Monday, December 4, 2017

Staying Busy

IMG_2014                                              Lone bloom on a leafless ocotillo.

We’ve been back at McDowell Mountain for a month already, which is hard to believe since it feels like we just got here. We had the TadiBrothers backup camera installed last week, but other than looking at our backyard we haven’t driven anywhere yet to see how it really works. We have to change sites today so we plan to take the Lazy Daze for a drive and see what we think. We’ll write more about the installation and how it functions after we try it out while actually driving.

Male Phainopepla, a silky flycatcher that eats the berries of the parasitic desert mistletoe.


The first replacement in-dash radio we bought did not easily fit so we ordered another one which arrived yesterday. Hope to get it in sometime this week. The whole doghouse and a couple dash panels had to come off to get the old radio out because there was a screw in the back, so putting in this one should be much easier since we won’t have to disassemble everything. It wasn’t such a bad thing, though, since it gave me a chance to do some cleaning in places that rarely get cleaned.

We met Debbie for lunch in Chandler last week and picked up our new Blue Ox tow bar from her. It’s really nice and looks almost new. I’m sure Debbie is happy to have it out of her car. And one of the volunteers here at the park has the same tow bar as our old one so he took it for parts.


We’ve also been biking, hiking, visiting the gym, and caring for cats. The weather has been incredibly warm this fall but I’m not complaining. Last year was very cold and rainy while we were here so this has been a nice change.

This is Randy and Sunaree’s Airstream with the almost full moon shining down on it. Randy is off working in Georgia so he’s missed some nice sunsets this past week.


And some nice sunrises.


Sunaree and I joined the 8am Friday Fitness Walk in the park last week. I was surprised there were over a dozen people who showed up for the almost 12 mile hike. Most of us were senior citizens, and we finished in 4 hours, a pretty fast pace for that distance. We had to eat our snacks on the run since Kevin, the hike leader, barely stopped for a minute at a time, but it was fun and a pleasant morning for a long hike. That is Sunaree in the beige shirt and pants but I couldn’t get her to look my way.


I was impressed that everyone pretty much kept up the pace, but then it is billed as a fitness hike for experienced hikers only.






We hiked through a very pretty part of the park with lots of cactus.


This is chain fruit cholla.


There was a lot of teddy bear cholla, too. Both of these are also known as “jumping cholla” because segments break off easily when brushed against and attach to whatever part of you is unlucky enough to make contact. Jim’s rear has been up close and personal with a teddy bear cholla and he can tell you it isn’t pleasant.



No photos, but we saw a dead coyote, a live jackrabbit, and a scorpion along the way. Also one of the women spotted a plant called a cereus, or Queen of the Night, which looked like a stick coming out of the ground. Apparently once a year in June or July it produces beautiful white flowers which open one evening and close forever the following day. It was a good morning in the Sonoran desert.


Saturday night we went on a group sunset/moonrise hike on the Lousley Hill trail. It’s a mile climb up to a ridge with great views. We had some cloud cover so missed the moon as it rose over the mountains but we did get to see it a bit later.



The moon is there somewhere. I think this is the third time we’ve gone on a moonrise hike here at McDowell and it’s always been cloudy.




The camera battery died just after I took this.


Last night there were no clouds but we forgot to go outside until the moon had already risen.


Just one cat photo this time. This is Big Daddy, an FIV positive feral cat who used to hang out around the old Fearless Kitty building for food and water. Before the move last year he was trapped, neutered, and is now an official Fearless Kitty. He would not let anyone near him for many months, and last year he hissed at me every time I got close to him. Time and more contact with humans and his two other FIV + cat roommates have really changed his personality, and much to my surprise he rubbed on my legs and let me pet him for a long time last week. It made my day, and is one of the many reasons I love volunteering here!



  1. Sounds like ya'll are doing well. That is very good news.

  2. Thanks Gayle.....the Mom

  3. Welcome back to the valley and one of your favorite spots. I know what you mean about time flying. Christmas will be upon us shortly and it'll be time for us to roll. I'll be interested to hear how you like the backup camera. We're thinking about getting one. Enjoy the holidays!

  4. 12 miles; 4 hours....good for y'all. Beautiful trail.
    I love any photos of sunset or sunrise over the desert!
    The moon photos are fabulous! Wasn't that a fabulous super moon!
    Big Daddy is a doll!

  5. I love the sunset/moonrise hike!!! The photos are the colors, hues and clouds!! And that!!
    You guys did a great hike...12 miles in 4 hours!! Good for you all!!
    Big Daddy has come a long way!! Fearless Kitty is certainly good for him!! He's quite good looking!!

  6. Great moon pics!! Sounds like fun times back in favorite digs.

  7. What incredible moon photos! Love Big Daddy's story! That's amazing to have a hike of that distance and size of group and people manage to stay together!

  8. I noticed that you didn't mention Jim joining in on the way too early 12 mile hike. Jim and I are cut from the same mold:) Twenty min miles is a great hiking pace for pure exercise. Good job! Glad you Big Daddy warmed up to you:)

  9. Great moon shots! Terry has also had a close encounter with a whole forest of teddy bear cholla. It was pretty ugly for weeks! Glad to hear you are enjoying McDowell Mountain again. Ok, inquiring minds want to know, what the heck is the "doghouse"?

    1. The doghouse is the engine cover that goes between the passenger and driver's seat under the dash. In older vans it used to be a big hump that was shaped like a doghouse, and the term stuck. So now you know!

  10. Twelve miles is a good hike, especially at a brisk pace. So cool that you saw a cereus in bloom! They're supposed to be wonderfully fragrant -- did you have time to stop and smell the cactus along the way? :-)) Love the story about Big Daddy.

  11. Hope your radio fits easily. We did that at one point trying to replace our original radio and never could find one as good or with as many features that would fit. Really great how your tow bar situation worked out. Finding a used Blue Ox is amazing. Wish we’d have been able to do that. Those things are expensive. Nice for the guy who got yours too. Love those win/win situations. 12 miles in 4 hours sounds like a fast pace but I guess as a “fitness hike” you would expect that. Great exercise for sure and in gorgeous surroundings as your wonderful pictures show. Love the idea of moon rise hikes. Big Daddy is a very pretty kitty. He’d probably prefer to be known as handsome.