Saturday, March 30, 2013

Kind of a Boring Day

It was hot today! When it gets above 94 or so, we end up turning on the air conditioner. I like it warm, but I don't like it sweaty!

We had trouble yesterday with the power kicking out. It would shut everything down, even if we weren't pulling juice for anything but the AC. It would be off for four or five minutes, then would kick back on again.

Forry finally figured out that maybe the power pedestal, which sits behind the motorhome in the direct sun, was getting too hot. He took one of our lawn chairs over to it, then used the cardboard box the icemaker came in as a shade for the pedestal. Viola! No more power interruptions!

Since it's started getting this warm, we've seen a definite change in the behavior of the occupants of Valle del Oro. Early in the morning -- even at 5 AM or so -- there are lots of people power walking, walking and bike riding up and down the streets. Then by mid-day the streets are deserted and no one is to be seen. Later, as I'm starting dinner, the streets get active again. From about six o'clock until it gets quite dark, the walkers and bikers are out again.

When we went bike riding last evening, it was actually very nice. It was cool with a bit of a breeze. Quite a contrast to what it had been like earlier in the day.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday in Spain

Many, many years ago (in another life) we spent Holy Week in Spain. We had gone as chaperones with our friend Judy's high school Spanish class on a ten-day Spring Break trip.

Some things about the trip are indelibly fixed in my brain. We were in Seville and watched the out-lying churches carrying -- on their shoulders -- the Virgins on floats from their churches into the Cathedral to be blessed. The floats featured elaborately dressed and bejeweled statues of the Virgin Mary. Sometimes a smaller, less elaborate float with the Christos would follow behind. Underneath the heavy floats were barefoot men. Accompanying each float were bands of men in hooded outfits that resembled those of the Klu Klux Klan, only in the colors of that particular church. Other penitents in the procession would be carrying crosses or whipping themselves as they went. The processions at night were particularly eerie. Lit by flaming torches, sometimes the only sound from hundreds of people was the sound of bare feet on the cobblestone streets and the sound of the whips.

The students had gone to bed on Thursday night when the two chaperone couples decided to follow one of the processions to the cathedral. Only we did not realize for quite some time that they had already been there and were headed back to their rural church. By the time we figured it out we were very lost, it was very late, and very dark. We finally woke a cab driver who was sleeping in his car, who agreed (for a very good price) to take us back to our hotel in the city center.

We went into the main cathedral on Good Friday itself to find all of the altars (both the main and side chapels) covered with black cloths. All of the elaborate gold and silver chalices and other altar ware had been removed and all there was to see was the mounded black cloth covering the cross.

All of the stores and buildings except for the churches were closed. It was a very strange day and it seemed even stranger when our tour guide took us into the cathedral. The reverence paid to the Virgin Mary and the way everything shut down in observance of Good Friday gave us a different perspective about Holy Week.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Usery Park

I always get a chuckle out of the Ocotillos. They look like such dead brown ugly sticks all winter long. Then all of a sudden, after some rain, they start to green up sending out green leaves almost overnight --

Then the tips start showing orange and red --

The first time we saw them bloom was when we were in Dulzura, California working with Mennonite Disaster Service. I remember our coordinator laughing at us when we went for a drive on a Sunday afternoon to see the blooms. She couldn't believe we would waste gas to go see a "bunch of weeds!"

The Fiddlenecks are also beginning to bloom --

These are NOT the same as the edible fiddleneck ferns!

No matter which direction you look in the park, the view is always spectacular!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Usery Mountain Park Flowers

After talking about it for several days, we finally went out to one of Maricopa County's neat parks to check out the wild flowers today. At first glance and from a distance, it looked like several of the cacti had reddish blooms, but it was actually only the color of new growth --

There were lots of Globe Mallow still in bloom --

There was other orange to be seen --

as part of a Chuparosa bush --

The Mexican Gold Poppies were out --

Both interspersed with lots of Brittlebush --

I noticed this Cactus Wren hopping between the ground and a large cholla cactus --

Then I spotted this nest nestled in amongst the spears of the cholla. If you look carefully you can see two little babies inside. When I made a noise as I was taking the picture, the little beaks popped open.

These are Hedgehog cacti --

They are called Strawberry Hedgehogs because of their flowers --

Some of the Hedgehogs are just loaded with buds and blooms. Another few days and they'll stand out like candles at night!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

An Absolutely Lazy Boring Day...

I was sitting here trying to remember what we had done today. It was an absolutely blah day with nothing to make it memorable. We have been wanting to make a trip over to Desert Gardens to take a look at the spring desert flowers, but Forry thought tomorrow might be a better day, so we didn't do it this afternoon.

I did wash a couple of loads of laundry. One was the bathroom rugs and the other was a load of shirts. When I went to hang a couple of shirts to dry, I got rather frustrated. I can usually hang two hangers on the cabinets in the front of the RV, one on each side. Forry had not replaced the doors on the right hand side that he had removed for the DirectTV guy's abortive attempt to replace our receiver with one that could also record. I must have made my annoyance palpable as by this afternoon, the doors are now back in place...

My run of luck with Words With Friends on my iPad is definitely over. I think I have been beaten by everyone I am playing with the last few days! I need to ramp up my collection of two letter words and of words of more than four letters -- I'd do a lot better. Playing with four or five different people of all ages is quite interesting. The selection of words is sometimes surprising and unexpected.

We did have a nice telephone visit with our eldest daughter this noon. We are in the process of re-writing the ranch lease and had emailed each of the girls a copy in order to keep them in the loop. After all, the next time the lease is up for negotiation, they will most likely be the ones doing it.

Another pair of Alpine Coach owners stopped by for a visit this evening. Sounds like there's an informal Alpine get-together happening at the Happy Hour each evening. We may have to check it out.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Time for a Costco Run

We've been putting it off, but Forry used the last tab of dishwasher soap doing the dishes last night, so today we finally made a Costco trip. We're going to have to check out Safeway or one of the other grocery stores though if we want any fresh berries. Costco had NO strawberries or blueberries and just a couple of sleeves of pretty sad looking raspberries.

They did have some great looking meat though, so I stocked up on some rib eyes, hamburger and lamb chops. We looked at a very nice looking boneless leg of lamb, but it was still an awful lot of meat for just two of us, so we left it go. It did mean that I had to spend some time when we got home repackaging the larger packages of meat in to smaller packages to freeze for us.

We had gone late enough in the afternoon to justify buying Costco Polish dogs for supper. I bought two Polish dogs (one with sauerkraut) with two drinks and a churro to split and had change from a five dollar bill. Saturday night at the Salt River baseball game I bought two Polish dogs with onions and peppers and a bottle of water and had a few pennies returned from a twenty dollar bill. Besides which, the Costco dogs were a whole lot better!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Quiet Palm Sunday

Since our friend Bill has figured out how to load the videos of the Menno Mennonite Church services to UTube, we have been enjoying worship with our home congregation. It is such a joy!

Forry was giving me a bad time today about my not having noticed the flowers blooming in the gravel at the back of Auntie Violet's parking space. These little beauties are actually blooming all over the RV park in various spots.

Coreopsis is pretty much considered a weed in this part of the world. It has naturalized in many areas and it is not unusual to see a hillside covered with these little orange and yellow flowers.

Since we were out at the ball game last night, we missed the first broadcast of the PBR from the Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This afternoon, we watched the 3rd round and the Final Go-Round (which the bulls won 9-1). After watching the National Indian PowWow there last fall, it was interesting to see it transformed into an arena.

Our Granddaughter Kyra turned 15 today! I am so amazed at how quickly our grand-children are growing up. Kyra and her sister will be staying with us during the Mennonite Conference in Phoenix in July. I am really looking forward to spending some time with them. (Yes, I know how busy the teens are, but at least we'll get a glimpse or two...!)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It NEVER Pays to Say Never!

I know, I know, I said we weren't going to go to any more night baseball games and fight the traffic.

But, then we decided we wanted to go to the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and see the Colorado Rockies play. There is only one week of Spring Training left and it turned out the only game we could get tickets for was a Saturday night game...

Not knowing what Saturday traffic would be like, we left Auntie Violet a little after four o'clock. But, wouldn't you know, traffic was not bad at all and it only took us a half hour or so to get to the ball park. It was actually kind of nice, we had plenty of time to look around, get some brats with grilled peppers and onions and find our seats. Talking Stick is the only ball park I've been at that had a Jack Daniels vender. Forry thought that was pretty neat.

One thing really nice about this park is the shuttles they run between the parking lot and the stadium.

The Talking Stick complex is owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and houses both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies for Spring Training. A portion of the Salt River winds around the stadium --

Since we were early, we watched the grounds crew getting the field ready. By the time the game started that grassy area in the outfield was solid with people sitting on the grass. The  game was sold-out.

The first time we were here was right after it opened two years ago. We were only able to get seats in the bleacher section and quickly decided we were way too old to sit in seats without backs.

Tonight our seats were in Section 210, which once again had us sitting behind that protective net behind home plate. This is the Colorado Rockies mascot Dingle, a baby dinosaur..?

He's kinda cute, but I think the Spokanasaurus of the Spokane Indians is cuter...

The Rockies were playing the San Diego Padres. The wind was blowing towards the outfield, which made for 8 home runs! The Padres had three of them, but the Rockies beat them 10-4.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Asah Gweh Oou-o

I think we've finally found the place we'll be staying at next winter! Valle del Oro is a very nice RV resort, but it's BIG! There are more RV and Park Model sites here then there were people in the town of Ritzville where I grew up. While there are lots of activities going on all the time, most of it is stuff we're not interested in. I guess we'd rather be out bird-watching or flower hunting then dancing and partying.

I've been saying for some time that I wanted to find an RV site where you could tell you were in the desert. We liked Desert Gardens, but didn't really want to buy our lot. And its heavily-graveled interior roads wouldn't make for very fun bike-riding. We also liked the Escapees North Ranch, but once again all of the large lots are the ones you have to buy. And it's a long way from the baseball parks!

I had read an ad for Asah Gweh Oou-o or Eagle View RV Resort in an Arizona RV Magazine I had picked up at Camping World when we were there last week. Since it was near Scottsdale, we decided to go look at it today.

The address of the RV Park is Fort McDowell. You turn into it right across the highway from the Fort McDowell Casino. It is a small park with only 250 sites -- and NO park models! The interior streets are paved and there are cement patios at each RV site. We drove around and really like the looks of it. One side of the park is bordered by the Verde River and there are views of the mountains all the way around. We liked what we were seeing, but decided that we'd not make any decisions today...

Then we went into the office to talk to Sandy. She said they had started a new offer for next winter that would give you the months of October through December for $600 per month. That's inclusive -- water, garbage, sewer and electricity! (All of which we are being charged separately for where we are this winter -- electricity alone has been right around $200 per month.) All of the perimeter sites on the river side were already taken and there were only six perimeter sites left on the other side.

We went back out and drove around again, checking out the view from the various sites. We picked out three that basically had a view down an interior street of the park out to the desert and the mountains. Then we went back to the office and made a deposit on this site, #169 --

Looking down the interior street, you can see the mountains in the distance.You can also see that this RV park is definitely in the desert!

This is the office, community room, laundry, etc. building. The swimming pool and a hot tub are behind it. We had a chance to visit with a couple who were in the pool. They were from Wisconsin and were spending their third winter here. 

We took the back road from Fort McDowell back to Mesa that goes by Saguaro Lake. It is a gorgeous drive -- especially with the sun shining on the rocks.

NO More Night Games!

We traded our tickets from the cancelled (lightning and rain) game last week for ones tonight when the Mariners played the Chicago Cubs. Most of the home games this week were at night, so there wasn't a lot of choice. Our seats were in the box seats above home plate. But you really don't get very good pictures from there as there is that protective screen in front of you...

The game was at 7:05. We left Auntie Violet at 5 PM. I had suggested that we should leave at 4 PM, but Forry thought two hours was plenty of time (it's usually an hour's drive to the ball park in Peoria), We got there about 7:15, three players into the first inning!

Afternoon traffic is horrendous -- and of course, there was a 3-4 vehicle collision in the middle of it all. Most of the time we did well to make 20 miles per hour.

Then the Cubs beat the Mariners 6-4, though Justin Smoak did have a home run. We got home at 11:30...

At least Gonzaga won their game today, although that one was pretty scary too! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Desert Flowers

It was our, well, mine anyway, intention yesterday to check out what was blooming in the desert. And we did stop to take a few pictures while we were still in the Valley of the Sun. As we got up to higher colder altitudes, we did not see much blooming.

There were several patches of penstemons (Penstemon pseudospectabilis) alongside the road --

A member of the figwort family, the penstemon variety in the Arizona desert sports a rose-purple hue.

Nearby was a Fairyduster (Calliandra eriophylla) shrub. Also known as False Mesquite, it has very dainty, feathery pink blooms --

Later we began to see patches of yellow and bunches of Desert Marigolds --

Desert multiradiata  is said to be one of the commonest bloomers gracing the desert roadsides  --


I am looking forward to more desert explorations in the next few weeks. The Sonoran Desert is truly a treasure of flowers in the spring.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

We Were Just Going to Globe...

Forry was chatting with the ladies at Camping World yesterday while they gave him directions to get to their other store. Saying something about "taking the Globe exit" got them talking about how we had never gone there even though we were always taking the Globe exit on Highway 60 to get to Valle del Oro. The ladies started talking about what a pretty drive it was...

I wanted to go looking for desert flowers this afternoon, so Forry's suggested we do it on the way to Globe. Sure enough, the hills outside of town heading in that direction were covered with blooming Brittle Bush --

 As we headed up through the mountain passes, the scenery did begin to get quite spectacular --



As we got nearer to Miami and then Globe, we began to see evidence of the mining that this region is famous for --

Fortunes in copper and gold have been removed from these mountains over the years --

Much of the copper is milled into copper rod at this plant --

About this point, Forry got an idea that we should continue north on Highway 60 to Show Low, then loop back to Mesa via Heber and Payson. We were driving through the Tonto National Forest which at this level is mainly junipers.

Highway 60 takes you through the Salt River Canyon --

Cut by the Black River, the canyon is described by many as being as "spectacular as the Grand Canyon, but without the crowds..."

The highway to the bottom is a series of switch-backs leading to this bridge at the bottom --

The cliffs -- and the hoo-doos -- are as beautiful as the ones in Zion or Bryce --

Even Toad II had to stop and admire...

The surprise of the day for us came as we climbed the Mazatzal Mountains near Payson. We found lots of SNOW at about the 7500 foot level!

Our short excursion to Globe turned into an all day trip. We didn't get back to Auntie Violet until almost 8:30!