Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Arizona Postcards, Monday: Hiking and Baseball

If I could create a new line of work for myself, I would be known as The Professional Vacationer.  Not someone who travels just to complete a special  project and get paid; but one who makes lots of money simply for traveling, playing, and doing whatever one darned well pleases.

Like writing...Exploring.. Making plans.... Eating a little...We earn money simply for stimulating the economies of wherever we go...

Ah, fantasy...Something to sustain me on this, our last day of our visit to Arizona...

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The hike through Papago Park on Monday was filled with unexpected wonders.  It's a 1200-acre expanse of desert with native plant life, small animals and songbirds, and dramatic 6-million-year-old rock formations waiting to be climbed.  It contains the Phoenix Zoo, Golf Course, and the aforementioned Botanical Gardens.  It is only a mile or so from our residence.

The Park was an original Reservation for the native Pima and Maricopa peoples.  It was also a WWII prison camp, from which 25 enemy prisoners escaped in 1944.  They eventually turned themselves back in due to the treachery and climate of the terrain.  Read here for a very brief history of this awesome place.

To visitors like Mark and me, Papago Park is inviting, and starkly beautiful.  Protected by safari hats and tons of sunscreen, we walked for a couple of hours, and our trek exercised our imaginations and our bodies. We pointed and laughed like kids when a large jackrabbit crossed our paths.  It was the largest rabbit I ever saw in nature. It's ears were enormous.

We were even fooled by a "Cactus-Rabbit..."

And found a "Monkey" in the rocks....

We hiked for several miles.  A highlight was our discovery of an old Amphitheater, whose "bleachers" are still used for special religious services and events. It was like an ancient Greek ruin...Mark (below) is ready for a performance...

The dormant performer in me was instantly aroused by the prospect of playing such a large and special house...

During the steep descent from one of our conquered peaks, I slipped on some loose gravel, and cursed the blue skies as I got off my butt and nursed my sore hands.  Fortunately, I was able to stop before rolling down the entire slope, or having my fall broken by a spiny saguaro.

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I am a fan of the Chicago Cubs. Cub fans are among the most long-suffering and loyal of any American sport.  It has been over 100 years since the Cubs won the World Series.

Mark, who is from St. Louis, is a rabid fan of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Maybe because of the relative proximity of the two cities, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals are bitter rivals. 

It is a small miracle that Mark and I speak to each other during the summer, let alone remain the best of friends.  To him, each game is like the Academy Awards to a movie-lover. 

I endure.

(To my loyal readers who live outside of The U.S., it might help explain the baseball rivalry by comparing it somewhat to some of the more contentious soccer competitions, like Liverpool vs. Manchester United, or Lazio vs. Roma, or Celtic vs. Rangers.)

Monday night, the Cardinals were in Phoenix to play the Arizona Diamondbacks and Mark got us two excellent seats.

Fortunately, the Cardinals won, ensuring that the duration of our trip would be an upbeat one.

I enjoyed:
the gently warm breezes;
the Electronic Scoreboard with the roving camera broadcasting shots from the crowd (especially the "Kiss Cam");
the diverse music over the loudspeaker (including, incredibly, the "Can-Can-Can" number from the film "Moulin Rouge");

And especially, my traditional menu of a hot dog, and roasted peanuts in the shell, which I have enjoyed at baseball games since I was a kid.

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