On the Road May 7-21, 2019

posted in: Arizona, Uncategorized | 0

As of today, (Friday, May 17th), we have made it from Arizona to Ohio. We have seen some beautiful sites especially in Arizona, Utah and Colorado. In the past week and a half we have gone thru Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. We still have New York, Massachusetts and our final destination of Maine.

Our first stop was to Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona. We like to stay at state parks as they have the best places to find hikes right from the park and they are generally very clean and the sites are good. This was a nice first stop and had a good place to walk around.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

From there we visited Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. This is a cinder cone located in Flagstaff. Sunset Crater Volcano was born in a series of eruptions sometime between 1040 and 1100. Powerful explosions profoundly affected the lives of local people and forever changed the landscape and ecology of the area. A very unique area.

Sunset Crater Volcano
John & Shelby at Sunset Crater
Sunset Crater Volcano

Past the crater is the Wapatki National Monument. Ancient pueblos dot red-rock outcroppings across miles of prairie. Where food and water seem impossible to find, people built pueblos, raised families, farmed, traded, and thrived.

Wapatki
Wapatki view

Next up was Page, AZ and the Glen Canyon Recreation Area, Grande Escalante National Monument and Vermillion Cliffs. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is a recreation and conservation unit of the National Park Service that encompasses the area around Lake Powell and lower Cataract Canyon in Utah and Arizona, covering 1,254,429 acres of mostly desert. Grande Escalante is called that for the series of plateaus that descend from Bryce Canyon south toward the Grand Canyon. Everywhere we looked was just spectacular. The views were 360 degrees.

Glen Canyon – looked like smoke coming out of the mountain but it was clouds.
Glen Canyon view below our campsite
Glen Canyon
Glen Canyon
Glen Canyon panorama a stop right off the road.

 

Glen Canyon looking thru the buildings.
Grande Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Grande Staircase-Escalante
Grand Escalante Snow Covered Mountains
Vermillion Cliffs

Going thru Utah is just beautiful. We went thru Red Canyon and onto Bryce National Park. It was raining when we arrived at Bryce so we just drove thru and continued on. On this leg, we hit rain, ice, snow and sun. Doesn’t get any better than that. Luckily we have been to Bryce NP twice before so we weren’t too disappointed that we couldn’t see anything. There were also restrictions for where you can go with an RV and also with a dog.

Red Canyon
Red Canyon

A favorite place of ours is Kodachrome Basin State Park. We camped here one night, but unfortunately because of the rain, we couldn’t do any hiking while we were here.

View from campsite at Kodachrome Basin State Park
Kodachrome Basin State Park
Kodachrome Basin State Park

Another area that is spectacular is Great Sand Dunes National Park in Mosca, Colorado. The national park campground is usually full but there is a wildlife campground (Mosca Campground) that we stayed at and got a nice sunset picture. Biggest problem here were the gnats. We couldn’t walk around as they just surrounded us.

Sunset of dunes from our campsite
Sunset of dunes from our campsite

We went to the sand dunes with Shelby and he loved walking thru the water. Such an incredible place when you see sand dunes, mountains and running water all in the same place. If you’re adventuresome (which we’re not), you can take a sand board and slide down the hills. We talked with one woman who tried it and she said it was difficult to do. So that let us out.

Great Sand Dunes Panorama
Shelby and John. They look higher than they actually were.
Great Sand Dunes (John’s contribution to photo-taking)
Great Sand Dunes

Sometimes we have to pick campgrounds that aren’t our favorite as they are mainly for big rigs and your neighbor is side-by-side. This was the case at Falcon Meadow Campground near Colorado Springs. The nice part at this place was, we were able to visit with my high school friend, Paula and her husband, Nick. They also had a nice big dog park so Shelby was happy.

Next stops were Ellis, Kansas (never did find Dorothy and Toto) and Arrow Rock, Missouri.

Cedar Bluff State Park (Arrow Rock, Missouri)

 

After this we changed direction from our original plan. We went into Ohio bypassing the Indiana Sand Dunes because of storms that were supposed to be bad. We stayed in Buck Creek State Park in Springfield. We did get bad storms in the night and woke up to flooding in our camper.

After looking at Shelby’s soaked bed and John’s sneakers full of water, we went to a Camping World to have the leak assessed. Bad news is there was lots of leakage from seals on the roof not being taken care of (this is a 2016 RV we bought one month ago). Anyway the dealership in London, OH looked at it and is fixing it for us (over $3,000 cost). Naturally, as with any extended warranty you purchase, it doesn’t cover the type of repair you need to have done. If it was a plumbing leak it would be covered. This Camping World has been fabulous to deal with and we are staying at a hotel overnight (at their cost) while they repair it. Considering all the traveling we have done, we feel fortunate this has been our first major problem.

We look forward to getting home after a quick visit to my cousin’s in New York.

Overall, we love this traveling and our new camper. Being able to see so many beautiful sites in the United States is beyond expectation. Hope you enjoy some of our pictures.

Winter in Eloy

posted in: Arizona | 0

It’s hard to believe we have been in Arizona for 5 months. But it’s already time for us to head back to Maine. We’ve have been busy here and have enjoyed our time in the desert. The winter was a little colder and rainier than the locals are used to but when it’s 50 degrees here we just think of the cold and snow and ice back in Maine.

We got to visit with Marilyn and Jack while they spent the month of January in a house near us.

Marilyn and Jack from Camden during their month stay.

 

In February, Marian and Bill stopped by for a week on their way to Hawaii.

John, Marian and Bill at Saguaro National Park

 

John, Cheryl, Bill at Saquaro National Park

 

Rehabilitated hawk at Desert Museum

 

In February we purchased a house in Eloy in the community we have rented in for two years. We love being in this community and enjoy socializing with everyone here. The house we bought is a two bedroom, two bath with a great patio out back. We are on a golf course but it is a non-working course so we use it as our very own dog park for Shelby.

 

Back Patio at our house

 

We moved into our home in April since we had already committed to a rental until the end of April. The living room and bedroom furniture was left so we only had to buy the kitchen things and whatever we wanted to put on the walls. We were fortunate to have my sister, Nancy and brother-in-law Ed, nearby to help us with the essentials for the house. Right now the walls are pretty sparse but it is fun to shop around and find exactly what we want. We’re trying to keep things to the bare minimum since we got rid of so many treasures in Maine last summer.

We got in a few hikes this year with our friends, Ron and Lisa from Vermont. Some of them included:

  • Usery Mountain Pass, Mesa
  • South Mountain Park
  • Sweetwater Preserve
  • Dove Mountain
  • Wasson Peak at Saguaro National Park
  • Picacho Peak
  • Casa Grande Mountain
  • San Tan Park
John at top of Picacho Peak. Photo by Ron

 

Usery Mountain Pass

 

Desert was in full bloom this year.

 

Lisa, Ron and John admiring the beautiful flowers at Wasson Peak.

 

Wasson Peak view

 

Dove Mountain

 

Another successful hike with Ron and Lisa

 

Pickleball, of course, was our main activity. We only have one court in our community so we have beginner, intermediate and advanced level play at different times. The intermediate play is the most popular. Because of so many playing. It seems to turn more into social hour than pickleball–but it’s all fun.

East (Vermont and Maine) v. West  (Idaho and Oregon) pickleball with Craig, Randy, Ron and John

 

Pickleball tournament at Grande Valley Ranch. Photo compliments of Kathy.

 

In April we purchased a 24-foot motor home which we will be traveling in to go back home. It is a 2016 Coachmen Prism with only 9,000 miles. We leave on May 7th and expect to be home around the 22nd.

Our new camper

 

Shelby trying out the new camper. This will be his place for the 3600+ miles.

 

Here is our road trip from Arizona to Maine.

 

I’ll try to post along our trip depending on internet service.

Until next time, hope everyone enjoyed their winter. Let us know what is happening with you.

 

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.

 

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…