It began sometime in February 2017 when my friend, Leslie, told me about this secret place where she sometimes took her dogs.
Leslie and I had been exercising our dogs in the nearby desert. Shown is a photo of Leslie and her three dogs. Cargo and Cooper are the Irish Setters, and Gracie is the other dog. Bernie and Chris are in the foreground.
She said this secret place was about fifteen miles away, out Grand Avenue past Loop 303. I was semi-interested because the desert was only five miles from my house. I exercise Bernie and Chris twice a day. My current round-trip time was about a twenty-minute drive and used less than a gallon of fuel. However, a round trip of fifteen miles used more than a gallon of fuel. Also, the total time for exercise would be about an hour. That was for a single exercise period. Twice a day would cost too much in both money and time.
However, it was February, and the rattlesnakes were still sleeping. Already the coyotes have been active. We have seen three of them looking us over during the last couple of weeks. Between the coyote presence and knowing Spring would bring rattlesnakes, I wanted to find another place to exercise Bernie and Chris.
About six o’clock the following morning we headed out on our grand adventure. Leslie wasn’t kidding about the distance. It was at least ten miles before I drove under the 303 Interloop bridge and still had another mile to travel on Grand Avenue, now called Route 60. Leslie said the entrance to the development had a church and one small sub-division.
We leisurely drove through the small developed community of eight streets with less than two dozen very nice homes on landscaped lots. Exiting the established section, I searched for the undeveloped areas.
I discovered it covered more than five miles. Of that, more than ninety percent was undeveloped. For the next half hour, I wandered through more than a dozen designated sections. Some were entirely undeveloped raw land. Other areas had fully constructed six foot, decorated concrete walls. The lots were level graded. The asphalt streets were paved and had cement sidewalks. Streetlights and street signs welcomed us.
A community mailbox was ready to accept mail.
This place was perfect. Although some construction was nearby, it could be a year before this section would be disturbed. The walls would contain Bernie and Chris. No coyotes or rattlesnakes would be here. Best of all, the dogs could be unleashed to run and play without fear of people chasing us off.
Yes, this place was almost perfect. However, it meant a lot more travel time and fuel cost. I’d look for a closer place. Once I found it, perhaps I could alternate it with this one.
Thus, in late February 2017, we made the twice daily long trek to this wonderful exercise area. The fuel budget was adjusted and daily habits modified to account for the longer times involved in their exercise routine. I continued the search for a place closer to home.
In April, while driving to have my oil changed, I noticed two vacant lots on the north side of Bell Road. There was too much traffic on Bell Road. One vacant lot was not directly adjacent to Bell Road. The lot was surrounded by surface streets. However, because it was in a commercial neighborhood, it was a potential place for Bernie and Chris to exercise.
It would work ─ if we came before and after business hours. We did. For about five months it became our alternate exercise site. Because this smaller area was nearer to my home, my fuel bill was much less, and the exercise activity also took less time.
It didn’t take long before a construction crew appeared. A ninety-bed hospital would soon occupy the entire block. For several months, we were still able to use the area. It required exercising in one street and also using a portion of the Bell Road vacant lot. My biggest fear was Bell Road traffic. I used my dog whistle and dog reminder collars until both dogs understood the vacant lot’s invisible outer boundary. The invisible boundary was about 100 feet from the future hospital’s street sidewalk.
As the Hospital construction progressed, additional vehicle activity made it difficult for Bernie and Chris to exercise. The earlier the sun rose, the earlier the workers arrived. It wouldn’t be very long before we needed to find another exercise place. Until we found a new area, the dogs still had the Grand Avenue housing development.
Once more the enclosed decorated walls became our daily exercise area. One day, while walking on the sidewalk I read the stamped date of 2007.
It was now eleven years from the time construction was halted. If original plans had continued, homes would have filled this sub-division. I wondered how many more months we had before construction touched this area.
Not long, as it turned out. On June 15, 2018, we arrived and found landscaping had started. Our last visit was more than a week ago, so it was a surprise. We could probably continue using this area for maybe a month. It was difficult to tell. New construction continued in the nearby subdivisions. In any event, for this exercise area, it was the beginning of the end.