Driving from Williams to Phoenix, we topped a hill and found ourselves in the desert. I’m classifying desert as the sudden appearance of cactus plants. The first ones we saw were low growing, but soon the huge saguaro (g is pronounced like w) cacti were standing proudly, arms pointing to the sky. The toy camera couldn’t resist taking a photo of a bathroom sign at a gas station.
Actually Phoenix was the starting point when John was planning our trip. We had been invited to a 50th anniversary party for our friends Karen and Jim. The party was subsequently canceled because they will celebrate when their children come for Christmas. Meanwhile, John had mapped our whole trip with this as the focal point. It was wonderful to see our old friends again. We arrived in the afternoon and went to their church Halloween event. Jim had constructed five games, and Karen did the lettering. When the church found the price of renting games, Jim offered to make some. He is very talented and makes good use of his woodworking shop. It saved the church a ton of money, and they can use the games again. Jim agreed to pose with some of his games. The quality of the shots is poor, but you get the idea.
After we walked through the church grounds, we went out for dinner for an informal celebration of their anniversary. I had a great shot of a photo taken from their wedding album, and I accidentally erased it. I’m still kicking myself for that. If I hadn’t been so clumsy, you’d be able to see what they looked like 50 years ago.
Karen and Jim are very gifted at working with their hands. John drooled at Jim’s complete woodworking shop, and I admired Karen’s craft room. Pictured are two Halloween mugs Karen decorated and a cutting board Jim made from scraps. Their house is fully decorated for the spooky holiday.
I asked about a lush tree in the yard, and Karen pulled off a bowlful of limes for us to take with us. There is a bit of grass there for their dog, but otherwise the plants are desert natives. Thinking of outdoors, Jim said they get fantastic lightning shows because there is a lot of metal in the mountains behind their house. That might explain why there was so much activity at Mesa Verde the day we were there.
They let me out of the car to photograph desert plants while on our tour of the neighborhood. I snapped several shots and felt a prickle when I moved to another spot. Carefully I tried to pull off a ball of thorns and stabbed myself. I finished the photos, pried off the painful ball with a stick, and went to the car to show them. Everyone laughed, saying they had watched my drama unfold. Karen said it was a jumping cactus. Appropriate name!
Gadgets and gizmos were a hallmark of their house. Most were not interactive for guests except the shower. I never cracked that code. John came out of the bathroom and asked if I knew how to work the shower. I looked at it and saw no lever to make the water come through the shower head rather than the faucet. We were laughing at ourselves, but there was no recourse but for John to don clothes and go ask Jim how to work it. Jim said it was done with the faucet. Back in our bathroom, we made another attempt. He and I twisted it a little, but that had no effect. Luckily he was still dressed. He went out again, and Jim took John to another bathroom to demonstrate it.
“What is the trick?” I wanted to know.
John answered, “You don’t turn the faucet; you pull it down.” He finished his shower, dressed, went out, and promptly disappeared.
Thinking I knew what to do, I stepped into the tub and started the water. Obviously, I was naked as a jay bird. I pushed the faucet. Nothing happened. Maybe John said to pull it up. No, that wasn’t it. Wiggling it did nothing. Was it waiting for a rain dance? My feet were wet, and I refused to dry off, dress, and get help. I never thought I’d stoop so low, but I washed using the water flowing near my knees. It’s lucky I hadn’t planned to wash my hair! If I could have made a funny story of it, I would have told the others. I was halfway to an embarrassing confession, anyway, with my face beet red from being sunburned at the Grand Canyon. As it is, they’ll have to read it here.
I followed voices and found Jim and John chatting while the dog exercised on the treadmill. Jim explained that when he began to use the equipment, the dog let him know he wanted to try it. Toby tried to get on, but there was not enough space for man and dog together. Now Toby waits until Jim gets off, and he takes a turn. He goes at 4 miles an hour. Jim has to stand right there with him because the machine will throw the dog off if he stops running. That day Toby wanted on again when Jim thought he’d had enough. He wondered if it were a bid for attention. It may have been, but it was good exercise for the dog.