Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Open Space


The peaks are green behind airport instrumentation in this monsoon season. This large bit of national forest land features a network of single and double track.

I spent most of my life living "east of the Mississippi." There are substantial differences between living in the eastern United States and the western United States. One of those differences is the relative absence of development in the west. Consequently, it's possible to go for a hike or bicycle ride in the woods without having to travel in a car for a long time to get off pavement and into wildlife habitat. This is probably what I like most about living in Flagstaff.

I've been aware of an area of open space near the airport for several years. I also rode my bike around the area a few times without going into the patch of forest and meadow, but a recent news item stoked my interest. There is a parkway that is currently disconnected and will soon be connected by cutting through this particular green space. It was time to go have a look at it before the road construction begins.

Decorative vehicle blocking . . . blocks. These were obviously positioned at one end of J.W. Powell Blvd. to prevent people from driving motorized vehicles into this bit of forest and prairie. You can see it was used as informal campgrounds in the past.

The area isn't pristine. There are some aviation instruments installed, I suspect related to the Instrument Landing System for the airport. It's also an area that used to be frequented by people free camping - it's US Forest Service land. The entrances for vehicles are now blocked with boulders and logs and signage forbids camping and motor vehicles. That said, it's a lovely bit of pine forest and prairie that offers sweeping views of the inner core of the San Francisco Peaks as well as more distant views of Woody Mountain and possibly some other peaks. The monsoon has been healthy this year and the wildflowers were blooming, although I found it strange there were no sunflowers. I also saw a variety of birds and some lizards.

Mount Elden from the gated maintenance road that leads to the airport instruments.

Wildflowers were blooming!

I looped around the area, trying to fully explore it as much as possible. The double and single track lead throughout the property. Being unfamiliar with the area, I didn't follow every available path. If/when I go back, I will follows paths to try to get a clear view of the airport runway.

Thursday, July 21, 2022


I went for a training run this afternoon, well . . . more like a walk. The skies were spectacular with scattered monsoon showers. I ran earlier this week but I was sore and afraid to push too hard leading up to a race.

I decided to sign up for a 5 km run in August. I haven't done one since I moved to Arizona in 2015. It's a charity event for the Children's Health Center and my entry was sponsored by our major software vendor, Oracle Cerner. As a consequence, I added a donation to the cause.

I'm not in great shape for running this year, but I signed up for the 5 km distance, so I should be able to trot through it. Over the last couple of years I got somewhat out of shape but I've made progress and I'm down about 8 to 10 pounds.

I miss the positive atmosphere of an organized race. Since I haven't emphasized running this year, I won't record a good time, but that doesn't matter. What matters is the participation and the cause and the motivation just to get out there. I know I will enjoy it.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Writer's Block

Despite a previous update stating that I'd found a way forward with my latest novel, I actually didn't act much on it after that. Months passed. Today I made a breakthrough and wrote about a thousand words. If a novelist can write a thousand words a day for a hundred days, they have a short novel. Or at least a novella. If they can do that for a year, they will have a massive novel.

I'm currently outlining the plot. I read Stephen King's On Writing, where he expresses utter contempt for outlines. For this reason, I tried writing this novel following the seat-of-the-pants method, but it wasn't working for me. I've written several short stories that way, but it isn't necessarily the only way to go about things. Anyway my outlines are not detailed. They are about as loose as it gets. It's easy to move away from the outline if necessary.

I value Stephen King's advice, especially since he has been so commercially successful, but I also think that he is slightly overrated. I find his protagonists unlikeable, which is the main reason I haven't read more of his material. Also, as many people point out, his dialog is anachronistic. His characters speak and think as if it is 1970. He doesn't seem to be able to adapt to contemporary society. Since he is a seat-of-the-pants writer, his plots sometimes wander, and include unnecessary episodes. This is a hallmark of an author who achieves radioactive levels of success. People are afraid to tell him no or that something needs cut.

Most of King's advice is still good. I'm just not going to follow all of it.

Monday, July 11, 2022



It's just the moon.

Perhaps it was inevitable but I caught some type of malady during my travels over the holiday. I won't go into the gory details but suffice it to say that I'm now sick of being sick. Generally speaking I'm not a good patient. Nobody enjoys being sick but some people sit around feeling sorry for themselves. Illness makes me angry and impatient to get back to my regular life. I'm there after several days. As long as it doesn't get down into my lungs it should just be a matter of waiting it out. I can't stand being ill. I was amused upon writing this to discover I have complained before about being ill on this blog.

Friday, July 8, 2022



Downpours were the order of the day for the first half of my trip. This is in my parent's neighborhood in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

I just got back from visiting family in Tennessee for the Independence Day holiday. I keep having these impulses to move back to Tennessee, mostly because I miss everyone, but I don't miss the weather. The temperatures were in the upper 90s F and high humidity. It was miserable. I'd forgotten how impossible it is to do anything outdoors there in summer without becoming completely covered in sweat. Fortunately I'd brought almost too many changes of clothing.

We fit in fireworks between rainfall events. It was a hot, humid evening beneath the overcast.

When I'm in Flagstaff, I'm grateful to live here and do not want to move, but I miss my family. The outdoor lifestyle here can't be matched in Tennessee, even though it is a green state. Here I walk, run, or ride a bicycle straight out of my garage onto roads and paths that are relatively safe to travel. In Tennessee, you typically must get in a car and drive to a place that is safe for those activities.

When I lived there, I found things to do outdoors, but I recall not being able to do many things for much of the summer. This is one of the reasons I enjoyed whitewater kayaking so much when I lived there before. It was often so hot that being in the water was the only reasonable option.

Eventually I expect to move closer to family. As I approach within a decade of my planned retirement, I contemplate how I want things to play out, but so far the process is marked by indecision.