Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hallowe'en Apples!!

That was the call of children that rang across my hometown neighborhood, though you did have to get the cadence right...


Oh, we did "Trick or treat!" too and did indulge in our own brand tricking the candy-givers as we got older (mostly harmless).  But some people did hand out apples, and for some reason we called out for them...despite apples being the worst thing to get besides a rock.  Occasionally you'd get a caramel apple...those were good.  People also made popcorn balls back in those days; though the paranoid warnings were present even then.

But where did that call come from?

I grew up in Calgary and all the kids there yelled it every year.  I moved to Arizona and nobody ever said it here.  Must be a Canadian thing, I figured.  But I ran into other Canadians from time to time and they had never heard of it either.


So I went onto an interwebz forum of Canadians and this is what I learned.  The only people who (quite nostalgically) recalled the phrase lived in Red Deer and Calgary and knew of the habit in some other central-southern Alberta towns.  I don't know if it still rings out today or if it was limited to a small place in time as well as geography.

Either way, Brendan and I are continuing the tradition on the streets of Tucson tonight.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rafting the Grand Canyon - Part Six

What can I say?  This last entry is going to be a bit anti-climactic as there is little to do but float for the last two days of the journey.

No longer trapped by the Inner Gorge, we have entered the geologic era of the Cenozoic Volcanics.  About a million years ago, volcanoes erupted near the western end of the canyon, flowing into and down the canyon for a distance of nearly 50 miles.

The river has now cut back through the lava leaving behind huge dikes with distinct layers of giant basalt crystals.  In some places you could see the old riverbed still trapped beneath the lava.

Need help?  A modified life bouy is ready for any emergency.

Two rafts can be seen running Mile 205 Rapid; the folks who chose to swim the rapid cannot be seen...but they had a great time.

Last camp at Mile 219.  By now, most folks are ready for it to be over...though it'll still be a bit of a transition back to civilization.

The day's last light...first up-river, then down.

Uh oh...the cooks are getting rowdy!

Body-painting is a popular activity. is climbing the crags above camp.

Howie wakes up with some company.
Okay, he's just playing with cicada skins.

With just six miles to go, we begin our last float.

Diamond Peak marks the end of the journey.

Time to unload the rafts.

Our guides, two assistants and one very helpful passenger.  From left, Dennis, Dave, Renee, Kathryn, Jon, Kate, Howie and Bill.  Many kudos to all of our AzRA guides for their incredible service and making this the adventure of a lifetime!

The river-rat gang gathers for a group shot.  It's been great fun!

Can you imagine how happy this doggie is to see her people?!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rafting the Grand Canyon - Part Five

Today we journey only three miles on the river so we can devote the entire day to Havasu Canyon!  A group of our heartiest hikers set out for Mooney Falls, seven miles from the river while I opted for the shorter four-mile trek to Beaver Falls.  The narrow mouth of Havasu Canyon contains a small waterfall which requires a clamboring bypass.  Beyond that you're resigned to simply enjoying one of the most beautiful places on Earth...and, again, going at my dawdling photographer's pace, I was alone for much of the day.

The view beckons...

Wild grapes grow in profusion along the trail.

Back in '93, a flood uprooted a tree and created a tunnel.

The final leg to Beaver Falls requires another clamboring bypass.

Beaver Falls is the upper-leftmost cascade.

The photos don't do justice to the 25-foot drop.
We ate lunch while wading in these cool travertine pools among the trees.

A large travertine dam just below Beaver Falls.

A parting shot from near the end of the day.  It would be weary group of folks making camp that night but well rewarded with a meal of fresh New York strip steak or boneless chicken breast...with all the variety of do-it-yourself rubs and marinades you could imagine. Charcoal-grilled yourself or cooked to order by one of the guides.  Did I mention we'd been on the river ten days at this point?  How do they do that?  (Actually, I know how they do it...dry ice rocks!)

Day Eleven.  Today will be a day of floating, with one of the most anticipated highlights of the journey...running Lava Falls!  It probably isn't the biggest, baddest or roughest rapid in the canyon, but it does have that reputation and is not to be trifled with.  Upsets are common but injuries are rare.

Toroweap Overlook comes into view on the high northern rim.
Yes, that would be where Maria fell to her death a year after this trip.

The BIG HOLE at the top of Lava Falls Rapid.

Standing on the remains of a recent debris flow
we scout the changed nature of the rapid.

Dennis takes a big hit going in...but runs through with style!

Howie takes an bigger hit!  Note here, Kirsteen's back to us on the back of the boat...and that wave which is about to wash her onto the floor of the boat.  She didn't see much of the rapid after that but she managed to hang on.  I had somewhat of a loss during my own run as my hat chose to plaster itself upon my face.

Kathryn gets my favorite photos.

Leader Dave looks on.

Here comes the paddleboat...time to freak out!!

They have a wild ride!

Howie, in his tradition Lava Falls attire and with his favorite tomato knife.

Parting shots back to Toroweap.  This evening would be the guacamole and margarita party...the tequila mostly being leftovers brought by first-half passengers.  Thanks!