Sunday, December 17, 2017

the weather changes

Rain and possible snow was in the forecast for today, Sunday, so yesterday we unhooked our electric and water and drove about 1000 feet away to the park's dump station.   (Far enough away that we can't see or, ahem, smell it but close enough that we didn't have to take down everything inside to make the drive.)  Emptying our tanks is never a fun task, but doing it in the rain is very unpleasant so Dave wanted to take advantage of the good weather.

driving with a Christmas tree!

Lewis was confused.....we've never started up and driven away with a Christmas tree on the dashboard, plants and pictures in their places, laptop left on the table and  Mom sitting there using it instead of sitting in the navigator's seat up front.     Mom didn't even have her hair pulled back or make up on yet - highly unusual.....and quite possibly scary.

After just a few minutes we were back at our site, hooked up and a load of laundry humming away.    We made it without a sewer hookup for 12 days (including 2 loads of laundry)....a new "best" for us.    We're getting good at this!

It rained most of the night.    Today has been changeable but mostly rainy.   The mountains continue to fascinate us with their heads in the clouds one minute and in the sun the next.

Today has turned out to be a football kind of day.   Not for me, I'm working around, getting caught up with Cindy P on a nice long phone call, organizing and cooking, but Mr. David has been enjoying this rainy day in front of the TV.

His traditional Christmas Toe has made its appearance so I know the holiday is near!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Another week flies by

I'm not very good at taking pictures of people, posed pictures of people.   As a result, I have no photographic record of the Happy Hour we shared at Laurel and Eric's sweet Arctic Fox trailer on Tuesday night.    They were just a few sites north of us here at Catalina for a couple days and we enjoyed spending time and getting to know them better.    Lewis attended this Happy Hour he wants you to know that he really likes Laurel and Eric, Laurel even shared a brie topped cracker with him. 

Wednesday night we met them at the yummy Vivace for dinner.   Each of us had something different and everything we ate was exceptional, even our shared creme brulee.     When we finally decided to call it a night we discovered that we were the only ones left in the entire large restaurant!    Guess we had a good time!    Again, no picture proof.

They decided to stay over one more day so yesterday morning we met them at the birding trail.    I have pictures!

Laurel focusing

We all share a love of birds so we enjoyed our walk through three of the park's different habitats.   Catalina is home to at least 150 species of birds and I was excited to add four new birds to my life list before we ended our morning.

Dave and Eric zoom in

We'll have to go back before we leave next Tuesday because Laurel and Eric told us they saw a group of Coatimundi on the same trail later!

In between our socializing we resolved some minor but annoying problems, worked on a prototype for a possible problem when we're off roading and did a bit of exploring the area.

Dave gets help with an idea he has been brewing

We, also, received a wonderful treat in the mail.   Our dear friend Judi sent her traditional box of Christmas cookies to us despite losing her dear mother just days before.   She's a special friend, a special person.

he wouldn't pose, he had to get the box open!

Hi Judi!

We take daily walks on the bridle trail behind our site.   Lewis looks forward to these walks and he especially enjoys sending many p-mails along the way.

one of several p mails Lewis sends to future canine passersby

After we figured out how to get a State Land Trust Permit, we explored a few jeep roads north of the park.   We've never run into the need for such a permit but evidently they are necessary for a number of areas we were interested in.

We had a great time on both excursions but were not, technically, successful on either.   The first, Wild Burro Canyon, was attempted with no map to guide us.  We had just gotten the Permit and were near the beginning point of the short trail so we just went for it.    Beautiful and interesting scenery to be sure, but we made a wrong turn right at the end so we never got where we were heading!   We knew we were off, and tried numerous side washes but ended up calling it and heading home.

a fire hydrant?  a gingerbread man?

Today we decided to follow the Tucson Wash from Mammoth south to Oracle.  This time we had the "book" with us so we were confident we'd complete the ride.    We started out very well.

Down into the wash and under the old wooden train trestle.

Through some beautifully colored rock formations studded with cactus. 

We decided to stop for lunch at the beginning of a short, narrow side canyon.   Before we ate Lewis asked if we could take a short hike to stretch his legs.

this way guys!  follow me!

Are you coming?   What's taking you so long!

I wish I had enlarged this -
One rarely sees a flying poodle these days.

Instead of sitting on the lovely warm rocks (Dave noticed ants) we dug out our beach chairs and set up lunch in the sun.

We always share our trail lunch with Lewis and today he decided that the tiny piece of Pringle I offered wasn't interesting so he dropped it in the sand.  In the blink of an eye a couple of those ants seized it and began to drag it away.   We were fascinated and watched them for a long time.   We gave them another crumb and they dropped the first one to drag the second away.   After hiding it in the shadow of a nearby rock they returned for the first piece.    Aren't we an exciting couple?

After our stimulating lunch entertainment we packed up and set off in search of the narrow box canyon ahead.   As I said, we had the book with what we thought sounded like simple instructions, complete with mileage and way points.

Not to be.   Nothing was where it was supposed to be.  We turned around to check, and then recheck.   Nope.   So we just decided to continue along the wash in the direction of home.   It had to lead somewhere, right?

It did, it took us right to the spot where the trail was supposed to end, near route 77 in Oracle. 

 Except we missed the entire middle, the drive through the narrow box canyon and the high saddle viewpoint.   Neither of us know where we went wrong.....but we did.    I suppose the look of washes change with the seasons, the storms, the floods.   We'll try again next time. 

 It's the journey not the destination, right?

So, another week is behind us.   The temperatures are forecast to drop again tonight so our plants are safe and warm inside on Beluga's dashboard.

And sweet Lewis, exhausted from his running and climbing today, is snoring quietly on the couch.




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.