Monday, November 28, 2016

The Week of Thanksgiving


DSC06861                                                             Lovely Saguaro Lake

When I last posted a week ago, Jim was taking the Subaru in to get the dash air vent problem fixed after our airbag recall. The GPS died on his way, so he just assumed it was the GPS. After getting the other problem fixed, the old GPS we keep in the car just in case also quit working. Too much of a coincidence, which is when he realized the 12 volt charger wasn’t working, due to the fact that the cigarette lighter outlet was dead. Unfortunately he was already home by then, so he had to drive the 20 miles back to the dealer after lunch to get that little problem resolved. If anyone out there got the Takata airbag recall, remember to check everything on the dash to be sure they have things reconnected correctly before you leave the dealer. Lesson learned.

On Tuesday Jim was back in Scottsdale for his annual check with the family practitioner. Blood tests still to come. Our two weeks were up so we had to move sites and dump tanks. Most of the sites here at McDowell Mountain are very nice, but this one is exceptionally so.


The next day we met up with Ron and Barbara for a hike on the Butcher Jones trail at Saguaro Lake. We’ve been there once before but forgot how pretty it is.






The happy hikers, Barbara, Ron, and Jim.





Thanksgiving was spent doing a long bike ride with Alex and Ellen, then having dinner with the volunteers and some other couples who spend much of the winter here at McDowell Mountain.

More biking on Friday and Saturday, and also back to Fearless Kitty to take care of cats. It’s nice having Jim’s help this year, as we can spend more time playing an socializing with cats rather than cleaning. This is Jim’s favorite so far, Shadi, a very petite and affectionate older lady.


Yesterday it turned cold and windy, so instead of biking, we did a 7 mile hike on the Scenic trail with Alex and Ellen. Just got back before it started sprinkling.


Ellen thinks all that green is an orange grove.


Alex and Jim.




And the highlight of our week was receiving this email on Friday from Simply Cats in Boise:

“Wyoming (aka Elvis) was adopted by a really nice family who fell in love with his sweet personality, and loved how calm and affectionate he was with their young son. Hurray for shy Wyoming!”

So maybe we did raise them right after all! I am just ecstatic that he finally has a new home, and I truly hope they live happily ever after.

While coming back from the restroom a few minutes ago I saw a man walking a black and white cat on a leash. I spoke to him, and his reply was, looks just like Sophie, doesn’t he? It was blog reader Lee, from Colorado, and we had a pleasant chat about cats and RVing. Always nice to be recognized!

Monday, November 21, 2016

First Couple Weeks at McDowell



Since arriving back at McDowell Mountain Park we’ve been doing a lot of biking, a little hiking, some socializing, and spending time with cats. Turns out Alex and Ellen, whom we met this spring while boondocking south of Joshua Tree, and Kurt and Tony, whom we met in Ketchum, ID in August, are both here in the park. A nice surprise and we’ve enjoyed visiting with them.

Then Jim and Allison emailed last week that they were driving up from Tucson to spend a night in a hotel in Fountain Hills to come and bike the trails at McDowell. We did a couple of good rides with them, and hope to see them again in Tucson later this winter. I failed to take any photos.

Jim decided to join me at Fearless Kitty this year. One day we took care of cats in the big room I worked in last year. Then Saturday we helped out at the new building they are moving into next month, cleaning and rearranging, and removing old blinds from some of the windows. We also got to spend some time with a few of the cats that have already been moved over. There is still a lot of work to be done, but it is such a nice building, and almost twice as large as the old one, so it will be a good move, giving them space for even more cats and with much more visibility. The new location is right on Avenue of the Fountains, which will bring in more walk-in traffic, and hopefully result in more adoptions.

I made some nectar and put up the hummingbird feeder shortly after we got here. It was maybe three minutes before the first hummingbird arrived.


And not much longer before the Gila woodpeckers and flickers decided to visit.



I set out a container of water to try and keep them from the feeder but they like the nectar better. We’ve seen quite a few other birds at the water dish, though.



Jim and I went on a moonlight ranger-led astronomy hike on the Friday before the full moon. It would have been better a couple nights later, and our moon shots were out of focus, but it was still a beautiful evening for a hike, and we learned a few things. And had a view of the fountain.


The bright lights are planes, not stars. Since we’re about 30 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor, they really light up the night sky around here.


We didn’t know that you can find scorpions with a black light. This isn’t a great shot, but it was amazing to see how bright they look. There are several theories as to why they glow, and you can read about it here if interested.


One day Ellen and I went to a Birding by Ear talk at the visitor center. Again, we learned a few things, but remembering them is the problem.

Our attempts at photographing the super moon.

McDowell Mountain 20161

And a morning shot before it set.


Many months ago we got a recall notice on the Subaru for the Takata airbag. Jim has tried repeatedly to find a dealer to do the replacement but the parts were not available. The Scottsdale dealer finally got the parts in, so we took it in the other day. We also had some other routine service done, so it took all day. Luckily they gave us a loaner, and we picked it up late Thursday afternoon. Because it was almost dark, and cooling off, we didn’t need to use the AC. On Friday we didn’t go anywhere in the car. Then Saturday morning on our way to Fearless Kitty I couldn’t get the air to blow out the upper vents. Somehow when they put the dash back together now the air comes out mostly at our feet, no matter where we put the setting. So this morning Jim is on his way back to the dealer to get that taken care of.


Kurt recommended we try McFate Brewing Co, a brewery with two locations in Scottsdale. Since one of them was just a few miles from the Subaru dealer, and sort of on our way home, we stopped for a pizza and some excellent beer, the best we’ve had in a long time. Pictured is a Candy Bar Milk Stout and a Candy Bar Coconut Bliss. We also shared a King Size, which is a 10% stout aged in whiskey barrels. Really good!


And finally, on Friday we received an email from our internet provider saying our service would be terminated today, Monday, the 21st. Just about two years ago when Millenicom went out of business we switched to a rental plan from an Ebay vendor. For $120/month we’ve been getting unlimited Verizon 4G LTE, and it has worked well for us. With Verizon trying to do away with unlimited plans we knew this could end at any time, and here we are. Jim is getting a new SIM card today and we have signed up with a different vendor who says he is under contract until sometime in 2018. Same price but only 100 GB/mo, which shouldn’t be a problem. Now I hope I can get this published before we get cut off.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Windows Update and Back at McDowell


DSC06826                                       Happy to be back “home” at McDowell Mountain Park

We ended up spending two nights in the gated lot of RV Glass Solutions in Phoenix, where they removed, cleaned, and replaced the three fogged windows in the RV, and repaired a chip on the windshield of the Subaru. All went well but it took two employees the entire day Monday to finish the job. We didn’t want to cross Phoenix at 5:30, so we spent another night in their lot.


Jim wanted to hang around to keep an eye on how the work was progressing, but we did go out for a couple hours for lunch, a haircut for me, and a few groceries. We’re glad to have that behind us, as we always hate having work done on our “house”. The three windows all look nice and clear now, but we won’t feel completely comfortable until it rains and we’re sure there are no leaks. After removing the entire window, they break apart the dual panes, clean them, reseal them, put the windows back in, and caulk. This also entailed removing the blinds and valances.


We left west Phoenix for the 47 mile drive across town to Fountain Hills around 10 AM yesterday, and although there was still quite a bit of traffic on I-10, it was moving nicely and we made it unscathed. We will be here at McDowell for a couple of months, and I’m looking forward to volunteering at Fearless Kitty Rescue again, beginning this Saturday.


I don’t typically write anything political on the blog, but being in a state of shock today over the election results, I just had to mention it. I became concerned for Hillary when we saw this billboard near Congress, AZ last weekend.


Then as we were walking around the Escapees North Ranch we saw Trump/Pence signs in at least a couple dozen yards. What’s funny is that these are senior citizens, most of whom are happily receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits, which the Republicans would like nothing more than to do away with. It’s a shame our country is so divided politically that we would elect someone like Trump to lead our nation. A sad day for the U.S. indeed.

Enough of that, time to hit the mountain bike trails…

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Lake Mead and a Stop at North Ranch


After leaving Virgin Tuesday, we stopped at Government Wash in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area for a few nights, along with Debbie and Annie. From our spot we could see a bit of what is left of Lake Mead.


After a 16 year drought along the Colorado River Basin, the water level in Lake Mead has dropped to an all-time low this year, at only 37% of capacity. Such a shame.


Annie left us the next day to head back home to LA, while Jim, Debbie, and I went for a hike through the Bowl of Fire. This area is smaller than nearby Valley of Fire State Park, but contains the same colorful red-orange Aztec sandstone.

There is no real trail but you just walk up a rocky, sandy wash for a couple miles.






There were some big boulder obstacles in a few places, but nothing too difficult.



Approaching the bowl, the colors become more varied.






Jim and Debbie in the bowl.


It was a fun place for our last red rock hike of the year.



On Thursday we took a ride into Henderson, NV for lunch at PizzaRev, where you create your own pizza, similar to Subway. They have a huge selection of toppings to choose from, and the $7.99 price includes almost any of them you want. We really liked it. Then it was a stop at Trader Joe’s.

On Friday we moved on a couple hundred miles south to North Ranch, the Escapees park near Congress, AZ. This is our first time here, and although the sites are just lined up in a huge gravel lot, it served its purpose to get laundry done and wash the months of caked-on mud off the Subaru. $20/night for full hookups.


We also took a long walk on the BLM land behind the park.


Nice mountain views.



Today we’re sadly parting ways with Debbie as she heads to Casa Grande and we spend a night in Phoenix to hopefully get our three fogged windows in the Lazy Daze repaired tomorrow. Then on to our usual, McDowell Mountain, for a couple months.