A blog for people who don't want to spend all their free time in the real world. After all, we live and work there. Escape the mundane with books, travel, and writing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

How to Win Games and Beat People by Tom Whipple

This is a really interesting book, with information about--and quotes from the experts in--each discipline.  Some of this is rather tongue-in-cheek, especially about things like apple bobbing and stone skipping.  

I love the "how it ends" section for each game—most quite funny.  Good humor, but also physics, math, strategy, logic, and lots on strange tidbits.  Great book if you like games as much as I do. 

Oh, and thanks to this, I spent entirely too much time alternately laughing at and being amazed by 20Q.net, the AI internet program that can play twenty questions with you.  Go look it up. 

A very strong 4.5 stars.   

And just in case you can't read the subtitle, here's the whole thing:  "How to Win Game and Beat People; Demolish your family and friends at over 30 classic games with advice from an international array of experts."

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Old Dominion Park in Globe, Arizona

Cool old mining equipment at Old Dominion Park in Globe.  It's at the site of an old mine and you can see old ruins and read a lot of really interesting information about the history of the place and the industry.  There are also picnic tables, short hiking trails, a cool playground, and a frisbee golf course.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Saguaro Flowers and Ironwood Blossoms

Between Phoenix and Superior, Arizona, on May 13, all the little saguaros had flowery hats, and even the ironwood was blooming pale purple.  Lovely day.

Can you believe that each saguaro flower blooms for only one night (and into the next day) and then closes up?  It's tragically beautiful.  Here you can see the ones yet to bloom, the ones that opened the night before, and the ones who have already done their duty. 

The ironwood tree isn't showy, but it's beautiful.  It's the first year I remember seeing so many ironwood blossoms (or maybe I just didn't know what they were before).  However, they only bloom when conditions are right, so maybe this WAS the best year I've seen. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

South Mountain Night Hike, late April

Sunset light on an almost-blooming saguaro,
South Mountain Park, Phoenix, April 28:

The lights of Phoenix:

We did the Mormon Trail-Fat Man's Pass-Hidden Valley loop from the Mormon Trailhead.  It was a great short jaunt and a peaceful evening.  But...we couldn't find a single scorpion with black light.  It was kinda creepy.  (Now that I read that back, it seems weird to be creeped out by NOT finding scorpions, but there it is.  Where were they all?  A scorpion convention?  See...THAT is creepy.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Brittlebush Side by Side

Arizona desert plant life is amazing.  For many species, much of its life cycle (leafing out, dropping leaves, flowering, etc) is dependent more on recent rain than on the season or even the temperature.  For example, ocotillo are famous for producing a whole lot of leaves nearly overnight and then dropping them whenever conditions change.  On a single hike you can see ocotillo in all different states of leafiness or nakedness.

Brittlebush (aka brittlebrush) is another one that can look dead in dry spells and then, when temperature and water conditions are right, will suddenly send up shoots and burst into a riot of yellow flowers.  It's more dependent on season than ocotillo, but individual plants vary so widely as to when (or if) they bloom that you can mistake them for different species entirely.

Here's a drastic example.  These two brittlebush plants were next to each other, maybe a foot or two separating their edges.  But one must have had access to better water runoff or something.  Look at the difference:

Pictures taken April 14, 2018 at Peoria Westwing Mountain Preserve


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Cruising Alaska on a Budget is the #1 Bestseller today in Cruise Travel

Look what happened today on Amazon:

My book reached the #1 Bestseller spot in Cruise Travel!

If you want to learn how to sail the beautiful waters of Alaska on a budget, pick up your copy here:

It's only $4.99, and will save you much more than that.

If you want to be added to the mailing list about Alaska news, interesting stories, and cruise deals, use the "join my reader list" form to the right (scroll down). 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Peoria West Wing Mountain in Palo Verde Season

I hit this hike on the perfect day for palo verde.  Big yellow puffballs dotted the subdivisions below.  So very pretty.  This was April 15, 2018

Here's a close-up:

A lot of the creosote was also in bloom (creosote blooms more according to rain than season):

A few of the staghorn or buckhorn cholla were putting on a show:

And then there were the chuckwallas.  I saw three on that hike, literally doubling my lifetime sightings.  The first picture is a tiny one:

And here is a bigger one hiding in a crevice (as they're wont to do):  

And this lovely hummingbird.  What a great day.

To access Peoria West Wing Mountain Preserve, park at Westwing Park (27100 Westwing Pkwy, Peoria, AZ  85383) and then walk across Westwing Parkway and follow the trail markers.