Monday, February 28, 2011

Red Barn RV Park, Benson, AZ



Spent last night at Red Barn Rv Park, a Passport America park. It was only $11.77 for a pull thru full hook up site and wouldn’t have been a bad place except for the close proximity to I-10. The owner seemed aggravated that we interrupted the movie he was watching, and we didn’t get any of the “Hawaiian Hospitality” advertised on the billboard.


At least the power worked well, since it was 21 when I got up this morning, and 63 inside with both electric heaters running all night. We did some shopping at Wal-Mart yesterday and couldn’t believe the snow flurries in the air. It is supposed to get into the mid-60’s today, and mid 70’s the rest of the week, We’ll be moving to a different park this morning to meet up with the Southwest Lazy Daze group. We checked it out yesterday and were disappointed in the park, but it will be nice to see old friends.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What’s Wrong With This Picture?



Yes, we awoke to a snow covered desert in Tucson this morning. It was a beautiful surprise!





Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, Tucson, AZ

After a trip to Sportsman’s Warehouse, where Jim bought a new pair of hiking boots, he had to to try them out. SInce we were already in town, we drove to the east side of Tucson to Sabino Canyon, a very popular recreation area in the Coronado National Forest in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains. We were amazed at the number of people there on a weekday. There is a $5 entrance fee which was waived with our National Parks Pass.
The road through the canyon is off limits to vehicles, so you can walk the road, take a shuttle for a fee, or hike the numerous trails.  We decided to hike the Bear Canyon trail towards Seven Falls, a hike of about 4 miles from the visitor center. It was a good trail with some ups and downs and a very gradual climb through the canyon.
Sabino Canyon, Bear Canyon Trail 2011
We even had to cross a stream multiple times, so Jim got to test out the claim that his new boots were really waterproof.
It was a nice change to hike through a canyon in the desert with flowing water and high rock walls.
Found this rock at one of the stream crossings.
Jim’s recovery is going well and he didn’t want to to push it, so we turned around with probably another mile to go before the waterfalls. Maybe next time!
The past couple mornings this Gila Woodpecker has been coming to get a drink at our hummingbird feeder. I finally got some good pictures today.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gilbert Ray Campground/Tucson Mountain Park



We had a short 35 mile drive yesterday to Gilbert Ray Campground, located in Tucson Mountain Park, on the west side of Tucson. This is our third stay at this campground, and we managed to get site C26, the same great site we had last year. It is  a huge, private site with no nearby neighbors and a great view of the surrounding mountains.


Our last day at Picacho Peak was spent driving to Casa Grande in a horrible dust storm. It was worth it, though, for the excellent pizza at Picazzo’s, and the excellent company of Debbie and her mom Pat. We were glad to finally get to meet her.

The wind was so bad our Lazy Daze neighbors at the park, Al and Anna, lost their air conditioner cover and had to make a trip to Camping World in Tucson yesterday for a new one. We got a little rain and it turned cooler, but today was sunny and back in the 60’s. This is one of the few complete rainbows we’ve ever seen.



We took a 2.5 mile hike this afternoon on the Gould Mine Trail, which leads to some remnants of an old copper mine. It was a beautiful day to be outdoors.





Debbie met up with us here and we plan to stay our 7 day limit, then move on to Benson for the Southwest Lazy Daze get-together next week, where we are looking forward to seeing our Iowa friends, Chuck and Carla. Both Jim and Oreo are feeling better, so life is good.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Picacho Peak State Park, AZ



We finally got away from the Phoenix area yesterday. and it felt good to be back on the road. Drove 100 miles south to Picacho Peak State Park, where we spent a few days in 2009. Since then the park was put on the list for closure, but the nearby small town of Eloy gave them funding to keep it open this year. Arizona raised the rates at all of the state parks, and also added electric to all the sites here, so it is $25 a night, more than we like to spend.

We have a nice view of the peak from our site. Here is Oreo, with Picacho Peak above his back.


We took a short hike yesterday on the Callaway Trail, which climbs to an overlook.


Today we hiked part of the Sunset Vista Trail, which is a 3 mile trail to the peak. When we were here in ‘09, Jim actually made it to the top but I chickened out .You can read about it here. This time he wasn’t even going to attempt the climb, so we turned around after about 2 miles, before the trail got really steep. We came across this gray fox near the trail not far ahead of us. It was so busy smelling and rolling in some dried poop that it let us get fairly close. We thought at first it was a small coyote.


We ran into another couple here with a Lazy Daze whom we met in Tucson two years ago, and also had a nice chat with our next door neighbors, who are on their way back to California driving their new-to-them Class A that they bought in Meridian, MS. They invited us in, and even though it is only 33’, with the slides it looked much bigger. We’re always lusting after something bigger, but it seems like Jim would rather invest our money in health care!

Debbie is in Casa Grande visiting her mother, about 25 miles from here, so tomorrow we are going to meet them for lunch. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, which will be our first rain since New Years weekend. Then Sunday we’re heading to Tucson.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Things Are Finally Looking Up



We are spending one last night at McDowell Mtn since we took Oreo back to the vet today for a recheck. He was a bit dehydrated and constipated, poor cat, so he got subcutaneous fluids and a laxative, and seems to be feeling a little better.

Jim is also doing much better. He hasn’t had any pain in a few days, other than what he gets from me, so he feels comfortable leaving Mayo Clinic country.

We rode our bikes on several trails the past couple days, and took a hike on the Bluffs trail. Also went to a birding class, which even Jim enjoyed. We saw this red tail hawk hunt a rodent and eat it in a tree by our site. We were too busy watching it through binoculars to get any pictures, but he finished off the whole thing, tail and all, in about 10 minutes.  We really do like the desert scenery and occasional wildlife sightings.


Saw this coyote on the bike trail.


Scenery from the Bluffs trail.



The white specks are the RVs in the campground.


Barring a major crisis this evening, tomorrow we will be on our way south to Picacho Peak State Park.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Another Crazy Week



Jim was recovering nicely, and then on Monday he started having pain on the right side of his back in the same place he had it before his gallbladder was removed. The first couple days it was intermittent, but by Wednesday night it got pretty bad, and by the time he saw the surgeon on Thursday it was worse. She immediately sent us to the hospital to run some tests and make sure nothing had gone wrong. They admitted him again to the Mayo Clinic Hospital, gave him pain meds, took blood, and sent him for a CT.

Good news is everything looked fine on all the tests, but the Vicodin didn’t help his pain much. Then they gave him an IV anti-inflammatory, which helped quite a bit. So they think he is just having some post operative inflammation, and they discharged him yesterday. He’s supposed to go back and see the surgeon again next week and go from there depending on how he’s feeling. His back felt pretty good most of the day yesterday, and he is only taking Ibuprofen now, so maybe they are right about it just being inflammation.

And to make things even better, I also came down with a cold a few days ago, the first one I’ve had since I retired and got away from all those snotty nosed  kids at work.

Then Oreo had an out of litter box accident this week so he got a trip to the vet. He has a slight bladder infection, but also is now in stage 3 renal disease. He had some kidney damage years ago from having 4 surgeries for bladder stones over a 9 year period, so we knew he was bound to have problems. He’s close to 16 years old now, and 13 was our previous record for cat longevity in our house, so he’s doing better than the others. But since he’s our all-time favorite, it makes it hard.


The one good thing about all this is even though there is a two week limit here at McDowell Mtn, normally they let you extend but you have to move to a different site. They told us we can stay in the site we’re in for as long as necessary, and since we have a really nice site, that made us very happy.

I hope I’ll have something more positive to talk about next time I post.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nature at McDowell Mountain



We attended a interesting birds of prey program Saturday. Two volunteers from Liberty Wildlife, a wildlife rescue, rehab, and education center in Fountain Hills brought a few of their residents.

A red tail hawk, whose wings had been damaged and could not be released.


A beautiful great horned owl, which doesn’t really have horns, just feathers. He was imprinted on humans when they got him, so he can’t be released into the wild.


And our favorite, this colorful male kestrel, a member of the falcon family, and the smallest and most common falcon in North America. He was also imprinted on humans, so cannot be released.


The ice by our faucet took a few days to melt, which gave the birds a frozen drink as they pecked away at it. This was taken through the window so it’s not real clear.


Jim is healing from his surgery, and is still just a little sore. Unfortunately he came down with a cold a few days ago, so that hasn’t helped. We’ve still been hiking, though, and the past couple days moved up to some trails with a bit of climbing. The weather has been great, with highs near 70, and this is such a pretty place.



He has a post op appointment with the surgeon on Thursday, and if all is well we will be moving on Friday.

Friday, February 4, 2011

At Least It’s Been Sunny


The Phoenix area has been hit with a blast of arctic air, just like everywhere else. It’s been in the 20’s the past two nights, and barely got to 40 the past two days. Today it was into the low 50’s and is supposed to be 65 tomorrow, back to low to mid 70’s next week. We are just glad to be hooked up to power, as our two small electric heaters have gotten a real workout this week. The camp host came by and told us to leave the water dripping outside the last couple nights, and this is what we ended up with. Being in the shade, the ice still hasn’t melted.


Jim’s soreness from the surgery is gradually improving, and he has been good about bundling up and getting in his exercise walk every day. Yesterday we even hiked the 3 mile North Trail, a beautiful walk through an area with lots of desert vegetation.



Today we went back to the Mayo Clinic Hospital, since Jim decided he wanted to get a copy of his operative and pathology reports. He also wanted to see the clinic now that he was lucid and not drugged up from pain medication. While there we had lunch in the cafeteria, which is surprisingly inexpensive and very good for a hospital cafeteria. So now Jim wants to come back to Mayo for all his emergency surgeries. I’m hoping that was our first and last!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

There’s No Place Like Home



Even if it’s a 30’ box on wheels in the desert.

Jim got discharged around noon on Sunday and was happy to get home. He didn’t get any sleep in the hospital and was really wasted. He finally got some rest and felt much better yesterday, although as expected he is still very sore, especially when he laughs, which he is trying not to do. The worst pain he had after surgery was in his right shoulder from the CO2 they pumped into the abdomen during surgery, but he’s only taken Aleve since he got home. He did manage to take a couple walks around the campground yesterday, his appetite is back, and he looked at email, so I think he’s on the mend.

Our good friend Debbie arrived here Sunday afternoon, and I’m happy to have her here to hang with while Jim is recuperating. We went for a couple hour hike yesterday and although it looked like rain all around us, it stayed away and we had a nice walk. It was the first time her new dog Elliot actually hiked on a trail, and aside from a few thorns in his paws, and an episode of eating horse poop, he did pretty good.

This is a beautiful, quiet park and a good place to recover





Jim appreciated all the emails, comments and calls related to his experience. It’s nice to be cared about.