Getting Geared up to go Home

In another 10 days or so we will be departing our winter home and heading back to BC.

It has been a good year for us, and while we try and pack in all the rest of the activities and visiting we want to do this next week, we have a lot of fond memories to look back on from the 2021-22 season. The season was not as busy with certain or our regular activities as we didn’t do as much hiking as we normally have, but we have added kayaking into our list of activities and along with the regulars like Pickleball, Softball and general merriment we were very busy.

We didn’t manage to get any hiking in last week, as we were busy with an in-house Pickleball Tournament here in our resort, and Rod managed to walk away with a Gold Medal, all thanks to being connected to the best partner the organizers could find.

The format for the tournament was a blind draw of partners, and Bev was just a little buzz-saw on the courts and we dominated our group. We didn’t lose a game during the whole tournament, but as we were also helping organize and referee a lot of games we were pretty busy from 7:00AM to 6:15 PM for 3 days. Neither Sylvia or I did well in the Men’s and Ladies events we were entered in, but we are not going to blame our partners for that.

After the tournament and and without a day off we managed to get a group dinner on our deck, a play, a Kayak trip and a hike into our agenda for this week. We usually manage to see 4 or 5 plays every year while we are here, as the local Theatre Company in Gilbert puts on a great show. This week’s fare was a 2 person musical called Daddy Long Legs, and the voices of the 2 actors were terrific.

Thursday was Kayak day and we had a 5 mile paddle around Canyon Lake. The following link will take you to half of our adventure (guess who forgot to turn on the Activity Tracker before we started….) and some of the pictures.

Then on Friday we went looking for Desert Flowers now that Spring is here. The flowers were a bit sparse compared to previous years, but rather pretty nonetheless.

And that’s this past 2 weeks. Next week we have friends visiting for a couple of days, another hike and Kayak day planned and whatever merriment and season ending parties we can fit in to our schedule.

Bulldog Canyon

So, we are back on a trail today that we have done a few times, but with a bit of a twist. Today our group consisted of 5 hikers, and not the 30+ that we have had on this trek in the past.

At times, when our group has not been too big and noisy and scared them off, we have seen Wild Horses in Bulldog Canyon, but not today. It seems the Tonto Forest Service has installed a few fences to keep the horses out of this area, and closer to the Salt River. I do know that there have been a lot of sightings along the river, so it appears the fences are working.

After an 86 degree day yesterday, it cooled off considerably, and the high was 68 today, with some rain in the forecast. The rain was good enough to hold off until we drove back into our driveway this afternoon.

It got cloudier as the Afternoon approached.

The hike was just over 5 miles, with about 1300 feet of elevation gain in two long climbs to get to a couple of Saddles. It was very windy at the saddles, and we had to hold onto our hats.

The desert flowers are starting to bust open, although the predictions are that the display will be skimpier than usual due to dry conditions.

Fairy Duster

And we saw lots of others, including many LYF, LWF, LPuF and LPiF varieties. (Little Yellow etc Flowers).

And that was the end of another great day on the trails.

Intrepid photographers looking for the best flower pics.

On the Water, Finally.

No hiking today, but we finally got out onto Canyon Lake using our Christmas presents to each other.

That’s Sylvia on the right, somehow leading the way.

It was a very warm day, and just made for kayaking. We put in a few miles, and I am sure we will feel it in the morning, but had a great time testing out our inflatable watercraft.

It was not very breezy, and we managed to explore a few inlets, saw a couple of Bald Eagles, and a handful of Big Horn Sheep. I was not willing to break out my new phone on the water, so no pics.

A great day!

And to the best of our knowledge there is no video evidence showing Rod stumbling out of his Kayak at the end of the day, falling in the water and triggering his self-inflating life jacket. Too bad, as it entertained all the folks sitting on the beach. At least we don’t have to wonder if the Lifejackets are going to work….

Fish Creek Hike

Highway 88 in Arizona is also called the Apache Trail. From just outside of Apache Junction it winds through the mountains and parallels (in a rather twisty and convoluted way) the Salt River as it runs from Roosevelt Lake to Phoenix.

In the past several years various sections of it have been subjected to fires and then floods during Monsoon season. This has caused severe deterioration of the roadway in the steep gravel section along Fish Creek, and in 2019 the road was closed due to a landslide. And as it was a rather primitive one lane road section to begin with, it may never be rebuilt.

That doesn’t stop us from walking the road and climbing the boulders to see the sights though.

A bit of snow on the higher ridges.
What little clouds there were didn’t last.
Pretty steep canyon with rather minimal guardrails. Unless you think a bit of sand piled up will help.
Cool in the morning, as we started at high elevation.
Fish Creek and the Trail below.
Road Maintenance is now nonexistent.
The Saguaro have far outlived the Ironwood tree.
The biggest lanslide.
There was a way around, but there is no plan to remove the rocks.
From the Bottom.

The trek was 6 miles long, and about 900 feet of elevation. It was downhill all the way in, and uphill all the way back. At the end of the day another stop in Tortilla Flat for Gelato topped off the day. That’s getting to be a habit…

That is a waterfall up there. Yes, you have to look close.

Chihuly Glass Exhibition

Dale Chihuly is a world renowned Blown Glass artist from the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about him at his website, or the regular channels like Wikipedia and YouTube.

He has numerous permanent and roving displays of his work around the world, and right now some of his work is at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. We wandered over there yesterday courtesy of Debbie and Dana to see the sights and wander the grounds as the sun went down.

His work is very intricate and pretty.
But becomes even prettier after dark (and when you can take a pic without it being photobombed).

There were several pieces placed throughout the gardens, and we wandered around an saw all of them in the light and after dark once the accent lighting was turned on.

FYI, Dale Chihuly is 80 years old. There’s hope for all of us yet.
He has started to work in Neon, but the regular glass is more impressive in our unlearned opinion.
Chihuly generally leaves a piece behind once the exhibitions are done. This was from a previous year.

And the Botanical Garden itself has quite a few great sights, and a massive collection of Cactus that we wandered around for a couple of hours.

Papago Park in the distance
Look closer!
Lots going on inside this particular Cactus.
All photos except this one taken by Sylvia. She’s getting good at this Photo stuff.

Now back to hiking, and softball, and pickleball and….

Black Cross Butte Hike

We didn’t head out on a ‘new to us’ hike today like we have been trying to but for one of our group of 4 it was a new hike. Donna is an avid hiker, and we have done one hike back in the Okanagan with them, but today she wanted to search for some Rose Quartz for some hobby projects. This is a unique bit of rock which appears in a few areas, and kinda resembles toothpaste that has been squeezed out of cracks in the solid rock.

Today’s hike was out beyond Tortilla Flat on a very windy road. More about this little tourist town later.

As you can see the desert here is not very flat and not very brown. Our hike today was just under 4 miles in length, but we climbed over 1300 feet of elevation.

Maybe the Military helicopter wanted to see the snow?

We had a bit of rain here yesterday, and it left a dusting of snow on 4 Peaks. It was pretty well gone by the time we finished our hike.

From the top we had great views of the Salt River below, and what has been called the Grand Canyon of the Superstitions by a few of our fellow hikers.

Again, not a cloud to be seen.

The Butte was above us all the way back to the truck.
Brittle Bush can grow anywhere.

And by early afternoon we were done.

Oh, except for a stop in Tortilla Flat to pick up a Waffle cone filled with Salted Caramel Gelato. Quite a treat to end the day.