With Anne feeling better, we decided to go hiking on Sunday. We drove over to Camelback Mountain, where we had been warned to arrive early to avoid the crowds and heat. They were right about the crowds. We spent 10 minutes looking for parking, ending up parking at the closest on-street spot 3/4 of a mile away since the lot was full.
I’ve done a lot of hiking in the Bay Area, but Camelback is like nothing around here. It’s all rocky and steep. There are well-worn rails up parts of the “trail” which you pretty much have to use to pull yourself up the mountain. At least it was cloudy, so we weren’t too dehydrated. There were a lot of crazy people running the trail in both directions. This was the most scary when they were coming down as they didn’t always have full control of their inertia.
We made it up in an hour and half or so, rested to enjoy the view and headed back down. We heard that taking the approach from the East is a lot easier.
After that, we decided to drive around some more, since we clearly did not have enough energy to do more hiking. We drove over to the fields where the SF Giants practice for spring training. While there were no players there, we knew it was the right place because the grass was immaculate, a hard thing to find in a place when most people’s front yards are dirt and cacti.
Driving some more, we went through the Salt River Indian Reservation. It was a stark contrast from prosperous Scottsdale, just on the other side of the highway. Run-down modular homes were placed on the edge of dusty fields.
We spent a few hours exploring the campus of Arizona State University. It seemed big, but otherwise a nice school.
Then we ended up in Papago Park, home of the Phoenix Zoo, “Urban Fishing”, and the Oakland A’s practice field. Strangely, the Phoenix Zoo was actually called “PHX Zoo”. I noticed Phoenix abbreviated like that in a few places for no good reason. Maybe they just can’t remember if the E or O comes first and avoid it altogether.
Somewhere along the way I picked up geocache find number 4000. Geez, that’s a lot.
Later we found ourselves passing another 7-Eleven and stopped for a Slurpee to rehydrate. The biggest problem with Slurpees is that you tend to get “holes” near the bottom where the end of the straw is. You spend a lot of time trying to consolidate your Slurpee rather than drinking it.
My novel solution to this problem was to – while driving – smack the Slurpee down on the dashboard to get it to settle. Unfortunately I smashed it down on the top of a vent, where the corner shattered the bottom of the cup. It started dripping all over the place. Realizing this was an actual Slurpee emergency, I pulled into the parking lot of, by complete coincidence, another 7-Eleven. I went in and asked if I could just have a replacement cup. The guy didn’t really say anything, so I just walked out with it and saved the day.
After doing a few more caches and checking out a sunset at South Lake (where does all this water come from??), we headed back to the hotel.
Because we’re totally lame and we were tired, we went to Olive Garden. It sounded good and we were right.
One thing I noticed about Phoenix is that they use some strange vocabulary on signs. The sign warning you not to drive over the one-way spikes in the Camelback parking lot said to watch out for the “treadles”. What the heck is a treadle? I had to look it up.
The sign saying not to drink the water at a park warned that the water was “effluent”. “Non-potable” sounds more like “don’t drink this” to me. Effluent? Sounds like affluent. Must be good stuff, drink it up! Or maybe just say “recycled water” or “hey stupid, if you drink this water, you’ll probably get sick”.
And again, what’s so hard about spelling out Phoenix?