of a glitch with a video graphics card issue, that I will look at tomorrow, I need a break today so I’m headed into the arboretum for a walk.

My walk through the arboretum today was as enchanting as always, it’s like chicken soup for the soul, and I started out for just a short walk, because the old hips are a little tender from yesterdays hike yet, but every where I looked there is more signs of the arboretum blooming it’s way into a desert spring. somewhere upstream must have got some rain yesterday as well because I got to watch Queen creek start flowing again through the arboretum, not a rushing torrent this time, no just a gentle flowing creek that just adds another element to the beauty of this place.

Miss Laurie spent a few hours painting yesterday, it’s seem like it has been a long time since she has sat and painted, I don’t think she realizes how talented she is, with the same eye that she can create depth in a photo, she can use to bring life to her paintings. Karen is a weaver, and has been dabbling with water colour, so Laurie showed her this painting and she was more than impressed, I have always admired her talent, but I’m just her husband.

John & Karen invited us over to sit around their fire pit, Miss Laurie made a round of whiskey sours and I tried a vanilla porter from a Colorado brewer, one of the singles I picked up at Total Wine, and I’m glad I didn’t buy a six pack, it was ok but not worth the extra price. We enjoyed some good conversation but by dusk decided it was time to barbecue before it was too dark. Barbecued pork chops, brussel sprouts, and some rice for dinner, didn’t get to watch any news as the streaming service was down, so we streamed some documentaries on the State of Utah and Yellowstone National Park, both we well done and took us around to bedtime.

Wednesday morning and welcome to Groundhog Day, that day when everyone waits to hear if some rodent seen his shadow or not, to forecast whether or not it will be an early spring. I don’t care because spring has arrived to the Arizona desert, end of story for me.

So it’s another early morning for me a nature call and an aching back had me up just before five this morning, right now I’m kicked back in my recliner, Mr. Sam is stretched out on my lap, and I’m catching up my blog on my iPad. I have the blinds open so I can see east toward the rising sun. It is quiet here at the arboretum, highway 60 is a ways away and we only here the occasional Jake brake from trucks as they wind their way through the valley toward Superior before starting the climb to Globe thirty miles east or as the start to climb to Gonzales Pass as the head West to Phoenix. It’s a few minutes after six now and I have disturbed Mr. Sam, because I had to shift my legs, so he has most likely headed to the big bed for his morning nap, but I can hear him having a snack at his bowl on the way by.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time in my chair working with the editing program so my step count was very low, even with my walk in the arboretum I was still only 3500 well below the daily goal that I set for myself so at first light this morning I’m heading to the arboretum, after that I really don’t know we are expecting sunshine but daytime temperatures only in the low fifties (10 to 11°C range) but it’s 43°F (6°C) already ant it looks like much cooler tomorrow morning so today is the early walk.

I was out of the coach at 7:30 and wondered around the main arboretum trail this morning, the morning started overcast so I was unable to get any photos with that morning sunshine. But the birds were out in full force this morning, so I stopped near the Clevenger house this morning to watch some cardinals for a while, a gila woodpecker, the a rufous-backed robin, along with lots of desert wrens. I met Lincoln with a cart full of frost-cloths, as most of the staff is preparing for the next few nights with the frost warnings. I arrived back at the coach shortly after 8:30 to a hot cup of coffee. Excuse the photos there were pulled from my iPhone video, taken at six times magnification.

Breakfast this morning was panettone French toast, with my Baileys laced coffee, talk about decadent. Whether I’m worth it or not could be debated for ever, but it was excellent and I think I was worth it, end of discussion.

Now I understand the high calorie breakfast, Miss Laurie has decided that we should go and look for “Apache Tears” and apparently they are are only located on the top of mountains, or at least that was how it seemed. Now I first heard of Apache tears in March of 2020 when we last visited this area of Arizona, and although we did not get a chance to scout for the tears then it had been added onto someone’s “to do” list and today it got added to mine.


Apache tears are rounded pebbles of obsidian or “obsidianites” composed of black or dark-colored natural volcanic glass, usually of rhyolite composition and bearing conchoidal fracture. Also known by the lithologic term “marekanite”, this variety of obsidian occurs as subrounded to subangular bodies up to about 2 inches in diameter, often bearing indented surfaces.[1] Internally the pebbles sometimes contain fine bands or microlites and though in reflected light they appear black and opaque, they may be translucent in transmitted light. Apache tears fall between 5 and 5.5 in hardness on the Mohs scale.[2]

We had heard many suggestions as to where to go and how to get there, and all indicated an uphill adventure, and the Perlite Road was mentioned often, I’m thinking road, we have a 4X4 vehicle how bad can that be?

It was a road at one time, well it is a road, but it goes nowhere and you can’t get to that road from here. Well that’s not totally true, but it is a tough journey to say the least. Many years ago the Perlite Road connected with US-60, but when it was widened, Perlite road was cut off, as it was no longer the main access to the Perlite mining operation, so now it’s just a steep winding road up the side of a ridge. For our LHR family picture the beach access hill only 1.6 kilometres (1 mile) long!

Let’s just say that I’m pretty sure that I have exceeded my steps for today, in reality the beauty of the view from the top of the ridge almost make the journey worth while, and we were able to gather a few hundred Apache tears in an hour or so, they are sitting on the surface, and are spotted by a little sparkle from the tear itself when it catches the sunshine just right.

Panoramic view from ridge, notice the perlite mine in the middle of view
View from the other side of the ridge of Arnett & Telegraph Canyon

We had left the coach around 11am and after a short drive to determine how to get the closest possible to the Perlite road, the hike up to the top of the ridge, an hour of collecting, the hike back down off the ridge, and the drive back to the coach by 4:15pm. Let’s just call it a full shift, there wasn’t a lot of activity after landing into my recliner, Miss Laurie made pizza in the air fryer, a catch up on the news, and a little mindless television, before turning in for a well earned sleep.

Thursday morning and another early start for this guy, 32°F (0°C) but feels like 23°F (-5°C), so the weather people are now trying to explain “wind chill” to the folks here in sunny Arizona. There will be no early morning walk through the arboretum this morning, too cold, too tired, too many aches and pains, yea this guy’s feeling used and abused this morning. I guess 12,626 steps yesterday is taking a toll on my get up and go.

I’m starting into my second cup of coffee and it’s not even eight o’clock yet, I just had to close the blind to block the sunshine from blinding Miss Laurie, but I can feel the warmth already from the sun. I’m not sure what today will bring, but right now I don’t see a lot of productivity happening today, and after this week I’m thinking it is time to go back to work for a bit of a rest.

Ok the good news is that by noon I had got dressed, I’m still in the coach, but small steps, I’ve been making some calls to correct some issues, we have had some problems getting credit cards, that were up for renewal, so it’s a long process to get new cards sent to an America address from Canadian credit card companies. I’m also in the process of cleaning my computer, not physically, although I should do that as well, no this is just removing duplicate files, apparently in excess of 23,800 duplicated files, that’s going to take some time to sort through.

Miss Laurie has driven into Mesa for the weekly supply run, apparently there were a number of empty shelves for some basic regular supplies, but there were lots of “Super Bowl” snacks and beverages available, it’s all about your priorities that’s all. I watched some of the Pro-Am golf tournament from Pebble Beach, always neat to see the amateurs try to stay out of the way if the professionals. Some of the amateurs are celebrities others sport hacks, and even some high value executives and they are always fun to watch flounder.

Miss Laurie made meatloaf fir dinner always a cool weather favorite, and we caught up on a couple of YouTube videos, and a couple on nature shows from Australia, always entertaining to see the different species from down under, still a little a few aches from this weeks adventures we were in bed before ten o’clock.

Friday and we are back to the admissions booth, so breakfast, coffee, a little news to try to be up to date with the world affairs and out into the cold, our shift today is eight hours and with a number of school trips scheduled for today it could be a noisy day.

The admissions booth has been a work in progress since we first moved in at Christmas time, the booth was designed to be set up a different location than where it is now. But because of the size and the weight of this prefabricated building this location was a last moment choice. So none of the counters are by the windows that were designed to used to sell admissions. Now they have removed the two small counters and the work bench that I assembled a couple of weeks ago is now in the space but it is too deep to work over so we are kind of jammed in between it and the original counter.

It is another cold day in Arizona and at six o’clock this morning the wind chill was 21°F, so the native Arizonans are bundled up with toques and gloves. The day warmed up under the Arizona sunshine, but the easterly breeze continued all day, making it seem cool when out of the sun. Admissions was busy, although not steady, the two bus loads of grade three students had packed up and cleared out by one o’clock, so the afternoon was quieter to say the least. We finished our shift at 4pm and headed to the coach for a well deserved rest, I spent some time removing duplicates from my lap top, while Miss Laurie had a nap with Mr. Sam.

Dinner was leftover barbecued pork chops and some macaroni and cheese, good comfort food on a cool breezy night, some news a couple of YouTube videos and I got to watch the episode of Reacher the new Prime Video series, before turning in for the evening.

Saturday morning and I was awake early, actually at 4:30am so Mr. Sam was thrilled by early treats this morning, then he stretched out on my lap for a nap, I continued on with the removal of duplicate files on my laptop until Mr. Sam decided that it was Time that Miss Laurie was up so he headed off to the bedroom, to roust Miss Laurie, Because of another early start, just a simple breakfast and a cup of coffee and off to the admissions booth, Saturday is usually a busier day so should slip by faster. It was cold in our booth so I used the heater to take the chill off until the sun gets up higher in the sky and starts to hit the booth, then we have to start opening windows to keep the the booth cool enough to be comfortable.

While not as busy as last Saturday, the day rolled by quickly, and every day we work we are amazed at how many first time visitors we get everyday, being the oldest arboretum west of the Mississippi River, as well as one of the largest, we are convinced it is Arizona’s best kept secret, and many of the local people upgrade to a membership after that first visit. Anyone living within an hour of the arboretum a membership is a “no brainer”, a “Dual Membership” is $60 that gets a years worth of entry for two adult, it also includes two guest passes, a 10% discount for merchandise, and a $2 discount off of guest entry as well.

Four o’clock and another shift done, just four hours tomorrow to finish off this week, we sat with Tom & Kathleen for a happy hour beverage, Lincoln stopped by for a beverage, Miss Laurie made a snack of crackers, pretzels (Dots), and a cream cheese dip. As the sun set we all headed for the indoors, this to be our last cool night with the temperatures trending upward next week. More leftovers tonight, we actually plan for that, after working its great to have something to just warm and serve, so now we are watching some Olympics on the television, while I finish off this blog. I have done much better at keeping up this week, so no midnight rush tonight.

Survived another groundhog day – Stay safe!

Day 1587

Blog 403

2 thoughts on “Week twelve @ BTA

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