Such the Spot - 5 family-friendly activities in Tucson - Such the Spot - Explorer

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Such the Spot - 5 family-friendly activities in Tucson

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John Flanagan

John Flanagan: I also love the outdoors and the beauty of the desert, however, being from New York, I have a second instinct that sits continuously near the front of my brain. I consider it the red flag zone.
When I take evening walks, prior to dusk, I always carry a four foot bamboo hiking stick, my ever close cell phone, and my flashlight on a key chain. It is a small but powerful light source in case I stop to gab with a local neighbor and wind up finishing my walk home in the dark.
I am often amazed to see couples and families walking near dark in sandals and carrying no flashlights or sticks,considering the heavy numbers of rattlesnakes in my neighborhood and in Oro Valley. Also, often before dark we see herds of 10-15 Javelina in our area and on la Canada rd nearby, and coyotes as well.
I have seen a young father walking on La Canada and one or two of his young children, about 4-5 years old lagging about fifty feet behind on the sidewalk which borders the desert side of the street. I stayed nearby and thought to myself, "This guy is a bonafide idiot! A coyote could easily snatch this toddler and run off, and he wouldn't have a clue. He is in his own world, 50-70 feet away, and his kid is vulnerable to Javelina, rattlesnakes, coyotes, even a bobcat." His attitude, I believe, is not that uncommon among some people living here. A lapse of thinking about the dangers of living in the desert could prove fatal, as I am sure some have experienced in times past.
We also have a big problem with Africanized killer bees here, and you need not do very much wrong to provoke them to attack. As for me, it does not cause me to hunker down in my house. I still enjoy the outdoors, like everyone else. To me, the issue is one of using common sense and being continuously aware of one's surroundings. And it is not just important, but crucial, to teach one's children about the dangers.
When I was a child and we were visiting my father's relatives in a crime ridden Bronx neighborhood, I walked next to my father and we saw a drunk sprawled on the sidewalk. I asked him what should we do? He looked down at me and said, " Just walk around him." He taught me always be alert to your surroundings. Ask any city kid about life, and you find out they learn quickly about potential dangers, and this attitude helps you to survive.
In Arizona, we live in a beautiful outdoor state, but to enjoy our parks and mountain trails, we need to have a Bronx attitude.

Monday, May 13, 2013, 11:03 am

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