A Pungent and Invasive Weed in the Desert

There is a pungent smell in the air this spring in our Sonoran garden and surrounding neighborhoods. It isn’t really a bad smell, but it cannot be described as a totally pleasant one either. When we first discovered this fragrance several weeks ago, we couldn’t figure out the source, but over the ensuing time period we discovered its origin.

You can see the culprit in the picture below…

and here it is again.

This yellow plant is called Globe chamomile (Oncosiphon piluliferum). While seeds can be bought for Globe chamomile, I am sure most gardeners consider it a weed.

Because of the frequent and substantial winter rains, these yellow weeds are pervasive throughout open areas in the Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona corridor.

You can see how thick it grows. It can be pulled out by the handful.

Globe chamomile is a South African native and it has found its way to various regions of the United States and other countries.

It has been in bloom for weeks, but the drier and warmer spring weather is now causing some die off. Notice the brownish stems (below). The flowers are still quite vibrant and fragrant, but they are definitely on the wane.

It has been blamed by many in the area for their severe outbreak of allergy symptoms. Melanie Dunlap, a Naturopathic practicioner, writes about here experience in this article titled Goddess of Allergies

You can read more about Globe chamomile HERE


Read more gardening posts HERE


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com

Hiking: Bootleggers Trail, Scottsdale, Arizona

  • Address: 31402 N. 136th St., Scottsdale, AZ
  • Hours: Sunrise to sunset daily
  • Amenities: Passenger vehicle and horse trailer parking. NO RESTROOMS OR WATER

A couple of days ago I wrote about capturing my first “decent” photograph of a Phainopepla while hiking along the Bootlegger Trail off of the Granite Mountain Trailhead which is part of the McDowell Mountain Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Kudos to the citizens of Scottsdale for fostering efforts to support the acquisition of desert lands to be kept in their natural desert form. As you may imagine the population growth in the southwest is booming and native desert is disappearing fast. Land put aside to remain undeveloped is a treasure that can be enjoyed by everyone.

We have hiked other areas of the McDowell Mountain Presserve, but this was the first time at this particular location and we were not disappointed. Below is the view just a few yards away from the parking area.

View from the parking area

What helps to make this area somewhat unique and interesting are the boulders and boulder formations that populate the trail.

Numerous boulders along the trail

As we began to head west, the distant hills loomed large before us.

Granite hills rise up in the distance as we begin the hike.

The essence of the area really cannot be captured in individual photos so I hope the panorama below provides a sense of the expansive, hilly terrain.

A panorama reveals the full scope of the vista

To see a larger version of the panorama, click HERE

This was just one of the many boulder formations we studied as we hiked along the trail.

Interesting boulder formation

Boulder fields with rocks piled on top of each other often surrounded the trail.

Boulder fields with piles of rocks

As we hiked, I spotted a bird atop the granite hill far in the distance. Unfortunately my telephoto lens was not long enough to acquire a very detailed photo, but my guess is that it was a Harris’s Hawk (see the second image).

A distant bird; I think a Harris's Hawk

Closer view of the hawk

This is a description of the Harris’s Hawk from All About Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

“A handsome hawk of the arid Southwest, Harris’s Hawk is a standout with bold markings of dark brown, chestnut red, and white, long yellow legs, and yellow markings on its face. The most social of North American raptors, these birds are often found in groups, cooperatively attending nests and hunting together as a team. When hunting, a group of hawks surround their prey, flush it for another to catch, or take turns chasing it. This hawk’s social nature and relative ease with humans has made it popular among falconers and in education programs. “

While this trail is listed as moderate, we are inclined to label it more appropriately as easy. There were some inclines and the path does lead up to the distant hills, but we didn’t find any sections that we felt were strenuous.

Picture of the saguaros in the foreground of the mountains

More pretty boulders with the mountains in the background

The desert is a very harsh environment and death is often in evidence. Once stately saguaros often succumb to damage or drought. Even in death, they grace the area and give evidence to the beauty that is the desert.

Dead saguaro still graces the desert

This was a lovely area with the saguaro straight ahead and the boulder formation off to the right in the shade. There was a small “window” in the bottom, middle portion of the rock formation which enabled us to get a peek of the upcoming distant vista.

A bend in the path with a saguaro and boulder formation

As desert gardeners and proponents of native vegetation we always enjoy seeing clusters of greenery in areas that receive scant rainfall.

Green desert plants contrast with all the brown rocks and land.

At the start of the trail and then again as hikers make their way back toward the parking area, there are distant views of desert mountains and nearby housing developments.

Another set of mountains can be seen off to the south-southeast

We plan to return to the Granite Mountain Trailhead to take other hikes that lead to different areas of this interesting region.

  • Length: 2.9 miles
  • Elevation change: 175 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Use: hiking, biking and horseback riding


Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

© Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017 – JBRish.com

Something to Think About – Puzzle of Sorts

Here’s a puzzle (of sorts) for JBRish readers.

Preface: We live in N. Phoenix which is near Scottsdale, AZ. This area thrives on the winter vacation and part-time resident crowd and thus there are a multitude of restaurants. We have eaten at our share of the nearby eateries over the years and the last time we visited a local establishment that is popular with the locals and tourists alike, I looked in the dispenser that held the sugar packets and this is what I saw

NOTE – I have removed some of the markings to make this a bit of a challenge.

Have you ever seen one of these? Do you know what it is?

Don’t feel bad, it took me a minute and I had the entire form to look at. Here it is with one more clue added

By now you have probably guessed, so here is the rest of the item as I saw it when I took it from the container.

If you haven’t guessed by now, it is for diners to place their gum on this cardboard to be folded and discarded. Apparently, as confirmed by our waitress, so many people stick their gum under the table that it has created a big problem for staff who have to scrape and clean the bottom of the tables. Who would have thought?!



All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017

Pickleball at The Victorium – Scottsdale, AZ

The Victorium
9219 E Hidden Spur Trail
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
(480) 577-0678

check out the Pickleball Schedule at the Victorium HERE. NOTE – You might have to scroll down a bit.

You might recall that in a recent email I talked about the Victorium, a new state-of-the-art gymnasium, that would be opening soon in Scottsdale and would offer pickleball play. The good news is that the Victorium opened last week and they have had quite a few pickleball players attending. As a matter of fact, as I am writing this, the next Round Robin Session has been “sold out” (more about this below).

I thought you might enjoy a tour of the Victorium which is not complete at this point, but parts of the facility, including the pickleball courts, are open to the public for use.

Here is an artist rendering of the outside of the building which is quite unique:

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

This is how the building looked on the afternoon of January 26th.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

As I indicated, it is still under construction. There is a temporary entrance on the southeast corner of the facility until the rest of the facility is open in two weeks.

This view of the gym was taken from the catwalk..

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

Below is a view of the gymnasium from the opposite side of the facility. The arrow indicates where the Physical Therapy office entrance will be located!

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

The main focus of the Victorium is volleyball, but it is well designed to provide venues for a number of sports.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

Getting down to the pickleball nitty-gritty, the photo below shows the lines on the floor. The pickleball lines are a “teal” indicated by the white arrows. Calling some shots may be a bit tricky because of the similar colors, but the courts appear to be player friendly. (Full disclosure – I have not yet played at the Victorium)

NOTE – In my opinion the glare was not as bad as it shows in the pictures, but I wasn’t playing pickleball. I think the angle form which I was photographing might have increased the glare effect.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

Here is another area of the gym floor with lines (teal is pickleball).

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

Pickleball nets are a sturdy, roll-about type which should help maintain the middle vertical bar since they are not taken down and set up over and over again.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

Instead of traditional, pull out, aluminum bleachers, there are rows of plastic seats.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

Giant television screens are mounted on the walls which will serve as scoreboards, etc.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

The gymnasium is aesthetically pleasing which unfortunately isn’t going to add any points to my game! : )

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

The comfort areas are well appointed with similar gender-specific facilities.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

Another nice touch is a water bottle refill station as part of the drinking fountain.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

The arrows in the picture below point to garage doors (right) which can be opened when the weather is nice. The topmost arrows point to basketball nets which can be lowered to accommodate hoopsters. The lone arrow on the left points to the office area at the Victorium.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

During construction parking may be a bit of a challenge, but there does appear to be a good number of parking spaces around three sides of the building.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

The Victorium is easily reached off of Pima Rd (see map below), but once inside the residential area, some GPS systems may be “confused.” The Victorium is located on Hidden Spur Trail. If you get a bit lost, you can look for either Verde Grove View or Hidden Spur Trail.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

This is a view of the building from the corner of Verde Grove View or Hidden Spur Trail.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

I hope you enjoyed the brief tour. If you want to play pickleball at the Victorium, I am putting links to their January and February offerings below. Please read the pages carefully. There are a variety of events including open play.

The Victorium has room for six pickleball courts. On days/times when round robin play and other events are in progress, open play may be limited or not available. I suggest you call first. Dee Davison’s, contact information is on the flyer, and she may be the best contact.

$5 Daily Drop-In Play 7 am – 1 pm (scheduled events below reduce drop-in play hours)

NOTESome events require sign up in advance.

To see the Victorium’s Schedules, CLICK HERE!


***** Additional Information *****

  • The large garage doors will have “netting” in place and can be opened when weather is nice.
  • Except for tournaments, open play will be available from 7AM – 1PM for those who like early morning exercise. Check the attached schedules. Courts will be set up and ready at 7AM.
  • There is a monthly pickleball membership fee of $40. Drop in play is $5. There is a potential that the Victorium will become a membership only facility.
  • Pickleballs and paddles will be available for use at the Victorium. The paddles are sponsored by Selkirk.
  • Until the snack bar and restaurant are open, it is OK for players to bring lunch and snacks.

The Victorum Pickleball Facility, Scottsdale,AZ

Desert T-Shirts

Living in what I call a designated tourist area such as Phoenix, Arizona has both positive and negative aspects. Of course during those months that are cold in a good part of the United States and Canada, we have an influx of tourists, part-time residents and guests.

When guests come to visit us, one of the areas we like to take them is Old Town Scottsdale. There are some historical attractions which we look at, but the gift shops of all varieties are the real draw.

As the resident Phoenician, I get a kick out of going to the tourist shops to see what new desert themed T-shirts are displayed. They generally come in two categories, 1 – The beauty or uniqueness of the desert or 2 – Poking fun at the unusual life styles and/or environment of the desert.

The t-shirt below reminds us of the beautiful wildlife we have in the area. We do have some extraordinary lizards, although nothing quite like the one pictured.


Of course Phoenix is a big draw as well as Scottsdale…


And to celebrate the heritage and uniqueness of the desert…


Then there are those that make fun of the harsh environment and cowboy atmosphere and this one tackles both…

115 degrees is hot, but c’mon it beats 30 inches of snow, doesn’t it?

One of my favorites this day was this punful one…


All of these T-shirts were found at Scottsdale Southwest Gifts and Apparel just north of the Scottsdale Historical Museum on the same side of the street.


I am not making a recommendation although I have made purchases there. Many stores offer unique apparel both authentic southwest as well as humorous or stylized southwest items.

When you visit Scottsdale’s Old Town, be sure to bring your camera and your sense of humor. I am sure you will have a good time. Don’t forget the Scottsdale Historical Museum in the center of Old Town.

Cholla Park, Scottsdale Pickleball Courts Conversion (Update)

Below is an email from Kira Peters, Parks & Recreation Manager – City of Scottsdale

Hello Pickleball Players,

I wanted to give everyone a quick update on the timeline for the identified conversion of the two Cholla Park tennis courts to eight pickleball courts in the City of Scottsdale. The conversion/resurfacing work will begin on September 22nd with the goal of being complete by end of October.

The City has updated the Cholla Park page to include the 8 pickleball courts with estimated completion dat ( http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/parks/cholla-park) and pickleball is also noted on main page in the recent news section at http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/news.

Finally, we plan to promote the new pickleball courts in the Winter/Spring 2016 edition of the Parks and Recreation brochure which will be available on-line and in print mid- November 2015.

I will continue to keep everyone updated as we progress as we hope to plan a get together to celebrate the new courts in Scottsdale. Any questions please let me know. Hope everyone is doing well!

All the Best,

Kira Peters, CPRP | CPSI
City of Scottsdale
Parks & Recreation Manager
480.312.7239 | kcpeters@scottsdaleaz.gov