Sunday, June 16, 2019

At Ease in Albuquerque

Hard to believe we are already a month into our three month house and catsitting job in Albuquerque. Things are going well and we feel very fortunate to be here. The cats are a joy to have around and the house is so much more comfortable than the Lazy Daze. We are not missing the RV life at all so far.

A couple weeks ago friends Alex and Ellen spent a week at a nearby Coronado Village RV park. They came over for dinner and walks around our neighborhood and I actually enjoyed cooking for them in our huge kitchen. 

Ellen and Jim on one of our walks

We took a nice bike ride along the Paseo del Bosque trail followed by lunch at Steel Bender Brewyard. Not only did they have a great seitan sandwich, there was also a very good live band playing that afternoon.

Alex, Jim and Ellen on the Paseo del Bosque.

Rio Grande 

Another day we all took the train to Santa Fe, a bargain at $6 round trip for seniors.

Waiting at the Sandia Pueblo train station

The ride was around an hour and 15 minutes. Nice to leave the driving to someone else.

Getting off at the last stop puts you about a mile and a half from The Plaza in Santa Fe. Before heading there we detoured to the State Capitol building, aka The Roundhouse, the only round capitol building in the U.S.

The best part of our self-guided tour was the artwork. The capitol is home to a collection of art from over 600 New Mexican artists, as well as a changing exhibit. We were very impressed.

Believe it or not, these are actually quilts. I am not a huge fan of most quilts, but these were absolutely beautiful.

Strange looking lion.

We all really liked this bison head.

Blog artist at work :-)

It was fascinating to discover all of the things it was made of, including plastic spoons, fishing reels, newspapers and paint brushes.

From the capitol we walked over to The Plaza then wandered through some shops and checked out the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Asisi.

 Simple but nice looking chruch.

Alex and Ellen used to have a macaw like this one so they had to stop and talk to the owner. He's had this bird for 32 years!

Jewelry vendors along the Plaza. It was interesting to see most of them sitting there looking at their smartphones

Lunch view of the Plaza from the balcony at Draft Station.

Great beer and pizza at Draft Station.

Alex and Ellen

Gayle and Jim

After lunch we did some more window shopping, then decided to head back to catch the 4:15 train. The sky was getting dark and we heard some distant thunder getting closer.

Omen of what was to come.

We didn't get too far before it started raining, and of course none of us brought our rain jackets. Then the temperature dropped and the hail began. We finally found a side entrance of a small hotel for some protection but we were already soaked and cold by then. Since it wasn't letting up Alex finally called an Uber to take us the last mile to the station. We were never so happy to get into a nice warm car!

Accumulating hailstones.

This post is getting too long so I'll save the rest for the next one, but first we have a question about mattresses. We've been to just about every mattress store in town and have been gravitating towards an all foam mattress, like a Tempur-Pedic. Reading reviews online is confusing us as there are so many choices these days. If anyone has a recommendation we would love to hear it, especially about the bed-in-a-box type that seem to be all the rage. We are looking for something softer but supportive. Appreciate any input!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

A Lot of Catching Up To Do

Looks like another month has flown by without a new post, although I had good intentions. We've shaken things up around here so blogging has been put on the back burner but things have settled down so it's time to catch up. 

We are now happily relaxing in a lovely house near the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, NM, caring for two sweet cats until mid-August, but more about that later.

We like our new neighborhood.

A few weeks ago we visited Prescott, AZ for about 10 days to visit with several friends. We had a great time hiking, biking, eating out (Bill's Pizza, Tara Thai, and Hans and Lisa's house, all excellent), and enjoying many happy hours at The Raven Cafe.

Our favorite site at White Spar Campground

We spent one night at North Ranch SKP park in Congress on the way to Prescott and back, where this javelina walked behind our site.

He was on his way to the watering hole in front of the office, totally oblivious to people or cars.

Beautiful flowing cactus in someone's yard at North Ranch

In Prescott we hiked the Salida Gulch trail, new trails across from Thumb Butte, Wolverton Mountain and Aspen Creek trails.

Maureen, Eric, Hans, Jim and Lisa taking a break on the Salida Gulch trail

View from the trail

We always enjoy biking the Peavine and Iron King Trails.

Jim and Sandy on the Peavine, while John was out riding the "real" mountain bike trails.

Scenic Watson Lake from the trail

View of  Prescott from the Wolverton Trail

Fortunately, this was just a controlled burn

View from Aspen Creek trail

We really enjoyed our time in Prescott and it was great seeing Eric and Maureen, who have lived there for several years, John and Sandy, who were at a local RV park for a month, and Hans and Lisa, who now have a lovely home just north of town. 

The day we arrived in Prescott we got the Lazy Daze set up on our site and then took a hundred mile drive to Fountain Hills, AZ to look at an apartment. We got an email a couple days before from Park Place Apartments, which we looked at last winter when we were at McDowell Mountain, telling about their summer rent specials. There was only one available two bedroom on the Avenue of the Fountains side with a view, which we did not get to look at when we toured the place last December. We had ruled it out then because we thought the rent was too high, but they were offering a substantial rent reduction and giving 10 free weeks, and although we will be here until the middle of August, we negotiated and got them to postpone our move-in date to July 1. Since there is no rent due until mid-September we decided to go ahead with it, which means we will be making our way back there when we leave Albuquerque. So just like that, it looks like our full-time RVing days are over!

We had planned to leave the Lazy Daze on our lot at Jojoba Hills over the summer but decided to give up our membership so we wouldn't have to drive all the way back to California after we leave Albuquerque. Fortunately, our neighbors and some other friends bought just about everything we acquired with the lot, and the rest we gave away. Since we only had a week after getting back from Prescott, we were happy it turned out to be so easy.

Jojoba served our needs for the past year and a half, and it's a very nice park, but we just didn't care for the location. We did have fun playing pickleball there, and I enjoyed working with the landscaping committee. On our Wednesday morning work parties there might be anywhere from 15-20 people show up, but on the last project I helped with we needed more muscle to spread 14 tons of rock in the revamped cactus garden by the clubhouse. Over 40 people came to help, and we got it done in just a couple hours.

The power of volunteers

The finished garden looked great. We removed a lot of old, half dead cacti and planted a few new ones.

It was quite a challenge for us figuring out what to take to Albuquerque for three months, then cleaning out the RV and preparing it for storage. Having lived in it for almost 11 years and never storing it, we didn't realize how much work was involved. We hate for it to sit there baking in the heat all summer but it was going to do that at Jojoba anyway. For now we will keep it and see how much we use it before we decide whether we think it's worth the trouble and expense to store and maintain. We've only been at the house in Albuquerque for a bit over a week, but we are both happy knowing we don't have to go back to living in a 30' box when the housesit is over. We love having counter space in the kitchen, a washer and dryer, and not having to dump tanks. Those were things we adjusted to but we aren't missing any of it so far. We may feel differently as time goes on, but we had both become disenchanted with RVing and felt it was time for a change.

Jim cleaning off all the bugs at the storage lot in Fountain Hills.

We spent the night at a hotel in Fountain Hills after locking up the RV. Good thing it was less than a mile away since Jim had to go back twice for things we forgot.

This will be our new home on the right. Fearless Kitty Rescue is on the left.

I will probably be spending too much time here :-)

The saguaros were all in bloom

Back to Albuquerque and our job for the summer, caring for these two adorable cats. It is such fun having cats around the house again, but we won't be getting any when we move to Fountain Hills. Since Fearless Kitty Rescue is so close to our new apartment, we will be able to get a cat fix whenever we like.

Handsome Luke, who likes to follow us around and keep an eye on what we're doing.

 Keira, a very petite former stray with a scarred right eye. She has the cutest squeaky meow.

We haven't yet gone out and done any exploring around Albuquerque since we've been enjoying just hanging around this comfortable house and taking long walks around the neighborhood. 

It was cold, windy and rained some our first couple days here. We awoke to snow on the mountains but it melted quickly when the sun came out.

We can walk for miles on the streets of the neighborhood, or be on a trail in less than a mile.

This deer is actually in a yard between two houses, but the houses are far apart and the yards must be left natural

It's very hilly so it's easy to get a good workout even if we stay on the streets

Hazy view of Albuquerque

Foothills trail

Another part of the same trail

Start of the Sandia Tramway as seen from one of our hikes

We may have to do this on a hot day since the tram goes up to 10,000'. There is also a 7 mile trail to the top, with 3,700' of elevation gain, and you can take the tram down.  We need to get back into hiking shape for that one.

I think that's all the news from our world. We have RV friends coming to town over the next few weeks so I will try to keep the blog updated. I also intend to stay caught up with blog reading to see what we are missing this summer and maybe give us some motivation to get back out on the road again. For now, we're content hanging out with cats and enjoying the views. Oh, and the 55" TV is pretty nice, too.

Pleasant views from almost every window in the house.