Saturday, November 14, 2020

Another lovely spot

Thursday's sunset was a beauty, right out Beluga's front window.   We had a number of them and we never take their beauty for granted or fail to photograph them!  (pay no attention to the stupid dirt smudges inside my old camera....)


 Friday afternoon we left our peaceful spot at Usery Mountain Regional Park and moved a short distance to another favorite, Cave Creek Regional Park.    These Maricopa County Parks are lovely and quiet, especially during the week.    They're close to everything one could want, but feel very removed from civilization.  Perfect combination.    They don't offer sewer hook-ups and some of the sites are not perfectly level, but neither of those things overshadows their charm for us.

In our years of traveling we've discovered which sites get good Verizon signal and plenty of OTA TV channels and are set up so we get morning sun, afternoon shade and lovely sunset views.    As in all these parks, birds abound.  

 At Usery we set out apples for the birds to enjoy and when they were finally all used up we tried an experiment with a banana.   Do desert birds like bananas?

Not really.    This female Gila Woodpecker sampled one end but decided it wasn't her cup of tea.   A couple sparrows tried but rejected it as too mushy.    Otherwise it was ignored.    It did seem to draw a few interesting observers, however.   A courting couple came, looked it over carefully then cuddled together above it for a long while.   Who knows what an experiment will accomplish?

Peach-faced Lovebirds

So, back to Cave Creek Regional Park......(I'm having trouble organizing these "stories" in their proper order since I can't figure out how to remove a picture that I've already inserted.   You'll have to just work it out, sorry.....) 

Happy Hour view

Cactus Wren watched our morning's Second Cup


Last week we did a little exploration around the Salt River area (looking for the Salt River Band of wild horses) and Saguaro Lake.       We also attempted to drive the mostly unpaved 40 mile scenic Apache Trail through the Superstition Mountains to Roosevelt lake, but the road was closed at Fish Creek Hill Overlook.    Signs on the barricade told of severe damage from the Woodbury Fire and the resultant flood danger in the scar area.      We were sorry we couldn't complete the entire loop trail but were happy to get as far as we did.   We left the Jeep for a short hike to look down into the Fish Creek canyon.   A little Wren accompanied us.

 Here are some pictures from last week.

Salt River

Saguaro Lake

one of four hunting Harris Hawks

one-legged hawk

Superstition Mtns.

Canyon Lake

synchronized swimming practice

Black Phoebe

Fish Creek Overlook

Today we loafed around, enjoying the beautiful day.   We sat in the sun and read, we took a long walk, we watched the Covid delayed Masters golf tournament, did a little future planning.    Just what we wanted to do.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Cottage's lower level build out pictures

 I realized that I never showed you Dave's summer project, completed.  You've seen pictures of him working in his lakeside workshop, hanging and sanding drywall, painting, drilling, delivering supplies, etc. but I've got a few pictures of the finished project.     I wish I had time to hang pictures on the walls and make it look lived in, but the road was calling!

This is what the lower level looked like when we first moved in.   Pretty bare to be sure, but the potential was there.

Before this past July, Dave used the area next to the stairs (now a bedroom)  as his workshop.    He had his toolboxes, thickness planer, table saw, jointer, and miscellaneous tools arranged there.     We also used the area to wash and groom Lewis when the weather was inclement.

The main floor of the cottage has one bedroom and one bathroom so we decided that it was time to finish the lower level into another bedroom and bathroom while we were stuck there during the COVID lockdown.    A good project. 

First and foremost, we had to empty the area and integrate all the stuff into the other half of the lower level.    Not an easy task.   Some things went to Goodwill but most of it just filled in the spaces or was moved from place to place as needed.   

the other half of the lower level used as storage

under the stairs is packed tight!

My potting table.  the entrance to the new living area is now where the red jacket hangs

Dave and I, along with Jesse and Erin, figured out where the new walls should be, the toilet, bathtub, pocket doors, linen and bedroom closets, electrical and plumbing, etc., should be.    Once decided Dave started working, slowly and methodically.   He worked, by himself, most of the day, every day.   He loved every minute of it.

he cut out templates so I could "see" where the tub, vanity and toilet could be placed


it helps to have the right tool for the job!

nice wake up view!

pocket door leads out to the storage area,

So, that's that!   He's happy with his work, glad it's done.

Friday, November 6, 2020

First week in the desert

 We've been here almost a week now and I think we're all finally relaxed and caught up.    We've been sort of keeping up with the election results,  but not perseverating.   We've voted and the results will be what the results will be.

Lewis enjoys head scratches while Dave checks the news

Dave has finished washing and waxing Beluga and the Jeep.  He's rearranged the basement compartments and done a little work around on a water check valve (I didn't explain that right at all!).

We've restocked our pantry and hung up a feeder for the hummingbirds that have been impatiently tapping their little toes.

We've enjoyed second cup and happy hour outside every single day.   ahhhhhh     This area has broken it's high temperature records daily since we arrived so neither of us has had the inclination to get out and do anything.   We're more interested in catching up on rest and relaxation.    The last couple months at the lake were very busy and the drive across the country was stressful.     Next week is predicted to be cooler but sunny so we'll get out and about then.

Today I made some fruited coleslaw for dinner.   I had part of an apple left so I impaled it on a broken Palo Verde branch outside the door.    It was a huge hit with the local birds.    We had many noisy "discussions" about who's territory this actually is.    Who got to eat the apple first, how long to stay at it, how many times they could return, etc., etc.  

Gila Woodpecker telling a pushy Gilded Flicker to wait his turn!

cactus wren planning her attack

pretty little Verdin

check out those eyebrows!

It seems every night's sunset is more beautiful than the last......

Sunday, November 1, 2020


 We left Amarillo under sunny skies and sloppy roads.   Our Jeep is unrecognizable under it's covering of road grime and cinder scum.      We made one overnight stop in Albuquerque (with a propane fill) and then one in Holbrook, AZ.  

near Gallup, NM

spooky Halloween moon in Holbrook

This morning we left Holbrook and took a different route to our final destination of Usery Mountain Regional Park outside Phoenix.     Instead of using interstates, as we usually do, we decided to drive diagonally south on smaller roads (77 to 377 to 277 to 260 to 87 to Bush Highway) to cut off quite a few miles.    We'd never taken this route before and were unsure of what we'd encounter.

Most of the way was on two lane roads through Arizona's high desert.   Not much shoulder but quite a few pull-outs along the way.    Once through the town of Heber we began to encounter pine forests and hilly terrain.

Driving through the mountains south of Payson was hard.   Route 87 is a fine road, four lane mostly, but it was slogging up long grades, then down long grades, etc. etc. for the entire drive.     We passed through miles of recent burn damage along the way.

We felt like we were home as we turned onto the Bush Highway and headed toward Mesa.  This is a road we've driven many times and it's scenery never disappoints (although today we didn't see any of the wild horses that roam the area).

heading down to the Salt River

Once through the entry gates, we quickly settled into our site and went outside to enjoy a nice warm happy hour.   Dave was grinning from ear to ear.    He was finally thawed out!


our happy hour view

Dave's bare feet make a perfect headrest