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Sweating if off at Squaw Peak

Saturday morning I hiked Squaw Peak in Phoenix with friends who told me it would be a perfect morning cardio blast to sweat out the toxins after an evening out with them and their perfect cosmopolitans. After the hike I wanted to post about how terrific this hike is and found the photos of Robert Body

Robert not only captured the experience of  Squaw Peak beautifully he also is an incredibly creative and talented photographer. 

Squaw Peak, as it has been known to locals, is actually now renamed Piestewa Peak, I guess more politically correct. 

Flora in this area is typical of the lower Sonoran Desert and includes almost all varieties of Arizona cactus such as saguaro, barrel, hedgehog, pincushion, jumping cholla and prickly pear. Trees and colorful shrubbery include palo verde, mesquite, ironwood trees, creosote (dominate), ocotillo, brittle bush, desert lavender and giant sage shrubs.

Reptiles and wildlife that thrive in the preserve are gila monster, horned lizard and chuckwalla. Hikers also can encounter rattlesnakes. The mammal population includes coyote, jackrabbit, cottontail rabbit, ground squirrel and kit fox. There are more than 54 species of birds from the turkey vulture to mockingbirds, cactus wrens, gamble’s quail and several species of owls and hawks.

For me the hike took 35 minutes to ascend the to the summit and about the same to come down. As always, on a steep rocky trail coming down is tougher on the knees, not really a running trail. This trail is more like a stair master, in fact there are lots of stairs carved out in the stone. 

This is a beautiful Sunrise hike as captured by Robert. I was not an early rise. The trail is not too challenging, just a continuous climb, you can choose your own pace and heart rate. Piestewa Peak is at elevation 2,608 with a vertical elevation gain of 1,190 feet.


Fast and Fancy Filet will Green Peppercorn Sauce

One our favorite fall / winter dinners thats easy to prepare for 4-6 people is Filet Mignon with a creamy peppercorn sauce. It’s fun to prepare on our Wolf range stovetop with friends hanging out in the kitchen with a glass of wine during the prep. We alternate recipes sometimes using black crushed peppercorns and Madeira Wine or Green Peppercorns in brine and Cognac, both with heavy cream. We usually serve  this with Haricots Vert on the side.

cream sauce

Next time I going to try this dish with Cognac and White Wine as posted by Graham on

Last nights preparation for four:
1 3/4 cups beef stock or canned beef broth

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 6- to 8-ounce filet mignon steaks (each about 1 inch thick)
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
  • 2 tablespoons drained green peppercorns in brine
Boil stock in small saucepan until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Cook steaks to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plate (do not clean skillet).
Add chopped shallots to same skillet and sauté 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add reduced beef stock, 1 cup whipping cream, 3 tablespoons Cognac and green peppercorns. Boil until mixture thickens to sauce consistency, about 6 minutes. Season sauce to taste with pepper. Spoon sauce over steaks and serve. Check out more recipes on


The Cinerama Dome & Michael Jackson

We’re going down to LA to see Michael Jackson’s “THIS IS IT” but the really exciting thing is that were going to see it at the Cinerama Dome.

The Cinerama Dome 1963 by Welton Becket, 6360 Sunsent Blvd. Hollywood, Ca.
Photo courtesy

A geodesic dome built for the Cinerama format, this mini-Epcot like structure is a wonder of 1960’s showmanship. Featuring an enormous curved screen and ample seating underneath the large dome, the Cinerama Dome is famous for blending first run films with the occassional revival classic. The Cinerama Dome opened November 17, 1963 with 937 seats and the World Premiere in 70mm of “Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”. Additional 70mm films included the West Coast premiere of “The Greatest Story Ever Told” on February 17, 1965, the World Premiere of “The Battle of the Bulge” on December 16, 1965 and the World Premiere of “Ice Station Zebra” on October 23, 1968. In 1999, The Dome exhibited an exclusive week long showing of the original “Blade Runner” answer print.

For more information about historic cinemas go to Cinema Treasures.

Michael Jackson This Is It Tour
Michael Jackson’s “THIS IS IT”…. here’s a link to the trailer.

This Is It Michael Jackson Dancing


Heal The Ocean Benefit in Montecito, Ca.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus was a hysterical talking about “s**t and piss, let’s face it, that’s what we’re talking about” prior to dinner at the annual gala benefiting Heal the Ocean on September 26. You can learn more about Ms. Dreyfus’s charity work at Look to the Stars the world of celebrity giving.

This exquisite ‘fabulous fish” puppet created by Matthew McAvene was just one of a cast of creations for part of the post dinner and auction entertainment.

Mr McAvene and Jean-Michel Cousteau (right) pose with fishy friends just part of the cast of The Big Fabulous Fish Show.


Recycled Aircraft into Houses!

I was flying low about 2500′ along the California Coast from Oceanside to Santa Barbara. Somewhere over Malibu I looked down at a construction site and saw what looked to be like a airline diaster, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I circled, took pictures with my iPhone and realized I was looking at house being built using very large aircraft wings and primary structural elements. Googled it when I got home and sure enough. Check out this amazing project. Read about on this incredible project on treehugger.

Courtesy of treehugger

By the way, recycled aircraft are not an invention of the 21st Century.

Courtesy of Tree Hugger


The Ultimate Toy

As a pilot I was wowed by the Icon A5. This “light sport aircraft” is the ultimate toy for pilots who enjoy the water. Imagine launching this puppy from your yacht like a jet ski! Read more about this ingenious development in aviation in Wired Magazine.


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Best of Houzz 2014 - Design
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Awarded on January 30, 2014