Friday, March 23, 2012

My Final Friday In Arizona With An Extra Exhausting Schedule Plus Sweet Tomatoes

Lounging Pool-Side With The Esther Williams Wannabes
Today is my last full day in Arizona. It is only 3 in the afternoon and I've already had me a day.

I was going to break today, so far, up in to separate bloggings, but, I decided, instead, to just write one long-winded blogging, of today, so far.

With pictures.

My sister was scheduled to pick me up at 9. So, at 8 I decided to go swimming, again, with the well-seasoned ladies of Sun Lakes.

The swimming and early morning pool lounging went well with the warm temperature, which has now risen to 82 degrees by mid-afternoon.

Palm Tree Surveillance
I was enjoying lounging in the sun when I looked up at the palm trees to see one that did not look right.

Can you spot the odd palm tree in the picture?

Near as I can tell, Sun Lakes security feels the need to keep an eye on the well-seasoned ladies in the pool and so they've mounted high-tech security devices, disguised as a palm tree.


As I walked back to my mom and dad's I saw my sister had already arrived. We all discussed the later today plan to go to Sweet Tomatoes, and then my sister and I were on our way to Piestewa Peak, among other things.

Piestewa Peak used to be called Squaw Peak. Squaw Peak was renamed to honor Spc. Lori Ann Piestewa, who was the first American Indian woman killed in combat and the first female soldier killed in action, in the Iraq War, way back in 2003.

Piestewa Peak aka Squaw Mountain In The Distance
Piestewa Peak, at 2,608 feet, is the second tallest peak in the Camelback Mountains.

Since around 1910 the name Squaw was used to reference this peak. It was also called Squaw Tit Mountain. Some considered the name Squaw to be derogatory.

I can't imagine why.

Over the years efforts were made to change the name from something other than Squaw or Squaw Tit. A Native Navajo State Representative, Jack Jackson, in 1992, began submitting bills to change the name.

Changing the name of Squaw Mountain generated a lot of squawking. Eventually the American Indian Movement got involved, wanting to change the name to Iron Mountain. Finally, on April 17, 2003, within a month of Lori Piestewa's death, the name was changed.

Busy Parking Lot With A Lot Of People
With The Air Let Out Of Them
I am drawing a blank as to how it was we left the freeway and were suddenly at a parking lot at the base of Piestewa Peak. I was surprised at the large number of cars parked.

I am used to going to parking lots for hikes in Texas and finding few cars.

My sister has hiked on Piestewa Peak previously, with my other sisters, and others. My sister indicated she'd never made it to the summit. The summit is reached with an elevation gain of 1,190 feet in 1.2 miles, so it was easy to believe my sister had never made it to the summit.

My Sister Way Ahead Of Me On Way
 To Piestewa Peak Summit
But, just like how my sister tricked me into a bad bet regarding Susan Lucci and Dancing With The Stars, I was suckered into a bad bet again, betting my sister she could not make it to the summit.

In the picture can you find my sister way ahead of me, past the Saguaro?

My sister hiking at such a fast pace should have clued me to the fact that she is in way better shape than I was led to believe.

We ran into many bikers, hikers and joggers on the Piestewa Peak Trail who looked like they'd had the air let out of them. Everywhere I go in Arizona I see people who appear to have been deflated.

The Piestewa Peak Summit Trail sees thousands of hikers a week. Quite a few of those hikers do not make it all the way to the summit. But, even though the trail is much more difficult than it looks, many hikers do make it to the summit.

Heading Toward Camelback Mountain
Including my sister and me.

Unfortunately without photo documentation due to my camera battery going dead, with the backup battery back in the vehicle.

From the top of Piestewa Peak we could see the McDowell Mountains, the Superstition Mountains, Tabletop Mountain, the Harquahala Mountains, the Papago Mountains, Pinnacle Peak and Four Peaks. Plus other Peaks and Mountains the names of which I have forgotten.

The hike down Piestewa Peak was much easier than the hike up. This is often the case with these type things.

Soon we were back on the road again, with my sister taking me on a driving tour of Old Phoenix, north of downtown. Very cool mansions. Then it was on to the Arizona Biltmore where we wanted to have lunch. But we could not find the Biltmore In-N-Out Burger.

We left the Biltmore and drove on to the Phoenician in Scottsdale. Still no In-N-Out Burger.

Camelback Mansions
Eventually we reached the base of Camelback Mountain. Some call this Sugarloaf. I have no idea why because the mountain clearly looks like a camel with a hump.

We drove up towards the top of the hump, towards huge mansions built into the side of the mountain. The only thing I've ever seen remotely like this is on the Hollywood Hills.

We left Camelback Mountain to drive through downtown Scottsdale. It was a hopping busy place on a Friday afternoon. I was impressed with all the restaurants, galleries, patios and the over all look of downtown Scottsdale.

I forgot to mention that before we drove through downtown Scottsdale we drove by my step-niece's house, which is very close to downtown Scottsdale.

We did not go into my step-niece's house, because my sister has no key, unlike the situation which got us into trouble with my nephew and our unscheduled inspection of his house.

In The Picture I Am Not Feeding The In-N-Out Birds
We left Scottsdale and headed to Tempe where we finally found an In-N-Out. It was very busy, but there was no line to order my Combo #1, which is a Double-Double with fries and a drink.

We found outdoor seating where I was warned not to feed the birds.

Tempe is a college town and this In-N-Out is near ASU. So, the place was packed with college kids. Most of whom appeared to have had the air let out of them.

Post-burgers we headed south, passing wrecked giant windmills and watched a dustdevil do a tornado like spin above the desert. Eventually we made it back to my mom and dad's, where mom brought me celery stuffed with something made with jalapenos and asked me if I could find the nearest Midas Muffler location.

I found the nearest Midas Muffler. Mom and dad have been gone well over an hour, to get their oil changed at Midas Muffler.

Tonight we are off to Sweet Tomatoes. I think I already mentioned that. Have I also mentioned I usually don't eat dinner? I guess not....

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