We have an insane calling to be where we aren't

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.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

This is one great Slot Canyon

With a sunrise like this, how could it not be a good day?
We stayed at the Corps of Engineers campground on Lake Cochiti near the Cochiti Pueblo which had electric and water hookups. Many people stay in Santa Fe and make a day trip to both Tent Rocks and Bandelier National Park. Lake Cochiti was just a couple of miles down the road from Tent Rocks making an early start much easier.
Arriving at the monument at 7am as they opened and the sun rising gave us the entire place to ourselves until we were leaving. We took the Cave Trail to the Slot Canyon Trail which is a 1.5  trek through the slot that finished with a 630 foot climb to the mesa top. The views were breathtaking. It was a nice 4.2 mile hike before things started heating up and the wind started blowing once again. This is one of our favorite slot canyon hikes so far.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks was designated a national monument for protection of these unique geological landscapes. It is know for its light colored, cone shaped formations that are the results of  eruptions from the Jemez volcanic field. It is located 35 miles south of Santa Fe and 52 miles north of Albuquerque.
Precariously perched on many of the tapering hoodoos are boulder caps that protect the softer pumice and tuff below. Some tents have lost their hard, resistant caprocks, and are disintegrating. While fairly uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet up to 90 feet.

The Park's care is shared between the BLM and Cochiti Pueblo.

It was difficult to chose which pictures to use so sit back and check it out. Or you can bypass it all together but why not just peruse the views. It was 1.5 miles long.

I should have brought those knee pads along.

Mike cleared the canyon for me.

We could see the sun rising above us as we walked through the canyon.

We made it to he top.
The Veterans' Memorial Scenic overlook was a 1 mile loop 3.5 miles down a rough road. It had the same views that we had at the top of the mesa. We decided against the drive.

I don't believe I have ever said "WOW" more on any hike before this one. Even with the whitish color of this desert instead of the usual red rocks we are used to, every corner brought a new eyeful.

It has been fun visiting some of the lesser known and visited National Parks and Monuments. We know how fortunate to be able to wander around learning so many things and seeing new places.
It has been fun visiting some of the lesser known and visited National Parks and Monuments.
There is so much more to see in this Jemez area when we return including a waterfall, hot springs and hikes.
We are staying put for a while will not be blogging much. I don't think anyone wants to hear about our visits to the grocery store. I am returning to the hospital in Mesa, AZ one or two days a week for the next few months. I thought I was ready to retire totally a year ago but found Banner Health had a great program for nurses to return for the winter season and leave for six months in the summer.

Mike will be working as a work camper starting in January for 3 months delivering beer, wine and food to the different resorts. 
We are in a condo while our trailer gets some maintenance done on it. This place is huge and echoes when we talk but much smaller than the house we used to own. I guess it is all just a matter of perspective. 
It has been fun to hear from our followers along the way and brightens our days. We aren't done yet (we hope), just taking a breather. I am sure the itch will hit again sooner rather than later.