Monday, November 28, 2016

Mesa, AZ - Hiking the Superstitions

Otherworldly beauty, mysterious legends, lots of interconnected trails. Sounds like a hiker’s dream and one of our favorite places to hike. The Superstitions are a mountain group on the eastern edge of the Phoenix metro area. Beautiful, jagged cliffs just towering out of the desert. Steeped in history with sagas of Native Americans, Mexican miners, American settlers and gold miners, cattle ranchers and the US Military. Over it all hangs tales of the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine.
Who found the mine? Where is it now?

The tales begin with two men, Jacob Waltz (the Dutchman) and his partner Jacob Wiser. Did they come upon two Mexicans mining gold, shoot them and began to mine the gold themselves? Or, as another legend tells it, did they get the map to a gold mine from a wealthy Mexican whom they rescued from a card game fight?

How did Wiser die? Did the Apaches shoot him as Waltz told others. Did Waltz himself shoot his partner? Did other miners shoot Wiser?

Or, was there really a gold mine at all? Did Waltz just find a buried cache of gold? Did he steal it from another valley mine?

Well, who knows? Stories abound and there are those today who still search for the Lost Dutchman mine. Gary and I are not searching, we are just out for a good hike in the wilderness - and today it’s in the Superstition Mts. taking the Black Mesa Trail. It was a grey day, mostly overcast and a bit cool. Just the right kind of day to venture into the mysterious Superstitions. I’ve breaking in a new pair of hiking boots having finally admitted that the thin soles of my old ones are ready for the trash.
Here’s our map. We started in the upper left, took the right trail at the junction and looped around.

Layers and layers of mountains in the distance. Small hills covered with saguaro, mesquite, palo verde and other desert plants. Rocky tors, sandy washes and boulders cover the land. My favorite sight is the Weaver’s Needle lording it over all.
Named for Pauline Weaver who was born in TN in 1797. His parents named him Powell Weaver, he called himself Paulin (Spanish) Weaver, the Anglos called him Pauline Weaver. A scout, trapper, mountain man and miner, he was considered a friend to all and was known for his fair judgment. No wonder he has such an awesome peak named after him.

Yellowed cliffs guard our trail.
Right about here, I’m realizing that my new boots are cutting into my ankle bones. Hmmm, 7 miles to go. On the map above, I’m right about where that yellow circle is.
We saw the sun break through to shine on a nearby peak.
Now, we’re turning back towards the trail head and my feet are beginning to wish they were soaking in a pan of hot water.
Fun territory to hike. We’ve done this trail both clockwise and counter-clockwise every year we’ve come down here. It changes every time yet remains the timeless. It never disappoints.

Gotta do something about those boots.

Mesa, AZ - Around the Campground

Every spring and fall, my mother used to go into a tizzy with spring cleaning and fall cleaning. What do you mean? You want me to scrub the kitchen floor? Wash the curtains? Gee, Mom, slow down. Gary’s tells me that his mother did the same thing and then, when she was done, she and her sisters and sisters-in-law used to drive out to her mother’s home and clean that one too. Double duty.

Well, I learned a lot from my mother, but spring cleaning did not rub off on me. I do not do a spring cleaning. Now, I do keep a clean RV - and then I looked up at the ceiling and noticed that it looked a bit dingy. Hmmm. How can dust get up there? Little suction cups? We certainly don’t smoke but, just being in the world means that your walls and ceilings get dirty and need to be cleaned - every now and then. Wouldn’t want to go crazy.

Well, here I am with my cool Wash and Wax All mop handle - perfect for getting up to the ceiling.
Hey, we’ve got new states and provinces on our travel map which I’ve put on our rear slide. We’ve got plans for getting Idaho this summer but will have to work to get some of the others blanks filled in. I”m not sure how we’ll get Hawaii in. Imagine the cost of getting the RV out there. Whoo-eee, nope, we’ll never get Hawaii filled in.
We had a large Thanksgiving feast here are the resort. Here’s a picture showing the crowd getting the food ready and out for each table.
We have scanned all of our yearbooks now and I’m going to put pictures from them into the blog every now and then. We used to keep all of our yearbooks on the bottom shelf in our den in our home in West Des Moines. Our first year of being snowbirds, we got a call from Cathy and Tom, Gary’s sister and brother-in-law who were watching our home. A water pipe had burst and our lower level was ‘wet’. They had already taken care of most of it: stopped the leak, quickly moved most things up to another floor, called Service Master and called the insurance agent (whom they also had.)

We still drove up from Texas to survey the damage. But, we then headed back to Texas when we saw that everything that could be done had been done. Meanwhile, my sweet sister-in-law had taken each or our many yearbooks, separated all the wet pages and spread them out on a table in the lower level. Without this most of the pages would have stuck together and would have been a loss. It must have taken her hours. Dull, tedious, boring hours. No wonder we love her so much.

Thus the bottoms of many of the pages are wrinkled. So, here is one of our pages. This is a picture that our class photographer, George Bergeman, took of Gary. Cool photograph but, check out the wrinkles at the bottom.
BUT - we do have the pages and now they are scanned.

“If you’re riding a high horse, there isn’t any way to get down gracefully.’

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Mesa, AZ - Refrigerator Saga Part 4

Yep, the refrigerator saga continues. If you want the beginnings, check our previous blogs. Refrigerator Sagas 1, 2 & 3 are in September and October. We’ve had a strange smell in our refrigerator for a while. Most of it has dissipated but every now and then I catch a lingering whiff. But the refrigerator worked, the smell was less and we know we’d have trouble getting a tech in to look at it. 

Now we’ve noticed that our food is not as cold as it should be. The temp in the refrigerator is higher than it should be and the refrigerator runs lots more than it should. Finally, Gary emptied our freezer and we noticed that the back wall was covered in ice. In a self-defrosting refrigerator. He then took off the back panel and we couldn’t see the motor and fins in back. They were encased in ice. This is not looking good. 

He called the two service shops in town that I had called last month when the smell began and left messages for them to call back. Finally he called Justin from A Better Appliance Repair, LLC. He said he’d come Thursday, Nov 17. 
I hope our food can hold out. (His business card says: ‘Practice Honesty and Integrity.’ Hmmm, I hope he gets better at his Honesty and Integrity than I ever got when I practiced the piano.)

It’s Thursday and here is what the fins look like now. 

A close up.

He got here right at the time he said he would. Good sign. He went right to work, found the problem, called for parts, told us the cost and, when we ok’d the cost, he went to get them. First he had to ‘defrost’ the fins - with the handy dandy hair dryer which is one of his trusty tools. Every appliance repairman needs a hair dryer. 

Here’s what the fins look like when he gets done 

The he checked the control board. Look closely, at the bottom, under the FSP, can you see the those two burned things? Let’s see - how old is this refrigerator?  

He installed the new parts and our refrigerator began to get cold. Whew. 

He guarantees his work and parts for a year. Good man. He looks all of 23 years old. But he is a one man shop, is very business like, has deals with this before and went right to work. I’d recommend. him. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mesa, AZ - Coffee Roulette

I was walking past one of the small homes here the other day and couldn’t help but hear the song that was playing on the patio:

‘Casey would waltz with the strawberry blond

And the band played on

He’d glide ‘cross the floor with the girl he adored

And the band played on.’

And so forth. 

And, that song has stuck with me for several days now. I tried to pass it on to Gary and get him to sing it but no dice. He didn’t fall for that one. So, here I am, humming in my mind about Casey and the strawberry blond. But, I'm thinkin' that if I can pass it on to you, I'll be free of the Casey curse. So, start humming. 

Why couldn’t I have a cool song like:

Well, that’s an old tune but I still like it; the tune, the hopefulness, just a cool song. I always have a song in my head while I’m hiking. Tomorrow, I’m going to try for a better song that Casey. Maybe ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.’ That will keep my feet moving fast.

The resort we live in has 2 patio sales per season: one in November and one in February. This year, they are having one a month.  2 years ago I sold a lounge chair to someone and last year I sold an Ipad to a woman who bought it for her husband who didn’t know he wanted one. I guess it was OK since she did not bring it back. This year we have 2 cameras, a small fan and 2 plastic storage boxes. Really dull stuff, not like our neighbor who has serving pieces, matchbox cars (his hobby), 2 bikes and lots of other stuff. Actually, he shops at garage sales so that he’ll have stuff for his patio sale. Hmmm. And, he makes money at it. 

Gotta get up on time to get our things out to our ‘patio’ before 8:00 when the sales open. Actually, lots of people were tooling around on their bikes and golf carts way before 8:00 last year so I wanted to get our things out earlier than that. But, I didn’t see as many as last year but, last year, the first patio sale was in December, closer to Christmas gift giving time and later in the year when more people were here. This sale is earlier and not as many people have arrived at the resort yet nor are they thinking of Christmas gifts yet. 

Newbie mistake - we had no change. We had only one $5.00 bill and 4 $10 dollar bills (you know, most of our money is in 50’s. Ha, Ha.) Well, we know Smitty has change so, in a pinch we might be able to borrow from him. Long morning - I got 3 crossword puzzles done, sold a $5,00 fan and a $1.00 plastic crate. Most people cruised by, gave a cursory glance our way and kept right on going - on to more interesting sales. At one time a guy said, ‘chains are more interesting than cameras’ as he headed over to Smitty’s to check out his big rusty chain. Maybe we can get out in December and get more business. 

The plastic crate went to a guy who bungied it onto his back fender so he can carry stuff. 

Hey, did you see the moon the other night? WOW, what a sight.

Coffee in the morning? Of course. A must. Even out here in warm AZ, we like a cup of hot coffee in the morning. But our coffee pot is getting flaky. Sometimes we get a 6 oz cup and sometimes we get a 10 oz cup. Coffee roulette. Ya never know. Saturday we decided that our old one had to go. And, we hit Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, Walmart and some other store whose name has escaped me. None that will fit on our counter. Those Keurigs are way too big. Nothing. Nada. 

Saturday night, 10:30, in bed, I get onto Amazon and order one which will be delivered on Monday afternoon. Pretty good. We not just have to find some coffee on Sunday and Monday mornings. And, so we hook up our old coffee maker and take our chances. Guess what? Our old coffee maker gives us 10 oz of coffee, 2 cups for each of us  both mornings. Now it decided to work? That’s 4 cups. Well, why are we buying a new coffee maker? Beats me. It’s Coffee Roulette. 

The coffee maker from Amazon arrived and now we have 2 working coffee makers. What to do? What to do?

Oops, which is the new one? Oh, yeah, we got an upgraded one - one with the sizes printed on the cups. I"m sure that will help it make much better coffee. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mesa, AZ - Fat Man's Pass

Time for another hike. We’re running through our repertoire. Today into the South Mountains for a fun hike - skinnying through the Fat Man’s Pass. We weren’t the only ones in the parking lot but we were the only ones who took off to the left to hike up Geronimo Trail. Nice trail right up a bouldered canyon. The trail winds around a bit and we got lost in one of the washes. (We were following lots of other footsteps - I guess they were lost, too.) We hiked a ways but realized that we were going the wrong way. However, we found some cool petroglyphs in the wash that we wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t taken the wrong trail. 

Nice views of Phoenix as we climb higher and higher. 

Back on the official trail, we noticed several false tops. You look up and think you see the ridge line right ahead of you - not too far. 'Hey, look, we're almost there.' You climb up to that ridge line and find another ridge line right ahead of you. You get up to that and find still another ridge line. Finally the top, where there is a nice bench (and, a parking lot for those who didn't want to climb). 

Another hiker named Henry came up while we were checking the view and took this shot of up overlooking the Phoenix area. Difficult to distinguish but off to my left is a brown 3-humped hill called Camelback Mt. If you’ve ever been to or hiked in the Phoenix area, you’ve probably hiked up that. We did a few years ago. 

Off to the other side we saw not only the usual yellow-brown smog over the city this huge plume of black smoke. Never heard what it was from

Look at the blooms on this ocatillo. Who says the desert is brown and dead?

One of our goals was Hidden Valley and to get into that 

We had to skinny through Fat Man’s Pass. I had to take my pack off for this one. At one time I tried to turn my foot but the rocks were closer than my foot is long. No way, I had to keep sidling out the way I had come in, my pack in my right hand.

A balanced rock. 

Then we decided that we wanted a longer hike (what were we thinking?) and took a right at one of the trail markers. That trail plummeted down and, you know if there’s a big down, there’s going to be a big up. And, the trail makers must have forgotten about switchbacks. Right straight up those hills. I huffed and puffed and stopped a few time - ‘to take pictures’ I said. Ha. To try to catch my breath. 

Then we saw this sign - only 1.36 miles left and it’s all down hill (we’re at the top where the 1959’ is and we're going to be heading to the left, towards the bottom of the hill where our car is). Whew. 

Time for a soda. Fun hike and we’ll do it again - but I had forgotten about that plummeting descent and that vertical assent. Know what? I'll probably have forgotten it the next time we get to that same junction. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mesa, AZ - Walkin' Around

So, here we are in Mesa, AZ. We have some projects to do, some relaxing to do and, oh, yeah even more projects. We’re 2 First-Born, Type A’s, you know, we don’t know how to relax. Well, we can relax a bit but I find I relax better with some crossword puzzles or a book to read to - something to do while I’m relaxing so I can feel as if I’ve accomplished something. Sounds like a personal problem and, luckily, I’m married to a guy with the same personality problem. Some might call it a personality disorder but, come on, it’s just a small problem.

But, sometimes we get out. Mostly we walk around here: up the canal and back through the neighborhood, or up through the neighborhood and back down the canal. Actually, we’ve kind of devised several different walks around here that will give us the mileage we want but also a little variety. Some days, we find our selves someplace else and we walk around there. Like the day we walked around the library and found all the cool little ranches with the animals. 

Today we wanted to find a coffee maker to replace the one we had and found ourselves up near what Mesa calls the Riverwalk and park. So, it drew us like a magnet and we walked around there. It was a weekend day so there were lots of people out and about, enjoying family time.

Remember when playgrounds had a jungle jim, some swings, a slide or two, a teeter-totter and maybe a small merry go-round. On dirt or sand or, if you were lucky, on grass. Nothing fancy but lots of fun. 

Well, things have changed - a lot. 

We found this play area with several types of climbing ropes. You can climb up he dangling ropes, you can climb across the top of the metal structure where there are more ropes and, if you fall, the material on the ground is pretty bouncy. We even saw one father up on the top, showing his kids how to maneuver around the ropes. 

Then we found this structure for those who wanted a greater challenge.

Looks like there’s a traffic jam in the middle here. 

What fun. We wandered further and saw the Cubs training facility. Boy, I’ll bet their games are really crowded this year. 

Interestingly, our walk also took us around the mall. What a surprise. There’s gotta be retail everywhere. But a fun walk.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Mesa, AZ - Fountain Hills Arts and Crafts Show

We go to the Tempe Art Festival every year we’re here. Lots of arts, lots of crafts, lots of music AND lots of food. What could we not like? And, of course there’s the ‘A’ hill to climb. But, we’ve not gone to the Fountain Hills Arts and Crafts Festival. Well, this year we remedied that and what fun it was. Beautiful setting near the lake there. But the art - stupendous. We saw some beautiful things that, if we had a stick house, we’d buy. One woman had a 2’ x 3’ picture of a wave coming in. 

White foam cascading over the top, blue sky and clouds with all different shades of blue in the ocean waters. Beautiful from afar but, get close, and you’ll note that it is all embroidery. Tiny stitches overlapping to make the colors blend yet seem distinct.  The small sign under it said that it had taken her 3 months to complete it and I have no doubt about this. So realistic.

We saw several gourd artists but one stood out with carved openings in the gourd, turquoise pieces inlaid and many small geometric carvings all over it. 

Big crowds and this was a Friday. Imagine the crowds tomorrow. 

Of course, I say I’d buy it but then I’d have to cough up the money. Fat chance. We did find one vendor that we bought something from: the Tupperware lady. Yep, 5 hours at the Arts and Crafts Festival and we walk out with Tupperware. How sad. But - we don’t have a home to display all the art. We bought a Navajo rug several years ago and have room to display that. But more display space is hard to find. 

We supported the Kiwanis and bought a brat to share and then supported the Rotary and bought a piece of fry bread to share. We had sprinkled confectioners sugar all over it and were munching down when a lady at the end of the table looked over and said: ‘You two are so skinny, I can’t believe you’re eating that.’ ‘Yeah, but, I haven’t eaten for 3 days to earn this,’ I said. Smart mouth that I am. But I smiled and we both knew we were both joking. 

After we had walked every inch of the Festival we toured the lake along the path. I sat next to Thomas Jefferson as he explained his Declaration. (One week later and you can still see where I fell on my knee. Not pretty.)

and waited for the ‘on the hour’ fountain stream. Sure enough, at 4:00 on the dot, it started, small but kept getting higher and higher. Wow, what a sight. 

The fountain was installed as a tourist attraction for Fountain Hills. (Hmmm, wonder where they got the name for the town?) It was listed as the tallest fountain in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records from 1971 to the late 1990’s. It operates every hour on the hour from 9 am to 9 pm, drawing from a 33-acre, million gallon lake and reaching a height of 330’ with only 2 pumps (remember a football field is 300’). On special occasions, the fountain can attain 560’ with all 3 pumps running. If the winds exceed 10 mph, the fountain will not operate. The wind was more than that this morning but calmed down by 11:00 and the fountain began to rise. You can see the white tents of the festival behind the fountain. 

There is a disc golf course around the pond. One of the holes is very near the lake. And, here are 2 golfers who came prepared with fish line, trying to retrieve their discs from the lake. They were at it for 5 minutes at least while we walked and they were still at it as we passed. Good luck, guys.

We really like our new refrigerator which has a water and ice dispenser. Sure is great on those hot days. I can just fill it with ice and water and I’m set. But, we think we’ve got a problem with it. (Remember, we bought this in September.) It’s not getting as cold as it should. A while ago, about 2 weeks after we got it installed, we noticed a strange smell - no, not food. A plastic burning or wires burning smell. Gary looked around, but couldn’t find anything that might have caused that. So we tried the old baking soda trick. And, slowly but surely the small dissipated. Check 11/17 for the continuation of the story. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Mesa, AZ - Just a Little Frustrated

Hmm. As I mentioned before, I've had a lot of trouble posting to my blog and finally gave up. I had 10 blogs ready to go but couldn't get them posted on line at all. We've been in contact with the publisher of the program in which I write my blogs and they have done some work on them but to no avail. I've tried and tried to publish, every time they say it's fixed but - no go.

In the meantime, we're here in Mesa, AZ where we will be until 1/1/2017 (our anniversary also) when we begin to move on to California. And, by design, life is boring here. We've been moving pretty fast for the last year from Mesa to California up to Alaska, back down to Iowa and now back to Mesa. We had thought we'd have some time to 'relax' (what's this?) in Iowa but got caught up in the refrigerator replacement, some engine problems in the RV, some home maintenance projects for my brother in Fort Dodge and - oh, my - where did the time go?

Did we have enough time to spend with Cathy and Tom? NOPE.

Did we have enough time to spend with my brother, other than home maintenance projects? NOPE.

Did we have enough time to spend with Shirley and Jerry who are now traveling in Texas. NOPE.

Did we have enough time to RELAX. Are you kidding?

So here we are in Mesa. Trying to relax.

Iowa was just way too busy to spend time trying to figure out what went wrong with the blogs and I decided to wait until we got to Mesa. And, here were are and I've got a procedure.

So, we've figured our a new way to get my blogs published. A work-around and let's see how it works. I've got 10 blogs that I'm going to publish soon to see how it goes. So, just to confuse everyone, I've put out 18 new blogs about our time in Iowa starting with October 8,  Lunch With the Sibs and in Mesa, AZ where we arrived in late October. I had lots of catching up to.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Mesa, AZ - Hiking With Tarantulas

Time for another hike. We had planned to hike on Thursday but, at 6:00, when we awoke, we heard the rain, turned off the alarm, rolled over and went back to sleep. Today it is cloudy and not supposed to be as hot so this is the day. Up at 6:00, breakfast and off to Bosa Donuts, the best in the valley and, we might think, the best in America. I know other places are in the travel books but their donuts are mostly cake donuts with cute frosting designs on them. We like the old-fashioneds - whether just glazed or with chocolate frosting and Gary likes the long johns. No cute designs in frosting, just pure sugar. 

At Bosas, we said ‘hi’ to the gang, the guys and one gal who are there every morning. 

Now, what can they talk about every morning for 365 days a year? Beats me. But there they are. 

But, its the donut case that gets our attention. Look at this - and this is only one of the two cases. Yum, yum, yum. Choices made, we’re off to the hills. Today we’re heading to a large section of mountains that the town of Scottsdale, under the leadership of a very determined crew, put aside for everyone to enjoy. Developments are crowding it but it still keeps growing. And, do people ever enjoy it. Lots of cars in the parking lot and lots of people starting off and others already done and coming back. Probably lots of locals getting their daily exercise. 

This is probably one of my most favorite places to hike. Lots of choices, long hikes, short hikes, several passes, trails with good elevation, trails mostly flat. Just about anything you could wish in a trail. 

We were heading up to a saddle when, oops, I stumbled and fell. There I was lying on the rocky trail. I sat up, checked my body to see if there was any damage. Luckily not much. A bruised knee, elbow and pride. Assessent made, Gary helped me up and we were off. Was I sure I wanted to continue? Well, as we hiked up, I regained my confidence. 

Found this little fellow on the way back down.

Actually, not little. His body was about 2” and his legs were longer. Tarantula. Cool. Now, if only Gary had picked him up, you could see that he would fill his hand. Nope. Not gonna happen. 

Since I’ve got him in the title of the blog here, I’ll put in another picture. He just glistens in the sun but is still difficult to see. His hole is just off to the left, I should have gotten it in the picture but I was a entranced by him. Yeah - watching intently so I could move quickly if he turned around towards me. 

We headed up to Inspiration Point for a bite to eat and a rest before we headed on. This greets hikers as they angle up to the Point.

Nice restful place to sit and rest a bit. Hey, did we check to see that there were no tarantulas around? Nope. Oh, my. 

Back to hiking. Check out this many armed saguaro and that’s Tom Thumb, the small rock pillar peeking out between the two peaks. We like the hike up to Tom Thumb but - later, when we’re more in hiking mode. 

Time to move on. Hey, what’s that sound? Beep, beep, beep. Is that the back-up sound of heavy equipment? Out in the wilderness here? Yep, we’re on the other side of the hill, hiking next to the development and can see a new home going up.

That’s the new home on the left going in next to another home on the right. Kinda breaks the mood of a hike in nature but I’m glad that Scottsdale has put this land aside for everyone to  enjoy. 

Today, the trail was longer, there was more elevation and I wasn’t as beat as the last hike. Getting my hiking legs back. 

'If you aren't pulling your weight, you're pushing your luck.'