Part 2: Sunsets, Balloons, Stunt Planes

Journal May 18, 2021

Hello again.

The last post’s title contained something cool that we saw day after day but haven’t mentioned further yet. Stunt Planes.

Multiple days during our stay we’d get to witness an aerial stunt plane doing insane tricks in the nearby airspace. We only noticed it because of the loud engine sound it would make when it was plummeting out of the sky.

The small plane would be flying along and then pull up into a straight up climb until its engine stalled. It’d then come flipping and plummeting back to Earth. Eventually, they’d orient the nose straight down to get the engine to kick back on, then pull up to keep from crashing into the ground. When the engine kicked on and they pulled back, it was pretty loud. This went on over and over again, which I think is a pretty impressive feat of endurance as I can imagine this maneuver is quite taxing on your mental and physical state. We enjoyed this free air show for many of our days staying out here and it never grew old.

We try to get out on hikes and to explore the local playgrounds. There were a few options around here that we took the opportunity to explore. The first we went to check out was south of us and called Deem Hills Recreation Area. There were many hiking trails to explore but the one we were aiming for was the Circumference Trail to Ridgeline Trail to summit the small “mountain.”

Shortly after hitting the trail, Owen saw the playground and was no longer interested in hiking for almost the rest of the time out there. We made good time around and up the mountain and saw some lizards along the way. The Arizona Canal was visible on the backside below and there was an interesting informational sign about it along our pathway.

The canal is 336 miles long and serves to bring water from the Colorado River to central and southern Arizona to serve 80% of the state’s population. It is protected by fence along its length to prevent contamination and is closed to the public. The canal has grass carp to help keep the system clean and running smoothly as they eat the vegetation that could clog the pumps.

Here’s some more interesting info about the canal.

Our hike wound up a curvy pathway to the summit of the mountain hill. It wasn’t huge but the views from up there were pretty great. It was also quite windy up there!

We made our descent pretty quickly and got back to the parking lot. We had enough time before dinner for Owen to get a few minutes to play on the playground with Ellie while I found a spot to go eat. We ended up going to a local brewery called Front Pourch Brewing, which had a delicious smoked meats food truck. We enjoyed a post-hike beer and some pulled pork sandwiches.

Another park we visited is the large playground of Anthem Community Park. Owen got to play here a couple times and had a blast exploring it all. There’s a little train that meanders through here for kids to ride on but he was not interested in riding that at all.

We also got to visit with some good family friends. I lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa between the ages of eight and ten and we my parents were good friends with our neighbors. While in Arizona, I learned they had moved out there and weren’t very far from us. I reached out to see if they would be open to getting together. They were elated to hear from us and invited us over to their newly remodeled and beautiful home.

We sat out front and enjoyed the sun and conversation before heading out to a golf course restaurant they like for dinner. The course is near an Air Force base and on our drive in and while eating, we could see fighter jets flying in formation and coming in for landings. We sat outside on the patio and lit an overhead propane warmer. Shortly after sitting, someone came out to invite us to play trivia. The game was being run inside but the emcee would come out to present the question and get our answer each time. We were in! We had fun chatting, enjoying the tasty food, and answering the trivia questions. We were doing pretty well. The game ended and the scores were tallied. It was getting late and we needed to roll out to get Owen home for bed but we needed to hear the results! The emcee asked one or two of us to join them inside for the announcement.

Third place was called, not us.

Second place was called, not us.

First place was called, it was us!

Apparently we got a rarely seen score because of how high it was. We collected our winnings and headed out. That was a fun and unexpected surprise!

Owen and I had a fun bike adventure at this campsite as well, but I'll save that story for another post.

Thanks for reading!