Snake in the Grass

As well as being a new song by Jonny Lang, the title of this blog refers to an interesting event on our hike today.

First a bit of a catch up to our winter. I haven’t had much of an appetite for keeping our blog up to date this season, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy. Most of my posting this winter has been on Facebook, so if you’re not following us there, you have missed out on some of our events.

We have been limited on our hiking activities this winter due to the issues Sylvia has been having with her foot, but she has steadily been building up her stamina over the winter and today we were on an 8 mile hike which is her longest by far this winter. In an normal season we hike at least once a week if not twice, and this year we have been lucky to hike once every two weeks.

Our previous hike was a 6 miler that was pretty flat along a creek and Sylvia did pretty well, but we saved the most challenging hike for today. But more on that later.

Deer Creek Hike

We have also had to deal with an abnormally cool and wet winter this year. This has meant that many of the outdoor events we have enjoyed in the past were more difficult this year. Softball was a bit of a challenge in the cooler weather, and caused a few injuries on my team. At one point I was down to 9 regular players and had to pick up 3 guys off the street to fill up the roster. Needless to say we didn’t have a great season, but held our own in most games in a far tougher division than we played in last year.

One of the big events in our park is a Fund Raising event for a local Cancer Hospital. Groups from all over the park put together baskets that are auctioned off to the highest bidder. We provided Canadian centered items for the Hiking and Pickleball baskets and got involved in a 6 couple group effort to bid on the Hiking Club basket. We eventually outbid everyone else for the basket (we also spent more on it than any other basket that was auctioned off)

IMG_5943

In the 3 baskets we won, there were several bottles of wine, Photo prints and art work, candy, gift cards and many other items. We had a deck of cards that we drew from to determine the order of picking, and I think all of us ended up pretty happy on the night. For some reason we ended up with all the bottles of Red Wine in the baskets….I think we might have a reputation to live down.

We haven’t played as much Pickleball this winter as we usually do, and part of that has to do with the weather, and part to do with working on the Pickleball Committee this season. We ran a tournament in February and tried to play in it as well, but both of us were pretty worn out and got bounced pretty quickly. The tournament was a big success though, and we enjoyed it enough to let the other folks on the Committee know that we’ll NEVER do it again. Well, unless they ask us to.

IMG_5945

We have been blessed with a number of great sunsets like we are accustomed to, but haven’t had a lot of chances to sit out on the patio and enjoy them, as it has been too cool. Maybe next year.

And that brings us to today’s hike. We annually try and get in one specific group hike from First Water Trailhead to Canyon Lake. It is 8 miles/12 Km in length, and while it technically is downhill when you look at the track and quite steep at the end, there is a lot of Uphill involved, and we are all pretty beat by the time we get to Canyon Lake. The big bonus with this hike is that there is a Restaurant at the end, and the Fish and Chips are pretty good!

IMG_5947

The weather was just about perfect for hiking today, and the 7 of us were ready to go.

IMG_5950IMG_5953

There was quite a bit of water along the trail, including some in spots we’d never seen before.

IMG_5956

There were lots of flowers, but honestly I think the huge amount of grasses and flax growing in the desert were choking most of them out.

 

IMG_5968IMG_5981

One stop was at the Red Paint Mine. It kinda reminds us of a mini (very mini) portion of Sedona.

IMG_5987IMG_5991

Green is the Colour of the Season this year. Last year this area was so brown we decided not to do this hike, as it was going to be boring….

IMG_5994

After about 4.5 hours on the trail we reached the Lake, and right about here we could almost taste the food at the Restaurant. Sylvia did pretty well, although she had to take her boot off and subject herself to a foot massage about 6 miles in.

IMG_5997

After a few changes of shirts, and a wholesale change of footwear, we were ready for lunch! The extra person in this picture is Cheryl, who drove out to pick us up and get us back to civilization, as we certainly weren’t interested in hiking back to the trucks at the trailhead.

And that brings me to the title of this Blog. In 9 seasons of hiking in Arizona we have only seen one snake until today, and it was pretty docile as I think it had ingested a Rabbit not long before I stumbled upon it.

The line most used referring to Snake encounters here is that the First person wakes up the snake, the Second person gets it annoyed and the Third person gets bit. Today, I was the Third person. Well, I didn’t get bit, but I certainly didn’t make it happy. As I was walking along, I heard the snake Rattle, and stopped in my tracks. I quickly figured out where the tail was, but I couldn’t see the head, and that’s definitely the most important part of a Western Diamondback Rattler. After a few seconds I determined where it was hiding, and did a silly walk backwards to get out of range. It was about 3 feet long, and while it was not coiled up, it was poised to strike.

IMG_5960

After a couple of minutes of trying to figure out how to get around it, it popped out of the grass and wandered across the trail into the bush. As we walked by it started to rattle again, which caused more than a few hearts to beat faster. No harm, no Foul.

And that was today’s excitement.

We are still here for a couple of weeks, but I don’t think we’ll get out on the trails again, as we have several events planned and are getting visitors later this week.

And did I mention that we had our Son down for a visit last week? No? The fun never ends down here!

Advertisements

Deer Creek Hike

Check out my activity on AllTrails.
https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/recording-mar-07-10-12-am?p=22165800

Yesterday’s 6 miler. Sylvia did pretty well on this one. Much better than a month or so ago.
The hike was at Dove Creek about an hour away up in the high country. The plan was to stay away from the 80+ temps in the Valley that we have been waiting for all Winter. Go figure.

It was the first hike we’ve done with the club in a month, and really enjoyed it. Now we just have to see if Sylvia feels good enough to tackle the 8 mile trek we usually try to end our season on. We will see.

Not Much Rest.

We spent last weekend back in BC visiting Sylvia’s folks and resetting the clock on our 90 day travel insurance. We have discovered that 90 day packages are substantially cheaper than the 150 day packages that we would need to cover our entire stay in the Excited States. Essentially one of our airfares and a good portion of a car rental are covered by the reduced cost of a 90 day plan, so it gives us a real good reason to head back North for a few days.

We had fairly warm but typically wet weather for our trip, so we didn’t get a lot of Outdoor time while we were there. It was a nice day for a walk on Sunday though before we flew back to Arizona.

Monday was spent catching up on chores and organising the lineup for Tuesday’s softball game. As it turned out, I didn’t need to out in that much effort as we got beat in both games. Our record is 2 wins and 4 losses, and while that isn’t great, it’s better than the 0 and 6 record we had last year at this time.

On Wednesday I made arrangements to meet up with our next door neighbour from home for a hike. They are just dipping their toes into the whole retirement lifestyle thing, and are spending a month in Tucson to try it out. Brenda is an avid cyclist, and it seems that Tucson is the biking capital of the south with hundreds of miles of bike friendly paths and a 60+ mile bike only route through the city.

With Brenda committed to a lkng ride, Roland and I chose a rather challenging hike called Picacho Peak that is between our two locations to meet up and share some lies and jokes along the trail.

I promise to find a picture of him with his eyes open.

The next day Sylvia and I headed to Catalina State Park near Tucson (only about 80 minutes away) to hike with both of them. Unfortunately Brenda was a bit under the weather, so it ended up being just the 3 of us, but it was still a great day of hiking.

Just to make me feel old, somebody commented about how nice it must be to hike with your Son…..Roland is a whopping 6 years younger than me, but boy, do I ever feel old now.

After those 3 busy days we decided to get back to the projects on the new home and installed 7 new blinds in our Dining Room and Bedroom.

Before: Never did like the Venetian Blinds all that much.

During: Lots of light coming in now.

After: Honeycomb style blinds from American Blinds. They look great, and seem to be of excellent quality.

Now we can easily choose how much light we want to see each day, and we are very pleased with our choices. We even got a blackout shade for the bedroom, and is it ever dark!

Next week we get a new roof on the place, as ours was damaged by hail before we arrived. Projects never seem to end.

One More Special Day

One thing about having a Birthday is that having them is way better than not getting a chance to have them anymore. Sylvia turned #%%$#—%^€¥₩÷ years old last week, and we decided to keep it a low key affair after our busy Christmas and New Years. She didn’t even want a Cake, but I did manage to get some Cupcakes made for her.

The day actually turned out a bit different than we anticipated as both of the restaurants I scoped out to celebrate at were closed on Monday so we ended up tagging along with some friends at our old standby, Los Gringos Locos. Always a good time. Dinner out was put off until later in the week.

Over the rest of the week she managed to find a few more items to decorate our home, so once again I was let off the hook in regard to getting her a present.

First up was a piece made by a friend of ours here in the Park. Karen makes attractive and interesting Mixed Media pieces that we have always been intrigued by. We are quite pleased how it looks.

Then came another shopping trip to Mesa Market and she came home with these:

There will be more shopping trips to fill the vase and find something to place the Yellow flowers into. It seems the Birthday Gift season goes on and on this year.

We managed to get in a hike as well, and ended up at San Tan Mountain Park. We have been there before a couple of times and didn’t really enjoy the trails as they were soft and sandy which is rather more difficult to walk on than rocks for some reason. This time the trail chosen was a different one, so we thought we’d give it a try along with 40 other hikers.

The trail was called Goldmine, and while I have no idea if anyone found or even looked for Gold there, but we did come across a couple of Graves of notable residents from the area.

It wasn’t a sunny day, and the Views weren’t terrific, but we did enjoy the hike.

This week we are heading back to BC for a few days to visit family. Hopefully the weather there stays nice.

First Hike of 2019

Despite the temps dipping below freezing overnight 27 of us geared up and headed for the trails today. Personally I had 2 long sleeve shirts on as well as 2 jackets, but I was far from the only one looking like the Michelin Man.

First thing though I had to deal with a couple of impromptu fountains here in the park. Luckily the temperatures don’t dip below freezing very often here, but when they do, it’s always interesting to see how many of the water stands for the RV sites break overnight. In front of our Park Model is the short term RV parking and the site in the very middle of the circle had a 20 foot fountain as a ‘feature’. I ended up shutting that one off, but not before the unit behind us also let go, and the back of our home was sprayed with water. Once that was dealt with we packed up and headed to the trail.

A lot of the snow on the South Side of the mountain in front of our place had gone away, but we were hiking on the North side of the same mountain, and it still had quite a bit of snow on it.

IMG_5930

Lots of our views were of the 4 Peaks area, and while the sun wasn’t cooperating all that well, we did get some nice pics.

IMG_5908IMG_5917IMG_5927IMG_5935IMG_5937

The views definitely got better as the day went along.

Did I mention that it was Cccold? On thing we don’t see that often in the desert is ICE. IMG_5920

IMG_5932

This last pic is a location called Massacre Falls. It usually is just a trickle of water, but the cold weather has kept the ice in place nicely.

The rest of the hike was crisp and cold, but the views were nice.

IMG_5907IMG_5923IMG_5934

This last one is of Mistletoe, which we often see hanging in the desert trees. It usually looks dry and dead. This is the first time I recall seeing what looks like flowers on the plant.

IMG_5940

IMG_5939.JPG

And that’s it for another 5.5 mile jaunt through the rocks.

Don’t let the toque fool you, Laurie is from Michigan, but we would welcome her anytime.

Happy New Year

Well, 2019 has now come, and unless your Crystal Ball is better than mine, we’ll all come together in 364 days and wonder how all this crazy stuff happened, just as we are doing this year.

2018 was an eventful year for us, with the various construction projects we took on here in Arizona and at home in BC. We are finally finished all the seasonal busyness that comes with Christmas and New Years, and we hope to get more involved in our regular activities here in Gold Canyon. Neither of us has hiked in a couple of weeks, nor have we had a chance to play any pickleball for even longer. Time for that to change.

First though, we had to finish off New Year’s. There is a party/dinner/dance held here by the park every year, and we’ve been several times since we started coming down earlier, but this year we decided to host a group of 18 in our new home. Our first Party! And those of you who know Sylvia well, know that she was nervous about it. For weeks!

20181231_192643

The evening began with the TV tuned to the Canada/Russia Junior Hockey game, and while it was disappointing not to see a victory by Canada it was a fun game to watch. Of course there were several folks who didn’t care about hockey (yep, they were Americans) and one who was recording the game to watch the next day so we banished the non-Hockey personnel to the deck and the kitchen while we cheered and moaned over the results. It was pouring rain outside, and very cool, but hey, at least I left a couple of propane heaters on to keep them warm.

The evening went by quickly, with lots of silly games and plenty of laughter. A few folks even told us it was the first time they’d been able to stay up until Midnight in several years. As a friend of ours put it recently, 60 may be the new 40, but 9:00 PM is the new Midnight..

IMG_5888IMG_5885IMG_5886

We woke up (late) this morning to a day with out rain, but due to the cool temps we were treated to a rare sight here. Snow on the mountains.

There wasn’t very much snow, and most of it was gone by the late afternoon, but interestingly, the last time we saw snow here was Jan 1, 2015. Must be some sort of a New Year’s thing. The mountain ranges behind the Superstitions were very pretty though, and here’s a photo I stole from a friend’s Facebook post. Thanks Hans.

We are intending to go hiking on Wednesday, but it is supposed to be several degrees below freezing, so we might just we wimping out… If this keeps up, we just might have to give up our Canadian Citizenship as we are turning into wimpy sun and heat loving southerners. We’ll let you know.