88F to 38F

We got away fairly early on Monday and drove to Alamo Nevada. The thermometer registered kid 80’s all day and it was still 76 in Alamo when we were setting up.

When we got up in the morning it was 46, and that was almost the high for the day. We ended up taking the long route North towards Eloy, as we were talking so much I missed the turn and didn’t notice for about 20 miles. Oh well, we got to see Caliente (which translates to Hot, but wasn’t) and saw lots of icicles hanging from the various hayfield irrigation structures.

It finely reached 50F by the time we got to Eloy, and was still 46 when we set up for the night in Jackpot Nevada.

This is a nice quiet park next to a Casino, but I wish they had told me there was no water when I registered. I guess a shower will have to wait until Boise. When we got up this morning it was 38F but 24 hours earlier it was 17 and snowing, so I am not complaining….much.

We are stopping in Boise to visit our Twins who are house shopping there right now, and should be back in Kelowna by the weekend. As long as it doesn’t snow in the mountains.

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Picacho Peak Hike

At one point late every winter season we try and get a small group together to do a special hike. Usually this has entailed going to Canyon Lake from the First Water trailhead. That is about an 8 mile hike, and is usually rather pretty by now as the flowers are out, and there is always the bonus of stopping for Fish and Chips at the Restaurant at Canyon Lake.

As this year has been so very dry, the flowers are just not showing up yet, and so we decided to try another tack and headed to Picacho Peak for our annual outing. Picacho is a rather impressive hunk of right on Highway 10 between Phoenix and Tucson and is almost 90 minutes away from our park. In the picture below, we are climbing to the peak on the left, but first have to go up and over the saddle in the middle of the picture. The peak itself is about 1500 feet above the parking lot, but by the time you get through the saddle and have to go down the backside before climbing to the peak you end up with over 2000 feet of elevation gain in a 4 mile hike.IMG_5434

In all there were 7 of us on the hike, and things didn’t get off to a good start as one of the vehicles turned around just after we left the park as somebody had forgotten their hiking boots. I have been told this happens more and more as you get older. I can hardly wait…..

There were quite a few birds on this hike, which gave Dana a chance to practice his whistling. We saw several Black Vultures which are different from the Turkey Vultures we normally see, but by no means prettier.

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This is one of those hikes where you can see the parking lot most of the time, but it disappeared below us pretty quickly.

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Before long and after quite a bit of huffing and puffing we were at the Saddle for a break.

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From there we immediately lost about 400 feet of elevation as we went down the cable lined path on the backside of the peak. And thank Heaven for the cables placed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

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Then no sooner had we climbed down and we were headed back up again!IMG_5441

Does she look like she was having any fun?

IMG_5442Then we go down again….

IMG_5444Then we go up again. You can see the supports and fencing along the trail far above Sylvia.

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Yes, we did some serious climbing, but nobody got hurt or sick this trip. A few years ago we attempted to rename this hike Pukeacho, but the name hasn’t stuck.

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Before 2.5 hours were up, we were having another break, but at the very top of the Peak. Mission Accomplished, or at least half of it. The climb back down is no picnic either. By the time we left the top we had spent just as much time resting on the trail as we had hiking according to Dana’s GPS.

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The trip back down was thankfully uneventful, but we were beat by the time we got back to the Trucks. My GPS app said we were moving for 3:17, and we covered just 4 miles. Quite a hard hike.

Usually we see an abundance of California Poppies on the hillside, but that was not the case this year. Those few we saw were very small and sparse.

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And that is likely the end of our hiking season this winter. We’ve had a great deal of fun, will be back at it next November when we really find out how far out of shape we get over the Summer.

The Hurrier I Go

The behinder I get it seems.

Our time in Arizona is growing short, (less than a week left) although I was warned by our neighbours that we shouldn’t consider heading home until at least May, as the weather in the Okanagan is still not what one might consider warm. In fact, it’s still snowing some evenings, but that isn’t stopping the local gang from taking up semi-permanent residence in our yard.

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I have been informed that I will need a shovel and a very large pail to deal with all the presents they are leaving in the yard this winter….Oh well. Such is the cost of not being home and firing Ice Cubes at them all winter.

I left off the last blog talking about our great trip to Sedona. The last day we were there was cooler and wetter, and as we had done some long hikes already we spent the day with Dana and Debbie exploring the ‘Ghost City’ of Jerome. In it’s heyday as a mining town there were upwards of 5000 people living on the hillside but now there are less than 500. Most of those folks seem to be artisans or at least salespeople for art shops, as there are seemingly dozens of little art galleries and craft shops in town.

Our first stop was at the museum which is the original home of the family who owned the mine that gave the town it’s purpose. It was a very large and elaborate home for it’s time, and even had a built-in Vacuum system that was installed in 1915. It is about the size of a small car.IMG_5418The view of the town from the museum. We are up at about 5000’ elevation here, but didn’t see any snow, although there was some on the other side of the ridge behind the town.

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We spent several hours wandering the shops (without buying anything but a T-shirt), stopped for a beverage at the Oldest Family owned Saloon in Arizona, and had a great meal at one of the many restaurants in town. When I looked up the ratings for a spot to eat, it seems there were none with less and 4.5 * ratings.

Ok, I guess I will show you the Saloon picture.

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By the afternoon, the weather improved, and we got a nice view of the Cottonwood area in the Verde River valley. Nice Rainbow too.

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We went home the next day, and were quite please to see the progress on the house. I promise to show some pictures before we head North. We had one curious occurrence though. It seems someone wanted to see what the view from our new living space would be and moved our deck chairs inside in front of the window. I know I had them stacked up in front of the house to keep them out of the way of the contractor, but he tells us they just appeared inside when he arrived one morning. I guess someone wanted to watch the Sunset from our spot. Not cool.

We do have a shower stall in our addition though. It’s all hooked up and ready to go as long as we don’t mind getting the floor wet.

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The next blog will be pictures of our last hike of the season. Like I said, things are winding down.

Sedona Day 2

After our previous hike to Soldier’s Pass our group got together to have yet another Potluck dinner. This time it was to finish off the leftover from the previous day. Like most Crockpot and potluck friendly meals, it was even better the second day.

After the dinner we all hung around the fire and discussed where to go for our next adventure. The consensus was to head to a creek and hop boulders for 4 miles or so up a shallow grade. While this didn’t appeal to us a lot (we do a fair bit of boulder hopping in Gold Canyon already) we decided to head out with the crowd as we didn’t know where else would be better. By the morning we got educated on what would be a better hike by Deb and Dana and headed off with them to explore Broken Arrow/ 3 Hogs trail. It turned out that we were just the first to have second thoughts about boulder hopping, as the entire hiking contingent changed tacks and ended up in various spots in the Sedona area enjoying the scenery.

Broken Arrow is another popular spot, and is also accessible by Jeep  and we saw several of them on the trail, including many ‘Pink’ Jeeps which is an adventure touring company in Sedona. We met up with several of their clients while we were walking along the places where our paths crossed. One even took pains to explain to us how dangerous some of the various plants were along the trail. She had obviously been given the 30 second ‘Be Safe in the Desert’ course and had to pass on her knowledge. City Folks.

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It was a great day, and the skies were filled with just enough wispy clouds.

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Early on in the hike we saw lots of what we thought were dust clouds kicked up by the Jeeping crowd. Boy were we wrong.  I turned out that the breeze was kicking up clouds of pollen off the Juniper Trees. (Now who is a City Boy?) It was startling to see how much pollen could come off a tree at one time. All of a sudden my nose started running Big Time.

IMG_5290IMG_5297IMG_5298We were on our way to Chicken Point and while most of the way was on hiking trails we saw quite a few jeeps trying their luck on inclines and plateaus.

That long flat rock in the valley is called Submarine Rock, and is a popular climbing spot.IMG_5338

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Chicken Point is a very popular location and is the end of the line for the Jeep Tours. It’s really hard to get a picture here without people in it. We spent lots of time herding folks away from our sightlines when we tried to get close up shots.

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From here we walked back along Broken Arrow and headed to High on the Hog, Hog Heaven and Hog Wash trails. There were no jeeps on this section of the trail, but we did run into a couple of Mountain Bikers with a Death Wish.

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The view were spectacular all day, and I took a lot of great photos. Most of them over Debbie’s Shoulder.

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Sedona is a very pretty spot and is built to enhance the scenery, not impact it. I don’t think there’s a building over 2 stories tall anywhere.

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Lots of dead, but interesting trees.

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Sylvia found the house she would like to live in once we move to Sedona. Nice views from the ‘little’ Green house.

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After the hike we headed to Chapel in the Rock, which was built right into the rock in 1956 and is yet another popular spot for Tourists.

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Just below the chapel is yet another little home. I think Deb wants to move into this one when she convinces Dana to move to Sedona.

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And that was our second day hiking. Next stop Jerome Arizona, tomorrow.

Cottonwood/Sedona Trip 1

This past week 9 couples from our park made a trek to Dead Horse Ranch State Park to camp out for a while, and explore the countryside. We had been to this area a couple of times, but not since 2011 so it was high time we went back for a visit. It is only a few hours away from our home in Gold Canyon, but for some reason we’d never found time to go back.

Sedona is a Tourist Mecca, for winter visitors. The Weather is tolerable, but a bit cooler than the Phoenix area because it is about 2500’ higher in elevation. The Scenery is absolutely outstanding, and the surrounding Red Rocks are a sight to behold. The community is filled with Artisans who show a wide variety of artwork, although we have never taken the time to visit any of the shops and galleries and didn’t bother this trip either. And it is a bit of a New Age Spiritual Centre, with lots of shops offering Aura readings and directions to the nearest ‘Vortex’. We passed by those vendors too!

Our first night in Camp was spent swapping lies and making plans for the week. The first order of business was Happy Hour followed by a Potluck Dinner. For those of you on Facebook, you’ll likely see some pictures where I was tagged piling food on my plate and stuffing my face. Typical Seniors behaviour.

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On our first full day, 15 of us took off on a hike to Soldier’s Pass. Most of the hiking trails here are very popular, so we took off at 7:30 to make sure we could arrive when the gates opened to the small parking area. There was already a line-up when we arrived, but by the time we left 5 hours later there were cars lined up out onto the street waiting for our parking spots to be free.

Here’s what our day looked like on the Soldier’s Pass Loop. That big spike in elevation near the beginning of the hike was a side trip to get to a cave that I’ll talk about later.

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We don’t see too many Juniper and Pine trees in our section of the desert, but they are thriving here.

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The 7 Sacred Pools is a popular spot, and lots of people stop here, but it is just 20 minutes or so from the parking lot

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Our next destination was a series of Arches and Caves quit a ways off the regular trail. Some of our fellow hikers had been here before and missed the turnoff for this attraction and were determined to get us there this time. It was quite steep and while all of us made it to the caves, more than a few decided not to climb up into the caverns. We did, and we’re glad we did!

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The cave we entered was hidden behind the trees in the photo above.

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One of our group found a Geocache box hidden in a corner of the cave and signed us in as the Canyon Vistas Hiking club. If you don’t know anything about Geocaching, look it up on Google. I don’t have enough space to explain how popular it is with the hiking and ATV people we know.

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Once we left this spot we eventually climbed up above the cave onto Brin’s Ridge and ended up just above the cave.

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No idea what this fella is called, but he watched over us for most of the last portion of the hike.

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A good time was had by all, but we ended up with only about half of us finishing the hike as a few folks had had enough by the time we finished in the caves.

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And now I have a confession to make. We have several different types of hikers in our group. There are those who try and go as far as they can, as fast as they can to challenge themselves. There are others who use a hike as a social event and chat away during the whole adventure. And finally there are those who love to see the sights and take pictures. Sylvia and I are in this group, but I have to admit that I hang around Debbie as much as I can as she has a great eye for a pretty picture and many of the shots I am most proud of are taken after seeing her stop and then taking a picture over her shoulder. Now you know all my secrets.

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Next up will be a hike to the 3 Hogs. Stay tuned.

Home Progress

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted pictures of the progress of our Reno here in Gold Canyon. Lots has been accomplished, although from day to day it’s difficult to see much progress from the outside, as a lot of the work has been done inside the walls.

I have spent a  few days working on the place as Head Go-Fer and Chief Tool. (No pithy comments from our lowbrow friends please)

On Feb 24th it was quite cool here in Arizona, and we took advantage of having the walls in place to sit inside and enjoy our little Sunroom. Dana and Deb came by for a visit and she insisted on documenting the occasion of our first  Happy Hour in the new AZ Room.

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I have to admit it was quite comfortable being protected from the cool breeze and sitting in the sunshine.

Since then we have had the roof installed, and I was there to help push the trusses onto the roof. The plan is to have an access hatch to the attic where we can store useful stuff like a Christmas Tree. (Useful??)

IMG_5155We have decided to not have a window in our bathroom (it is on the Sunny South side of the house) as there wasn’t a lot of room to place a decent sized one. Instead we’ve added a 2’ X 4’ Skylight and it provides quite a bit of light.

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The pocket doors have been installed, and this one accesses our storage closet in the AZ room. We decided to go with pocket doors as they don’t impact the space in the rooms as much as a swinging door would. Despite people thinking we are building a HUGE room, there is not a great deal of space we can waste.

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Our Front Door was installed this week. Originally this was going to be our only view north to the Superstition Mountains. We’re glad we decided to add the extra window.

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This is a view of where our Shower stall is going to be. No, it’s not the little space in the center of the frame. The 5 foot shower will be on the right, and a storage/linen cabinet will be put beside it eventually.

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This morning I hung around and helped with the installation of the Fascia and Soffits on the addition. Our Builder is a One-Man show most of the time, and giving him a hand once in a while is necessary to help him get things done that he’d have to hire help for, or take risks to do by himself. Besides, I kind of enjoy handling Air Nailers and big pieces of lumber.

The white support is what the old roof was mounted on. The extra height is what give people the impression that we are adding a huge structure. That support will be relocated  to mount the awning over our parking area. Then our truck will be fully shaded.

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I find it interesting how many folks walk by and comment on the progress, or mention how ‘quick’ things are going when we see them elsewhere in the park. More than a few times while we’re having coffee in the morning we have caught people up on our deck looking through the windows. As the windows in the Park Model are heavily tinted they don’t know we are watching them as they are peeping in the windows. It’s kinda funny, but just a bit creepy.

Lots of folks who stop and chat while we are working are surprised when they find out I am the owner, and not just a hired hand. One fella today just wouldn’t believe that we designed the plan ourselves, and are also working on it. Not many people are as Hand’s On as I am I guess.

We’re out of town on a camping trip next week, so in a couple of weeks I should be posting some more progress pictures. Maybe siding???