Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009

We did get a bit of rain. Not much, not that I'm complaining. I went out for a coffee after finishing yesterday's blog and when I came out there was a brilliant double rainbow. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera and by the time I got back to the rig the light show was just about over.
This is all I got

My daughter Renee sent along this picture of the new addition. This is his first trip outside (from hospital to home).
With this amount of sunshine coming into our lives guess we don't need to worry about what the weather brings today :-)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 28 to 29, 2009

Yesterday, Saturday we were supposed to get some rain but I decided to get out for a quick 9 holes of golf before the weather set in. I picked up Art just before 9 am and we got our golf in, no problem, in fact I never saw anything that looked like rain all day.

I am at loose ends right now. Last night I went to bed before 10:00! And I was up this morning by 5:30. After a quick shower I went to the Village Inn for breakfast and brought along a good book to read. It's amazing how quiet it is on the roads and in the restaurants at that time of morning :-) I was back home by 8:00 and didn't know what else to do with my day. I had a nap. for half an hour and finally decided I had to get out and do something. The weather didn't seem too bad, it was cool (56 F), so I got ready to go for a hike into the Superstition Mountain Range. It was certainly cooler in the hills but not too bad. I took my time and got a few pictures for posterity. Usually our pictures have lots of blue sky - not so much today. My goal was to hike part way up Siphon's Draw so I parked at the start of the Firstwater Trail Road and hiked in to the Jacob's Crosscut Trail which meanders around the bottom of Superstition Mountain. I made it up into Siphon's Draw but as I went higher I lost the sun behind the mountain and it got pretty cold. I wasn't really dressed for that so I decided to stop and have a bite to eat then head back. The elevation change was 700 feet and the total distance was 5 miles. I don't normally hike by myself but there were lots of people on the trails, being a Sunday, so I wasn't too worried.
It's a good thing I got back when I did because, as I'm writing this there's a lot of dark clouds over the mountains and it is clearly raining there. There are a few drops here as well. Looks like we are going to get some rain after all. Well, the desert definitely needs it.

start of my hike
It's not all just desert - there's lots of shrubbery and cactus here
This looks like the place used by Park Rangers during full moon nighttime hikes. No lights and no cameras allowed. I want to go on one one of these days (nights) :-)
Siphon's Draw coming up to the left
Flat Iron plateau - of the two peaks, the one on the right.
I hope to climb that again this year.

Friday, November 27, 2009

November 26 to 27, 2009

Two hot days in a row. 82 F yesterday and 80 F today. I sat near the phone yesterday morning waiting for news on the baby. I hadn't heard anything so I called Lise in Ottawa and she hadn't heard either. But she did call back a few minutes later with the good news. We now have a new grandson, weighing in at 8 lbs. His name is Kaelan. I'm still waiting for pictures.

I went to the Thanksgiving Dinner laid out by the RV Park. As usual it was a grand feast; our chefs had proper chef hats and jackets and looked very professional. The meal was supplemented by dishes brought in by the rvers. I brought a pecan pie that I had baked at the Village Inn :-)
our venerable leader - George
some of the group enjoying the dinner
Today I tried to get away early on my bike ride to avoid the heat. It is Black Friday here and the highways were very quiet. There was hardly anyone heading to work as far as I could see. I took our usual ride through Tempe and Scottsdale, 14.5 miles each way. I think I overdid it somewhat as I was totally beat by the time I hit the 24 mile mark. I managed to limp back to the car and headed back home. As soon as I arrived back at the RV I headed straight to the back for a quick half hour nap. That helped :-)

a view from where we usually start our bike rides - the hill in the background is popular for hiking by the local university students; Arizona State University is nearby. Commercial airlines arriving and departing Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix always fly right overhead and can't be more than a few hundred feet over the hill, particularly on their approach.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

November 22 to 25, 2009

We've had some fairly windy days lately, possible bringing in colder weather from the north. But not for a few days yet :)

I drove Lise to the airport yesterday morning. She's going to Ottawa to be with our daughter and her family for the birth. She left at 8:30 in the morning and will be gone for three weeks. It's going to be lonely around here. Even though I had golf and darts yesterday I could already see how different it was to not have her around. It really does change the dynamics of your life.

Today I led a hike up Pass Mountain. It was 2 miles each way and was a pretty steady climb all the way to the pass. There was a good turnout and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Note all the smiles in the photo below. These pictures are partly to document the hike and partly to show the beautiful views - and partly to show Lise what she's missing :).

easy trail to follow
Our group posing under the pass
What a beautiful spot!
During the afternoon I had some work done on the brakes on our Saturn. Afterwards my friend Art and I went to another motorcycle shop in support of his desire to find an old Harley to refurbish. I think today was a reality check as he now has a good idea how much it is likely to cost to take this project on. Nowadays old Harleys are hard to find and if found are picked up pretty quick by collectors. Oh well, we had a good time. I'm sure he'll think of something else to fill his time with.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November 19 to 21, 2009

We've had a couple of quiet days since our last post. I did put in 9 holes of golf on Thursday morning with my friend Art. It was one of my better golf days so was feeling pretty good about myself :-) On the way back to the park Art asked if I wanted to go look at some motorcycles at the motorcycle graveyard up towards Payson. It was a good hour outside of Apache Junction; it was a very scenic route, the same way Lise and I first came into Apache Junction two years ago. This time I got to look around a bit more since I wasn't the driver. You'd have to be a pretty serious mechanic to get some of those motorcycles back into working shape, even if you were able to find all the necessary parts. Not my cup of tea but no sweat for Art. He didn't find anything there so I'm sure he'll be looking around elsewhere to see if there is a motorcycle project he can get his hands on.

Lise and I went to our first happy hour on Friday. We met a couple of new people and got to know some others we hadn't really had an opportunity to sit down with yet. One couple works for a travelling circus setting up venues around the US so get lots of opportunity to see the whole country. What a gig!

This year the park isn't getting involved with recycling like they did last year. So today we carted our recycling materials over to bins in the Apache Junction Administration Building parking lot. It's hard to just stop recycling and throw everything out. I think we've been conditioned too well :-)

I wish now I had brought my camera to take a picture of the motorcycle graveyard. Oh well, you're not really missing anything - it's not exactly a memory you'd want to carry with you for long. ps. weather is still great - 75 F pretty well every day!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 18, 2009

We've been writing our story as we go but, really, we've also been living it. I can't help but think that spending our winters down here has been such a blessing. We just love what we're able to do here; and we're not alone - we hear similar sentiments from many of our friends here and from the new people we meet each day. I am sure there are better and nobler achievements we can aspire to, but for us at this time, this pause on the circle of life seems to fit just right.

Whew, where did that come from? Now, getting back to normal: I set the alarm last night to be sure I would be up in time to get ready for our Wednesday hike. It's a good thing I did because I didn't sleep well and I'm sure I would have slept late otherwise. We had a typical breakfast of cereal after which I dropped over to the activities building patio area to pick up a cup of coffee. There are a number of men from around the park that get together every weekday morning to discuss the latest news and socialize a bit and they always make pots of coffee for anybody that drops by. Although I've sat in a few times I'm not exactly a regular. But, I do like to get my morning coffee fix.

There was a good turnout for the hike, a moderate climb of about 600 feet over 1.4 miles. It is called the Hieroglyphic Trail and takes us to a nice area of boulders, streams and ponds in a canyon north of the Gold Canyon Subdivision. There are hieroglyphics on the rocks that date back a couple of hundred years. The pond this year was pretty empty as they haven't had much rain and the water table is quite low. There was another group from another park there ahead of us. I think I heard them say their group was about 23 people. This is typical of many of our hikes - that we run across other large groups making the same trip. It seems that the wilderness isn't really that big a place after all.

We headed left of this range
The rock formation here - in the middle of Gold Canyon Subdivision, is called Dinosaur Mtn.
taking a breather and looking at what's ahead
This was a fairly short hike and we were back at the park by 11:30 which was great as we were expecting a high of 78 degrees F today and it's always preferable to be out when it's a bit cooler.
After lunch Lise wanted to go to the library to get more reading material so we did that, picked up a coffee, and spent a quiet afternoon reading. Lise made a turkey meat loaf in the toaster-oven. It came out just fine and with some peas, corn and potatoes made a real nice dinner, with a nice glass of white wine, of course. We'll probably spend the rest of the evening watching TV. All I can say is: "It's all good!"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 14 to 17, 2009

Saturday was a pretty quiet day for us. Art and Linda invited us to have dinner on their patio as we all bid goodbye to our friends from New Zealand, Peter and Jeanette. It's nice to know that we can enjoy a good meal in the outdoors at this time of year. This is why we like being here so much.

Unfortunately, when we got home we didn't check our phone and forgot that it was our grandson Liam's birthday. Of course, he didn't let that go by unchallenged and called us the next morning. So, we did get to find out how his day went and he didn't seem put out. I'm sure we won't forget next time:-)

On Sunday we went to IHOP for breakfast, one of our favourite places. Later we stopped off at the driving range to hit a few golf balls. Lise is going to join the RV Resort's golf league so she wanted to get out and practice a bit before jumping in with both feet.

More of our friends have been arriving each day so the park is starting to fill up; it's like old home week around here.

On Monday we decided that a bike ride was in order. After getting our exercise regimens out of the way early on we packed a lunch and some goodies, put our bikes on the back of the SUV and headed out for our ride. Of course we went to Scottsdale and biked the multi-use trails that travel through a series of parks following the Hayden Road area in a north/south direction. We travelled 16 miles exactly, and that was quite enough, thankyou! We are still out of shape from not being able to get out as much as we wanted to this summer in Ottawa. On the way home we dropped our bicycles at the bicycle shop for some much needed maintenance. They'll be ready by Tuesday afternoon. I didn't expect they'd be done that quickly. Great!

This morning, Tuesday, after we attended the Activity mtg, we were able to get out and pick up some more groceries. We had a quick lunch and then headed out for our 9-hole golf game. This was the first time Lise has golfed with someone other than me. She did very well and I think she's quite happy with her ball striking today. Sounds like she'll put her name down as a regular member of the group now that she sees that she can keep up with the other players. There's always the fear that everyone will be too good; I know how she feels - I used to feel the same way. Anyway, I'm pleased that this is working out for her. Her positive outing seemed to give her a boost in her dart game tonight too, how cool is that?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November 12 and 13, 2009

Thursday - Art and I booked an early tee time to enjoy a little golf. Our start time was only 8:23 am but it was a lot better than golfing in the early afternoon in the heat of the day. Lise took advantage of my absence by heading out to Curves for a workout.

We finally made it to the Apache Junction Library to find some books. We now have our source of reading material for the winter. We don't need Chapters or Borders book stores where we have to buy our reading entertainment:-)

We had invited friends over for a little social hour which went very well. We sat around talking until we couldn't even see each other any more. The sun sets here about 5:30 and we don't have any outside lights. It would be nice to buy a lamp of some sort and treat the patio as an outdoor living room. Anyway, I thought it went over pretty well and this is the first happy hour we've hosted since we started this life style two years ago. So, job well done.

Friday - Lise is trying to join a Yoga class. She has tried to attend twice now - first the instructor forgot the time; today it seems the session wasn't to start until next week. I think she thinks things are conspiring against her. Maybe the third time will be the charm!

It was a cool windy day today. The sun only came out long enough to set, and give us a nice sunset. I guess it's better than nothing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 11, 2009

The day started out cloudy and with a slight breeze. For me, that is perfect for hiking, especially with the days still being so hot. There were 7 of us on the hike. Even though it wasn't difficult, most of us were feeling the strain during the uphill portion of the hike. After the snack break we headed downhill on the other half of the loop trail. I always find the downhill part much harder. It puts stress on my knees; and I don't think I was alone - others had similar complaints. Anyway, it's not too bad and recovery time is quick.

We were back at the RV in time for lunch. After lunch we had decided to check out the library but forgot that it would be closed for Remembrance Day. Oh well, it wasn't a one task trip as we had decided to do a little shopping so we could have a happy hour with some of our friends tomorrow. We're inviting Art and Linda from Whitehorse and their friends Peter and Jeanette from New Zealand over for some social time.

Same Saguaro as you saw the other day - different posers! A little hazy. This is the view from our snack stop

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 10, 2009

Now that we are in the south we seem to be waking earlier every morning. I guess we anticipate a more active lifestyle down here and are anxious to be up and getting to it.

We attended the weekly activity meeting to find out what goodies were being planned for this year. We have a very full venue which ranges from golf, hiking, motorcycle riding groups, darts, card games, movie night...the list goes on. Last year a group of people chose books to read and then discuss at a social gathering. There really is something to do for everyone here.

A quick trip to Safeway to pick up a few items and then it was lunch time. After lunch a group of us went out for our weekly 9-hole golf game. There were 20 men and women and I expect there'll be more as the snowbird season progresses. It was hot but we had fun.

Lise decided to do the washing while I was out so when I got home it was all done! We had a quick supper and then went over to the games room to have a couple of games of darts. Also a good turnout. Unfortunately we missed So You Think You Can Dance but when we're down here it doesn't seem to important and there's so much else to do.

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9, 2009

Our routine is starting to come together. After breakfast I headed over to the gym to do some physio; Lise went to Curves for her exercise. Once we were both back we changed into bicycle gear and headed out for a ride right from the Resort. We only rode for 10.4 miles but it was quite a workout as it has been a while since we last had our bikes out. And the weather was hot so it was pretty draining with the sun beating down on us.

We were back by 11:30 and it felt like we'd done a lot already. After a quick lunch we drove to Camping World to see if they had any patio chairs. Of course it's a small world so we came across our friend Art, and Peter from New Zealand, who were also visiting Camping World. Peter and his wife Jeanette have been visiting Canada and the United States for a while now and will be heading to Los Angeles in a few days for their trip back to New Zealand. They make this trip frequently and will probably be back again soon. They have bought an RV and toad and use that to drive around the country. Then it is stored for use again when they return.
We did find some chairs so now we have enough on hand if we ever get somebody dropping by our rig. After that stop we headed over to Trader Joe's, a popular grocery store in this area. We picked up items we always get there, particularly Trail Mix for our hikes and biking trips, and then headed home to try out the new chairs.
gravel pad and concrete patio
We're the first RV in the row, site 02
Some of the people we hang out with during the winter haven't arrived yet so it was great to see Gary and Karen (formerly from Yellowknife, NWT) turn into the roadway at 5:00 this evening. They share similar interests so we end up spending lots of time with them over the winter.
I noticed that Dancing With The Stars was on tonight. I can't seem to get into that this year, especially since So You Think You Can Dance is also on (although on a different night). After watching SYTYCD for the last two years the DWTS seems pretty anemic. We do like House and Lie To Me so that'll keep us busy tonight.

November 7 and 8, 2009

I can't say much about Saturday. We did go to the omelette breakfast at the Resort. They do such a great job with it and there are always a lot of volunteers cooking and serving and cleaning up after. The cost was only $4.00 each and included omelette (6 volunteer chefs cooking) cooked with your preferred ingredients plus hash browns, sausages, orange juice and coffee. Not bad, eh?

Later in the day we visited with Art and Linda in their bus for a while and then retired back to our Resort and our rig to indulge in a bit of reading (outside on the patio, of course). I'll have to take a picture of our site so you can all see what our setup is like.

On Sunday we picked up Art and Linda and headed out for a 'preview hike' of the hike I have planned for Wednesday. I needed to make sure that I wasn't going to get our hiking group lost on my first hike :-) We didn't do the whole hike, just the first part that goes up and down through gullies and washes; it's that part which would be easy to be diverted and end up 'lost'. Anyway, it went fine and I got a couple of pictures of Art and Linda for our friends in the Yukon.
All decked out in hiking gear.
We've got that saguaro surrounded:)
It's great to finally be out on the trails!

Friday, November 6, 2009

November 6, 2009

We had our landline installed through Mediacom today. They arrived in the morning as promised. It's a relief to finally be able to call people and to have a number where we can be reached. Our cell phones don't have the north american long distance plan on them so we couldn't very well use them while travelling. We had a phone card that we bought over two years ago which still has minutes/units on it so we were able to use that for outgoing calls, and we could always be reached by e-mail. It's not perfect but it'll do for now.
It was a pretty relaxing day. Lise went to Curves in the morning and I -- relaxed (I said that already didn't I :-) We went out for coffee in the afternoon and then did some shopping at Safeway to fill up our cupboards and fridge. Last year we seemed to be going to the grocery stores just about every day. This time around we are planning ahead a little bit more so we can avoid a repeat of that.
George, the Activity Director asked me to look after the Wednesday trail hikes until the regular hiking leaders arrive at the park. Sounds like fun. At the start of the year the hikes will be fairly easy but will still take two or three hours to complete. I'm looking forward to getting out on the trails and getting some proper exercise again.
We decided to pass on the Happy Hour tonight and just stay home and have a quiet dinner. While I was out BBQing I noticed the sunset so took this picture for posterity.

November 5 and 6, 2009

We were up very early yesterday morning. I think we were both excited to get things going. It's funny how easily you fall into your routines again. You'd think every day is always around 90 F with a calm wind and the sun shining.

Lise was busy on the inside of the coach getting it livable again. There was lots of cleaning and sweeping to do. I spent the morning setting up the satellite dish - which worked after making a small change to the frequency. We've had so many issues over the last few years that I wasn't too optimistic that this would be an easy fix. Thank goodness for that.

Then it was time to get the chairs and tables out, put the welcome mat down and set up our portable clothes line that we'd had made by one of our friends here a couple of years ago.

Lots of people dropped by to say hello and we got all the latest news on their summers and what's happening in the park this year. Just like getting reacquainted with family again.

On Wednesday we had found our friends Art and Linda, staying at an RV park on the Apache Trail less than two miles away. They drove their converted bus down from Whitehorse, Yukon to spend the winter here. While catching up on everybody's news we went to the Village Inn Restaurant which offers free fruit pies on Wednesday's. That, along with a good cup of coffee spent with friends was a great way to start off our time here.

I was lucky enough to get invited to be part of a golf foursome as one of the guys had been unable to make it. So I already have an 18-hole game under my belt. And the cost was only $12.95!! Too bad that special is now ended. It was 90 F out on the course and no shade to speak of so we were all pretty beat by the end of it. The good side of that? - I slept like a log last night. Yay.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 4, 2009

We woke up to a very cold morning yesterday, in Gallup, NM. I don't know the temperature but there was ice on most of the vehicle windshields in the park. During the night our heat pump was working a bit and in the early morning it was making a funny sound so I turned it off. I tried to turn on the propane furnace for the living room and it wasn't working either, although the one in the bedroom worked. Now what!:-) Anyway I checked out the furnace in the morning and found a wire had come loose. Once that was determined we were back to the races. And today, Wednesday, I was able to confirm that the heat pump/air conditioner was working again. So one more problem resolved. I like these easy fixes. The heat pump was probably trying to cycle down to propane which it does when it is too cold to work efficiently, and that's the wierd sound I heard.

We decided to head straight to Flagstaff on I-40 and then down I-17 to Phoenix; we were going to take another route through Show Low and Payson but decided this route would probably be faster and less work for the RV. We were right. We arrived at the Flying J in Phoenix at 3:00 and hung out there for a couple of hours, after gassing up and filling our propane tank. We wanted to arrive at Meridian RV Park late enough that we could just park in their entryway and pull into our site on Wednesday, which is just what we did.

The weather here has been great - I think it hit about 98 F yesterday and probably in the mid 90s today. Great!! It was worth getting here a day earlier after all.
Entering AZ on the I-40

a few different modes of transportation

seems a little smokey from forest fires; south of Flagstaff

brief stop at overlook near Sedona turnoff

Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2, 2009

Today we decided to push on a little further than usual. Rather than taking another 4 days to get to Phoenix we've cut it down to two. So after putting in 421 miles today we have arrived at USA RV Park in Gallop, New Mexico. It is just 16 miles from the Arizona border so we'll be able to drive straight through to Apache Junction tomorrow. The plan is to go as far as Holbrook on I-40 and then south to Show Low, west to Payson and then a southerly run into the Phoenix area.

The weather was the same as yesterday - that's what we heard for most of last winter "today is sunny and warm":)

It felt good to put on the extra few miles. We have been talking about that for the last week now and next year we'll try to make the trip in 6 or 7 days rather than the 11 to 12 that we're doing now. It will also buy us more usable time to plan special trips at either end, such as going back to Utah again, but this time for a week.
Here are a couple of pictures from today's trip.

Our satellite dish is not working properly today so we had to hook into the campground wi-fi which was available for free, thank goodness. Now after posting this blog perhaps I can find out how my Yankees are doing. I never thought I'd hear myself saying that! But they are in the AL East so I at least have to root for that don't I?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November 1, 2009

Today was a beautiful day for travelling. We saw many RVs on the road, most heading west, of course. The sky was totally blue from horizon to horizon. It was also warm, at least 71 F. I wore shorts for the first time too :)

Western Oklahoma and Northern Texas are fairly flat
Wind Turbines taking advantage of the windy conditions
We travelled 272 miles today. Our campground is Oasis RV Resort on the west side of Amarillo, Texas. It is spacious, has concrete pads for the RV, free laundry, is level and doesn't have any real trees. Some people prefer a treed area; we like open skies so we can make sure our internet and tv work properly. At this park we would have had free internet and cable if we wanted it so, all in all, a great park for a quick stopover. We met some people that will be spending the winter at that park so the winter weather must be bearable at this latitude.
Tomorrow we will travel to Albuquerque and probably stay at the Flying J.