Gardening in Different Climates

There was a time when I enjoyed gardening and yard work. My interest began when Al and I were newly married and we purchased our first home in the Chicago suburbs. I started my gardening education by planting annual flowers in the spring, a few perennials during the summer, and by fall my focus was on bulbs. I adore tulips and hyacinths!

As my garden interest grew, I took some perennial gardening classes at the local community college and started adding beds of perennials to our large yard. Illinois is known for its rich farm soil, so even a gardening novice like myself could find success and have things growing without much attention. That is, if a full-out war with the local cottontail bunny rabbits could be averted.

Denver Botanical Garden

Denver Botanical Garden

Trouble in the garden

When we moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, everything I thought I knew about gardening was quickly rendered useless. All of a sudden, I found myself living in an arid climate with an elevation over 6,000 feet, and things did not grow as easily as they did in Illinois.

After many perennial and bulb failures, I switched to vegetable gardening. I thought I might have better luck growing veggies than flowers, but that too, proved to be a challenge. Eventually, my interest in gardening waned.

And now that we live in our RV, gardening is no longer an option. Oh, I tried the whole planter thing last summer. I thought it would be wonderful to enjoy some home-grown tomatoes or some fresh herbs, but the intense sun and heat in Arizona were not kind to my plants. Another gardening failure by yours truly. Not to worry, the planter pots were quickly filled with flowers purchased at Hobby Lobby ūü§¶‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹūüĆĽūüėĀ

gardening

My son with my mom in my parents large and successful garden in Illinois. Photo taken 7 years ago when my mom was still with us.

Illinois has some of the best dirt

I’ve never had the kind of gardening success that my mom and dad enjoyed. Every spring they would look forward to returning to their home in northern Illinois after their Texas Gulf Coast winter sojourn in their Motorhome. They were eager to get the earth tilled and the garden planted. Since their harvest was always way more than they could consume, they would share their bounty of vegetables with delighted neighbors.

I used to time my return visits to Illinois based on their garden. Ah, such fond memories!

Al’s side of the family used to live near Rockford, Illinois. If you’re ever in this part of the state, I highly recommend a visit to the Anderson Japanese Garden. The grounds are tranquil and beautiful and the restaurant tasty. More than once, we’d stop for breakfast or lunch at the restaurant and forgo touring the grounds if we didn’t have time.

Jumping into yard work

Monday night, our son called Al. In a somewhat frantic voice, he informed his dad of his failing water heater and was hoping Al could help. Our son has been working well over 60 hours a week at his job in management plus helping his soon to be bride with wedding day details. To say he’s stressed these days, would be an understatement.

So without hesitation, yesterday morning Al and I hopped in the truck and took the 85 mile drive from Prescott, Arizona, to our son’s home in Phoenix to deal with the leaking water heater.

As soon as we pulled up to Logan’s house, I noticed all the weeds growing up between the rock landscape. Oh don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t so bad that the homeowners association had sent a notice …. yet, but in another week or two, I assure you, he’d be receiving a “take care of your weeds” notice. After all, it is the monsoon season in the desert and considering Phoenix has received a fair amount of rain lately, everything is growing including weeds. Actually, the moisture is very welcome!

Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona

Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona

With that said, the cactus are happy and touches of color from wildflowers dot the landscape.  It never ceases to amaze me what will grow and thrive in such a harsh and unforgiving environment.

So while Al was assessing the problematic water heater, I went to work pulling weeds. Now if my son were home, he would never have allowed me to do this. He usually hires out the yard work, but I knew he was too busy to even give the yard a thought and call the landscaper.

The job of pulling weeds didn’t take me long and was relatively easy, BUT the temperature was already over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. After about 20 minutes of either bending over or squatting, I was done! It was as good as it was gonna get by me.

There’s still a couple of areas that could use a tad more attention, but those areas are on the side of the house and not as easily noticeable.

The heat was brutal and for a gal that doesn’t normally sweat (I merely glisten ūüėĀ), I was sweating like a pig and light-headed. (Do pigs actually sweat? Wherever did that phrase come from? ūüź∑)

But hey, it’s a dry heat…. seriously? … even an oven is a dry heat!!! Yeah, the desert can be a dangerous place. However, it did feel good to accomplish the yard work and have the yard looking more polished.

By the time our son got home from work, the water heater was replaced and the front yard was looking good. Logan was grateful beyond words, and some serious stress was lifted. After a successful and eventful day, an exhausted mom and dad headed back up the hill to Prescott at a higher elevation where temps were almost 20 degrees cooler.

Denver Botanical Garden

Denver Botanical Garden

Garden or Gardening – this weeks theme

Today I reflect on the yard work I did yesterday. I don’t miss it. Quite frankly, I don’t miss gardening either, but I do miss seeing a beautiful garden of flowers. That’s when it’s time for me to visit a Botanical Garden or Arboretum. I appreciate the labor of love that goes into the design and care of a garden.

For this weeks photo theme, let’s share images and/or tales of gardens or gardening. Do you have a favorite garden you’ve visited or do you enjoy the task of gardening? Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your post.

Denver Botanical Garden

Denver Botanical Garden

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo theme as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Perhaps you could use a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy ūü§ó share and connect!

Upcoming prompts –¬† Birds, Black & White, Reflections …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
 9 Piece Garden Tools Set
 White Ceramic Planter Set / Kitchen Herb Garden

Advertisements

Best Souvenirs

You all know by now, I love photography and I take bunches of photographs at the places we visit. But every now and then, I like collecting something special that serves as a memento.

Canyonlands

When a photograph isn’t enough

Souvenirs are a great reminder of a memorable trip or even a special day. Since we live in our RV full-time, space is always an issue. With that in mind, I’m a sucker for jewelry and t-shirts and neither takes up a great deal of space in the RV.

I’ve purchased necklaces and bracelets from around the country. Wearing the jewelry brings me right back to the place where it was bought, and always elicits fond memories.

best souvenirs

Jewelry and t-shirts are my favorite souvenirs

I love pearls. They remind of sparkling sand and ocean breezes. My pearl earrings were purchased in Hawaii while the pearl necklace was bought in St. Thomas. Our children were teenagers during both those trips and I have wonderful memories of those family excursions. If you asked our children about those trips, that’d both start laughing as stories would quickly be shared. Fun times with plenty of mommy faux pas moments!

bracelet souvenirs

I love my inexpensive bracelets

Purchasing a piece of jewelry needn’t be expensive, and quite often you can find unique pieces that are specific to the destination.

We live a relatively active and outdoorsy lifestyle, which is not always conducive to wearing fine jewelry. I learned that lesson the hard way several years ago when I lost a rather nice bracelet while out boating. Some fish in Lake Powell is adorned with a lovely ruby bracelet ūüė£

These days you’ll find me wearing multiple bracelets purchased from varying locations. Each one has special meaning to me. My pearl bracelet reminds me of our winter sojourns to the Texas Gulf Coast while the multi colored crystal bracelet reminds me of stunning Sedona, Arizona, and Sedona’s¬†energizing, spiritual¬†vortex,¬†new age thing. Not that I know what that’s suppose to mean, but it’s Sedona, and I’ll roll with it. So far, the crystals that make up the bracelet haven’t energized me nor given me prosperity, but I’ll keep wearing the bracelet since I wasn’t given a time frame as to when those crystals will work their magic¬†ūüėŹ

Turquoise stones are easily associated with the desert southwest. Last year, I found this turquoise bracelet in Old Town Scottsdale. Since we spend a far amount of time in Phoenix, Arizona, visits to the Scottsdale farmers market followed by a little souvenir shopping is one of my favorite pastimes. Although I don’t have room or use for the usual souvenir¬†tchotchke, I do enjoy browsing the local shops and buying the occasional trinket.

bracelets souvenirsMy petrified wood bracelet is probably one of my favorite souvenirs. Not because I really like the look of the bracelet, but because it’s petrified wood. Seriously, how fascinating is petrified wood … real petrified wood worn around my wrist … pretty cool in my opinion!

Ah, the memories! My morning exploring the Petrified National Forest was one of my more eventful solo excursions.

RVing has given me the opportunity to experience a multitude of meaningful experiences.  Al and I shared a very special day in Rocky Mountain National Park several years ago.

It moose necklacewas one of those days, we couldn’t repeat even if we wanted to, and probably ranks in our top ten most memorable days as full-time RVers.

If you’re interested in a must do scenic drive¬†through Rocky Mountain National Park or interested in seeing stunning landscapes and amazing wildlife or perhaps curious about why this moose necklace is so incredibly special to me, you can read those posts here and here.

While the words, “I don’t need any more jewelry” will never pass my lips, I do realize I can wear only so much. With that said, what shall we shop for if jewelry isn’t an option?

Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt

National Park t-shirts

National Park T-shirts anyone? Posing with our friends – Dave, Faye, me, and Al

Never worry about the extra space to pack a souvenir if you can wear it! Who doesn’t need a new t-shirt or ball cap? I’ll admit, I’m a t-shirt junkie. If I’m not buying a t-shirt for myself, I’m buying one for Al or the kids. Yeah, I’m one of those mom’s who occasionally brings back souvenirs to her grown children …. sure, thanks mom!

But in all seriousness, our lifestyle necessitates casual and comfortable clothing. So even if we weren’t wearing a shirt with the name of a national park plastered across the front, we’d probably be wearing one that says Nike. Therefore, why not wear a t-shirt with meaning, one that represents a beloved travel destination!

Death Valley National Park

Yep – both of us our wearing “Death Valley” t-shirts while visiting Death Valley National Park

Other souvenir ideas that don’t take up a lot of space

When the photos I take don’t seem like enough memorabilia, I enjoy buying something I can hold, admire or put on display.  My favorite souvenir used to be Christmas ornaments, but with limited space in the RV, my adult daughter has taken over that habit and is now in possession of my collection, a collection that started when she was a little girl. Thus, those ornaments elicit memories for her and our family adventures.

Other popular souvenirs are coffee mugs, shot glasses, and refrigerator magnets. When space is limited, there’s nothing wrong with buying them if you‚Äôre actually going to use the mug for your morning coffee or use that shot glass for your favorite whatever or you have a refrigerator that’ll hold those magnets, then why not?

National Park Pins

National Park pins

We have friends that collect logo “pins” from the national parks they visit, and/or have a national park¬†passport book stamped.¬†¬†If you have small children, signing them up for a Junior Ranger program at a National Park is an educational opportunity, and the workbooks they fill-in or color will serve as a special memento for you, but especially for them.

Items that are locally made are always special; items like blankets or rugs. Think about it, every time you wrap yourself in that blanket, you’ll be reminded of that trip, that day, those remarkable memories.

If you travel to another country, a place where there’s a different currency, save those coins or banknotes. I have a scrapbook from my trip to Germany (many years ago) and added the foreign currency to that scrapbook along with plenty of photographs as well as my plane ticket.

I’ve also been known to collect small stones or rocks (when permitted), but I do keep weight in mind. No ¬†Long, Long Trailer¬†story around this RV ūüėܬ† So while I might collect a rock here and there, I have a friend who collects seashells from her favorite beaches.

I treasure my photographs from all the places we visit, but also love having a little sliver of our travels in the form of a souvenir.

Do you collect souvenirs? If so, what?

‚ÄúHappiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Denis Waitley

hot air balloon(affiliate links)

I used to have a decorative pillow addiction. Hubby is grateful the pillow collection in the RV is minimal ….. for now ūüėČ

Hey, pillows can also be souvenirs, can’t they?

RVing in a Big City

I love the diversity of spending time camped in nature one day and living near a major city the next.¬† It’s an amazing joy not to have to choose one or the other and it’s probably one of my favorite things about living in the RV full-time – I’m not committed to a location. This sense of freedom is hard to explain, but I firmly believe it’s one of the top reasons RVing can be addictive.

Fork in the road

Fork in the road – city living or country living?

When you come to a fork in the road take it! –¬†Yogi Berra

Fork in the Road …

The freedom to choose where we camp is wonderful, but there are times I feel torn and have trouble making a decision.¬† Which way should we go? There’s so many things to see and do in a big city; museums, events, restaurants, stores … the list goes on, but the solitude and beauty of nature is always a strong draw and many times that’s my preference.

photo taken with Panasonic DC-ZS70

Taken with my new Panasonic DC-ZS70   Set on Auto РF6  Р1/125 Р373mm

Guess what? I don’t have to choose one or the other to call home.¬† One month here, one month there, or next month it’s something in between. That’s how we roll. Ah, the beauty of full-time RV living. We get to be non-committal.

After spending three months in Phoenix, Arizona (Oct, Nov and Dec), we started off the New Year by moving over to western Arizona to the small tourist town of Lake Havasu City. We’ve visited this area many times before and love returning. Even though our first two weeks here have whizzed by, I’ve had time to reflect on our three month stay in the big city.

inspiration, crafts, ideas, quotes

Phoenix, Arizona

It’s a rare treat to find a RV friendly city, and when we do, we like to plan a lengthy stay allowing us plenty of time to immerse ourselves in everything big city life has to offer. Since our children live in Phoenix and Phoenix is RV friendly, this city has become a regular stopping point for us. You’ll find us traveling in, out and around Phoenix regularly.

Phoenix resorts

JW Marriott Camelback

The Phoenix valley is not only a super popular snowbird location, but also popular with vacationers and convention traffic.¬† Peak tourist season is January, February, and March … March being the busiest due to baseball spring training.

Reservations for whatever kind of travel you choose during those three months are a definite must. You’ll also find lodging prices at a premium.

The lodging options are abundant and diverse. For those of us with RVs, we can find everything from basic campgrounds to full on RV resorts complete with pools, pickleball courts, and golf courses. For non RVers, there’s everything from inexpensive hotels, to Airbnb’s, to mega resorts, and everything in between.

Did I mention how awesome the weather is around here? That is, excluding summer of course!

Lost Dutchman State Park

Camping at Lost Dutchman State Park is one of our favorites. Barely fifteen minutes to grocery stores, restaurants plus amazing hiking trails right out our door. Scottsdale and Phoenix are an easy drive away.

I can't adult today

There’s a never-ending schedule of art shows, craft shows, or home shows to attend throughout the year in the Phoenix valley. My daughter and I always manage to find time to attend a few.

I’m never at a loss of things to see or do during my visits to the Phoenix valley. Although hiking and photography top my list of favorite activities, there are so many other great recreational and educational opportunities to explore.

Here are some of the things we’ve done in Phoenix …..

Scottsdale farmers market

Farmers market held all winter long in Old Town Scottsdale. Photo taken Dec 23 – yep, DECEMBER!

beignets farmers market

My friend,¬† Faye, and I enjoying freshly made Beignets¬†at the farmers market. Come on, can’t be all about veggies! Since we visited the farmers market early morning, it was still on the cold side. By noon, we didn’t need those jackets any more. There are bunches of 5 star restaurants with award winning chefs located throughout Phoenix and Scottsdale …. plenty of culinary delights to satisfy any palette.

TD Ameritrade seminar

Conventions and seminars are held throughout the year. Our son and daughter join us at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Resort for a TD Ameritrade seminar.

JJ Kinahan

This was the second day of the TD Ameritrade seminar and I got to meet Joe “JJ” Kinahan. If you’re a trader or CNBC watcher like me, shaking hands with JJ was a treat. JJ was getting ready to hit the links and enjoy the beautiful Phoenix weather while it was snowing in Chicago. TD Ameritrade and Think or Swim hold educational seminars once or twice a year in Phoenix and Al and I try never to pass one up. Always educational. We attended one of the best seminars yet this past December and had a couple of ah-ha moments.

I was really excited about attending the WordPress Camp, but was sorely disappointed. I thought I’d be surrounded by fellow bloggers in the audience, but instead the vast majority of attendees work in the tech industry. This conference was geared toward businesses who work behind the scenes, who write code and do lots of other stuff that I can’t begin to articulate. It was all Greek to me. At least the food trucks were good!

Desert Botanical Garden butterfly display

Daughter taking a selfie with a butterfly at the Desert Botanical Garden

Chili and Chocolate FestDaughter and I watch a cooking demo at the Chili and Chocolate Festival

western history

Lots of western history to explore around here along with the amazing trails.

Family and friends

Being able to spend time with family and friends is our number one reason for hanging around Phoenix

Let’s get social …

Because Phoenix is such a popular travel destination, we never know who we might bump into. It’s always a pleasure! During our three-month stay in Phoenix, we enjoyed several get togethers with bloggers and non-bloggers alike.

Blogging

Happy hour at Cave Creek Regional Park. From left to right: Dave, Faye, Al, Sue, Dave, me, and Lewis in the front. We all met via our blogs first – blogging leads to friendships!

Jeanette doesn’t write a blog but she’s been following mine for a while and she reached out to me last year as she and her husband were preparing to RV full-time. Since then, they’ve sold the house, moved into the RV and are workamping at Usery Regional Park this winter. We’re hoping to do some boondocking with them this spring once the hot weather pushes us all north.

Nancy on the left, me on the right. Nancy and her sweet man don’t RV but they do like to travel. They own a home just north of Phoenix. She and I met via our blogs a few years ago and we enjoy getting together whenever we’re both in town. She’s always so kind including us in their social gatherings at their home. Thanks Nancy ‚̧

This is just a small sampling of the folks we socialized with during this years three month stay in Phoenix. Every time we visit this city, our social calendar is as full or empty as we’d like it to be. Over the years, we’ve made some great friends via the blog and via RVing and Phoenix is the perfect city to physically connect with like-minded people.

How about wildlife?

Although I enjoy most aspects of big city living, I have a need to be close to nature and wildlife. Fortunately, with plenty of parks and open space, I’m still able to get my nature fix while staying in Phoenix.

coyote

You can expect to see or at least hear plenty of coyotes.

wild burro

wild burros are more elusive and a treat to see while out hiking

Gambels Quail

The Quail are everywhere and I find them exceptionally entertaining.

Gambels Quail are everywhere, and if you can’t see them, you can quite often hear them. Since they fly as a last resort, spotting a covey of quail running across a street, sidewalk, or trail is a common sight, and always makes me smile.

Hummingbirds are also very common and entertaining to watch. Gosh, those little things buzz around so fast that it takes a great deal of patience to capture a photograph of one – a non blurry photograph. Obviously my patience during this visit eluded me as evidenced by the lack of a photograph. Oh well, next time!

Another fun thing to do …

There’s some great scenery in this part of Arizona. Just outside of the city is one of my favorite scenic drives. Driving the Apache Trail makes for a perfect¬†day trip, but before embarking on this drive do your homework. The stretch of road between the town of Tortilla Flat and Lake Roosevelt is a gravel road and can be pretty rough in spots.

holidays in PhoenixIt was a very busy three months …

Aside from all the socializing and activities, we tried to get in as much hiking as possible to work off all those extra calories consumed. It was the holiday season after all.

In addition, we managed to complete a bunch of maintenance on the trucks, RV, and our teeth ūüėí And as if that wasn’t enough, I threw myself into a RV remodel project.

I’m not ready to reveal the remodel just yet, but let’s just say, there was at least 24 yards of fabric involved with 10 more yards in my future. I’m loving my new window treatments and the fresh new look and wish I’d a done this sooner. Since we’ll be bouncing around Arizona the next few months, I’ll focus on completing the remodel in May when we’re back in a full hook-up site and sitting stationary for a few months. We¬† plan on spending most of the summer back in Prescott, Arizona again.

And speaking of sitting still, it came as a total shock to Al and me that at the end of our three-month stay in a RV Park in Phoenix, we weren’t ready to hit the road. Usually we get antsy after about a month and can’t get the wheels rolling quick enough.¬† Not this time! We hemmed and hawed about extending our stay …. there’s that fork in the road again …. decision time. In the end, we lifted the jacks on New Years day in search of new scenery.

Cheers to new and fun adventures in 2018! Maybe we’ll bump into you down the road ūüėÄ

Affiliate links below ….

PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70

Unique Pillow Shams

Eat Well, Laugh Often, Love Much – Wall Decal Sticker

Homesteading and becoming a Reptile

The more time I spend in Arizona, the more I like it. It’s a fascinating state offering diversity and extremes.  The landscape ranges from stunning red rock country to unique hills filled with cactus to dense forests of tall pine trees.  In the morning, I can enjoy a cup of coffee in delightful 70 degree sunny weather in Phoenix and a couple of hours up the road I can go snow skiing in Flagstaff (that’s if I was into snow skiing).

Grand Canyon

Me at the south rim of the Grand Canyon 5/6/17

This kind of diversity can catch visitors by surprise and quite often does.  A few years ago, we visited the south rim of the Grand Canyon the first week of November.  The north rim had already closed for the season.  We were well prepared for whatever weather Mother Nature had in mind, and I was actually hoping for snow.  By mid October, all the campgrounds located outside of the national park are usually closed for the season.

Grand Canyon

south rim of the Grand Canyon – May 6, 2017

We set up camp at the only campground open year round offering hook ups; Trailer Village.¬† With the overnight temps expected to dip into the twenties, we connected the electric only.¬† The next morning as Al and I were ready to head on over to the rim for sightseeing, we chuckled as numerous RVer‚Äôs were struggling unsuccessfully with their water hose connections.¬† Yeah folks, when the overnight low hits 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can expect things like waterline’s to freeze up.

Saguaro Cactus

Saguaro Cactus are only found in certain parts of Arizona

When we arrived at the visitor center, we glanced at a couple of tour buses that had just pulled up.  The moment the tourists disembarked in their summer attire, they were assaulted by the winter weather. We noticed the shock, disbelief and discomfort on their faces.  While Al and I stood there comfy in our winter garb, we wondered if anyone bothered enlightening these European tourists.

Several months ago, I made mention to a friend back in Illinois that Al and I decided to spend most of the year in the state of Arizona, including summer.  My friend questioned our logic and wondered why we would stick around Arizona in 110 degree weather.

And just like those tourists at the Grand Canyon, my friend had no clue about the elevation changes in this state.  Let’s face it, Illinois is pretty flat.  You want colder weather, you drive north.  You want warmer weather, you drive south.  Easy peasy, huh!  But it’s not so easy in the west.  It’s all about elevation and has nothing to do with north or south.

reptile, lizard

This lizard and I both like sunny warm weather. Does that make us both reptiles?

A little over a week ago, the temps in Phoenix were nearing that three digit mark.  That was our cue that it was time for us to head to the hills.  Our one hour plus drive took us from Phoenix’s elevation of 1,100 feet to Prescott Valley’s 5,200 feet, and the temperature dropped more than twenty degrees…. brrrr.  Al and I were cold.  Had our time in the valley of the sun turned us into reptiles?  Anything less than 70 degrees and we were donning sweatshirts!

Prescott RV Parks

Our home for the next few months!

Since we’ll be staying in Prescott Valley at least a couple of months, I decided to do a little homesteading and plant a garden.

I haven’t done any digging in the dirt since we went full-time in the RV four years ago. I purchased three planters, a bag of dirt, and a bunch of plants; ¬†parsley, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, chives, and tomatoes.

I think I’d be dating myself if I said I was humming a Simon and Garfunkel song while planting my garden ….

It felt wonderful to do a little gardening and even though I’ve never been the best gardener, I’ve always found the activity enjoyable. ¬†That said, Al and our two children have made bets on how long I’ll be able to keep these plants alive. Who needs fantasy football when you can bet on mom and her green thumb or lack thereof ūüėĄ

RV gardens

me planting my garden

So our first week in Prescott was a busy and fun one which included a day trip to the Grand Canyon for a picnic lunch.  Fun planting my little garden.  Hiking at one of my favorite locations РWatson Lake.  And trying to stay warm as a cold front accompanied by a record rainfall blew through the area.

Watson Lake

I love hiking at Watson Lake

reflection Watson Lake

Reflections at Watson Lake

I have a few more entertaining things planned for the month of May. ¬†Let’s hope Mother Nature is agreeable and she won’t make me bundle up …. even more!

SONGMICS 7 Piece Garden Tool Set Includes Garden Tote and 6 Hand Tools W/ Heavy Duty Cast-aluminum Heads Ergonomic Handles UGGB31L

Danger in the Desert

With the temperatures rising and starting to surpass 100 degrees, it was time for us to raise the jacks and get the wheels rolling in a northerly direction.  Our two month stay in Phoenix, Arizona, was filled with lots of socializing, some home maintenance projects, and plenty of hiking surrounded by beautiful scenery, vegetation and interesting critters.

I don’t know about you, but I never tire of fantastic scenery dotted with wildflowers. During our first week back¬†in the valley of the sun, we hiked at the Superstition Mountains as much as possible, which wasn’t nearly enough. ¬†It never is. ¬†If I haven’t already told you, well even if I have …..¬†I love, love, love hiking here .

We were first introduced to this area about five years ago during our six-week road trip with our brand new 5th Wheel. ¬†It was also during this trip back in 2012 when we were enlightened on the concept of full-time RVing. ¬†My how time flies …. ¬†fond memories!

I truly enjoy my time in the desert southwest, but it’s not for everyone and there are dangers to be aware of.

As the temperatures soar, the snakes come out making me a very cautious hiker.  Last spring I had a rather close call that rattled me.

And then of course, the extreme temperatures are not to be taken lightly.  Folks seem to underestimate how dangerous the sun and heat can be and hiking trail rescues become a regular occurrence during spring and summer.

I love it when the saguaro cactus bloom

I love my dear friend, but he can be a prick ¬†ūüėÜ

The desert feels so alive during spring time!

Watch where you step – the desert can be a dangerous place!

Our time in Phoenix may have come to a¬†temporary¬†end, but our time in Arizona has not. We’re now comfortably parked in Prescott Valley, a mere one hour plus drive north of Phoenix and are settled into a nice campsite for the next couple of months. ¬†I have some favorite places around here that I’m looking forward to revisiting.

More of this to come!

 

 

 

Tony Northrup’s DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography

 

Oh, and one final thought……
Happy Cinco de Mayo – what’s for dinner? I made these delicious hatch chili hamburgers and they were so yummy especially paired with grilled asparagus and a tall margarita. If anyone’s interested, I’ll share the recipe in an upcoming post. ¬†All you have to do is ask ūüėČ

Urban Planning at its Finest

I’ll admit, I wasn’t always a fan of Phoenix, Arizona. Quite frankly, if our son hadn’t moved here¬†eight years ago, I’m not sure how much time we’d actually spend in Phoenix, but¬†let’s add in the fact that our daughter also lives here now¬†…. well, need I say more … this place has definitely grown on me.desert wildflowers

With that said, Phoenix, Arizona, has since become our ‘home’, our home base so to speak.¬† We always manage to find some place in the Phoenix valley to park the RV for a desert birdlengthy stay¬†and get in as much parent/child time as possible.¬† Although,¬†from Al’s and my point of view, there never seems to be enough time spent with the kids.

Gosh, they are adults after all and do have demanding jobs and lives of their own.  Thus, we take what time we can get.

Our two favorite pastimes to spend together as a family are hiking and eating, and there’s no shortage of either around here.

As far as urban planning goes, I think Phoenix has done a fabulous job.  Traffic can be a bear just like any other major city, but the road system is laid out in a hikingsomewhat  organized manner compared to other cities and is easy to navigate. There are several expressways looping around the city to assist in keeping the dense amount of traffic moving.

Over the past¬†several years of visiting Phoenix regularly, at all times of the year including summer, we’ve¬†had the opportunity to observe traffic patterns and¬†noticed there seems to be¬†a sharp increase in traffic during the months of January, February, and March when the valley is loaded with snowbirds from the north.¬† Once these snowbirders move on ….¬†come April, the density of the traffic seems to lighten, and by May the city can once again breathe.

Phoenix, AZ

This sure doesn’t look like a big city, does it? And check out the dense amount of wildflowers.

But what impresses me the most about Phoenix¬†is the park¬†/ trail system.¬† No matter what side of the valley¬†we park the RV, there’s always a trailhead within a short distance.¬† Quite hiking in Phoenixoften these trails feel remote, are rugged, and vary in challenge.¬† Don’t be fooled, there are some very challenging hikes in this city.

There’s also tons of groomed, kid friendly parks with playground equipment perfect for families. Yes, urban planning at its finest.

Although the Superstition Mountains remains my favorite place to hike while in Phoenix, I’ve discovered several other wonderful trailheads.

Most recently, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time hiking at the Sonoran Preserve.¬† The Desert Hills Trailhead was recently completed and is less than ten minutes away from our RV Park.¬† The Apache Wash Trailhead is located a little closer to where¬†our children live and makes for a great place for us to meet up.

desert wildlfowers

the wildflowers have added a joy to my hiking

This spring has been especially enjoyable hiking with the abundance of dense wildflowers.¬† I’m a girly girl and a sucker for flowers.

hiking

hiking with my daughter regularly has been a wonderful treat

So, while it may not have been love at first sight, I’ve come to appreciate and embrace all that Phoenix has to offer.¬† Of course, the fact that my babies live here adds to¬†mommy’s overall enjoyment ‚ėļ

Sonoran Preserve

Sonoran Preserve – Desert Hills Trailhead

share the trail

Whether you’re in the heart of the city or further out, you’ll share the trails with all kinds

share the trail

“I don’t mind sharing the trail”

desert birds

it’s not just the sights that are lovely … natures sounds are musical

desert wildflowers

love, love, love the desert wildflowers

happy camper

Me – happy camper, hiking near Lost Dutchman State Park

Moon Take a Hike Phoenix: Hikes within Two Hours of the City (Moon Outdoors)
Lawn Gone!: Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard

Color of Spring in the Desert

Thanks to the unusual and excessive rainfall this past winter in the desert southwest, the hills have come alive.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Phoenix valley so green, but it’s not just an abundance of green that has carpeted the land.

hiking in Phoenix

Superstition Mountain – Apache Junction, Arizona

Everywhere I look, I’m greeted with a delightful kaleidoscope of color. The wildflowers are on steroids this year and I’m loving the view.¬† Each bloom, bush,¬†and tree¬†is a wonderful sight to behold.

poppies

me photographing the wildflowers

desert wildflowers

The stunning display of wildflowers is an unexpected surprise to those visiting the desert for the first time.  The desert southwest is lush with vegetation and color and a far cry from the drab, barren brown most folks associate with a desert.

Phoenix hiking

Spring hiking in the desert is the best!

desert wildflowers

I always look forward to spring in¬†Arizona, and couldn’t wait to share some of my favorite Phoenix valley spots with my daughter.¬†¬† First up was hiking at the Superstition Mountain¬†located on the far east side of the valley.¬†This is my absolute favorite place to hike in Arizona.

Superstition Mountain

My daughter – it was a glorious morning to hit the trails.

March 2nd – Al and I managed to snag a lovely campsite in the overflow loop for a couple of nights of dry camping at Lost Dutchman State Park.¬† This is a popular state park and without a reservation, it’s difficult to nab a site with electric.

Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, Arizona

By camping at the base of the Superstition Mountains, I was able to hike multiple times throughout the day and photograph the beauty that surrounded me. Sharing this amazing scenery with my daughter was a special treat.

wildflowers

Fields of poppies blooming at the base of the Superstitions

If you ever find yourself visiting Phoenix and looking for an entertaining way to spend a day, here’s a post I did a while back about the Apache Trail that you might find fun.

Lost Dutchman State Park

The desert provides the best skies

Who knew the desert could be so colorful?¬† ‘I know, I know’, she exclaimed with raised hand!¬† And once the wildflowers wither, it’ll be time for the cactus to bloom. The color of spring in the desert is a memorable and unique experience ….¬†not to be missed.desert wildflowers

CMT 1 Pair – Anti Shock / Hiking / Walking / Trekking Trail Poles

Pinty 2L Hiking Backpack Hydration Pack with Water Bladder Cycling Climbing Camping Bag (Pink)

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 Рfauna, 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 ūüėČ

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 ūüôā

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¬† ……
ūüė¶¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 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 ¬†ūüôā

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 Рthey would send me recovery media free of charge and he would walk me through the fix or B Рsince 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 ūüė¶

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 Рmy 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 ūüėČ ) 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.