The Day has Come

After 14 days of solitude,  we are officially released from Home Isolation.

It really hasn’t been too bad, but we are looking forward to getting out of the yard, even if it will only be to get our own groceries. We are still going to keep being careful and staying close to home, but we will be able to run our own errands if we need to for the next who knows how long.

Virus cases have levelled off a bit here in BC, but as this next week is 2 weeks after a rather large percentage of the Snowbirds returned home from Sunnier climates, it will be interesting to see if the measures enacted by the Provincial government are adhered to and effective long term. Most of our friends have returned to Canada by now, and many are finished with their 14 day isolation period. There is some talk about having a Happy Hour at a friend’s home where nobody leaves their vehicle. That just might work.

We have used the time to get ahead of a lot of the yard work that we usually have to do in April, and as the Pickleball club is suspended for the time being, I can see that we will continue to have lots of time to accomplish projects and maintenance that we have not even imagined yet. We have also managed to stay as active as we can with our exercise equipment, so I don’t think we are going to be the ones who can’t put their jeans on after 2 weeks of living in Pyjamas.

We did manage to learn a new skill as we baked some Naan this week. This is an Indian flat bread that we really like. For a first effort it worked out pretty well, but we need to refine it a bit to get more of the bubbles that are usually present in the store bought stuff. It certainly tasted good though.

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We also managed to get the Truck washed inside and out as well as the car which spent it’s winter in the garage. Which also happens to be where a lot of the tiles for our En-Suite renovation were apparently cut and ground to fit. It was pretty dusty, even with all the precautions our contractor tried to use.

The very next morning after we cleaned everything up it snowed heavily for a while, and I think all the neighbours were blaming us for the weather.

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Anyway, that’s life in the Williams fortress for the last week. Now we begin to see what the New Normal is out in the great beyond past the end of our driveway. We do hope that all our Friends and Family are healthy and happy at this time.

See you soon (or maybe not).

One Week Down!

So, we have been home for a week, perfecting our Self Isolation techniques, and we have learned a few things:

The plans we had to wind down a bit in Arizona and relax before we headed home also seem to work well here at home. We really don’t have a choice in the matter, but we have both rather enjoyed having nothing much to do.

This doesn’t mean that we have become idle, as there are lots of little things to accomplish on the Honey Do lists, but after a week, many of them are done already. At least the ones we don’t need to head to a store to get supplies for, that is.

We have both gotten a new appreciation for our Treadmill this week. (Ok, Sylvia’s Treadmill….I have been on it a handful of times in the last 10 years) Thirty minutes of fairly steep inclined walking every second day is not really a hike, but it is somewhat satisfying even if Sylvia makes me watch Kelly and Ryan on the TV while I am walking.

At the same time one of us is on the treadmill the other is doing a stretching and weight routine. It’s been years since I followed any regular exercise pattern so I guess it was about time. A relative of mine used to say she wouldn’t exercise, because it hurts. It’s a good hurt, I just hope it goes away….

We have not resorted to daytime and night-time Pyjama routines. Even though we don’t see anyone during the day we still put on Real Clothes. (I hear the day/night PJ thing is starting to be trendy though)

I do find myself spending a fair bit more time reading Facebook and Blog posts than I have had time for lately. It is not surprising that many others seems to be finding more time to post than normal, as there is no shortage of jokes, news and pictures for us to peruse.

Netflix is a pretty cool service. We have made it a new routine to watch a show in the mid afternoon and they have lots of variety. Now if we can only break ourselves of that once things get back to normal.

We have not gone stir-crazy, and there is no chance that we are going to start gnawing on the furniture. (at least we hope not – talk to me next weekend)

Mowing the rather Brown, dead looking grass is not as crazy at it sounds at this time. Within a day of me getting the mower out and attacking the grass which more resembled pavement than lawn, I heard 3 or 4 other neighbours firing up their mowers. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I was just using it as a Vacuuming exercise to pick up the rest of the Deer Poop I missed with my rake and shovel.

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Having a house and yard is an advantage at this time, as at least we can go outside (Sylvia is walking around the property as I write this). Friends of ours are hosts at a Provincial Campground near us. While the park is not yet open to the public, there are always people wandering around the site, so they are spending their 2 week isolation period cooped up inside their 5th Wheel. That might be more of a challenge than I want to face.

We are healthy and symptom free and I don’t have any fear that this will change over the next week, but we will likely continue being pretty well isolated for a while. There is no sense pushing our luck.

And speaking of House ownership, when we were away this winter a snow-plow took out a fair bit of our front rockwork and shrubbery when they managed to forget where the curb was. I had the edge of the yard marked with 3 foot high reflective markers, but the snow pile was so high, that they were buried. I am missing a couple of the markers, as they were likely carried away when the Front end loader carted away the pile (and some of my rock work)20200326_133956I pulled away all of the remaining rocks to expose the damage to our irrigation system, and hopefully they will deliver the parts that I need this week, as I really don’t need them here making more of a mess. Plus, I seem to have some time on my hands.

In their defense, there is not much hope of seeing the rockwork, curb or shrubbery under the 4 to 5 feet of snow they had to move.

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This is not the first time we have had issues with snow removal, as a few years ago they decided to push all the gravel from our RV parking area into the ravine behind our home. They will get better at this job someday, one can only hope.

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This is the second spot where they misjudged. This is right in front of the big tree in the foreground of the Snow pic. I hear the plan is to re-weld the top of the Grate into place. That could be an interesting project. As we are in a Strata community, the street and all the accompanying utilities are the responsibility of the complex where we live, and not the City. At least I don’t have to try and figure out how to fix that.

And that’s it for this week. By this time next Sunday, we should be able to head out to pick up some groceries, and I believe the plan is to replenish us with another 2 weeks worth, so we don’t have to head out much in the coming weeks.

Who knows, what next week will bring though. We can only hope and pray that things will improve for everyone.

Not With A Bang…

…But a Whimper. That’s how our winter season in Arizona ended. With all of you aware of the various situations and restrictions we are all subject to, I am sure I don’t have to explain the why of it all, but the actual implementation of social gathering restrictions upon those of us staying in the various resorts in the Sunbelt meant that there really wasn’t much to do in Arizona. This meant that heading home as requested by the Canadian Government wasn’t that hard to accept. It was also a sad end to our year as two of our good friends have sold their trailers and will not be returning to Gold Canyon. With the hasty departure of all of us, we really didn’t get a chance to say a proper farewell.

Our departure day from Gold Canyon was Thursday and we managed to get away by 9:00 in the morning. Not bad when you consider that it was pouring rain when we were hoping to load the truck on Wednesday evening, and we ended up doing a lot more on Thursday morning than we planned. It also proved to be the coldest day of departure for us from Arizona, EVER. It was only 48F or 9C which is very cool by historical standards.

It was the first time I have had to wear Jeans and a Jacket to leave our resort. We are normally in Shorts for at least the first day of our travels, but not this time. By the time we ended our day in Ely, Nevada we had driven through a fair bit of snow and rain, and overnight the temps plunged to 19F or –7C. There was 2 inches of snow on the truck the next morning that I had to brush and chip off before we could depart north. Remote Vehicle starters are wonderful things, as I was able to start the truck from the Hotel Room and wait inside for it to warm up and melt a bit.20200322_152144-16712047796668692964.jpg

This was the very first time we had seen snow on the hills around Kingman AZ. I am sure it happens, but not when we’ve traveled through here.

Overall the temperatures this year were very cool, and that’s the third year in the last four that we have experienced similar temperatures. I remember blogging several years ago that the temps in Arizona over the winter were just about perfect in my estimation as it was usually between 75 and 85 F for at least most of the winter. This year I think I can count on both hands the number of times we reached over 75 degrees, and on one hand (Ok, two fingers) the number of days we saw 80+ on the thermometer. We can only hope that the trend reverses in coming years, or we may have to look elsewhere for warm temps and winter activities. Somewhere like Edmonton.

Our second stop was in Kennewick Washington, and while I wasn’t thrilled about stopping anywhere in Washington, the chances of dealing with Virus issues were far less in Eastern Washington than along the coastal route. Our eventual border crossing was very easy, but it always is when coming home. The only questions we were asked were when we last entered the US, and were we over on any of our allowed amounts of goods and food. We were handed a pamphlet concerning our upcoming Self Isolation period, and made it home by early afternoon on our 3rd day, which is a record for us, but we usually stop off and visit friends or sight-see on the way home and that wasn’t in the cards this trip.

Had we known, we wouldn’t be challenged on foodstuffs, we might have stocked up on all the items normally forbidden to bring across the border, like fresh meat, fruit and vegetables. We were torn about whether to pick up the basic staples we needed for our 14 day Isolation period in the States, or in Canada. Under normal rules, many of the things we consume daily are not admissible into Canada from the US, so we decided to do all of our Grocery Shopping in Canada. The day before we left, I had gone to the website of Save-On Foods to check out the delivery or pickup options available to us for our food. On that day, I would have been able to schedule a pickup or delivery for the next day. When we arrived home and I went to the website, the next available pickup date was April 1, or 9 days away. It seems that the return of the Snowbirds had put a bit of a wrench into our plans to do the right thing.

As we had a bit of a buffer regarding food for a couple of days, we started to research how we were going to get groceries, and found an Angel who managed to pick up almost $400 worth of food and supplies that we needed to get the house restocked and our pantry filled for the next 2 weeks. Sylvia drove over to pick up the horde, and I was shocked when she got home with how much stuff we seem to have needed. I don’t think we’ll be resorting to eating the cardboard boxes the cereal came in by the end of these 2 weeks.

We have spent the first 2 days of our ‘alone’ time putting everything in place and planning on what we were going to do at home. Our late winter arrival at home means that I will have lots of time to deal with cleaning up the yard that the animals seem to have had quite the party in this winter.

Today I ended up picking up about 10 gallons of Deer, Bear and maybe even Coyote poop from the lawn, which is some sort of a record. The deer even ended up leaving an antler behind, and I planted it in the bucket of poop to see if it will grow a new deer.  Seriously I think it used to belong to a young buck that was hanging around the Harem controlled by the Big Buck we saw in January. I didn’t think he would be around for long as he would soon be forced out of the family group.20200323_1419397578603759367972872.jpg

I bet that this fella is the reason the youngster lost his antler.

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There were also Coyote paw prints in the dust on our front steps, and that’s a new experience for us. They must have been checking out view in our front windows.20200321_1804432372699100693237814.jpg

In any event, we are home safe and sound, and hunkered down for the next 2 weeks along with many of our friends. Now if we don’t go crazy watching the news, we’ll be just fine.

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It sure was nice to see ‘Our’ lake again. It was also warmer at 14C when we arrived home than it was when we left Arizona. What a Strange Year.

Just a Bit Behind

A couple of weeks ago I posted about an easy hike that we chose to see how Sylvia’s foot would react. It didn’t work out well, and afterwards she decided to pack it in for the season with regards to hiking. To help her feel better we decided to print a picture taken earlier in the season in the same area as her latest challenge and mount it on our wall.

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This is the only picture we have mounted that I have not taken myself, as this was done by our friend Laurie but at least it was taken on my phone.

So, last week I was on my own with a fairly small group of hikers heading to Picacho Peak closer to Tucson. There were 14 of us, including a few who had never been to Picacho before.

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This hike is pretty short at just over 3 miles, but is a slog of a climb straight up to the top of the peak using cables, boardwalks and spit to climb almost 2000 feet, with a couple of 300 foot drops thrown in. picacho-peak-cables20200226_091919Eventually we were going to end up at the top of this peak. It is quite a grind, and some of our group has some troubles with the constant uphill trajectory. I ended up hanging back to help one fella along who had already decided that he had bit off more than he could handle, but he eventually made it to the top with a sense of extreme satisfaction. Once we got to the top I found out that there was a new tradition associated with this hike. One of our number had brought along a Mickey of Fireball Whiskey and a bunch of glasses. We are such a dedicated group of hikers, aren’t we?

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The downhill return was also an issue for some folks with knee issues, but we took our time and got everyone back to the vehicles. One of the reasons we were pretty slow was that the California/Mexican Poppies were out in abundance and lots of time was spent getting just the right picture.

20200226_132640Debbie and Laurie were just a bit more dedicated than I was to get the perfect picture, and we found them wandering around the desert a few times very far off the trail.

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After the hike we wandered up to the town of Eloy hoping to watch paratroopers training by jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, but the winds had picked up and everyone was grounded. We ended up sitting in the restaurant with a couple of groups of young men speaking various foreign languages, as people come from all over the world to train at this facility.

Over the next couple of days we had some spectacular sunsets to share. I never get tired of watching the skies here.20200223_18160320200228_18264120200229_182934

Last Sunday we hosted our neighbours from home for a couple of hours to show them our resort before they headed back to the Okanagan and it’s snowy weather. Roland is still working as a Consultant in the Oil-patch, and can’t be away all Winter yet, as he is still dealing with that nasty 4 letter word – WORK.

They do seem to be spending a bit longer down here every winter though. Smart people.aren’t they?

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This week I was involved in a couple of Softball Tournaments, first with a pickup team from the resort that played in an event against other Cal-Am resorts. We only managed to play one game, as we lost in the last inning. The next day our season ending tournament was held for the team I manage. We ended up having the best record in the league, but lost out in the Championship game to the team from the resort next door to us. I think we got robbed, as I thought we had scored the winning run in the bottom of the 7th inning, but the Umpire didn’t seem to agree. We then played an extra inning, and couldn’t quite get our heads in the game as we were convinced we had already done enough to win. Oh Well, there’s always next year.20200303_123046

One of our games in the tournament was against another team from our Resort. This team has historically been a higher calibre team than the Coyotes, but we beat them pretty handily which took the edge off of losing the League title just a bit.

This week, we were approached by some of our regular hiking buddies to see if we could attempt our annual Through hike from the First Water Trailhead to Canyon Lake. I wasn’t very confident that Sylvia would want to try it, but as it is a tradition, she thought we should give it a shot. This hike is almost 8 miles long, and includes about 1000 feet of elevation change and I was concerned that her foot would not hold out, but she actually did fine and completed the hike with no foot issues at all. Maybe she’s going to be alright.

We all looked pretty shiny and chipper at the start of the hike, but it was pretty warm that day, and we thought we would have some issues with the heat and windy conditions. It was supposed to be 82F/27C by the afternoon.

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The overnight winds had kicked up quite a bit of dust into the air so the morning pictures were a bit hazy. The wispy clouds kept the temperatures tolerable though.

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Not long after I took this picture of some of the few flowers we ran into on the hike we came across this fella on the trail. The lead hiker in our group found himself pretty close to the business end of this guy before he noticed him. He ended up scrambling backwards pretty quickly and fell back onto his backpack. I was not far behind him and was quite concerned when I saw him stumble. I figured it was either a Heart Attack or a Snake Sighting, and was actually quite happy to find out it was the latter. This is the 4th snake we’ve run across over the years here, and is actually the first one we’ve seen that I wasn’t the first to spot. It was definitely time for someone else to have the chance to see Mr, Rattlesnake.

IMG_6154 - CopyAs usual this year there was a lot of water in the creeks and springs, but I was pretty surprised we didn’t see more flowers showing. One reason may be that there is a LOT of grass growing in the desert, and it may be choking out some of the flowers. That’s my guess anyway.

20200306_100645 - CopyIMG_6165 - CopyIMG_6166IMG_6167IMG_6171By noon or so, the skies were starting to clear a bit and the haze was diminishing. This pic is looking down on Labarge Creek . The big rock in the middle of the picture is Battleship Mountain that I was on top of a month or so ago.

IMG_6178IMG_6180Somewhere down there Debbie was waiting for us to get to the top of the Saddle to get a group picture.

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From this point we could see Canyon Lake where we were going to stop for a late lunch. It was still over an hour before we made it to the restaurant.

IMG_6183IMG_6189Closer.

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And here we are at the Restaurant where we met our friends who had driven my Truck up to the lake so we could get back home. Sorry I cut you off Dana….my Selfie Skills are pretty limited.

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Cottonwood Ranch Hike

After last week’s Butt Kicking hike, we decided to head out with the Club on a fairly simple hike. Most of our regular hiking buddies passed on this one, as this hike was not all that challenging, but it was one we had never been on before so we thought we’d give it a try.

The scheduled hike was to be 8.5 miles and only 300 feet of elevation along a Dry Wash starting at Cottonwood Ranch. The trailhead was about 75 minutes away from our Resort with the last 6 miles or so along a gravel road. We passed multiple parking areas off the main road, and when I researched the route on Google Maps, there were lots of trucks and trailers parked in these spots, which I assumed were Horse Trailers but turned out to be ATV trailers. On the day of our hike we must have passed 100 ATV’s on out way in and out of the road. I thought we were in for a busy dusty day, but despite there being a multitude of trails in the area, and ample evidence of tire tracks on all of them, we saw only one idiot trying to get across a narrow streambed in a fairly new Ford Pickup. He was thoroughly stuck, and had really no clue on how to get himself unstuck. I gave him some pointers, including keep his wheels straight ahead and not gunning the engine to try and levitate the truck out of the sand. Then I pushed him out of the sand pretty easily. But not before he showered Sylvia with sand and gravel. Like I said, Idiot.

The trail started at an old ranch that had a very nice water tank set alongside the creek. I don’t think they are keeping cattle in the area any more, as there was no evidence anywhere of Cow Pies or livestock of any kind. The fences next to the cattle guards we crossed were in poor condition as well.

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A few of our hikers had been to this trail in years past, and informed us we likely would be walking along a dry creek bed for 4 miles. They were wrong.

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We passed over and back across this creek about 15 times, and it got deeper and wider as we went along. As there were few spots where there were sufficient strategically placed rocks in the stream we ended up with a lot of hikers with wet boots. The temperatures were in the mid 70’s F or mid 20’s C which was likely the warmest day of hiking we’ve had since November, so the wet feet really weren’t a big problem.

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We were walking in a pretty steep, narrow valley most of the day, and whether I was facing towards or away from the Sun, the hillside was very green. We made it just under 4 miles before stopping in a sunny spot at a bend in the now rapidly running creek. By then we had hopped over plenty of rocks and jumped over enough water to last us for quite a while.

IMG_6108IMG_6113There were lots of Saguaro along the creek, including this one that was showing the path that most cactus follow. Many start beneath ‘Host’ trees for protection and grow up overtake the trees, and obviously outlive them.

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As this was an ‘In and Out’ hike, we followed the same pathway (mostly anyway) both directions. The beginning and end was pretty wide open, but also pretty warm by the time we reached here. This was about 6.5 miles into the hike, and unfortunately Sylvia’s foot issue came back right about here. She had to rest twice and wait for the pain to subside. It seems we pushed her tootsie a bit too hard last week, so we might be needing to re-evaluate our hiking plans for the rest of the season.

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It was pretty cloudy and hazy when we began the hike, but by the afternoon, it cleared up and allowed some amazing pictures of the 4 Peaks mountain range. For those of you who don’t recall, this grouping is silhouetted on the Arizona License plates.

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In other news, the Softball team lost both it’s games this week. Time to fire the coach.

And, we haven’t had to build, repair or improve anything on the house this week for a change. However, the truck made up for it, as it wouldn’t start the morning after our hiking day. It turned out that the 8 year old batteries decided to pack it in, but at least it happened in our driveway, and not 75 minutes away at a trailhead parking lot with absolutely no Cell Service. A quick trip to Costco to pick up some new ones, and we are good for another 8 years.

And that was this week’s adventures.

I Forgot One

My Son would likely refer to this as my Sunset Porn. I forgot to add it to yesterday’s post.