Sunday, November 27, 2016

Schnepf Farm and Hackberry Trail

Cycling with the snowbirds from Minnesota, we learn new routes to ride, meet nice people and stop for lunch. This day was a stop at Schnepf Farms.
 The Schnepf’s joined other farmers to begin clearing the brush for row crops. The farmers soon realized the sandy soil in this area was perfect for crops such as cotton, wheat and vegetables. In the late 60’s, Ray Schnepf began growing potatoes used for potato chips. They continued to diversify in the 70’s planting Queen Palms, Mexican fan palms and pine trees in a large field. Before long the Schnepf’s were farming over 5000 acres and shipping vegetables across the country. His favorite crop was candy corn. As visitors drove out to the small farming community they would often stop and ask if they could pick a few ears of corn and some peaches. It wasn’t long until Ray realized that selling corn and peaches for U-Pick was the way to go. And Schnepf Farms began to grow….

Today Schnepf Farms is enjoyed by over a quarter of a million people throughout the year. Visitors come to the farm for festivals, events, weddings, educational tours, pick your own vegetables, to pick peaches,  shop, foodie events  or just to enjoy the beautiful feeling of walking on a true family farm

There is much for a person to do while in Arizona with the Snowbirds arriving and ready to get out and go. We pulled on the hiking boots to head out for a hike with a group from our resort.
This was an easy hike with a stop at the Hackberry Spring as we rounded the hill.

Hackberry Springs Loop is just an extension of the Garden Valley Loop. The trailhead starts at the First Water Trailhead just past Lost Dutchman State Park 
This hike was rated as easy and 4 miles and a good one to get our hiking legs back.


It is amazing to me how easily the desert can change. On the other side of this mountain are jumping chollas and mesquites, and here are grasses growing in the wet soil amidst lush green shade trees.

Dave was our leader and chief picture taker.

Looking up, we could almost see where the rains during the monsoons would flow over the cliffs above.
First Water Ranch

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


We had to find a place to stay while our mini home was getting a new paint job and a few cracks filled. Juvaderm wasn't a fix for these fine lines. We headed west to Peoria to Cibola Resort and Spa. I didn't hit the spa but yoga in the courtyard was quite pleasant with the fountains in the background and clouds passing above.
We had stayed here 3 years ago according to Facebook and was a nice treat with a special that was more affordable than a hotel room and we had our own kitchen.

One evening we spent next to the pool in a hammock. The ropes were a little hard on the back of the heads but nice to rock and look at the stars.

We had missed geocaching because of the  heat so we headed out the find a cache that was 0.6 miles from our parking spot according to the GPS (as the crow flies).

That 0.6 turned into almost 2 miles before finding the cache. It was rather cleaver with a story about the mom that loved cooking and the cache went along with the theme. 

I don't like reaching in the rocks and voted that forego digging. Mike climbed until he heard the clink and lifted a rock, no snake, and found the treat.

I nice end to the day. The mesquite did get a bit stinky. Fortunately, the smoke was blowing away from our condo. Sorry, neighbors. 

We found a trail along the west side of the city than ran 26 miles thru Glendale to Tempe along different washes that made for a good morning ride. The next day, we headed into the wind to Lake Pleasant.

The paint on the front cap had faded pretty quickly after the first year. Premier had problems with a batch of paint they had used and many of the RVs had to be repainted. They were good enough to pay for the work even though the warranty had run out.

As much as we enjoyed staying in a lovely place with so much space, it is good to be back in our home with a good looking facelift. Everything is back in its place.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Riding with the Snowbirds

We enjoy cycling around Arizona in the fall and winter and the road to Usery Park is one of our favorites with just enough climbing, not a lot of traffic and a restroom before turning around.  Frequently, we find nice people at the visitor's center to visit with while refilling the trusty water bottles. A nice couple of snowbirds from Minnesota invited us to join a group that they ride with during the season. We had a date and time and showed up to meet some very nice, welcoming people.

Thursdays, Mesa sponsers a concert with a food truck and giveaways. We took a scenic 20 mile ride along some quiet back roads, had some lunch while listening to the tunes. Once the giveaways were done, we headed back into a pretty strong wind for 10 miles. Those were a bit tough towards the end of the 30 mile ride but we made it with a little drafting from our friends.

The Snowbirds have a nice website and plenty of routes. We plan to hookup with them again soon.

We have spent time in AZ the past few years and I won't be sharing a lot about our time here this time.
AZ has had record heat this fall. Now that it is cooling down, it was time for another hike along Saguaro Lake.

While walking, we heard eagles calling and followed the sound and found these two sitting just across the water. Later, There were two more joining them as they sailed across the lake. 

An easy walk along the shore.

Our "honey do" list is getting shorter as we prepare for the holidays and a ski trip in Colorado this winter. For now though, we are enjoying the week in Peoria in a beautiful condo as we get warranty work done on the trailer. We didn't realize how much we would forget to pack when we dropped off the trailer but I bet we will be fine without my flip flops.

Cuenca, Ecuador

An Expat Destination The morning after returning to Quito we boarded an hour-long flight to Cuenca. Driving up the winding roads would have ...