"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt" US Forest Sevice

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Leaving Tucson's wildflowers

We got up early to take the trailer to All's RV repair shop. Their mobile RV service would have come to us but mentioned it could get pretty expensive if we needed replacement parts and a return trip. The hub was overheating because the brake needed an adjustment. They made those adjustments, checked the other wheels and we were out by 1pm. The mechanic asked how Mike knew there was a problem since we had just had the brakes and bearings serviced in Mesa before leaving. He is always checking to make sure things are in working order. At times, he will be sitting and suddenly say "What is that  noise?" and march around looking for the change in a sound. I think he is kind of weird but appreciate that strangeness about him. Usually, people end up in the shop when their RV starts smoking from overheating and the expensive damage has been done.  We were thankful for $106 bill and how good they treated us.
An announcement must have been made that the wildflowers along the Sutherland Trail in Catalina State Park were at their peak . As we were returning from our early morning hike, s herd people were heading up to see them.

I like getting out early to beat the heat and people then are back in time for brunch in a shady spot. But I bet when it cools down, sleeping in will be good too.

We saw these strange small holes in the ground on the trail with bees going in and out in several places. It turns out that 70% of bees in the US live underground. A few times while hiking we would walk into a small swarm of bees and then see these holes.

Leaving Catalina a day early to avoid the drive back north after the repairs, we had to find a place to stay until our next stop. March is high season for RVs in Arizona and can be expensive for a night if you can find a place. We checked out the Passport America near Tucson called Justin's Diamond J RV Park.  It turned out to be quite nice at $20 a night. We could see ourselves returning in the future to check out the trails directly from the RV park into the Tucson Mountain Park.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Back on the Road!!!

I let my manager at the hospital know that it was time for us to leave and she put me into inactive status. I can return in 6 months and still have a job. What a great job to be able to work 4 shifts a month and have the bonus of plenty of time off. I guess I wasn't ready for total retirement yet.
During the two hour drive to Catalina State Park, Mike noticed one of the trailer hubs was hotter than the others. He made an appointment to have it looked at before we leave Tucson on Monday. It is nice to have someone that pays attention to such things. He treats the trailer similar to a helicopter pilot and his chopper with his walk arounds before and during our trips.
This noisy cardinal caught our attention on our early morning hike to Romero Pools.

He and his friends were warming themselves in the sun.
This hike turned out more difficult than in the past. It has plenty of elevation gain with lots of obstacles. But even with a  7 am start and temps of 47 degrees, it heated up to a record heat wave (92 deg)  20 degrees hotter than usual.

Much of the climb, we were in the shade as the sun was rising. But once we started down to the pools, it was just hot.

We used our hats to pour the water over our heads to cool down but were once again dry in a mile.

We have visited this park several times but were happy to get in on another stay due to cancellations. We didn't have much planned since we weren't sure when we would be leaving Mesa. 

The brittlebush was out in full bloom and bees busy at work.
Each morning, we were up early for a bike ride or hike up the Canyon Trail which runs along the creek. This was a new trail for us. I had my gloves on the first couple of miles due to a morning temp of 47 degrees. Once the sun was over the mountains, we started removing things for the walk back down.
At night it was interesting looking for scorpions with our black light. This makes me rethink the whole sitting outside in my flip flops reading in the evenings as the sun goes down...

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The desert is starting to bloom HA CHOO!

Before we started spending time in Arizona a few years ago, I never understood why anyone would want to live in such a place.  Now we find ourselves repeatedly drawn for different reasons. The main draw for us is the hiking and mountain biking in such a different environment of flora and fauna.
This year we ended up staying longer than in previous years. But now we have the go ahead. On our anniversary, Mike had a follow up appointment to find out the status of some biopsies. What a great gift, everything was good.
This winter has brought much more rain and the cactus are starting to bloom.

Over time, we have continued  the process of shedding our things. Our Jeep Liberty was an like an old friend that I liked to drive, a great vehicle for outings in the mountains and getting in tight places. Last year we brought it to Mesa and stored it for our return this winter. The hot summers are pretty hard on vehicles and we knew it was time for it to find a new home. I felt sad when we signed over the papers to the new owner but knew it was the right thing to do. It also feels good to let one more thing go.

 We started geocaching last year. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. There are also trackables,  a sort of physical geocaching "game piece.  They are moved from cache to cache by the geocachers depending on what the goal might be.
 1,400 CATCH-M trackables were released to geocachers in the USA to place inside geocaches. We received one and have released it in a nearby cache. It will be interesting to see where it will travel.
With the all clear from the doctor, it was time to make some plans. We were fortunate to get reservations for Catalina State Park due to cancellations and will stay here a few more days before starting our cross country journey. Got the "Hitch Itch" and sneeze (all of that pollen).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Holding pattern

It feels like we are on the runway waiting for our plane to take off but they won't give us the go ahead. Over the next week, we should know if we are a go or not. Mike is so much better after his accident and just waiting to get the MD all clear so we can be "on the road again".
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
We have nothing to complain about. The weather has been great and people very nice. We have even gotten back out on the mountain bikes, worked on our carnitas recipe and made reservations for this spring. But when the itch hits, it can drive a person crazy.
Trail to Wind Cave

Wind Cave with many bee hives inside the cracks of the cave

Yep, we started clear down there

The desert is greener than we have ever seen it due to the large amount of rain this year. We hear the rattlesnakes are waking up but haven't seen any as we hike or cycle.
We enjoy Gilbert

Great BBQ with a walkup counter

On a rainy weekend, we stopped at the Mesa Market

Don't have to do that too many times

Mesa, Arizona - Grave of Ernesto Miranda
Ernesto A. Miranda was a career criminal. In 1963 he was arrested and convicted for armed robbery and the kidnap/rape of an 18-year-old girl without being advised of his right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning. His attorneys appealed his conviction, which led to the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that all suspects at the time of their arrests must be read their "Miranda" rights. His conviction was overturned, he was released, and promptly rearrested and "Mirandized." He served 11 years before being paroled. On January 31, 1976, he was stabbed to death in a bar fight

This was taken from Roadside America. A great place to find unusual sites to see when we get there.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

-3 degrees in Beaver Creek

Having good warm winter gear is greatly appreciated when it is this cold. We have boot heaters but for some reason my right toes were freezing. I checked to see what the problem was and turned out to be user error. I only turned on the left one.
 I like to go to Beaver Creek once when we are skiing in Vail. It seems like a good idea to check out nearby resorts. Why would we want to get ready in a nice warm condo and have the shuttle drive us to the gondola here in Vail? After dragging our equipment down to the truck and drive to Avon, we have to get our ski boots on in the parking lot, not an easy task on the ice. Then we walk to the bus stop and ride over to the lift. After an hour we are on the slopes but a rest is required before starting down the mountain.
Mike agrees with this sign.

Arrowhead and Bachelor's Gulch are at a lower elevation and have aspen trees instead of the pines. We had been staying on the intermediate runs because Mike's leg was not getting well as quickly as we hoped. He hit a ripple in the run, hurting his leg more and had to call it a day. Maybe if we had taken some time off to let him heal, it might be ok by now.
We hadn't felt the cold very much until we got on the lift that takes us to the top of Beaver Creek. The higher above the trees we got, the more we felt wind and cold on our faces. I guess we should have put our facemasks on before getting on the lift.


At the end of this day, he was ready to accept that he was hurt worse than he had realized.

I was glad when Mike finally decided it was time to call it a season and head back to Arizona instead of finishing our time here. No sense getting hurt worse and not able to ride bikes when we get back to the warmer temps.
The instructor kept the kids is line by having each one hold on to the rope.

When we get on the lifts, one of the first questions is "Where are you from?". We met people from all over the world including Argentina, Milan, Russia, Australia and Germany to name a few. The next question is "Where is a good place to eat that doesn't cost an arm and leg?" We had a few suggestions. But there aren't as many as a few years ago when the economy wasn't doing so well.

We had some nice morning walks to Betty Ford Park.

I bet getting to this 1922 school house was tough in the winter.

A first gondola from the 1960s.

We got back to AZ earlier than expected to 70 degree temps. AHHH!
Now to start planning our trip east this spring and summer to see Mike's grandkids, his class reunion and our time working at Camp Timanous in Maine.