Sunday, April 25, 2010

March 30 A Special Bone Day

Yes indeed, today was a very special bone day for the dogs. It was elk bone day. At the Green City Market there is a vendor that sells elk meat, I haven't tried it yet but I will someday. He also sells the leg bones as dog treats. So our extremely spoiled and unappreciative dogs each got an elk bone today. As you can see each dog has a different approach to enjoying the elk bone treat.
Roxy prefers to enjoy hers indoors so she can leave shattered bits of bone on the floor for me to step on with my bare feet.
 Fluffy actually wandered off the patio, this is a rare feat for the old girl. The 3 foot walk with the bone must have worn her out as she yawned as soon as she dropped the bone.
Oslo ran into the yard and attacked the elk bone like he is an alpha male dog. God knows he is nothing like an alpha male, he's barely a male dog. Yes that is straw that we put down for the rainy spring to cover the many spots in the yard that no longer have any grass. It's been down for 3 weeks and so far no rain. And that concludes my bone day update.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

March 27 Cowles Bog Hike

We took the dogs on a hike at Cowles Bog today. Since Fluff is getting very old, we had to cut the hike short for her. It was nice to get out of the house and the hike here is definitely worth the trip.

If you can identify this bodysnatcher looking pod, please leave a comment for me. These things were growing everywhere.

Here's the old girl, Fluffy showing off her snaggle tooth.

Here's the Fanook, being himself.

And to complete the head shots, here's Roxy.

Here's the two old timers lollygagging behind the rest of us.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

March 20 The Drunk Irishman & The Lost Dutchman

"Must it take a life for hateful eyes
To glisten once again
Cause we find ourselves in the same old mess
Singin' drunken lullabies"
- 'Drunken Lullabies' by Flogging Molly

Some of the guys went golfing today. Others went to the White Sox spring training game. One dumb motherfucker decided to go hiking. That would be me. I decided to drive out to Lost Dutchman State Park and hike the Syphon Draw Trail. After breakfast, this seemed like a great idea. A beautiful sunny day probably about 80 degrees, why not get out and enjoy a hike in the Superstition Mountains. Sure I was feeling a bit hazy. So I picked up a gatorade for the forty five minute drive out to the Tonto National Forest. The park was very crowded. I mention this because the state of Arizona is so broke they have begun closing state parks. The Lost Dutchman is scheduled to be closed on June 3rd. What a shame. This is a topic for another day. I find a parking spot and put on my hiking boots. I learned early on this trip to wear my good hiking boots on every hike. Even the short easy hikes have extremely rocky paths. Not the smooth, level, crushed rock paths like back home in suburban Chicago but jagged pieces of mountain tops that have broken free over the years. So that makes this state park seem like the wilderness to this city boy. I put four bottles of water in my backpack. Mistake #2. Let's backtrack a bit, thinking I could hike after two days of drinking would be Mistake #1, but that hasn't occurred to me yet. Forgot the sunscreen, Mistake #3. I find the trail head and figure I should be able to make it to the Flatiron mesa. Mistake #4, sure it is less than 3 miles away, but it is also at 5000 feet, the trail head is 2000 feet. Immediately, I am breathing heavy and sweating profusely. I began to think my body is punishing me for my activities of the past two days. I push on, sweating out a combination of Miller Lite, Mojitos and Harp Lager. The sun is really strong and there isn't a tree to be found anywhere. But I begin to feel better, the great views probably help. I'm thinking to myself, damn right I can do this hike right up to the top, The Flatiron. So I am hiking along at what seems like a good pace to me, when a family with young kids passes me. The young father with a frame backpack carrying his baby boy. OK, no problem, they are young and they do mountain hikes all the time. I continue up the trail breathing heavy, drinking water and resting often. Then two ladies, probably in their fifties say hello as they pass me. I noticed they were busy doing something with their hands when I realized they were knitting or crocheting. One held the yarn while the other worked the needles or whatever the fuck those hook things are called. I began yelling "God end this misery. Just kill me now". As it echoed in the canyon, some hikers yelled back "Okay!!" I found some much needed shade behind a huge rock. Reality hit me when I started drinking from my third of my four water bottles, I'm never gonna make it to The Flatiron. So I hiked up to the basin and ate my lunch, some trail mix and an energy bar. My legs were tired but I actually felt good. I took pictures along the way. The combination of rocky mountain and cactus made for a cool contrast I haven't seen too often. On my way back down I cut across the mountain on Jacob's Crosscut Trail, just to take a different way back to the car. I ended up hiking part of the Treasure Loop Trail also. Once again, I enjoyed my day of hiking.
The saguaro cactus are impressive. Some grew up to 15 feet or more along this trail.
This boardwalk serves as a reminder to help protect areas like this for future generations.
The trail starts out pretty flat across an area of desert brush and several types of cacti.
This howling wolf sundial was an Eagle Scout's project. Good job and accurate too.
The Siphon Draw trail.
These hoodoos, I think that is what they are called, were huge. 
Some views along the trail. My original goal The Flatiron can be seen here above & below.

The saguaro cacti were growing high into the mountains
The view on my way back down the trail
The end of my Arizona hikes for this trip. It is after 3pm. I have tickets to the Blackhawks vs Coyotes game at 6pm. I have a 45 drive back to the hotel and a 45 minute drive to the hockey stadium. I gotta get going. 
Oh no. I love kitschy roadside Americana tourist traps. Actually I love that some still exist. I figured I had a few minutes to take some pictures...Mistake # 5. I would have bought a cold glass bottle of Pepsi from the old vending machine at the Bluebird Mine Gift Shop but I gave up soda for Lent. Then I thought God wouldn't mind just one bottle. He has to know how hard it is to find a glass bottle of Pepsi. But I figured why take the chance, the way I live most of my life I could use this Lent sacrifice as a bargaining chip in my favor when that time comes. The Goldfield Ghost Town was packed. These people drove all the way out here to pretend they were visiting a real ghost town. The irony of it all. I couldn't even find a parking spot. I double parked and took some pictures but the only good one was the sign at the entrance. Back onto the highway...but wait a minute. WTF. All lanes closed at Rt 101. Where is my map? Is 101 past my exit? No it isn't. Damn it God, I didn't drink that Pepsi.Why is this happening? I get to the hotel about 4:50pm. Showered and back in the car by 5:05pm. Meet up with the rest of the group at McFaddens Bar in the complex next to the stadium. I find out that Konerko, Danks & Beckham from the White Sox were there earlier. Damn that closed highway. My luck changed in the hockey stadium. I was starving and resigned myself to eating shitty stadium food...what is this...a Boars Head deli. Hell yes, I'll have a pastrami & swiss cheese sandwich on rye with a fresh pickle. I am about to see my first Blackhawks game of the season in person. Great seats. Let's go. The Hawks lost 5-4 in overtime. It was a great game, Blackhawk fans outnumbered Coyote fans. Unfortunately, Brent Sopel plays for the Hawks. He was on the ice for 4 of their goals and serving his penalty for the other goal. Back to Tempe. Another night of drinking, bullshitting and general mayhem. About 2:30am, I found myself standing in line outside a pizzeria. It was worth the wait, 2 slices to go. What a way to end my trip to AZ. Walking back to the hotel at 3am eating pizza slices on a beautiful 65 degree night in March. The perfect way to end a much needed break from the real world.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

March 19 Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced

"So kiss me, I'm shitfaced
and i'm soaked and i'm soiled and brown
in the trousers,
She kissed me!
And I only bought her one round"
-'Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced'  by the Dropkick Murphys

I stopped drinking about 12:30am last night and started drinking at 10:30am this morning. After breakfast at the hotel where most of the group of about 30 were staying. We got on our rented bus to head to Camelback Ranch. No we weren't going to a rodeo, that is where the White Sox have spring training. My first spring training game and it is the Cubs vs. the White Sox. The bus we rented was a full city bus done up like a limousine. There was couch like seats along each wall, satellite TV and two stripper poles at each end of the bus. It was on the bus that the drinking began. It continued while standing in the hot Arizona sun watching the Cubs beat the crap out of my White Sox. More beer on the bus ride back to Tempe. A quick beer run to the Circle K to restock for an afternoon of drinking at the hotel pool. A short break to clean up then a very nice dinner at an upscale Mexican restaurant, where the mojitos & margaritas were poured very heavy. After dinner back to drinking beer on the sidewalk patio. It was here that things got strange. At the pool earlier in the day, some of the guys had a belly flop contest with two kids hanging out at the pool. Afterward they hung out in the hot tub. Those of us on the other side of the pool made the kind of jokes you'd expect to be made about grown men and little boys in a hot tub. Let's just say it was very derogatory toward our friends. Back to the sidewalk patio.You have to remember, this group is here for a bachelor party, 30 guys, no women. I was talking with Jason & Pat when I heard Mike say,"hey, there's the kids from the hot tub" several times. As Mike stands and waves to the kids, I look up and see the mom, who wasn't at the pool earlier, hurrying her kids past our group. I'm yelling at Mike to shut the fuck up, he keeps waving. I'm not positive, but I think I heard the mom asking her sons, "did those guys touch you anywhere?" It wasn't long after that we were asked to leave the upscale Mexican restaurant. Off to the Irish bar across the street, more beers and a crappy band. Even though I agreed with Jason that the lead singer/guitarist sucked, I advised him not to go on stage and kick his ass. A few rounds later, about 1:30am. I gave up and walked back to the hotel. Fifteen hours of drinking was enough for me.