Saturday we had a swimmeet in S. Scottsdale.


Then dashed off to the the annual Snow Day at the Phx Zoo. They put exhibits on every 15 min, and we charged every one we could manage.

California Condors, eating dead rabbits


Prairie DogTown set atwitter by cauliflower!


A zookeeper was showing off a Common King Snake that wandered into one of the exhibits. We had actual questions after it crawled in from under our TV, and its similarly-inclined rattlesnake-lookey neighbor that jumped out of our hop seed bushes. He gave us a semester’s worth of herpetology in 5 min! And now we know about jaw sizes, fangs, behavior identification, and how to pick them up.



warty pigs are adorable when they act like dogs


The elephant had the happiest day of her summer thanks to the Phoenix FD!



G was sitting on my shoulders, I had no idea what was being filmed

The monsoon finally hit that night, and we stayed in town instead of camping in the high country. 7:30am was overcast and cool enough for a family ride around Brown’s Ranch. It mandated a 6am wakeup to load bikes, apply sunscreen, stuff calories, placate egos, drive, safety meeting, unload and mount up 5 bikes. G killed it, and Alana…sorta actually killed it, but whined like a cat that’d been petted.

Since we were in the neighborhood, our friend Robin invited us by to see the newest ACDR puppies and help socialize them.


dogs good for people, people good for dogs. The 5 pups hid from us at first, then it turned into an orgy of belly rubs and facelicks all morning. We did the Full Lincoln.



Don’t order the schnitzel, they’re using schnauzer

The Salt was nearly 1000 cfs, barely saw a rock and barely had to paddle. The girls are now crackerjack. Buying actual ‘river tubes‘ allowed me to drive the Prius instead of the F150, fill them up from an air mattress pump attached to the cigarette lighter, and string us all together through loops that let us slacken out or tighten up. With cupholders. Pros.


shove your lifevest up your ass! Nobody puts Alana in the corner



I even trusted them to hangout at the water’s edge instead of the parking lot while i went for the car. I said yeah this is another test just like the movies, do you want more freedom? ‘k, don’t drown!


The kids seamlessly adapted my foodieism for Bavarian Point  whenever we goto the Ranch Market in Mesa. So…hungry… I could hear rumors about a taco stand selling dogshit, and they would lobby for the meal, if they thought they had sufficient traction. There are 3 good German restaurants in the Valley, and 2 of them are next door. So, after buying groceries we finally tried Zur Kate.  BP’s meals are amazing and massive and full of sauce, enhanced with their salad bar where every vegetable is doused in dumplings and onions and vinegar. The ambience is 1996 Best Senior Early Bird Special. Zur Kate is almost as filling, but a little more vibrant, smaller, simpler, sausages or schnitzel, and very smoky beer.



They had a live accordian player, and when he stepped off the German ambience pop all sounded like Ripple by the Grateful Dead.

ripple in shtill vater
ven zere is no pebble toshed
Nor vind permitted to blow

The waitress had to be 70, and with efficient communication and honesty was by far the best server I’d had in years. She struggled to move, yet we had everything we needed in record time. Danke fraulein. I left 22%, unheard of in East BumFuck Mesa.

DirtBag DadCamp: Forgery

I have a love-hate relationship with the Aquatic Center. Awesome facilities vs shitty hours and SOOOOO many rules. The high-school lifeguards adhere religiously to the squashing of all possible fun, Hitler Youth and Godwin’s Law collide in sunburned subburbed space.  Their tepid, bleating enforcement is more grating than the actual persecution, even my kids mock their apathy.

Along with our summer pass, Alana and I developed an understanding: she could get away with whatever she could get away with, as long as she didn’t drag me into it.

Dad! They should let me jump owf the high boawd. I jumped owf a cwiff. 


so true.

What at first seemed rigid monolithic enforcement of the rules upon further glance became huge gaping holes in security. $3.90 on Ebay made 46.75 inches = 48 for the next 3 months.


Le Fluffing
Me: How old are you sweetie?
Alana: 7
Me: How did you get that wristband?
Alana: The people up front measured me
Me: Is that your dad?
Alana: I’ve never seen that man before in my life

And like good pre-Millennials, they go slack jawed and wave them on, lacking the fortitude or commitment to confront the 6yo by cutting off her illicit wristband.

DirtBag DadCamp: The Test

3 weeks ago the kids were in Camp Invention, and I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road, my first adult movie in a theater in 9.4 yrs. And I got to thinkin’ — the girls in an adjacent theater with a phone was just crazy enough to work! I would rather be stabbed repeatedly in my hemorrhoid than pay to see Minions.

Me: Can you guys do this without fighting, spilling your food, freaking out, getting me arrested?
Monsters: *nods_all_around*
Me: really? you lying little shits? cause if you pull this off i might let your drive?
Monsters: *nods_all_around*

Logistics and supplies are all in order, they both peed twice.

Terminator: Genisys - I hated the acting, the inhabitation of the actors. Every other movie has been filled with desperation, anxiety, hurt, Kyle Reese running like a trapped rat not a carnivore at CrosSFiit. These characters were pin-ups, physically and actingly. Christian Bale as John Connor vs ….that guy? puhlease. frown emoticon That said, some of it was funny and Arnold was very funny. I just went with it, I snuck a camelback full of beer in, its the dirtbag in DadCamp.

I enjoyed the attempts to interweave the earlier scenes and timelines. Dull and hokey at times, especially since i watched the original 2 days ago, but fun for a geek fan.

Some of the action scenes were cool, but I hate action scenes where there are no rules. Even in SciFi, there need to be rules and limits. I don’t like Terminators, Gladiators, or Decepticons with unlimited hit-points. Neither does Milton Friedman.

I LURVED that they brought back the old cop.

Would not spend to see it in theater, but a good Netflix.

DirtBag DadCamp: Needle Rock to Box Bar Rd

Verde River float from Needle Rock to Box Bar Rd. 2 miles, 2 hrs. The cfs was 125 and led to many bumped asses and lining of the rapids. But a new adventure, with the twist that we had no recent beta other than “a couple gravel bars that you will need to dismount from. Definitely a slow go…”. 10 dismounts got old and a few times me and Beckie got beat up by the rocks and current keeping the kids clean. I enjoyed watching my girls, all of us, getting a little cold and not quite knowing when or where it’d be done.

The Verde is much tighter and greener, but less ‘wow’ than the Salt. The low levels made it less, and more, scary. Lots of herons, egrets and hummingbirds. The horses were awesome.








DirtBag DadCamp: Ellison Creek Cascade and Water Wheel Falls

Daytrip to Payson, a few miles up Houston Mesa. Beckie and I were here 10+ years ago, didn’t remember it all til we dove in. So much fun for such easy access, a Prius-based adventure that cost $18 in gas, and, why you should hit it mid-week.




For about 4 hours I was a broken record “hands and feet! careful! slippery! 3 points!



they are so much fun



I climbed the ladder while they were playing around on the cliffs. It was slick to mount in water i couldn’t stand in, and a little scary the first time as it bounced in cadence with you. Easier the second time after i found the footholds. G HAD to try it, and I approve of this rapacity, so i did it 2 more times right on her butt to spot her. Then Alana HAD  to try it 2x too, and finally G HAD  to jump off it with me after we watched someone else dew eet.

We watched another family come down, something wrong with the ~23yo dad, skinny as straw with his hair everywhere and zombie eyes. When he walked by and G said ‘ugh, Dia you stink!‘ I also got to teach them about tweakers. #ParentingForGnarness





I lost track of the time, loving it all, and struggling more than them with tired knees and higher COG. The coolest stuff we did swimming a few pools above the draws into falls, tugging Dia along with us, I gots no pics.


wetsuit flatters my junk, but black is slimming and shrinkage = junk neutrality.



The hike out was a girls-high-on-stoke romp: everything is green, the dragonflies are beautiful,  the rocks are warm and the air cold enough to last into the 105 degree evening down in the Valley.



Doesn’t like water




English –> Cattledog Translator

Sleeping = aggressively herding lethargic cows

Resting = aggressively herding lazy cows

Nibbling on hands = ensuring you are still fresh

Chasing the cat = warding off predators

Stealing food from the table = leftover donuts in the conference room

Jumping over the couch = attentiveness to your every move

Wigglebutt = I luuuuuuuurrrrrrrvvvvveeeee you this much!

Peeing constantly = properly hydrated

Spooning in bed = spooning in bed

Farting in bed = it was —->Beckie *dognod**dogstare*

Farting in bed = whatever, i tooted, dgaf

Dashing off down the street = pre-emptive surveillance

Laying under the AC vent = protecting my family, as my right as a ‘murican

The Stare = the depths of my soul are laid out before you, do you have any bacon?

Doesn’t Like Water = I choose not to run, Jerry



DirtBag DadCamp: Wet in the Tonto

There is a lot of water in Phoenix, if you are willing to  work for it. The drive-ins&outs and load-ins&outs are the prologue to the adventure proper, of book reports and traveling music and shared fountain drinks from Circle K.

Tuesday we rode Saguaro Lake with Todd and Charlie.




Thursday afternoon we went to Needle Rock on the Verde, to give the tubes and children a test float. I didn’t take any pics (duh) but it went great. The girls got clear on what a river, a current, and a riffle were. We air-tested our old river tubes, and realized the deep bed of the F150 is remarkably better for tubes than a Ranger. Plans were a’brewing…and they might include a float from Needle Rock to BoxBar Road.

Saturday night Sam offered me an open seat on his Sunday morning float on the Salt, and my calendar was unexpectedly clear! Most of the good pics are from Sam – thanks buddy for dragging me out of my routine and letting me borrow your gear (again). And for another awesome morning with some friends I hadn’t seen in a few years.

Ryan is stoked!


even the inflatable can play around on Snaggletooth rock





Patty and Corinne completed our group. I’ve known of these cool girls in the abstract FB-way, great to hang out with them in meatspace.





During the float I scouted all the small details I’d need for Tuesday’s tubing adventure with the girls! The path to the water, the current at the put-in, and mostly the same on the way out. 90% is not good enough if someone drowns or loses an ankle. The Chollaballs came out refreshed, efficient, and unscathed!

Top of the river to Blue Point Bridge


Alana compared this to the Lazy River at the Aquatic Center, then asked if they made this river to be lazy like that? I spit out my beer laughing so hard at kid logic. A dragonfly rode on my hat, they learned marshmallow combat from a couple wasted college girls, and watched red-winged blackbirds chase half a bag of chips down the river.


Tradition at West Clear Creek

We joined the Flying Nowacki Brothers Circus for a hike down West Clear Creek. They had a tradition doing this 4 years in a row on Father’s Day, and, while not strict about the holiday, so did we!

2011 – West Clear Creek

2012 – West Clear Creek – Maxwell Trail

2014 _ Summer in Hell  

They are dirtbags just like us, and we talked at the start of summer about hooking all the kids up for some adventures. I really like hanging out with them all; their kids are smart, robust, confident and capable. And I know there are other adults who will keep an experienced eye out for my girls and protect them like their own. On the hike down Elissa was off the front with Noah, Brett brought up the rear with his boy in a backpack while Scott helped him, and Beckie and I found ourselves in the main peloton with 5 girls. No worries – Robin, Miranda and Sydney got everything we had just like G and Alana.

I have liberally ganked pics from everyone else. Too good a day with 7 kids, 7 adults and 3 dogs to not share all these cool pixels.





























DirtBag DadCamp: Amongst the Hill People


Andy Grammer – Honey I’m Good

James: would you maybe want to dogsit while we are on our honeymoon?
Me: *ears perk up*
James: Cause I know you are between jobs and whatnot…*dingdong*… Oh my, you got here fast.

2 weeks in Flag to start a Phx summer! 3 chollaballs, 3 dogs, and a cat: James and Staci had no idea what they unleashed!

Its my garage now, i even peed behind the old palette.

The instant they left for the airport on Friday we took Dia for a couple laps around Buffalo Park. G picked it up, slung it around and dropped it without skipping a pedal stroke. Alana whined, complained, and had a meltdown on the 1-&-only short climb. This became her flagstafrican baseline.

Saturday was 7 miles, 75 min, shuttle down the AZT-Dogfood-Schultz. I locked Alana’s bike halfway down the ride where the AZT meets Dogfood. We 2-biked there from Weathorford trail at mid-mountain, and then she did the rest. Slowly, timidly, badly, building on last night’s frustrations, walking too much. I thought at times we should just leave her bike by the trail and never let her try anything but dance classes again.

G was skeered over this trial, after Alana tormented her with how traumatized she still felt from me riding her over it 2 years ago. I swallowed my frustrations for her seemingly innate genius at remembering every excuse to hold herself back. Fortunately a spotter was all G needed to try it, then she jumped off the front for the rest of the descent. This was her flagstafrican baseline.


G did so well we decided to do Schultz o&b right from the house the next morning. The climb had a lot of rests, encouragements, hummingbird and woodpecker viewing breaks, and chances for Dia to wade in the creek. We had no deadline, lots of apples, and silently agreed to dig in for her longest sustained climb. Telling Mom became her motivation. She nailed the DH, resting to take advice between each pitch, and patiently let me take my shots at the boulder drop halfway down. Best.Riding.Partner.Evah!

That evening we did 10 miles into town and back on the FUTS for dinner. tinyShredder rolled it easy, and mostly so did ‘lana! Her longest ride yet!

We stopped at The Ditch to play. G hitting her first-ever lip

and stacking it up! At least soft dirt doesn’t hurt.


Alana crossing Rio De Flag


No one told us Hops on Birch was, like, a bar. They had 1 bottle of rootbeer, 1 juice box, and some stale pretzels for the kids, but the beer selection was awesome.

Alana’s mood on the bike changes course like a gnat, on the ride home her flagstafricanism was trending up.

Monday we went to the Adventure Course at Ft. Tuthill. They got 3 laps on the kids course, and had it mastered by the end. To where I didn’t want to take them back for fear their overconfidence would get them hurt. I can’t wait til I finally get a chance to hit the adult course.











The new Ft Tuthill Bike Park  is, literally, next to the adventure course. Making Ft. Tuthill the happiest place on earth! Except G wrecked, badly, on her 4th run. The track was fast, narrower than we’re used to, and the trees messed with our heads. She carried too much speed into a jump and overcompensated in the ensuing turn, ripping a 5 inch raspberry down her buttcheek.

She walked off the course, gritted, let me wash it, while a couple boys gawked at the girl-who-totally-ate-shit-but-didn’t-cry out of the corners of their eyes. She even did 2-3 more slow runs, for pride. But our day was done, except for trips to CVS and Safeway for many variations of gauze, tape, and ice cream. Fortunately, I brought my tub of aquaphor with us, on a hunch.

Every time I know one of my kids is going to scar, i wish i could take it onto my unwanted skin instead. I’d look like a WarBoy from Fury Road. Removing all that pain and scabbing from them would make it worth so much more to me. But some lessons can’t be learned any other way. G knew she went too fast too soon, fucked it up deep down where you balance your bike and your skill and your confidence, and daily applications of goo are hopefully the intellectual repetition of the lessons learned from pain. Slow down, don’t overcook the turn. Her flagstafricanism was trending up.

Tuesday we slept late, had a nice breakfast with more ice cream, and I overjoyed hiking with them on one of my very favorite bike loops up Little Gnarly and down Jedi.





We saw one-and-only other person on Jedi, a rider who dropped in silently behind us coming through an Aspen meadow, just before the logramp-to-boulder trial above the switchbacks. He cleaned it while the girls cheered.


I’ve never gotten this one, but will be so much more psyched to walk it heretofore 

That night Dia and Grahammay got a trip to the dogpark, and the girls more ice cream and hamburger for their owwies.

Wednesday G was feeling better and we found some self-adhesive softwrap, so did the AZT from 418 to Bismark Lake. Alana and I had a deal, she would ride her bike for a mile before 2-biking, and get more ice cream. I lied about the GPS enough to get her to do 1.5.

climb little girl, climb!





unlocking for the 1.5mile descent

After a burrito power-up we went 3rd time into the Lava Tube. I had 8, er, 7 functioning lights, a pint of water, a 1-hit, an orange, and 2 ravenous Monsters. I feel bad, a little, for the people they overtook and dropped. I love being around the stoke they have for this hike, even if i hit my head and roll an ankle each time trying to keep up!


Thursday I hooked up to ride with my bud Rockman. His awesome daughters kept the girls occupied for a few hours.


We climbed Schultz Creek, Climb 3, then Hobbit Forest to drop into Wasabi. Solid climb and best run ever down one of my white whales. I was visualizing it all night before, and it worked! My flagstafricanism was trending up. Thanks Joe for the ego pics!




Roadwork is being done on  Elden Lookout Rd, and a couple drivers stopped to watch us roll out of Upper Wasabi. Double punch on the mancard!



Thorpe Park has a disc golf course. Using soccer balls was a fabulous idea that wound up sucking, badly, in a mountain town. So it became a kicky dogwalk in the woods.

Friday was a taper(nee, hungover) day. We drove up Friedlein Prairie road to hike Overlook, and then up to the Wilderness Boundary. Haven’t been here in a few years, such an engaging trail that is always changing due to treefall. I’ve never gone slow enough or looked up from the rocks and logs to really soak it in, and its a gorgeous airy forest with meadows at 8,000+ feet. Going to have to hit it this fall to see the aspen and avoid the crowds. Can’t wait to show it to Beckie.



this is a tasty apple.

Heard you got another apple?!






ironic that Alana snapped this photo. I was showing G the series of moves through this section, explaining how to break them down, and how I crashed and dented my frame on my 2nd-ever ride on the Heckler 8yrs ago. This seemed really hard back then, now its just another rock garden.


Saturday the planets aligned! Beckie came up, and the AES Aspen Asphyxiation had been rescheduled to this weekend. Sometimes I am glad for her arrival, sometimes not. We got this 3-sum going on, and sometimes mom storms on in and fucks it all up. I had 8.25 hrs, 7kvf and 52 miles to vanish and get everyone’s head right, they got their own 3-sum going on without me being around to screw it up. I tweaked the race route to let me hit just about everything on Mt Elden I hadn’t already gotten this week. I left from the house, climbed Rocky Ridge to Lower Brookbank and desceneded Jedi just as the really fast guys were coming up, aggressively jumping all the drops after walking them earlier in the week. The monster storm the night before made Sunset unbelievably tacky, and the stoke from that screaming descent carried me almost up to Snowbowl Road. Almost. Ray made the route awesome by adding in Twisted Sister, and awful by adding in GT trail. Pushing my bike up this stupid, primitive scratch in the volcano I yelled out ‘Fuck you Ray you fucking douchebag‘. The ensuing 3 mile climb up Snowbowl Rd was so deadlegged that, after comparing times, I actually rode it slower than Beckie ran it in a race 2 years ago. There was 3-4 more hours riding, but most of it flowed far better, and after dipping into my PainCave finally I was done.  It wouldn’t be an AES race if I didn’t kinda hate it.

Sunday I was feeling good but lazy, and meat-sweating from a fantastic dinner at Satchmo’s. Our recovery day started with a 4×4 crawl through the Cinders.


Then re-walking some of the fun, tight techy stuff from the end of yesterday’s ride, along Fat Man’s Loop on the far east of Elden.





Then the day went suddenly, utterly and deeply to shit. The huge downpour on Friday night flooded my truck’s cylinders, turning into a $500 repair on Monday.

Dia lost a tooth wrestling Graham.



and our attempt to salvage the day and ride into town for dinner quickly resulted in Beckie gauging her ankle on a chain ring, and 5 stitches at the ER.

The massive upside of all this calamity is Beckie stayed in town another night for what was our very best day of the trip. At Coco Bike park, everything started slowing down, for all of us.

The first time on the Blue line i spotted G, reminded her that you can’t can’t can’t bail out once you are in the ramp, trust that you will get through it. And after she got the feel, we kept reminding each other to trust it and go bigger!



both wheels in the air!


go Alaaaaaaannnaaaaaa!

girls are getting the attack position

whereas G has perfected a scowl, Alana believes strongly in smiling for the photo. I approve of this adaptation!



i wasn’t quite cleaning the blue line, but i was getting closer each run. G and I both were getting used to the lips on the jumps. Next time!



never know what you will get with the AlanaCam




Griffith’s Spring afterward to release the heundz!



Our final attempt on the FUTS into town went much better. I used this opportunity to promote upgrading the HeiHei to a 1x drivetrain, and forever prevent this from happening again. Alana crushed it on the way in, and gutted it out on the way home. Never figured her for a 2-ride day, until today. Her flagstafricanism is definitely trending up.