The Village of Oak Creek

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I’m surprised that I have posted only four times this month. The change of environment has affected me strongly. Grace is supposed to be “retired”, but it seems a very busy house to me. That makes me happy, because I’m finding ways to feel useful instead of being a passive couch surfer. Yesterday and today I struggled to keep my cool while applying reflective window film to several large panes of glass. I can’t think of too many do-it-yourself projects which are more potentially frustrating. The results are spectacular in terms of energy savings, but the task of putting the cantankerous stuff on the windows could test the patience of Job. I’m going to revive my furniture refinishing project tomorrow. It’s been stalled for a few days. After stripping the old finish from a table I discovered that several different colors of wood were patched together and covered by a dark finish. Now I have to figure out how to make it all match. Grrrr . . .

To calm me down we sometimes stroll through the neighborhood. Grace lives in The Village of Oak Creek. I don’t know what to call it. It seems to orbit lazily around some spectacular golf courses which are are regularly trampled by the rich and famous. The Ace Hardware store has a huge picture of Jackie Gleason strutting across a green. I’m going to have to find out what that’s all about. Here’s a Google Earth view of VOC (as you may have guessed, the Village of Oak Creek):

You can’t walk around VOC without being impressed. It’s simply impossible to ignore the scenery. We waked down to the dry wash at the end of Catclaw Lane, where Grace lives, and I turned around. I nearly fell over. This is not your ordinary neighborhood street:

The dry wash itself is not boring. The famous Red Rock is everywhere. Grace says that the water gets deep enough here to be a danger. There are many small gullies around the town which sport warning signs shouting, “Do not attempt to cross when flooded.” In fact, the local police will fine you if they catch you trying it. Several cars are wrecked every year when drivers try to cross and are caught up in raging currents:

I’d be the first to admit that I’m taken aback by the contrast between Madang, a tropical paradise (well, sort of), and the apparent barrenness of the Arizona landscape. Frankly, I feel I’m surrounded by desert. However, my curious nature kicks in daily and I find interesting things to photograph. Have you ever seen a tumbleweed plant? Well, now you have:

Admittedly, they are not much to look at. The main interest to me falls into the category of western lore. Roy Rogers was my childhood hero. I wanted to be a cowboy. I’m still trying. Anyway, I have intense memories of The Sons of the Pioneers. They were featured in many of Roy Rogers movies. You can look here for a YouTube clip of the group singing Tumbling Tumbleweeds. Here are some tumbleweeds which have fallen into a dry wash and are taking a little rest:

Being observant pays off when fauna and flora are scarce. This is one of the more amusing of VOC’s cacti:

I had no idea that prickly pears came in such unlikely shades.

I occasionally have to get down on my knees. While praying at the side of the road (okay, okay, I wasn’t praying) I spied these industrious ants milking their herd of aphids:

Catching the sweaty runner in the background was a bonus.

It is incredibly hot here. Being at 4700 feet certainly helps. It’s much hotter nearer sea level. The temperature forecast for the next week does not dip below 100°F (38°C). It is, as the saying goes, “a dry heat”. There is some truth to that. Although the wind feels as if it came from a blast furnace (and it is surprisingly windy here) the air is so dry that I don’t feel uncomfortable, even though the temperature is considerably higher than it is in Madang.

What I do notice is my huffing and puffing when I excercise. The altitude is high enough for me to notice a difference.

I need to get more exercise!

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10 Responses to “The Village of Oak Creek”

  1. CarolBeth Says:

    Well, you might have always WANTED to be a cowboy, but you’re a natural born horseman…so all you need, maybe, is the horse, the boots, and a hat. Oh, ok, a saddle, too.

  2. MadDog Says:

    CarolBeth, I have no idea how I became a horseman. I think I was only on a horse two or three times in my life before I first came to Idaho. I do remember as a kid watching very closely the movements of riders and trying to mimic them in my head. We played a LOT of “cowboys and Indians”. I remember once when I overhead you saying about me, “Oh, look. He’s posting.” I didn’t even know what posting was. I was just doing what the cowboys did when the horse was doing whatever it was doing (trotting??). Anyway, I have some very nice memories of horse riding days with you and the kids.

  3. Ray Selby Says:

    Wow! Oak Creek looks like an interesting place. I have just done a tour via google earth using the street view thingy. Now there’s a job I’d love, driving around the world snapping street views.
    The equipment they use must be state of the art stuff. Occasionally you can see a shadow of it with all the aerials and equipment on the roof…. Must cost a few bucks to cover the whole world.

  4. MadDog Says:

    Yes, Ray. It is quite amusing. The whole of Sedona is surrounded by those huge red rock cliffs. You might expect to see a stage coach being hotly pursued by desperadoes at any minute. I couldn’t find a street view in front of Grace’s house. The equipment used by Google is quite interesting. Here is an interesting Wikipedia article about it. I just showed Grace a shot of her house in Google earth taken from the street in front. She wanted to know how they could take the shot without her permission. I told her to join the club of hundreds of millions.

  5. BALKIS Says:

    Bonjour,
    folle amoureuse des fleurs, je vous félicite pour votre article,
    En France, j’ai vu sur google images votre manifique photo de
    mimosa et je me suis directement intéressée à votre site.

    Amicalement, Balkis

  6. Colin Huggins Says:

    Seems that you are becoming more settled and that is great news.
    Horse riding, holy hell, pity about my wretched back problems, as I could give you some lessons. Pony clubs and gymkhanas, maybe in years long ago – show jumping and cross country eventing.
    One thing I loved about Wau (1968), I could go horse riding with one of my students – a Burrell girl of the family of the early pioneer kiaps.
    Imagine the “PC” mob nowdays, a teacher going off riding with a 12 year old girl – the mind boogles at the response.

    I do believe as the years progress, fun in life, is inhibited by all this “mumbo jumbo” crap!

    Can you possibly how the young of these days would survive if the mobile phones (cell phones in USA lingo) and I-pods were not available. God, there would be mass suicides!

    Keep enjoying yourself mate, maybe Madang will still be there, minus the Somare rule, when you return.

    Cheers
    Colin

  7. MadDog Says:

    Balkis, merci beaucoup. Je souhaite que je pourrais parler français.

  8. MadDog Says:

    Colin, it’s incredible how much PNG has changed in the thirty years I have been there. I wish I could say that more of it was positive. I make a point of not putting forth political comments about PNG for obvious reasons, but I think you can imagine my reaction to recent developments. Let’s see if it has any good effects.

  9. pvaldes Says:

    Opuntia violacea is really one of those quintesential desert creatures. You see it in a garden and understand the complete lifestyle at dry places. Who needs roses?

    The silverleaf nightshade (Solanum eleagnifolium) with ants is also amusing, but I must admit I love the second photo

    Very nice photos… (and we don’t feel the extreme hot at this side of the screen. ha-ha…)

  10. MadDog Says:

    Pvaldes, I’d never seen a purple cactus before I came to Sedona. It was a bit shocking. I wondered if they were fake. Thanks also for you ID of the Solanum eleagnifolium. You save me a lot of time, my friend. Keep it up.

    The shot down Grace’s street is pretty dramatic. It’s a modest little neighborhood surrounded by the homes of the wealthy and famous.

    Who needs money, eh?