Subject: Arizona
'Ziners:

In addition to my Ironman experience, I also was lucky enough to make a quick trip to Phoenix for my college chum's 60th birthday.

How was I to know the Diamondbacks were in the World Series (I pay little or no attention to baseball), ASU was entertaining the visiting UW Huskies, Nascar had a huge race &the Eagles had a game!

Phoenix/Valley of the Sun is the 6th largest urban complex in the US, sprawled all over that gorgeous desert. Pollution was noticeable, but not unbearable, but traffic was just this side of overwhelming.

We spent the weekend at Gold Canyon in the Superstitions (think Lost Dutchman Mine!) &were as far removed from the sports mania as could be. I hiked up into the hills, sat near a pond as the sun set &watched the desert hills come alive in the moonlight: deer, heron, lizards, all kinds of small birds &unidentifiable furry creatures coming to drink. The moon was nearly full, reflecting in the still water.

Next morning, I was up before dawn to climb into the hills again, above the tank, to watch the sunrise. Yup, another heart-stopper. I missed the little javelina, spotting only his jaunty tail as he snuffled into the heavy brush. I wandered the deer trails (could I maybe find a lost mine?) until I realized the sun was way too hot for this Oregonian. My Arizona friends think I'm daft, wandering around alone in the desert, but my shirt is flaming fluorescent green, so I'd be easy to find. And getting semi-lost is part of the fun anyway.

Airports were busy but not frantic, security lines not too long, &I didn't get searched this time.

Gail In Eugene...