Friday, December 25, 2009


A 25 to 30 foot sudden drop in a wash (creek bed)

The Devil's Rockpile

I called this No Faces Please

A couple of cowpokes

Both the above are of South Butte

Cottonwoods along Price Road on Christmas Eve

15 second exposure with a golf cart's tail lights visible for the last 10 seconds

Some people go all out with their decorating

Our park model

Our travel trailer

We’ve had frost the past three mornings but it gets fairly nice during the day. Gorgeous blue sky today and in the low 60sF so we’re on a warming trend. We were barely 50F for a high a couple days ago.

Aileen is improving again and we hope it continues. She is cooking a turkey at present using a borrowed electric roaster which I have set up outside and it certainly smells good all over the neighbourhood. My aunts and husbands, Jordan’s and Pengelly’s, are coming as are Wayne and Joyce who are in my sister Wendy’s trailer across from us. The supper is a modified potluck with every couple bringing different veggies. We’re supplying the turkey, stuffing and salad.

We got to visit with Richard and Georgia (and Robin for a minute) on Skype this morning so that was nice. I took the dogs for a walk out in the desert this morning. Yes dogs plural – we’re dog sitting Angel who looks similar to Mitzy but is way smaller. Her Mom and Dad went to Laughlin for a few days.

We had a small group ATVing yesterday but the 8 of us enjoyed our day. The air was so clear after the storm and very little dust either. There was a major dust storm on Tuesday. Ron and I had gone to Coolidge and when we looked toward Casa Grande the air was pretty murky. We heard later that there had been two major pileups on the I-10 freeway north and south of Casa Grande with at least three fatalities. There was some major rain later so the streets had good sized creeks running down them. Our streets slope to the middle to channel the water and since most lots are paved, all the water ends up in the streets which are all sloped to drain out of the park.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

For new readers and old, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them then click on the back arrow to return to the blog post. Enjoy, John

Monday, December 21, 2009


A picture of those attending our Dec ATV potluck-just some of the members

Entering Martinez Canyon

Working our way further up the canyon

Our lunch stop at the old townsite

Sue, Aubrey, Ed (our leader) Jim (my uncle) Dave (Sue's husband)

The rough and rocky road

Jim J leading the pack down the hill

Fall colour along the Gila River - December 19th

Life continues to roar past us and it seems we never get done what we thought we would by the time evening rolls around. Maybe the days are just too short? I went ATVing both Thursday and Saturday this week again and that pretty much took care of those days. We had a great ride on Thursday to Martinez Canyon which was very pretty with the cottonwoods showing nice Fall colours. Some of the road wasn’t quite so nice as it consisted of nothing but large boulders. Then of course, after a ride, I have photos to download, organize, edit and email off to the other members. The group isn’t used to having someone take pictures like I do and seem pleased that I do. In fact, they are now trying to time the rest stops around the better photo ops.

My photo class met again on Monday and we are changing our date as I am going to join a special interest group working with PhotoShop Elements. I was initially interested in joining to learn more then I was invited to join and share some of my knowledge by mentoring others. We’ll see about that part. Last Monday night we went to the monthly ATV potluck. I was asked to bring my camera and take a group shot which turned out fairly well. There was turkey with all the trimmings plus piles more food. Jacquie and Jim came and we were able to bring Eleanor and Ron as guests. Following that we six played Mexican Train here. On Wednesday, we went to friends Ken and Marie’s for lunch followed by a couple games of Back Up Eights, which the ladies won both. Ken and Marie have now gone back to Grand Junction, Colorado for Christmas.

On Friday we went to Coolidge for groceries then in the evening Jacquie and Jim joined us for supper at L&B’s Mexican restaurant in Florence. They serve good food quite reasonably priced. We will go there again before leaving, I’m sure.

We’ve been having a spell of nice weather but are now into a cooling trend again. We’ve had highs in the mid 70sF but Christmas Eve is supposed to be only 58 for a high, then warming slowly again. I was riding in my tee shirt Thursday afternoon. It was gorgeous, too bad we only get a few days like that.

Aileen’s MS is acting up again with back spasms so she is having a rough time. You know it’s pretty bad when she turns down going to the pool. We hope it eases up soon! Mitzy enjoys her walks out in the desert but is getting so she demands it in the mornings before I’m ready.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Old Blue, 80 years old and still having fun

Lunch in the desert

Lulu's mine cabin - note the fridge door on the wall. It opens to a shelf in the dirt bank.

Door of Lulu's mine cabin

Square coke ovens

Lots of rock work at the the coke ovens

Cochrane area east of Florence

They have a weiner roast every trip

The group yesterday with South and North Buttes in the background. Florence is beyond them

Along the Gila River

South Butte and the Gila River

That seems to be my life these days. I’m glad to report that Aileen is perking up again. She is back swimming although we are having to go further afield to find pools that are warm enough. Our pool was only 76F for several days. The warmest pool was of course the furthest away which meant we had to drive the truck there. She did get her cookies baked and made it to the cookie exchange on Monday. I think her cookies were among the best there as I got to try quite a few of the others that she brought home. She’s been off to Coolidge a couple times on her own in the truck, too. I’ve been visiting the library and bringing large print books for Aileen to read as well as reading quite a bit myself.

My aunt Eleanor and husband Ron arrived a few days ago from Salmon Arm to spend three months in our park. She is my Mom’s next younger sister. They seem to be pleased with the park model they have rented and are finding their way around. Wendy and Randy have friends from Parksville staying in their trailer at present.

I went out with the ATV group last Saturday, Thursday and again this Saturday. I’m getting to see a lot of the back country. I am amazed at how many old mine workings there are scattered around the desert. Some of them still have some equipment etc lying about while others are just mounds of dirt and rock or holes in the rock. Often there are holes or shafts in the ground that one could walk or drive into as there are no barriers or warnings. I have been very impressed with the ATV group. They stick to existing trails and do not go roaring through vegetation. The existing trails can be enough of a challenge for most people and since most of the riders are older than me, they are more into cleaning up and protecting the wilderness rather than being naughty. At least one of our regulars is 80 years old and there are others not far behind.

I have been instructing a basic photography class and have now been asked to help mentor a Photoshop Elements group. Wouldn’t you know, they are both in the exact same time slot so I will have to try to reschedule my group. It never rains but it pours, as the old saying goes. Speaking of which, we had a dandy storm come through a few nights ago. It dropped close to an inch of rain in a few bursts and the wind was quite something. I saw on the net that Quartzsite suffered some damage to the flea market vendor’s stalls.

We put up a few Holiday lights so now we are helping to brighten the streets. Some of the residents really get serious about their decorating so we have some fine displays to look at. I will try to remember to bring more of our lights down from Salmon Arm next winter as we hope to not use them there for quite a number of years. Many of the neighbours are making plans to go home for Christmas. Most of them aren’t looking forward to putting themselves back into snow country but they do want to celebrate with their families.

Aileen is off to church at the club house and I will take Mitzy for a walk in the desert shortly.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Mitzy having a good sleep in my bed

Aileen took this picture as we were driving into Phoenix to pick up Bev a month ago

Some pic from last week's ATV outing

Ittybit and Rats the clowns with Rudolph

One of the clowns being expressive

Time is getting away on me and it’s been overly long since my last post. I don’t know how many of you read the comments section, but we had a rather humourous incident there last week. There was a comment from a couple from Canada wondering just where we were from in Canada. I replied in the comments then noticed their picture on the side. When I clicked on the picture, their blog came up. I read that they were from Edmonton and had just poured cement for a shed in Florence, Arizona. Okay, this is ringing bells like crazy as the other day Mitzy and I were walking past Jacquie and Jim’s place when I saw a Jeep parked in their driveway so the cement truck could pour next door. Yep, same people! It’s a small world. When I asked them how they found my blog, it had to do with the fact that she had done a search on the ATVer who died (actually on my initial ride with the group) and my blog popped up.

We took friend Bev into Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix last Thursday. We went to the ticket booth with her then said our farewells and headed home to go to the American Thanksgiving supper at the clubhouse. As usual it was a good meal. We have a young country singer named Tim Hadler who is coming to buddy beer on Monday’s and also to several other events entertaining us with his good music and vocals. He is quite versatile, writing a lot of his own and doing excellent covers of old standards. He is working hard towards a recording contract in Nashville and has played the Grand Old Opry. Last night at the halibut supper, he and the Caliente Clowns gave the start off to Christmas. I took some pictures of the clowns and made some prints for their scrapbook when I came home.

My uncle Jim bought a used ATV the other day and this afternoon we took it for a spin out in the desert to the east of here. He plans to ride with the group tomorrow as do I. I went out last Saturday with them, 16 of us, and we put 68 miles on over some rough country. We’ve mostly had nice weather but it is very cool as soon as the sun goes down. Aileen has been feeling poorly the past few days and has been laying low. She is hoping to summon the energy tomorrow to bake some cookies for the upcoming cookie exchange on our block which is a yearly tradition.

We have been doing some low key decorating of the park model with a single string of lights put on the travel trailer. Some of the residents really go in for decorating here but there’s isn’t a lot of hype otherwise. Gift exchanging is minimal if that.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Bell Rock near Sedona

Chapel of the Holy Cross - 90 feet high

Near the Chapel

Sedona from Airport Hill

Red Rock Crossing and Cathedral Rock

A different view of Cathedral Rock

In Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona

The above are all at the Grand Canyon

We had just driven past a place called Frog Rock when Aileen spotted this 10 or 12 foot high frog

We’ve been living in the fast lane this past week. Last Thursday, I went with the hiking group to the Coke Ovens which I have been trying to get to since early last winter. The Gila River level is still very low so we were able to wade across in shin deep water. There were 23 of us who waded across and once across it was only about a mile of walking to our objective. A couple of us climbed another hill for a different angle and when we arrived back at the vehicles, most had already left for home. I thought with such a short walk, we’d do something else to make the long drive worthwhile. I took my two passengers into the old stage coach stop. Nobody else was interested but Glen and Irela seemed to enjoy the site. I had taken Bev and Aileen out to the area the day before to check the water level as there was a rumour the water would be pants pocket deep. We had our lunch at the stagecoach stop and saw a road runner as we arrived. They are not seen very often so that was a bonus.

On Friday, the 20th, we drove to Sedona in the land of the red rocks. We managed to get a couple hours of shooting before dark then found our Super 8 hotel and got settled in. We had lunch at the Blue Moon Café in the Village of Oak Creek and did some shooting between there and Sedona. I found the whole area quite frustrating for photography. The scenery is fabulous but the roads are set up so you can’t pull over just anywhere to take a picture. Where they (the engineers), in their esteemed wisdom, put parking and viewpoints, there generally wasn’t anything worth bothering with. Bev managed to shoot as we were driving and got some shots. The other thing I found was there would be spectacular scenery but some development would be smack dab in the forefront. Houses, power lines, roads and more have destroyed so much of the natural beauty of the whole area. You would think that the government developer/designers would have given consideration to how development would affect the viewscape which is what brings all the future tourists and their money. It just seems so short and narrow sighted to me. Perhaps it was all to do with money and to heck with nature. On Saturday, Bev bought a Red Rock Pass which allowed us to park and wander around the area. We went to Red Rock Crossing and took some pictures including Cathedral Rock which Bev had been wanting to do ever since seeing pictures of the area when she was researching Sedona some time ago. The best light would have been late afternoon but we only had the morning. As it turned out, by mid afternoon it had clouded right over so that day wouldn’t have done it. We had lunch at the Javelina Cantina which was supposedly voted best in Sedona. My burger arrived without any meat. In hindsight, I should have kept quiet as it turned out to be possibly the worst burger I have ever had! After that we went to Expressions Art Gallery which Bev had seen online and in magazines. There was some incredible art on display which was mind boggling. Of course, so were the prices. I’d like to sell my 8x10s for $248! There was a huge eagle sculpture with a price of $650,000. There were about 100 artists represented and many different media used.

Our drive up Oak Creek Canyon was less photographic than anticipated because of the overcast. We outran the clouds before getting to Flagstaff where we stayed at a Super 8. At 6900 feet, I nearly froze walking to our supper café as there was a nasty wind. After supper, I spent some time at a Barnes and Noble bookstore next to the motel. We drove to the Grand Canyon Sunday morning via an 8200 foot pass through the San Francisco Peaks where there was a dusting of snow in a few spots alongside the road. This Sunday wasn’t as busy as the Sunday a month ago when we last visited the park. I think Bev was suitably awed with the experience. After lunch the ladies hung out around the Bright Angel Lodge area with a good view. I rode the Hermits Rest shuttle planning to go the whole distance but I ended up walking the Rim Trail about halfway in then the light died and a cold wind sprang up, so I just hopped in a return shuttle back to the truck.

We stayed in Tusayan at the Red Feather Lodge as it seemed to be the only one that allowed pets. First off the toilet plugged so had to get maintenance over. It did it again in the morning and Aileen remembered some mention of that happening in online comments she’d read. However, when it is the only one accepting pets, there isn’t much choice. A first for us was that you had to have a pet inspection of your room before checking out. The little Mexican guy wandered around the room looking like he was checking for dog turds in all the corners! And then since we were still there half an hour later, he had to inspect it again. Weird!

Leaving Tusayan Monday morning, we went to Prescott for lunch at the Palace Hotel which was quite an interesting place. Several movies including Junior Bonner starring Steve McQueen have been filmed in the bar. The food was very good and there were lots of old photos on the walls to peruse. Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp along with Doc Holliday played cards in the hotel and Tom Mix and William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy) were regulars. There were lots of other famous people who frequented the hotel. From there we carried on west through twisty roads and small towns making our way to Wickenburg for the night. We stayed at the Best Western in really nice adjoining rooms. We walked over to the Gold Nugget Restaurant for supper and had a very nice supper. We had the dining room to ourselves for awhile but more diners gradually came in.

On our last day, Tuesday, we took the Vulture Mine Road and worked our way down to Gila Bend where we arrived in time for lunch. Since we were invited out for supper, we got onto I-8 and put the pedal down. We stopped a few minutes in Coolidge for gas and groceries and were about two hours home from Gila Bend. We drove by my aunt Jacquie and Jim’s and found that they have arrived. They pulled in yesterday and reported a great trip down from BC with no snow. Supper was at our Grand Junction friends, Ken and Marie’s place. Ten of us had turkey with all the trimmings done potluck. Of course it was very good! After supper, I downloaded Bev’s pictures from today. She has been having a ball with her digital camera but has a mountain of work to occupy her for some time. She has taken 5210 images since leaving her home less than three weeks ago. I have only shot about 900 in the same time frame. Of course, I have been to many of the areas while they were all new to her. Tomorrow is supposed to be a rest day for us and then Thursday is when we drive Bev into Phoenix and her flight home.