Monday, April 14, 2014

And We're Off

After loading and otherwise preparing the RV for departure for three days, this morning we waved good-bye to our winter home and headed off.  Our first stop was at the Frys gas station where, even with getting 40 cents off per gallon for the first 35 gallons, we spent $192.  Oh well, we can't worry about that.

We were on our way to the Cottonwood/Sedona area to join up with some WIN friends.  At about 140 miles, we felt we could handle it in one day.  But with some strong winds, our dislike of driving more than 100 miles in a day, and knowing we were passing Agua Fria National Monument which has easy and free boondocking, we stopped at 84 miles.  (Exit 256 off I 17, large parking area on east side of highway.)

We disconnected the car and drove east about 1/2 mile to the Badger Springs trailhead.  I know that sounds lazy, but I was under the impression (mistaken, as it turns out) that it was a 2-mile hike to the confluence of the Badger Springs Wash and the Agua Fria River.  We felt four miles was just right.

The hike was along the Badger Springs Wash.

We wondered if this was the actual spring.
(More like a drip.)

Long before we were expecting it, we came to the Agua Fria.  Looking at the map later, we figured it was only about 3/4 of a mile.

Supposedly you can continue along the river, but it would involve some rock scrambling.

But the real attraction at this point is the group of petroglyphs easily seen on the rock walls.

I'll zoom in for a better look.

Since I'm not into rock scrambling, we turned around at this point.  On our way back, Ron found this 'heart' rock.  Can you see it?

Twice we were surrounded by flocks of tiny blue butterflies/moths.  They were hard to capture, but through the magic of cropping, maybe somebody can identify them.

I always enjoy the flowers like these Desert Mallow.

And these just looked like a bouquet.  I'm guessing they are Desert Verbena.

It was a very pleasant walk and a precursor to many more to come.

For those of you who asked, we do have a rough plan for our time on the road.  We'll be making our way to the Denver area from where, on June 13th, we'll fly to Alaska.  We have an 11-day tour/cruise booked which will end in Vancouver, BC.  From there, we fly back to Denver and continue east.  Ron has an urge to revisit his roots in Wisconsin.  Once again, we'll return to Mesa in early November.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Farmer Ron

We're getting ready to head out for our annual RV travels, but first I have to brag a little about our cute little garden.  Ron planted mixed lettuce which we have been enjoying for months.  I'm really going to miss eating lettuce right out of our own garden.  It's one thing we consume that I know has no additives that will hurt us.

And today he dug up the bumper crop of carrots that he grew.  Wow!  Anybody have any carrot recipes?

I planted one tomato plant.  It's a special breed of snapdragon tomato.  Here Ron shows off our first tomato on March 29th.

Of course, now that they're really starting to ripen, we're leaving.  I understand that the green ones will ripen if I put them in a paper bag with a green banana.  Worth a try.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Around the House

I know it's been a long time since I blogged.  We haven't been doing anything too exciting.  We decided this was the winter to paint the outside of the house.  It looked fine, but I guess the time to paint is before it really needs it.  I blame it on our neighbor who shamed me into it.

Here's our little house all spruced up.

Here's the only 'before' picture I could find.  As you can see, not much changed.  (And before you ask, the tree is still there - it's just a different angle.)

Ron also took all the slats off the gates and we painted them.

They looked much better when we finished.

We even managed to add a decorative touch to the plants.

Ron has kept himself busy with multiple projects, but I know our RVing friends will get a kick out of this one. Years ago, he decided the bathroom fan/vent needed improvement.  The, to my mind, perfectly good process was:  reach up, crank open the vent, and flip on the switch to turn on the fan.  At that time, he moved the switch down to next to the sink.  But you still had to reach up to open the vent.  Recently he decided to change that.

He ran even more wires . . .

Added a small motor to the manual cranking mechanism.

And installed a rocker switch next to the previously moved fan switch.

Now we hold the rocker switch to open the vent cover, then turn on the fan, all without having to reach overhead.

I can hear all of you saying just what I said, "But, Ron, you can buy a fan/vent with a remote at any RV supply store."  I know this and he knows this, but it keeps him off the streets.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fun with Jim

Every winter Ron's son Jim takes time out of his busy life and pays us a visit.  He is truly the best guest - he is happy to do anything we suggest.  One of Jim's goals was to get out in our beautiful Arizona weather and do some hiking.  I suggested we take the Hieroglyphic Trail in the Superstition Wilderness.

One advantage to hiking in the desert is the views.  There are no trees to get in the way.

The brittlebush is coming into bloom.

After a little more than a mile along the trail is an area that just begs to be explored.

We found lots of petroglyphs, some old, some new.  This appeared to be the most authentic grouping.

Looking up, we wondered about the possibility of an earthquake.

This silvery cholla cactus caught my eye.

The guys spotted these ancient grinding holes or monteros.

On our way back down, I got a shot of father and son.

Another day we headed out to a Peach Blossom Festival that Ron found advertised in the local paper.  Hummm, this isn't what I was picturing.

Ah, here they are.

But I think the best part was the little train.  Just look at this cute Union Pacific engine.

For our second hike we drove to the top of South Mountain.  The trail is a bit more rolling than I remembered and about a five mile round trip through picturesque Hidden Valley.  There's a famous spot named Fat Man Pass.  I forgot my camera (can you believe it?), but Jim snapped a picture with his phone of Ron maneuvering through the aptly-named pass.

Now here's the odd part.  I swore the spot was tighter than when we were there before, so I dug out my picture from five years ago.  What do you think?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Rare Opportunity

Along with fellow bloggers and friends John and Carol and WIN friend Patricia, we took advantage of a very rare opportunity recently.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints broke ground in November 2010 for a new temple in Gilbert, Arizona.  This 85,000 square foot Gilbert Temple, the largest to be built in 17 years, will be dedicated on March 2nd and the public was invited to tour it beforehand.  As I'm sure you're aware, only Mormons in good standing are allowed inside Temple walls once dedicated, so we were excited to see it.

The first fact that surprised me was that this is only the 142nd operating temple of the Church worldwide.  Since they are worldwide, I assumed there would be more.

No photography was allowed on the tour, but since they gave us a handout with pictures, I will share them with you, beginning with the Entry.

I think all of us were amazed by the Baptistry.  Those twelve oxen are life-sized.

This was one of the instruction rooms.

The Celestial Room was just breathtaking.
I loved the beautiful art glass windows.

As they led us through gorgeous room after room, up and down stairs, I was just confused.  Beautiful as it was, it was nothing like I expected.  Where was the giant nave with a choir loft?  There was a small chapel, but nothing that would hold hundreds of people.  Well, this just shows my obvious ignorance of the Mormon religion.  The Temple is not used for Sunday services, but for sacred ordinances like baptism and eternal marriage.  There were seven Sealing rooms, where a bride and groom are married not only for this life but also for eternity.  For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the temple is the most sacred place on earth.  It is a spiritual center where each Mormon can find peace and a special closeness to God.

For me, it was really an interesting glimpse into the unknown.

I'll leave you with a shot of the angel Moroni, atop the 195 foot spire.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Better

Our house is located in an over-55 community.  The house next door is owned by a woman who is not quite 55 and legally cannot live here.  Several times a year, she visits her house for a couple of weeks.  I know that seems funny, but it works for her and she isn't ready to move here yet anyway.  Micki's a bundle of energy and one day suggested that she and I go for a hike.  Thankfully, she let me pick the hike.

At the north end of Meridian Road is a parking lot that fills up early with hikers who take the 7.5 mile loop around Pass Mountain.  Micki and I arrived late enough that some of those hikers were already back and gone, therefore we had no problem parking.  We hiked part of the Pass Mountain trail up to another of those famous saddles with the great views.  Unlike my last hike, this one was about 4 miles round trip and 650 feet elevation gain.  Much better!

From the parking lot, there's a short (about .3 mile) connector trail to Pass Mountain trail.  Just past the wash is the main trail where we turned north.

We were amazed by all the saguaro cactus in the area.  

This trail was just right for a pleasant day hike.  In a couple of days, Micki would be heading back to the cold Midwest.  I think she really enjoyed it too.

Here's the view from our turn around point at the saddle.  It was prettier than the picture shows.

Just another perfect day here in sunny Arizona.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fremont Saddle

For our first hike of the new year, we joined up with John and Carol to hike the Peralta Trail as far as Fremont Saddle.  I'll admit this hike didn't seem as hard the last time Ron and I did it.

Even the view from the parking lot is pretty spectacular.

The trail gains 1400 feet in two miles.  I always say 1000 feet in one mile is really steep, so I thought this wouldn't be too terrible.  (I was wrong.)

I'm blaming it on all the rocks we had to climb over because it can't be that I'm older.  I like how the saguaro is pointing the way for Ron in this picture.

This couple carried their twins all the way up.

There was a lot of pretty scenery along the way, which we admired during our frequent rest stops.

John noticed that this rock formation looks like several slices of bread.  I had to agree.

I think we're getting close to the top.

We made it to the saddle with an attrition rate of only 25%.  Here Carol, John, and I are posing in front of Weaver's Needle.  According to legend, the Needle's shadow indicates the location of the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine.  We didn't search for it.

But I can't leave Ron out and dug up this picture of him from our previous hike in 2010.

Then all we had to do was climb all the way back down where we found Ron well rested in the car.