Archive for the ‘Trollgod’s hat’ Category

Treated Like a God   8 comments

Last year Doug Rhea contacted me and asked if I’d be a Guest at NTRPG Con in 2013. (North Texas Role-Playing Games Convention). I agreed when I learned Rick Loomis (my main publisher, CEO of Flying Buffalo, Inc.) had also gotten an invite, it was certain that we would go.  The time came last Thursday morning at about 7 a.m.   The plane was 45 minutes late, but it was still god-awful early in the morning, and I didn’t get much sleep the night before. That was a pattern that would continue.  I didn’t get more than 3 hours sleep any night of the convention.  I’m home now, but Crom, I’m tired.  (Tried to sleep this morning, but couldn’t.)

Me thanking Doug for bringing me to the convention.

Me thanking Doug for bringing me to the convention.

We reached our destination early Thursday afternoon–a Marriott hotel near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. The facilities were great.  There was a large open meeting with dealers around the edges and organized gaming in the center along with several smaller conference rooms.  The very comfortable hotel lobby had a dozen medium to large round tables with chairs available for open gaming.  The hotel bar and restaurant was right off to the side.  Rick and I had room 715 on the Concierge floor at the top of the hotel–a long walk down to the gamng area, but very pleasant.  The room was very clean and comfortable.

I spent Thursday afternoon meeting some of the other notables who were at the Con.  There were a lot of the real Old Guard from TSR present including Frank Mentzer, Tim Kask, David “Zeb” Cook, Steve Winter, and Jim Ward. Also present was Jeff Dee, Steve Marsh, Dennis Sustare, Erol Otus, and Sandy Peterson.  Other notable guests included Peter Kerestan, Doug Kovacs, Robert Kuntz, David “Diesel” LaForce, and Jeff Easley.  And many others.

Obviously, I brought my camera, but I didn’t really do a very good job of taking pix at the Con.  I missed a ton of the most important stuff that happened, and didn’t even really get many shots of things that I was involved in.  For example, I met William Meinhardt, the Deluxe T & T Kickstarter backer who paid $1000 to get my personal copy of the Tunnels & Trolls 1st edition.  Bill was very laid back and amiable. He didn’t actually get his prize until Saturday morning, and then he just tucked it away, said he was glad to have it, and went about his own gaming agenda.

Rebecca Heinemann and Jennel Jaquays.

Rebecca Heinemann and Jennel Jaquays.

Mongolians hard at work making my supper.

Mongolians hard at work making my supper.

Dinner--Mongolian stir fry--on Thursday night.

Dinner–Mongolian stir fry–on Thursday night.

The highlight of Thursday was going to supper with Rebecca Heinemann and Jennel Jaquays. When I knew these ladies in a former life back in the late 80s they were men.  The food was delicious, and the conversation sparkled.  We caught up with 20 years of missed history.  I learned a lot.  Rebecca and I had worked together (sort of) back when she worked for Brian Fargo of Interplay in 1987 and 1988 when we did the Wasteland computer game for Electronic Arts. Back in those days I wrote story and game constraints. S(he) wrote the code that made it all work.

Jennel was actually at the Con to run Tunnels and Trolls sessions.  She ran two sessions of 5.5 while I was running sessions of Deluxe.  Her players seemed to have a very good time.

Frank Mentzer running That Other Game.

Frank Mentzer talking about That Other Game.

Although there were a number of High Notables from the old TSR present, I didn’t actually spend much time socializing with them.  I sat in and listened to Frank expound upon the importance of story.  He introduced himself and we did talk for a few minutes on Friday morning.  I also listened to words of wisdom from Tim Kask and Jim Ward.  I autographed a 5th edition copy of T & T for Steve Winter on Saturday morning.  Most of the role-playing going on was actually That Other Game and I even participated in a session on Saturday morning (see below).  I don’t believe any of them took part in a T & T game, however, though I invited Time Kask to join my game on Saturday night (which he rather disdainfully declined) (bwa ha ha ha ha!).

Jeff Dee showing two of his newest games.

Jeff Dee showing two of his newest games.

Of all the game designers I met at the con, the one I got along with best was Jeff Dee.  Jeff is both artist and game designer.  He is also a funny and amiable guy who said some nice things about the influence T & T had on him when he was very young.  You can see some of his game credits spread on the table in front of him.  I spent more time with him than with any other game designer, talking to him on Thursday afternoon, and playing in his Cavemaster demo on Friday morning.  He’s a great G.M.  He makes being a caveman fun.  (I wanted a copy of that game and thought to buy one right at the end of the con before I left, but by then he had already sold out of all the stock he brought with him.)  He and his talented wife Amanda promised to send me a copy when they got home from the Con.  We will see if that actually happens.

Sandy Peterson (in the blue shirt and suspenders) running his prototype Cthulhu board game.

Sandy Peterson (in the blue shirt and suspenders) running his prototype Cthulhu board game.

I haven’t seen Sandy in 20 years.  But we were still on easy, friendly terms with each other.  His Cthulhu board game looked like enormous fun, and he was running it for people non-stop every time I saw him.  Alas, I did not get a chance to play it, but I want one.

Serving wenches,d Olivia and Jessica.

Serving wenches, Olivia and Jessica.

NTRPG con had the most wonderful innovation I’ve ever seen at a Con.  I think all small gaming cons should do it.  Serving wenches!!!  I was very pleasantly surprised on Thursday afternoon when Olivia (the dark-haired beauty) sought me out and told me that she was going to take care of me–if I wanted anything (within reason, i.e. food, drink, paper, messages run) that she would get it for me.  I wasn’t the only one she provided with this service–Doug Rhea and Michael Badolato treated their Guests like gods.  They not only paid our transportation and hotel bills, but provided food and drink at the hotel, and these ladies brought it to us.  Sometimes I worked with Jessica, who was also super sweet and nice–the con days were long, and they weren’t both on all the time.  They also provided this kind of mobile support for every guest of the convention, although the regular attendees had to actually pay for their food and drink.

Olivia was super kind and sweet to me, and I fell in love with her very quickly. I admit I flirted outrageously with her during the entire convention.  I made her laugh a lot, but I think I actually impressed her in a contest of skill and will on Saturday night (nothing unseemly happened)  (In the words of the song: Wait a minute, Mister, I never even kissed her.)  I felt like the Frog Prince to her Princess when she was around.  If I could win her love, I would have gladly made her my queen.  On the other hand, I was actually kind of the visiting dignitary, and she was part of the entertainment/service.  She was a gracious hostess; I cannot praise her highly enough, and I truly hope she took my flirting in the light-hearted, friendly, and worshipful spirit that i intended it to be, and not as harassment.  If she felt harassed, she was so professional and good about it that it never showed. She certainly made my convention experience memorable and pleasant, and I suspect she did the same for everyone she interacted with.  Jessica was also very wonderful–I saw her in action throughout (and  you will note that I took the time to learn both of their names and to spend some time just talking to them about more than my next meal or drink) and I cannot praise them both highly enough.

My one stab at playing That Other Game during the Con.

My one stab at playing That Other Game during the Con.

On Friday morning I took part in a Cavemaster demo that Jeff Dee ran.  On Saturday morning I wandered into this game of O.D.&D (Odd Death and Destruction?), where the Game Master (man in green t-shirt) gave me a rather low-powered dwarven warrior to play.  The game was slow, but had its moments of hilarity and fun–as any well-run rpg should have.  I got bored a few times and put my player on standard orders while I wandered around or performed my religious duties with earth and water elementals, but came back for all the good fights.  I called my dwarf Bertinernie.  My moment of glory in the game came when I managed to make a called shot and slice off the living statue’s hand–the one holding the evil staff–during combat, and then destroy the staff itself (which seemed to be sentient) on the following combat round.  Bert was the one who went back out to the flying ship and brought in a wheelbarrow to carry away all the treasure we eventually won.  I was also a voice of reason who argued that having gained a ton of loot, the prudent thing to do would be to retire and spend it for a few years before going back for more.

Doug Rhea presiding over auction.

Doug Rhea presiding over auction.

Late Saturday afternoon the premier event of the whole convention took place.  Raffle ticket were drawn and prizes were awarded.  Various people got goodies.  Old rare gaming stuff brought fabulous sums of money from the mostly middle-aged crowd of gamers present who bought things in the auction.  I bid a few times, but I did not manage to win anything at all.

Jeff Dee with trophy

Jeff Dee with trophy.

My friend Jeff Dee won the Con’s trophy/award for best new RPG of 2013 for his Cavemaster design.  It’s a 5 pound green dragon paperweight that would ornament any game room or fannish home.  When I later volunteered to store it for him, he told me quite firmly that he’d take care of the trophy himself.  I don’t blame him at all.  It was very nice. High quality! As were the other trophies awarded and and prizes associated with this con.

Auction.

Auction.

Auction. Saturday afternoon.

Auction. Saturday afternoon.

Even though I was at a Con, I tried to eat healthy foods. This combo of asparagus, wild rice, and chicken was my supper on the last night while running the Fire Dungeon for 6 players.

Even though I was at a Con, I tried to eat healthy foods. This combo of asparagus, wild rice, and chicken was my supper on the last night while running the Fire Dungeon for 6 players.

I included this picture for the benefit of my trainer, Julie Marsella, so that she’ll believe me when I tell her, that even though I was living the life of a godling with (almost) my every desire being granted, I still did my best to stay in training and eat healthy.

This was the last picture I managed to take.  My Saturday night session of Deluxe T & T where I ran 6 brave adventurers into The Chambers of Z’Tpozz the Mad Dwarf, which is the free adventure provided in Flying Buffalo’s contribution to free RPG day on June 15, ran late, and they failed in their mission to rescue the dwarven princess of the Fire Clan, but they had a great time trying to cope with the blazing challenges of the Fire Dungeon that Bear Peters and I designed especially for the project.

For a huge collection of pix from the Con, go to Facebook and look up NTRPG. I tried to make a link for you here, but it just didn’t work. You might even find a pic or two of me there.

I got to bed about 1 a.m. Sunday morning, I got to sleep about 3 a.m. Sunday morning. I woke up about 5 a.m. Sunday morning, and reached the airport about 6 a.m.  Our flight was delayed (again)  (I’m not very impressed, American Airlines.)  I got back to Phoenix about 10 a.m., and back to the Trollcave a little after 11 a.m., and now with the completion of this blog, the great NTRPG con adventure is over.

There was an odd thing about this con. Although the show was in Texas, the home of Steve Jackson Games, there was absolutely no sign of that great gaming company at the Con.  I didn’t see a single game of Munchkin played during the whole weekend.

Sunday evening is in progress as I finish this.  I’m off to Trollhalla.com to award the weekly bonus of TVP (Trollish Victory Points) to those who deserve them. I get to rest just a bit tomorrow, and get ready for an even greater con adventure that will begin for me on Tuesday, the 11th of June, when Corencio and I will join Rick Loomis on the annual trip to G.A.M.A.’s Origins national gaming convention in Columbus, Ohio.  I’ll be running some Tunnels and Trolls Deluxe while I’m there, and I’d love to see  you at the show.

If you’ve ever gone to NTRPG, or any gaming convention in Texas, or if you’ve ever played the trollish game with me, why not leave a comment?

–end

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Phoenix ComiCon Picnic   Leave a comment

In the middle of April, the volunteers who will staff and put on the Phoenix ComiCon convention coming at the end of May got together at South Mountain for a picnic.  It was a potluck affair.  About half the attendees each brought enough food to feed 10 people.  Talk about diversity and plenty!  What a feast!  I was there.  Here are some shots and brief comments that I took with my little camera.

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I don’t know who this guy is.  I took his pic because he was wearing the Phoenix ComiCon t-shirt from last year, and I figure it makes a cover shot.  In fact, I did not know about 95% of the people who showed up for this.  I was at the center of Phoenx fandom when it started back in the seventies.  I am so on the fringes now.

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The Convention organizers provided the basic food–hamburgers, hot dogs, and soft drinks.  They prepared enough for at least 200 people.  I don’t think that many came.  This guy is a great volunteer.  It was 90 degrees in the shade that afternoon, and this guy spent more than an hour cooking meat on this very hot grill.  I walked close to it, and it was 20 degrees hotter in its vicinity.  The hamburgers were a little overdone, but good tho.  I had one.

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They took a picture of all the volunteers standing in one huge group.  I took this picture of them taking their picture.  I’ll be in the second row of that picture holding my camera up above the throng if they ever publish it.

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The goofy looking guy in the Tunnels & Trolls t-shirt and the battered hat is me, Ken St. Andre, Atroll.  The beautiful woman next to me is my niece, Kerina St. Andre Fitzgerald.  She and her friend, Gary, crashed the party at my invitation.  It was a great party.  About half the people brought extra food–salads, desserts, drinks.  I ate way too much.  My stomach hurt, and there was tons of stuff I didn’t try.  I was good, though, and avoided desserts and sugary things.

Coming up for the last weekend of May 2013 will be Phoenix ComiCon.  I’ll be there running games on all four days, some Tunnels & Trolls, some Shadowfist, some Settlers of Catan St. Andre style.  Come game with me!

If you were at the picnic, or will be attending Phoenix ComiCon, why not leave a comment?

–end

Getting my Wish   1 comment

I called my brother last night and suggested Sunday morning would be a good day for a desert hike.  Being as persuasive as I am, I talked hiim into it, and I reached his home in Avondale by 7:30 in the morning.  By 8 a.m. we had reached the desert park, and were planning our trip.  Brian commented that we should be careful–this was perfect snake weather.  I said I hoped we saw one.  For all the times I’ve gone walking in the desert, I’ve never actually encountered a rattlesnake.

This rock tower was our target.  Didn't know if we could walk that far, but it gave us a landmark to aim at.

This rock tower was our target. Didn’t know if we could walk that far, but it gave us a landmark to aim at.

We had already walked about a mile before I took my first picture.  That granite tower in the distance is not as near as it looks–my camera isn’t very fancy, but it does have a built-in telescopic lens that makes things look about 3 times as large as they are to the naked eye.

I am a fool to dress this way for a desert walk.  Black is not the color one should wear for an Arizona desert walk, but it isn't too hot yet--mid 80s, and I like black, so I wear it even though I know better.

I am a fool to dress this way for a desert walk. Black is not the color one should wear for an Arizona desert walk, but it isn’t too hot yet–mid 80s, and I like black, so I wear it even though I know better.

This is living. I'm about as happy as I ever get when I'm out in the desert or any wilderness, just enjoying nature and exploring.

This is living. I’m about as happy as I ever get when I’m out in the desert or any wilderness, just enjoying nature and exploring. I am vain so I try to get my pictures taken without my glasses on, but Brian took a second shot I wasn’t expecting. I had put my eyes back on and was pulling the water bottle out of my pocket for the first drink on the walk.

Desert view, looking uphill.

Desert view, looking uphill.  Brian is leading the way up the trail.  Most of the time, you hike single file.  This is a good trail for hiking, but there isn’t room to walk side by side.

Desert.

The granite tower is a lot closer now.  It looks like it might almost be reachable.

I stop and look back the way we've come.  We have been climbing steadily.  That haziness in the far distance is the city of Phoenix.

I stop and look back the way we’ve come. We have been climbing steadily. That haziness in the far distance is the city of Phoenix.

It's a good ridge line off to the left.  One almost expects to see a group of Apache warriors sitting up there on their ponies.

It’s a good ridge line off to the left. One almost expects to see a group of Apache warriors sitting up there on their ponies.

Suddenly, I hear Brian say, “Snake, watch out!” It wasn’t exactly a yell, but his voice did get louder.  He was in the lead, and walked right past the snake and heard it rattle.  He stopped me from walking into its path.  Probably the fact that he walks pretty fast got him past the reptile before it could strike.  He heard it rattle–the noise isn’t exactly the clicking of a castanet, more like a whirring noise, turned and saw it.  He’s very good at spotting desert wildlife.  I had a hard time seeing the snake.  I was very cautious, walked way around the snake on the left side of the trail, even climbing on top of some boulders to keep me well beyond its strike range.

The rattlesnake is coiled in the shade of a little bush by the side of the trail.

The rattlesnake is coiled in the shade of a little bush by the side of the trail.  It’s a diamondback–the same animal that is the motto of our Phoenix big league baseball team.  The diamondback rattler is one of the deadliest animals in the desert.  Its poison can kill a grown man in an hour or two and is extremely painful.

We carefully worked our way around the snake, and made a note of where it was for our journey back.  We met another hiker coming down from the other direction, and warned him.  We probably  spent about ten minutes with the snake.  He wasn’t very happy to see us, but he never struck.  I got my wish.  I saw a snake in the desert.  I would see it again on the way back down the trail.

We ran out of time.  The plan was to walk in for an hour and then out for an hour.  At our

We ran out of time. The plan was to walk in for an hour and then out for an hour. At our turnaround point I saw this exuberant patch of desert daisies–the camera doesn’t really capture the brilliance of the hundreds of yellow wildflowers growing at this point on the hillside.

The Arizona desert is famous for its Saguaro cacti.  This is a fine healthy specimen.

The Arizona desert is famous for its Saguaro cacti. This is a fine healthy specimen.

In the center of all the green and yellow is one passionate splash of pink.  That is probably a cactus bloom, but I couldn't get close enough to tell for sure.  I liked that contrast.

In the center of all the green and yellow is one passionate splash of pink. That is probably a cactus bloom, but I couldn’t get close enough to tell for sure. I liked that contrast.

Coming

This picture is an accident. Camera in hand, I accidentally clicked while it was pointing down.

By this time we've been hiking for about 90 minutes.  I'm getting tired and the bottoms of my feet are getting sore. I wear tennis shoes, but they're not really perfect for desert walking.  Brian is getting pretty far ahead of me.

By this time we’ve been hiking for about 90 minutes. I’m getting tired and the bottoms of my feet are getting sore. I wear tennis shoes, but they’re not really perfect for desert walking. Brian is getting pretty far ahead of me.  The trail is at its roughest here, and one wants to step very carefully.

As we get back to the lower elevations, Brian pointed out two vultures circling above the hills to our left.  No chance of getting them on film with my little camera.  They move too fast and are too easily lost in the immensity of the sky.  I took this shot of the biggest saguaro in this corner of the desert instead.  Saguaros stand still. :)

As we get back to the lower elevations, Brian pointed out two vultures circling above the hills to our left. No chance of getting them on film with my little camera. They move too fast and are too easily lost in the immensity of the sky. I took this shot of the biggest saguaro in this corner of the desert instead. Saguaros stand still. 🙂

A

We are back at the snake’s bush.  The shadow is Brian’s, and he’s watching the snake and talking me past it.  I’m aiming my camera at the bush and hoping to get another shot of the diamondback.  I think you can spot it just past the black rock in the center of the picture.  Its camouflage is excellent.

Looking back, I'm past the snake now, but would like to get one more picture of it. You can see the shadow of my hat.

Looking back, I’m past the snake now, but would like to get one more picture of it. You can see the shadow of my hat, better than you can see the snake, but it is in the top right part of the picture.

The snake is far behind us now. The most interesting things in the desert are the saguaros.  This is a very tall one.

The snake is far behind us now. The most interesting things in the desert are the saguaros. This is a very tall one.

This is a veritable forest of saguaro cacti. The one on the right has grown strangely to form the letter U.

This is a veritable forest of saguaro cacti. The one on the right has grown strangely to form the letter U.

Just the right angle to see the cactus in front splitting the U of that weird saguaro.

Just the right angle to see the cactus in front splitting the U of that weird saguaro.

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Back at the parking lot, the hike is over.  My black Kia is covered with dust spots from the shower we had about 3 days earlier.  When it rains in Phoenix, it brings dust out of the atmosphere.  Rain doesn’t make you clean in Phoenix, it makes things dirty.

And so we say goodbye to the great saguaro forest of the White Tanks mountains.

And so we say goodbye to the great saguaro forest of the White Tanks mountains.

My hike is over.  We walked somewhere between 3 and 4 miles.  Looking back at town, you can see Camelback Mountain in the far distance–it is the highest peak in this part of the state.  The white triangle you see is the domed roof of the football stadium for the Arizona Cardinals, located west of the small city of Glendale, which is northwest of the city of Phoenix.  It’s a massive structure–more than ten miles away in this picture and still easily visible.

I’m tired and satisfied.  You’ve just done another desert hike with me, Ken St. Andre.

If you’ve ever been face to face with a rattlesnake, or any other scary reptile, why not leave a comment?

–end

Thunderbird Park   2 comments

I am a lucky guy–always have been.  I have a sister and a brother who both look out for me, and help me improve my health.  A lot of this is done by walking and exercise.

Today my brother and I went out for a walk at Thunderbird Park, north of Glendale in the Phoenix area.  This is a great park for hikers, with at least 4 different hills criss-crossed with trails.  There are some steep climbs, and some gentle climbs, some varied scenery, and a whole lot of igneous rock.  As part of my continuing plan to show off the beauty of desert Arizona, I offer this photo essay of today’s walk.  I think we covered about 3.5 miles, and boy was I tired by the end of it.

When I left my apartment, I started with a coat, a sweater, and a t-shirt.  By the time we started the walk, I as down to the sweater, and the Trollgod's Hat.

When I left my apartment, I started with a coat, a sweater, and a t-shirt. By the time we started the walk, I as down to the sweater, and the Trollgod’s Hat.

Brian was taking the pictures.  I hardly ever feel better than when I'm out walking in the desert.

Brian was taking the pictures. I hardly ever feel better than when I’m out walking in the desert.

Truth in photography.  My hat is really old, and my glasses are really thick.

Truth in photography. My hat is really old, and my glasses are really thick.

This is the kind of natural staircase that I imagine the Dwarves carving in the wilds of Trollworld.

This is the kind of natural staircase that I imagine the Dwarves carving in the wilds of Trollworld.

One of the things I really like about Arizona is the mountains.  The purple range in the distance is called The White Tanks.

One of the things I really like about Arizona is the mountains. The purple range in the distance is called The White Tanks.

Here I am near the top of the  hill.  Notice the walking stick in my hand--it belongs to Brian and it saves me from many a fall and misstep on the very rough and rocky trails.

Here I am near the top of the hill. Notice the walking stick in my hand–it belongs to Brian and it saves me from many a fall and misstep on the very rough and rocky trails.

Arizona, Land of 1000 Lakes?  This northern suburban community has lakes all over the place and a golf course too.

Arizona, Land of 1000 Lakes? This northern suburban community has lakes all over the place and a golf course too.

Brian took a bunch of pictures that I don't like that much--probably because they show me as I really am, a bit haggard at the top of the hill.

Brian took a bunch of pictures that I don’t like that much–probably because they show me as I really am, a bit haggard at the top of the hill.

Starting back down the hill.  Look at that panoramic view!

Starting back down the hill. Look at that panoramic view!

Do you believe in LIttle People?  Brian really makes me look small here.

Do you believe in LIttle People? Brian really makes me look small here.

I'm still standing in the same spot, wondering why Brian is taking so many pix.  I think it was a clever ploy on his part to allow me to catch my breath.

I’m still standing in the same spot, wondering why Brian is taking so many pix. I think it was a clever ploy on his part to allow me to catch my breath.

Looking as regal as a ragged old hiker can.  True shadow of a cloud on the hillside across the highway.

Looking as regal as a ragged old hiker can. True shadow of a cloud on the hillside across the highway.

I thought the shadow of the cloud was worth recording.  It shows the true chaotic cloud shape.

I thought the shadow of the cloud was worth recording. It shows the true chaotic cloud shape.

Last photo on my camera, showing the long road back down the hill.

Last photo on my camera, showing the long road back down the hill.

It was all downhill from here.  Still about a mile back to the car.  Thunderbird Park is a great place to hike, but not one of my favorite places for scenery.  There are some good shots from the top of the hills, but not much to be seen on the way up or down.  The vegetation is not as varied as it was for the Vulture Peak hike, being mostly Palo Verde trees and scrub grass.  Nor was there much in the way of wildlife for a two hour hike.  I got a good workout this morning.  You, dear reader, got these candid shots or the Arizona desert northwest of Phoenix.

If you would go hiking with me in the Arizona desert some time, why not leave a comment?

–end

The Other Side of the River   1 comment

On Sunday, September 21, 2012, I decided to get out of my apartment for another early morning hike.  I really wanted to see some kind of wildlife, so I went to the one place where I’ve seen a lot of animal life before, the bed of the Salt River that has been turned into a park stretching from 24th Street to 19th Avenue.  The City of Phoenix has been adding water back into the riverbed–don’t know if it is waste water or irrigation water or where it comes from, but the City is making about 5 miles of river in the center of the valley.  It was a beautiful day for hiking, too bad I was by myself.  I brought along my camera, and what follows is my record of my walk.  I especially tried to get pictures of animals, so look closely and see if you can spot the beasties my human eye spotted and tried to get on camera.  I probably need a better camera for this sort of picture taking.  I’m sure Brian’s latest toy would have done a much better job, but I work with what I have.

Although this looks like a view of the parking area where I left my car, and started the walk, it is really included to show the skyline of Phoenix to the north. Maybe I should have climbed up on the wall to get a better angle on it.

Telescopic view of the 7th Avenue bridge with the city beyond it. I have learned to use the telephoto ability of my camera, and sometimes I even remember to do so.

View from beneath the 7th Avenue Bridge.

Daffy Duck? From the south side of the river, one can get much closer to the water.

One of seven pools along this stretch of “river”. It looks natural, but the City’s Parks Department built it. This water is way up above the natural bottom of the river. Pumps must be involved.

For a desert rat like me, this is kind of a strange sight. Peaceful. Kind of makes me wish I could be that duck for a short while.

Access road on the south side of the river. Easy walking.

Side trail leading down to the river.

The heart of the forest. Early in the walk I reached the greenest part of the park.

Looking back toward the 7th Ave. bridge. You can see my trademark shadow in the picture thus proving it was really me taking these pictures.

a hidden pool.

No fishing! It would take a very determined fisherman to get down to the water around here. I wonder what kind of fish, the city has put into the river.

Tangled. I think I was trying to photograph a dragonfly here, but I don’t see it.

Two-headed duck.

First glimpse of Bugs. There’s a rabbit in this picture. Can you find it?

One step closer with the telephoto on.

The road twists and turns. This feels about right for me–the proper mixture between nature and civilization.

This looks like a birch tree to me. You don’t see many birch trees in the Phoenix area. It is too hot and dry for them.

I saw another rabbit, but it blends into the scenery very well. This seems to be the main area for rabbits along this trail. There are probably hundreds of them.

Big scummy pool–i wonder what lurks below the surface.

The ground here is full of holes. Snakes and small rodents live in these, and there is a maze of small tunnels beneath all this vegetation.

There’s a bird in here somewhere.

I met some park rangers. They told me about the seven pools on the river, and about some of the wildlife I didn’t see. They saw a coyote that morning, and there are rumors of beavers living on the river. Back before Arizona was a state, there were plenty of beavers living on Arizona rivers, but they were trapped and hunted to extinction by the mountain men before 1850. I enjoyed my chat with these guys.

Waterfall. I have walked almost all the way to Central Avenue. Water is entering the river here from the south.

West side of the Central Avenue bridge. Central Avenue splits the Phoenix area into eastern and western halves.

The eastern side of the Central Avenue bridge. Note the massive buttresses supporting the bridge. In the past during floods, the bridges supported only by pillars like those at 7th Avenue would often be undermined and crumble, but the Central Avenue bridge never failed.

Anthill. When I was a boy in Phoenix, there were anthills everywhere, and a favorite game was collecting ants in a large bottle and having one’s own ant colony. Now, I go years without seeing anthills sometimes, and if you do find them, they are the tiny black ants. These are red ants, but not the big red fire ants i remember playing with as a child.

These white flowers look almost like lillies, and were growing along the river wherever the ground was open enough.

Riverbed showing finely sorted pebbles, all about the same size and composition. I saw some kind of desert squirrel here, but it didn’t hold still long enough for me to catch a picture of it.

There were a fair number of butterflies in the air, and there is a yellow butterfly in the center of this picture on the bush. With wings folded it was almost invisible, and you could see right through the filmy yellow wings.

I have reached the 7th Street bridge, about 14 blocks east of where I started. You can tell I am a troll–I have a fondness for being beneath bridges.

View of the river east of 7th Street. There are parking areas here too, and I may come and start my walk from this part of the river some time in the future.

I found this plastic Chevy hubcap at my easternmost part of the walk, off the main road. I’m sorry to say there was plenty of litter in the park. I picked up the hubcap and brought it home with me as a symbol of my walk, and a bit of clean up.

At this point I turned back, and walked as quickly as I could back to my car.  I meant to take a few other pictures, but the batteries were low, and the camera refused to work.  I had one more encounter, came across a big gray rabbit with a white tail, on my way back.  At one point it passed beside me no more than six feet from me, but he was really moving.  I saw it clearly, but there was no chance to photo it.

So, there you have it.  My animal encounters started with a black duck and ended with a gray rabbit with a white tail.  If they aren’t Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny, two of my cartoon heroes sent to brighten up my day by a benevolent universe, then there is no greater power that caters to the whims of men.  Ducks and rabbits are common animals, but being superstitious, I consider their appearance to be a kind of gift.  Thank you, World!

The hubcap and the Trollgod’s hat are home now. The hubcap is really too dirty to bring into the house, but it has a position of honor on the concrete wall just outside my front door. The circle is complete, and once again I have returned to the place from which I started.

I hope you have enjoyed my little walk along the Salt River bed.  The pictures are nothing special–just a record of a couple of hours in one morning of my life.  In this age of computers and high tech, this kind of interaction with the world gets less and less common.  Who knows what will be of value, and to whom?  I leave this record in hopes that someone, somewhere, somewhen will get something of value from it.

If you know anything about Arizona’s urban wilderness, or even if you don’t, please feel free to leave a comment.

–end