How’d We Get to a New Decade Already?

2020 already? How’d that happen.

It seems like just a little while ago and it was 2010:

Then, Sylvia and I were still working full time; we were still living in Campbell River; we were planning on driving our Trailer across Canada; we were seriously wondering if we could live in a small space like a trailer for an extended period, and we were wondering if we really had to decide what to do now that we were finally grown up.

Since then, we accomplished the trip across Canada, figured out that Trailer Life wasn’t so bad, also figured out that moving same trailer every 2 or 3 days was not what we wanted to do, found a great spot to spend our winters, moved to the Okanagan and figured out that we have never really grown up.

Our Christmas this year was pretty eventful from an activity view, as we were quite involved in a couple of events here in the Resort. Sylvia wrote a terrific dialogue for the Christmas Service we held here and the both of us were involved in the Set design where we built a Cloud to hide a couple of Angels behind who presented the dialogue Sylvia wrote. It was a great morning, and was appreciated by all who attended. Then a couple of nights later we held a Christmas Eve song service that I was involved in doing the sound and video work for. Almost 200 people attended the event, and Sylvia and I somehow managed to volunteer to clean up after everybody finished having their Coffee and Cookies. We were due for a quiet few days by then.

On Christmas Day we managed to have Phone, Skype or Facetime conversations with Parents, Kids and Grandkids, put together a Christmas dinner here with our friends, Jim and Cheryl and watched the sunset.

20191225_172738

The weather has been fairly cool and wet for the last few weeks, and we even had some snow on the peaks surrounding Phoenix, but none down here in the Valley. This pic of the 4 Peaks area, as seen from Apache Junction from Dec 29th, is one I stole from a Facebook group for the Superstition Mountains. Patrick Bulger does some great camera work.

6CCF962C2F4F40F99516DF301563BAF6

The Hiking club has been pretty well shut down for a couple of weeks as Hiking days fell on Christmas and New Year’s and the Friday in between was a real wet day.

That brings us to this Friday, and the club planned a 9 mile hike around the Black Mesa loop. This is quite a bit further than anything that Sylvia has tried since she started having troubles with her feet. I am happy to report that she completed the hike tired, (as we all were) but with no foot issues at all.

It was pretty cool when we departed in the morning, and there was a lot of frost along the early portion of the trail.

20200103_085756

All the rain has brought out the colour in the desert.

20200103_09571520200103_10553020200103_110614

We found water in lots of places we had never seen it before and the path itself was quite muddy in places, with flowing water among the rocks in quite a few places.

20200103_11432420200103_124459

The high flat plateau in this picture is Black Mesa that we walked around.

20200103_125024

This is approaching Parker Pass which we passed near the end of our hike. It was a great day for hiking

20200103_130912

I don’t know if we were getting punchy or what by the end of the hike, but don’t you see a Pig, Poodle and Winnie the Pooh in this formation? Or maybe Winston Churchill, a Saint Bernard and a Squirrel??

20200103_134051And finally here’s the Sunset picture from New Year’s Day. A great start to the new decade.

20200101_173922

Merry Christmas to All

OIP (4)

As per our annual tradition, I have given Sylvia Control of the Keyboard for our Christmas Blog. Hold onto your hats!

Sylvia’s Christmas Story 2019an-135787780

I want to tell you a little story about one Christmas when I was a little girl. Little children love Christmas! Their excitement builds as the Christmas tree comes into the living room, and everyone takes part in putting on the decorations. Mom is busy in the kitchen baking all kinds of cookies and breads that smell like cinnamon and spice and everything nice.

Now there was a rule in our house. NO peeking! My brother and sister and I were warned, do not go into Mom and Dad’s room and peek at the presents. Now you can imagine where this might lead. The temptation was unbearable. I must admit though, we never did peek enough to actually see what you were going to get.

One year, about a week before Christmas day, my brother, sister and I saw all the presents wrapped, and piled on top of one another in our Mom and Dad’s room. Mom and Dad were not home at the time. We just couldn’t resist taking a little peek. After all, they were all wrapped. We wouldn’t know what each item was. So that should be okay, right?

We carefully started looking at each one, making sure we put them back on the pile exactly how they were originally. The labels were stuck on each gift so we could see who was going to get each one. As we looked at them, we started counting. One, two, three, four, five for my brother. One, two, three, four, five for my sister. One for me.

Now as a little girl I was shocked! Why were my brother and sister getting so many more presents than I was? I began to think that Mom and Dad loved my brother and sister more than me. I just couldn’t get this situation out of my mind. I tossed and turned at night, and I tried to be really good and helpful to Mom and Dad, so maybe they would go out and shop for more presents for me. As the week wore on, I was beginning to NOT look forward to Christmas morning.

Well, Christmas morning did come. Mom was making a special Christmas breakfast, and we were all jumping around in great anticipation for when we could open our presents, that is, except me. I tried to put on a happy face, but I was conflicted inside.

Then the time came. Now in our family Dad was the one who handed out the gifts. Dad started pulling the presents out from under the tree and called out the name of who was receiving that gift. Around, and around he went, but my name was not called.

Finally, Dad got to the last present, and announced my name. I got up from the chair and took the gift. Slowly I started opening it. It was a box about 12 inches long, 9 inches high, and 8 inches deep. What in the world could this be? When I opened the box, there was a travel train case inside. I looked at Mom and Dad with a quizzical expression. Mom said, “This is your first piece of luggage, because you said you wanted to travel. “You will need a train case for all your personal items”. I now remembered telling my Mom that I wanted to travel, but as a little girl I knew I would not be able to use this gift for some time. Mom said, “Open it”. So, I opened the trail case, and inside it was chocked full of gifts! I couldn’t believe my eyes! This one present turned into many presents. I started to cry. Mom and Dad were wondering why I was crying. I told them that I was very happy, that this was the best Christmas ever. But deep down inside myself, I was ashamed that I did not trust that Mom and Dad loved me just as much as my brother and sister. I never told Mom and Dad that, because I didn’t want to give away the secret that my brother, sister and I had peeked at the presents when we were not supposed to.

Many years have passed since that event, it is possible after all this time that I do not have all my facts totally straight, but the moral of the story is still intact.

Now when I look back on that memory, I can’t help but relate that experience with how I see Jesus.

OIP

Over 2000 years ago a baby was born in the city of Bethlehem. At the time many people did not see the significance of that starry night when the Angels were singing and proclaiming the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the Prince of Peace.

Thirty years later Jesus started speaking parables, and teaching the people who would listen, about God, and how we should live our lives. Many people said, “who is he? Isn’t he the son of a carpenter?”

Then 3 short years later, Jesus was crucified. After all the teaching, and parables, and Jesus healing the sick, and delivering the afflicted, many people turned on him, and shouted “Crucify Him, he’s not our Messiah, he’s not the King of the Jews”.

As Jesus was hanging on the cross, people were shouting at him, “If you are the King of the Jews, come down from the cross, and show us”.

Jesus; did die on the cross, but what was not expected was, on the third day he arose from the dead. Even then, the disciples and Jesus’s friends doubted who he was, and the truth of what had just happened.

It wasn’t until Jesus ascended into heaven, and the Holy Spirit came down and touched the hearts of the disciples, that the people began to see that Jesus really was the Messiah. And from that day forward the disciples went out into the world and preached the gospel, that Jesus is alive, and the Savior of the World.

That same gospel is still preached today. Many people believe, and this story is what we celebrate every Christmas season – the birth of hope, the word of life and truth, the death that showed love so immeasurable, and the resurrection that breathes life and power into every heart that will receive and accept it.

I look at Jesus, like that travel train case I got as a little girl. When I accepted Jesus as my Savior it was like opening the train case and finding all kinds of gifts. As I have travelled with Jesus through-out my life Jesus has given me the gift of salvation and forgiveness, the gift of grace and mercy, the gift of love and acceptance, the gift of peace, and a joy that never leaves, even in my darkest moments. It’s a gift of hope; hope that the next moment will be better than the last. It’s a gift of power within, that gives me courage when I’m afraid, and strength when I feel too weak to meet a challenge. These gifts I have received from Jesus living within my heart and are called blessings from God.

As you travel through this life, may you find your train case full of gifts and blessings.

Merry Christmas everyone! May the Joy and Love of the Season be with you and your loved ones this Christmas and always,

Sylvia….and Rod too….

OIP (5)

Fremont Saddle Hike

Today’s hike was one we have been waiting for as we didn’t get a chance to do it last year because of Sylvia’s foot problems. It is a fairly short hike for us, although we added on an extra mile wandering out to the Lone Pine to take some very nice pictures.

This hike is a definite favourite of our Club as the views are always spectacular, even when it rains. The last time we were on this particular hike it was pouring rain mind you.  That was the one and only time that Sylvia and I have had to use our $2 ponchos we bought from Walmart.

img_4661_thumb

This morning was cool and a bit cloudy, but nothing like February 2018. The clouds did make for some interesting pictures.

20191218_085211

20191218_094205

And like many of our hikes this season we ran into far more water than we expected.

20191218_08454420191218_084722

After 2.5 miles and almost 1500 feet of climbing the clouds parted, and we made it to Fremont Saddle. The bonus of this hike is a great view of Weaver’s Needle. It never fails to impress.

20191218_10305720191218_105738

We wandered another half mile out to a solitary Pine Tree that sits on the edge of a cliff.

20191218_105743

Sylvia and I wandered a bit further on and a friend took this picture of us.

20191218_110207

On our way back down to the truck the clouds were hanging around but all in all it was a very nice day for a hike. Sylvia started with 4 layers of shirts and jackets and ended the day with 2, so it must have been pretty comfortable.

20191218_113915There is a little keyhole in the top of this rock below. We’ve been on this trail at least 7 times, and I never recall seeing it before.

20191218_124711

One of the reasons we wanted to do this hike was because while it is fairly short at 5.8 miles including the extension, it is rocky, steep and classified as moderate to difficult for a reason. It is a real test for Sylvia, and her feet came through the experience just fine. She was tired, but so was everyone else. We were the last two hikers back to the parking lot, but not by much and it is not that uncommon for us to be last. One of the main reasons is because we stop and take pictures so everyone else can see where they have been.

In other news, we have replenished our Jam supply for the winter. We came down here with a minimal supply of our home-made jam, but brought along all the supplies necessary to make some here. The fruit required for Bumble Berry Jam is really cheap down here. 12 ounce cartons of Raspberries and Blackberries range from .77 to .99 cents a package when they are on sale, and Blueberries are more, but still very reasonable. We stocked up on berries and made a batch of Jam on the weekend. Now we’re set for the rest of the winter.20191215_184840

And finally, here’s my weekly Sunset picture. Are you getting tired of them yet? Too Bad….

20191214_173338

Back on the Trails

We took a week off from getting out on the Hiking trails as Pickleball management issues caused us to spend even more time meeting with the Resort Management. As a good friend of ours says, ‘Maybe it is time to take up Quilting’, as all the drama involved in our favourite sport is getting old, fast.

We did spend a few days crossing a few more items off of our Honey-Do list, but I really don’t think you need to or want to see pictures of our new Waste Disposal and Reverse Osmosis water system, do you? Although, the image of me crawling out from under the house after getting a face full of water might be worthy of posting on some Post Office wall some day. The image certainly made Sylvia laugh. Me, not so much. Our Christmas lights are up now, but we’ll hold onto those pics until Christmas.

Today we went out with a small group of hikers to White Canyon. This is a spot we’ve been to a couple of times, and the trail is just a bit sketchy at the best of times. The large amount of rain this area has had in the past year has made it almost unfindable with the amount of debris and overgrowth that has overrun the trail.

The road to get to the trailhead is also pretty washed out and we got hung up trying to get the truck between a very large rock and an unstable sand bank. Once I got the tires up on the sand it wouldn’t hold and the truck slid into the rock with a very loud and unwelcome scraping noise. There was no visible damage to the truck, but I think the underside of our Running Boards are pretty scraped up. With the rough trail and the nasty road, we won’t be recommending that our Hiking Club head this way anytime soon.

Our group of seven today had to walk an extra 2500 feet past the now scraped up Rock and had a wonderful day on the trails. It started out cool and cloudy, but soon the skies cleared off and the temperatures became quite comfortable for hiking.

One day we’re going to get good at the Selfie thing. In the meantime, this is what you get….

20191121_172442-PANO

The Desert has greened up nicely over the past few weeks with the recent rains. Dana and Debbie arrived in Arizona in early September, and everything was parched and dry. It let to a large fire not far from our home, followed by extended rainfall and flooding.

20191211_100617

The overcast conditions meant that Sylvia didn’t need her head covered, at least for the first few hours. No Hat Hair!

20191211_104240

There was certainly a lot of water in White Canyon, far more than previous trips. As I said earlier, this made it pretty difficult to find the trail sometimes. It took us a very long time to get to the pools at the end of the trail.

20191211_113125

Once the clouds burned off, the temperatures increased and the usual brilliant blue background showed up.

20191211_120248

The pool at the end of the trail was quite a bit different than we remembered. The water was deeper, and the sitting area that we used to put our 25 or so hikers on was washed away.

20191211_120814

It was still very pretty though

20191211_121426

It was a pretty long day, with the drive to the trailhead being rather slow, and the extended time finding the trail we didn’t get back to civilization until almost 4 O’clock.

20191211_135031

Once our late lunch/early supper was done, we got back home just in time to see this sunset. Not a bad day all around.

20191211_174027

And that was this week’s adventure. I have now added Fixing the Running Boards to my To-Do list though.

One More Thing off the List

We ended up with a couple more days of scheduled Rain this week, so that gave us the chance to deal with something else from our Honey Do List.

All of the Windows in our Park Model have Valences over them, but we didn’t have any built in the Addition. We decided to remove all of the Draperies and the Tie Backs from the picture window of the PM last year and that gave us lots of material to cover any new valences we might decide to build. Sylvia put together the materials back home this summer, and I purchased the building materials earlier this week.

Thursday and Friday were supposed to be Rain Days, so we decided to build the boxes on Thursday and maybe get around to covering them on Friday. Thursday was a pretty nice day actually, and I managed to get the boxes built in a couple of hours in the morning and we had the boxes covered and ready for installation by mid Afternoon, much quicker than we anticipated. Installation was done by Friday morning and we spent the rest of the day watching the rain.

Before:

20191128_09212120191128_092134

And After:20191129_11530920191129_115302

We think we did Good. And by the way, that is a bit of a River running down the wash across the street from our place on Friday. It really did rain, A Lot!

This past Wednesday, the weather was clear, but cool and I somehow got volunteered to lead another hike, this time to Hackberry Springs. This is usually a walk along the dry First Water Creek where we can find a perpetual spring flowing (trickling) out of a rock face. Last week’s rains have changed that for now.

20191127_09292320191127_092931There was rally quite a bit of water flowing down First Water, but not as much as I thought there might be.

20191127_10132420191127_111630

There were 25 of us on the hike, and we managed to bring everyone back with us. Maybe that level of success is why they keep letting me lead them around the Desert Smile 

One other group that we ran into on the trail was looking for a fella who got fatigued and turned back. They never did find him, and we heard the next day that they got a text from him several hours after we saw them indicating he had taken a wrong turn and was lost. The next morning the local news had a story that a 76 year old was found (thankfully Alive) after 24 hours lost in the Desert. Why people let their friends wander off alone in the desert is beyond my understanding.

20191127_08544720191127_112244

Well, that’s another week. It is again supposed to rain late next week, so maybe we will get something else crossed off the Honey Do list.

One last Bonus pic from our friend Debbie’s FB page. Her Sunset shot from Wednesday is spectacular!

78388124_10206789302848245_2886568140056035328_o

Where were we Exactly?

Oh yeah, we were talking about how nice the weather was and how much we were enjoying the Heat here in Arizona.

20191115_172203

Well, for the first part of the last week that is exactly what we were doing. The weather was great with temps in the Mid to high 20’s/80’s, the opportunities to enjoy evening walks in shirt-sleeves was still there, the softball season was going well, the cactus were blooming and life was proceeding along just like we planned.

20191117_135259

Then, things changed just a bit on Tuesday. A Haboob came through and the accompanying dust and winds made life pretty interesting for a while. Our patio furniture was being blown around our deck, and several awnings on both Park Models and RV’s were ruined in the short but extreme storm. Lightning is not exactly rare here in Arizona, but is not that common either. We had 3 days of storms roll through and saw more lightning than we normally see all year.

20191121_172442-PANO

So, what to do on a rainy day? Start picking away at the Honey-Do list again.

The first item on this week’s agenda was to finish the shelf for our Stackable Washer/Dryer. Ever since we moved in, we have been unhappy with the stacking mechanism that LG supplied to tie the 2 units together.

20191115_094946

The supplied metal bracket squeaks and rattles like crazy when the Washer is spinning, and I have levelled and relevelled the units repeatedly. I finally resorted to pushing rubber Door Stops and Rags under the drier with no success in stopping the noise. I spent the summer planning on how to correct it and when we were over visiting Contessa of the 5C’s blog I noticed that she had a shelf built on top of her Washer to mount the Dryer, and I figured I could do the same.

20191119_155058

I finished the Shelf on Tuesday afternoon, and am happy to announce it works as advertised. Sylvia no longer winces when she has to fire up the washer.

20191121_172550-PANO

When we woke up to more rain on Wednesday morning, I made a quick run to Home Depot to pick up some paint for the AZ room, as it only had one coat applied on the original construction. There must have been a lot of other folks with the same idea for a rainy day, as the place was packed and I had to wait almost an hour to get the paint mixed. I spent the rest of the day painting the ceiling and Sylvia and I finished the walls on Thursday which was yet another rainy day.

After 3 days of rain and 2 more items scratched off the To-Do list:20191123_143918 

we were more than ready for an outside day. Friday morning broke cool, but clear, and 34 of us took off on a hike to Massacre Grounds. There is a waterfall not far off the trail which I generally refer to as Massacre Trickle, as there is usually not much water flowing over it, but that was not the case this time.

The 3 days of rain really helped out the various Desert plants, and things were especially green along our hike.

20191122_08352220191122_091242We have been to Massacre Grounds several times over the years, and the Trail was especially crowded this trip. Lots of people had the same idea as us that the rain would make for a very pretty hike.

20191122_11150520191122_102732-PANO

And Massacre Falls did manage to live up to it’s name, and provided us with a spectacular display.

20191122_10405320191122_105008

And as an added bonus on our way out from the Falls, we ran into Jody who we play Pickleball with in West Kelowna. Needless to say we were both surprised to see each other, and managed to catch up on things for a bit.

20191122_114445

So, our week started great and ended great, so we cannot complain about the 3 days in the middle, as we managed to get a lot done while we were cooped up inside. The weather is definitely starting to cool off a bit, and we are expecting highs at or below 20C for the foreseeable future. Still not too hard to handle.

Go Bombers!