Data Diet

I love my mobile lifestyle.  To be honest, the lifestyle can be quite addictive. What started off as we’ll do this for a year or two until we find that special place to settle down has turned into four years and soon approaching year five of full-time RV living.  Egads, where does the time go?Desert Wildflowers

My one big dislike, a bone of contention, to this RV lifestyle centers around the internet.  The internet?  However, did we manage to survive before this remarkable invention?  I still remember a time when the TV flipper was the youngest kid in the family.  The invention of a TV remote control was a life changer for my little sister.

butterflyBack to the internet … when we first hit the road in the RV full-time, we started off with a Verizon mobile WiFi hotspot / jetpack with 5 GB of data that worked fine for a few months.

However like any RV newbie, we were so busy running around exploring those first few months that we didn’t spend much time on the internet. But once reality set in, we needed to get back to business which meant back to needing steady and strong internet connection.

Thus, we signed up for 30 GB of data, first through a Verizon reseller, and then later directly with Verizon.  All was fine until about a year ago.  We never stream. We don’t watch videos.  I don’t use the GPS on my iPhone and yet we seem to gobble up data twice as fast as we did previously.

egret

Date usuage? Gag!

We’ve run in to other location independent folks who seem to be experiencing similar data problems.  Some have switched providers or changed their plans.  I still haven’t desert poppiesfigured out why the increase in usage since we haven’t changed our habits.  If anything, we spend less time on the internet.  It’s been extremely frustrating.  I’m not sure what the fix might be, but in the meantime, I’ll need to curtail my internet fun leaving the gigs for our internet biz.

So yes my dear friends, I’m on a data diet and it does not make me a happy camper 😭

Our two months in Texas really spoiled us.  The RV park offered strong free WiFi right at our campsite. And boy oh boy, did we take full advantage of endless internet.  The you tube videos were rolling regularly … the educational kind, not the funny cat trick kind ……. well ….. maybe the cute puppy dog kind, but mostly educational.

So much fun!  But now that I’m back to using our jetpack with limited data (sigh, sad face, tear), I’ll need to plan visits to the library or coffee shop more strategically, which is just not as enjoyable as sitting at home with feet propped in my jammies and socializing with all my blogging pals.wildflowers

Oh well.  Such is the life of a full-time RV’er.  Life could be a whole heck of a lot worse. Seriously! Check out these photos of the amazing desert wildflowers.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Phoenix valley covered in so many beautiful wildflowers.  It’s crazy pretty around here lately.butterfly

I’ve tried to get out with the camera to capture her beauty, but between RV repairs, health matters, visiting with our children and navigating data issues since our return to Phoenix, Arizona, it has been a bit of a challenge.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and with the valley heat soaring those flowers won’t be sticking around too much longer.  Thus, over the next couple of weeks this gal will be hitting the trails with the camera at every opportunity.  Stay tuned!wildflowers

Superstition Wilderness Trails West: Hikes, Horse Rides, and History
Hiking Arizona’s Superstition and Mazatzal Country: A Guide to the Areas’ Greatest Hikes (Regional Hiking Series)

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From Wood to Stone

“Don’t worry”, I yelled over my shoulder to Al while swiftly walking to the truck.  I had my camera slung around my neck, water bottle in one hand, and truck keys in the other.  I was on a mission that morning, and I wasn’t about to let a little weather curtail my fun.

The vast vistas allowed me to see more than 100 miles in any given direction, but with such openness comes wind.  Northeastern Arizona is the windiest section of the state. The relatively flat, lightly vegetated mesas, buttes, and valleys do very little to slow the movement of air.Petrified ForestIt was calm at the moment, but I kept in mind, winds in excess of 40 miles per hour are common around here and gusts over 60 miles per hour aren’t unusual.  Hang on Toto!

Before climbing into the truck, I scanned the skies to the west.  The ominous line of clouds still looked pretty far away.  I figured, I’d have at least an hour before the storm hit.  However, I failed to take into account the driving time needed to get from one end of the park to the other.Petrified Forest National Park

The Petrified Forest National Park encompasses more than 230 square miles (600 square kilometers) with only one main road going through the center.  The 28 mile scenic drive takes visitors from the northern entrance located off Interstate 40 to the southern entrance off Highway 180.Petrified National Park

It was late August 2016.  We spent the night at the Crystal Forest Gift Shop near the southern entrance of the park.  The gift shop allows free overnight camping in an area off to the side. There’s even some picnic tables, but absolutely no other amenities of any kind. It’s free and considering we’re self-contained and self-sufficient this location worked perfectly for my photo excursion into the national park.petrified mapSince I was starting at the south entrance, I needed to plan my stops carefully keeping the weather and my priorities in mind.  The day before, we had entered the national park via the north entrance with the RV in tow and I was able to get a quick overview.

From the north entrance, we travel through an area called. "Painted Desert".

From the north entrance, we traveled through an area called the “Painted Desert”.

Petrified Forest National Park is very doable with any size RV.  Some pull-outs are a little more big RV friendly than others.  Regardless, to really delve into this geologically fascinating park, it’s best to explore without the RV and constraints of finding adequate parking.Petrified National ForestI hadn’t been in the truck driving more than fifteen minutes when hubby called with an urgency in his voice.  He informed me of a severe storm heading our way.  A semi-tractor trailer had flipped over on Interstate 40 due to a wind gust just east of Flagstaff and those high winds, hail, and torrential rain were heading our way.  All I managed to say to hubby before the call was dropped was, “Ok”.  You can assume cell phone coverage to be spotty in this remote park in Arizona.Petrified Forest National ParkHurry Ingrid was at the fore front of my mind as I continued on my quest.  I wanted to touch those fossils and even though there were plenty of petrified logs where we were camped, I wanted to see a forest of them.  Wood turning into stone is a rarity and takes special conditions for the process to occur.  There’s only a few places in the world to find petrified wood and I was exploring one of those places.Petrified Wood

Most of the petrified wood  around here is made up of mostly solid quartz.  The rainbow of colors is produced by impurities in the quartz.  Over 200 million years ago, logs washed into an ancient river system and were quickly and deeply buried by massive amounts of debris and sediment.  Oxygen was cut off.  Minerals absorbed into the porous wood and crystallized within the cellular structure turning wood into stone.

Crystal Forest is a popular spot to see large logs

Crystal Forest is a popular stop to see large logs

Petrified Wood

There are several areas within the national park that have a concentration of these huge petrified logs.  The petrified trees lie strewn across the hills and are broken into large segments.  The smooth ends look like they were cut with a chainsaw.

petrified broken logs can be seen strewn about the land

petrified broken logs can be seen strewn about the land

Who Cut the Wood?  During the gradual uplifting of the Colorado Plateau, starting about 60 million years ago, the still buried petrified trees were under so much stress they broke like glass rods. The crystal nature of the quartz created clean fractures, evenly spaced along the tree trunk, giving the appearance of logs cut with a chainsaw.

The national park is also home to remnants of an ancient civilization.

The national park is also home to remnants of an ancient civilization.

Although the petrified wood is the primary draw to this national park, I had one more quirky stop to make before returning to the RV.Historic Route 66

The famous old Historic Route 66 road used to go right through Petrified Forest National Park and there’s a popular landmark showcasing the location.  This 1932 Studebaker is a fun place for a photo-op.  The original telephone poles (seen to the left of the car) remain standing in the very spot they were originally installed all those years ago.

The weather may have cut my visit short, but it was just enough to pique my interest in a return visit.  I found the fossils and the process of their creation rather fascinating, much to my surprise.  Just one more place going on the must return list 😉

Route 66My visit was a week before my birthday and as such a little souvenir shopping was in order.  As much as I would’ve liked a nice chunk of petrified wood, the size and weight wouldn’t be conducive to life in an RV.  I opted for a lovely bracelet that I found at the Rainbow Visitor Center Gift Shop.

Please, please, please NEVER take rock from national park land.  Not only is it against the law, it undoubtedly would impact the abundance of fossils for all of us to enjoy today and in the future.  Purchasing polished petrified wood that was harvested on private land supports the park system and local economy.  And much of it is very inexpensive, unless you want a huge chunk, then that’ll cost.  The bigger the piece, the more expensive and the heavier.  My cute bracelet, similar to the one shown below, cost less than $25 and is a lovely daily reminder of my adventurous morning.Petrified Forest National ParkFortunately, the worst of the storm bypassed our immediate location, but we did endure some nasty gusting winds and torrential down pouring rain.  I returned to the RV unscathed, to a relieved husband, and looking like a drenched puppy. The minute there was a break in the weather, we hooked up and rolled in the opposite direction from those threatening clouds.  Hmm, where to next?

Sunchains Earthstone Collection – Petrified Wood Bracelet

When Travel Gods Smile – Part 2

Let’s continue our easterly trek …… Our stay in Montrose, Colorado, was way too short, but luckily the summer rain held off long enough for me to get in a few hours exploring Black Canyon of the Gunnison.  This would be my third visit exploring this small National Park and I never tire of the view.  It’s like a mini Grand Canyon but instead of the various shades of red sand stone rock that’s common in the southwest, there’s an unusual blend of gray and black granite rock.Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado

Moving on toward Gunnison, Colorado…..   Just off Highway 50 about an hours drive east of Montrose, the highway starts to meander along the Blue Mesa Reservoir.  This is the largest reservoir in the state of Colorado stretching approximately 20 miles long with about 96 miles of shoreline.

Elk Creek Campground, Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado

Elk Creek Campground, Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado

It was near the end of July and temperatures were expected to be in the 80 degree Fahrenheit range, and with no large trees to provide shade, we wanted the ability to run our air conditioner.  Thus, we decided to scope out a campground with electric hook-up (our generator will not power the A/C).

We pulled into the Elk Creek Campground, the only national forest campground along the Blue Mesa Reservoir with electric hook-ups, and started searching the campsite posts for an available site.  By the way, there are several private RV parks on the north side of the highway that offer full hook-ups.  We wanted to be near the lake.

Elk Creek Campground - Blue Mesa Reservoir

Elk Creek Campground – Blue Mesa Reservoir – west of Gunnison, Colorado

The task of trying to read each campsite pole with the dates quickly became daunting so we drove up to the visitor center to ask if any sites were available.  The ranger didn’t squirrelthink so, but informed us the camp hosts pretty much handle the campgrounds and we should check with them.

Just as we were turning to leave the building, she told us about a couple who pulled out that morning for a family emergency.  It was highly unlikely they’d be back, and we should verify with the camp hosts to see if we could have their site.

Bingo!  We lucked out and scored another great campsite which allowed us to visit Crested Butte, one of my favorite Colorado mountain towns.

Oh, how I wanted to linger around this part of Colorado longer, but responsibilities beckoned along with a campground reservation that I had made just a few days earlier.  I figured our good luck in snagging great available campsites couldn’t possibly continue, and since we needed a place to park for two weeks, I managed to reserve the only electric site still available at Lake Pueblo State Park for our time frame.  Whew, I breathed a sigh of relief when I clicked ‘reserve now’, but I did wonder what might be wrong with the campsite.

Site 313 - Lake Pueblo State Park, Colorado

Site 313 – Lake Pueblo State Park, Colorado

Upon our arrival, we were pleasantly surprised with our view from site #313.  Although it was sloped up and down to the left, it wasn’t a problem for us seasoned RVer’s (I still snicker being referred to as “seasoned” – kind of like a good steak, hehe!). I must admit,  Al and I have become quite proficient at leveling up the 5th wheel.  I knew exactly where and how to stack our Camco 44505 Leveling Blocks – 10 pack and signal Al to back up and stop.  I guess after four years of full-time RVing, we should have this figured out, huh.

A familiar view - For ten years, this was the view from my rear deck. Our sticks and bricks home was located four miles from this campsite.

A familiar view – For ten years, this was the view from our rear deck. Our old sticks and bricks home is located four miles from this campsite.

This would be a working stay!  We had a bunch of things to attend to during our time in Pueblo West.  This was our old stomping grounds and it’s still where we have a bunch of things in storage including our construction/utility trailer.  But first on the agenda was my flight from Denver to Chicago.

Al’s sister had recently moved to Denver from Rockford, Illinois, and we were looking forward to seeing her new place.  So the day before my flight, we took the two-hour drive up to Denver and spent the night at her place.

flyingThe following morning, Al dropped me off at the airport and while I visited with family in Illinois, he enjoyed some time with his sister.

Once again, the travel Gods smiled upon me and my flights, weather and visit were perfect.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Back in August, Delta Airlines had a serious computer melt down which caused massive delays across the country.  I was booked back to Denver the day after the melt down.  I was a tad nervous!  Between possible security lines at O’Hare Airport and issues with Delta, I arrived at the airport three hours early.  It took me a total of ten minutes to get through security.  That’s got to be some sort of record for fast airport security.  I literally walked right up, no line, set my purse and bag down on the conveyer, shoes too of course, and through and out I went.  I remember thinking, “Wow, did that just happen?”

MFlighty flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul (yeah, I needed to connect through MSP) left on time and arrived early and the same with my flight from Minneapolis to Denver.  I felt so badly for all the folks around me who had spent the night at the airport and were still scrambling to get a flight home not to mention the gate agents having to deal with distraught passengers.  It was an unfortunate mess for a lot of people.

Ok, ok… if you’re anything like me, you might be wondering why I didn’t book a direct flight from Denver to Chicago and back?  Well,  I could’ve if I had flown another carrier.  My original airline reservation was from Idaho Falls, Idaho to Chicago, Illinois and Delta was my best choice connecting through Salt Lake City.  Thus, I booked on Delta, and apparently Delta Airlines does not fly direct from Denver to Chicago.   I had to connect in either Minneapolis/St. Paul or Detroit, thus MSP it was.

Let me just say, it was a crazy six months for us with lots of twists and turns. I’ll eventually get around to sharing all the highs and lows of our adventures, but do note, overall it was mostly fun and filled with a lot of unexpected delights.

One of my favorite adventures occurred in mid August when we bid farewell to Colorado and said hello to New Mexico.  In most situations, timing plays a key role in how we feel about a place.  And after a very hectic month, we needed to find a spot to relax and regroup.

Aaahhh! Just what I needed to regroup and rejuvenate the soul - a fabulous hike!

Aaahhh! Just what I needed to regroup and rejuvenate the soul – a fabulous hike!

Our two week stay at Lake Pueblo State Park was anything but relaxing.  I was out of town for six of those days.  Al played handyman for his sister during my absence.  When I returned we cleaned and prepared the utility trailer to be moved, rearranged/sorted through things in storage, worked on our RV air conditioner and all the while Al was dealing with an injured back (he had been dealing with the back issue all summer long since the work camping gig 😦 )  Yep, we needed to find a place to chill and relax.

Camping in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Camping in Santa Fe, New Mexico

And we found it in Santa Fe…….  The travel Gods continued to smile upon us…..

Hmm, what’s on your Christmas wish list?  Al likes this GPS while I’ve been eyeing this pressure cooker!

Weather at Lake Powell

With the desert heating up, it was time for us to bid farewell to our children and start our journey north toward Idaho.  I had spent the last month perusing the atlas to see which route we wanted to take.  It didn’t take long to figure out where I wanted our first overnight location to be ….. a place I’ve longed to revisit; Page, Arizona or more importantly Lake Powell.Lake Powell

I’ll jump at any opportunity to camp near water and this little spot is a gem.  We first stumbled upon the Lone Rock boondocking beach back in November of 2012.  We were in the midst of out running – dodging snowstorms from our sticks and bricks home in Colorado, and Arizonaalthough we managed to avoid most of the snow, we did encounter a few flakes while camped at Lake Powell’s shore along with some severe winds.

You can  click here to read my post on that entertaining day.  Ah yes, fond memories!

Back to us hitting the road bright and early Tuesday morning….   We had intended to leave Phoenix on Monday, but just about all of Arizona was under a high wind warning.  And let me tell you, those nasty winds had us rocking and rolling to the point we felt like we were living on a boat.Arizona Highways

It was a smart move on our part to wait a day.  The winds had moved on and the five-hour drive from Phoenix to Page, Arizona, was uneventful and full of unique scenery… just the way we like it.Page, Arizona

We paid $14 for a two-night stay with the senior pass card.  Ah, there are perks to marrying an older man 😉  Since we had stayed here before, we failed to ask the ranger the best route down to the beach and found ourselves almost getting into a serious pickle.  The sandy road, although mostly packed, had some challenging obstacles from water erosion that required the F-250 be put into four-wheel drive to insure we avoid that pickle.  Seems the lay of the land around here is ever changing.Lake Powell

Once settled into a nice level spot off by ourselves, it was time to explore and in the process discover a better road to the pavement.  We sure don’t want to head out the same way we came in.Lake Powell

During our last visit to the area, the weather was so inclement it pretty much kept us RV bound.  This time around, I was determined to visit the Horseshoe Bend scenic overlook and since impending storms were on the horizon, I didn’t waste any time.

Horseshoe Bend overlook

Horseshoe Bend overlook

With storm clouds approaching and winds sandblasting me, I wasn’t able to spend as much time admiring the view as I would’ve liked, but I was definitely a happy camper.  This is a place I intend to revisit.  Hmm, perhaps we’ll need to look into one of those boat tours through the canyon (even though we’re not usually tour users).   Looks too spectacular to not consider and research further.  There are times I do miss our boat!

me sitting on the edge!

me sitting on the edge!

plan on sharing the scenery at Horseshoe Bend

plan on sharing the scenery at Horseshoe Bend

Our two night stay is over and today we’re heading toward Bryce Canyon National Park.  Or so we think.  As I sit here typing, we’ve decided to keep our day fluid and pay attention to the weather.  We encountered thunder, lightening, and lots of rain overnight and we’re a tad bit hesitant to drive the sandy road exiting the beach.  We’ll wait for a couple of hours and then make a decision.  Spending another night here along the shores of Lake Powell isn’t the worst thing.  However, the pull of seeing hoodoos is strong.

I’m a little bummed the weather forecast for the next few days is not looking good.  I’ve been so looking forward to hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park and a steady dose of rain will squash those plans.  Fingers crossed, I at least get a little break in the weather for a  few photo ops!

more fond memories

more fond memories

my hiking shoes ingested at least a cup of sand each

my hiking shoes ingested at least a cup of sand each

Flowers? Could it get any better?

Flowers? Could it get any better?

I could get used to this view!

I could get used to this view!

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump                     

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Utah / Arizona, USA (Trails Illustrated Map # 213)

Why we winter in Phoenix

What is it about the desert southwest that has us returning year after year?  It’s obvious we share our desert addiction with hundreds or more like thousands of other visitors.  Each winter season, droves of people migrate to Phoenix and the surrounding area to escape the cold and snow.desert sunset

Some folks come for a long weekend visit, while others (us included) stay for months at a time.  Let’s face it, with over 300 days of sunshine a year, mild winter temperatures, and sunsets that’ll knock your socks off, it’s hard not to like this part of the United Cactus flowerStates.  But there’s a lot more to the valley of the sun than merely the weather.

Sometimes I relish quiet, remote solitude while other times I like the hustle and bustle only a city can offer.  Phoenix is unique in offering me the pleasure of both world’s.

Phoenix is not only the capital of the state of Arizona but also the county seat for Maricopa County.  Maricopa County encompasses 9,224 square miles (23,890km) and includes the city of Phoenix along with 13 other cities, 10 towns, over a dozen other unincorporated communities, and 5 Indian Reservations.

fawnEach locale offers its own distinct vibe and topography.  Recreational opportunities are endless and diverse ….. hiking, biking, kayaking, golfing, fishing, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, fine dining, casual dining, museums, art galleries, rodeos, car shows, zoos, festivals, casinos, concerts, professional sports, minor league sports, shooting guns, and shooting cameras (my favorite, of course).

Trust me, there is no shortage of things to photograph around here; from wildlife, to beautiful flora – fauna, to distinct architecture and landscapes.  And of course, those amazing sunsets.desert sunset

The Maricopa County Park System is a recreational delight for locals and tourists alike.  Our favorites include Cave Creek Regional Park, Lake Pleasant (week days), and Lost Dutchman State Park.  We’ve heard great things about other regional parks, but  can’t speak from personal experience due to a failure on my part in making a reservation.  wild donkeyWeekends book up and reservations are a must during the peak winter season.

That said, I love going to sleep in a rural setting being serenaded by coyotes and wild burros while the next day I’m able to take an easy twenty-minute drive to shop at a top drawer grocery store/mall or visit a one of a kind museum like the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum).

Or I can drive 45 minutes west and watch cotton being harvested, however if I drive 45 minutes east I can find myself exploring an old ghost town.  Seriously, this place has something for everyone.art gallery

Accommodations vary from rustic tent camping, to RV Park Resorts, to hotels, five-star all-inclusive resorts, to plenty of vacation rentals.  In other words, there’s no shortage of overnight options that’ll custom fit anyone’s taste buds.

giraffe

me, my son, and a friend

I haven’t always liked Phoenix, but the more time I spend here the more I like it.  Of course, it’s a bonus that both my children now live here, but there’s other relationships as well.

Since Phoenix is such a great place to visit, there’s no shortage of social opportunities. I love meeting up with fellow bloggers, RVer’s, or long-lost friends.

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from a friend whom I hadn’t seen in twenty-three years.  She and I were in a play group together back in the Chicago suburbs when our children were little.  In the early 1990’s, Marianne and her family moved to California while my family and I moved to Nevada.  Once a year we’d exchange Christmas cards while keeping up with each others ever changing addresses.

Marianne and I enjoy tea and crumpets at the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree, AZ. We haven't changed a bit in twenty-three years ;-)

Marianne and I enjoy tea and crumpets at the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree, AZ.  Hmm… there were crumpets on those plates! We haven’t changed a bit in twenty-three years 😉

I picked Marianne up at her son’s home here in Phoenix and the two of us headed out for tea and crumpets.  After five hours of visiting, we bid farewell with the promise of getting together again soon.  Although she and her husband live in Florida full time, they do enjoy regular visits to Phoenix to see their son.  Thus, I’m sure it won’t be another twenty some years before our next luncheon or tea time 🙂

cactusAnd since we’re speaking of tea, I realize the desert isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  Me? I’m intrigued by the harsh desert landscape and fascinated by the vegetation and wildlife that are able to thrive in such an unforgiving environment.

I love the diversity of activities available, the weather (well, not the summer), and all the friendships, new and old, that we’ve made since we started visiting the valley of the sun.  I love hanging with my children and although I always hate saying good-bye, the itch to hitch has set in thus the wheels on the RV will start going round and round in a few days, BUT “we’ll be back“!

Love

May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. And rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

The Dreaded Blue Screen

A few weeks ago I purchased a new laptop, and like any new toy, I was having a splendid time playing with it.  The first week was filled with a lot of Goggling “how to”.  The second week I settled into navigating Windows 10 with ease and personalizing the new laptop.hummingbird

I downloaded a bunch of stuff including my favorites and some photos.  I was getting used to the mouse pad (I don’t use an external mouse) and even changed the settings to allow basic functions only.   After two weeks of computer use, I noticed the mouse pad wasn’t remembering my settings and reverted back to the default settings—-annoying.

ostrichThe pinch setting allows the text to be resized with finger movements on the mouse pad which is all fine and dandy,  but when all I’m trying to do is move the cursor and the screen starts zooming in and out from itty bitty 10% to huge 200% it gets rather frustrating.

So each morning upon starting the computer, I’d go to the mouse setting and uncheck the default boxes then go about my day.  Hmm, why won’t it hold my settings?  I began to wonder if perhaps there was something wrong with the computer.  Each time I double checked that I was hitting apply and then ok.  Thus, I knew I was clicking correctly and it was not user error.

A couple of days later, I couldn’t exit the internet. The internet window X wouldn’t close the tab.  I could open and close additional tabs but the first internet tab would remain open until the computer was shut down.  Well, when you’re working off of a limited internet data plan, that was unacceptable.

birdsSince the computer seemed to be working fine the first two weeks of use, that is up until Windows 10 did an update, I thought I would set the computer to an earlier date.

With my previous laptop computer and Windows 7 whenever things seemed to be running out of whack, I would do exactly that, and it would usually resolve any issues.  So I thought it would make sense to repeat what I’ve always done.  Seemed rather logical to me and everything on Google agreed.

Once again, I was proud of the ease of which I navigated Windows 10 (remember; I am no techie).  I went with the recommended setting of an earlier date.  “Yep”, I thought. “I should have this puppy running smoothly once again”.

NOT! …. that’s when I was greeted with the dreaded blue screen of death and this lovely message  ……
😦         inaccessible_boot_device          Error Code 0x0000225

Oh my fricken gosh …. I broke my new computer.  After  several hours of Googling, tapping away at F8 then F11, and doing a System Extensive Test, I resorted to an online chat with a HP tech in India.  He determined that I had a corrupt recovery drive and would need to fix it by purchasing a Recovery Drive from HP and initiate a system recovery from the recovery media ….. say what?

ostrichHe sent me this link to help me – HP support
I ended the chat with, “Thank you for your time. I should’ve listened to my daughter and bought a Mac”. His response, “I can tell you are not happy. I will forward your information onto a case manager”.

We ended the chat and I clicked on the link he sent me to see if it might enlighten me further.  Seriously?  The guy sends me a Windows 7 link to help me with my 2 week old laptop computer installed with Windows 10?  To say I was upset would be an understatement.

Ma’am, please step away from the computer, and no one will get hurt!

The next day, I grabbed my camera, a map, and hopped in my little red truck for a little valley of the sun (aka Phoenix, Arizona) exploration.  I needed to leave the techie computer stuff alone.  Turned out to be the perfect way for me to rejuvenate from my very upsetting computer saga.  That day deserves its own post  🙂

I had already decided to return the computer but wanted to wipe out all my documents and photos first.  So first thing the next day, I was on the phone with a HP case manager.  He gave me two options:  A – they would send me recovery media free of charge and he would walk me through the fix or B – since the computer was only a couple of weeks old and Costco has a good return policy, I could return it.ostrich

He assured me there was nothing recoverable on the laptop, thus no need to wipe it.  I could feel comfortable returning it, which is what I did the moment I hung up with the manager.  Two days later, the HP case manager called me to follow-up and make sure I didn’t have any problem returning the computer and to see if he could be of any further assistance.

Botanical Garden Two thumbs up to HP and case manager, Joe.  That said, should I buy another HP?  I don’t know.  I’m feeling a little conflicted at the moment.  In the meantime, my son gave me his old HP Pavilion that he wasn’t using anymore, thus providing me with at least some sort of connectivity.

BUT … this laptop is testing my patience.  Let me walk you through my morning ….

First thing in the morning, Al and I turn on our laptops and Verizon router.  Once up and running, we click on the internet on our individual laptops.  While Al starts perusing the latest news, I go wash my face while my laptop loads.  It’s a 50/50 crap shoot upon my return whether the internet is up or I get ‘page not found’ and need to start over 😦

Once I do have the internet, it’s time to check Facebook.  After logging in, I make breakfast while it loads.  I eat breakfast as the circle continues to go round and round and finally loads once I’m done eating.  I read Facebook but half the time can’t comment.  At least the ‘like’ button works.  Then it’s time to check our personal email account.  While I wait for that page to load, I do the dishes, once loaded, I read those emails.blue screen

Well, that just took up my first hour of the day and I haven’t even started perusing the blogosphere.  I can usually do a load of laundry while I wait for a blog to load.  Ok, maybe, just maybe, I’m exaggerating a little…. but just a little.  During the past week, more than half the comments I’ve typed out on your wonderful blogs could not be posted…. grrrrr!  Once again, at least the ‘like’ button seems to work.   The computer occasionally freezes up and routinely boots me off the internet.  This is a slow, tired, and old computer but it’ll have to do until I make up my mind about a new laptop.  I’ve even thought about living with this one until the fall…. egads!

hummingbirdIf I’m a little quiet for a while, you now know why.  I do have some fun things to share with you though …… eventually.  The more time I spend in Phoenix, the more I like it here.  I’m never at a loss of things to do and see, and of course, I love having my children nearby.

The rest of the month, Al and I will be finishing up dental work, physicals, and preparing for our journey north toward the end of April.

We’ll be spending the summer in Idaho helping out friends at their RV Park just three hours away from the Tetons and Yellowstone.  Should be an interesting summer for us filled with lots of new sights and experiences.   And I look forward to sharing it all, providing my patience holds out!

Moon Yellowstone & Grand Teton (Moon Handbooks)Lord, Give Me Coffee to change the things I can, and Wine to accept the things I cannot 5″ x 10″ wood sign plaque

Rattled

I’ve always enjoyed walking, but I didn’t develop an interest in hiking until a road trip my daughter and I took back in 2007 to the Black Hills in South Dakota.  I’m not sure what possessed me to agree to the almost four hour round trip hike with a 2,000 foot elevation gain up to Harney Peak, but Ashton had me convinced we could do it.

hiking in ArizonaIt turned out to be a fabulous hike – my knees may have disagreed, but  Ashton and I both agreed it was extremely enjoyable even though we arrived back at our vehicle tired and sore.

Although the hike challenged me, I found it invigorating.  It made me feel so alive.  I couldn’t remember the last time, if ever, experiencing that kind of feeling, and couldn’t wait to plan our next hike.

I should probably mention that at the time, I was an out of shape workaholic carrying an extra twenty pounds more than I currently carry.  The day after the hike, my legs and feet hurt so much I had trouble walking, but I felt awesome.

Fast forward to today, hiking has become a regular part of my life.  Granted, I don’t embark on any epic all day hikes like some of my RVing pals (you know who you are 😉 ) but I thoroughly enjoy those one to three-hour hikes amongst beautiful scenery.wildflowers

This time of year is particularly pretty in the desert southwest with the trails lined with wildflowers.  The cactuses are budding and some are starting to bloom.  Up until two weeks ago, I could be found in the morning hiking three to four days a week for an hour or two somewhere in the Phoenix metro area.  There are so many fabulous parks in Phoenix to hike and explore that getting bored would be difficult.

desert flowersAnd then the weather started getting hot …. hotter than normal for this time of year, which required I get out on the trail a little earlier.  On that fateful morning two weeks ago, I knew I was running late, temps were already in the 80’s (Fahrenheit) and I would need to be vigilant in keeping an eye out for snakes.

I left the camera at home wanting to focus on exercise and not allow myself to get distracted.  Yeah, good luck on that!  I always carry my cell phone with me for emergency purposes and it just so happens it takes photographs, which works in a pinch.

I was clipping along, making good time on my morning hike.  In spite of the heat, I kept my pace quick all the while keeping my eyes peeled on the trail in front of me and scanning the vegetation from side to side.  I’m not freaked out by snakes, but I’m also not a fan of the slithery creatures.rattle snakeI was on a trail leading me back to the truck with maybe fifteen minutes left to go and that’s when the movement in the brush stopped me in my tracks.  Mr. rattle snake was coiled in strike position and his head was bobbing back and forth as if he was dancing.  His tongue was flickering while our eyes met.snakes

I stood there frozen for a split second then gently backed away.  Once I retreated, he slowly lowered himself and starting slithering first toward me (I walked backwards some more) and then toward the other side of the trail.snakes

I stopped a women and her dog from passing me.  She was grateful that I had seen the snake first or she might have walked right by it.  We watched the snake cross the trail and counted five rings on his rattle.

This was not my first snake sighting on a trail.  I almost stepped on a bull snake in southern Colorado.   He was crossing the trail and I wasn’t paying attention.  Fortunately, I looked down before stepping on him.  Although a little started initially, I continued on my hike without concern.desert hikingThis encounter with the rattle snake rattled me …. rattled me to my core…. to the point it took me nearly ten days just to get out on the trail again.  Even then, I couldn’t enjoy that hike.  I’m afraid I’ve turned into a nervous hiker, but am hopeful in time my fears will ease.

All photos in this post were taken with my iPhone 5, and thus, not the best quality.  From now on, I won’t leave home without my Sony DSCWX350 18 MP Digital Camera (Black) Since this was my first rattle snake encounter in the wild, I wish I had gotten better photos of the snake, especially considering its my goal not to come face to face with another snake!desert hiking

Asian shrimp

 

Less time on the trails, means more time in the kitchen…… much to Al’s delight.  Click here for my Lemon Shrimp recipe.

A Tea Party

tea partyAnyone who’s fortunate to have a daughter has most likely engaged in a tea party or two.  I used to love sitting at my daughter’s Little Tykes table on a plastic molded chair made for a three-year old.

My daughter would pretend to make tea and cookies in her make-believe kitchen.  Then we’d sit at her child height table sipping pretend hot tea and eating treats.

Quite often a doll or favorite stuffed animal would join in on the tea party and be served as well.Tea PartyMy daughter, Ashton, may be all grown up now, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t enjoy a tea party, but instead of pretending, we like the real deal.  Oh my yes!  Bring on tea partythe tea and crumpets.

During one of my outings with blogging, RVing friend Faye, we stumbled upon the cutest place in the town of Carefree, Arizona, just north of Scottsdale.  Faye and I had just completed a two-hour hike and were looking for a place to have lunch.

Obviously,  we were dressed in hiking attire which seemed a tad inappropriate for lunch with the Queen.  Thus, we vowed to return another day … dressed appropriately tea with the queenand with our daughters in tow.

Two weeks later on a Saturday, Faye, Ashton, Laura, and myself arrived at the bustling English Rose Tea Room.  Fortunately, I had made a reservation at this popular and charming place.

While we waited for our table to be set, Ashton poses with the Queen.  We also perused the shelves filled with china, trinkets, and tea available for sale.

We had a fabulous time at the English Rose Tea Room and the girl’s hit it off famously.  Turns out, my daughter and Faye’s daughter-in-law have a ton in common.  The conversation flowed freely when our mouths weren’t stuffed with delectable scones  topped with Devon Cream and homemade jam.

tea party

Laura and Ashton enjoying a tea party with their mom’s

By the end of our luncheon, the girl’s were friending each other on Facebook and there was talk about setting up another tea party before our RVing ventures have Faye and me hitting the road in a northerly direction.tea with the queen

tea with the queen

me and Faye

This was such a fun girl’s outing at a very unique and charming restaurant.  Although we did see a few men joining their wives for a tea party, this is definitely a girly thing kind of place.

Faye and I just can’t envision those finger sandwiches being a satisfying thrill for Dave or Al.  Although I should mention, the English Rose Tea Room does serve large sandwiches and salads.  For us girls, it was all about tea and crumpets.

After lunch and after Ashton and Laura made a few tea purchases (who knew they were tea connoisseurs), the four of us strolled around the Carefree center grounds.  The cactus garden display, water features, and sculptures are beautiful, and worth a walk around.carefree arizona

Carefree is also a popular place for hosting a variety of festivals.  Click here for more information on the town of Carefree, Arizona.Carefree Arizona

Ashton in front of the English Rose Tea Room

Ashton in front of the English Rose Tea Room

tea party
My daughter ended up buying one of these empress tea strainers along with some English loose tea.  She also collects decorative tea pots.  Who knew, all those tea party’s long ago would continue and trigger an interest in the world of tea.   I’m just thrilled my little girl still wants to have tea party’s with her mom 🙂
The Empress Tea StrainerGracie China Shabby Rose Porcelain 4-1/2-Cup Teapot, Shabby Rose Green

Computer Woes!

Change is an interesting subject.  Most times I embrace change whole heartedly.   That shouldn’t be a surprise considering a mobile lifestyle is all about change.  But then there are times or situations that I resist change as much as possible.

Sunset over Lake Pleasant

Sunset over Lake Pleasant

I was resisting the thought of getting a new computer and learning Windows 10.  Just thinking about it had me walking, rather running, in another direction.  The mere thought of dealing with technology change almost had me breaking out in hives.  If there was a word depicting the opposite of Geek, that would describe me to a tee.  I am definitely not a techie.  With that said, the past month I chose to play ostrich and avoid the subject by leaving the computer off.  I must admit, the break from the internet allowed me to complete a bunch of projects around the RV as well as get in a fair amount of hiking.

flowers and beeI knew months ago my laptop was slowly doing a death dance, but I loved the old gal.  She and I got along famously for years and I wasn’t interested in changing things up.  She loyally cared for my thousands of digital photos, put out hundreds of blog posts, and supported all my documents.

Her keys were worn to the point that half the letters were no longer legible making it impossible for Al to use my laptop (he’s never managed to memorize the keyboard and still pecks away at the keys 😆 ).  She sported a huge crack along one side that seemed to be growing and her screen was no longer firmly attached, but we were a comfortable fit.

Day in and day out, she’d sit on my lap providing endless hours of entertainment. Perhaps too many hours.ButterflyI had no intention of replacing her.  Quite frankly, I didn’t want a new computer, but after months of babying her and refreshing her to factory status, she just wasn’t up to the task at hand.  She was tired and wearing out, and when I could no longer upload my wildflowersphotos, I had to embrace the thought that change was necessary.  Plus, I was missing you guys!

I shopped, then shopped some more. I’m usually a very decisive shopper, but not this time.  Google became my best friend enlightening me on the differences between Intel’s i3, i5, and i7 processors.  A Mac was out of the question.  First, it wasn’t within my budget, and second I felt that would be too much of a change.  Although last year’s change from an Android to an iPhone was ezzie peezie and I love my iPhone 5, I just wasn’t going to go from a PC to a Mac at this point and time.

Cowboy mounted shooting

navigating obstacles can be fun!

It’s been a week and my new HP Pavilion laptop and I are getting along swell.  Windows 10 wasn’t the navigation nightmare I thought it might be.  Yes, it’s different, and yes, the first few days I was Googling “how to” a lot, but I haven’t broken out in sweats or hives due to the change.  I’ve even been having fun setting the new computer up.

We’re still closely monitoring our data usage considering we almost maxed out our 30 gigs last month and I was hardly on the internet.  Apparently, Al’s computer and my old computer had programs running in the background that were gobbling up data.  Thus, my internet presence was throttled severely.  I’m hoping to be back blogging soon and am starting to catch up on all your latest posts.  I’m still a little slow with the new gal, but the more time we spend together, the more familiar we’ll get and I’ll soon be sharing plenty of photos of the desert blooming.  You’ve been warned!

sunset over Lake Pleasant, Peoria AZ

sunset over Lake Pleasant, Peoria AZ

For those of you curious, this is the laptop I ended up getting….
HP Pavilion 15t 15.6-Inch Touchscreen Laptop (6th Gen Intel Core i5-6200u Processor, 8GB DDR3L RAM, 1TB HDD, Windows 10), Natural Silver

A Season of Blooms

We arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, just in time to watch the desert come alive.  I don’t think there’s a better time to visit the Valley of the Sun, aka Phoenix, than in late winter, early spring when the desert is dressed in all her finery.Superstition Mountain

What I would refer to as spring around here, begins a little earlier in the desert southwest than in other parts of the country.  Having lived in places like northern Illinois and southern Colorado, I would never refer to February as spring, but around flowering desertthe Phoenix valley, signs of spring are visible everywhere by mid February.

Trails and roads are usually lined with clusters of yellow flowers, courtesy of the brittlebush.

Flowers equal spring in my book and thus the season for blooms…. blooms of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  While I hit the hiking trails, I allow my eyes to look and discover the finer details of the blooming desert…. the little things.  I’m rarely disappointed.

After taking in the vast landscape, I narrow my focus discovering the little details

After taking in the vast landscape, I narrow my focus and discover little hidden surprises

desert flowers

Prickly pearAmongst the sharp cactus thorns grow delicate flowers.  The variety of foliage is an interesting collaboration of opposites; small, fine, delicate plants grow in harmony with large, hearty, thorned cacti.

Not wanting to be outdone by the other plants, the cacti produce their own flowers providing a profusion of colorful blooms dotting the landscape.

As many times as I’ve witnessed the extraordinary beauty of the desert, her extremes continue to amaze me.cactus

It’s not just the flora that’s intriguing…. it’s also the birds and animals that survive in this harsh land of extremes that are fascinating to observe.  Watching the relationship between flora and fauna in the Sonoran Desert during the blooming season is like watching a fine ballet …. beauty and drama are in abundance.

silhouette of an ocotillo cactus, but let's take a closer look at the bush lower right...

silhouette of an ocotillo cactus…. let’s take a closer look at the bush in the foreground…

I love the small delicate blooms

I love the small delicate blooms on this bush

The ocotillo cactus is one of my favorites. The leaves and flowers seem soft and delicate yet the thorns and sturdy bark make it one strong desert survivor. The ocotillo provides an excellent perch for birds and the orange flowers are very distinct.ocotilloocotillo

 

 

 

 

 

ocotillo

I truly enjoy this time of year in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert.  I’ll be spending the next six weeks immersing myself in her gorgeous and abundant flora.  In closing, I leave you with a photo of a Fairy Duster.Fairy Duster

BTW… most of the photos in this post were taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 12.1 MP Digital Camera with CMOS Sensor and 24x Optical Zoom – BlackSince it’s no longer in production, the price has been severely reduced.  So much so, I bought a back-up 🙂