Saturday, February 28, 2015

We Were Tired!

Wednesday, we did our almost-annual hike to Fremont Saddle in the Superstition Mountains.  This is the fifth time we have done this hike.  Although the hike is only 4.4 miles, round trip,it has a total round trip elevation gain of 1,396 ft. Whew, we were tired when we returned to our truck. Every year, the hike is tough. I wasn't quite as sore the days following the hike as I have been some years, so I guess that was good news.

The scenery on the hike is beautiful and this year we had more green vegetation that in the past. This has been a fairly wet winter.

The reward when we reach the top of the saddle is the view of Weaver's Needle. There were a number of other people there when we came to the top. One young family had their 8-month-old baby in a backpack. Another hiker was taking their picture with Weaver's Need in the background.

John posed in front of the landmark, as well.

Wildflowers are starting to bloom. We enjoyed the fairy duster and some plant from the pea family. I'm not sure what it is called.

I don't usually like the globe mallow flowers, but Wednesday the provided a bright orange spot of beauty.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Retirement Today

What is retirement? What is it all about, beyond quitting your gainful employment?  We have been retired for almost 12 years and retirement has taken on several different forms in that period of time.

We have traveled a lot in our RV, spending time in 44 states and eight Canadian provinces.  And there are still so many places to see in this wonderful country of ours.  Most, if not all, of the states we have visited still have lots of areas we haven't seen or spent time exploring.  Hopefully, we will find the time to visit all those we haven't been in--except Hawaii.  It would be hard to get our RV there.

We have been work campers in 12 different locations.  We have really had the chance to explore those areas during the two to five months we spent living in one location.  We came away with a better understanding of the people and how they live in a couple of locations near urban areas and in lots of remote places.  With a little planning, living far from a grocery store or Walmart works fine.  And the peace and quiet of Bryce Canyon or Wamic, Oregon, or Giddings, Texas, or Cannonville, Utah can't be beat.  Since I was born and raised in Denver and have lived most of my life in larger metro areas, it was a new experience for me--and I really enjoyed it, for part of the year.

We have become pretty good at helping people decide on a good place to hike or at leading tours of bath houses at Hot Springs National Park.  Having never been interested in Native American history, we came to really enjoy explaining a 700 year old caliche building constructed by people of the Hohokam culture in Arizona.  We also learned a lot and had fun conducting tram tours of a wildlife refuge in Texas.  We have spent time clearing trails and making signs, cleaning campsites and restrooms and changing beds in various state parks. 

All of this was so very different from my work as a journalist and secretary and John's positions in police work and as a priest in the Episcopal Church.  Not to mention, it has been different from owning and operating a funeral home.

Another avenue for learning has come while spending time in RV resorts for active seniors age 55 and above.  Developing skills in pottery and woodworking have been great opportunities for us.

However, not everything we have done during retirement has been a total change from our working life.  John still assists in local Episcopal churches.  I have continued writing by producing a blog about our life since 2006.  In addition, we are still able to spend time with family during our travels and our summer visits back in Colorado, as well as when they come to wherever we are.

Retirement can be a time to sit back and relax.  And/or it can be a time to reinvent yourself, learning new things, going new places, meeting new people.  We certainly feel blessed to have the time and financial security, the health and freedom to spend our retirement this way.  What do you suppose the next five, ten or twenty years will bring?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Who Needs New Orleans?

Today our resort had a short but very good Mardi Gras parade. For a few minutes, it was possible to believe we really were in New Orleans.

This was the parade marshal.

And a drum major.

There was an outhouse--with an open door!

A couple of interesting entries.

And this group had the best idea. (Note the cadaver's feet walking under the casket. You can click to the photo to get a better look.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


In a little more than two weeks, a block of mesquite wood went from this

to this

I am really enjoying converting a small piece of a tree into a useful object. A wood lathe is a wonderful piece of machinery. The maintenance crew at our resort saves all of the mesquite wood they prune from our trees so it can be used in the wood shop.

A chunk of wood is trimmed to a workable size.

Then a face plate is screwed on so the wood can be turned on the lathe.

I worked on it four different days, rounding and shaping the bowl.

After shaping and sanding, it came off the lathe. Next came several applications of tung oil to make it shiny and smooth. I am learning that different finishes are needed if the bowl is to be food safe.

I have purchased a block of wood to make another bowl. Then I will see what other wood projects I can complete before the shop closes for the summer. Just another way we are seniors at play here in the Arizona desert.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Desert Hike

Lost Dutchman State Park is only 10 miles from our resort, so Thursday we headed there for a hike. We had a really good rain (1.5 inches) a couple of weeks ago and the desert is very green. We really look forward to Spring when the cactus begin blooming. It should be a spectacular year.

It must be mating season for the cactus wrens. We could hear them singing--or at least chirping--everywhere. This one sat still for long enough I could zoom in for a picture. How do they sit on a cactus with spines like that?

Lost Dutchman has a good crop of saguaro cactus. We really wondered how this one sprouted all those arms at the same level.

I could take photos of the saguaro all day long. I won't bore you with that many (and we would never finish a hike if I took a picture of everyone I liked), but here are some more along the trail.

We also had good views of the Superstition Mountains.

It was only a short hike, between 2 and 3 miles, but we enjoyed it. We plan to do a lot more hiking in the next couple of months.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Talented Artists

We visited the Gold Canyon Art Festival a couple of weeks ago and were very impressed with the talented and creative artists that displayed their work there. A year ago, we drove out from Mesa to see the event, but we couldn't find a parking place, so we turned around and went back to our RV. This year, we were determined. We finally found a parking lot with some space at the far end of all the booths. We got our exercise walking to see everything.

There was a wide range of art projects, from gourds to baskets to jewelry and painting. Here are a few of the beautiful things we saw.  There was a lot of jewelry, but nothing really appealed to me, so I didn't take any pictures.

There were quilts and carved figures in both stone and wood. If I remember right, the stone figures were carved from old stone mile markers.

One woman shaped wire to make portraits.

One man made items out to bolts and bicycle chains and other similar items. Very creative. He didn't want anyone to take photos of his work. I can understand that he has a unique craft and didn't want his ideas copied.

In addition to all the art, we had another treat when a roadrunner was almost posing in a garden next to the Methodist Church. These birds are very hard to photograph because they usually run away. This fellow (or girl) was probably confused or frightened by all the people so I was able to get a pretty good picutre.