Thursday, December 24, 2015

Home For The Holidays



No, we haven’t left Arizona, but the beauty of living in an RV is that we are always home no matter where we’re parked. I was thinking about our previous Chrismases on the road, and probably the most memorable was in 2012, when we were work camping at Bentsen Palm Village in Mission Texas, and someone found two four-week old kittens behind the RV park just after Thanksgiving. For regular readers you know I’m talking about our cats, Sophie and Elvis, who are no longer these adorable kittens, but I love going back looking at photos of them in those early days. It was our most busy holiday season since we’ve been full-timing, between taking care of these two, volunteering at Cinderella Pet Rescue, and working at all of the Christmas activities in the RV park.

You can see why we fell in love with them.

P1010176 (Large)

This morning I took care of cats at Fearless Kitty Rescue in Fountain Hills. I tried to get some of them to pose for a Christmas photo but they wouldn’t sit still long enough. This is one of the 15 black cats now at the shelter but the good news is that one of them actually got adopted while I was there.


And tomorrow we’ll be having Christmas dinner with some of the volunteers and other folks who are spending the winter here.

Wishing all our friends, family and blog readers a very Merry Christmas!


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Another Week at McDowell Mountain


I am composing this post with the new Open Live Writer, happy to be back in my comfort zone. Don’t have much to say or many photos to post, as we have mostly been biking and hiking around the park, and have photographed it all before.

Never tire of the views.


The other day we did laundry in Mesa, then met our friend Debbie (currently in Casa Grande) for lunch at SanTan Brewing Company in Chandler. Beer and food were very good, as was the company. Here is Jim showing her the Surface 3, and she is showing off the cute Christmas bracelet given to her by another friend, Annie.


Debbie loaned me her sewing machine, so I’ve been working on making some new privacy drapes. I think this is the third time I’ve made new ones, and now that the cats are older and a little better, I’m hoping they won’t tear these up like they did the others. Ah, the joys of raising kittens!

McDowell Mountain Park 2015, Fountain Hills, AZ2

Northern flicker, a new visitor to the hummingbird feeder and more cat entertainment.


That’s about all the excitement from around here. If you are reading this, Open Live Writer is a success.

Okay, I got OLW to work but had to play with some settings so excuse any multiple postings.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Short Visit and Winter Arrives

Suzanne only had two days here before her flight to Texas, so the first day we took her to the Tom’s Thumb trail for a great hike. We had not done this one before but it’s in the same vicinity as the Marcus Landslide, where we hiked the previous week, and we were anxious to return and see what the other trails were like.

The trail immediately began a steady climb to some steep switchbacks.

Tom's Thumb

Jim and Suzanne on the trail. Can you see the house below them?

I would love their backyard, but can never understand why anyone would need a house that big.

Another Scottsdale mansion. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve borders their property.

This area is just full of interesting rocks.

We saw a sign for a climber's trail to Tom's Thumb, so continued on, then realized we missed our turn when we intersected the Lookout trail. Since it was only another half mile we headed for the lookout.

Definitely the highest elevation we've been at in quite a while.

 On the way back down we decided to see about getting to the thumb, but after a short distance the trail became very steep and slippery, and our legs were already tired, so we scrapped that idea. If Mark and Bobbie had been with us I'm sure they wouldn't have let us give up that easily!

More cool rocks along the trail.

The following day Jim arranged for Suzanne to borrow/rent a mountain bike from one of the camp hosts. Unfortunately she just wasn't comfortable with the way it fit, so Jim let her ride his bike and he rode the Pivot, which is a much higher end bike than his Giant. We did about 8 miles on a few of the easier trails, and I'm guessing there will be a mountain bike in her future one of these days.

We had mid 70s and gorgeous sunsets while Suzanne was here.

On Wednesday we took Suzanne to the airport, our first time going to Phoenix Sky Harbor. We were surprised at how little traffic there was getting there from Fountain Hills. On the way home Jim wanted to stop at the Microsoft Store in Fashion Square again to ask some questions about our new Surface. We had to walk past the kiosk where the Italian guy accosted Jim with wrinkle cream, so we looked the other way and walked by as fast as we could. Luckily on the way back out someone else was being held hostage so we made it past without being approached.

I spent my usual Thursday morning at Fearless Kitty Rescue, and also filled in for someone on Saturday morning. Saturday from 1-4 is the only time the rescue is open to the public for adoptions. Other days are by appointment only. 24 cats were adopted out during the month of November, mostly due to them waiving adoption fees thanks to a grant from Zappos and Best Friends. and they're hoping December is another good month. They have reduced fees for black cats, of which they have at least eight right now. I did not know that black cats and dogs are the hardest for shelters to place, but then we've probably had 10 cats over the years and never a solid black one.

Almost black.

On Friday the temperatures dropped significantly, and it rained off and on much of Saturday. Yesterday was sunny and only in the mid 50s but we bundled up and took a bike ride. This morning I opened the shades to this lovely sunrise, and walked out to get a picture. Just as I did it began to hail, and it looks like the 40s and rain are here for most of the day. No complaints, though, as the upper 60s will be back by the end of the week. 

Winter in the desert can be so variable.

I've been holding off doing this post in hopes that Windows Live Writer would be magically fixed, but it doesn't look promising so I posted directly to Blogger, with all its frustrations. Jim thinks it's good for me to learn something new, but it is definitely more time-consuming having to resize all the photos, and trying to get the spacing and text to cooperate compared to doing it in Live Writer. Old people don't take well to change, you know, but I'm trying!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Marcus Landslide and Other Matters



We took a very interesting hike the other day on the Marcus Landslide Trail, which begins at the Tom Thumb trailhead in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale. This is an interpretive trail with signs along the way describing the geological forces that led to a massive rock landslide about 500,000 years ago. The four mile round trip trail is fairly easy except for the final loop section which climbs up to views of the remnants of the landslide.





If you like the Sonoran desert and rocks, this is a great hike. And we added a new word to our limited vocabulary of geological terms, grus (pronounced groos), which is crumbled granite formed by weathering. In our own terms, grus is the gravely stuff that makes our boots and bike tires want to slip out from under us on the trail. Be warned, the trails around here are covered in it.


There are also lots of mushroom shaped rocks, and huge boulders strewn around.






The lighting was not good for photos of the actual landslide, but this is just a small section of the 4,000’ long slide.



As we were entering the preserve parking area, I noticed a large bird on a saguaro.


Jim stopped to get a closer look, and we later determined it was a Harris hawk.


It flew off and landed on some nearby rocks, where it joined four others. Unfortunately a car came up behind us who had no interest in bird watching. They hurriedly drove around us which caused the hawks to all fly away.


Now for the rest of our week. We decided to take advantage of an internet special at Fountain Hills Dental Care. $59 for cleaning, x-rays and exam.  Luckily we both got good reports, and since neither of us has any issues right now, we might actually be able to stay away from Mexican dentists this winter.

I spent my usual Thursday morning with the cats, and on Friday I coerced Jim to come along to help transport and set up for the annual Holiday Pet Festival in Scottsdale on Saturday. Fearless Kitty Rescue sets up a booth there to sell cat-related items as a fundraiser and PR for the shelter. We loaded the back of the Subaru with tables, chairs, and boxes, and along with several other volunteers got things looking pretty good.

The festival takes place at Westworld, a huge equestrian and event center.


This is Kim, one of the founders of the rescue, goofing around with Jim and the Fearless Kitty mascot. Can you tell how much fun he was having?


We made quite a transformation in just a couple hours. Since we didn’t go to the actual event on Saturday, I haven’t heard yet how they made out.

McDowell Mountain Park 2015, Fountain Hills, AZ1

And last evening just after sunset, Miss Take to the Highway, Suzanne, came rolling in, here to spend a couple days before she jets off to Texas for the holidays. We’re planning a hike and maybe even a bike ride. We’ll see how it goes.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

More Mayo, New Computer, a Concert, and Fearless Kitties


Also a lovely full moon.


We had another busy week, with Jim having three doctor’s appointments, but he is doing well and unless some new problem turns up before we leave here in January he doesn’t have to return to the Mayo Clinic for another year.


A couple years ago we bought a used 3rd generation iPad from a friend. It does some things very well, but the longer we’ve used it the more frustrated we’ve become with it.  So after lots of research and shopping we ordered a Microsoft Surface 3 from Costco. They had a pre-Thanksgiving internet only sale on a bundle which included a keyboard/case and stylus. It was a really good deal, and so far we are both very happy with it.

View from McDowell Mountain site 63.


When we stayed at Cave Creek Regional Park several years ago we attended a free concert by Khani Cole, a local Phoenix jazz vocalist. We’ve always wanted to see her again, and when we heard she was performing a Joni Mitchell tribute at the Musical Instrument Museum on Thanksgiving Eve we decided to have a rare night out. After Jim’s 4pm appointment with the hematologist, we got out of the Mayo Clinic just in time for happy hour at BJ’s Brewhouse on the way to the concert. It was a great show, but we were disappointed that it was only an hour and 10 minutes long, including the encore. The good thing was we got home by 9:30!

Khani Cole is on the left. She has an excellent voice, as did the guy to her right, Obadiah Parker. And the MIM is a great venue for a show, a very intimate theater.


Since Thursday is my day to volunteer at Fearless Kitty Rescue in Fountain Hills, that is where I spent Thanksgiving morning while Jim finished setting up the new computer. I’ll take playing with cats any day over playing with computers.

This main room houses adult cats waiting for adoption. Most were sleeping in various places when I took this, but they have free roam of the room. Our cats wouldn’t know what to do with all that space to run around!


The volunteer’s job is to scoop litter boxes (hidden behind the Princess counter), move all the cat toys and furniture and sweep, vacuum, and mop the floors, and replenish the food and water bowls. And most importantly spend quality time petting, brushing, or playing with the cats. I never would have thought I would get so much satisfaction out of such hard work!


This room houses kittens that were saved from a local kill shelter. They are kept in cages until they’ve been checked out and spayed or neutered before they go up for adoption.


I don’t think these two will have much trouble finding homes.


Another sweet kitten.


This is Emile, the one-eyed cat that Jim fell in love with, and the reason he can’t go back to Fearless Kitty. I met the woman who fostered her and she said she is one of the sweetest cats she’s ever fostered.


Just one more thing. We heard from the owners of the lot we rented in Yuma last March, and they wanted to let us know it has not yet been rented, and wondered if we were interested. Since we aren’t sure we will make it back to Yuma this winter, I thought I’d mention it here in case anyone is looking for a  lot in the Yuma Foothills. It’s a really great location in an excellent neighborhood. It rents for $325/month including water and sewer. Tenant pays electric and garbage. If anyone is interested just let us know and we’ll give you the contact info for the owners.

Here is a photo of the lot, and they don’t rent out the park model so you have lots of privacy.