Tuesday, November 15, 2016

2016 Year in Review

We left Mesa in April and spent two gorgeous weeks in Sedona where we enjoyed several hikes.  My perennial favorite is the Teacup trail with its view of Coffee Pot Rock. 

Continuing north, we stopped at several national parks, beginning with the Grand Canyon. 

Then we joined up with sister Diana for visits to Zion,

 Bryce Canyon,

 Capitol Reef,

 Grand Teton,

 And Yellowstone.

We said good-bye to Diana and moved into Idaho where we saw a marriage proposal at pretty Upper Mesa Falls.

 We spent awhile in central Idaho, loving the beauty of Redfish Lake and the Sawtooth Mountains,

Then moved on to western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.  The Blodgett Canyon Overlook view reminded me of Yosemite Valley.

 After crossing Lolo Pass back into Idaho, we stopped to admire the giant Western Red Cedars in DeVoto Memorial Grove.

Then we continued north through Idaho.  After stops in Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint, we hit our northernmost point in Bonners Ferry where we hiked to pretty Pyramid Lake.

 We traveled southwest across Montana to Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.  Straddling Montana and Wyoming, it’s a spectacular place.

 On our way south, we drove through Wind River Canyon and stopped in Poudre Canyon.   We spent two weeks in the Denver area to celebrate Ron’s birthday with his family.  We enjoyed several nice hikes including the Fountain Valley trail among the red rocks in Roxborough State Park.

 Bishop Castle, located southwest of Pueblo, Colorado, is a very unique roadside attraction and one man’s lifelong project.

 After stops in perfect Salida and Pagosa Springs, we hit New Mexico, where our highlights included Abiquiu Lake . . .

 And nearby Ghost Ranch where we hiked the Chimney Rock trail.

 We made a stop in historic Santa Fe, and then moved on to Cochiti Lake where we visited Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks NM.

 One of the highlights of our summer travels was the spectacular Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

We finally made it to the interesting Cat Walk in southwest New Mexico, which just reopened in May after a disastrous flood in 2013.

 From Silver City, it was a fairly long day trip to Gila Cliff Dwellings NM, but we had never been there so off we went.

 And our last high point before returning to Mesa in late October was a return trip to awe-inspiring Chiricahua NM.  What a place!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Home, then not

We made it back to our winter home in Mesa, Arizona, before the end of October.  We were surprised to see our lemon tree (what was left of it) had broken off near the base.  This was an opportunity to bring out the manly tools.

Ron and our very helpful neighbor Dean got busy digging and cutting.

But I was shocked at the method they employed.  I really thought this couldn't end well.

Well, I was wrong since the stump didn't budge.  So Ron just kept digging and cutting until he got it down below ground level.

But within a week, I was off again, this time flying to PA to visit my father.  We had a lovely week.  About a year ago, he took up a new hobby - target shooting.  Here he is with his long-barrel 22.

Don't mess with this 95-year-old.  He hit the target 25 out of 25 tries at 30-feet.

I also shot 10 rounds with not quite the same results.  I missed all 10 times, but I did hit the target of the guy next to me.  LOL

My daughters came for the weekend - what fun!  Walking around the neighborhood, we were surprised at the fall foliage still hanging on in early November.

My father is a fan of trains and photography, so he enjoys sitting along the tracks.  He took me to a small town that built a cute shelter for people like him.

We hit the jackpot when two trains passed while we were there.

In central PA you still see the other end of the transportation spectrum.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


We made one more stop before getting back to Mesa for the winter.  We spent 10 days visiting our lot in the Escapees park in Benson, Arizona.  Here we are parked on our nice empty lot.

While we were there, the nearby old west town of Tombstone held its 'Helldorado Days', which began as a celebration of the town's 50th anniversary in 1929!  We had to go see the parade.

As expected, there were lots of beautiful horses.

Along with an appearance by the US Calvery.

Hot bath and a stiff drink for 25 cents - what a bargain.

The Shriners in their tiny cars had to avoid the presents left behind by the horses.

There were lots of lovely old west costumes.

But also some I didn't understand like these out of Alice in Wonderland.

And this Mardi Gras float.

This cute little cowboy was really fast at retrieving the thrown candy.

More beautiful horses.

And another mystery - a girl with a whip!

 Wow!  If it isn't Joanna Brady!  (Only funny to readers of the J.A. Jance books.)

Even the members of the VFW were mounted.

Ron got a kick out of the two-wheeled Allis-Chalmers tractor.

And I was appalled that the Rodeo Queen painted the hooves of her horse.

I loved these fluffy horses.  So cute.

As you probably know, Tombstone is infamous for the gunfight at the OK Corral which pitted Doc Holiday and the Earp brothers against the Clantons and McLaurys. Sure enough, here come the gunfighters now.

Later, we caught up with Wyatt and Doc at the courthouse.

What fun!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Chiricahua National Monument

When I stated that Tent Rocks was my favorite national monument, I had forgotten about Chiricahua.  What a place for rock formations!  We decided our first stop in Arizona had to be there.

One of the best things about Chiricahua is the daily bus that will take you up to the Echo Canyon picnic area so you can hike back down to your car at the visitor center, an elevation drop of 1380 feet. You can take the longer 7-mile route, which I did last time (click here), or the shorter 4.5-mile route down Echo Canyon and Rhyolite Canyon.  We decided on the latter which I’ve highlighted on the map. 

It was a perfect day for hiking.  Before we had gone even ¼ mile, we looked back and spotted Cochise’s head in the rocks behind us.  (The top of his head is to the right as he looks up to the sky.)  Cochise was a great leader of the Chiricahua Apaches who lived in the area until 1886 when they were herded off to reservations in Oklahoma and New Mexico. 

I really like the Echo Canyon trail because it takes you right in among the rock columns.

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the trail.

More rocks – I can never see too many.

From the Echo Canyon trail, we followed the Upper Rhyolite Canyon trail down to the canyon floor, then climbed some to the Lower Rhyolite Canyon Trail. 

We found another friend along the way.  Funny how they all look pretty different, but have the same disgusted expression. 

I didn’t get a good overview picture, so I pulled this one out of the ones from our last visit.  What a place!

Back at the visitor center, we went in to check out the displays and watch the movie.  They had an informative area on the wonderful CCC, including this interesting set of statistics.  (As always, you can click on it to blow it up.)


We had one complaint concerning the monument.  The only campground was small with a 29-foot limit and we felt that there was plenty of open area that could be utilized.  We heard the ranger sending people into the national forest about five miles from the entrance.  Although that is where we stayed both this time and three years ago, I could just imagine the reactions of novices to boondocking.  “You want me to go where?”  We appreciated our spot in the forest, although we were surrounded by alligators.

Alligator junipers, that is. 

What we didn’t appreciate was the 5-mile road in.  I’m sure it wasn’t that bad three years ago.  Ron swears he’s never going back.