Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This has been a longer gap than normal as I have been procrastinating.  Life here has been just too busy and I’ve been enjoying having a well stocked library in the park.  We’re both reading more than we have in recent years.  We were shocked to hear of the passing of our good friend Carole on November 22 at the age of 67.  That’s young these days!  We’re not sure of the cause yet but it appears to be complications from her diabetes.  She was only ill a day and a half before suddenly going.  She was one of my best photo pals and enjoyed going out shooting with me whenever we could get together.  She was the glue holding together the regional photographic council in the Okanagan as she had taken over the chair when I left to wander.  Aileen and I always enjoyed getting together with Carole and her longtime partner Bev.  Another person who didn’t get to enjoy a long retirement.  So sad!
I walk Mitzy for an hour most days I don’t go ATVing and for half an hour on those days I do, usually out in the desert behind the park.   I try to fit in at least half an hour riding my pedal bike as well.  I also walk to all four swimming pools each night after supper recording the pool temperature.  We are going to write a letter to the board to see if one pool could be kept at a cooler temperature for swimming and exercising.  Some of the pools have been in hot tub range reaching 98F.
We enjoyed a great turkey supper last Thursday for the American Thanksgiving.  Aileen did the turkey, potatoes, gravy and cole slaw while Marie did buns, green beans and marshmallow yams.  Aileen also made a pumpkin pie from scratch.  Supper was delicious.  Jacquie (my aunt) and Jim and friends Ken and Marie joined us.  We had a game of Mexican train later won by Ken.   Aileen went with Marie to some Black Friday shopping in Casa Grande but didn’t buy much except some items for needy kids in the area.
I washed the motor home one day and did the outside of the windows another.  I washed the car on our back lot another day and was appalled how filthy our water is here.  I rinsed the soap off and shammied the car but there was still lots of muddy streaks on the glass.  I don’t have a filter on the outside tap.  I spent much of my free time on Saturday putting up Christmas decorations.  I missed several days of ATV riding as my machine was in the shop for service which gave me more time to do these projects.  Aileen has been busy cleaning both the motor home and park model.  She did quite a bit of typing for the park newspaper and both of us were part of the proofing team.
We went with Jacquie and Jim to the Mesa Market which is a huge covered sales area about 30 miles from here.  We all bought a few items.   Later, I managed to listen to part of the jam session which my sister Wendy was playing in here in our park.  There was some good music to enjoy.
I spent a few hours on two occasions giving some one on one instruction in Photo Shop Elements to our friend Selma.  I enjoy helping people learn new things like that.  Yesterday was my first ATV ride in a week and a half and I hope to get out with the group again tomorrow. 
We were off to Casa Grande for the morning shopping and looking.  I made some fridge magnets and used up the magnetic adhesive material I bought at Michael’s a couple years ago.  I managed to get the last three sheets at Michael’s today and found a larger roll which I hope will work, as it is cheaper.  Using this material allows me to print on high quality photo paper which I adhere to the magnetic backing.  I tried using the magnetic printing material but the colours get lost in the dull surface.   The result bears no resemblance to my original photo.  Tonight we went to an ATV club happy hour/supper over in Sun City which is about ten miles west of us.  There was a good turnout and we had a good time.    

The old ranch house at the 96 Ranch where we went on our ride yesterday

The fireplace in the above house

A new Crown Saguaro for me near the 96 Ranch

This nearly expired Saguaro looks like it should be on Easter Island

Can you see the laughing camel in the side view of the Crown Saguaro?

Beauty and the Beast

Sunday, November 20, 2011


80 year old Dave is upright after laying his ATV on its side - no injury and no damage

Charlie's riding high at low speed

Lynn assured me he was smiling

Moon in the Saguaros

Some old mining ruins, this is the chimney/oven for smelting 

More mining derelicts

This an all too common scene out in the back country.  These idiots take all manner of items like old TVs and blow them to bits along with literally tons of glass.  It would be nice to identify them and deliver all the crap to their front yards!

Life continues at great speed in our home.  I have been ATVing a few times, Aileen and I have both been typing for the community newspaper and I worked on getting the roof raised on our back lot RV cover.  Being so far from major centers has reared its head with this project.  After much searching, I found a company in Phoenix to buy my 3 inch diameter pipe sections.  We drove there one day to pick them up and with a couple small detours, it was 150 miles round trip, much of it city driving.  That took care of most of that day.  Then I found a place to rent a pipe cutter to cut my 2 7/8 inch existing pipe and it was in Gilbert.  It was 52 minutes to get there when I left here at 6:30 am.   Then of course, we had to return it later. 
The actual job went fairly well.  The pipe cutter worked very well but the drilling of the half inch holes proved to be real challenge.  The new pipe I had installed last year was incredibly hard to drill and we went through several bits before finally settling into a systematic approach using certain different bits.  It was very fortunate that one of my helpers was a retired machinist.  My youngest helper was 70.  The others were 75, 76, 82 and 83!  We cut the three pipes on the east side, one at a time, put a larger pipe sleeve on to contain the cut off pipe then raised all three by eight inches.  We had planned on doing the west side which has four pipes but decided we’d gained enough clearance with just the one side.  We backed the motor home in and there was plenty of clearance so we decided that to stop at that.
Aileen made a delicious stew and had made a loaf of gluten free bread in the bread machine which was really tasty.  Only two of the helpers (and one wife) were able to join us for the lunch but Aileen sent soup home with another.
Mitzy and I have been going for hour long walks out in the desert on the days I don’t ride.  On the days I do, I take her on the ATV then we walk for a few minutes.  This is in addition to her several daily walks to the dog park.  I went to Coolidge and sat in the line at the motor vehicle office for an hour one day to renew my ATV licence.  By buying the $25 off road decal first, my ATV licence plate renewal was $4.94, isn’t that a deal?
We went to Ken and Marie’s for Mexican Train Friday evening and I was the lucky one that night.  We haven’t been able to go to the pool every night since the bozos are keeping all the pools too hot for Aileen.  Last night we went and ran the cold water hose into the pool and as long as Aileen stayed close to the end of the hose, she was able to function.  She found a chart online detailing acceptable temperatures for certain activities and conditions and for MS, the recommended high is 84F.  The coolest pool in here last night was 92F!  It isn’t even refreshing to go in the 92 pool after the hot tub.
With having the motor home finally on our lot and plugged in to power, Aileen has been cleaning it.  She had the carpets cleaned yesterday and it was less than half what we paid in Errington last summer.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


That would be the Gila River ride on Thursday.  With the continuing drought conditions there isn’t actually a river here anymore.  I think the San Carlos Dam is preventing any water from escaping.   There are long stretches of dry river bed alternating with some pools.   As you can see, some of the pools are still fairly deep.  We went out with 16 ATVs  and had a fun ride up the river.  There were a couple spots where we had to detour around some too deep pools.  It was nice to have one chap not afraid to test the waters before we all plunged in.  He only flooded once, necessitating being winched back to shore.  We had to remove the air cleaner filter and spray ether into the carb for a while to get the water out and gas flowing again.  It ran just fine afterward. 
We went to Safeway, Fry’s and Walmart for groceries on Friday.  We hadn’t planned on Walmart but Safeway’s turkeys all had gluten as did Fry’s.  Fry’s claimed to have gluten free on their website, but not in the store.  The checkout guy didn’t ask if we’d found everything so Aileen mentioned it.  He then said “did you find everything alright?” to which she replied “no”.  When she said her piece about the turkeys, he said Walmart carries gluten free!  So, instead of getting a turkey for 59 cents a pound, we bought two for 98 cents per pound and we’re good for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Ken and Marie came about 4:30 as arranged for her birthday supper.  She turned (secret) today. We had a delicious chicken thigh supper which Aileen did in the crockpot.  There was rice, salad, nice asparagus and carrots then gluten free birthday cake and ice cream.  We played SkipBo after with the ladies whipping us two of the three games.   The guys managed to win the last one.   

Here's Donna leading the pack

Dick scrambling up the bank

Lynn waiting for rescue on his drowned machine 

Some places were harder than others to get up

Sometimes a little extra speed helps

Dick's on his way

Yahoo Jim!

Sandi's turn

Maureen posing under the arch where we had lunch

A tarantula

The lens cap is 2.75 inches across

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


We had a frosty morning today.  The forecast was for 41 this morning but there was frost on the roofs with a nasty little wind blowing.  I took Mitzy for a ride out back before heading up to meet the group.
I was the leader of six today.  We went to the turquoise mine area then up to the Crown Saguaro.  From there we explored a side wash then went by a sort of mutated crown cactus and over to Box Canyon Rd.  We went up the big wash paralleling the road and found a spot to have lunch.  We continued up the wash after lunch then spotted a trail heading back toward where we had been earlier so we took it.  It brought us out to another wash which we explored for a short distance.  I went further than the rest and actually found an old cat road which allowed me to get out of the wash but it was pretty old and unused. 
I decided to head back since Dennis was turning the group around.  Just down the trail, Gene in a Polaris Ranger had somehow broken an axle in loose gravel and his right front wheel was turned 180.  The guys managed to tie the drive shaft up and turned the wheel back into position and he was able to turn around.  The wash we were in actually exited onto Box Canyon Rd right where we had turned up for lunch.  I think Gene was able to drive home with no problem.  He was going good last I saw, but Blue and I went to town for gas.  This was only the second day out for the Ranger as he just got it back from the shop after extensive repairs.  It’s a 2009 with only 1300 miles.  He’s second owner and has hardly used it so he is not impressed.
It was raining quite well yesterday morning and I managed to hold Mitzy off for a time before making the trek up to the dog park.  I went to get Ken and his big ladder, which turned out to be shorter than mine.  We found the RV cover to be about 11’11” at all four corners.  We need to raise it about 6 inches.  Neighbour Phil stopped by and chatted so I asked his opinion on the best method to raise the roof.  He thought Jack’s idea of cutting the posts and putting in a sleeve was best.  After much searching online, I finally found a place in Phoenix where I could buy sections of pipe.  After many phone calls, I finally found a place that rents pipe cutters large enough to cut my 2 7/8” pipe.  It is in Gilbert so I have three trips up to that area in the next few days.  Wednesday to pick up the pipe and check for screen door repair parts for the motor home, pick up the cutter when I get a day set for the work and then return the cutter later in the day.
I’d tried to fix a slight leak in the park model kitchen hot water tap but true to form, it leaked worse after I cleaned the crud out.  The hard water is a killer for our plumbing.   Ken and I went to Casa Grande and bought a new one at Lowe’s.  I installed the new taps when I got home and that went quite well.

Here's a picture of me coming own what's known as the Water Fall, taken with my camera, by Maureen

This Road Runner allowed me to take his picture as I was coming across the dry Gila River on the way home from fueling up in Florence 

A Crown Saguaro on the left and a normal one on the right

This is not good!  The axle snapped off it appears allowing the right wheel to over center

Sunday, November 6, 2011


L-R Aileen, John, Suzy and Jerry

Yesterday was finish cleaning up from the party day.  We tried to make it a rest day as well.   I went to Coolidge for a couple things including washing all the dust off the car from the Friday dust storm.  Aileen had a nap.  When Aileen went for her nap afternoon yesterday, I sat in my chair and I think I napped as long as she did.  It must be the turning 65 since I don’t normally nap at all.  The weather has cooled off about 20C from a couple days ago so instead of the air conditioner, the heater has been on a few times.   We did go to a yard sale up the street and I picked a heater for my little room aka “the man cave”.  I also got four small wood picture frames.
Today, we went on a different type of adventure.  We drove to Benson, AZ to visit fellow bloggers, Jerry and Suzy.  They have been my most faithful blog commenters for a long time.  Jerry posts an interesting blog periodically   They are a friendly couple and it felt like we had known them for a long time as soon as we met.  We spent the afternoon chatting and putting away a great lunch which was a combined effort of Jerry, Suzy and Aileen.  My contribution was eating more than I should have.  They have a park model in an SKP park a couple miles south of Benson, which is not far from Tombstone.  Their park is a nice quiet spot with large roomy sites.  They also have a Class A motor home in which they travel.  We left here at 8:15 this morning and returned about 6:45.  We did stop on the way at Home Depot for a bit of a look around and then at Sprouts, which is a combined health food type store and natural foods market.  They had a lot of items we use but some of their prices were a little steep.  We stopped a couple of other times to walk Mitzy.  Only two short stops on the way home.

Friday, November 4, 2011


We were lucky enough to find this plant with its last few blooms of the season.  I believe its called Cowboy Whiskers and is a large member of the Prickly Pear family

Aileen has been slaving away for days preparing a nice birthday party for me and two of our friends and neighbours.  June was 75, Hiro was 71 and I was 65, all of us today.   Aileen made a huge batch of chili in the electric roaster and did large bowls of both potato and rice pasta salads.  She cooked a large crockpot full of super tasty wings, made a gluten free cake and more.  Several friends brought dishes and appies so we had far more food than 35 of us could eat.  I think a good time was had by all.
I had been cleaning the carport over the past couple days and this morning a friend helped haul 5 large tables from the clubhouse and chairs from some neighbours.  I had everything mostly set up in our carport when one of the neighbours alerted me to the weather forecast.  I went and checked on the computer and sure enough, a nasty dust storm was on its way.  I managed to rent one of our banquet halls on short notice so we moved the party inside.  Several of the friends came and helped get that set up then we hauled all the food up there later.  It was much nicer being inside and looking out at the wind and dust until it got too dark to see.  We seemed to fare alright with the storm but both I-8 and I-10 were closed at times.  These dust storms are like snow storms up north except you have brown out rather than white out conditions.  They closed the highway this time because just about all the previous several storms have resulted in multiple car crashes with several fatalities.
I’ve been out riding my ATV twice with the group and it was dusty.  The long drought is continuing in Southern Arizona.  They could use some rain like the northern part received the other day as we were driving.  I’ve also been enjoying getting out on my pedal bike as well.  It will be awhile before my butt gets used to the seat again but I really enjoy riding around the parks when the weather is nice.  It appears our temperatures will be about 20F cooler for the next week.  However, we are still well above snow/frost temperatures and that’s what matters to all of us hiding out down south!

Left to right - Hiro, June and John.  Isn't she a young looking 75?