Sunday, April 30, 2017

Another Week at McDowell Mountain



After our appointment with D & R RV in Glendale last week, we moved back to McDowell Mountain Park for another week or so. While we were here over the winter and took care of our doctor appointments, I tried to get my primary care to switch me to a different type of thyroid medication due to some heart palpitations that I thought might be related. She was not comfortable doing this but referred me to an endocrinologist, whom I was not able to get an appointment with until last Monday, which is why we came back. She did change my medication, so now I will just have to wait and see if it improves things over time.

Jim had a few new growths sprout up on his face and scalp since his last dermatologist appointment a few months ago, so although dermatology was booked, he was able to get in with family practice and got some things zapped the other day. Looks like he has chicken pox, as the doctor went a bit crazy with the liquid nitrogen, but now he should be good until we come back next winter.

We normally leave this area long before it gets hot enough for things to really start blooming, so although the green desert we left back in mid-March is now brown, the cholla blooms are adding some color.



As are the ocotillo.


And the palo verde trees are full of tiny yellow flowers, which the bees just love.



But my favorite is the stately saguaro, looking even more majestic with a crown of white blossoms, the official state flower of Arizona.



Each evening after dark several flowers open, but by mid to late afternoon the following day they close up, never to open again. You can see the brown ones on the right that have previously bloomed.


During their short life the blossoms provide food for bees, bats and birds, who then pollinate the flowers. If a flower was lucky enough to be pollinated it will turn into a bright red fruit that matures later in the summer and contains up to 2,000 tiny black seeds, which will be eaten by birds and coyotes and distributed across the desert. A single cactus can produce over 40 million seeds over the course of its 250-year life, but few germinate and even fewer grow into cactus.

This northern flicker was doing its part.




Of course we couldn’t come back to Fountain Hills without spending a couple days at Fearless Kitty Rescue. Luckily there were some open shifts, and we were happy to fill in and get our cat fix.


Molly is one of my favorites. She’s older but very sweet and shy, loves to be brushed, and gets along well with all the other cats. She was adopted earlier in the year but brought back because they said their other cat would not accept her.


Tocho is a very friendly cat and I’m sure he will find a home soon.


Can’t remember this beautiful cat’s name, but it was new and a bit shy. Several cats we came to know over the winter have been adopted but there are always more to take their place.


One afternoon we drove to Chandler to meet our friend Debbie for lunch at Uncle Bear’s Brewery. The beer and food were good, dogs are allowed on the patio, and there are cute dog photos all over the walls. This is my pathetic attempt at a selfie.


We’ve mostly been biking the trails in the mornings or late afternoons to avoid the heat, but since it cooled off the past few days we took a hike to Sunrise Peak in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. It was 5.8 miles out and back starting at the 138th St. trailhead a few blocks behind the Mayo Clinic off Shea Blvd in Scottsdale. We liked this sign at the start of the trail.


It was a 1,300’ climb on the rocky trail, but didn’t get too steep until the end.


3,069’ Sunrise Peak, our destination.


Not sure why but there were only a couple of blooming saguaros in this area.



Looking down on one of the gated subdivisions, where some of the houses have the preserve as their backyard.



Jim spotted this chest chained to a big rock down an embankment. We have no idea what it’s there for, as it would be a treacherous descent to get to it.


At this point it’s only another 0.2 mile, but 229 more feet of climbing to reach the summit.


Jim was behind me and about halfway up he somehow missed the last turn to the top. Luckily I spotted him below and yelled down to tell him he was going the wrong way.


Me at the high point of Sunrise Peak.


Views from the peak, looking down towards the trail.


Not only could we see Scottsdale/Phoenix,



but also Fountain Hills, which was blocked from view by the peak on our way up.


It’s a good hike, one we would come back and do again. Today we move north to Prescott and some new scenery for a change.

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Short Month


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Hard to believe our 28 night stay at Jojoba Hills has already come and gone. It was a fun month hanging out with good friends, and we had just about perfect weather.  Above are a couple of cacti found in the park, and below are Tommy (age 33) and Tammy (age 70), desert tortoises that belong to one of the members. Tommy loves eating roses out of your hand.


Besides pickleball, working out, a few more hikes, and socializing, Jim also has been setting up the new Asus computer which we bought last week. One of the hinges broke on our two and a half year old Dell, and after much research Jim realized trying to repair it was beyond his skill level.  It is still opening and closing, but from what he read this is not an uncommon problem, and eventually gets to the point where it gets stuck and the lid will not move. So he decided just to get a new one before that happens, and once he gets everything transferred over he will try taking apart the Dell to determine exactly what parts need to be ordered so he can attempt to fix it for a backup.

One day we hiked a few miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail just west of Warner Springs, CA.


It wasn’t the most scenic part of the trail we’ve hiked, but it was a good test for Terry and LuAnn, who were both wearing new hiking boots. We saw a few people out on the trail, one group of three who are attempting to thru-hike the entire 2,650 mile trail. It starts at the Mexican border near Campo, CA and ends in Washington at the Canadian border. They have a long way to go.




Our big wildlife sighting of the day was this tarantula hawk, a type of wasp with a sting that is said to be the most painful of any insect found in North America. Hope to never find out what that feels like.


Another day we took a drive 25 miles north to Hemet, home of friends George and Tina, whom we camped with in Idaho this past August. They took us on a lovely 7 mile hike from their house through the maze of trails in Simpson Park, joined of course by dogs Jessie and Jax. Jessie the border collie lives for hiking.


Jax, a long haired dachshund, was more interested in finding a cool spot in the shade.






We really enjoyed this hike, with quite a few flowers still blooming, and great views all around of the San Jacinto Valley and the San Jacinto and San Bernardino Mountains.


To the left is Diamond Valley Lake, one of the largest reservoirs in southern California.



And Mount San Gorgino, at 11,500’ is the highest peak in southern California. It’s somewhere over there covered in snow.


On our last day we did one more hike with Terry and LuAnn, this time on the nearby Dripping Springs trail, which we’ve done before. It makes a 20 mile loop with the Wild Horse trail, but that’s a bit too long so we just went out a few miles and turned back. After crossing a creek, it’s a gradual uphill along switchbacks, with more good views.



Looking down over Vail Lake.









Although we don’t normally drive that far in one day, yesterday we traveled 300 miles to Glendale, on the west side of Phoenix, to get our propane leak checked out by D&R Family RV, the place that installed the propane line for our Kozy World heater back in 2010. Spent the night in their gated yard, and as I write this the tech has discovered two loose fittings. Now Jim has him working on wiring one of the 12 volt outlets on our dash so it runs off the house batteries instead of the engine battery. When we get finished here we’ll head back to McDowell Mountain for a week or so.