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West Texas; Texas Tarts; Big Stadiums; Self Reliance; Fort Bliss; Tucson and Phoenix IANDS and Phoenix Unity; Dining in Scottsdale; Turbulent Flow?

Well, it’s been a few days since I’ve had time to put pen to paper on this blog (well, okay, fingers to keyboard, anyway). The past week has been very hectic. We departed Odessa/Midland, Texas, and drove about a thousand miles in three days, which in a motor coach is covering a lot of territory. The country here is wide open, without many trees, but with hundreds of oil wells dotting the arid landscape. We drive at 62 mph, but stop every hour and a half to change drivers, stretch our legs and walk the puppies. Then there’s lunch, which is always in the coach, unless there is a particularly appealing option in a small town we’re passing through. One example, which shall go unidentified because I don’t want the young lady concerned to get into trouble with the owner, occurred while still in Texas…

We stopped at a local bakery that offered sandwiches as well as breakfasts and pastries. We arrived shortly before closing around 12:30, and were greeted by an attractive, heavily tattooed young woman in short-short shorts and a tee shirt. (By short-short shorts, I mean her cheeks were showing). I was stealthily admiring her attire when I was brought up short by My Lovely Bride saying, “Ty, you are holding the menu upside down.” I replied honestly, “Suzanne, what’s your point?” Smack! When will I learn? I got into even more trouble when the cute young thing dropped off two tarts (aptly named, I reasoned) in a bag, compliments of the house… Well, what’s a guy to do?  (Photo removed by a certain female censor; darn!)

Moving on to less controversial topics, if you’ve ever driven through West Texas, you know that towns and ranches are located very far apart, and the towns are often very small. But even the smallest town will have a high school with a football stadium that looks like a big university sports facility. The entire town often turns out for home games, and generations of families are season ticket holders, located in the same seats for years and years. We passed through Abilene and saw Shotwell Stadium, home of the Eagles, but weren’t there for a home game, unfortunately. It would have been exciting, especially since Suzanne is a former marching band flutist, and loves watching high school bands whenever possible.


Self-reliance is a quality well-known and respected in West Texas. One obvious example is seen in this photo, where a local guy ensured that he wasn’t caught out on the open range without proper facilities for… well, you know…

The weather has been near perfect, and it’s nice to be able to eat outside. We’re using our small portable gas grill often, and this al fresco dinner featured ribeye steak (hey, we were still in Texas), salad, yams and a very nice Pinot Noir. Rudy and Gretchen were hoping for scraps, but we don’t give them any people food except for a taste of chicken once a week or so and a teaspoon of shredded Cheddar with their meals. 

We finished up the Texas portion of our trip with a stop in El Paso, with a great campsite at Fort Bliss, home of the First Armored Division, Old Ironsides. The “Pyramid of Power” part of the 1st AD patch was designed by no other than then Colonel George S. Patton back in WWI when he was in charge of the Army’s first tank school in France. The division nickname was adopted after the first division commander saw a photo of the US Navy frigate, USS Constitution, the original “Old Ironsides”. (Yes, Colonel Crusty and the rest of you Army guys, Navy leads again!)


Here we see Der Blogmeister aboard a Sheridan tank, taken before the Army Military Police could arrive and say, “Hey, Captain, the Navy’s not allowed on our exhibits!” By the way, Suzanne insists on calling this post “Fort Ananda“, since that word in Sanskrit means bliss

After Fort Bliss, we drove all day to Tucson, where we got a campsite at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and Suzanne immediately went to work. Her first event on Thursday was a research reading with Dr. Gary Schwartz, PhD.  Gary and Suzanne have collaborated before on several occasions, and this day’s topic was a blind reading for a sitter that Gary had selected. 

That afternoon we visited the University of Arizona where Suzanne presented her  Heart Gifts talk to Gary’s 300 level Spirituality class of 90 students. We are shown here with Dieter, a colleague of Gary’s in the psychology department at the University, Dieter’s wife, Netzin, and son Wulf (a big synchronicity) who attended Suzanne’s talk.  Another synchronicity came when Suzanne found out that Netzin’s name was given to her by her father, also a university professor studying the Mayan people in Central America; of course, many readers know that the related Incan culture in the Andes, especially the statue of the fertility goddess Pachamama, is featured in Suzanne’s book Wolf’s Message.

On Thursday evening, Suzanne addressed the Tucson branch of the International Association of Near Death Studies (IANDS) at Unity of Tucson.  We had a full house of enthusiastic listeners (and one service dog) with a busy book signing after her talk. 

Thursday had been non-stop, and Friday arrived with another early reveille to make tracks to Phoenix. On the way, we stopped for lunch at the beautiful home of our dear sailing friends Linda and Jim Heavin, whom we met while they were cruising aboard their Moody 38 Lady Sandy. They now live in Sun Lakes, Arizona, a gorgeous community much like The Villages back in Florida. They are now Rudy and Gretchen’s best friends, because Linda and Jim gave them a pair of “indestructible” dragon dog toys.  They had read in this blog about our destructo-dogs’ ability to disembowell stuffed animals within minutes.  Since their little Yorkie/Maltese mix, Sage, hadn’t been able to tear his toy apart in months, they were sure their gift would withstand the Rudy-Gretchen test. 


Suzanne, however, guessed that Rudy would have better luck than Sage in eviscerating his toy, no matter what the maker said about its relative indestructibility. Here she is about to give the puppies their new toys, and the clock reads 3:23 PM… Ready, set, go!

… and the wiener is… Rudy, in 19 minutes! So much for tough dog toys. Dachsunds are known for their ability to tear apart any toy known to dog, including those made of Kevlar, the basis of body armor. Rudy’s face says it all: “Dogdad, aren’t you proud of me?”

Suzanne’s Friday night Heart Gifts presentation was again sponsored by IANDS, and was held in the sanctuary at the beautiful Unity of Phoenix after a wonderful dinner hosted by the IANDS leadership. 243 enthusiastic attendees made this one of her largest events outside the Villages this year. Suzanne was happy to see her Henderson High School friend Bronwen Barnett (shown waving in the photo below), Martha Aubey, a retired Air Force officer who Suzanne worked with at the Pentagon, and several other friends who follow her Facebook page and blog.

We were happily overwhelmed by those wanting autographed books, and we ran out of Messages of Hope and Wolf’s Message

Many thanks to Susan Amsden and Chuck Swedrock, the coordinators for the Tucson-Phoenix International Association for Near Death Studies (IANDS) for their friendship, hospitality and hard work in making our Tucson and Phoenix events so successful. We loved both venues and the warm welcome we received, and have already agreed to return for another round of Suzanne’s newest presentations in April 2016.  

We had planned on going hiking in the Superstition Mountains the day after the Phoenix event, but Suzanne and I were both drained, My Lovely Bride from four events in the previous two days, and Your Humble Blogmeister from having to get up with Rudy on three consecutive nights when he had to go outside for unplanned dogly duties. It seems that our long driving days and time zone changes affected him more than the rest of us, but having to go out at 0100 and 0400 three nights in a row also took its toll on his Dogdad and Dogmom. So we skipped hiking, but it gave us the opportunity to visit a truly gifted spirit artist and poet instead…

Ella Newkirk’s story is amazing. Interested in art since childhood, she survived being struck by lightning at age 20, had a near death experience, and has grown spiritually from the experience. Her art is stunning; since 2000 she has sculpted faces in a porcelain and clay mixture attached to stones specially chosen for their spiritual energy. Each stone is lovingly sculpted by hand, and no two are alike. Suzanne was so impressed by her work that she had to acquire one, coincidentally one that both she and Ella decided separately was the right one for her. 

This close-up of one of Ella’s pieces shows the exquisite detail she achieves through painstaking work using a magnifying glass and dental tools. You can contact Ella at for more information on her unique spiritual art or visit her website:

Our final event in the Phoenix area was actually in Scottsdale, a fabulous dinner at Tommy Bahama’s with award-winning author Bill Hammond, his sister Cris Endicott, and Mary Crain, Bill’s deceased wife Victoria’s sister. Bill and Chris had also attended Suzanne’s event the night before. Bill’s latest book, The Ultimate Gift, was also received very well by the attendees. (As many will recall, it features a series of amazing readings that Suzanne gave Bill after his wife Victoria passed to the other side.) It was a delicious dinner and a delightful evening, and we talked and laughed about politics, current events and family. Special thanks to Cris for your generous hospitality!

Now we are on our way to Sedona, Arizona, for Suzanne and the Pack to get some much-needed R&R (the military term for “rest and relaxation” for readers unfamiliar with military acronyms) and some hiking with our good friends and neighbors Bob and Jan Blythe from The Villages. More on Sedona and its vortexes in the next post… (I thought the correct term was “vortices”, but either is correct, according to Wikipedia). For those interested in the phenomenon in physics, vortexes/vortices are major components of turbulent flow, which is not only spiritual, but something that Yours Truly often gets into with His Lovely Bride, such as when he comments on waitresses in short-shorts. Sigh…

1 Comment

  • Anonymous
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 1:08 am

    Such a funny outlook. It's delightful traveling along with you two and seeing things from another viewpoint. Had to laugh about the indestructible dog toy. No stuffed toy could make it past my little Bill's terrier teeth. And yes, vortices. Thanks. 😉 Enjoyed the travelogue.


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