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.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Me with Bev D on the ATV

Sunset on the way home

Some people make it look so easy

He's 91 I was told and still enjoying dancing

Tim Hadler, wanna be Nashville recording artist

Many of the attendees got out dancing to Tim's music

I have met another guy who likes to just poke around the desert on his ATV and we went out for a short ride on Saturday. I drove 2.8 miles from where I unloaded from the truck and in narrow Box Canyon, we came on an accident so the trail was blocked. A teenage boy and girl,15 or 16, had been driving too fast and hit the side wall and got tossed off. The girl was flat on her back and claimed she wasn’t moving until the ambulance got there so that would be quite some time as we met a couple guys heading out to where they could get cell coverage to call 911. So, short trip. It is mandatory for everyone under 18 to wear a helmet, they weren’t. They were also riding two up on a single seat machine which had no grab handles or footrests. Why am I surprised they had an accident?

I took Bev D out on Sunday afternoon and we finally got to go all the way through the canyon. I was amazed to see a woman driving a stock Chev extended cab truck down the canyon so I asked if she knew what she was coming up to and she told me she’d already driven up and was on her way back. What a way to treat the truck. I did see some paint from the truck on some rocks so imagine her rocker panels took a beating. Bev and I saw a beautiful fox, a big doe deer and a rabbit on our tour. We had to stop for some sunset pictures on the way home.

Yesterday was my first photo class and I had eight students. The class seemed to go well and everyone participated enthusiastically. Two were missing as they had to go to the airport. Next session we will all bring cameras and take a few pictures then I will do a critique and play around in the computer to see if they can be improved. Right after class was Buddy Beer and I was asked to take some pictures of the country singer we have who comes every Monday to sing for an hour. When I start taking pictures, I don’t just shoot what was requested but take some for myself and everything goes. Some of the residents are excellent dancers and it’s great to watch them. Age doesn’t hold some of them back either which is nice to see.

Today the ladies took a bus trip to Algodones, Mexico. They were away 11.5 hours. They enjoyed the experience across the border but not the ride. The bus was too warm and the four movies were lousy and too loud. They were to bed in short order tonight. My only trip out of the park today was to Big O Tire to get a slow leak repaired in one of the truck tires. It had a nail in it they told me. I had a fairly quiet day, puttered at different things, read, edited some photos and walked Mitzy several times. The day still flew by.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Getting pulled out the first time

Drove back in the same hole but worse!

A nice way to treat his brand new machine?

Didn't listen to directions of the guide!

Old Blue is a good listener and had no problem

A very large ant- over two inches long!

Salt River Canyon

Salt River Canyon

Climbing out of Salt River Canyon

A very colourful Cholla Cactus

Wild gourds along the road to Fort Apache

A neat old house just south of Show Low

Since I was all legal, I went out with the ATV group on Saturday. There were 16 of us and we had a pretty good time. One guy got stuck in the river and after being winched out backward promptly drove back in the same hole but even deeper. They pulled him forward the next time rather than giving him another chance. One of the other machines was going to go and see why the stuck ATV was taking so long and he got himself sunk too. We had a nice lunch break in the shade along the Gila River. After lunch we headed over to an old Butterfield Stage Coach stop where we re-grouped. We were missing one ATV but since he was the type of person who constantly kept heading off on his own, the group wasn’t overly concerned. One chap did go looking for him but that’s like looking for a needle in the haystack. It’s a big area with numerous side trails leading off. The decision was made for the group to head home to see if he made it there. When he didn’t show up after a bit, 911 was called and some members of the group headed out in their Jeep to start searching. They met some people who told them there had been an ATV accident and fatality. It turned out to be our man. It seems he veered off our route up a steep incline and when he went over the top lost control and was pinned under the ATV and likely killed instantly. He was 69 but drove his ATV like a teenager. I was quite concerned at his actions all during the day so his end was not a total surprise, but sad just the same. Apparently he lived his whole life on the edge was the story I got from an off the cuff eulogy given at the ATV potluck last night. From what I’ve been told, there was no way we would have ever found him in the daylight. He was totally hidden from the road. Some fishermen saw lights where there shouldn’t have been any and investigated.

On Sunday, Aileen, Bev and I took a big road trip up to the Salt River Canyon. From there we went to Fort Apache (not the Bronx!) but there was really nothing to see other than a few old brick school buildings that didn’t look too old. From there we carried on to Show Low where it got dark on us, so it was a long drive home in the dark. We stopped in Globe for a late supper.

Yesterday I announced at the Monday morning clubhouse gathering about my episode with the Motor Vehicle Division and my ATV experience so others don’t have to go through the same. I also mentioned my upcoming photo classes and asked for expressions of interest in starting a photo club for the parks. I now have eight signed up for class which is enough. I spent some time yesterday and today editing pictures and saving them to my external hard drive to make more room on my computer. It was almost full again.

Today we had to do another grocery run to Coolidge then we went to Prime Rib supper at the clubhouse. It was pretty tasty! They have it once a month but this was our first time. Bev and Aileen have been busy organizing more travel. We are going to Canyon Lake for a boat ride this Thursday. On Friday we are going to Phoenix to get the first service on the ATV and the girls are going shopping. Next Tuesday they are going on a bus trip to Algodones, Mexico. Then next Friday, we are going to Sedona and probably the Grand Canyon for a couple or three days. If that isn’t enough, there’s a ladies clothing and jewelry sale tomorrow and I have a table at the clubhouse garage sale on Saturday morning to try to sell my cards. Then Monday is my first photo class. Ah yes, we retired people don’t have much to do!

Friday, November 6, 2009


I had a call back from the Fish and Game department and when I told him all I had gone through in attempting to do things according to their legislation, all he could say was “that’s an incredible story!” and he went on to tell me I didn’t have to do any of that. He said that short term visitors such as us from Canada are only required to have proof of ownership to be able to ride in Arizona. We are not required to purchase an off road decal, not required to register and license the machine and whatever you do, do not get any import documentation as then there will be a problem going back to Canada.

Aileen, Bev and I went to Hog Heaven for supper Thursday night. It was a potato bar consisting of a large baked potato, cheese sauce, chili and a table full of toppings, coleslaw and dessert. It was very tasty.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Gila Woodpecker in Wendy and Randy's Palm Tree eating Palm seeds

The full moon the other evening at the front gate

Fish Hook Barrel Cactus bloom

Close up of Barrel Cactus bloom

We spent several days cleaning both the inside and outside of the travel trailer and the outside of the park model. That was a big job we’re glad to be finished. Lots of interruptions to visit with neighbours, so we got to rest sometimes. We are enjoying being able to spread out a little. I have all my photography and computer stuff out in my “lab” which is an un-insulated aluminum shed. It works for me. It’s nice to be able to have everything accessible.

We have run into a problem with the ATV. The new 2009 regulations require all ATVs to have an offroad decal which is affixed to a license plate. The motor vehicle branch is telling me I need to provide an import document. The Federal Customs people don’t know what MVD is talking about. I don’t either as I’m not bringing it across permanently, just for the winter then it goes back to BC. After exhausting both MVD and Customs, Customs suggested I contact Fish and Game who actually drafted the law to see what they had in mind for Canadians. So far, I have been unable to connect with someone high enough up to know anything. I’ve wasted two days on this so far and driven to both Coolidge and Casa Grande. I managed to get it inspected and passed. There were two other Canadians at Casa Grande the other day with me who both failed at getting registered. I keep telling everyone I speak with that there will soon be hundreds more Canadians in the same predicament as me so they better get the procedure figured out.

I celebrated my 63rd birthday yesterday by getting up early and taking my photo cards to the bi-monthly sale in the clubhouse. It’s a good thing the tables are free to residents as I only sold six cards and those were to one woman. There are not that many people here yet so things will probably improve as time goes on. I seem to have volunteered to teach photography this winter so yesterday I set up some times with the activity director. I’m considering trying to start up a photo club in the park as well. I will make an announcement next Monday at the weekly gathering.

We went to Phoenix airport last night to pick up Aileen’s old school chum, Bev who flew in from Victoria. She will be visiting for three weeks and we plan to go to some new areas such as Sedona, Tucson and more. She is the first guest in our travel trailer/guest cabin. The temperature is supposed to get back down to the low to mid 80sF for highs starting tomorrow. It was over 100F the day before yesterday and in the 90sF yesterday. Today is looking like the same.