Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Summer Plans

We finally have a plan for most of the summer, which we hope will be a nice change from traveling in the Lazy Dazy. Terry and LuAnn have done some house sitting over the past year through House Sitters America, which costs $30/year to join, so I signed us up and put our profile on the website. Within a short time we got several emails from people looking for sitters but they were not in the right time frame. After searching the ads I found a three month sit taking care of two cats in Albuquerque, NM from mid-May through mid-August and contacted them to say we were interested. We had a Skype interview with the homeowners a couple days later, and after checking our references they let us know the next day that they would like us to come. We are very excited about living with cats in a "real" house for a few months. It's close to the mountains and just a mile and a half to the Sandia Peak tramway where there are lots of hiking trails. We've been to Albuquerque a few times but never got over to that part of town so we will have plenty of time to explore. There are also numerous places to play pickleball, both indoors and outdoors, and many breweries, within about ten miles of the house. 

After that we are not sure, but I suspect three months in a house will spur us on to make a move out of the RV, or we may miss it so much we continue on as is. We will see how it goes.

The weather has been perfect for being outside lately, so here are some photos from a hike we did with LuAnn the other day in Anza Borrego on the Pacific Crest Trail.

We missed the turn and realized as we were rock scrambling that this couldn't be the PCT.

We hiked over 3.5 miles from Scissors Crossing north towards Warner Springs. It was surprising that there was no PCT signage.

Agave in various stages of bloom.

     Many cacti are already flowering.

There were flowers, flowers, everywhere.

   We spoke with several section hikers and two through hikers on the trail. At this point they are 80
   miles into their 2,650 mile hike.

Chia plant

The painted lady butterflies are still migrating so Jim had to wash the front of the car when we got home.

On another note, Jim spotted this balloon out the window one morning last week. Little did we know that just a short time later the world-renowned pilot would be killed during an accident upon landing about 20 miles from Jojoba Hills. Here is the story if you're interested.

Friday, March 15, 2019

New Camera, New Tooth and Other Stuff

Nothing much of anything blog-worthy to report, but we are just glad to have our spot here at Jojoba Hills so we can stay put for as long as we like. After ten years some of the luster of moving around all the time has worn off. Now if we could just find a place to plunk ourselves down for the summer where it wasn’t too hot, too buggy or too smoky, life would be wonderful!

Our site, 411, at Jojoba Hills

Neither of us likes lugging around a big camera anymore, and the Cannon we got from our friends has been having focusing issues, so I found the smallest camera out there with a longer zoom, and that’s what we bought. It’s a Sony DSC-HX90V, and it also has an optical viewfinder, not easy to come by these days in a small camera. We haven’t used it a lot yet, but I’ve been studying the on-line manual and trying to figure it all out.

It has a rotating screen to take selfies, which we rarely do. I had to try it out in the car on our way to Garage Brewery in Temecula, with LuAnn and Terry in the back seat. Couldn’t get Jim in the shot since he was driving, but if we ever do want to take a selfie at least it’s easy to see what you’re getting a photo of. And this was before beer!

Inside the brewery I wanted to see if it took good low light shots, but LuAnn was hoisting her beer at the same time so it blurred. Otherwise not bad without the flash.

Laurelee and Libby stopped by for a few nights on their way to the Lazy Daze gathering at Morro Bay. We considered going but Jim wasn’t keen about the traffic we had to go through to get there last year so we decided against it.

We always enjoy their company. Sweet Libby is such a pretty dog. 

Our succulent garden is doing well in spite of the cold temperatures and excessive rain this winter. There’s a little peek at our new CRV, which we are enjoying immensely.

And we have lots of oranges from our tree but they have too many seeds and are pretty tart so I’ve been juicing them. We’re letting them stay on a bit longer hoping that they sweeten up given more time.

This young acacia tree on the common area between our site and Terry and LuAnns' has probably grown 5’ in the year that we've been members here.

Swarms of these silver dollar sized Painted Lady butterflies have been zooming by for about a week now, on their way from Mexico to the northwest to breed. Apparently the vegetation growth from the wet winter has given them plenty to eat along the way. We forgot to take a picture of all of the squished ones on the front of the car when we drove to Yuma recently, but they leave big yellow blobs and the front of the car was covered with them.

Didn’t have much luck focusing through the dirty, streaked glass, but these two hummers were so cute, acting in unison. Normally they fight to keep each other away.

We made two trips to Algondones, a day trip last week so I could get the implant abutment and impressions made, then an overnight in Yuma on Sunday for my last appointment to get the crown Monday morning. After almost a year I finally have all my teeth again, and it feels good!

A couple shots from our drive through Anza Borrego on the way. There weren’t many flowers along our route through the southern part of the park, although we’ve heard there are lots around Borrego Springs.

It’s nice to see things so green.

This was the view from our room at the Shilo Inn in Yuma. We splurged an extra $10 to get a room away from the interstate. We were close to downtown so we went out for a beer and an Impossible Burger at The Pint House, a nice little bar with 50 beers on tap. Yuma has kind of grown on us over time.
It was too cold to make use of the lovely pool

Other than the usual pickleball, ping pong, walking, working out and doing a little volunteering around the park, life has been pretty quiet since we got back from McDowell Mountain. We’re hoping the winter cold and rains end soon so we can get out and do some hiking and experiment with the camera more. I’ll try not to let so much time pass before I post again, but given the time it took trying to do this post using Blogger, now that Open Live Writer won't work anymore, I'm not sure I have the patience. 

Flowers by one of the ponds at Jojoba Hills

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Back In California

Our time at McDowell Mountain ended on Thursday and we are now back at Jojoba Hills. The last couple of weeks were busy and fun, with lots of company, biking, hiking, and happy hours. It just so happened that Mark and Bobbie, Chris, George and Tina, and Laurelee all were at McDowell  Mountain Park around the same time.

The weather was great while everyone was here.

Jim missed out on some rides due to finishing up his physical therapy and installing a hitch on the Honda so we could carry our bikes.

In all the years we've been coming here we have never seen flowers this early in the season.

The sun came out just as we got to the poppy field and we were able to watch them open up.

Mushroom rocks on the Marcus Landslide trail.

Hike on the Bluff trail.

Our legs needed a break from biking.

We decided against getting the base plate installed on the car since the one place that was recommended to us couldn't get us in for a couple more weeks, and we got some negative reviews about them, anyway. Jim found a shop in Yuma called Just For Towing (formerly Southwest Driveline), and we had an appointment for yesterday but they called us a few days before and said they had to be closed on Friday so could we come on Monday instead. We weren't all that excited about going to Yuma for the weekend so just decided to go back to Jojoba Hills and get the work done when I have to return to Algodones to finish up my tooth next month. 

So I got to drive the CR-V and Jim drove the Lazy Daze back to California. It was great driving an automatic again, and it's just a much more comfortable ride than our old Subaru. 

On another note, it's been a sad week hearing the news that Tioga George and David (In the Direction of our Dreams) passed away. Although we've never met either one it's like losing old friends after getting to know them through their blogs for so many years. 

We'll be hanging around Jojoba Hills for a while working on plans the rest of the year. Give us a shout if you're in the neighborhood.

Adios, McDowell Mountain. We'll be back!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

An Easy Decision

View of the McDowell Mountains

Last week the air conditioner in the Subaru stopped working as the temperatures were getting back into the 70s. Coincidentally Jim already had an appointment set up to take it into SubiWorx for inspection, since we had it in last year and they found a pinpoint size refrigerant leak that we were told could go a long time before causing a problem. Not only had it lost refrigerant, but there was also a leaky seal on the timing chain cover and a cracked PCV line, and several other things that would need attention over the coming months. Since the AC repair would take 5 hours labor due to having to disassemble the dash, they did not have time to fix it Friday, and there was no opening before we plan to leave on February 7th. Jim did call the Subaru dealer and got an appointment for Wednesday to get it fixed there, although at a higher cost.

Harris hawks looking for a meal.

On Saturday morning we headed out early to do laundry in Mesa, with a stop for breakfast along the way. We got to talking about how we are both sick of driving a car with manual transmission, and how much it would cost for the repairs and normal maintenance items that will soon need replacing on the Subaru, like brakes, tires, and battery. The dilemma is we want a lighter weight SUV type tow vehicle, of which the Honda CR-V, 2014 and older is the only one that can be flat towed in an automatic. I searched for 2014 CR-Vs for sale in the Phoenix area and found a silver one at Autonation Subaru in Scottsdale with 38,000 miles on it. After laundry and grocery shopping we headed there to take a look.

Same hummingbird in both photos. It is amazing how different they look depending on the light.

By 6:30 that evening we were having a much needed beer at OHSO Brewery just down the road from the Subaru dealer, and were the proud owners of a used 2014 Honda CR-V. 

I loved the bathroom sink at OSHO.

So far we love driving an automatic again, and it is loaded with features that were not on the 2011 Subaru, like bluetooth connectivity and a backup camera. The only downside is it doesn't have quite as much ground clearance as the Subaru. Plus we feel like we got a very fair trade-in for the Subaru considering it was not in the best of shape. AutoNation does not haggle on price, and we had done enough research to know we got a good deal, so we are happy. It was the most stress-free car buying experience we've ever had.

Our current site at McDowell Mtn Park

Although we love the car, now we have to put a hitch on it so we can carry our bikes, and get a baseplate installed so we can tow it behind the Lazy Daze. Not sure this will all get done before we leave but Jim has ordered a hitch which he can install with a bit of help from a friend. The towing hardware may have to wait until we get back to Jojoba but we are still working on that.
I’m glad we went ahead and made the decision to trade in the car that day because I’m sure Jim would have changed his mind had we given ourselves some time to think about it.

This mockingbird spends many hours making noise just outside our door.

In other news, George and Tina from Hemet, CA arrived a few days ago, as did Mark and Bobbie (Box Canyon Blog), and Chris got here yesterday afternoon. So far we've done a couple fun bike rides and happy hours with them.

Bobbie, Tina, George, and Mark

Chris, Jim, George, Bobbie, Tina and me

We worked at Fearless Kitty on Sunday and Jim was still really smitten with Troy. I told Paula, the manager, that she needed to get Troy adopted before our next shift on Wednesday because I was afraid Jim would want to bring him home. I got a text from her this afternoon along with a photo of Troy with his new mom, another volunteer. I am happy to know he is going to a good home and that it isn't ours.

Have a good life, Troy!