Merry Christmas 2018

posted in: Arizona | 0

Merry Christmas to all,

 

We are enjoying the sunshine now in Arizona. It is a little different being here for Christmas. Christmas is our favorite time of year to have a little snow on the ground. Guess it won’t happen this year for us, but we are enjoying the mild (60-70 degree) temperatures.

Our decorations are quite sparse in the house. There was an artificial topiary tree here that had lights on it. So we added a few decorations and call it our tree. John has been jumping for joy this year without having to haul up the 9-foot tree from the basement. He was not sad to see that tree go. (See picture below.)

Fond memories of our Christmas tree from 2001 to 2017.

 

Shelby got his haircut for the holidays and the groomer took his picture. He is not thrilled with the head gear but he was a good sport.

 

Our trip from Maine to Arizona was good. We were able to stop at friends and relatives along the way which helps break up the long trip. It was a 10-day odyssey but uneventful which always helps. Shelby is great to travel with so he is no problem.

Most of our time here has been spent either grocery shopping, playing pickleball or walking. We get 2-3 long walks a day on the golf course. It is a non-working course which is good for us to take Shelby on.

One of our favorite hikes out here is Pass Mountain in Usery Park. It is a long (7 miles) but a fairly easy hike and there are nice views along the way. The day we went was nice and sunny but not real hot which made for a nice day. We even saw three wild horses not too far from the trail.  I did proceed to twist my ankle half way around. It seemed fine until I took my shoe off and, of course, then it swelled up. I had to stop pickleball for a few days but I’m back again playing.

 

View on Pass Mountain

 

Another view on Pass Mountain Trail

 

We have been looking to buy a property here in this Eloy community. There have been a few on the market and we hope to make a decision soon. We are here until April 30th so have lots of time to find something. We will then plan on splitting our time between Cutler, Maine and Eloy, Arizona–having the best of the seasons.

Since we didn’t get cards out this year, this is our “Christmas blog card”. We wish you all a Merry Christmas. May 2019 be a great year for everyone.

 

Ready to get on the road again

posted in: Maine | 0

It’s that time of year again for us to head west for the winter. We have managed to get in a couple small hikes recently to occupy our time.

Below is a picture of Eastern Nubble, a pretty hike in Cutler that is a few miles from us. This is only a 1.7 mile hike but at the end is a cobble beach with views of the Bold Coast. At low tide, you can walk over to Eastern Ear, a little island. A side trail takes you to an old silver and copper mine.

 

View at end of Eastern Nubble hike.

 

Shelby walking very carefully over the rocks.

 

Tough to see but this is the Old Silver and Copper Mine

 

Across the street from us is a small pond with a  little waterfall. The beavers love it as they are constantly trying to build a dam to stop it from flowing. We haven’t seen the beavers but the other day we saw what we think were two or three otters. (Sorry no picture of them.) Sometimes when the waterfall backs up it produces lots of bubbles. It is almost as if someone added lots of detergent to create these bubbles.

Waterfall where the beavers like to create their dam.

 

Close up of the bubbles.

 

We (okay mostly John and Shelby) have started the packing process. It’s not easy fitting in everything we (as in me–John says he doesn’t need to bring much) need for 5 months in a small car. We should be getting good at this since we did lots of packing all summer. We didn’t quite get out of here quick enough since we got a snowstorm with about 3-4 inches of snow, then sleet, then rain. We head out on Tuesday, November 20th to visit friends and family from Maine to New York. On Sunday the 25th we start the rest of our trek to Arizona. We expect to arrive in Eloy on the 29th.

John packing the car with Shelby’s help.

 

Nearby stream looks pretty with the recent snowfall.

 

 

Sunset in Cutler before the snow.

 

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving. We’ll be in touch.

 

 

 

Downeast Maine

posted in: Maine | 0

 

It’s been a while since we posted on our blog. It was a very busy summer with the sale of our house in Washington. While we have been pretty excited about our move from Washington to Cutler, it has also been a very difficult move. The hardest part has been to leave all of our friends in the area. We know we will still see everyone but just not as often. We have also been deprived of playing pickleball as much as we’d like. We hope to get some recruits in Cutler but that may take some time.

 

Washington house (Picture taken by Cates Real Estate photographer)

 

Trying to figure out what to keep and what to get rid of has certainly been a difficult task. So how do you leave a home with more than 3600 square feet, a full basement and a four car garage to a place with 1200 square feet, no basement, and a one car garage? We are happy to say we did accomplish this but not without a few tears and a lot of organization.

So the hardest part is now behind us. We moved in on August 24th and have most everything organized. Although, we now have  some very full closets and a very full garage. (You mean the garage is there to park the car? I don’t think so!) We owe a big thanks to Larry (John’s brother) and Nancie (sister-in-law) for all the help we got. Not only with all the furniture moving they did, but they also took Shelby off our hands so we could get things done. Of course, now Shelby likes their house more than ours. When we walk him, he wants to continue on to their house (which is just a little ways past ours).

We have had some beautiful weather and have done some hikes in the area. Here are some of the nice places we have been to:

 

Cutler Harbor

 

Western Head – a beautiful scenic hike in Cutler

 

Long Point Preserve. Nancie and Shelby (if you can find him) taking a hike.

 

 

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Lubec

 

Quoddy Head

 

We were also able to get some camping in near Acadia National Park.We were fortunate to be able to stay at a campground we used to stay at years ago. It is currently closed but got permission to stay there for a couple days with our friends, Jim and Genie. The surf was really high while we were there and was such fun to watch at Schoodic Point.

View from our campsite.

 

Waves at Schoodic Point.

 

Waves so high I couldn’t capture them in the camera.

 

Jim and Genie at Schoodic Point.

 

We did allow a picture of us to be taken at Schoodic. (A rare thing for us.)

 

A view across the street from our house looking at Holmes Bay.

 

A sample of the nice sunsets we get to see across the street from us.

 

Our new home in Cutler is about 3 hours north from Washington. It has a population of about 500 people. A few people have asked to see our house. While it is nothing special, here are a few pictures. This is old Naval housing that has been converted to condos. They are duplexes and ours is on the left. Shelby loves to get into the pictures when I am taking them.

 

The new McKeary abode.

 

Living room (Notice Shelby relaxing in his bed.)

 

Kitchen. We added the cupboards on the right when we moved in as I needed more space.

 

Master bedroom upstairs

 

Guest bedroom (when you come to visit us)

 

My office / Sewing room

 

That’s all for now. We leave around Thanksgiving for our winter vacation in Eloy, Arizona. We’re always up for company wherever we are, so feel free to let us know when you can visit.

 

 

Boyce Thompson Arboretum and Mt. Lemmon

posted in: Arizona | 0

While John’s brother, Frank, was visiting we got out a little to tour Boyce Arboretum in Surprise and Mt. Lemmon in Tucson,

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the largest and oldest botanical garden in the state of Arizona. It is one of the oldest botanical institutions west of the Mississippi. We thought we would see more of the cactus blooming while we were there but it seems the dry weather has slowed down some of the blossoms. It was still a nice trip with some great views to enjoy while walking around.

Reminded us of Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, Utah.

 

View along the trail.

 

Another view while walking along the trail.

 

Cactus just starting to blossom.

 

Our next day trip was to Mt. Lemmon. This was a longer drive from our house. It took about 2.5 hours to get there but it was worth the trip. It has a summit elevation of 9,159 feet and is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. It was 82 degrees at the bottom and by the time we got up to the top it was 52 degrees. There is even a ski lift for skiing here. I don’t think they got much snow this winter for skiing, however. There are four different alpine zones.  A long, winding road takes in some very scenic views. It starts at the bottom with plenty of cactus and at the top lots of pines trees where we felt a little more at home.

 

Traveling up Mt. Lemmon

 

Another view at Mt. Lemmon

 

John and Frank at Mt. Lemmon

 

We have explored as much as we could this year. Next year we plan to come back to Eloy again. We are staying in a different house but in the same community. Our three months have flown by and the weather has certainly made our stay worthwhile. We leave for home on Monday and will arrive in Washington on April 16th. Hope you have enjoyed seeing some of our pictures of Arizona.

 

Here are a few parting pictures….

Shelby and John doing what they do best–relaxing.

 

Love the quail that sit on our fence.

 

Lots of rabbits around. Shelby doesn’t even try to chase them anymore

 

 

 

Picacho Peak–a challenging hike

posted in: Arizona | 0

We have done a lot of hiking around the country but nothing can compare to hiking Picacho Peak. The park is located between Casa Grande and Tucson and not too far from where we are staying. It is a 3200-foot peak with an elevation gain of 1500 feet, 6.2 miles round trip which isn’t bad until you come across all the cables, rungs and rocks where you have to use lots of upper body strength to get to the top.

 

View of Picacho Peak doesn’t look too intimidating from the highway.

 

The first 2 miles is pretty flat and gives a false sense of security and ease in walking. Then you hit the first cable section and it’s all over after that. I lost count of the number of cables and rungs but it was very challenging.

 

View as we were walking.

 

View part of the way up.

 

One of the walks across the rocks.

 

Another cable to tackle.

 

More cables shows John coming down backwards. Photo by Ken

 

 

John and Cheryl coming back down. Photo by Ken

 

Vulture spreading his wings near the top.

 

Ken and John after climbing for 2-1/2 hours.

 

John and Cheryl resting at the top

 

View of Mt. Lemmon from the top

 

John enjoying the view

 

John and Ken are ready to do this hike again. Me? Maybe not so much. I’m glad I did it but not sure if I want to do it again.

 

Flowers are now starting to bloom in the desert. Here are a couple of beauties that have bloomed down the street from us.

We were told this cactus only blooms for one day.

 

Lots of flowers on this beauty.

 

We took another trip to Saguaro National Park with John’s brother, Frank. A nice day to be outside and see the desert plants.

 

This ocotillo plant was blooiming in Saguaro National Park.

 

John and Frank looking very small next to the saguaro.

 

That’s all from Arizona for now.

 

 

 

 

Arizona Visitors

posted in: Arizona | 0

The fun thing about having visitors is not only the great company but exploring places we haven’t seen. My cousin Pam and her husband Ron were out for a week. We kept them busy going to Mesa and Tucson and even got in a little pickleball with them.

 

We went to Nancy (sister) and Ed’s house and the guys got a chance to try out the putting green.

Andrew at the putting green.

 

John showing off his golf techniques. Notice the beautiful view of Mesa in the background.

 

Ron and John assessing the putting green.

 

One trip was to the Biosphere 2.  This is an American Earth system science research facility located in Oracle, Arizona. It is run by the University of Arizona. It was originally intended to house people inside to see if they can sustain living there. Biosphere 2 was only used twice for its original intended purposes as a closed-system experiment: once from 1991 to 1993, and the second time from March to September 1994. Both attempts, though heavily publicized, ran into problems including low amounts of food and oxygen. We did get to see it in 1994 when there were people living inside. It has changed a lot since we were there and was quite fascinating to explore.

Biosphere buildings

 

Biosphere buildings

 

Rain forest at Biosphere.

 

 

We took a trip to the the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson. It is a 98-acre zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, natural history museum, and art gallery founded in 1952. It was a nice place to walk around and view many animals and gardens along almost 2 miles of paths and 21 acres.

 

John, Pam and Ron at Saquaro National Park.

 

Coyote lounging in the sun.

 

Javelina at Desert Museum. They are strange looking animals.

 

Pam showing how tall the cactus are.

 

Our next trip was to Old Tucson. Old Tucson is a movie studio and theme park near Saguaro National Park. This wasn’t one of our favorite places but again it was a nice day to walk around. It was originally built in 1939 for the movie Arizona. Little House on the Prairie was also shot there along with many other movies.

 

Stagecoach at Old Tucson.

 

John and Ron boarding the train.

 

Humorous gravestones at Old Tucson.

 

Another Gravestone

 

Sunset on the way back from Mesa, shot from the car.

 

 

So it was just another busy week in Arizona. Enjoyed our company and got to explore all at the same time.  Stay tuned for our next blog, “How we survived Picacho Peak.”

 

 

Another day in Eloy

posted in: Arizona | 0

Retired life in Arizona is good. As my mother used to say, “I don’t know what I did all day, but I was busy.” That’s about what we are up to. We have taken a few day trips and our daily routine is walking the dog and playing pickleball. With any luck that is keeping us in shape.

We taught Ed, Sheilah and Ken how to play pickleball. Based on the pictures, they seemed to enjoy it.

Pickleball inductees: Ed, John, Sheilah, Ken

 

Eloy promotes the best  Sky Diving place around  where you can watch people parachute out of the plane. We could see the planes go up and suddenly there are all kinds of parachutes opening and drifting back to the ground. It is open for anyone to try (at a price of course) but we weren’t brave enough to try it. We know our limits.

Sky divers. They weren’t as close together as this looks.

 

This skydiver landed in the desert instead of the nice green grass. Hope he didn’t find any cactus.

 

Coming in for a landing.

 

We ventured out to see Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. This is an Ancient Sonoran Desert People’s farming community and “Great House” over 650 years old. There is not a lot to see but it was interesting nonetheless. We didn’t watch the film they offered as we had the dog with us. Not many places allow dogs so this was a treat for Shelby to walk around here.

Casa Grande Ruins

 

Pigeon living at the Ruins.

 

Another angle of the ruins.

 

Our next trip was to Saguaro National Park in Tucson. We selected one of the many beautiful days here to take a hike on King’s Canyon. There was a copper mine called “Gould’s Mine” we could see along the trail. You can see the color to the right of the picture below. As with all national parks, are many hikes in this park to choose from. We will be going back to do others in the near future.

View from King’s Canyon.

 

They stored blasting powder in here for the copper mines.

 

While Super Bowl LII was a little disappointing, it was a great game and the Patriot’s had nothing to be ashamed of. We enjoyed dinner and watching the game at Nancy’s (sister) and Ed’s house. During the game, Sheilah got to try out the virtual reality game. If you get motion sickness this is not the game to try.

Watching the super bowl.

 

Sheilah exploring the virtual reality game.

 

Sunset in Mesa

 

Hope everyone back East is coping with the snow and ice. Spring has be to just around the corner.

Barrett-Jackson and Hiking

posted in: Arizona | 0

We are settling into our Arizona routine and enjoying every bit of it. The weather has been wonderful at 70+ degrees most of the time. We did have a few cooler days with lows in the 20s but warming up to 60 during the day. We certainly aren’t complaining about the temps here especially when we look at the weather of snow, ice, and rain at home. The sky is a beautiful color morning and evening.

 

Sunrise looking toward golf course from our house.

 

We went to the Barrett-Jackson car auction in Scottsdale. Towards the end we were on car overload but the number and types of cars were something to see. It was fun to actually see the auction in person vs. watching it on TV. This year the total sales were $116.7 million. There were many celebrities there including George W. Bush, Jay Leno, Tim Allen and more. Unfortunately the day we went we did not see any of them. But I think the rest of the people in the state were there based on trying to park and walk around through the crowds. Luckily we went with my sister and brother-in-law and some friends who drove their cars. We are just not used to this amount of traffic.

A Carol Shelby Cobra on display. Wouldn’t mind having one of these.

 

John dreaming about which car he’d like to buy.

 

In the room where they auction all the cars.

 

Another day, we hiked around Usery Mountain with our friend Ken. It is a great 7.5 mile hike—long but not too steep. The views were very nice.

Panorama of view from Usery Mountain

 

Ken at top of Usery. We were still far behind him.

 

Can you see John in this picture? About 2/3 down in tan shirt.

 

Another shot walking around Usery Mountain.

 

The rest of our days have consisted of walking the dog on the golf course so he can look for rabbits and getting a few hours of pickleball in just to say we are staying active. John and Shelby did see some coyotes on one of their walks around the golf course.

The light was shining on these mountains making it look like snow. It was really just sand. This is the golf course we walk around.

 

Another view of the fake snow-capped mountains.

 

Winter Vacation 2018

posted in: Arizona | 0

Seven days and 3,000 miles we finally arrived in Eloy, Arizona on Monday, January 8th. We lucked out with the weather across the country. We were ahead of the nasty storm in the east. When we got to Chambersburg, PA there were a few flurries and that is all we got for snow. The cold did last until New Mexico but we hit 70 degrees as we came across into Arizona. We can live with that.

 

Look temps hit 70 as we got into Arizona. What a treat!

 

Shelby was amazing the whole ride. We had a tupperware container (yes it was actually Tupperware and I know I am dating myself admitting that) filled with water. Whenever he wanted water he just tapped on the bowl and voila, his master gave him water. We stopped to let him out to stretch his legs quite often and when we got back in the car, he just sat up until he got his treat. I guess we know who is in charge.

 

Snow-capped mountains in New Mexico

 

The drive from New Mexico to Arizona was really nice. We took the scenic road for our last day and it was very pretty. From snow-capped mountains to Salt River Canyon it was a pretty sight.

Salt River Canyon

 

Salt River Canyon

 

 

The community in Eloy where are we are renting is very nice. We have met a few people and talked with some who played pickleball. John and I went down today to play for an hour. No one was around but we will connect up with others another day. There is also a pool, spa and exercise room which we will take advantage of.

The house is on the 7th tee of a golf course. Unfortunately, the golf course has been closed for 2 years so all the nice greens are brown. It is nice to be able to walk Shelby though. There are plenty of rabbits for him to chase.

Shelby checking out the view from the living room.

 

Our house is quite nice and how wonderful it is to sit outside for cocktail time. We are thinking the long drive out was worth being able to sit and enjoy the warm weather.

Until next time…

Final Day in Newfoundland and Cape Breton

posted in: Canada | 0

Our last night in Newfoundland we stayed at Barachois Pond Provincial Park which is the first park we stayed in. In the morning we decided to hike Erin Mountain, since we didn’t have to catch the ferry until midnight. This was a long hike but probably one of the most breathtaking 360 degree views we have seen. There was one hike in another area we didn’t want to take because we saw there were over 400 steps and we thought that would be too much. Little did we know this hike had over 800 steps (yes, I counted) but we did make it. The difference in hiking in Newfoundland versus other places is they really like their boardwalks as well as the stairs. Sometimes it is a blessing and other times it is a curse.

Some of the 800+ stairs on Erin Mountain.

 

This picture doesn’t do the 360 degree view justice.

 

After this hike, we still had over 12 hours before we had to get on the ferry. So our last tour of Newfoundland we went to one more falls and one more lighthouse. Barachois Falls in Rose Blanche is a gravel trail that then changes to a boardwalk. A nice walk in to see a beautiful waterfall.

Boardwalk to Barachois Falls

 

Closer view of the falls.

 

The Rose Blanche Lighthouse was originally built in 1871 and restored in 1999. This is made from granite and during the restoration they were able to use some of the granite from the original lighthouse. The inside of the lighthouse showed where the keeper and his family lived.

Rose Blanche Lighthouse

 

Rose Blanche Lighthouse

 

Every place we went we saw wooden boxes and wondered what they were. They were in front of every house. At first we thought they were for holding the salt to melt ice in the winter. Our next thought was perhaps some sort of trash bin. They were octagon with slats and spaces in between. They were also different colors.  Come to find out it was actually a trash bin. The trash collectors do have to open it up to get out the trash bags. Apparently it is because of the wind in Newfoundland. If they used plastic cans as we are used to seeing, the wind throws them around and they get damaged or lose their lids. Smart idea.

Wooden Boxes

 

By midnight, we were on the 7-hour ferry back to Nova Scotia. Upon arriving in Nova Scotia, we opted to spend a couple days in Cape Breton. Cape Breton is another great place to visit. After the fact, we did think we should have gone here first as it was a little less spectacular than the coast of Newfoundland.

We didn’t see a lot of wildlife in Newfoundland, but we did see this heron on one of our hikes in Nova Scotia. The beach in Amherst Shore was a reddish color–lots of clay in the sand I’m guessing.

Heron at Amherst Shore

 

Amherst Shore Beach

 

 

View from Campsite in Cape Breton

 

Skyline Drive in Cape Breton

 

The Travelers

 

Overall we traveled 4,500 miles. The gas is sold in litres which when translated to US gallons is about $5.00 per gallon. So needless to say, we spent a lot of money on gas.

To finish off our vacation, we stopped off in Lubec to spend time with John’s family and to pay tribute to their father who lived in Lubec.

 

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