Thursday, May 7, 2015

First, we take Bartlett Lake © by adrian

Everybody has been telling us we must visit Bartlett Lake, so, off we go.

We luck into a perfect weather day, cool enough to keep Linda from passing out from the heat yet warm enough that I am not freezing my pretty ass off.

At the edge of Tonto National Forest we decide to pull into the ranger station and get maps or at least more information about where we are visiting.

An impeccably dressed and razor sharply creased Clint Eastwood lookalike, complete with requisite drawl (I swear, I'm not making this up) leans over the counter and says to Linda, "Can I help you, little lady?" Linda is in love... might be lust actually; I notice a little pool of spittle forming in the corner of her mouth and she's starting to quiver a bit. The perfect ranger chats Linda up as I move away and feign interest in some brochures nearby, I don't want to interrupt her excitement or (at this moment, anyway) get splashed.

It starts to become obvious I'm probably going to need to drag Linda off old Clint or we will never be able to leave. I notice she's starting to look around for some blankets or shredding so she and Clint might be able to continue their conversation snuggled up in the corner of the shack somewhere.

So, I ask if we get a discount with our National Park pass. He and Linda are really surprised to see there is someone else in the room with them.

I bought one of those National Park passes before leaving Toronto so we could have unlimited entry to all US National Parks and Monuments. $80 plus $10 shipping seemed like a sensible deal (some parks charge up to $35 for entry) although there seems to be a bit of ambiguity as to what you can and can't get into for free. It certainly isn't that important, but I sure want to get my monies worth, so I'm constantly asking if we get a discount or free entry with the pass.

Old Clint says he doesn't know and the "little lady" he's talking to doesn't care about the lake anymore, anyway. She is never going to leave this place. I wonder to myself if I should just go on my way and let her know I will come back to get her in a few days if she wants.

Eventually, Linda begins to realize that if she gets any closer the main thing on ranger Clint's mind will probably be whether he will lose the perfect crease in his pants or worse, that Linda may want him to remove his stunning Ranger hat, although I doubt she will. I can see a Ranger hat in my future, for sure. Fifteen years of a successful marriage finally carries some weight and she confesses later the idea of teaching Clint some of the tricks of mine she really enjoys might not be worth the effort, so she allows me to haul her off him. We get out to the car and she just sits there humming to herself for awhile. I offer her a paper towel and after a moment or two start the car and carry on to our destination. Perfect Clint imitation, we both love you...

Tonto National Forest, like many of the other sights here is overwhelming. We drive through miles and miles of rock and mountain passing a multitude of various Cacti. Some small with beautiful flowers shooting out from random tips and others, barren shadows of the life they once lived. Some so huge they dominate your vision. Field after field, hundreds or even thousands of them, perhaps like snowflakes, no two are alike. It's an inspiring sight for those of us who live in a climate where the most cacti we ever get to see are generally in greenhouses.

Linda decides she has to go for a swim so she hops into a washroom and slips on her bathing suit. I wonder if I should break some local law so old Clint could ride down (Jeep? Horse? Skidoo?) to save the little lady from the frigid waters. Linda loves water and cold so, it's her party. My job is to laugh and point. We're alone on the beach except for a young couple. A lovely friendly and zaftig lady with her biker looking rather large fellow who is covered in tattoos. He says something to us in a thick Spanish accent which I don't understand but thinking I get the gist of what he said I answer, "Were good, thanks." He's flying a kite and I quickly deduce I should definitely make sure I don't do any laughing and pointing in his direction. I definitely don't want to make him nervous.

I'm also struck by the contrast of the size of him running along the beach with his little kite... What a sight! I desperately want to take a picture of him but decide his lack of English and my lack of Spanish might produce a terribly mangled translation as I ask him to go fly his kite. I'm pretty sure I couldn't count on Clint for help with this one, this fellow would surely wreck old Clint's perfect crease in a second. I end up thinking its best if I just uncharacteristically keep my yap shut and go back to watching Linda as she bravely swims out into the water.

As usual, the day was filled with overwhelming sights. The landscape here can easily be described as extremely dramatic which is why I felt my infrared cameras might do it some justice.

Later that night I was relaxing alone on our second floor balcony and one of the other condo residents was walking below carrying one of those poor poodle dogs who don't seem able to walk, as she is carried everywhere. There are so many dogs down here which seem to be afflicted with the can't walk disease in this area, it's so sad. Anyway, he called out to me with "Hey, how are you doing?" I replied that I was doing really well but Linda was having a lot of trouble with the unbelievable heat (it went up to 101 Fahrenheit yesterday). Without missing a beat he called back, "Well, I'm pretty sure you will see a big change in her now that I've shaved almost all her hair off"...