While in Tucson, we actually experienced several days of rain in the desert. This isn’t unusual in July, when the monsoon comes, but April is normally pretty dry. The Catalina Mountains had wispy clouds capping the peaks and some washes actually had flowing water.
Desert plants love the rain, and many were blooming. Others just soaked up the moisture and sat there looking pretty. This small cactus(?), like most plants in this harsh environment, has hundreds of spines to protect it against animals looking for a meal. They looked sort of like mochi balls, a Japanese New Year’s delicacy, but since I didn’t care much for them when I was stationed in Japan, I didn’t want to sample these prickly versions either…
Tucson is a fun place, and we have many friends there. Suzanne spent a morning working with Dr. Gary Schwartz and his lovely wife Rhonda at the University of Arizona, while Rudy, Gretchen and I took a walk and washed the car. Then we met up for lunch and sightseeing in Tombstone, an hour east of TUS. This historic western town is known for its silver mines, the Earp brothers, and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Tombstone’s population grew from 100 to 14,000 in seven years, but is now only 1,400.
We also visited friends from The Villages who had recently moved to Tucson; Christine and Randy Smith have a world-class view from their beautiful home. Many readers will recall that Christine was The Villages Flute Choir director for several years.
We got out for several hikes in the rugged mountains near Tucson. My Lovely Bride is seen here on the Romero Canyon trail in Catalina State Park, a beautiful destination with multiple outdoor activities. This hike was just before our last event in Tucson, The Meaning in the Messages, which Suzanne gave at Canyon Ranch, a high-end resort north of town. Gary and Rhonda Schwartz graciously joined us for dinner before the event. Located in a beautiful mountain setting, Canyon Ranch is known for hosting celebrities and for its healthy menu. Quinoa and kale were prominent, but wine was unavailable. (Now, is that really necessary???)
I chuckled at this sign at Catalina State Park. I mean, come on, everyone knows that snakes are reclusive creatures which only come out at night. They are never seen by regular folks, unless you go to a zoo…
… so imagine my surprise when My Lovely Bride was walking one afternoon to the shower house and came back 30 seconds later hyperventilating and unable to speak coherently for a few minutes. When she finally said, “Snake!” I asked her why the fuss. (This was not a very bright question.) She then said something like “I almost stepped on a very big rattlesnake just behind the coach. He was right in my path and rattled at me!” I wanted to say that stepping on a rattler isn’t a good idea, but instead decided to be sympathetic to her plight. I said, “Let me grab the camera. This will be a great blog entry. Show me where he is!” We went outside, and just 30 feet away from the coach is this guy (gal?) slithering down the trail towards us… a Western Diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) about four and a half feet long.
Suzanne called the park office, which sent the camp host and his wife with a bucket, thinking it was a small non-venomous gopher snake. When the camp host saw the big rattler, he kept his distance and said, “I think I’ll call the cavalry on this one.”
The “cavalry”, in the form of a totally nonchalant young ranger, soon arrived, by which time the snake in question had coiled up in a defensive posture, not really liking the attention he was getting. The ranger lifted him with a snake stick into a large wooden box and relocated him about a mile away from the campground. This was the first poisonous snake we have seen in several years of hiking and camping, but it sure gets your attention. Now I know to send MLB to check out the vicinity before I go out to take a shower… Smack!
Our final Tucson event was Suzanne’s Getting Out of the Box presentation to the International Association for Near Death Studies (IANDS), held at Unity of Tucson. It was preceded by a delicious Mexican dinner sponsored by members of the Tucson IANDS chapter. Suzanne is a member of IANDS, and was the first medium invited to speak at their annual national conference. I felt a bit inadequate since I was the least knowledgeable person about near death experiences (NDEs) at dinner, but vowed to learn more about this fascinating topic. I also have to thank Brenda Baker, who drove to Tucson from her home near Phoenix to attend this event, and to bring us several boxes of books which we had shipped to her house. Brenda is one of Suzanne’s greatest fans, and is a self-proclaimed “stalker” for all of her events in April. Thank you, Brenda, for being such a helping friend. Also, thanks to Chuck Swedrock and Larry Merrill from IANDS for their hospitality and help making these events so successful.
We left Tucson and relocated the coach to one of our favorite state parks, Usery Mountain S.P. in Mesa, Arizona, for Suzanne’s next event, also Getting Out of the Box, given to the Phoenix Chapter of IANDS, at Unity of Mesa. (By the way, Brenda Baker attended this event as well, and even brought along our good friend Lynette Setzkorn from Tulsa.)
After 24 hours in Mesa, we moved the coach to Cave Creek Regional Park north of Phoenix, and just west of Carefree, AZ. Earlier that week, Suzanne conversed with Elizabeth Boisson, the co-founder of Helping Parents Heal (with co-founder Mark Ireland), a support group for parents who have lost a child. Finding out that we were staying nearby, Elizabeth invited us to a dedication ceremony on Friday evening for two benches located on a trail in the hills above Cave Creek and Carefree, one for her son Morgan, and one for the son of a friend. We met at a trailhead, and about 40 of us hiked up to a beautiful overlook where the two benches were located.
Cyril Boisson, Elizabeth’s husband, had hiked with special-ordered dozens of biodegradable dove-shaped helium balloons which the participants released at the end of the dedication ceremony. Here is Elizabeth joyfully releasing her dove balloon. A remarkable synchronicity occurred two days later when we were driving back from an event on the 101 freeway, about 35 miles south of the location of the ceremony. Right at dusk, one of those dove-shaped balloons swooped down just a few feet over our car as we drove down the freeway. How it stayed airborne that long and passed right over our car is still a poignant mystery…
Elizabeth and Suzanne (at right) were brought together by a mutual friend, Irene Vouvalides, who started a chapter of Helping Parents Heal in Hilton Head, NC, after losing her daughter to cancer. Now Irene is helping other grieving parents to know their children are still very much with them in spirit.
While they were chatting on the trail, Elizabeth asked Suzanne if she knew Susanne Wilson, another medium. In fact, they had been at a conference together, but had not had the opportunity to meet in person. Elizabeth made introductions, and Suzanne and Susanne struck up an immediate friendship. They got together two days later and while enjoying a little tea party found they shared many amazing similarities: both are married to older retired military men; both have two miniature breed dogs; both have an MPA degree; both work with Dr. Gary Schwartz; both began giving readings about the same time; they are the same age; and most of all, they found in each other someone who can truly understand the emotional aspects of being a medium.
While at Cave Creek, we met Connie Mariano and John Weber in the nearby town of Carefree (what a great name!) for dinner at Cartwright’s, which is now one of my favorite restaurants. (Thank you both for this culinary experience!) Connie is a retired Navy Rear Admiral, and was personal White House physician to President Clinton during his second term. John is a retired executive with a passion (that puts it mildly) for airplanes. It was great to meet them both after reading Connie’s excellent book, “The White House Doctor: My Patients Were Presidents”
John was having trouble remembering how many aircraft he has, so he took us to his Sky Ranch hangars to do a quick count. I was most impressed by his two German Schempp-Hirth Arcus gliders; this is his single seat racer with its “mast of shame” in the deployed position. John implied that purists might scoff at a sailplane with an engine, but it frees him up to launch and recover without a tow plane, and in event of an emergency, gives him about 50 miles to find an alternate (bingo) field. I was lusting for a ride with an obviously highly skilled sailplane pilot, but our schedules are both chock-a-block this month; we arranged for John to take me up next April when we return to Cave Creek/Carefree.
Unity of Phoenix invited Suzanne to hold a Sanaya session in their beautiful sanctuary last night, and almost 200 attendees were held spellbound by her channeling the collective consciousness known as Sanaya. Thanks to Rev. Richard Maraj and Rev. Tina Brown for their kind invitation and support, and to Jeremy McEwen, Audio/Visual Coordinator.
After an extremely hectic three weeks of travel and events, Suzanne is ready for a day or two to recharge her batteries, but her schedule seems to be getting even more frenetic with each passing day. On Saturday, she presents her S.O.A.R! course at Unity of Mesa, and she is preparing for her inaugural Serving Spirit mediumship course (already filled) in Prescott Valley on Saturday/Sunday 30 April-1 May.
I bought Suzanne a little memento (with diamonds on the top) of our time in Arizona. I have also been playing some sound effects to entertain her click here, but she has not responded with the enthusiasm and joy that I envisioned; even after reading Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, I still don’t understand women….