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Well, I pulled up at 5:30-ish to find Ralph. He was waiting for his wife who was tramping mules from Oracle to Freeman.  He was originally  expecting them in tonight, but they didn’t make it.  So I shared a beer with him and we chatted about how wonderful Arizona sunsets were.  We talked about how people think that the paintings of Arizona sunsets are fake, but they are real.  Seriously.

Interesting guy.  He’s a retired dentist that teaches at a community college… giving back.   I guess he was also in the Air Force because he mentioned “moving armies across time zones”.  Apparently the logistics are b**** when you flight from Hawaii to Guam.  You’re either losing or gaining a day and that throws  a monkey wrench in the plans.

Anyway, at about 7:30 or so my first thru hiker showed up. His name was Bear Tripper. Well, that was his Trail name. I think it’s real name was Aaron but I’m not positive.  Anyway, the whole reason I came out here was to support the thru-hikers. And I’m a first night I got one.  Oranges, hot sauce packets, some water and a Snickers bar… this is easy.

So fun!

Here’s my camp.  It’s cozy. I can’t put out my shade because it’s a tad windy.  The last thing I need is a dust-devil to come by and rip it out. 

There are apparently quite a few hikers south of me that are delayed due to a bushfire.  They’re supposedly stuck in Patagonia.   Still no word on how they’re doing.  Oh, and the ladies on the mules finally showed up today.

I’ll try to keep you updated as to how many hikers I get, and try to take pictures of the next ones. I forgot to get pictures of Bear Tripper. ūüėē

My plan is to be out here until about April 4th or 5th. Unless it gets too hot, then I’ll have to move up north somewhere.   I know I’ll be here at least for the next five or ten days. It should go back to normal temperatures and I’m at 3900 feet so I got that Goin for me which is nice.

If you get bored and want to come out here and play, let me know and I’ll send you some directions. Otherwise stay tuned.


The last time I wrote I told you that I’ve decided to be a rich and famous travel writer. ¬†I remember listening to a motivational speaker (that didn’t live in a van, down by the river) and he said that speak in the present tense when you speak about dreams. ¬†For example, don’t say “some day I’m going to be a millionaire”; instead say “I’m a millionaire, the money just hasn’t made it into my bank account yet.”

So, I’m a rich and famous travel writer, it’s just that the money isn’t here yet and nobody knows who I am (except for my friends but they’re certainly not going to pay me to write shit; maybe to shut up, but that’s a different blog). I just need to travel and write. ¬†My plan for the summer is to take my travel trailer around the state, to higher elevation cities, and write about what there is to do and places to eat. ¬†Done deal, right?

Well, the “travel” part is proving to be a challenge. ¬†You see, I discovered that a skylight in my travel trailer was cracked, and as a result it leaked…into my shower (yay) and vanity (boo). ¬†So, I bought a replacement skylight and removed the old one. ¬†Only to discover that there was some pretty significant water damage to the substrate. ¬†I learned that word, “substrate”, after watching about 20 YouTube videos about how to repair RV roofs. ¬†I discovered that this is an easy project as long as you’re handy and have tools.

I have a backpack and a bong. ¬†I have a few tools but I’m better at watching professionals use them than I am at using them myself.

But I’m going to learn.

It’s part of the new “me”, and shit. ¬†Yep, I’m trying to grow up and learn how to actually do things other than run a business. ¬†I’m almost 50 so there’s time.

Anyway, my plan for the next few works is to learn how to replace rotten wood and resurfacing my travel trailer roof.

So I got that going for me, which is nice.

“Living the Dream!”

That’s how I answer people when they ask “How are you doing today?” ¬†It happens multiple times a day, to all of us. ¬†When we go shopping and the checkout person greets us. ¬†It happens when that annoying telemarketing call gets through.

I respond like that¬†because, in some ways – I am already doing it. ¬†I also believe that “if you can’t say it, you can’t do it.” ¬†I actually learned that line from the movie¬†Risky Business; Miles was talking to Joel and he suggested that in order to truly live, you have to say “What the fuck” once in a while. ¬†At the end of his speech he said “if you can’t say it, you can’t do it.

So I say “Living the Dream” because responding “What the Fuck” isn’t as refined. ¬†Plus it might set an inappropriate first tone with strangers.

Anyway, beginning in March I really will be “living the dream” because I said “what the fuck!”

How am I already living the dream?

I am the co-owner of an adventure tour company. ¬†We started as a guide company but we’ve morphed into some kind of Adventure Concierge service – we guide and arrange adventures and experiences throughout Arizona. ¬†In some respects – that’s kind of a dream career – to work in the outdoor adventure industry.

I also have been in the kitchen, metaphorically & literally, my whole life. ¬†I cooked with my mom & grandmother growing up; I’ve worked in professional kitchens, from McDonald’s to an elite, fine-dining restaurant out of a 4-star resort. ¬†I LOVE food. ¬†I love to eat food, but I love preparing it even more.

Adventure and food are the things I love most in life. ¬†You can share them with anyone, friends, guests & clients, and loved ones. ¬†Those to are my favorite life experiences other than being in love. ¬†I mean, let’s face it – true love is the most amazing thing ever. ¬†But adventure and food are close seconds.

My point?  I exist in a world full of love, adventure and food.

So, how can it get even better? ¬†Well, because I said “WTF”. ¬†I bought a trailer. ¬†Here are the photos of the inside.

thebedroomThis is a photo of the bedroom. and my office chair.

theofficekitchenandbathroomThis is the office, kitchen and restroom.

Pretty modest, but it has everything I need.

I will be leaving this March to do a boondocking practice run. ¬†I’m going to post up along the Arizona Trail between Superior and Oracle (because there is mobile reception there) and do “trail magic”. ¬†Then in April, after I’ve got my wheels under me, I’m going to start moving north trying to stay in cooler weather. ¬†I’ll travel all over Arizona and maybe even into Utah and Colorado.

But here’s the best part – I will be scouting out new adventures, restaurants, watering holes and camping spots, then writing about them. ¬†That’s right, I just said “what the fuck” I’m going to be a travel writer.

Livin’ the Dream,


Full disclosure, I saw someone else’s article about this topic. ¬†It wasn’t about Arizona, so I figured it was OK to pirate their idea. ¬†Also, I keep posting on Twitter that we’re #stillwearingshorts. ¬†So, I decided to put my blog where my mouth is and let you know how to prepare for the grandeur that is Arizona.

First, you need to know that Arizona isn’t all desert. ¬†In fact, Arizona is home to almost all of the world’s biomes. ¬†The only one not strictly represented is a Tropical Forest. ¬†What does this mean? ¬†It means that we have an amazing diversity of weather and temperatures. ¬†In fact, as I write this (February) I could go skiing in the morning, and by late afternoon I could be enjoying a margarita while soaking up the sun, poolside. ¬†I’m not sure I’d want to jump in the water unless it was a heated pool, but you get the point.buddabeachbeauty1

What this means is that, depending on where you plan on visiting, your attire will need to be as diverse as our topography. ¬†Most likely you’ll be flying into Phoenix-Sky Harbor and staying a day or more. ¬†You might also be planning to visit Sedona or Grand Canyon. The more informed you are the higher the probability you’ve also included Tucson or Flagstaff to your itinerary. ¬†If you’ve consulted with a local professional, such as (ahem, me) 360 Adventures¬†then you’ll come up with ideas such as visiting Tombstone, Bisbee, Page or even the Navajo/Hopi reservations.

For the purposes of this amazing and omnipotent blog let’s suppose you have those locations in mind. ¬†I’m also going to assume that you are going to be participating in activities OTHER than golf, shopping and a spa visit. ¬†You’ll be hiking, taking a culinary tour, going on a balloon flight, or even trying something adventurous like canyoneering or doing an ATV ride. ¬†Yes – I’m shamelessly suggesting you let us plan your vacation; you won’t be sorry.dsc_2284

OK – so you’ve trusted us with your memories of a lifetime. ¬†Let’s get down to planning your attire. ¬†Because the elevations, average precipitation, terrain and hours of sunlight differ greatly in these locations you’re going to need, at least, one of everything in your wardrobe. ¬†I’m not kidding – you’re going to need stuff for when it’s warm, like skirts/shorts, blouses/t-shirts, hats and sunglasses. ¬†If you’re staying at a resort then you might even need a swimsuit and flip-flops (the higher-end resorts do heat their pools). ¬†For a night on the town in The Valley you’re also going to need a light jacket.

For your trips up north you’re going to need pants, heavier jackets and possibly gloves. ¬†This year we had some pretty good snow storms so you might even want to consider moisture (sorry ladies) barriers, especially if you decide to play in the snow. ¬†A visit to the Grand Canyon will take you to 7000′ and it’s actually darned cold, unless you’re from the Arctic Circle or Siberia then it’s merely chilly.

I think what catches people off guard most is that when they are in Scottsdale or Phoenix, during the “winter” and spring, that it’s actually chilly. ¬†Another thing to remember is sunscreen. ¬†Seriously – we aren’t called The Valley of the Sun because we’re trying to sound cute.

Something that most people forget is close-toe, athletic-type shoes. ¬†If you’re going to be doing any of the adventures I mentioned above then you’ll be participating in nature. ¬†There’s a saying – everything in the Sonoran Desert either sticks, stings, bites or eats meat. ¬†Be prepared.

Most of all ¬†you want to bring a sense of adventure. ¬†Sure, we have hundreds of golf courses, some of the best galleries & shops in the world, and you can’t drive for 10 minutes without seeing a spa of some type. ¬†But you can get that anywhere. ¬†What you can’t get is a world-class mecca of outdoor adventures that include snow and sunshine anywhere else like you can in Arizona. ¬†At least not with Mexican food.

See you outside.

If you’ve been following this blog you already know that one of the topics I talk about is the edible and medicinal plants of the Sonoran Desert. ¬†Well, here we go again. ¬†This particular plant is about to be ubiquitous. ¬†In fact, they’re starting to pop up already thanks to the abundant rainfall we’ve received this “winter”.

dandelionThe common dandelion. ¬†Taraxacum officinale as it’s known by the scientists. ¬†This is truly a “eat the whole plant” kinda’ plant. ¬†The leaves, stems, flower buds, flowers and root are edible. ¬†Most of us have seen these weeds and it’s the plant that RoundUp shows in it’s commercial. ¬†That’s OK because they spray that stuff on other foods too.

The roots are best gathered in the late autumn or winter, and you should collect the leaves before the plant flowers.  There are so many culinary uses for this plant that I had to pick some of the most appealing options lest this blog get too long.  The leaves have a bitter flavor and are perfect for adding to salad mixes or as the herb in a pesto.  The flowers can be added to salads and when you roast the insulin-rich roots the insulin converts to fructose making them sweet.  Num!

Medicinally this herb is still in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia and used to be listed in the US Pharmacopoeia (presumably before modern medicine decided to call herbal medicine witchcraft) and many European ones as well.  The herb was prescribed to treat liver disease and jaundice and to promote the production of bile.  It is mildly diuretic and laxative.  It was also historically used to treat kidney disorders, lower back pain, menstrual cramps, arthritis and allergies.

dandelion2I think that we all have fond memories of plucking the downy, globular masses and blowing the small parachutelike seeds into the wind.  I know I do.

So, the next time you’re looking at the weeds on your property stop and think for a moment – your grandparents and their grandparents used to call some of those things “food”.

See you outside.


100-thingsMy friend, Christine Bailey, is a travel and food writer. ¬†She wrote¬†100 Things to do in Phoenix before you DIE. ¬†This particular blog is dedicated to some of the best of the 100 things. ¬†I had to pick only five because more would be too long and “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Full disclosure – my company’s adventure, canyoneering, is listed under adventures. ¬†And while I may think it’s the absolute best of the best, I might be a bit biased. ¬†Therefore, that particular thing to do will not be listed, other than to say it’s not listed (see what I did there?).

So, here are five of my favorite things from this wonderful book:

  1. Eat at Barrio Cafe
  2. Visit a Ghost Town turned Artist Community
  3. Watch a sunset or sunrise on a hot air balloon flight
  4. Explore the music of the world at MIM
  5. Enjoy amazing views from the top of Camelback

First, the Barrio Cafe¬†– located in the heart of Phoenix, this unassuming little cafe is truly unexpected. ¬†It was rated as the best Mexican food restaurant in the US by Tabelog. ¬†In a city that has more Mexican food restaurants than Mexicans we’re not surprised that Chef Silvana Esparza is at the top of the list – go there and you’ll see why. ¬†I suggest the Chilies en Nogada or the Cochinita Pibil. ¬†Damn, I think I’ll go there now instead of finish this blog.

OK – I’m back and in a food coma but this blog isn’t going to write itself.


My next favorite thing to do technically isn’t in Phoenix – it’s about 2 hours north. ¬†It’s the town of Jerome. ¬†Situated on the side of a steep hill, this town was once known as “the wickedest town in the west”. ¬†It got its start as a copper mining town, but eventually the mine was closed. ¬†Then, came the “ghost town status”. ¬†Eventually the town started attracting artists. ¬†Today, the town is a thriving tourist destination but here’s the secret – get there in the morning before the hordes of tourists descend on the town. ¬†Most people go to Sedona THEN Jerome. ¬†If you do decide to stay longer there’s a great hotel and the longest continually operated restaurant in Arizona, The English Kitchen.

Next on the list is enjoying one of Arizona’s spectacular sunrises or sunsets. ¬†Unless you live in a cave no doubt you’ve seen pictures of an Arizona sunset or rise. ¬†One of the best ways to catch this spectacular show is from the basket of a hot air balloon. ¬†Technically balloons aren’t allowed to fly before the sun rises, or after it sets, but the light show is still magical. ¬†The views from the air are unexpected – it’s so quiet up there that you could almost hear a bunny fart. ¬†And because there’s so little sound it’s not uncommon to drift over wildlife.

Speaking of sound, you MUST include a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum. ¬†I’m not kidding. ¬†The only way you might not enjoy this is if you’re a music hater. ¬†Here’s how it works – they give you a set of headphones, once in front of a display a video plays telling you about the instruments, it’s history and what it sounds like. ¬†You basically wander through this massive museum listening to the sounds of different cultures. ¬†Definitely plan for a few hours.

camelback-mountainThe last thing you should do is to hike to the top of iconic Camelback Mountain. ¬†This is not a remote wilderness setting by any means. ¬†In fact, you’ll most likely have to jockey for a parking spot, ESPECIALLY during the spring. ¬†But, once you find your spot just follow the signs and other hikers. ¬†It is virtually impossible to get lost. ¬†If you do then natural selection has probably been looking for you for a while. ¬†Once at the top collect your breath and soak in the views. ¬†In fact, I might suggest you do this hike THEN head to Barrio Cafe – you’ll be able to justify eating whatever you want.

Well, this blog is considerably longer than I’d planned. ¬†Hopefully you enjoyed it though.

See you outside.

I am a backpacker. ¬†I’ve been doing it, recreationally, for about 25 years. ¬†All of my previous camping adventures were either car-camping, or military “humping”. ¬†The difference between “humping” and backpacking is the express purpose of the movement. ¬†In the military it wasn’t intended to be fun or even moderately enjoyable. ¬†Case-in-point: we didn’t carry scotch in our rucksacks.

My first “backpacking” experience was into the Superstitions in 1992. ¬†I purchased a GINORMOUS backpack and filled it with everything I thought I’d need. ¬†I specifically remember laying out my tarp and setting my tent on top of it, not considering that the tarp was 10’x10′ and extended WAY beyond the floor of my tent. ¬†Luckily it didn’t rain.

My learning curve started right there and in the subsequent 25 years I honed my craft to the point that I’m literally a professional. ¬†Not just “really good” but I’ve guided people that have paid me to do so. ¬†And, I’m really good at it – I have loads of tips & techniques for enhancing the experience. ¬†That’s not to say I’m “the best” – I am constantly learning from others. ¬†But I’m not a newbie wondering what kind of tent, pack and sleeping bag to purchase. ¬†I’ve already purchased them and own about 3, or more, of each item. ¬†Each has it’s best-intended-use.

20161009_153758So, when I decided to attempt a thru-hike of the Arizona Trail I decided to learn a little more about what to bring. ¬†The equation “weight = pain = luxury” is exponentially compounded when you hike more miles, day-after-day. ¬†Most of my backpacking trips were short – less than 60 miles and usually done in 4-6 days. ¬†It was rare that my trips included days over 10 miles. ¬†Yes, they were challenging terrain, like the Superstitions and Grand Canyon, but they weren’t long days.

So, I scoured the internet trying to figure out what others were including and excluding in their “kits”. ¬†Then I went on a few “shake-down” hikes making sure that I wasn’t going to far by taking crucial pieces out of my pack. ¬†What I eventually discovered is that when your day is comprised of three main activities you don’t need much more. ¬†Each day I would eat, sleep and walk. ¬†That’s pretty much it. ¬†One doesn’t really need too much gear for that.

However, the “luxury” part of the equation still held some importance. ¬†I had to (literally) weigh the needs of each piece of equipment and decide whether, or not, it was necessary. ¬† For example, I carried two sleeping pads. ¬†One is a Thermarest NeoAir X-Therm, and the other is a close-cell foam RidgeRest. ¬†I would sleep on the Thermarest, but use the RidgeRest as a chair during breaks, as a knee-pad for getting in/out of my tent and, when I had a big dog, it would serve as their sleeping mat. ¬†It was worth the extra weight and I continue to consider it a crucial piece of my kit. ¬†Some day I’m going to get a flat in my Thermarest and the RR will come in handy.

Anyway, the “kit” is just the first thing I realized was different between backpacking and thru-hiking. ¬†There are others but those are reserved for another blog.

See you outside.