Sunday, December 10, 2017

Catalina State Park

The day we were scheduled to leave Usery Mountain Regional Park the winds kicked up.   You know how we hate to drive in high winds, it's hard to keep Beluga between the lines and we've had way too much experience with various awnings unrolling as we're moving down the road.

Dave battens down the hatches before we leave Usery

So, as part of our breaking camp routine, Dave put pins in all the awnings and slide topper to keep them neatly rolled up, no matter how strong the wind was.

We only had a short drive and the wind wasn't really a problem once we got on the road but better safe than sorry.

site B74

We love this park and we're happy with our site.   It's large and relatively private plus we have wonderful views of the mountains in front of us.   Watching the day's changing light playing over them is fascinating.

We tried to enjoy happy hour outside before we hung up our hummingbird feeders but that was a big mistake.

The little devils buzzed us relentlessly until we gave in, made some nectar and hung up our two feeders.

Dave levels the window feeder

a bad shot of a beautiful broad billed Hummingbird

I can never get the camera to focus fast enough to catch a good shot of them, but we enjoy watching them eat, defend and rest right outside our windows.

It's beginning to get chilly at night.   Twice so far Dave has has to unhook our water and bring the hose in to keep it from freezing.    One morning we noticed the hummingbirds sitting in the mesquite tree, not feeding like they usually do.

Evidently we needed to bring in the feeders at night also.   They were frozen solid and took some time in the sun to thaw enough to provide sustenance for the little guys.

The sun eventually thawed the nectar but we discovered the ice had cracked the feeder
so it needed to be replaced.

That's about it, we haven't done anything even remotely interesting yet.  We've hung up our Christmas lights, walked Lewis, enjoyed second cup, happy hour and our books outside but mostly we've driven between Costco, Trader Joe's, AJ's Fine Foods, Basha's, Walmart, the Post Office, Safeway, Wild Birds Unlimited, Camping World, Kohls, Sprouts, etc., etc. looking for, and sometimes finding, things on our Christmas list.

a beautiful Gulf Fritillary visits my marigolds

We'll see how next week goes, there are so many Jeep roads to explore......

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Last few days at Usery

It's Sunday already and I don't know where the time has gone.   We haven't been doing anything wildly exciting but still time passes quickly.

Last week we took Lewis down to the Salt River for a nice walk and some play time.    Our destination was the nearby Foxtail recreation and picnic area but there were people there so we left and moved to the other side of the river at Sheep's Crossing.   The road in was closed so we parked along the road and walked in.  It looks as if this area has been closed for some time as there were weeds growing around all the picnic ramadas and many old piles of horse manure in the parking lot.

Perfect for us!

There was quite a bit of vegetation to get through before we got to the water but we were rewarded by a beautiful and private section of the river, and we had it all to ourselves.     We thought. 

Lewis had a ball potching around in the water and we enjoyed the solitude.

Although it was very quiet and there were no people in sight, we had the feeling we were being watched.

A small band of obviously related wild horses was watching us with great interest.    They didn't approach or even come close, but they did keep us in sight as we moved along. 

Eventually they realized we were no threat so they waded into the river, belly deep, and had a nice long drink.

They were part of the area's Salt River herd and we've noticed them in the distance from time to time over the years.     We were so fortunate to be able to watch them up close in their "home".

When we got back we took advantage of the warm sunshine to bathe and clip our shaggy, muddy poodle.

the mowing begins

all done, isn't he dear...

On Thursday we drove to Fountain Hills to meet Dave's cousin Kathi and her husband Jeff.   They just moved into their new home there and we enjoyed getting the tour of it and their beautiful new fifth wheel.     The four of us had dinner together before we headed home.   I have no pictures, I didn't remember my camera!

Yesterday our friends Linda and Dave drove their new Roadtrek (DT for Down Time) to Usery and set up in site 29.    We had happy hour under their awning  after being properly introduced to DT and their sweet SilkyTerrier, Ruby Jane.


little Miss Ruby Jane keeps her eye on us

Dave and Dave trouble shot a water problem they are having before settling down for G&T's all around.

Linda listens, Ruby dozes

After dark we moved back to Beluga for dinner.    This morning Dave, Linda and Ruby walked over for second cup before they packed up and headed home at check out time.

just look at that face!

We've really enjoyed our time here and especially our large, quiet site.   Lots of time has been spent just bird watching and reading.

Mr. Verdin spent lots of time peering in at us and pecking at the window
He never said what he wanted.....

  We never tire of the view.


and moon rise

We leave here on Tuesday morning, heading for a two week stay Catalina State Park, just north of Tucson.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving and beyond

Making a proper Thanksgiving dinner in a motorhome presents it's own unique challenges.    Most of us rise above these challenges by making everyday things do double duty.

Beluga's dashboard doubles as a cooling rack for the pumpkin pie.    A wine bottle doubles as a rolling pin for the left over turkey/artichoke turnovers the next day.

It all works out just fine.   This year the turkey fit in the crockpot just perfectly, leaving the oven/microwave free to finish the rest of the meal.     The next day turnovers were really good, the cold white wine bottle rolling pin worked well to keep the puff pastry cool while being rolled out!   

Thanksgiving Saturday we went to a nice dog show at Rawhide, the Fiesta Dog Show.   It was very hot, almost 90 degrees and, although most of the judging rings were inside a large building by the afternoon, most of the dogs seemed to be conserving their energy.    No matter, we just love to wander around the grounds and see all the different breeds represented along with the hundreds of vendors selling everything dog related.

it's important to relax between judging

this huge English Mastiff just plopped down to enjoy the cool cement floor
while he waited for the judge to get down the line to him!


The only dogs that showed any get up and go were the dock diving dogs.  They were high as a kite as they raced down the dock and into the nice cool water after their retrieving toys.

Monday we took Lewis with us as we followed the Apache Trail from Apache Junction, through the Superstition Mountains, along the Salt River to Roosevelt Lake Dam.     It was a long ride on a partly paved, partly graded dirt road.   We didn't meet many people and we all enjoyed the beautiful scenery. 

Lewis thought we spent too much time watching a group of Harris Hawks hunting together but we ignored him and enjoyed the seemingly choreographed sight before we moved on.

We stopped at Canyon Lake for a picnic lunch but by the time we identified a nice shady spot the mosquitoes had found us so we resumed our drive.

see the tiny road twisting along down there?

At one point we found ourselves driving along a narrow shelf road up and up and up.   Luckily we were on the inside of the one lane road so I was relatively calm and could enjoy the scenery.   I could not, however, let go of the arm rest to take any photos.

We crossed a number of one lane bridges, one in particular was over a deep section of Fish Creek (dry at this time of the year but breathtaking nonetheless).
Pictures don't do any of these places justice, you'll have to take my word for how wonderful it was.    We squeezed into a small pullout near the bridge for lunch.

Since we were the only ones around we got out to hike around a bit and really look at the canyon up close.

We took a forest road down to check out Apache Lake and let the poodle out to stretch his excessively long legs.

 Look what we found halfway down that road?   A tall, scrawny, warty crested Saguaro!

We let Lew potch in the water and then we hiked down the dirt road.   In hindsight we probably should have hiked first and walked in the water was a muddy boy that jumped back in the jeep to continue our ride.   Oh well, don't sweat the small stuff right?

a heron in the reeds stood very still while Lewis played

After Apache Lake the road followed right along the course of the Salt River sometimes at it's level, sometimes high above, until it ended at the Roosevelt Dam.

The dam is beautiful built into the rocky sides of the canyon.  It was originally made of cut stone and timbers but has since been covered with reinforced concrete.

Our drive on the fabled Apache Trail was finished but we opted to take routes 88 and 60 along Roosevelt Lake and through Queen Canyon (no pictures, the windshield was solid bugs by that time), Miami, Top of the World and then back home instead of turning around and retracting our steps in the dark.    And on the wrong side of the canyon, nope, not me!

Miami is a very small, very depressed looking Copper mining town.   The mining industry itself looked to be going strong however.   We drove past miles and miles of flat topped mines with huge equipment and lights on it's terraced slopes.   A sign entering the little town proclaimed it to be the Copper and Cattle Capitol (capitol of what?) We did notice small plots of the mine's walls fenced off with cattle grazing on the steep slope!

It was deep sunset by the time we approached Mesa and Usery.   The traffic was fairly heavy but we almost didn't mind the slow pace because the ever changing color in the west was mesmerizing.