This year, I was guided to make a Thanksgiving Day pilgrimage hike back on “my mountain” – Camelback.  And what an experience it was!

This little hump in the Arizona desert is the mountain with whose red rocks I fell in love many decades ago. It is the mountain in whose shadows I had raised my family. It is the mountain on which I had left more blood than on any other in the world (and I have hiked many much bigger ones).

Actually, Camelback would look like a mere pebble compared to some of the giants I had climbed in the Andes and the Alps. Or even in Hawaii. But Camelback has always been MY little pebble. And as close to my heart and soul’s home as any mountain on this planet.

So I teared up when I saw “my mountain” again this afternoon (and again now while writing this).

Amazingly, at the time I was driving my El Jeepo to it, the Arizona classical FM station was playing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto – my favorite of his many pieces. So I also included my own recording of it as background music to this video:

Thanksgiving 2016: My Camelback Homecoming – a film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – Nov 24, 2016 [1:53 mins]

Direct link to Youtube:

When I started climbing it, I seem to know every rock I was stepping on. The trail has been more worn out rutted than when I was there last. Guess it’s what happens when a mountain lies in the middle of two large metropolis – Phoenix and Scottsdale.

I also remembered how the mountain responded to me when I did my farewell hike in March 2009, before moving to Hawaii. For the first time ever, it showed me its heart – literally. I had done hundreds of hikes and spent thousands of hours on this mountain, but Camelback never flashed its heart to me on March 11, 2009 (see

And I could not find it today, either. It was a one-time farewell… the right rock on the right date at the right time with the right sunlight bathing it.

Camelback was also home to my first shamanic Huaca – sacred place, an altar – where I did my first ceremony after being ordained an Inca shaman by the Andean Apus (mountain spirits).

Since Camelback lies in the middle of a large city, there is a strict code about NO FIRES on it. Yet I knew even that far back, that if I did what my spirit guides wanted, I would be protected. And so I was. I finished the fire ceremony and put out the fire afterward without being bother by anyone.

Here’s the place where it all happened. I shot the video from this spot, too:

Happy Thanksgiving!

 * * *

UPDATE DEC 7, 2016


This afternoon, Elizabeth and I went on our farewell hike in Pinnacle Peak in North Scottsdale. I return to Maui on Friday. Elizabeth is staying in Arizona until my Maui property sells. Then she will rejoin me there to help pack and sell our belongings.

It was a mostly cloudy and fairly cool day today. So there have not been many hikers out on an otherwise busy trail. Which was just great. It gave us a chance for a quiet enjoyment of the beautiful desert.


Before the hike, Elizabeth had baked for me a special Saint Nicholas Day “kolach.” I will take it with me to Maui for the celebration of the Djurdjevic family patron saint “slava” on Dec 19.

The cross with the for “c” letters in each corner is part of the Serbian coat of arms. The four “c” letters – which are actually pronounced as “s” in the Cyrillic alphabet – stand for “samo sloga Srbina spasava” (only unity saves the Serb).

The cross and the crest are traditionally baked into the cake, just as Elizabeth did today. She actually made an extra loaf, too. So we could have a taste here. And it was delicious! 🙂

 * * *


This evening, I decided to make my nightly walk around my neighborhood about Christmas lights. I know when I get back to Maui I won’t be seeing any in my Hawaiian neighborhood.  It’s not that my neighbors there don’t celebrate Christmas. They are just not into Christmas lights.

So here are some photos I brought home from my walk, including one very brief video clip:


 * * *

UPDATE DEC 8, 2016


So you think Arizona is all desert and cacti and stones and snakes?

Well, you may change your mind after you look at these pictures I took this afternoon during my farewell to Arizona drive to Saguaro Lake.

It was a beautiful afternoon with temperatures nudging 70F. And because it is an off season for boating and camping the lake was quite still and tranquil. It was basically the ducks and me until another car arrived just as I was getting ready to leave.

So it was a great way and place to say goodbye to my home state. (For now… I plan to be back in spring time).



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