Saturday, November 29, 2014


We found a new to us mine shaft above the Woodpecker Mine the other day.  A few of us ventured in with a rechargeable spotlight that hadn't been charged since last season and sure enough, the light got dimmer and dimmer.   I was able to get some shots of the Striped Skunk using the weak light even though as my Canon 6D doesn't have a built in flash.  The shot below was 1/10 second at F9 and ISO 12,800.  This would have been impossible back when I was shooting slide film.   Oh yes, the light died completely before we started out the over 100 feet and several corners back to daylight.  We had to rely on Maureen's iPhone to light the way.  I went back with another group two days later and the skunk was absent.  We did have more lights with us that day.

Friday, November 28, 2014


We had a great Canadian Thanksgiving meal in Penticton with friends just before we crossed the border in October and yesterday we got to partake in another here in Arizona with our American friends for their Thanksgiving.   Talk about the best of both worlds!   As part of our share, we supplied and cooked the turkey and Aileen made a gluten free Nanaimo Bar.  Guess what?  Nobody in the group had ever heard of Nanaimo Bar!   Well, they sure have now and all agreed it was yummy.  We celebrated with Ken and Marie who had their grandson and fiancĂ© over and friends Jim and Judy.  We also had Ken and Marie’s neighbours, Dale and Martha aged 82 and 83, from across the street.  A great time was had and we ended with two games of 2500.
I rode three days this week in the mountains and saw some new country one day.  That doesn’t happen much anymore as I have covered most of the roads out there.  I’m sure there are more roads to discover though and maybe one day I will.   We took a road trip today over to Maricopa as we just don’t make it that far when we go to Casa Grande shopping.  We usually run out of time to go any further.  It was nice to take a drive without having to go anywhere specific.

We are giving a bit of thought to our annual journey to the Quartzsite area.  I don’t think we will spend as much time there this year and will probably forego the big RV show this time.   We plan to meet Jacquie and Jim over there somewhere for Christmas and New Year’s.  Some of the ATV club here have expressed a bit of interest in having two or three days of riding in the Quartzsite area if I would lead.  I am mulling whether to send out a blanket invitation or just invite those who might be interested.  The biggest problem is the lack of motel rooms close to hand as most of the club riders don’t have RVs here.  For those who have an RV, there is free camping where I plan to ride from.  We’ll see.
We've been having problems with our mail down here this year.  We have had at least three important pieces of mail returned as undeliverable even though Aileen went into the PO on October 31 and got our delivery restarted.  All the pieces were mailed after that date.  Aileen went down and had a pretty straight discussion with them this morning and it seems the guy she spoke with in October didn't do his job properly.  After first denying it, he finally admitted to his mistake.  Hopefully that is fixed now.  We are wondering about just keeping the mail flowing year round and trying to find one of the year round residents to clean out the box once in a while.    We don't remember ever getting anything important forwarded from here to home. 

Lots of cotton stacked alongside the fields south of Coolidge, AZ today

We ran into a roadblock on the Little Spine on Tuesday

Not sure if I interrupted something for this boy or he had a run in with a cactus

A couple miles down the road I found this Red Tail Hawk in some pomegranate trees 

Our lunch stop at the end of the road on our couple's ride on Wednesday

I had gone up the road to take the previous photo and sometime later they were trying to spot me but, hee, hee, I was down below.  That fooled them!

This wee Hedgehog Cactus had a couple of pretty fruits still attached

Saturday, November 22, 2014


We had another great day in the desert with friends Norm and Cheri and Bud and Jackie on Thursday.  We went via my little trail below Box Canyon hoping to see the cactus blooming still and were rewarded with seeing more Buckhorn Cholla blooming along with the Climbing Milkweed and Globe Mallow.  I won’t bore you with photos of the mallow since there are lots of photos in previous blog posts.  Matter of fact, I didn’t even take any mallow shots this time out.
We decided to check out Martinez Canyon to see if it was still gated off and it was.  The ladies waited at the RZRs while the guys hiked up into the canyon to check conditions.  We will have to go back there again earlier in the day so there is time for all of us to make the walk in.  You will see from the photos that it is still as beautiful as ever and because of the gate, it is cleaner and quieter.   With all our dawdling and looking at things, it turned into a pretty long day.  I think it was 4:45 when we got home and that was with not going to town for gas.  We had left at 9 am.  Cheri had supper in the crockpot so later we gathered at their place for a late supper and a lot of laughs.   Both couples are fun to be with.
The other day when I went to the ATV dealer for a fuel filter for my old quad, I asked about lift kits for our RZR as we keep hitting the skid plate on things.  It isn’t likely to damage anything but it is pretty annoying when nobody else is bottoming out.  So, I came home with a heavy little box to help improve the situation.  I spent yesterday morning installing the kit and it went pretty well.  I didn’t take any before and after measurements but it definitely feels further removed from the ground.  We are planning another couple’s ride on Wednesday so we’ll see how that goes and if we notice much improvement.
Aileen has been washing all the blinds in the park model over the past few days.  We hang them in the bath tub so she can use the sprayer and they are looking much better.  She is also recovering the dining set chairs in the park model.   The fabric store in Casa Grande only had enough foam to cover one chair so this morning we drove to Queen Creek (the nearest part of Greater Phoenix) and picked up the rest that she needed. 

This afternoon, we joined Ken and Marie and Jim and Judy for a couple games of 25.  I was the huge winner in the first game and the biggest loser in the second!

Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Looking up to the bottom end of Box Canyon

Along the road to Martinez Canyon

Bud and Norm paying their respects at the grave of the unknown miner.  Can you see the boots sticking out of the pile of rocks?

Beyond the gate on the way into Martinez Canyon

Whats left of the old house in the canyon

A partly destroyed building which is why the area has been gated off.  It is too little too late as there isn't much that hasn't been vandalized.

The late afternoon sun reflections seem to just glow on the rocks

Looking at the start of the Martinez Rd in the top left from the top of what we call the Big Spine

Jackie shooting a Buckhorn Cholla flower

My shot of the Buckhorn Cholla flower

We saw this neat sun dog all the way home on our ride

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


My, how time flies when you’re having fun, or something.  Here it is another week between blog postings.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish what I set out to do.  I rode Monday with the ATV club and Tuesday with 85 year old Blue this week.  Both were good rides.
Last Saturday night we went to the Florence Gardens dance from 7-10 (us old people can’t stay out too late).   Saguaro Sunset Band was playing and they are quite good.  We danced over half the dances.  I even had Aileen up for a polka.   We sat with Bill from Langley (came from Ireland 41 years ago) and Bill from Penticton.  Also Vince from Washington.  Aileen got to sit in amongst their wives. There was a good turnout which was good to see and lots of them were up dancing.
We’re having a couple’s ride again tomorrow with the same friends we took out the past couple of weeks.   Jacquie and Jim have made it south but will be staying over in the western part of Arizona at least until late January.  We may be spending the Christmas season with them over there.  No firm plans as yet-surprise! 
Aileen attended the Celiac Support meeting Monday afternoon.  They share ideas, recipes and thoughts on eating out and she learns a lot.  I spent a couple different part days helping our neighbours with their new printer setup then getting their internet back up and running after it being turned off for the summer.  

Aileen has been working on Christmas cards and tonight she finished up the ones printed.  She has done more on Mom’s diary too.   I’ve been taking lots of photos but will try to not include too many.   The desert continues to surprise us with out of season blooms.  I guess since there was a very heavy rain followed by a period of very warm weather, some of the plants have decided it is a good time to bloom.

We were riding east of the Gila River the other day and I just had to pull over to take this shot

This rock above our lunch spot reminded some of us of Roy Roger's horse Trigger

Here's Sue holding up Aubrey's ATV

I took another Red Tailed Hawk's photo

Looking way down on Monday's lunch group

Three of our major landmarks.  From l to r, North Butte, Grayback Mtn and South Butte.  The Gila River runs between the two buttes as does the Copper Basin Railroad.

South Butte aka The Sleeping Lion

A Buckhorn Cholla bloom.  We've never seen these as they always bloom after we have headed north in the spring.

Some type of beetle that seemed to be hatching or morphing or something.  Since identified by my son as a Large Milkweed Beetle.  If  you go to the comments, Richard has provided a link which is interesting reading.

Climbing Milkweed which again I had never seen in bloom.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Aileen and I took friends Norm and Cheri and Bud and Jackie out last Friday and again today.  We all have Polaris RZRs that are about the same size so we fit through the same small spaces.   We had a great ride both times and today we managed to spot a good sized Desert Bighorn ram.   Our ATV club potluck was on Monday and it was good to meet lots of friends we hadn’t seen since last March.
We are still getting things cleaned and organized in the park model and both lots.  We have friends staying in the park model in February and March and they may even come a few days in January.  We are planning to head over toward the Quartzsite area in mid-December again until sometime in January.

The weather is getting to be a little bit cooler so the ladies on the team are pleased.  It is still staying warm enough for me so that’s good too.  I had cleaned out our friends Ken and Marie’s carport the other day then hosed it all down.  Then I happened to see them pull in that evening after dark so Aileen and I helped them unload and get their utility trailer parked in the storage lot.  They had driven all the way from Grand Junction, CO in twelve hours!   They were so pleased they insisted on taking us for lunch so on Sunday, we drove up to Mesa for a really nice lunch at PF Chang’s.  

At the old stage station above Box Canyon.  Bud and Jackie from AB on the left, Norm and Cheri from Washington State and Aileen and I on the right.

On the Little Spine looking across to the the Thumb on the far left

And then we got much closer to the Thumb

We had a good view of a Harris' Hawk

This would be a nasty washout to fall into just below Box Canyon.  It must have really rained for a little while! 

This Saguaro was blooming for three days that I saw.  It was finished though when we drove by today.  This was taken this past Monday.

Our lunch spot today in what I call Fox Hollow as a fox walked right by the fire last winter while a group of us were having lunch.  Norm and Cheri hiding on the left, Aileen in the center and Bud and Jackie on the right.

And, today's prize.  These are super long telephoto shots as he was on the top of the ridge.

Friday, November 7, 2014


We’ve been pretty busy since we arrived here a week ago.  The summer storms deposited lots of crud in the carport which took a fair bit of effort to get cleaned up.  We were fortunate to have suffered no damage, unlike a few of the units at the east end of our street.  They had a micro burst go through that targeted just a narrow swath.  Some roof metal was ripped off and some of that damaged other buildings.
I had to put a new battery in my old ATV in order to get riding.   I had it out on Monday taking out neighbour Norm who just got a RZR.  He wanted to get out in a small group to learn his machine’s capabilities and he was very impressed and pleased.   On Tuesday, I took out a couple of our club’s senior members.  Blue is 85 and Ray 81.  We had a good ride.  On Wednesday Aileen and I went out with the RZR and had an enjoyable ride.   Today we are taking the RZR out again with Norm and Cheri and their neighbours, Bud and Jackie, who recently arrived from Alberta with their, new to them, RZR.   So, it is a couples RZR ride.

Wednesday evening, we got together with some ATV friends over in Anthem for dessert.  I think there were thirteen of us and it was a nice sized group.  We had a great time catching up with what we all did over the summer and comparing notes on what we’d seen so far of changes in our riding area.  The severe storms this summer have made many changes to the trails.  I didn’t go on the club ride yesterday.  Instead, we went to Queen Creek and Aileen ordered glasses from the company my cousin Judith gets hers from.  
After we got home yesterday, I went and swept out our friend's, carport then hosed it down.  Later when Ken and Marie got in after supper from their long one day drive from Grand Junction, CO, Aileen and I helped them unload.   We've both been enjoying the pool every night and I, the hot tub as well.

The photos are from the Monday and Tuesday rides.

Red Tailed Hawk

Some type of thorny desert plant

I was really surprised to see this Fishhook Barrel Cactus blooming.  The heavy rain and then the abnormally hot weather fooled these plants into thinking it was Spring again. 

This is a Canyon Wren

Also found one Saguaro Cactus blooming

We had to sit and wait for the cattle drive on the way home