The Stamp Mill


I have some fun “PDR” or “positive desert reporting” for you this gorgeous Monday! At exactly 10 am this morning I watched the 20- Stamp Mill ore crusher demonstration at the Superstition Mountain Museum. If you have not watched the demonstration of this massive machinery get ready to mark it on your calendar!

Like most women I know, I love gold and have spent my entire life just fine with not knowing exactly how gold is found, produced, made, or whatever. I just like gold in the shiny jewelry form… handed to me in a pretty box.

But reality is, if I had to go climb a dangerous, cactus covered mountain and blast holes into it hoping to find rocks that possibly have gold hidden inside only to lug those incredibly heavy rocks back down that mountain on a mule…? Then go smash those rocks hoping there is enough gold inside to have been worth risking my life for?!?!

This is not going to happen. Not ever. Certainly not for jewelry.

It truly amazes me that anyone did this. But they did. Countless men have lost their lives following maps and trails into the Superstition Mountain searching for gold. The Museum is filled with books retelling true stories about the famous and not so famous gold miners. The more I read the more I am fascinated.

These stories of mining gold become eerily real as you stand there with the amazing Superstition Mountain as the back drop while the men running the Stamp Mill explain the process then proudly fire up their rock crushing machine.

It happens once a month, it’s free and the scenery is spectacular.

October 10 @ 10 am Demo is the last Monday. November through April Demos are once a month, twice daily on Saturdays.

November 12 @ 11 & 1

December 3 @ 11 & 1

Best Coyotes Audio Yet!

I am outside watching the storm roll in. The sky was amazing and had a partial rainbow for a bit. Then the sky turned darker and the coyotes let loose. This is the second video. I chose this one because I caught lightning as well!

Flash Flood

The weather during monsoon season is unpredictable. The intense heat mixing with tropical moisture can bring some crazy storms our way. They seem to pop up out of nowhere if you watch the news radar.image

If you sit on my porch you can see it come straight at you!

The news reported a pretty good storm off the coast of Mexico and knew it would push some rain our way. They just didn’t seem to know exactly when or how much. The general warning becomes “hey guys if it rains expect it to flood.”

Flash flooding, for everyone reading who does not live where this happens, seems almost unbelievable. A few minutes worth of heavy rain is going to move a car? Yes it is.image

See our ground out here has baked and baked in oven like temperatures. The ground does not absorb the rain immediately. The rain runs off of it like it was concrete. It pools, it runs, it floods.image So yes a few minutes of heavy rain with nowhere to go becomes immediately dangerous.image

I saw the clouds. I turned on the news. They said we would get nothing until later in the evening.image

11 am I am in the middle of this.

I run to the TV positive this flash flood was being reported only to hear “ Dust warnings are in effect…”

My attitude flares. They will interrupt regular tv shows with “BREAKING NEWS!” about something as stupid as Donald Trump farting but I am over here watching animals gathering up their belongings and floating down the wash on rafts they made out of twigs and we get  “oh there’s dust coming…” Thanks news reporter. There’s more than dust coming.

Apache Junction got over 2 inches of rain and flooded before any news stations even knew about it. The sky opened up and dumped on us.IMG_4700

We are under a flash flood warning all day today and we have already seen a light shower that did not show up on the radar or my phones weather.image

Organ Stop

Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa AZ is a fantastic place to take the whole family.I had never been before so I was excited to see what it was all about. I was invited to a close family friends son’s 2 year birthday party. We arrived at 4 and there was a long line waiting to get in.IMG_3844

The obvious star of the show is the massive organ that fills the walls and then some.IMG_3824 Add lights and a blaring sound system and you have the makings of a really good time! Long tables fill the dining hall and there is also a balcony with a terrific view so there is more than enough room for even the largest groups.IMG_3822 There truly is not a bad seat in the house.IMG_3831

For July it was Christmas at Organ Stop Pizza complete with lights, trees and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Maybe it’s a desert thing but Winter in July happens quiet often. We are all crazy from the heat so we play along!IMG_3820

Roughly 30 minutes after they open the lights dim and the show starts. For the next 45 minutes a ridiculously talented man by the name of Charlie Balogh will play all varieties of music and take requests. He is raised from beneath the stage on a rotating platform as he plays the organ. It’s the entrance we all want!IMG_3915

The lights change and flash, kids are dancing with pizza, Santa is giving away candy canes, the level of noise rivaling any rock concert, it’s Organ Stop-palooza! And it’s awesome!

Lew Williams, Donna Parker and Brett Valliant perform there at different times as well.

Surrounded by all ages with big smiles on their faces you will know you are experiencing something special. Playing an instrument of this magnitude or even housing one is extremely rare. With everything in our culture running as fast as it can towards the newest and latest, it’s nice to know there are still places who value and enjoy the history and sounds of an era gone by.

locals only

Time for some positive desert reporting! I found a new local radio station that I love to listen to especially in the morning. 99.3 the Wave.

If you have read “Soundtrack Not Included” you know already I am a music lover. What I am doing determines what music I am listening to and at what volume. The mornings don’t go much above 2, maybe to a 4 on the volume dial.

Also by now if you have read a few of my posts you know I don’t sleep well and I’m up extremely early. I tend to have creative ideas flash through my head so I try to write down whatever I can. The earliest stuff tends to be just brain dumping. By 4 am I am drinking coffee and trying to record more coyote howling. My brain is already full by six am so the news tends to just be painful.

So I turn on the radio. We have two big old school stereos. I keep both on as I wander through the house or if I go outside so I can still hear it.

With the weather being so hot lately the only good time to sit outside and write is super early. The benefit of listening to local radio wherever you live is they can see the same sunrise you do. They know at 5am in Gold Canyon when it’s still over 80 degrees out that some chill Jazz music is what is needed to get the morning off right. I couldn’t tell you the names of any of it and that’s perfect. My brain wants to look at how pretty the sunrise is, drink my coffee and wake up happy. The Wave 99.3 has been doing just this for me every morning now and I felt it was time to sing their praises!

It can’t possibly be easy to get a new station on the air and get support. Creative fields are some of the toughest markets to make it big in. Ask any actor, writer, singer, musician, photographer…Local support is crucial.

Most of you will think “I’m too far away to listen to that station” and you are right. It does not have that kind of power. But if you haven’t already, I encourage you strongly to turn on a radio and scan to see who is struggling to get on the air in your area! They can still play whatever they want so you will get the opportunity to hear music you either had no idea was out there or songs that rarely get air time because they aren’t top 40.

I love music, all genres, so who knows what might pop on the radio that makes me set down my iPad and dance. The other day I was outside writing, chillin’ with the dogs and Michael Jackson’s “Rock with You” came on. Yes. I danced.IMG_1310.JPG

So all you locals turn on the radio! Support some local music! If you come to visit Gold Canyon turn the dial over to 99.3 the Wave and chill with us as you enjoy the amazing views.





Running water

There is never going to come a day where you turn to whoever you live with and say “Today is a perfect day to have plumbing problems. No come to think of it, this whole week looks good to have some serious and expensive plumbing issues! Let’s start right away!”

Plumbing in the desert has got to rank up there with some of the toughest jobs that really don’t get paid what they deserve. They are our heroes. More than any sports team I have ever watched during a playoff did I cheer these men on this week to get our plumbing situation back up and running.

I watched as hard working honest men from different local plumbing companies came out to see if first, the warranty was going to handle any of this, second when it didn’t who could do the job, then when more problems arose was referred to another set of plumbers who had the equipment needed.

It has been quite the week.

We live in Gold Canyon in a little old wonderful house built up on a hill sometime back in the 1940’s. We are not connected to city water. We have a well. The well sits waaaaaaaaaaaaay back on the 2.5 acres and has no direct route to it but to go down a long driveway then down around… it’s just a lot of desert between the house and the water tank when it is 102 outside like it is.

This system is not that simple and has quirks for days. I believe at some point the previous home owner told my husband he had never called a plumber in 30 years.

We knew when we bought this place there was going to be random things to learn. Any old house has a personality. This house is awesome and wanted to just get back to playing music loud and enjoying the views. It wasn’t anymore thrilled then we were that the plumbing was having issues.

A series of things needed to happen this week to get everything back in working order. I will not bore you with details most of which I will not explain properly anyway and it’s just gross.

Basically some seal broke initially causing the pressure to drop making the pump work super hard to get water up to the house. When that happened the lack of water flowing through the pipes helped spotlight the fact that yeah maybe these pipes haven’t been cleared in years and years and now we have a stoppage so significant that long time plumbers turned to my husband and said “This is one of those jobs you remember!”

Nice. Of all the things I want to be remembered for.

Anyone who works outside in Arizona heat will tell you it is no joke. I also have been paid to work outside (four years PHX Zoo).  Let me tell you first hand when you feel the burning on your shins from the radiant heat coming off the concrete you know and understand how serious it is. I have great respect for all of the outdoor work that is done in our extreme weather. Thank you to whoever makes those wide brimmed hats!

I could sit here and complain about all the inconveniences a week of plumbing issues have caused. But really? All it did was highlight just how blessed of individuals we are. I had more than plenty of options and friendly offers on where I could use the bathroom, locate water, take a shower or even drink clean cold water.

Running water is a luxury I do not take for granted. I am well aware there are too many places in the world where none of what I enjoy daily they have access to and I live in the desert. Water to us is more valuable than gold. I have even wondered if the old tales of hidden treasures out here weren’t actually talking about tucked away springs of water and not mines of gold. I can’t drink gold. I won’t die without it.

Laughter is always what gets me through tough situations. In person my sense of humor is much more appropriate for my sweaty plumber guys. I fit in. I don’t offend easily. I tend to say things knowing it was at least a half a step towards wrong. That’s where funny lives. Your head will explode if you don’t laugh at some of it.

We have Saltillo tile so again huge blessing when you are talking water damage. This stuff will stand up to a nuclear blast. The house could crumble away but this orangey tile ain’t goin’ nowhere. Flooding it three times in a row isn’t going to hurt it. It’s 102 dry degrees outside. Trust me this will dry.

Later my plumber told me I was awesome and he loved how I had handled all of this so well.

To me that was a good compliment. I am sure plumbers don’t always get offered  all of the remaining cold water and ice in the house, a soda or some left over rice crispy treats. It’s possible they don’t encounter someone of my level of desert crazy very often who just simply grabs more towels, opens the back door and starts pushing the water out again while she giggles to herself about a new demented idea for a scary story.

I also found it funny that I was covered in toilet water but not in the good French kind of way! Stace le pew no? Oh come on, get over yourselves. Laugh at dumb once in a while. Turkey Vultures have circled me! This scent for sure is going to draw me some vulture attention!

*Ok, in all honesty the smell wasn’t awful until questions of the septic tanks level of fullness had to be answered.

Yikes I couldn’t be a plumber. When that smell hit I turned myself right back around and left that to the professionals. I would rather go swat the flys that have now entered my home through the constant open doors required to sweep out the flooding then smell that combined with the heat. Wow.

Aaaah yes… the open doors. I watched sadly as the expensive cool air left my house to be replaced by 102 degree blasts of heat. But again, this too only highlighting the fact that I am blessed to even have air conditioning. Air conditioning failures, power outages and the like are deadly in extreme heat like ours.

Years and years people have lived with no running water, no air. I am grateful for the advances technology has made. Running water and cooled or warmed air depending on your climate should be available to all. A basic right.

Thank you Tony, Tim and Anthony for working so hard and sweating so much to get us back up and running. Thank you for charging us fair amounts so this nightmare didn’t break us. Thank you for coming when you said you would. Thank you for being plumbers. We greatly appreciate it.

A little dust

The monsoon season can be very unpredictable. Where the rain falls, the strong winds blowing down trees, major flooding and fire causing lightning strikes all are up for grabs when one of these storms blasts its way through the Valley of the Sun.IMG_2326

(6:17 pm )

We have gone about a week or so since our last round of monsoon storms. It has been hot and extremely dry. Nothing happening in the sky just big and blue and radiating heat.

Then yesterday the storms rolled back in! The sky started to change and roll and move. Out here in Gold Canyon the storm brought us very little if any rain but flooded areas only minutes away. These storms are dangerous so everyone out here in the desert watches the radar and news reports closely. Walls of dust come at us and can blind drivers.IMG_2379.JPG

(6:30 pm)

The randomness of these storms must throw the desert animals off their routines a little. I caught a quick set of coyote howls right at the start of the storm. Seriously I dismissed it as a dog until it got going but didn’t catch all of it. No others answered the call like they normally do at night. (6:22 pm)

Strong gust blasted areas. I caught a little on video for us but again this is a dust storm so being out in it hurts the eyes.

This video doesn’t exist
 (6:39pm) We were spared over here from any major damage as the storm split and headed off to the north but as with every storm it’s disappointing to not get any rain.

The clouds made for some really fun imagery. Maybe I have written about ghost birds too much lately but I swear a few of those clouds were birds! It was like they flew in with the storm. Ok, maybe I need more sleep.IMG_2344IMG_2353

(6:20 pm )

We are expecting another round tonight. Fingers crossed for a nice amount of rain and some more fabulous images in the sky!

Monsoon Season

Monsoon Season is here again. Out here in AZ we get some pretty spectacular storms this time of year. Now again people, I’m not claiming to be the “all things desert expert” so I’m not about to start explaining what exactly a monsoon is and why. Not my job. Go to Arizona Monsoon for much more accurate information if that’s what you were hoping for.image

5:18 am June 28 2016

89 degrees

No, my purpose is to give you my view of this desert. To bring you here as a friend. To show you how cool the desert is. To pry you away from the inside and take you outside for a while.image

6:18 pm June 28 2016

111 degrees

So, this time of year storms start to build up throughout the day. The clouds in the sky seem to change and grow with this amazing bright blue background.

Yesterday the storms didn’t really hit our area until much later in the evening. These storms bring some serious howling wind and dust that just pelts you. Really not fun if you wear contacts.image

6:18 pm June 28 2016

Last night, over here next to the mountain, we hardly felt any rain, light sprinkles with seriously strong winds so the rain dried out before it hit the ground. Over in Phoenix they saw real rain. You never know really where the rain is going to show up.image

7:30 pm June 28 2016

We also get these massive dust storms called Haboobs. giggle. Ok again I’m not Sam Champion and I am not going to explain the inner workings of a Haboob. giggle. Its super dry. The wind blows hard. Dust goes into the air. A LOT of it. You can’t see at all. It’s like a brown clouded nightmare coming at you. The “Desert Doppler” can tell you I guess. “Doppler”. giggle.Fabulous pictures of these massive walls of dust are online. I personally have none…yetimage

7:17 pm June 28 2016


The sky alone out here is worth the trip if you were not sure about coming to see Arizona.

7:21 pm June 28 2016image

Peralta Trail

Its going to take us 7 miles of bumpy dirt road just to get to the start of the Peralta trail. You ready? Let’s go!

Ever wonder how things get their names ? Who was Peralta and why was a trail was named after him?

* I’m going to tell this basic story to you as my friend not as a teacher or some expert. These are all generally agreed upon facts if you go and look it up. The story is cool so I encourage you to read a full book about the subject from someone who maybe is an expert for all of the details!image

Ok so back in 1845 Don Miguel Peralta travels to the Superstition Mountain in search of hidden gold he has heard stories of. He finds it. Don’t ask me how. I have no clue how he found it.image

There’s enough gold that he wants to go and get workers. A lot of workers. So he covers up his mine and then uses landmarks to help him remember how to get back. He thinks one peak looks like a Sombrero so he calls his mine “Sombrero Mine”.

The Apache believe this same mountain that Peralta is digging in to be the home of their Thunder God. That fact alone should tell you this is not going to go well for Peralta.

Peralta comes back with hundreds of men. Now for me it was learning this fact when I imagerealized Peralta is not poor. I don’t know about you but I cannot go and round up hundreds of men and mules and supplies and all that is needed to take hundreds of men up into a mountain to dig for gold!

When Peraltas workers see the “Sombrero” they think it looks more like the “Finger of God”. Later it is named “Weavers Needle”.

So Peralta and his men mine for 3 years! Gold digging! Real life gold digging! 3 years!image

The Apache are beyond mad. They plan an attack.

Peralta gets news of this and decides it’s time to pack it up and leave. They load up as much as they can carry and head down from the mountain. Straight into the Apache.image

The Apache kill all of them and dump out the gold concentrate Peralta’s mules carried.image

A few years later the US Army comes upon the scene of the massacre and bury what remained. Peralta’s body was not found.


Like I said this is a VERY interesting story that I just gave you the short version of in hopes you will go and get a book like “The Story of Superstition Mountain and the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine” by Robert Joseph Allen.image

Now you ready to hike the actual trail?image

Superstition Mountain Museum

Wanna go someplace fun? Something other than some big budget movie or a mall? You should. Do it. Take a drive over to the Superstition Mountain Museum.

What a cool place!

Inside the Museum you get the honor of speaking with volunteers who are just amazing. Beyond the hospitality they show and the warmth, these individuals are a wealth of information.

We got the privilege to talk with Historian Jim Swanson while we were there and I hope to have many more visits with him. Though I am born and raised desert this man to me is the real deal. Riding horses into the Superstition for years now he has stories you can’t imagine. I felt like a city dweller next to him and I lived in Baker CA. so that says a lot! Think I saw a small twinkle in his eye, a moment of desert cred, when I told him that I had lived at the Gateway to Death Valley. But it PALES in comparison when you imagine him on horseback being shot at riding through the Superstition. I bow down not worthy. With really cool intense enthusiasm from a hardened desert veteran he shared routes to get some of THE best views. If you don’t go meet this man you’re truly missing out.


Right down from our house used to be an old movie studio that made westerns. The Apacheland Movie Ranch. Elvis starred in one called Charro! That movie studio burned down but what remained they moved to the museum.imageimage


imageimageSo not only can you get a tour inside of the museum itself but then you can wander around the old movie studio area and even head into the Elvis Memorial Chapel to get a picture with the King. imageThey show movies in there and keep the schedule in the gift shop. We met Doris volunteering in the chapel. She would be more than happy to take your photo with Elvis and hang out and talk. Her husband John volunteers in the gift shop. It is so nice to go somewhere that you are treated like you are welcome to be there and people talk to you never once looking at a phone. If that’s going back in time then yes, take me.

You need to go!

Excessive Heat Warning

As I encourage the masses to come and see the beauty that is the desert there is a small voice inside telling me you better make sure to prepare them properly. So I’m going to tell you like a friend, like someone who actually cares about you getting to enjoy the desert safely.

This weekend we had record breaking heat. This is not new for us desert folk. The news reporters seem to take quite a bit of joy announcing repeatedly the triple digit numbers expected. But a fact I am reminded of as I listen to the news is again we lost a hiker due to dehydration. Rescue teams went in search putting even more lives at risk.

Ok so let’s be reasonable, if I plopped you in the middle of the arctic without a jacket you would freeze right? If I plop you in the middle of the desert without water you will die. It’s not a maybe.

No water = death.

Be prepared for where you are going and KNOW your body and your limits.

I wrote earlier about the fact I am born and raised desert and I don’t go hiking in the summer after about 5am. Yesterday it was 100 degrees at 10 am!!!! It only got hotter. (June 6th 2016) Out here high heat doesn’t hit until later in the afternoon.

And I’m going to be honest the desert isn’t even that pretty in the middle of a hot afternoon. The sky is pale blue and everything is radiating heat. Its nap time. Its shut the curtains and block out the sun time.

The mountain range we live next to is magnetic and draws people to it. The energy is strong and almost overwhelming to those who are sensitive to it. With the added attraction of the possibility of finding gold we have people coming from everywhere to hike. But unfortunately not everyone makes it back home.

I found this crazy interesting book called “Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon” by Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers that I have been reading. Arizona has some spectacular natural beauty that draws millions of visitors every year especially to the Canyon but too many seem to come incredibly unprepared and surprised by the weather. I definitely recommend it especially if you want to hike the Grand Canyon or even visit it.

There’s really nothing “soft” out there hiking a desert trail. No couch for you to stop at. If parking and then walking for another 20 minutes before you really get started sounds like too much for you already then guess what? IT IS! Know why? Because your brain didn’t even factor in the 100 degrees part!image

Bring WATER. Not soda. WATER. As much as you can carry.

Don’t expect rescue teams to come for you either…at least not right away. They aren’t sitting out there in the desert in towers like life guards with binoculars watching to see you flop over from heat exhaustion. If you get yourself in a bad spot you could be miles away from any real help. And honestly the hotter it is the less people out there so who are you going to yell “help!” to when your phone doesn’t get a signal? How are you going to describe where you are?..image

A hat and bright clothing are also good ideas along with sunscreen.  If you ever need to be found, wearing brown, gray or camo is not going to help. Think outfit seen from space.

You might also rethink trying to get a tan while hiking. You are better off doing that by a pool… and air conditioning and a drink with ice cubes. Then at least when your body gets hot you can jump in the water. Also some of the lotions for tanning can attract bees. We did recently lose a hiker due to over 1000 bee stings. I don’t think lotion played a part but you don’t want to do anything to attract them.

Having less clothing on is not going to help in regulating your body temperature either and probably just speed up the process of getting you fried to a crisp.

And for goodness sakes wear real shoes! Not flip flops of any brand. Have I not shown you enough pictures of cacti already? Wobble an ankle wearing flip flops and that’s not a fun hike back.image

We have in AZ what’s called the stupid motorist law. If you drive around a barrier into a flooded road and have to be rescued guess what? You are in trouble. I don’t think there is a law for dumb hiking but maybe we should look into it? Bad shoes, no water, too late in the day, tried to find gold digging with a spoon? Dumb hiker law




Not sure what I mean still? Ever open your oven when it’s been cooking for a while and you get that blast of heat at your face and eyes and you wonder for a second if you still have eyelashes? I have stepped outside before and felt that here.

The desert is an extreme climate. Please do your homework before attempting any of the larger hiking trails. If you are planning a trip to see the fabulous Saguaros then start walking or hiking where you live now and build up your stamina. None of the trails I have ever been on are perfectly flat or paved so don’t say you practiced walking at the mall.

Check weather reports before making plans. Always let others know where you are going hiking and for about how long you think you will be. That way when you don’t come back after too many hours we know we might have to go search. I say don’t go alone.image

The Superstition Mountain Range along with Arizona’s other amazing natural attractions have seen enough tragic loss of life. Come visit the desert safely.

Check out for great info regarding the trails.