Friday, March 29, 2013


Come Monday, we will join the mass exodus of snowbirds to points north. We arrived in Mesa in early October and watched people coming for the winter. They came in dibs and dabs through Thanksgiving, then a steady flow through Christmas. The real flood was between Christmas and mid-January. Now, there is a steady flow of people leaving. And Monday, the day after Easter, will be a flood. They even let us pay our bill today, without waiting through the weekend to see how much electricity we use the last couple of days.

We will return to Mesa in October, when the worst of the summer heat is gone.

Our travels will take us north to Camp Verde, Prescott, Williams and the Grand Canyon during the first half of April. Then we will head east to Winslow and into New Mexico to Santa Fe and Raton. April 28, we plan to report to Mueller State Park where we will volunteer for 5 months this summer. We are looking forward to our summer in the Colorado Mountains. But we are spending April acclimating to higher elevations so we can function at Mueller's 9,000 ft altitude.

We continue to see signs of spring or summer here in Mesa. Earlier this week, we spotted this flock of flamingos near the pool.

And someone had a pig shipped from Iowa for a pig roast. If you look closely at the second photo, you can see the pig inside the roaster.

We are enjoying more blooming cactus.

And the rose garden is in full bloom.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Busy and Fun

We had a lot of fun visiting with our son Eric and his family, wife Liz and children Kylie and John, who made a spring break trip to Arizona. They arrived Saturday afternoon and we joined them at their resort, the Pointe Hilton at Squaw Peak. We checked out the River Ranch section of the resort--an elaborate water park that they enjoyed each day of their stay.

Then we shared the KFC bucket of chicken we had picked up on our drive over there.

Sunday they joined us for Palm Sunday services at Epiphany, then we spent some time in their pool.

Tuesday, they came to VDO and we gave them a tour of our winter home. Kylie, John and Eric all tried out the treadmills in the exercise room.

We showed the grandchildren the garden railroad setup.

They were interested in the lapidary shop, the leather shop and especially the woodshop. Kylie had taken woodshop at her middle school and she really enjoyed seeing all the equipment we use. Unfortunately, she isn't in this picture I took there.

Next, we all visited our swimming pool. The four of them enjoyed playing, while a lot of senior residents who didn't want to get their hair wet looked on apprehensively.

After grilling brats at our place last evening, we saw a beautiful full moon coming over the horizon.

They left early this morning and as I post this, they are home in Colorado after a 700 mile drive. Would you believe we take 3 to 5 days to drive that distance?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

More Flowers and Birds

A wonderful walk around the Boyce Thompson Arboretum on Friday gave us even more birds and flowers to look at, plus a lizard or two. The mescal bean tree has beautiful purple flowers. Note the black carpenter bee feeding on the nectar. We had never seen this insect before.

I'm not sure what kind of trees these are. Somehow, we left all our Arizona animal, cactus and tree books, as well as the hiking books, in our Colorado storage unit when we came down this winter, so we are just enjoying looking, without knowing what we are seeing, often.

The children's garden at the arboretum displayed a real rainbow of colors.

That area also had a human sundial. I am demonstrating how I can stand with my back to the sun and stand on the square for the month of the year and my upraised hand shadow will show the time of day. We were there right at noon.

Here are some of the other flowers we saw.

There were lots of hummingbirds around. I captured two in my lens. I think the first is a costa's hummingbird and the second a broad-billed hummingbird, but I'm not sure.

And two lizards stopped long enough to be photographed. I have no idea what either one is called.

There are also blooming cacti at VDO. Just look at these blooms we saw on a walk around the resort earlier this week.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Birds, Flowers and Perfume

Monday we returned to the Gilbert Riparian Preserve to see what new birds were in the area. It was a beautiful morning and we spotted a number of birds we hadn't seen there before (though none were totally new to us). This verdin is such a cute bird.

We saw lots of American avocets.

And watched two great blue herons (or the same one, twice) flying.

There were lots of ring-necked ducks.

This duck, which looks a lot like a mallard, has a head that is very dark purple. I don't know what it is.

All these birds bring out the humanoid avian watchers, as well.

Lots of plants were in bloom.

This fellow brought his alpaca for a stroll through the preserve paths. Certainly something we hadn't seen before.

So what, you ask, did perfume have to do with all of this? At VDO we have lots of citrus trees. Some still have fruit clinging to the branches, but the trees are also blooming and they smell sooooo good. We've never smelled this before and it is a real treat and a good reason to spend a warm March in the Phoenix Valley.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Wrapping Up

We only have two more weeks here in Mesa before we head out for the summer. We will have been parked in one place for almost 6 months, the longest we have every spent in one place in the RV, and we are beginning to get hitch itch. We will spend the month of April traveling around northern Arizona and New Mexico, seeking higher elevations to get our bodies adjusted to altitude. For 5 months this summer we will be volunteering at 9,000 ft.

In 6 months, we take more and more items out of storage in the RV, we buy new things, we move stuff around. Now it is time to find the place where everything belongs. We had the rig washed and we washed the truck. John is going to flush the hot water heater. And we had to finish up all our various craft projects. Here are the last three things we made.

The "Love" and the pig were woodshop intarsia projects we each made. For the necklace, I made the beads in pottery shop, then strung the necklace. That was fun. John has some partially created carving projects he will continue to work on over the summer.

We have one more week to tie up loose ends here, then our grandchildren Kylie and John will bring their parents Eric and Liz to Phoenix for Spring Break. We are looking forward to seeing them. We will also be busy with Holy Week services of Palm Sunday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. Then we will be "On the Road Again."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What a Hike!

Wednesday, we hiked to Fremont Saddle in the Superstition Mountains. Although it isn't a really long hike--a little over 2 miles one way--it is by far the most difficult hike we have been on this year. The trail is steep and very rocky. My hips and thigh muscles are still unhappy this evening. But we are so glad we went. This is the third time we have hiked this trail. Last year, we didn't because of my knee issues. This year it was on our bucket list of things we wanted to do while here. And we did it! In fact, we both felt it was easier than we had remembered.

The scenery is so interesting. There are lots of volcanic rock outcroppings.

This yucca isn't unusual, but it is interesting.

There were lots of wildflowers on the hillsides.

The trail was busy. This is Spring break, so we saw families with children and grandchildren, as well as college students. This gives a whole new outlook on taking your dog for a walk.

You may not be able to make it out in this photo, but there are rocks in the holes in the prickly pear pads. Did they get there naturally, or by human intervention?

So, why did we put our 70-year-old bodies through this test? It was to get this great view of Weaver's Needle. And it was worth it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Today Was a First

For the first time, ever, we paid someone else to wash and polish our rig. In the past, we have done that ourselves. And to be honest, we (actually, John) have polished the front cap, but we don't remember ever polishing the whole RV. About the best we have done was for John to wash it and I would dry it off so the hard water wouldn't leave spots.

Last October, we did that again. But the bending required to scrub the roof, which followed on John's curling up to get pine cones out of the underbelly of the rig, led to a herniated disc in John's back. We decided all the pain and limits on his mobility really weren't worth doing it ourselves.

So, today we had Vega's RVWash come wash and wax the whole RV. Our neighbors had them clean their rig a month or so ago and were very pleased. They did an excellent job for us, today. In fact, the owner called later and said he would return tomorrow with some special cleaner to work on some hard-water spots and tar his workers couldn't clean up. It was definitely worth the cost.

On another note, we have never stayed here in Mesa through the first months of the year. We may be in the middle of the larger city and in a city-like resort, but we are treated morning and evening to a lot of bird calls from the cactus wrens, mourning doves, curved-bill thrashers and Gila woodpeckers. We love it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Long Distance Cheering

We live in an amazing world. One thing that makes it so amazing is technology. Here we are in Arizona. Our granddaughter Kylie was swimming in the state meet in Fort Collins, Colorado, over the weekend. She made it into the finals in the 100 yard freestyle for 13- and 14-year-olds. And we were able to watch the race (well, part of it anyway) on our iPad.

Kylie's mom Liz sent us a text message that the finals would be run live on the internet. Following her instructions, we found the site and began watching the swimmers. When her heat came up, we watched the first lap, then the video stopped. By the time we got it back up, she was done. We did get to see her swim. What a treat!

Congratulations, Kylie! Making it into the finals is quite an accomplishment. We are proud of you.