Life Verse:

"...I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." -- JESUS in John 10:10

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Trip Journal - Phoenix Arizona - Spring 2009 - Page 4

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 05:53MST

Reading from Psalm 68 this morning.

The earth shook; The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

You, O God, sent a plentiful rain,

Whereby You confirmed Your inheritance, When it was weary.

-- Psalms 68:8-9 (NKJV)

O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places.

-- Psalms 68:35 (NKJV)

I remember reading this Psalm when I was in Arizona the first time – Summer of 2007 – after seeing the Grand Canyon. I don’t believe I can improve on what the Psalmist says, “GOD, YOU are indeed more awesome than YOUR holy places.” Thank YOU for choosing me – for calling me – for living in me and for doing such wonders in my life. Thank YOU for showing me just a small glimpse of YOUR majesty and care in YOUR Creation.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 21:12MST

After a full day of Graphics & Design class I was ready to get outdoors! I planned better today and was ready to go. Thunderbird Conservation Park in Glendale, AZ was within a 30 minute drive of Honeywell Automation College.

The park is situated in the middle of the suburbs, but the foothills and surrounding Sonoran desert-scape set it apart. Several trails ring the foothills, cross the summits of some, and meander across the desert bottom land. There are quite a few ramadas and other amenities in the park. Thunderbird is touted as a conservation park and there are several different types of fauna observed here. I was able to view many different passerines as well as the usual desert lizards. Coyotes, jackrabbits, ground squirrels, and other similar mammals probably venture into the park at night, but I did not observe any today. Set in the midst of the suburbs, you might expect the park to see lots of traffic, and you would be correct. There were quite a few other hikers and trail runners. About four mountain bikers shared the trail with us all this afternoon. The trails are also open to equestrian riders, though none were present during my hike.

Thunderbird Park is the classic igneous rock common among the mountains in Phoenix. (I am not a geologist, so understand I may not be classifying the rock correctly. But the rocks “look” like they come from volcanic origin.)

I started from the parking lot to the south and east of the amphitheater and hiked clockwise Thunderbird Trail H-3 and H-1 for a total of 3.8 miles. My pace was quicker than normal because (you guessed it) the park gates were scheduled to close at sunset. (I hate it when they do that – what time is sunset? More importantly is that time open to interpretation?) I gave it a trail difficulty rating of moderate due to the elevation gain, and rocky condition in some portions of the trail. The area was impressive – another example of GOD’s magnificent work. The trails were well maintained though rocky in spots. Signage was particularly good (thank you Glendale!) for this part of the country. Thunderbird Park gave me a good physical workout but it was hard to focus on the spiritual due to the volume of human traffic on the trail. Nevertheless, it was a great hike (rated it 4/5 on my scale) and very much appreciated. Glendale should be justifiably proud of their conservation park.

Trip Journal - Phoenix Arizona - Spring 2009 - Page 3

Monday, March 30, 2009; 05:51MST

Morning reading – Psalm 30.

YOU have turned for me my mourning into dancing; YOU have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.” – Psalm 30:11

GOD, YOU are so awesome. YOU have indeed so many times worked good in my life in the midst of troubles. I give YOU all praise and glory, in JESUS name amen.

Off to class this morning, Experion Graphics and Design.

Plans for this afternoon are to check out White Tank Mountains in west Phoenix.

Mon. 3/30/2009; 20:16MST

Well, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” By the time I got out of class at 4pm the combination of heavy traffic and spring-time sunset times prevented me from going hiking. Sunset comes a little after 6pm and most of the regional parks lock their gates by sundown.

I took the time to make a trip down AZ101 to Cabela’s Retail Store in Glendale. It was indeed impressive – a lot like Bass Pro but with the addition of a wildlife museum of sorts (Aftrican Big game as well as western US animals). The stuffed wildlife dioramas were well done, educational, and interesting. Believe it or not, I did not make a purchase while inside!

I will plan in more detail for tomorrow and take everything I need in the truck for hiking. This will allow me to head directly to Thunderbird Conservation Park from Honeywell Automation College. I should be able to get at least a little time on the trails this way.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trip Journal - Phoenix Arizona - Spring 2009 - Page 2

Sunday, March 29, 2009 06:39MST (Page 2)

Reading this morning from Psalms 28-29.

“The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon. HE makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox.” – Psalm 29:4-6

The window of my third floor room faces east. It is impressive to see the sun rise above the palm trees and structures of Traveler’s Inn next door. As impressive as the sunrise may be, as impressive as the forces found in nature are, we would do well to remember that all of this is just a small testimony to how awesome and great is our GOD! HE controls all of HIS Creation and is also intimately acquainted and concerned with our personal lives.

My thoughts are toward Crestview this morning. I pray that GOD will work in the worship times today as HIS people seek HIM.

After breakfast this morning, I will point the Colorado 4x4 north on I-17 toward Red Rock country. My plans include hiking at Dead Horse Ranch State Park and Montezuma’s Castle National Monument.

Sunday, March 29, 2009; 20:22MST

Has been a very good day and my legs feel it! The drive up to Dead Horse Ranch State Park took a little longer than I expected due to some road construction, but I arrived about 09:30. The drive was a worshipful experience though, as I listened to KLOVE and ArizonaShine (among several) contemporary Christian radio stations. As a matter of fact I listened to them up and back. Worship was the order of the day on the trail and the road!

Dead Horse Ranch AZ State Park is adjacent to Coconino National Forest and includes typical “red rock” Arizona landscape with the addition of the Verde River and its riparian zones. The area is beautiful. Glenn would have appreciated the two lagoons that are in the park. Several anglers were busy at work and I saw evidence of many fish caught, including trout.

I hiked a large loop including part of the Lime Kiln Trail, Thumper Trail, Lower Raptor Hill Trail, Rattlesnake Wash Overlook Spur, part of the Mesa Trail, and the Tavasci Marsh Trail. All of these trails together with some hiking on park roads equaled about 10 miles of hiking! My legs feel the 10 miles tonight, but the day was certainly worth it.

The hike included washes (arroyos), small mesas, and everything in between. I observed numerous passerines and the ubiquitous lizard. (This is a lizard heaven!) Also saw the occasional raptor (some type of hawk, I think). It occurred to me that it could have been a Golden Eagle – though my knowledge of them is limited. Contrary to the Thumper Trail’s name, I did not see any Jackrabbits this time. The number of butterflies amazed me. They were drawn to the desert blooming wildflowers and cacti. It is wonderful to see the desert bloom. The desert is alive – GOD takes care of HIS Creation.

As I came down off Lower Raptor Hill Trail, there were splendid views of Tuzigoot National Monument. I found a little used trail (Tavasci Marsh Trail) that led down to the Tavasci March (part of The Verde River) which the ancient Sanaguin Indians worked.

After catching a late and quick lunch at Wendy’s in Camp Verde, I headed north to see Montezuma’s Castle National Monument. I was concerned that two hours might not be enough time to adequately explore this site but my fears were unfounded. The monument is not large and I was able to really explore and soak up the feel of the monument. It never ceases to amaze me how GOD works things out. I go and plan an entire day of time outdoors with 10 miles of hiking the back country and HE touches my spirit more in the two hours I spent at Montezuma’s Castle! I was impressed by the immensity and grandeur of this place. These were real people with real hopes, dreams, fears, and spirits. Why did they build these impressive structures? What happened to them? Why did they leave this majestic site after living there 400 years? What monuments are we leaving behind with our lives for others to admire?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Trip Journal - Phoenix Arizona - Spring 2009 - Page 1

Sat. 3/28/2009 – 05:42CDT

Sitting at the Montgomery Regional Airport waiting… flight delayed until 07:16 for required crew rest. Weather in the area is bad but seems to be confined mostly to extreme south Alabama. Kathy & Diane saw me off at the terminal in a light rain. Thankfully MGM has a partial cover extending over the unloading area.

This trip to Phoenix seems hurried – not as well planned out as my previous trips. Is it getting “old hat”? I don’t think so… just so much competing for time these last several months. I really do need an extended vacation. I hope we get to go on our Great Western Expedition.

Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! -- Psalms 27:14 (NKJV)

LORD, I wait on YOU as best I know how. Forgive me of my sins. Guide me to walk daily closer to YOU. I ask for YOUR wisdom that I may know how to shepherd YOUR people at Crestview. Comfort and defend Kathy & Diane during our time apart. Thank YOU for what YOU have done and for what YOU will do. In JESUS name, amen.

Sat, 3/28/2009 20:35MST (Phoenix, AZ)

Plane was delayed a little over an hour due to time required for crew rest and the weather. I just did have time to gobble-down a bacon-egg-cheese biscuit and hash browns before boarding the plane for Phoenix.

Plane arrived in Phoenix exactly on schedule, 10:57MST.

Lots of people in Phoenix this week… some type of Spring-training (baseball thing), spring break, and other special events. Hertz was almost swamped. They rented me a 4x4 Chev Colorado Pickup because they were running short on intermediate size cars. Didn’t cost IP any additional money!

Remembering how I missed out last fall on Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, I headed east toward the Superstitions and Superior Arizona. (I stopped this time at Carl’s Burgers for a quick lunch!) The drive was a little congested until after Apache Junction, but still enjoyable. The Sonoran Desert and Superstition Mountains are quite enchanting. As I entered Tonto National Forest through Gonzoles Pass, Picketpost Mountain loomed impressively on the right. Thompson Arboretum SP is nestled in the shadow of Picketpost Mountain.

GOD blessed me greatly with wonderful weather and a clear head and stomach this time. The spring desert flowers were in regal form today. I was genuinely impressed! I did not expect that much color, fragrance, and variety. The hummingbirds and butterflies were having a field day! Hope the pictures do them justice.

The 3.5 miles of hiking today covered areas from Sonoran desert gardens, to Australian Eucalyptus forests, to Ayers Lake, to Picketpost Mountain high trail, to a Demonstration Garden, a riparian (creek side) area, and everything in between. There were many lizards in attendance, along with several ground squirrels. As expected, birds were everywhere. Thompson Arboretum State Park is, in my estimation, a jewel in the crown of the State of Arizona! Thank YOU, LORD, for preparing this place and sharing it with me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Needed Hike - Mountain Creek - 3/23/2009

Hike: Mountain Creek, Monday, 3/23/2009, 17:00-18:00
Distance: ~2 miles  Rating: 4/5 (hurried because the park closes at dusk)
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions:  Sunny, clear.  Light wind.  Sun headed down.  Very comfortable temps/humidity.
Forest beginning to come alive with signs of Spring.  Brilliant red Cardinals, pure white Dogwood blooms, and passionate purple Wisteria are the order of the day here.  Dogwoods are well on their way to being in full bloom.  Wisteria seems to be just beginning to bloom here (a little behind some of the other areas I've seen).  Give it another week or so to be in full bloom.  (Note:  Some of the hardwoods in the bottom land as you enter the nature trail area have been cut due to disease or injury.  Wisteria may not be as widespread due to this culling.)  Azaleas are budding and will also burst forth into bloom by Easter.  Hardwoods have that light-green color that has always reminded me of Spring as their new leaves begin to stretch out to the sun.  Red Maples add a nice dash of red to the forest canopy and mid-story.  Squirrels are scurrying about along with many passarines.  I really needed this hike -- this time to get away from the demands of everyday work, ministry, and family.  Thank YOU, LORD, for providing this place for me and for meeting me here!  Thank YOU for encouraging, comforting, and strengthening me.