Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Lake Havasu

A Christmas Getaway

It was a chilly 55 degrees when we arrived in Lake Havasu City. Add that to the fact that it was Christmas weekend and there were very few people out and about.
I had my camera on the wrong setting, hence the blur.

In 1962, London Bridge was falling down. Built in 1831, the bridge couldn't handle the ever-increasing flow of traffic across the Thames River. The British government decided to put the bridge up for sale, and Robert McCulloch, Founder of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and Chairman of McCulloch Oil Corporation, submitted the winning bid of $2,460,000.
The bridge was dismantled, and each stone was numbered. Everything was shipped 10,000 miles to Long Beach, California, and then trucked to Lake Havasu City. Reconstruction began on September 23, 1968, with a ceremony including the Lord Mayor of London, who laid the cornerstone.

A canal was dug separating the peninsula, creating an island for the bridge to go across.

We started the morning with hot coffee, tea and "The Christmas Story" before heading out on our bikes on Christmas morning once it warmed up to 50 degrees.

We rarely consider a landlocked, desert state such as Arizona for a lighthouse location, but it just so happens that Lake Havasu City is home to more lighthouses than any other city in the entire country. These scaled-down replicas are actual functioning navigational aids built to the specifications of famous lighthouses on East Coast, West Coast and Great Lakes. More than eighteen can be seen on the shores of the lake. Most can be hiked to while some are only accessible by boat. The lighthouses we visited were with our own little feet.

This massive collection of lighthouses was originally started for safety purposes. The Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club wanted to make the lake a safe place for night boating and fishing. They took pride in their development and chose to pay homage to the famous lighthouses in the U.S. by making smaller replica lighthouses. All lighthouses are fully-functional replicas of famous lighthouses make a boating experience even more beautiful and unique.

All of the lighthouses on the west side of Lake Havasu are replicas of famous lighthouses on the West Coast, while the east side consists of East Coast replicas. The lighthouses around the island are all replicas of lighthouses from the Great Lakes. As per the coast guard's navigational regulations, lighthouses on the west coast use a green beacon, while east coast lighthouses use a red beacon. Lighthouses with a flashing amber beacon signify safe harbor lights for emergency use only.

I loved the leg lamp on this sailboat as we took an evening walk along the canal pathway.

On Christmas Eve, we took a hike in Sara Park which is 4 miles south of our condo. We took a wrong trail as we entered the wash to the slot canyon going right instead of left. We didn't see any yellow trail markers for 3/4 mile and turned around. We had taken the wrong wash.

It was tough walking 5 miles in the sand. Minimal precipitation over the past year made the sand very loose. So we watched for parallel trails along the ridge and took them as much as we could.

It was further down using the rope than it looks. After lowering ourselves with the rope there was a ladder to climb down the rest of the way.I was hoping no one would feel ornery and move the rope before we returned. I am not sure I would have made it out even with Mike boosting my butt.

Sara Park has many single track trails that would be great for mountain biking.
 Lake Havasu Beach
It was a nice way to spend Christmas.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Adaptive Cyclists

So many places to ride!

One of the reasons we enjoy spending the winter in the desert is cycling. McDowell Regional park is a favorite for mountain biking. Just a 25 minute drive puts us on some sweet single track.
Beer bones Jones on the newly rebuilt shelter along the Pemberton Trail.
The Valley of the Sun has done a great job of adding multi use paths across the valley. We took this path from the Cubs Stadium in Mesa by Tempe Town Lake into Scottsdale.
There are different bike routes we like to take while here in Mesa. One we like goes to Usery
Regional Park which is a moderate 30 mile ride with climbing to the park. Many cyclists use the park as a rest stop for the restrooms, refilling the waterbottles or having a snack. We have met people from around the US and world when we would stop here. Last year, we met a couple from Minnnesota that invited us to ride with their snowbird group which we enjoyed very much.

This week, my right knee was hurting. I told Mike to go ahead and ride faster and further if he would like and meet me at the park. There were three cyclists on recumbent bikes at the stop. One lady asked Mike to help her get her foot unclipped from the pedal. Then Dan
walked over and handed us a postcard with his information. His speech was slow and his right arm and leg weak. I mentioned that there was an adaptive cycling program in Colorado Springs and he happens to be involved with (Hi to our friend Alan Severn who has been involved with
the adaptive program in Colorado Springs for quite sometime).
Dan and the other riders had strokes or other neurologic conditions that had been a huge insult in their lives. When I told them I was a nurse, they were happy to sit and share their stories and tribulations. Cycling has brought back so much to their lives. They emphasize abilities not disabilities and boy do they do that with their rides around town and across the US. I could go on and on explaining how they had to relearn so much including speaking and overcoming their isolation
but you can look at his website at He does a much better job of telling their stories.
As we were leaving, we all celebrated the downhill ahead of us and the fact that we made it to the top of the hill. Riding down hill with the wind in my face, I thinking about how my knee wasn't aching quite so much after our visit. We appreciate
our health and try to do something to keep these bodies strong everyday. We never know when it will be our turn to get wacked upside the head by something out there lurking in the unknown.
Boy I ended that on a downer.... ;)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Getting our "ugly on"

People of the Night

Spending so much time outdoors skiing, hiking and cycling has side effects both good and bad. It helps keep down the waistline, sleep well at night and an improved sense of well being. The downside is all that sunshine is hard on the skin. We have both had a few Mohs surgeries for skin cancer. Now we see the dermatologist on a regular basis and get PDT (photodyanamic therapy).
PDT is a preventative skin treatment. A medication is applied and sits for an hour or two before putting us under an ultraviolet light for 16 minutes and 40 seconds. The sensation of needles poking our faces is minimized with a little fan while a technician  talks to distract us and is over fairly quickly. Then we become people of the night for 48 hours,no sunshine or bright lights. When the sun goes down, we head outside. The rest of the week we just look like we got a bad sunburn (getting our ugly on).

Once we heal, our faces look refreshed as the collagen rejuvenates. Yeah right. Maybe we just don't look so scary and think we look better.
The two surgeries on my face left ugly scars on my face. Mike's healed nicely and are hardly noticeable. I tried silicone patches at night but would wake with them stuck to Mike's face or my leg. The gel did make some difference. My plastic surgeon (got one of those too) had several recommendations. I opted to try microneedling, yep more needles in the face.
The first of four treatments (maybe four) made a big difference in the scars. I am going back again and will take it a treatment at a time. I won't go into the details but I was squirming in the chair.
Maybe we are crazy being outside people. After only 24 hours of our 48 inside, I can see the looney bin would not be far away if we couldn't get out.

We met a nice lady from Ohio who thought it was strange that she kept overhearing people talking about hiking when she arrived in Arizona and decided it must be a thing around here. Why would we want to go through the effort of climbing a mountain or hill, get sweaty and just walk outside? We often forget that everyone doesn't like the same things we do such as being outside and enjoying nature. I guess it would get too crowded outside if everyone did it.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Oak Creek Valley

Up in the valley

Not ready to return to the heat of the city, we were able to book some days at the Cave Springs a USFS campground north of Sedona along Oak Creek for the week. Sedona is a
beautiful but congested area even during the week.  Once through town, the traffic really did not improve as the road narrowed and became more winding.
Of course, a picture of Bell Rock is required as we enter the canyon from the south. The north route has hairpin turns and steep ledges from the south is the way to go for us.

View from our campsite
 The temperatures were 10 degrees cooler in the canyon. Sedona was also experiencing higher than normal temps. The leaves were at their peak fall colors. Nothing to compare to New England but very nice for Arizona. It was good to hear the crunch of the fallen leaves as we walked along the cliffs.

  West Oak Creek Trail is said to be one of the most visited trails in Arizona. As we drove by the trailhead, the parking lot was full and cars were parked along both sides of the road for 1/4 of a mile. The gate opens at 8am and the cost is $10 a car. The next morning we happened to be up early and decided check out the trail. A camp host had mentioned that there were three parking spots outside of the gate that allowed access before the gates opened. We arrived at 7:15, got the third parking spot and paid our $10 to hike.

Approximately 11 miles from Uptown, the West Fork Trail parking lot is on the left. There’s a Call of the Canyon sign post evoking memories of Zane Grey’s famous western of the same name and the time of a different era. Grey is said to have written the novel in one of the historic cabins that eventually evolved into the Mayhew Oak Creek Lodge and the 1923 movie was filmed here.

 The  fall leaves were past peak but still quite nice. The trail is an 6 mile round trip of rolling hills along the creek. The temps were in the low 50s as we started out with only an occasional person on the trail. As we were returning, the closer to the end we got, the more people we came across. On our return, we met a very nice couple from North Carolina that walked with us and had a nice to visit that made the miles pass quickly. Hi Jim and Susan!
The trail is three fairly flat miles one way with 13 creek crossings.

Most of the pictures were taken pointing up at the walls of the canyon.

Most of the pictures were taken pointing up at the walls of the canyon.

 I am not sure if we would hike this trail again with so many trails to choose but were glad to spend a morning in the canyon. It was good to sit in our recliners after the hike and read as the wind blew leaves from the trees. We would wake after dozing off and be covered with leaves. You have to admit, a good book and a nap after a hike is just a great day.

We were dry camping this week, using our solar panels, which are not very big, to keep our batteries charged. It worked great in Prescott since we had sunshine all day. In Oak Valley, the sun was not shining on our site until after 9 am and down by 4 pm in a very shaded spot also. We woke one morning to the sound of our furnace sounding funky and realized the batteries were dying. Using the truck for a charge, we managed to get the slide in. Mike used a ratchet to lift the hitch so we could load up and return to Mesa a day early. It would have been good to stay one more day. With temps in the 30s at night, our charge probably wouldn't make it until midnight. Yes, I am a wimp and like at least a few amenities like electricity and heat.

After a month in one place, it was good to get away for a week in some places we haven't visited before.  We are enjoying our friends and new acquaintances at Val Vista Resort and think it is a pretty good place to stay for a while.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Lynx Lake

Escaping the heat

Temperatures in Phoenix continue to rise every year with new highs due to the daytime heat being held by the steel in the buildings and black asphalt as the city and surrounding areas continue to grow. The average temps are usually 88 degrees in October and we were in the upper 90s. The city is looking at using baby blue paint to reduce the heat absorption and temperatures  Listening to the air conditioner all day can be wearing. A few days were cool enough for an early morning bike ride or game of pickeball.

After finishing my online learning requirements to return to work, my required four shifts at the hospital for the month and taken care of our appointments, we headed for the cooler temps in the hills. The campgrounds in the national forest close at the end of the month. Lynx Lake near Prescott had one site open over the weekend and figured what the heck and booked it.
 We had spent a little time in the Prescott area but had not been to Lynx Lake. Each loop in the campground is small with only four sites but  plenty of room for privacy. The trail around the lake was an easy 3.5 miles and so many other trails to choose from that are mostly moderate.

Our previous visits, we enjoyed the Granit Dells areas including Watson and Willow Lakes. You can read about those visits by clicking here.

The trail to the  Nature Conservancy that has a large area protected for the migrating butterflies was another morning walk that had plenty to enjoy.
The air felt like fall and leaves were changing at 5000 feet above sea level. We could sit outside after the sun went down next to our little fire and look at the stars. The nights got into the 30s but our solar panel kept the battery fully charged.

One evening Mike was sitting by the fire and he saw something move out of the corner of his eye. He soon realized that it was a skunk. Mike stood up and the skunk turned around and raised his tail. Fortunately, they called d├ętente and both walked away from each other. Mike moved faster and stumbled up the steps unscathed.
Our last morning we walked 1 1/2 miles to the Ruins Trailhead. The round trip to the ruins was 1 1/2 miles but along the way, I realized that I  took a wrong turn when my pedometer said we had walked 1 1/2 miles since the trailhead and we hadn't reached the ruins. Oops!

Looks like Halloween now that the tarantulas are out.

We were so glad to spend the time in the mountains but were not ready to return home yet.

Cuenca, Ecuador

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