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It’s 8:49 p.m. and I’m curled up half-asleep in bed, ready to snooze after another long and beautiful day.  We hiked around Saguaro Lake in Tonto National Forest and the weather was absolutely perfect – sunny and in the upper 70s.  Evan has a lot to be proud of – he hiked all day and never complained of being tired or hot or in need of a piggy-back ride!  He and I skipped a lot of rocks, too.  We spotted some “sailors”, Evan called them, which were really just a couple of dudes fishing from a small motor boat.  We saw a big handsome blue heron, a falcon, a tree that looked like an eagle, and at one point we heard something that sounded like a roar coming from way atop a desert mountain ridge.  Mountain lion?  Who knows…

After the hike we drove up the auto road a bit and walked down to the Salt River, where I saw some of the most beautiful terrain that I’ve ever seen in my life – so beautiful that it literally brought tears to my eyes.  The photos that I posted on Facebook barely do justice to the majesty of this amazing place.

So, with Evan dozing off in the car seat behind us, we drove back to Fountain Hills for a late lunch and some down time, which I spent lounging around by the pool absorbing even more sunshine.  Shawn and JD both reported temperatures hovering around 10 degrees back home in New Hampshire today, so I decided that no matter what, I’m going to soak up as much sun as I can before heading home next week.

Meteena and I went into the center of Fountain Hills this afternoon to check out the weekly Farmers’ Market, where I bought some tomatoes, celery, a big cuke and some really kick-ass extra hot salsa from a guy who makes the salsa right here in Mesa.  I had one sample bite and I knew I had to bring a jar home.  I also found some yummy flax seed crackers made with rosemary and garlic.  Those will go great with the hummus that I’ll make tomorrow.

And speaking of tomorrow, we are heading into the big city of Phoenix to do some urban exploring.  Oh, and Meteena told me about some really awesome new musical instrument museum that just opened up in the city.  I can’t wait to see it!

I’ve made my phone calls and Skype calls to home, and now, at 9:00 on a Thursday, I’m ready for bed.  As I’m typing this, the open mic at the 302 in Fryeburg is most likely starting to wind down.  I do hope everyone back home is snug and warm.  But as much as I complain about the cold of winter back home, I have to admit that I really felt a pang of homesickness when Shawn sent me a picture text of the snow up at Bretton Woods today.  There really is so much beauty, everywhere – here, in the hot, harsh desert, and at home, in the harsh, bitter cold.  I just have to know how to look for it.