Saturday, January 9, 2016

First Week of the New Year



It was a lovely first weekend of the year, with blue skies and pleasant temperatures. On Saturday we went back to the Tom’s Thumb trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve with Steve and Mona Liza, along with throngs of other people who also wanted to start the year out with a hike. Unlike our hike there with Suzanne about a month ago, this time we made it to the Thumb.


I took a picture of Jim and Mona Liza, while Steve was setting up the self-timer on their camera.


We somehow all managed to get out on the rock for a group photo. Maybe it will show up on their blog?


Our destination, Tom’s Thumb, is in the middle. Looks like Tom is giving us the finger on the left.



Approaching the 140’ Thumb. There was some rock scrambling and a couple of steep climbs to get there but it wasn’t too bad.


According to The Arizona Republic, “Scottsdale's Tom's Thumb, at an elevation of 3,925 feet, got its name not long after Tom Kreuser and two friends - Diana Hartrum and Bill Sewery - climbed the spire on Sept.19, 1964, according to Kreuser's climbing journal. At that time, only about 30 people had climbed Tom's Thumb. They referred to it as the Thumb, the Plug or the Dork, Kreuser said.

Shortly thereafter, he reported his climbing route to the Arizona Mountaineering Club, which was formed in 1963. Club President Doug Black dubbed the spire Tom's Thumb as Kreuser was the first club member to climb it and report his route to the group.”


No climbing to the top for us, but we did make it to the base.


We just love all the huge granite boulders in this area.


We saw two crazy guys on mountain bikes. Not only is the trail very steep and rocky in places, there were so many hikers to manuever around it would not have been a fun ride. We saw them pushing their bikes quite a bit, and one of them took a pretty good fall.


We hiked about four and a half miles with 1,100’ of climbing, a very good day!


Jim managed to rebuild the rear shock on his bike with only a few snags, which he figured out with a little help from one of the camp hosts. We’ve ridden twice since he did it and it held air, so he must have done something right!

This coyote showed up in the same spot Jim and Sophie had been walking just a few minutes earlier. Probably smelled a little cat and thought it might get a treat.


As did the rest of the southwest, we had cold temperatures and rain off and on all week so we took the time to do some indoor chores. Jim installed a new converter in the Lazy Daze, as our old one was malfunctioning. It took several phone calls to AM Solar and Progressive Dynamics before he was able to diagnose that the converter was the problem and not the solar charger. He had replaced the original one with a three stage converter back in 2009, so it was a pretty easy job to disconnect the old one and rewire the new. He came away with only a minor electric shock, seconds after I asked him if he had turned off the power. The answer was clear when he leaped back and the screwdriver went flying across the floor! Luckily no harm done.

I sewed a new Protect-A-Tow with some sun shade fabric I bought from Ebay. Our other one had holes in it from being dragged on the ground occasionally and chewed on by rodents in Colorado last summer so it was time. And finally after seven years Jim finished scanning all of our papers, receipts and tax records that we have been carrying around and adding to over the years, while I cleaned out some more cabinets. It’s never-ending, but we made some good progress.

I also got to experience a wash full of rushing water on the way home from Fearless Kitty Thursday. It was raining hard and I was concerned about getting back as there are several dips in the road with signs stating “Do not cross when flooded”. When I got to the third one there were several cars stopped in both directions and no one crossing through the water. A few people turned around and I pulled over to the side to call Jim and tell him I was going to hang out in Fountain Hills for awhile until the water receeded. Just then a small sedan came up and went around all the stopped vehicles and just plowed on through the water. Of course everyone else followed after watching him make it. I must admit it did make me a little nervous, and I was hoping I would not be one of those people who had to be rescued, (and embarrased), by being so stupid.

Arizona’s Four Peaks, after the storm. The 10 day forecast looks much better.


We are down to our last week here at McDowell Mountain, and I think we’ve finally come up with a tentative plan for the year, but more on that later. We will definitely be in Quartzsite and hope to meet up with some of you at the Bloggerfest on the 23rd.

Bloggerfest 6


  1. Bad weather will force one to get work done inside. Glad you made it safely through the wash. See you at Bloggerfest.

  2. We missed the Tom’s Thumb hike the last time we were in that area. I put it on Pinterest...shouldn't miss it again. Looks lovely.

    We are in Mission this month and met up with some of our good friends. Betty is volunteering at Cinderella. She loves it. She is with the dogs. Their little dog passed away this year. She said she will continue to work with the BIG dogs...this way she won't want to bring one

  3. Was wondering if there would be a Bloggerfest this year. Glad you made it through the wash. You were smart to be cautious.

  4. Gayle and Jim
    We are having lots of rain in FL, but not views of boulders and openness like your location. Have a great time in Quartzite. We'll be back in AZ by mid-Feb
    Leslie and Gary

  5. Hope to cross paths on the 23rd. Leave next Friday for a long weekend river trip and then to Q and Yuma for a few weeks.

  6. Love your opening photo:) How nice that you were able to hike with Steve and MonaLiza. Aren't they great fun! We are looking forward to hiking with them here in Tucson. Gee, we had all that bad weather, too, but did our shopping at the various stores we need to visit. Staying inside was the way to go. Running in and out in the rain was NOT fun. Sounds like you made great progress inside:) Glad to see the sun return today:) Good you waited to go through wash til someone else tried it first. I would have hated to watch the news and see you sitting on the roof of the car:) Have fun at the Blogger Fest! I check the mileage from Tucson...243 miles is little much for a day trip.

  7. We definitely got a good work out that day, a great way to start the new year. I sure hope we will cross paths somewhere and blaze some trail.
    Being retired has its advantage when road are closed due to flooding. You have time to wait and not rush to where you are going. I guess that driver really had to rush home or perhaps the cars that stopped were snowbirds and not familiar with road flooding :)

  8. I'd say you've had a very productive first week of the year. Looks like a great hike with terrific companions. I've never seen a protect a tow before. Very interesting. You two are so handy. Around here, David is the only handy one. Glad you were able to make it through the wash without problems.

  9. How scary for a coyote to show up right after the kitties were in that spot! I have my eyes peeled when I am walking Rosie in coyote country...they are sneaky!

    We'll have to remember that hike next time we are at McDowell!

  10. Might have to stay another few days in Q we're supposed to pull out on 21st. Looks like a great hike - loving these southwest blue skies in between the needed wet.

    1. Yes, you should spend another couple days in Q. Missed meeting you last year.

  11. There are so many fabulous places to hike in the valley that my list keeps growing. Tom's Thumb sounds like a good work-out and you sure had great company. Always good to complete some chores so the playing can continue.

  12. I see I should have read these in order since you answered my question about the snow. Another cool picture of Four Peaks.