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Las Cruces; Secret Santa’s Spring Sleighride; Cave Creek; Desert Kayaking; Flagstaff; Kachinas; Scorpions; “But We Don’t Have a Dog…”

From Kerrville, we headed west on I-10 to Las Cruces, New Mexico. We had stayed in Las Cruces before, but this was a special visit – we were having a traditional New Mexican dinner with Ray and Raven Valencia at their beautiful Southwest-themed home. Raven is one of Suzanne’s spiritual friends and a member of Souls Awakening, and Ray is a fellow Navy Surface Warfare Officer and ship commanding officer. Ray and I had a lot in common, swapping sea stories with storms in the middle and tales of wild and crazy guys we had known back in the days of the Old Navy…

Before leaving Las Cruces, we went on a bike ride on a bike path alongside the Rio Grande. Last year during our visit, the river was running fast and high, but this year… well, here is My Lovely Bride standing in the middle of the dry river bed!

Okay, it’s time for a floral quiz… help an old sailor out, will you? What is this flower?

Some of you may recall the post from Kansas City when we visited Always and Furever, the remarkable animal shelter for elderly dogs. Well, one of our friends is the famous Secret Santa, and when he heard about this shelter, he decided to help out with a Spring Sleighride. He and a dozen or so Kansas State Police and local police cruisers, the chief of police, and the mayor rolled up to the shelter during a Volunteer Day Orientation with lights and sirens… here is a Secret Santa Elf in front of a 2012 Econoline van that was presented to Jen Dulski, the founder of Always and Furever, to transport dogs to the vet. (Their old small bus was inoperative.) It’s generosity like this that renews your belief in humanity. Secret Santa even replaced all the carpeting and provided magnetic signs with the shelter’s logo… 

Speaking of Jen and Always and Furever, here is her photo of an amazing sunset from the shelter… we wish Jen, her amazing volunteers, and of course the residents of Always and Furever much love and happiness in the years to come. Here’s the link to their web site:

From Las Cruces, westward to Tucson for an overnight stop at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, then on to Cave Creek Regional Park, just north of Scottsdale and Phoenix, for four nights. We had the good fortune to spend time with our dear friends Lynn and Jeff Hollahan and Elizabeth and Cyril Boisson. This dinner at the Boissons was great fun, with Elizabeth’s fabulous food and Cyril’s amazing French Champagne and wine… he is a real connoisseur – my favorite that evening was actually the Conn Creek Anthology Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa. (Cyril surprised me, because as a Frenchman, he is very proud of his Bordeauxs and Champagnes…)

Jeff is an amazing guitarist, and provided a fine musical interlude after dinner (as did Cyril, but that picture didn’t come out, regrettably).

Suzanne presented her “Magnificent You!” talk at the Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center to a large, enthusiastic crowd, including many friends in the PHX area. It is partly based on her book “Wolf’s Message”, one of my favorites…

We also love Cave Creek for its hiking and mountain biking in a desert environment; the mountains here are studded with big rocks and saguaro cactus, and there is no water at all… so when we arrived at our trailhead, Suzanne got out of the car and asked a couple of gals finishing a hike, “Hi… is this where we launch our kayaks?” There was more than a moment of stunned silence before the laughter began…

Next, on to Flagstaff, where we had a week of rain, almost every day during our stay at Camp Navajo. Nighttime temps dropped into the low 30s/high 20s, and we even had frost on the car… This wasn’t “Chamber of Commerce weather”! We got together on several occasions with our dear friends Janean and Jack Quigley, also Shining Light Parents, and went for a bike ride at Lake Mary in off and on rain and windy 50 degree weather, but having pizza in the back of their truck while it rained was a highlight of our visit.

We had several great hikes, including one with Janean to Sandy’s Canyon Trail, Walnut Canyon Trail and Fisher’s Point….

… which sits atop this impressive striated sandstone rock formation, which is actually made of petrified Permian Age sand dunes. The Permian Age, lasting from 299 million to 251 million years ago, ended in the great Permian Extinction, when 90% of marine life and 70% of land animals were wiped out. 

Flagstaff’s San Francisco Peaks (elev. 12,633 ft) had a lot of snow on them during our visit…

One of my favorite cultural stops was at the Museum of Northern Arizona, where there are numerous displays explaining the lives of Pueblo Indians indigenous to this area. These kachina dolls representing spirit beings are mostly identified with the Hopi and Zuni tribes…

Image result for striped bark scorpion

We reluctantly departed Flagstaff for San Diego (via Gila Bend) The gate guard at Luke Airforce Base Auxiliary Airfield, where we spent the night, informed us to beware of rattlesnakes and scorpions, as they are very active at this time of year. “Don’t worry about the large brown scorpions, they aren’t very poisonous; but the small white ones, kill on sight!” He was referring to the giant hairy scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis), up to 6 inches long, and the bark scorpion (Centrursoides exilacauda), seen here, which is much smaller but deadlier.  The guard must have realized his warning was subject to interpretation, because he added, much to our relief, “The scorpions don’t kill on sight!  You should kill them on sight because their sting is really bad!”

Finally, being on the road for a year, we often have to arrange with friends around the country to receive our mail and packages in anticipation of our arrival.  We asked an anonymous friend in an unnamed location if we could use her address for an order from Amazon.  She kindly agreed and notified us that it had arrived.  When Suzanne emailed to thank her, I asked her to find out if we could also ship some boxes of dog food that Rudy and Gretchen need for their special older dog diet.  Suzanne added to her email, “Is it okay if we have some dog food delivered to you?” You will understand why she will remain anonymous, because her reply, which made all of us laugh when we met up with her in California, was, “Thanks, but we don’t have a dog…”


  • Unknown
    Posted June 4, 2019 at 3:04 am

    Hi, Ty: Your flower is most likely an ornamental onion, and my guess would be Allium aflatunense 'Purple Sensation' or a close cousin of that variety (check out this link:

  • Colette
    Posted June 9, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Ty, I agree. The distant cousins of the allium make a mean pot of French Onion Soup.


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