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.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The long long drive and moving on

Saturday night we met old (not old) friends Dave and Linda at the Tonto Grill.   Linda and Dave (my Dave) worked together years ago in our Papago Plastics days and we've kept in touch through the years.    As usual, we had a great time catching up.  They just bought a brand new RoadTrek motorhome and are happily learning the ropes so  we made plans to meet at Usery Mountain Regional Park for a progressive Happy Hour/dinner next weekend.   We can't wait to see their new addition.

Monday we took Lewis and set off in the Jeep.   Our goal was to do a little off- roading and find a nice waterside place for lunch and a quick swim.    We never reached our goal, however.    I underestimated the time it would take to drive through the desert to Sheep Bridge and the Verde River.   The road was very very rough and rocky, we had to drive very slowly.   The first 18 miles or so were fairly boring, mostly dust and desert scrub.    We arrived at  Seven Springs Recreation area in the Tonto National Forest around lunch time so we stopped beside the only "spring" we saw.

one of the Seven Springs 

We enjoyed the pretty surroundings for lunch, but didn't let Lewis swim because the water looked a bit "iffy".    We continued on the dusty, rocky road away from the little oasis and back up into the high desert.

It was a long long ride.   After about 33 miles, very slow bumpy miles, we came to a cross road.    A right turn would take us another 12-15 miles to the river and our destination.   A left turn would take us 27 rough miles over the mountains to the highway then another 40 easy miles home.   It was already almost 4 p.m. and we were beginning to see long shadows so we abandoned our thoughts of letting poor Lew out at the river and took the left turn.

Did I mention this was a rough and dusty road?   We passed one or two pick ups the entire way.      Mostly it was just the three of us and the mountains.

We came up over a rise and encountered a huge road grader trying to smooth down the track.    All it actually managed to do was rip up large rocks in our path.

He finally found a spot to pull out and we were able to pass and negotiate the rest of the road without his "help".

we discovered this beautiful pattern of dust on the back of the Jeep

Up and over the mountains wasn't my favorite part.    I took no pictures.

Dave and Lewis were very good sports.   I should have done my homework more carefully and realized how long this ride would be.   Or, perhaps we should have left much earlier in the day.   Either way I think it's safe to say that none of us enjoyed our adventure.   Ah well, some you win and some you lose.

As if to try and make me feel better, Mother Nature provided a beautiful display in all directions shortly after we arrived home.


looking south (ish)

then back west

Tuesday I couldn't convince Dave to drive anywhere so we stayed home and did laundry in preparation for Wednesday morning's departure.

the Four Peaks stayed in view the whole way to Usery

To avoid the crazy traffic on the day before Thanksgiving we took the long way  (but lightly traveled and pretty) from Cave Creek to Usery Mountain Regional Park via Fountain Hills and the Bush Highway.

We settled into our site (#58) after lunch and went for a walk in the surrounding desert.   I selected this site because it was the only one left available over the holiday weekend......I was prepared to just deal with it until the park emptied out and we had more choice but I was very surprised at what a great site it is!

Happy Hour view!

We have a lovely private area under a large Palo Verde tree to sit in if the sun is too bright and there is enough greenery around us that I don't even notice the motorhome in the next site.   This will be a perfect spot for the next two weeks....

Mom, mom, are you coming?  We're going into the desert, are you coming? Mom?

As we walked through the desert we came upon this broken giant.  I've never seen a huge saguaro down before, it made me sad.

But then I saw something that made me smile.....My boy running down the wash with a big grin on his face, so happy to see me.

Tomorrow we're looking forward to spending a quiet day at home, cooking shrimp and turkey and pumpkin pie, watching the Thanksgiving Parade and the National Dog Show. 

 We're thankful to be able to enjoy such a pleasant and peaceful time together.   We're thankful for the great fortune of our family, our friends, our health and the wonderful life we are living.

Friday, November 17, 2017

at Cave Creek Regional Park

This is working just fine......Warm days, cool nights and a relatively empty campground.

We haven't done much that anyone would consider exciting but we're happy.  Second cup outside in the sun or shade and the same for Happy Hour.   In between we either sit and read, do a little housework or go exploring.   We have been coming to this desert for many years so not a lot is new.    Familiar is soothing.

such interesting clouds lately

 We're waiting for the temps to drop a bit before doing some hiking in nearby Spur Cross Ranch Conservation area but the other day we went auto hiking into the desert.

We were heading into the Tonto National Forest surrounding Bartlett Lake but discovered the two jeep roads that we had earmarked were closed in an effort to restore the areas after a fire some years ago.    We had lunch with us and wanted to eat by the water so we just went on to Bartlett Lake, a place we've been many times before.

We didn't have Lewis with us, in the past we found the lake to be a fairly busy place.

lunch view

We were sorry we left him home this day - the lake shore was virtually deserted and the water level was low enough that we could drive along through Bartlett Flats to the every end of the lake.   He would have had a ball.

We took out our chairs and enjoyed a pleasant riparian lunch with our feathered friends.

I can't decide.....
Sharp Shinned or Cooper's Hawk?

peeking quail

sorry for the fuzzy picture, he was in constant motion -
 Say's Phoebe perhaps?

Yesterday we hosted Happy Hour for two familiar faces and two new faces.  Ingrid and Al are staying at a nearby campground and their good friends David and Faye are staying in this campground and volunteering at the Spur Cross Conservation area.

here's my candid shot of Al, David, Dave and Lewis with Ingrid photo bombing

Thanks, Ingrid, for the more formal photo of us all!
(David, Faye, Al, me, Dave, Ingrid and sweet Lewis)

Today we drove around busy Scottsdale gathering the ingredients for our quiet Thanksgiving dinner at Usery Mountain Regional Park next week. 

We returned to find our empty campground filling quickly with the weekend crowd.      We had an abbreviated happy hour outside, Dave found his chair to be  quite small tonight.   He's a good sport and Lewis sits very still so Dave is still able to  enjoy his gin and tonic.

Our site has given us a front row view to some very pretty, very different sunsets this week.

Tomorrow evening we'll meet good friends Dave and Linda at the nearby Tonto Grill at Ranch Manana.