Monday, April 23, 2018

Bear Spray! Irises; Helping Parents Heal; Desert Flora and Fauna; Ferrari! Forced March; Saguaro; Do You Cook?



In my last post, I mentioned that Suzanne had hiked in with me partway on my overnight backpack. She returned to the car, but on the way decided to test the bear spray she was carrying, since it was a couple of years old. She removed the safety pin, and gave it a short burst that went about 10-15 feet. She put the can back in her pack's side pocket and returned to the car. A few days later, as we were preparing to leave Silver City, I took the bear spray out of her pack and stored it in a bin. I must have gotten a tiny bit of oleoresin capsicum (made from chiles) on my finger, because a few minutes later, when I rubbed my eye, I experienced serious irritation and burning that lasted several minutes. I can't imagine how much a full shot in the face would hurt, and I'm glad I haven't offended her enough to test it on me!







Also related to a previous post, thanks to Faithful Readers and Ace Gardeners Colette and Daphne for identifying the Louisiana Iris (Iris hexagona) that we photographed near the Tchefuncte River. This beauty can also be found in South Carolina and Florida. It loves wet areas in full or part shade, especially ditches, canals, swamps and slow-moving streams. 

















While in Silver City, we had two delightful meals with Scott and Denise Kennedy. They gave us a wealth of recommendations and information on the area, having lived there most of their lives.  Suzanne and Denise enjoyed a hike on the trails behind the Kennedy's home, and they enjoyed a magical moment when Denise and Scott's son dropped in from the spirit world with some verifiable evidence.








Sunsets and sunrises in New Mexico are often strikingly beautiful because of the extraordinarily clear skies, as was this one...















From New Mexico we drove on to Cave Creek, just north of Scottsdale, Arizona. Suzanne was invited to be a keynote speaker for the first annual conference of Helping Parents Heal, a world-wide support group for parents who have a child on the other side. Suzanne's upbeat speech was very well received. (A Shining Light Parent is one whose child has left the physical body, but whose light continues to shine as an ongoing presence in their family’s heart and home.)






When the conference was initially planned, the goal was for about 200 attendees; in fact, over 500 people attended the event, which was a huge success, a tribute to the enthusiasm and planning of Elizabeth Boisson, Irene Vouvalides, and Jason Durham.









The dinner on Saturday night was very special; rather than a somber affair, it was filled with hope, joy and love. We shared stories about our kids and encouraged one another along the path to healing... it was truly a remarkable event.









Here is a shot of the Still Right Here (Suzanne's latest book about this journey we are all on) folks - from left to right, Ty and Suzanne, Cyril and Elizabeth Boisson, LeAnn Hull, Irene and Tony Voulalides, and Lynn and Jeff Hollahan. We discussed some fairly difficult topics.  I think I speak for the other husbands on the panel that we were not thrilled to discuss our emotions so publicly, but for some reason, those present seemed to find a bunch of teary-eyed guys sorta special.  You can watch a video of the discussion here:  https://youtu.be/hCmtJVwMrCg  





While on a hike a few days after the conference, I came upon a saguaro cactus with a piece of slate stuck in one arm, probably the result of vandalism. But it reminded me how resilient saguaro (and people) can be...





















And then... when Suzanne and I were walking up the road to a trailhead, we came upon this local resident - a desert tarantula (Aphonpelma chalcondes). Females live up to 25 years, but males live only one season past mating for the first time. Hmmmm..... let's hope that doesn't become contagious to other species! By the way, tarantulas are very docile critters, and many people keep them as pets, and there have been no reports of fatal stings. 


















Speaking of desert critters, while at dinner one evening at a golf course cafe, we were surprised to see two javelinas (Tayassu tajacu), otherwise known as collared peccaries, running among the tables. I was advised not to approach them - "What, do I look really dumb???" Interestingly, javelinas are not pigs. The latter are from the Old World, primarily Europe, while javalinas/peccaries are New World animals. The young are called "reds" due to the color of their hair. Javelinas are herbivores, and eat cactus, agave, mesquite beans, tubers and other green vegetation. They grow to about 55 lbs.   






We visited several good friends while in town for the HPH conference. Cyril Boisson took me for a drive in his 2008 Ferrari... OMG, what a sweet car! The only time I've ever been in one was in 1968, when as a college senior I drove my date's father's 275 GTB. (He was out of town, and I think she forgot to mention the events of that evening to her parents... WAIT... 1968 was 50 years ago... Nooooooo..... Suzanne reminds me she was in second grade then...).









This is the Ferrari's 450 horsepower V-8 engine. That's the same as the Cummins diesel on our 42 ft motor home, but the Ferrari's acceleration is just a tad bit faster than ours.












Cyril and I also went on a six mile forced march in Spur Cross Regional Park while Suzanne was doing her weekly radio show. I say "forced march" because I think Cyril was trying to exhaust me on this hike. He was hiking at a 3.5 MPH pace, which over rocky terrain is pretty quick, and I was struggling to keep up. Okay, he's 10 years younger than I, but he had hiked 8 miles that morning, and was none the worse for wear. (I really should have put some lead weights in his pack.) The highlight of the hike was a visit to these two memorial benches on Mariposa Hill, one for Cyril and Elizabeth's son Morgan; the other honored Kyle, Nita and Glenn Ericsson's son. It was a beautiful place, one which we had visited before on the evening of the benches' dedication two years ago.  




Cyril took this photo of the largest saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) I have ever seen. It could be about 200 years old, since saguaro don't grow their first arms until 75 years of age. The largest ever measured was here in Cave Creek, and was an armless saguaro 78 feet tall; it was toppled by a windstorm in 1986. They absorb water during the monsoon season and store it for dry periods. Saguaro can weigh up to 4,800 lbs when fully hydrated. Illegal cutting of these cacti is a felony with a 3 year 9 month jail sentence. (N.B. that's more than drug dealers get... hmmm.)














Speaking of our coach, here is Your Faithful Correspondent and His Lovely Bride outside said RV in Cave Creek Regional Park. It is a great place to stay, with miles of hiking and mountain biking trails - most are rocky and up and down, but that's what makes this park beautiful. (For Judson: yes, this is the same shirt you have commented on before. The horse is NOT the symbol of Mustang Ranch, nor is it the Ferrari symbol, and the reason I wear it a lot in the desert is because the white color reflects the sun's UV quite well. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)




Finally, people have asked us if we cook while camping. Yes, we cook. This isn't the same as backpacking and boiling 12 oz of water for dehydrated chili mac (although that's one of MLB's favorites). Here we see a dinner that I prepared for MLB -  shrimp remoulade (I am part Cajun, after all), ribeye steak, wilted spinach with feta cheese, and homemade (not by me) Polish pierogies. Life is good...





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