Author Archives: Travis McKnight

streamlining the kitchen

Streamlining The Kitchen For A Clean, Cohesive & Organized Space

Streamlined Design: This contemporary look — streamlining the kitchen — creates a cohesive, clean and organized kitchen.

While the economy continues recovering and the housing market rebounds, homeowners are looking at ways to improve their home’s value and aesthetic appeal. One of 2013’s projected enhancement trends is streamlining the kitchen’s design by matching appliances and cabinets for a contemporary, European look.

The streamlining trend began about four years ago, but when the housing bubble collapsed in 2008, much of the renovation market disappeared underneath the rubble, says Mark Dixon, a project consultant at Legacy Design Build Remodeling, a home renovation company in Scottsdale. Over the last four months, streamlining has resurrected itself in force, but Dixon says he isn’t sure if the style went on hiatus and is now coming back, or if the original surge is intensifying.

Choosing quality ingredients: How to decide upon a design

The design process can be the most difficult and time consuming aspect of revamping a kitchen. From choosing colors and a cabinet brand to deciding upon appliances, a price point and a contractor, renovating can be overwhelming. This is where designers come into play, but before enlisting their services, several options are available to narrow down possible choices.

“A homeowner needs to sit down and write these things out: What do I love about my kitchen, but what do I not like about it that I really want to see changed,” says Donna Liddle, CFO and marketing manager at Distinctive Kitchen & Bath, a renovation design firm in Phoenix.

When homeowners don’t know exactly what they want their kitchen to look like, Liddle recommends investigating cabinetry companies’ websites, most of which have a design floor simulator that allows people to match colors, cabinet styles or other elements. Another option is to visit community-driven design websites like, which displays completed remodeling projects.

Success is in the presentation: Achieving the streamlined effect

After gathering a project idea, home and interior designers are necessary to successfully achieve the optimal design.

“It’s helpful to bring in someone with a computer program who can lay the kitchen out and make a rendering of what it’s going to look like,” says Don Wilkerson, owner of Complete Kitchen and Bath Remodeling, a home remodeling company in Phoenix.

The program distinguishes floor space and any walls that might need to be moved. Afterward, “you have to decide what appliances you want, and then a lot of times design around the dimensions and colors of the appliances,” Wilkerson says.

To counteract appliances’ limited color scale, the renovation industry has shifted toward a trend of putting cabinet panels on refrigerators, dishwashers and trash cans to blend them with the cabinetry, Dixon says.

Baking at high elevation: Remodeling challenges to expect

The process of remodeling a kitchen has many unforeseen challenges. From finding cabinets and appliances that fit, to termites or mold and the house itself, several hindrances can pop up costing time and money.

Homeowners who educate themselves in the remodeling process won’t struggle as much compared to those who don’t, Liddle says.

One of the biggest trials that many homeowners don’t expect is the original design of their house, Wilkerson says.

For example, if someone wants to turn an older-style kitchen or a design that is not contemporary into a contemporary look, they’ll have to alter the original design of their house. This often includes reorganizing plumbing and moving walls, which can extend the process by weeks, says Carrie McCoy, a senior designer at Kitchens Southwest, a custom cabinetry designer in Scottsdale.

Making sure it doesn’t burn: Quality restoration isn’t quick, or cheap

Remodeling a kitchen is expensive and can take upward of a month from start to finish.
If the design is straightforward and only new counters, cabinets and appliances are being added, the project will likely take three to four weeks and cost between $12,000 and $25,000, McCoy says.

The price also depends on the size of the kitchen and the value of the home. For an average gut and remodel of a kitchen, Dixon says homeowners shouldn’t expect to spend less than $25,000 or $30,000.

During the renovation, McCoy says people need to be aware of the constraints placed upon their daily eating habits.

“On average, they don’t understand the process to remodel their home,” she says. “They don’t know how long it takes, how much they will be eating out for the next two to three weeks.”

Understanding that remodeling projects require a real budget, and not a figure of what’s in a homeowner’s bank account, is crucial to a project’s success Wilkerson says.

“If someone is serious about doing something, I think they should do a little research on market costs,” he adds.

View photos of kitchens with a streamlined design:

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streamlining the kitchen streamlining the kitchen streamlining the kitchen

For more information about streamlining the kitchen, visit,, and

Scottsdale Living Magazine Winter 2013

My Dietian

My Dietitian App Pairs Nutritionist With Smartphone Users, Analyzes Diet

My Dietitian app homepageBalancing a proper diet can be difficult for many Americans, especially in a food industry prolifically driven by non-nutritional corn-derivative products. Some people try reading labels to avoid unwanted ingredients, others eat food marketed as natural or organic. But sometimes these methods don’t work when dieting because hidden nutrients in food, good and bad, are difficult to detect alone; however, with interconnectivity offered by smartphones and tablets, advice from a registered nutritionist is only a click away.

My Dietitian is an application-based Web service that pairs smartphone and tablet users with practicing dietitian experts for daily advice tailored to their dieting goals.

My Dietitian app meal inputThe app allows clients to chart and track their daily food consumption and fitness routine, which is analyzed by a nutritionist. Additionally, the application utilizes a smartphone or tablet’s camera to record a diet diary with photos of food that are instantly shared with the client’s nutritionist.

“It’s really an interesting experience to look at what you’ve consumed over 24 hours in picture form,” says Dr. Michael Tingey, co-founder of My Dietitian.

This process gives the user specific feedback, but also provides the dietician with more detail than a description and allows them to offer specific alterations.

My Dietitian app physical activity“We’ve created the ability for users to have a registered dietitian in their pocket, seven days per week; and through education, we can provide a greater chance of long-term success,” Tingey says. “Our system encourages better eating through easy accountability, and fosters personal, private relationships with the most highly trained professionals in the nutrition field.”

Tingey and his co-founder, developer Ray Lyons, intend for the project to serve as an educational tool for clients to create long-term, gradual dietary changes that will lead to a healthy lifestyle.

“I’m not a believer in fast weight loss; too many people gain the weight back, and personally I believe long-term habits are key,” Tingey says.

The goals vary between clients. Many wish to lose weight, others want to have more energy, and some simply want to sleep better.

Inspiration for My Dietitian stemmed from Tingey seeing his patients struggle with dietary goals, and the poor usage of registered dietitians in the medical field.

“It came out of a frustration that preventative healthcare is not valued,” Tingey says.

The service has four different membership levels with costs ranging from $4.95 per month to $169 per month. Each membership model gives clients access to a video diary of consumed food, a graph to chart exercise levels and the mobile application. As the price increases, users are given daily communication to a dietician, nutritional charts and video conferences.

For more information about My Dietitian, visit

Photo: Avilan Diamonds

Valley Diamond Retailer, Avilan Diamonds, Recycling The Jewel

As global outcry increases over Africa’s blood diamond industry and the environmental impacts of traditional mining, one Scottsdale diamond company, Avilan Diamonds, is trying to fight back by recycling the precious stone.

Instead of purchasing new diamonds to sell at its Valley store, Avilan Diamonds offers consumers previously owned jewels to support the idea of a self-proclaimed “storied diamond.”

The recycling principle markets the commodity similarly to a certified used car.

A traditionally mined diamond goes through several steps after its unearthing: It’s polished and sorted, sent to a manufacturer and wholesaler, and then shipped to a retailer. It grows increasingly difficult to trace which diamonds have and have not been involved in forced labor mining, which makes combating the practice from a retail standpoint difficult, says Jana Hadany, marketing vice president at Avilan Diamonds.

Conversely, once a previously owned diamond is bought at Avilan, the company inscribes the diamond and then tracks its lifetime circulation after it’s sold.

“We’re trying to stop traditional mining that contributes to the human rights atrocities that are associated with it, and the environmental destruction with the mining process,” Hadany says.

On Nov. 1, the Scientific Certification System (SCS), an environmental and sustainability advocate, awarded Avilan as the first “responsible source” for diamonds.

To achieve the certification, Alivan opened its financial statements to SCS and demonstrated the environmental impact of an entirely post-consumer retailer.

Alivan took two years to practice the tracking method used to ensure the re-circulated diamonds continue to be recycled. Consumers are able to visit SCS’s website and see the diamond’s lifecycle after Avilan sells it.

Avilan is hoping by providing an alternative and “ethical” method for consumers, it will pressure other retailers to follow suit, Hadany says.

“In high-cost commodities, nobody volunteers to do the right thing, it just doesn’t work that way, unfortunately,” Hadany says.

Hadany says she feels that standards in the diamond industry are not clean enough, and despite people talking about change, very few people are actually achieving it.

One solution to the environmental and humanitarian impacts from diamond mining is manufactured diamonds, a process completed in several ways that creates an anatomically identical compound to a natural diamond.

The rare-jewel industry frowns upon the idea of laboratory-grown diamonds, as do some consumers, because the diamonds lose their uniqueness.

“You’re not creating them the way they came from nature,” Hadany says. “There is no unique value to them.”

For more information about Avilan Diamonds, visit


Paid time off to vote? Yes, in Arizona!

As the November election approaches, Americans gear up to exercise their greatest civic duty — voting. But finding the time to vote is a luxury many working voters struggle with. However, Arizona law simplifies this process by dictating that employers must give eligible voters up to three hours of paid leave in order to vote on Nov. 6.

According to Arizona Revised Statute 16-402, Arizona public and private employers must give their employees paid time off to vote if the following three conditions are met:

  • The employee must be eligible to vote in the election.
  • The employee requests voting leave one day prior to the election.
  • Less than three consecutive hours exist between either: Opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s regular work shift, or the end of the employee’s regular work shift and closing of the polls.

Employees are not liable for any penalty or wage deduction for the mandatory time off, the law states.

“Whether it’s a presidential election year or not, this statute always applies in relation to voting in Arizona,” says John Balitis, an employment attorney with Fennemore Craig.

The statute is important for employers and employees to know because it gives employees beneficial rights in connection to voting, and it also informs employers about their obligations, Balitis says.

However, although the Arizona statute doesn’t require proof of voting, Balitis says they may ask for it.

“If an employer has reason to doubt that the employee actually took the paid time to vote, it would be reasonable for the employer to require the employee provide proof that they actually did vote,” Balitis says.

Employers who violate AZRS: 16-402 are subject to a class two misdemeanor, which is punishable by fines and possible imprisonment.

There are no cases on record of Arizona employers violating AZRS: 16-402, Balitis says.

The following states have a law similar to Arizona’s requirement for voting time off, although not all require employers to pay employees: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The following states do not have any statute regarding employers giving employees time to vote: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rohde Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin,

For more information regarding Arizona Revised Statutes: 16-402, visit

The Joy Bus

Joy Bus Brings Food, Smiles To Cancer Patients

Rafael Figueroa, 48, suffers from stage-four colon and liver cancer, Wagner’s disease, pancreatic cysts and valley fever. But despite his ailing health, Rafael smiles every Friday at the sight of Jennifer Caraway and her free, home-cooked meal.

Caraway is the president of the Joy Bus, a non-for-profit organization she founded offering free, hand-delivered, home-cooked food to home-bound cancer patients. The Joy Bus started in 2011 after Caraway witnessed the struggles her friend Joy went through battling cancer, which killed her in February.

“It was something I was doing for her before she passed,” Caraway says, “and I just realized while doing it there are a lot of people out there that needed help as well.”

Rafael became a Joy Bus recipient after an insurance agent told his family about the service, says Mindy Figueroa, Rafael’s daughter.

“Every Friday, [Jennifer] would bring a healthy meal, and my dad loves it,” Figueroa says.
Her family struggled to locate healthy food recipes online, and Caraway’s meals served as a way to both educate and relieve stress.

“Literally, it’s a blessing; it’s one less day we have to worry and figure out what we’re going to have my dad eat,” Figueroa says. “It’s something to look forward to, and even though he’s suffering you can see a smile come up every Friday.”

The Joy Bus serves a need that isn’t facilitated by anyone else, says Lynne McGowan, a cancer case manager who sits on the Joy Bus’s board of directors.

“There are hospice services for people with cancer; there is Meals on Wheels that charges people for those services, but Joy Bus is a unique service, and it’s a support service by families that are impacted significantly by a cancer diagnosis,” McGowan says. “This service helps them maintain at least a piece of their normal ‘living’ if you will.”

The Joy BusThe Joy Bus is currently serving seven cancer patients, but Caraway says she’ll help anyone who is home-bound; the main emphasis is on cancer because of Joy’s affliction. Most of the clients are recommended through physicians or medical experts, but a client eligibility form is available on the Joy Bus’s website.

“The only reason I would deny anyone is that I can’t afford to feed them,” Caraway says. “Right now I can fit probably two more people in, but I wouldn’t deny anybody; I’d just end up paying for it out of my own purse.”

So far, Caraway has been financing the Joy Bus off a donation by the Case Management Society of America’s Arizona Chapter.

As for meals, each meal costs between $5 and $10 to produce, Caraway says.

One of the Joy Bus's chef-inspired meals.Bernie Kantak, owner of the restaurant Citizen Public House, and a Joy Bus board member, offers Caraway cooking advice and helps locate sponsors.

“I tell her to cook like I do,” Kantak says. “I try to make people happy.”

Caraway is picky and cognoscente about the food and service she gives, and tries to use the healthiest ingredients at her disposal, McGowan says. Most of the foods Caraway cooks contain a focus around increasing a patient’s protein, vegetable and legume intake.

Caraway says although some of the ingredients can get expensive when cooking for seven people, Joy inspired her to continue operating the Joy Bus regardless of the financial challenge.

“I am never ever, ever going to get to a position where I have to charge somebody for a meal,” Caraway says. “I don’t care if I have to do car washes every week, there’s no way in hell I would charge somebody for the service that I’m doing; they’re going through so much already. It’s not even an option.”

For more information about the Joy Bus, visit

Dr. Michael Robb, owner of Fix24

Fix24 Chiropractic Practices Gonstead Method As Pain Relief

The human body is an amalgam of intricate mechanical and biological processes. From the millions of living organisms residing inside it, to the skeletal system’s movement, a simple misalignment can throw the body off its normal routine, creating pain or illness.

“Anything that is mechanical has to be maintained,” says Dr. Michael Robb, owner of two Fix24 chiropractic clinics in Arizona.

Robb is one of 15 Arizona chiropractors practicing the Gonstead technique, which utilizes bio-mechanical principles to isolate spinal misalignment and quantitatively measure healing.

The highest cause for mechanical misalignment in the lower back is bending at the waist, Robb says, and prolonged looking down with the head can create neck problems.

The Gonstead method attacks these troubles using objective measurements gathered with weight-bearing, standing X-rays and a heat sensor to discover inflammation.

“By scanning the spine with a heat-sensing probe, we can see where the differential temperatures are, and it shows us how much inflammation is in the joint,” Robb says. “As we’re realigning the joint, we measure by taking subsequent temperature readings over the spine to see the reduction of heat, which indicates the restoration of the mechanical misalignment.”

Realigning the spine is done by hand without twisting. Contorting into often painful positions by twisting the back and neck is the most common thing people do not like about chiropractors, Robb says. Instead, the Gonstead process applies pressure directly to the spine, pushing forwards towards the sternum.

The healing process takes between 90 and 120 days. After the realignment is complete, patients are given yoga-like exercises to strengthen and stretch targeted muscle groups.

The Gonstead system was developed by Clarence Gonstead in the late 1930s. The idea of harnessing bio-mechanical principles sparked after he received chiropractic care for foot and leg pains, but his body was resistant to healing under the standard chiropractic contortions.

Alongside specific Gonstead chiropractic structures, Robb’s Phoenix and Peoria chiropractic centers provide pain relief for headaches, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee and foot injuries, arthritis, sciatica, and disc and joint problems.

For more information about Dr. Michael Robb and Fix24, visit

Where: 7000 E. Mayo Blvd., #1058, Phoenix
Contact: (480) 419-1500
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The Nest, Arizona Haunted House

The Nest Haunted House Offers Visceral, Visual Excitement

“The Nest,” a haunted house in Chandler, Ariz., is an enjoyable visual experience showcasing grisly props, a splendid cast and fun illusions. The attraction has received yearly awards as being one of the best haunted houses in the country, and a few people in the media tour were definitely screaming. As for me, although I may not have been one of the frightened ones, a few parts of the experience were impressive and definitely stood out.

The most intense part of the three-scenario experience was also the first. After standing in line and watching a man pulling a plastic balloon through his nose and into his mouth, I entered a pitch-black maze. No one in the media viewing group, six women and three men including myself, wanted to take the front position, so eventually I volunteered. Upon shuffling one-by-one into the narrow, pitch-black corridor, I became disoriented for the first couple of minutes but soon found my way through the maze.

After about four minutes of slowly groping against black walls in the darkness, acutely aware of the breathing made by actors lurking around “unsuspecting” corners, I stumbled through a sensor that triggered an earsplitting foghorn, the type used on cargo ships, to erupt overheard. The sheer suddenness of deafening sound, which is prolonged until my group passed the sensor, was ridiculously startling, and I ducked to cover my ears in response.

Two other areas of the haunted house were pretty cool, and the rooms were fun. One was a mirror house that lead into a chamber filled with taunting killer clowns. The staff gave us 3D glasses prior to entering this area, but I’m physically unable to see 3D-rendered objects, so I can’t comment on its effectiveness; however, I was told it worked fairly well. Furthermore, this section offered The Nest’s two greatest optical illusions.Hanging bodies at The Nest.

Upon entering a blackened corridor with a physically shifting floor, a green light appeared and created a funnel effect allowing the approaching actor to appear as a floating dismembered head. It was an impressive effect. The second illusion, and my favorite part of the haunted house, occurred when we crossed a rickety tunnel bridge that two blood-A haunted kitchen at The Nest.soaked clowns were calling home. Crossing a bridge is easy enough, even with homicidal clowns on it, but when the room literally seemed to be spinning, the task was much, much more challenging. Revolving colored lights bounced off the tunnel walls and took up all of my peripheral vision making it seem as if the room was spinning, and I was walking on the bridge sideways, forcing me to clutch a shaky handrail for balance. Adding to the vertigo was the claustrophobic feel of A spooky trailer at The Nest.the clowns taking up space on this seemingly gravity-defying bridge. The illusion was magnificently executed.

After this, we approached the graveyard, where the Facebook integration began. Electronic tombstones displayed my name, date of birth and date of death. It was a neat addition, but didn’t add any eeriness. The graveyard did have an awesome animatronic, elephant-sized skeleton, though.

Then we reached the final attraction, which was to be scariest part of The Nest: the home of Jacob Kell, a notorious Arizona serial killer. Nothing in Jacob Kell’s house frightened me, but it certainly encompassed incredible set design, a convincing cast of actors and amazing attention to detail.

In here was another dose of Facebook integration, where a newscast was announcing Jacob Kell’s latest victims. I was one of the unlucky three to be “murdered” earlier that evening. The final attraction is incredibly visceral, offering dismembered corpses, obscenely overweight cannibalistic butchers, people being tortured and others who warned me to flee while begging for help. The walls were plastered with digital photos taken from Facebook, and eviscerated bodies littered kitchen countertops.

Some very neat special effects were also used. My favorites in this section are overhead lights that projected cockroaches skittering along the floor, as well as human face pudding that is prominently featured as the kitchen’s main course. Some actors leapt out of corners, from underneath stairs and barrels; others simply stalked and taunted me. A few backed one woman into a corner, calling out her name and announcing all the unique ways they’d kill and cook her.

The entire, three-exhibit experience took about 20 minutes, and is certainly enjoyable; however, the scariness is underwhelming. Nevertheless, The Nest featured a great cast of enthusiastic actors, unique Facebook integration and dozens of absolutely enthralling props within Jacob Kell’s house.

The Nest opened Friday, Sept. 28, and runs through Halloween night.

For more information about The Nest, visit


If You Go: The Nest

5700 W. North Loop Rd.,
Chandler, AZ 85226
Tickets: $25 general admission; $40 VIP ($29 online)

The LaBarbera Family

From Phoenix Fire Chief To Fashion Week: LaBarbera, Sullivan Family Reflects On 100 Years In Arizona

As Arizona’s centennial nears its completion, one Valley family reflects on its Arizona heritage ― a history that began even before Arizona became a state in 1912. From building a barbershop and tap dancing at Orpheum Theater, to launching Northern Arizona State University’s campus police department and walking the runway of Phoenix Fashion Week, the LaBarbera/Sullivan family has made quite an impression on the state.LaBarbera family

In the 1900s, the Arizona territory’s dry climate and warm weather tempted Chuck and Kelley LaBarbera’s ancestors to venture into the desert; and after Chuck’s grandfather, Walter, was born in Bisbee, Ariz. in 1907, the family’s roots stayed firmly planted.

“It’s kind of funny because our paths crossed our entire lives, my husband and I,” recalls Kelley LaBarbera. “We didn’t meet until we were in college working at the same restaurant, but we were both baptized by the same priest when we were babies ― and just kind of crazy things like that.”

Chuck and Kelley’s families also crossed paths prior to the two meeting.

Chuck’s grandfather, Charlie LaBarbera, built a small, red-brick barbershop on 24th St. that Kelley’s grandfather, Tom Sullivan, frequented while growing up. Chuck’s father, Thomas, was a Phoenix grade-school teacher who taught Kelley’s two uncles. And since then, Chuck and Kelley’s families have had a unique impact on Arizona’s history.

LaBarbera’s history, as told via photographs

LaBarbera Family LaBarbera Family LaBarbera Family
LaBarbera Family LaBarbera Family

(Top row, L to R): 1. Pete Sullivan, Kelley’s uncle, was appointed Phoenix’s first full-time fire chief by Marshall Mullians. 2. Nico’s grandmother, Carol Sullivan, is on a 1958 cover of Arizona Days & Way magazine. 3. Kelley’s grandfather, Tom Sullivan Jr., was part of Brophy Prep High School’s first class and became deeply involved in Arizona’s political scene as Maricopa County’s first county manager. After leaving that job, he began his own lobbying firm.

(Bottow row, L to R): 1. Jim Conway, Nico’s grandfather, began Northern Arizona State University’s campus police department. 2. Kelley’s son, Nico LaBarbera, 19, a fourth generation Arizonan, is a runway model at Phoenix Fashion Week.

Meet Nico, Phoenix Fashion Week Model

LaBarbera FamilyNico’s entrance into the fashion world came about in July when a customer at the restaurant at which he works recommended he consider modeling.

Nico was one of 10 men chosen out of 200 to serve as a runway model for Phoenix Fashion Week, but he’s already making a name for himself.

He participated in an emerging designers runway show at Talking Stick Resort and won Smart Water’s “Lifestyle” print media challenge.

“He would love to see where [modeling] takes him, but he goes to school and works, and this is one of those things that came about expectedly,” Kelley says. “He loves what’s happening and would like to look see what other options he maybe can pursue in that direction, but he knows also how important it is to continue to go to school.”

Events for Phoenix Fashion Week begin Thursday, Oct. 4, and run through Saturday, Oct. 6. For more information about Phoenix Fashion Week, visit


Libertarian Presidential Candidate Campaigns at ASU

A crowd of nearly 100 amassed Wednesday afternoon to support Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson, who spoke during a campaign rally at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.

Johnson, a former two term New Mexico governor, presents himself as a socially liberal and fiscally conservative candidate. Among his positions are legalizing gay marriage and marijuana, giving immigrants easy access to a workers permit, withdrawing overseas military troops, reducing federal spending by 43 percent and abolishing the IRS and the Federal Reserve by instituting the Fair Tax proposal.

Johnson, dressed in jeans, a tee-shirt with a peace symbol and a sport coat, looked more like a college professor than a typical presidential candidate. During his 20 minute speech, he drew many different distinctions between himself and his opponents, President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

He warned that neither President Obama’s nor Mitt Romney’s budgets could balance the country’s deficit; saying not doing so dooms the country.

“If we don’t balance the federal budget now we are going to find ourselves in the midst of a monetary collapse,” he says. “A monetary collapse, very simply, is when the dollars we have in our pocket don’t buy a thing because of the accompanying inflation that goes along with borrowing and printing money to the tune of 43 cents out of every dollar that we are spending.”

Nicknamed “Governor Veto,” Johnson drew distinctions between himself and fiscal policies of democrats and republicans by promoting his record of 750 vetoed legislative bills while in office. He says these actions saved New Mexico billions of dollars.

Johnson and his running mate, former Calif. judge Jim Grey, are currently touring 40 college campuses nationwide. Johnson says they’re targeting the youth because “young people are getting screwed.”

“I’m going to retire, I’m going to have healthcare, but you all will never be able to retire, you’re not going to have healthcare,” he says. “This is just not acceptable.”

He discussed the economic woes of the youth resulting from student loans, the Affordable Healthcare Act and a poor job market.

“Right now young people are graduating college with a home mortgage, but without a home,” he says.

Distinguishing himself in the Iranian conflict, Johnson gestured back towards President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, and  said Iran is not a military threat, but should they become one military force needs to have congressional approval.

“If we bomb Iran we’re going to find ourselves with another 100 million enemies to this country that we otherwise wouldn’t have,” Johnson says to the cheering crowd.

Johnson also attacked President Obama over inconsistent promises regarding the drug war, and marijuana prosecutions.

Citing a proposed Colo. bill that would legalize and regulate marijuana similar to alcohol, he says “I think it’s going to pass, and be the first of 50 state dominos that will fall in line and bring rational drug policy to this country.”

Michael Silvia was one of dozens who attended the rally brandishing pro-Johnson signs.
“I definitely can’t support the two party system we currently have,” Silvia says. “They’re broken and don’t provide any solutions, only argue about semantics and superficial issues.”

Silvia says he was drawn to Johnson’s approach to finding solutions, and his pursuit of personal liberties.

Johnson is currently on 47 state ballots and the District of Columbia for the Nov. 6, election, and says he anticipates being on all 50.

Last week Johnson filed suit against the Presidential Debates Commission in order to be included in the October debates, citing the current restrictions as unfair against national progress.

According to a Reason-Rupe report, Johnson is currently polling at six percent nationally.

Phoenix Airport Museum, Art Gone Wild

Phoenix Airport Museum Celebrates Phoenix Zoo's 50th Anniversary With "Art Gone Wild"

Phoenix Airport Museum, Art Gone WildSky Harbor International Airport is embracing its inner animal by celebrating the Phoenix Zoo’s 50th anniversary with an “Art Gone Wild” exhibit.

The Phoenix Airport Museum’s exhibit features more than 20 ceramic and bronze wildlife sculptures by Heidi Uotila, and more than 70 animal pictures created by local children, says Jeri Walker, a Phoenix Airport Museum information specialist.Phoenix Airport Museum, Art Gone Wild

Uotila’s collection showcases sculptures of zebras, gazelles, tigers, lions and giraffes among other animals.

Phoenix Airport Museum, Art Gone WildHeidi Uotila is nationally syndicated wildlife sculptor, now a high school ceramics teacher, and lent the Phoenix Airport Museum sculptures she had at home.

Uotila says after she has decided what animals she wants to sculpt, she travels to see them in person and studies their movements

“People are pretty easy to do because you can get them to sit and pose for you,” Uotila says. “Animals are much more challenging because they don’t stand still.”

In recent years, Uotila has moved away from working with bronze sculptures due to the cost of bronze, and says she’s found working with clay to be challenging but rewarding.

Each art piece is accompanied by text that includes educational facts about the animals on display — as well as other facts about the animals and their relatives at the Phoenix Zoo.

The exhibit, located at terminal four on level three in Sky Harbor International Airport, runs until March 2013. Visiting the Phoenix Airport Museum is free, and it’s open 24 hours a day. With more than 600 pieces of artwork and 35 exhibitions, Phoenix Airport Museum is one of the largest in the country.

If You Go: “Art Gone Wild” at the Phoenix Airport Museum

Sky Harbor International Airport
3400 Sky Harbor Blvd.,
Phoenix, AZ 85034
(602) 273-2105

Phoenix Mingles logo

Phoenix Mingles Offers Singles "Old-School" Connection

Exhausted from the day’s work, a 27-year-old man loosens his tie, grabs a beer from the fridge and flops into an oversized armchair to watch Monday night’s game. His apartment is quiet; he gave up long ago on meeting someone through the bar scene, and sifting through online dating profiles didn’t pan out. The working life simply doesn’t offer him enough personal encounters, and he’s surrendering to the idea of being alone.

A new Phoenix business hopes to change his luck — with the “old-fashioned” approach of casual, face-to-face encounters.

Founded in July, Phoenix Mingles is the creation of Morgan Klemp Stephanie Lieb of Phoenix Minglesand Stephanie Lieb. The company plans on hosting monthly networking mixers for single, young professionals ages 21 to 35 while simultaneously supporting locally owned businesses.

“To really connect with someone, I think you have to meet them in person, first and foremost,” Lieb says. “We’re trying to return to the old-school sense of the face-to-face interaction that everyone has come away from so much.”

The female duo established the company after discussions with each other and other young professionals about frustrations with the general dating scene in the Phoenix area for their age group.

Morgan Klemp of Phoenix Mingles“People want something different than going to a bar on Friday or Saturday night and hoping to meet someone, so we’re hoping to try and change that dating scene in general,” Lieb says. “At the same time, we’re also hoping to promote locally owned businesses where we hold our events.”

The first event takes place on October 11, at O.H.S.O. Brewery in Phoenix, and Lieb anticipates about 70 attendees will attend the event. The evening will be emceed by Meghan Krein, an author and relationship expert.

According to Lieb, the goal of Phoenix Mingles is to escape from underneath the umbrella branding dating companies largely oriented around speed dating. But, Lieb says they have encountered difficulties convincing people of this idea.

“The biggest challenge is when people hear about a singles-event company, they kind of cringe,” Lieb says. “I think that we’re trying to change that reputation and explain to people that we’re hoping to be the opposite of the cheesy, speed-dating, typical company. We’re going to be a very casual, comfortable setting, and it will feel a lot like a typical networking event that people seem to enjoy going to.”

Breaking free from the mold many Valley dating companies establish, Lieb and Klemp plan on making its gatherings more accessible and fun to its target demographic.

“The difference, too, is a lot of dating companies that we’ve seen in the area charge close to $50, and that doesn’t include food, drinks, any prizes or any service besides hosting that event,” Lieb says. “So we are hoping that understanding our demographic, and that young professionals may not have a lot of disposable income to spend on something like this, we wanted to keep the price fair and also include something in that price besides just the event.”

Included in Phoenix Mingles’ $25 ticket price are varieties of food and cocktail, beer or wine, and some kind of activity or speaker.

The duo also has plans to expand from bar conglomerations and have specific themes. For example, they’re looking at holding an event at a local art gallery and bringing in a local artist or the gallery owner to discuss the art scene, or go to a restaurant and learn to cook with the head chef.

“We’re hoping to get business owners interacting with people in this age group, and vice-versa,” Lieb adds.

A Phoenix native, Lieb says she’s always wanted to start her own business in Arizona and give back to the community through it.

“We want to give back to, No. 1, the singles in the Phoenix area who are struggling to find a comfortable, non-cheesy way to meet one another and make that connection — whether it’s with a new friend, or someone to have a romantic relationship with,” she says.

If Phoenix Mingles is successful, Klemp and Lieb plan to expand the business to other cities in Arizona.

For more information about Phoenix Mingles, visit

Fish Restocked for Valley's Urban Fishing Program

Fish Restocked For Valley's Urban Fishing Program

As Valley temperatures slowly begin to dip back into double digits, urban anglers restock their tackle box and prepare for the local fishing season.

There are 12 urban lakes and four urban ponds scattered around the Valley, and on September 17, the Arizona Game and Fish Department restocked the local fishing spots with channel catfish, which range between 15 and 18 inches long.

Throughout the year, the ponds and lakes are stocked bi-weekly with farm-raised Arkansas channel catfish, Arkansas sunfish and Colorado rainbow trout.

Channel catfish are stocked from late September to mid-November, and rainbow trout are deposited mid-November to March. Sunfish are stocked once in the fall and spring.

Last year, more than 62,000 anglers fished for more than 230,000 pounds of fish, according to the Arizona Game and Fish website. Yearly, it costs more than $650,000 to stock the ponds and lakes.

Because the ponds don’t have a current, urban fishing can be a bit trickier than fishing in rivers or large lakes. To counteract this, Arizona Game and Fish offer 162 fishing clinics throughout the year, teaching more than 17,000 anglers, according to its website.

An urban fishing license is required for anyone older than 14, which costs $18.50 and is available at sporting goods stores around the Valley.

For more information about urban fishing, visit

Furne One at Espionage En Couture

Espionage En Couture Fashion Show To Feature Furne One's Spring 2013 Collection

A recorded voice clearing a plane to land crackles over an intermingling crowd. People shuffle toward their respective seats, and the overhead lights are extinguished, plunging the aircraft hangar into darkness. Flashing blue lights illuminate a diamond-shaped runway; spotlights center on an opening jet door and out strides Noir Partie Trois: Espionage En Couture’s celebrity emcee.

Furne OneEspionage En Couture is a national fashion show premiering in Scottsdale on Oct. 26, and features international designer Furne One’s spring 2013 fashion collection, “Confessions of Mata Hari. A Tribute to McQueen.”

“I’ve been living and breathing this show for months now,” says Niki Woehler, owner of Flavor Marketing, the company creating the event. “Scottsdale has never seen a show like this before. It’s not just a fashion show; it’s an entire evening.”

Woehler says she’s embracing the night’s espionage theme and betraying the mold of what’s typically seen at fashion shows. The models’ appearance are choreographed with live, high-energy music by Black Panther Disco; aerialists will be preforming on stilts from the rafters; LED screens and an 80-foot wall behind the runway highlight projections of the models; and attendees can expect other surprises throughout the night.

“I’m all about ‘wow’ moments,” Woehler says.Furne One “I always want my shows to have a moment, or several moments, in the show where people gasp.”

The event embodies Mata Hari’s story, a Dutch exotic dancer, courtesan and alleged spy executed in France under espionage charges for Germany in World War I.

Furne One says he based his newest collection on Hari after being inspired by her life, and how she embodied strength, mystery, seductiveness and liberation.

Furne One designed “Confessions of Mata Hari” to tell her story and his vision of her life. “I am a person who loves to inspire people,” he adds.

Furne OneKeeping with a classic spy theme, the event’s décor will drape the airplane hangar in black and white. Guests, who will tread on a black carpet, are asked to dress in black-hued cocktail attire to contrast against the white furniture.

Espionage En Couture also gives guests the unique opportunity to be up-close and personal with the Mata Hari collection.

“What we plan on doing after the show is circulating the models through the crowd,” Woehler says. “Furne will also be at the show, so people will have an opportunity to meet the designer.”

The airplane hangar will be divided into three sections: general admission, the VIP section and a jet-set area where attending celebrities will be.

Furne One is known as Katy Perry’s go-to fashion designer for her elaborate performance costumes, and he works extensively with Heidi Klum on “Germany’s Next Top Model.” So it comes as no surprise that he invited the two as his guests. Cindy Crawford, Carol Alt and Christie Turlington have also been invited to attend.

“If everything goes well, and people accept invitations that have been asked, we could potentially have four of the original super models in the same room,” Woehler says.

Tickets begin at $150, and proceeds benefit the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association.

The event takes place on October 26 from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. at a private hanger in the Scottsdale Aircenter.

“I want people to walk out of there thinking they’ve had one of the best nights in their life,” she says.

For more information about Noir Partie Trois: Espionage en Couture, visit

Espionage En Couture
Private Hangar in Scottsdale Aircenter
15290 N. 78th Way, Scottsdale
Friday, October 26, 2012
7 p.m. – 12 a.m.

Photos: Zone Athletic Performance

Zone Athletic Performance Helps Prepare Youths For College Sports

Zone Athletic Performance, a Scottsdale professional athletic training company, is gearing its program toward middle school and high school students who aspire to be collegiate or professional athletes.

The recently launched Sports Performance Academy trains youth athletes in technique, nutrition, exercise and conditioning.

Zone Athletic Performance“The same guys who are coaching our pro athletes are also going to be coaching the youth sports academy,” says Garrett Shinoskie,director of athletic performance of Zone Athletic Performance.

Shinoskie says the academy isn’t a typical after-school program where parents can drop off their kids to be babysat. It is designed for people who are attempting to play sports for a college team.

“They’re going to be going through more of a progressive style of training,” he says. “Instead of coming in and doing the Zone Athletic Performancesame thing over and over, they’re being coached from the base foundation all the way up to advanced techniques.”

According to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), in the 2011-2012 school year, student participation in high school sports increased for the 23rd consecutive year. However, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), only two percent of high school athletes will play on college teams.

The youth academy is a three-month program designed to take up an athlete’s off season, focusing on something new each month to build upon the previously established foundation.

Athletes will be coached through fundamental strength training exercises, top-speed running mechanics, multi-directional agility drills, and dynamic joint stabilization techniques.

But the academy doesn’t focus entirely on sports performance, the program also helps participants develop character.

“One of the things we pride ourselves on, as far as being different, is providing proper role models for the young guys,” Shinoksie says. “Being able to talk with them about the experiences that we’ve heard from our pro guys and coach them in the way they should conduct themselves.”

Shinoksie estimates 75 percent of athletes who go through the training end up playing in divisional college sports.

For more information about Zone Athletic Performance, visit


Apache Lake Music Festival

Apache Lake Music Festival To Showcase More Than 60 Arizona Bands

This October, the Apache Lake Resort and Marina will be home to more than 60 Arizona bands at the third annual Apache Lake Music Festival.

The festival takes place Oct. 11-13 and offers a family-friendly weekend of concerts, camping and dance parties.

Apache Lake Music Festival“It’s a music festival to create more of a great music culture here in Arizona, centered around Arizona artists,” says Matty Steinkamp, Apache Lake Music Festival’s sponsor and marketing director. “It’s all about the bands, and it’s all about the music. But more importantly, it’s all about Arizona bands and Arizona music.”

The event is expected to see upwards of 5,000 attendees, triple 2011’s attendance of 1,500.Apache Lake Music Festival

Headlining performers include Dry River Yacht Club, Banana Gun, Mergence, C-Posse, Danger Paul, Decker and Future Loves Past.

The Apache Lake Resort is already sold out of rooms, as are three of the surrounding campsites, Steinkamp says.

Apache Lake Music Festival“We definitely have a much, much bigger push this year than we ever have,” Steinkamp adds.

More than 60 local bands will play on two different stages, one outdoor and one indoor, throughout the three-day weekend. In addition, an outdoor acoustic stage featuring another 30 bands is still trying to be secured.

“There’s a big, big outdoor stage right outside between the resort and the lake, and the backdrop is essentially the sunset of Apache Canyon Lake,” Steinkamp says.

The past two festivals have predominately had an Americana theme, showcasing rock bands; but this year, the event is catering towards a larger audience. Steinkamp says the event will have more of a Coachella vibe, with extensive late-night dance parties featuring the DJ duo Beat Mass.

“This year we’ve included more of some dance groups [and] electronic groups,” Steinkamp says. “We’ve got some DJs coming out that will be doing a bit more of a light-show dance party.”

Each band will have about 45 minute to perform, with headliners having closer to an hour. Concerts will begin around 11 a.m. and run until 2 a.m.

The festival began in 2010 by Brannon Kleinlein in order to promote Arizona-based artists in a larger setting.

“Most of the other music festivals just draw on really big national acts, and local artists really never get the chance to be featured on a big stage,” Steinkamp says.

Weekend tickets cost $40 and are available at

For more information about Apache Lake Music Festival and the performing artists, visit


If You Go: Apache Lake Music Festival

October 11-13, 2012
20909 E. Apache Trail, #6,
Tortilla Flat, AZ 85119


Top 10 Foods For Any Runner's Diet

Top 10 Foods For Any Runner's Diet

Taking in proper types and amounts of food is paramount to any athlete’s success, especially cardio-intensive exercise, like running. However, there is a lot more to the process than simply avoiding gorging on empty-calorie meals.

“I recommend a balanced diet complete with quality carbs, lean protein and healthy fats for runners,” says Brooke Schohl, a sports nutritionist and owner of the triathlon preparedness store Destination Kona.

Schohl recommends trying to eat clean, by avoiding processed, preservative-filled foods, and being aware of ingredients when dining out.

Here are her top 10 suggested foods paramount for any runner’s diet:

1. Bananas

Bananas are an easy-to-carry and easy-to-eat food that contain quick-digesting carbs and potassium, which helps to replenish glycogen stores as well as potassium lost through sweat.

2. Cooked steel cut oats

Cooked steel cut oats have lower sugar quantities than flavored oats, and are less processed than instant or rolled oats. They are also high in soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol, increase satiety and improve gastro-intestinal function. Schohl recommends adding fruit, walnuts and a touch of brown sugar to steel oats to make a quality pre-training or pre-race meal.

3. Spinach

Spinach is packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin E and beta-carotene, and it helps boost immune function.

4.Whole grains

“Runners need to consume adequate carbohydrates in order to replenish storage glycogen stores and keep energy levels up,” Schohl says. “Whole grains, such as whole-wheat pasta and bread, quinoa, and brown rice, are great options.”

5. Eggs

“Quality sources of protein are vital in a runner’s diet in order to replace protein breakdown that is initiated by exercise,” Schohl says, “and eggs contain all of the essential amino acids.”

6. Hummus

Hummus is full of protein, fiber, Vitamin B6, manganese, zinc, magnesium, copper and iron. Pair it alongside multi-grain crackers or carrot sticks.

7. Berries

Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries are all antioxidant-rich fruits that have the added digestive benefit of fiber.

8. Plain Greek yogurt

“In addition to beneficial probiotic properties, Greek yogurt is two times as high in protein as regular yogurt,” Schohl says.

9. Nuts

Although nuts are high in calories and fat, in proper servings they serve as a great source of protein, fiber and vitamins. “Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help combat inflammation incurred during running,” Schohl says.

10. Mozzarella cheese

Mozzarella cheese has less calories and fat than most other varieties and can be used in numerous ways. Schohl recommends incorporating it in foods from a healthy pizza with a whole-grain crust, low sodium tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and a variety of herbs, to a caprese salad by using sliced mozzarella, lycopene-rich tomatoes and fresh basil.

For more information about a runner’s diet and/or preparing for a triathlon, visit

Hunkapi Provides Horse Therapy for Mentally, Physically Disabled

Hunkapi Provides Horse Therapy For Mentally, Physically Disabled

Rocky’s long tongue flaps out from his toothless mouth as he trots around a child, whose goal is to “go catch a horse.” But this isn’t merely a game of tag; it’s a therapy session — for children with autism.

Rocky, a sorrel, 31-year-old quarter horse, is one of six at Scottsdale’s Hunkapi program, a therapeutic, nonprofit organization that uses horses to help habilitate physically and mentally disabled people.

In consequence of a horse’s highly receptive nature, the animal’s body language allows Hunkapi therapists to observe a person’s interactions on an intimate level, all while teaching them how to ride, take care of and relate to a horse.

“We’re watching how people approach problems,” says Hunkapi Executive Director Terra Schaad. Therapists look at how a person solves problems, their energy and creativity level and how much anxiety they can handle.

Because horses largely communicate through body language and mirror the emotions of others, Hunkapi staff is able to observe and interpret the horse’s interaction with clients.

“We feed that information back to the client, saying, ‘this is what we’re noticing the horse doing; tell me where this is also showing up in your life,’ ” Schaad says.

To start, every patient must “go catch a horse.”

In the exercise, Schaad releases a horse into an arena to run around freely, and then the client must catch the animal without any instructions.

She says people are often not completely comfortable with horses, and that causes their innate qualities to emerge.

“It gives our therapists an edge because there is a relationship being built where we don’t have to actually see what’s happening or pry because the horse is already telling us what’s happening, and the client doesn’t feel we’re being as invasive,” Schaad says. “It’s a very tangible way to see behaviors that are not working for them anymore, and we can quickly create new behaviors that create a different outcome.”

Hunkapi ProgramOne reason a horse is an efficient therapeutic tool for autistic individuals is their ability to relate to the animal through similar frontal lobe functionality.

Many of Hunkapi’s autistic clients have sensory integration dysfunction, which can increase sensitivity to visual, tactile or auditory stimulants past what is deemed as normal functionality.

“They have this ability to read energetically the horse and create a bond that is a lot of time a lot more intense, a lot more real and a lot more accurate than even an abled-body person,” Schaad says.

The weekly therapeutic process typically begins privately, and then transitions into a group level to increase social skills.

To the extent a child or individual is physically and emotionally able, Hunkapi includes them in all aspects of a horse’s care — from the grooming process, learning to brush and clean their horse, to teaching how to lead a horse and be safe on the ground around them.

Schaad says physically disabled participants find working with horses a fun and interactive way to strengthen weak muscles, and to improve balance and flexibility.

Some patients initially struggle with overcoming fear about a horse’s sheer size and negative assumptions of biting, but after 15 or 20 minutes, the fear dissipates and the person is riding.

Hunkapi also offers team building exercises, where horses are released into an arena, and the group tries to catch the horses under a given set of parameters, which can take up to an hour.

Schaad has found that, similar to the individual catching exercise, the horses mirror how the humans behaves. If the group is bickering among each other, horses may not be cooperative and will keep their distance.

“No matter how much they’re able to keep it together in an environment that is comfortable and safe to them, such as their work environment, when they’re put into an environment that’s foreign … a lot of time negative behaviors or positive leadership qualities come out.”

Schaad says the scenario is ripe with uncertainty because most groups don’t know, intuitively, how to stop and catch the horse. She observes how autonomous or social the group wants to be, how ambiguous its creativity and problem solving is and the relationship being built with the horse.

The Hunkapi program plans to continue its growth through other therapeutic avenues that are transferable to horse interaction.

Over the next three months, a low-ropes course, yoga and archery will be added to the Hunkapi’s current services to accentuate the physical development required for horseback riding. The counseling and coaching program is also growing, with more emphasis being added to a leadership perspective.

For more information about Hunkapi’s services, visit

NiteFlite Gala 2011

NiteFlite Gala, Fundraiser To Benefit Local Children's Charities

The Scottsdale 20-30 Club is hosting its 23rd annual NiteFlite fundraiser on Oct. 12-13 and is expected to draw more than 2,800 attendees.

The semi-formal event takes place in two parts. Friday at 6 p.m. is a nine-hole nighttime golf tournament at Continental Golf Course, which has more than 300 registered players; and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. is a gala at Talking Stick Resort showcasing live music, a silent auction, a raffle and signature food dishes from restaurants throughout the Scottsdale area.

A percentage of the evening’s proceeds will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale (BGCGS), with the rest dispersed through an application process next May to local children’s charities, says Chris Karas, chairman of this year’s NiteFlite. Previous recipients have been Arizona Burns Foundation, Team Lifeline and Miracle League of Arizona.

In 2011, the NiteFlite golf tournament and gala raised nearly $340,000 for 16 charities, Karas says. The gala raised $60,602 for BGCGS, and 100 percent of the donations went to more than 100 youth development programs the club offers, says Andrea Omer, communications manager at the BGCGS.

NiteFlite offers attendees the chance to stroll down a red carpet mobbed with paparazzi, indulge in various beverages and cuisines, spend time in a cigar lounge, watch a vaudeville performance and listen to the local band, Elvis Before Noon.

A limited-entry after party keeps the night going with additional events and a performance by DJ Soleman from the Phunk Junkeez.

“It’s a memorable evening people won’t forget,” Karas says.

One of NiteFlite’s main attractions is various food dishes from restaurants around the Valley, including Sprinkles Cupcakes and Orange Sky at Talking Stick Resort.

“We’re happy to help, and think it’s a good thing to be participating with,” says Sprinkles Cupcake Scottsdale General Manager Kristie Shy. Although she doesn’t know what this year’s design will be, “we’ll try to have a fun little decoration,” Shy says. Last year, Sprinkles Cupcakes made $1600 donation.

NiteFlite raises donations throughout the night in multiple ways, one of which is through silent auctions.

“There are a variety of [auctions] from small packages to exotic luxury vacations,” Karas says. Items auctioned off last year included sports memorabilia, spa packages and local and international vacations.

Tickets for NiteFlite cost $150, and VIP packages, which give early access to the after party, are available for sponsorship purchases.

“NiteFlite has become somewhat of a household name throughout Scottsdale and Arizona,” Karas says. “We are very thankful for all the participants that contributed, and because of their experience and the good cause we’re raising for, they tend to come back year after year.”

To learn more about NiteFlite and Scottsdale 20-30 Club, visit For information about The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale, visit

Jacks Canyon Sunrise, Photos: Travis McKnight

Rock Climbing Excursions In Jacks Canyon

Vivacious beams of sunlight pierce through a layer of thin clouds listlessly drifting across the vivid blue sky, illuminating a seemingly hidden canyon nestled 30 miles north of Winslow, Ariz. Within its depths reside numerous chalk-stained, 70-foot limestone cliffs plastered with strategically placed stainless-steel bolts that establish nearly 300 sport climbing routes. This is Jacks Canyon, and it’s known as one of the best rock climbing places in Ariz. — for some, the entire country.

My latest trip to the canyon occurred with an Arizona State University organization, The Arizona Outdoors Club, on the weekend of June 16 — mere weeks prior to wildfires erupting throughout Arizona and tearing through the destination, scarring its lush green scenery with blackened trees and brush. My four-person group departed Phoenix at 7:15 p.m. and arrived at the dispersed campground shortly after 9 p.m. Getting to the camping area an hour before we did, the other six members of our entourage relaxed around a fireless fire pit, eating chili and joking about previous adventures. After preparing our tents and socializing for an hour, everyone departs to their respective areas and retires for the evening. I would have, too — if it wasn’t for the rambunctious wind and a very vocal owl.

From my previous trip to Jacks, I knew the nightly wind buffets across the canyon’s rim and vowed to bring ear plugs on this trip. Naturally, I forgot them. After listening to the wind slamming itself against my tent every five minutes or so, an owl, residing in the tree I established my base under, decided to join the vocal chorus of distant coyotes. Its hoots and hollers seemed to taunt me; whenever the wind settled enough for sleep’s dark embrace to approach, a loud screech would emit above my head, jolting my senses into an alert position. The night seemed to last forever, but eventually the sun peaked over the trees, and the excitement began.

Jacks Canyon, Mental Block Party

Jacks Canyon, Mental Block Party, Photo: Ethan Holshouser

People began stirring out of their slumbering state around 6 a.m. and stumbled into the bitter-cold morning air. After a breakfast of peanut butter and Cliff Bars, I grabbed my climbing gear, two pairs of climbing shoes, an ATC belay device and a harness, and descended into the shade infested canyon. Soon three others joined me, and we embarked upon the 10-minute hike to “Cracker Jack Cliffs.” Upon our arrival, we glanced up at the 40-foot wall in front of us. Three warm-ups greet our gaze, “Betty Cracker,” “You Don’t Know Jack” and “Step Right Up.” Each of these climbs is 5.9, as rated by the Yosemite Decimal System. (The higher the numerical rating, the harder the climb; after 5.9+, the letters “a” through “d” are assigned to the rating to establish slight differences in difficulty.) Putting on my harness and grabbing eight quickdraws (safety slings with carabiners on both ends), I tied myself into the rope with a figure-eight-knot, checked with my belayer and began the morning’s first ascent.

The climb went smoothly, although I could feel the lack of sleep already taking its toll. I belayed the other climbers and begin to study my next conquest, a 50-foot 5.11a named “Mental Block Party.” The sun illuminated the wall 20 yards to my left, but this route is draped in shade, and the rock is bitter cold. Deciding upon the path I anticipated taking up the cliff’s vertical face, I checked my equipment, made sure I’m on belay and began.

My hands felt frozen, but right at home in a sharp, two-finger pocket and small crimped starting holds. Finding a dime-sized toe hold, I pushed myself off the ground. After two more moves, I’m about eight feet off the ground and at my first bolt. Unclipping a quickdraw from my harness’s gear loop, I slid one of the carabiners through the bolt, listened for the satisfying click, and attached the remaining carabiner to the rope. My left hand resided comfortably inside a large, three-inch pocket, and I dipped my right hand behind my back, grabbed a fistful of magnesium chalk to eliminate sweat and improved my grip, repeated the process with my left hand and continued upwards. Eleven feet higher, I ran into my first snag. The hold I anticipated using while scoping out the route on the ground was terrible. Sighing, I searched for nearby holds but found nothing within reaching distance. My only hope was an extremely thin side-pull seven feet diagonally from my fully extended arms. Glancing down at my feet, I slid my toes into a quarter-sized pocket, and stood up for what I believed in.

Jacks Canyon, Crosstown Traffic

Jacks Canyon, Crosstown Traffic

My fingers barely brushed up against the target hold, but not enough to get an acceptable grip. Returning to my previous position, I chalked up and kept searching. My legs began to violently shake from fatigue, but I still didn’t see salvation. Upon reaching my stamina’s limit, I knew it was time to move now or face a 10-foot fall to my last bolt, losing my on-sight attempt. A tiny, one-finger pocket, the size of a popped popcorn kernel, is between the hold I needed to get to and where I stood. I stood up and stuck the tip of my pinky finger into the hold; using it to gain momentum, I strained against the cold limestone, let go of my current hold and finally reached the target. Four movements higher, and I reached feet holds large enough to rest on without holding onto the rock, giving my fingers a well-needed rest.

Feeling rejuvenated, I continued up the route, with only 20 feet to go. The route has reached its crux — three moves between crimp holds with smaller than an inch and virtually no feet. Preparing myself for the movements, I began the transition and weighted the first hold, then moved onto the second and finally the last. My forearms were pumped and tense from fatigue, and in consequence my grip weakened, but I made it. Five more moves, and the route was complete. Panting from tiredness, I clipped my final two quickdraws in to the anchors and lowered down the route. Victory is mine.

Worn out, I spend most of the day belaying and coaching others, doing a few easier climbs and falling at the anchors on another 5.11a, “Crosstown Traffic.” Despite the exhausting sleepless night, the trip turned out to be an enjoyable and successful adventure.

For more information about Jacks Canyon, visit