Sunday, October 19, 2008

Moonlight hike, trail dedication and high school reunion – it’s been an adventurous week!

As we age, most people lose that expectancy, that urgency of hope, that delightful, childlike, wide-eyed joy of faith that keeps us full of anticipation and excitement. May God deliver us from a grim, stoic, stale shrug of the shoulders! (unknown author)

In fact, it’s been a great first week here at Cave Creek Regional Park. As soon as I awake – often before the sun rises – I’m excited to see what the day will bring. There’s no lolling around in bed for me. I toss on some clothes and head out for an early morning walk around the campground. The early birds are chattering and the rabbits are scattering as I walk. Except for the first night here when the temperature dropped enough for me to reach over and turn my electric blanket in, it’s been in the high 60s at 6 a.m.

The nearly 3,000-acre park is at altitudes ranging from 2,000 feet to 3,000 feet. The landscape offers interesting geological formations, scenic views and the Sonoran desert flora and fauna. The park has more than 11 miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding (mixed use; no motorized vehicles) trails. Most days temperatures have been in the 90s range.

I wonder where we put ---?

My first two days here were spent in organizing stuff in my motorhome. With both my sister Alice and I transferring things from my house and garage to Jeremiah II (yes, we got everything in with some space to spare), it’s been like a treasure hunt. A few things are yet to be found.

The status of the new visitor center/nature center/gift shop

I was “hired” specifically to get this new facility open and staffed, and the original completion date was November 1. Well, like a lot of construction projects, this one is delayed. Now it looks like a January opening. Bummer! So in the meantime, I’m being trained as a regular campground host and I’ve had my first three shifts of training at the “contact station” which is at the entry to the park, the “iron ranger” a self-pay station, and tallying each day’s park fees (day use, camping, and annual passes paid by cash, check and credit card). There are lots of things to remember but it is all beginning to make sense. Thank goodness for my previous business experiences.

New trail dedication

I was invited to go with park supervisor Amy and park ranger Jim to the dedication of a new mixed-use trail not too far from here. It was a big deal attended by local residents, trail advocates, staff from county parks and recreation, politicians, and other bigwigs. The trail is a segment of a 240-mile trail that connects the county’s parks that ring the Phoenix metro area. Among the bigwigs was a man from the Navajo Nation who blessed the trail and about a half dozen horsemen/women on horseback. I met lots of folks and had a great time. The trailhead has parking for horse trailers and a water trough.

“Creeping out” moonlight hike

Ranger Jim led this leisurely hike, and I was tail-ender. About 45 locals came out. Along the way Jim pulled things from his pack to show the hikers: a tarantula, king snake and scorpion. The park offers several hikes each week. The early Thursday morning hike is billed as a “fitness hike. “I push people to get their heart rate up; no slacking off,” explained Jim.

52 years ago -- where was I?

I was a senior at Washington High School in Phoenix. 1956 was the first year for this school; juniors and seniors could choose to stay in the high school they had been attending (the new school took students from Glendale and Sunnyslope); freshmen and sophomores in the district had no choice. As a result, we had just 49 in the senior class and about 100 in the junior class. We were big-shots on the campus – deciding on the team mascot, school colors, starting the first newspaper, designing the first yearbook, etc. And you’re probably not surprised to learn that I was in the midst of everything.

Over the years I lost track of classmates and the school lost track of me. I missed the 50-year reunion, but did reconnect with a few past friends. This past Saturday night was a reunion for any person who attended Washington High that first year; there were just five from the first senior class. The event was at the large and spacious home of one of the 1956 sophomore students. I was told that more than 200 folks were gathered on the huge lawn and patio that was filled with tables, chairs, etc. The DJ played 50s music. It was such fun!

Busy but yet gifting myself with times of solitude.

I was reminded about the importance of slowing down and having time to think and rethink things when I read this passage written by Pastor Chuck Swindoll:

Instead of speeding up, slow down and rethink. I've thought about them for years. Instead of speeding up, let's find ways to slow down and rethink. Taking time to discover what really matters is essential if we're going to lift the curse of superficiality that shadows our lives. Don't wait for the doctor to tell you that you have six months to live. Long before anything that tragic becomes a reality, you should be growing roots deep into the soil of those things that truly matter.

Until next weekend…slow down and appreciate all you have!


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