Sunday, July 18, 2021

Arizona to Indiana

Very green trail in Rogers, AR

We left Fountain Hills on Saturday, July 10, getting off to a later start than hoped for but typical for us. Made it to Albuquerque by 6:30 while driving through thunderstorms the last hour of the trip. The San Mateo Inn was just off I-40 so it was convenient but the area was a bit sketchy. And the room wasn't great but it was a very comfortable bed. Next time we will try not to stay right in Albuquerque.

We thought Sunday morning would be a good time to get through and out of town, but just a few miles east we came to a stop on I-40 that delayed us about an hour. It turned out to be an accident involving a semi. Because of the backup, traffic was very heavy and moving slowly so I came up with a longer route off of the interstate that took us through scenic backcountry New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma roads. It was another long day in the car, and we stopped for the night at a very nice Holiday Inn Express in Elk City, Oklahoma. 

Day three of driving got us to Rogers, Arkansas and a lovely Airbnb just a few blocks from downtown. We arrived early enough that we were able to get in a good walk from the apartment around nearby Lake Atalanta that was recommended by the hosts. 

The Frisco came to Rogers in 1881

Lake Atalanta

Over 10 miles of paved and dirt trails surround the lake

Part of the elaborate Railyard Bike Park

Lots of nice older homes in Rogers

We stayed two nights so we could do a little hiking. Hobbs State Park is about 12 miles away on Scenic Arkansas Hwy 12 that leads to Eureka Springs, a cute touristy town that we've visited before. The Dry Creek Loop portion of the Pigeon Roost Trail was a nice shady hike that we appreciated since it got into the 80s with pretty high humidity. On the way home we stopped at Big Orange, a brewery/restaurant with excellent beer and veggie burgers.

Wednesday was another long drive to Metropolis, Illinois, ending up there to avoid going through any big cities, which worked out well. We had many miles of back roads driving with very little traffic. That is how we used to travel in the RV, and this trip made us remember why we would rather take longer to get where we're going instead of fighting the construction delays, accidents, trucks and other traffic on the interstates. Since we had such a good experience at the Holiday Inn Express in Elk City, OK we reserved a room at the one in Metropolis. It was older and not well maintained, so a bit disappointing. 

We went out to get a sandwich at Quiznos in Metropolis and took a short drive to Fort Massac state park to check out the nearby Ohio River. It was too hot to walk very far but we got to see some wildlife (mom was nearby) and the river. There is supposed to be a Superman statue in town but somehow we missed it, although I doubt we missed much.

Bridge over the Ohio River from Metropolis, IL to Paducah, KY

We had a shorter drive Thursday to Bloomington, Indiana and are spending three nights at Candlewood Suites to visit our friend Ellen. We are tired of long days driving after covering over 1,700 miles since we left home. It's been one severe thunderstorm after another off and on since we got here but we did take a walk in between storms Friday afternoon and met Ellen downtown after she got off work at the library. Had an excellent vegan pizza and great beer at Lennie's/Bloomington Brewing Co. 

It cleared up yesterday afternoon so we took a walk at Leonard Springs Nature Park, had lunch and more great beer at Upland Brewing Co., and wandered around downtown. People watching is so interesting in a big college town.

Lots of stairs down to Leonard Springs

Jim and Gayle standing in front of one of the caves

Jim and Ellen at Upland Brewing

Sample Gates: Entrance to the oldest part of Indiana University campus

Today we have a short 200 mile drive to Michigan City and a national park we have not yet visited. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Sedona and Summer Road Trip

Early morning view of Fountain Hills, AZ from the Lake Overlook trail

It's been a long hot summer so far but we are now on the road heading east for a couple months of humidity. We finished up our eye and dental appointments a few weeks ago but decided to wait until after the 4th of July holiday to head out. Of course, two nights before we left I began seeing flashing lights and floaters in my right eye. I saw my ophthalmologist the next morning and fortunately did not have a retinal tear or detachment, just a posterior vitreous detachment for which there is no treatment. The new floaters are driving me crazy but they will settle down with time. Yes, it is always something.

Speaking of July 4th, Fountain Hills had a very impressive fireworks display just down the street over the lake. My phone doesn't do well with night shots but you can see they also made the fountain alternate between red, white and blue.

Last month we did another week-long catsit in Sedona. It was hot but not as hot as Fountain Hills, and the mornings and evenings were pleasant so it was a nice break. This was the same house and cats we sat for last year when Meat Loaf disappeared, so we were at least expecting it this time. And disappear he did. I let him out after dinner the day we arrived and we never saw him the entire week we were there. At least Spyder Girl behaved herself, went out after breakfast, hung out on the deck or driveway, and came in when the sun really started heating things up. Meat Loaf finally came home the day after we left. Apparently, some neighbors in the next subdivision have taken a liking to him so he spends most of his time over there.

Meat Loaf relaxing on the day we arrived.

Spyder Girl wishing I would get the camera out of her face.

It was nice to get away to red rock country again, where we did a few hikes and neighborhood walks and enjoyed sitting out on the deck. We took some photos, although not many since we have lots of the same from previous visits.

Fiery sunset from the deck

We stayed close to the Village of Oak Creek to avoid the Sedona crowds and hiked around Courthouse and Bell Rocks, and did the Baldwin and Templeton trails. There are always great views no matter where you hike in the Sedona area.

Another day of driving is in store for today but I will try to get back to regular blogging about this trip when we land somewhere for more than one night. I can tell you that in the next post the photos will have a lot more green in them!

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Post Vaccination Life

It's that time of year for the saguaro blooms

 Now that life is feeling a bit more normal, we've been busy taking care of unfinished business that was put on hold over the past year. Since we no longer had the need for a vehicle suitable for towing behind a motor home, we wanted a newer, more comfortable small SUV. Our 2014 Honda CRV was a great car, and after visiting way too many car dealers we ended up back at Honda, trading it in for a 2019 CRV. After putting in some miles on a recent trip to southern Arizona, we are very pleased with the ride and all of the safety features it's equipped with that we didn't even know existed. We're still getting used to the push button start, but we love that there is no more fumbling for keys in a pocket or purse.

Our first big trip in the new vehicle was to Green Valley, AZ, where we spent 4 nights in an Airbnb and got to visit with Alex and Ellen, who were staying on their lot in Benson. We also visited former RV friends Gary and Leslie, whom we met in Sisters, OR many years ago. They have a lovely house in Green Valley with wonderful views of the mountains, which I failed to take photos of.

Walk around the lake at Canoa Ranch in Green Valley

We hiked to Bog Springs in Madera Canyon where it was cooler among the trees.

Gary and Leslie have lived in Green Valley off and on for 10 years and they helped the Garden Club build the lovely Desert Meadows park.

Residents can get their own garden plot.

We then moved on to Sierra Vista for a few days, staying in cute little casita on a golf course. We had not been to this area since 2013 so we had to take a day trip to Bisbee, one of our favorite little towns. It hadn't changed.

Got our exercise walking around town and up and down hundreds of stairs followed by lunch at the Old Bisbee Brewing Company, our first dining out experience since Covid. What a treat!

Bisbee is such an interesting and quirky place.

Alex and Ellen came by another day and we had our second dining out experience, this time at Indochine, a very good Vietnamese restaurant in Sierra Vista. 

We also did a nice hike in nearby Coronado National Memorial. I think we hiked the same trail when we were there years before but neither of us was sure. There is definitely some benefit to losing your memory!

After returning from our trip it was time for me to have cataract surgery. I am now a week out from the second eye and doing great. Having worked in ophthalmology I was very nervous about the procedure since I knew that even though most people have no complications, for those that do it can be vision threatening. Fortunately, all went well, and in spite of the fact that I had LASIK many years ago, which makes it more challenging to calculate the correct power of the intraocular lens, I now have 20/20 vision in each eye for distance, although I still need reading/computer glasses. 

We've also been part of a research study at Arizona State University to test for COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies in the blood of fully vaccinated people. We aren't yet three months out from our second vaccine, and when we were tested last week, my neutralizing antibodies were not detectable and Jim's were just barely detectable. When tested the previous month mine were moderate and Jim's were high. Does this mean we are no longer immune? No, but it does mean that it's possible we could get infected and it would take our B-cells a few days to realize they recognize the virus before kicking in and fighting it off. The doctor who invented the test told us they don't know yet if this means you will get sick or be asymptomatic if you get exposed, and whether or not you will be contagious to others, but time will tell as the data is tracked. Made us feel a bit less safe than we thought we were, and it probably means that boosters will be necessary one of these days. 

Kitten season is here and we've been very busy working on intake requests for Fearless Kitty Rescue. Last month we got requests to take in 191 cats and kittens. Since we only have the capacity to take in around 25-30 per month, depending on how many get adopted out, I spend quite a bit of time sending out turn-down emails. We still do our once/week caregiving shift, and I am also on the Socialization Team, which consists of spending time with some of the shyer, less social cats to get them ready for adoption. It's rewarding to see the progress we make with some of the kitties who initially want nothing to do with us. 

Feather the three-legged cat gets to free-roam the building. She was very leery of people but is now buddies with some of the staff, making slow progress. 

Nugget, one of the most adorable kittens I've ever seen. She and her brother Cheeseburger were found in a box in a McDonald's parking lot. They got adopted quickly.

I have one more eye appointment in mid-June, and we both have dental issues to take care of, but after that, we hope to take a trip for a couple months this summer. Just haven't quite figured out where we're going or where we're staying but I'm sure we will work it out.