Friday, January 26, 2018

That Which Doesn’t Kill Us…

DSC09207                              Looking down on the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Scottsdale, AZ

Last Friday’s Fitness hike was the Hog Heaven Loop, a trek up to East End Peak, the highest point in the McDowell Mountain range. This was Kevin’s description, which sounded a bit challenging, but I was confident I could handle “fairly strenuous”.

“I'm thinking about doing the Hog Heaven / East End route which is steep, loose and fairly strenuous.  However, the payoff is that it has some truly outstanding views.”

What he failed to mention was all the exposure, meaning there is a high risk of injury in the event of a fall. I won’t go into details of my panic attack about half the way up the mountain, but somehow I managed to get a grip and hop boulders across a chasm that definitely tested my fear of heights. After that, all the scrambling, crawling on hands and knees, and sliding on my butt were a piece of cake.

Here is Kevin, posing on the spot that nearly did me in. It never looks as bad in photos but it was two big jumps that would have resulted in serious injury or worse had any of us fallen. Out of seven of us on the hike only one other woman besides me had a bit of trouble getting up the nerve to  jump across.


It was a beautiful day for a hike.



Yes we’re going up there, via the climber’s trail.


Yes, Randy, I’m taking your picture again.


Randy and Kevin checking out the view from atop a boulder.



Sunaree and Randy making their way up the granite boulders.




Nice scenery and interesting rocks.



Thumbnail Pinnacle.



Thompson Peak with the towers on it is just a bit lower than East End.




After two slow miles we finally made it to East End, elevation 4,069’, with about 1,600’ of rough, rocky climbing to get there.




Coming back down wasn’t much easier since there was a lot of loose rock, but we all made it unscathed.


Glass Dome, left and Tom’s Thumb, middle.


The following day I attended a talk given by a local geologist about the McDowell Mountains, where we learned that all the granite we hiked on was formed 1.4-1.6 billion years ago. It’s hard to wrap your head around numbers like that.



Although relatively short, for me this was a very challenging and strenuous hike. I’m glad I did it but it’s one I don’t ever intend to do again. Kevin has a good write up and better photos on his blog if anyone is interested.

Of course I couldn’t do a post with nothing but photos of rocks, so here are some cats we spent a bit of time with this week.

This is Elf who is new and a bit shy.


Harriet lost her home after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.


Timid Dennis  won’t let me pet him but I can get him to come out and play with the laser light.


And lastly, my buddy M&M. He was just a kitten when we were here last year but had some stomach issues that required lengthy treatment. He is doing fine now but since he’s grown up and most people want to adopt kittens he hasn’t found a home yet. He’s very affectionate and playful and I’m confident the right person will come along one of these days.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

More From McDowell and Some Exciting News

We are still hanging out at McDowell Mountain Park in Fountain Hills, AZ. It’s been a really fun, busy and social winter here so far. My arm is finally back to normal but I don’t intend to let anyone draw blood from me anytime soon.

Jim is still loving his new mountain bike. We guess it’s because it actually fits him well and is lighter than any bike he’s had in the past, but he is flying up the hills and riding more than ever. I am biking a lot, too, but also doing the Friday Fitness hikes. Last week I joined a dozen others for a very nice hike of almost 12 miles on multiple trails, through a wash and around some interesting rock formations.


The wash was hidden behind these rocks, so we had a bit of scrambling to get there.










That is Kevin in the front who leads these hikes.


This was my birthday week, and I feel like we celebrated for days. Had dinner with camp hosts John and Sandy one evening at La Mai, an excellent Thai restaurant in Fountain Hills, happy hour at the visitor center with the volunteers and other campers the next night, and movie day (The Post) followed by dinner at La Botana, a new restaurant just across from Fountain Park.

Leslie, Doug, Alex, Ellen, Jim, and Susan.


What a great view from their patio.


And we really liked the food and giant margaritas.


On my actual birthday we did a bike ride, followed by Black Forest cake made by Sunaree. I should have taken a photo because it was a beautiful cake but it got cut and eaten very quickly. It was vegan and had chia seeds in it, which made it healthy, right?

Randy, Ellen, Jim, and new friends Gary and Patty.


And now for our big news. As some of you know we put our name on the wait list at Jojoba Hills Escapees Park back in September 2016. We moved to number one on the list last month but turned down a lot since we knew it would be a few months before we would even get there, and we were hoping for a more desirable site. Last week we got another call, this time for site 821, which is on the Rim Road and has no neighbors in the back or on one side. We decided to become members, so when we leave here next month we will head to southern California.

Terry and LuAnn were kind enough to take some pictures for us.


What a treat to have a shed to store bikes and other stuff.


It will be strange but nice to have a place to call home after over 9 years on the road. During the past couple of years we’ve grown tired of moving around so much but don’t feel ready to commit to buying a house or condo, or even renting, so we decided this would be a way to have a place we can go whenever we want for as long as we want, and still travel. Having a secure place to leave the Lazy Daze, we are even hoping to do some non-RV travel for a change of pace.

Bring a co-op park, members are expected to volunteer in some capacity, something we are actually looking forward to. Especially Jim, since he is getting tired of cleaning up after cats at Fearless Kitty.

And speaking of cats, sweet Pauly with the head tilt got adopted this week, and Cheeto had a meet-and-greet yesterday so we’re hoping he also found a home. We took care of a room with four crazy kittens this week but it was hard to get photos since they move so fast.



Cute and very vocal Pinta would not leave Jim alone.


We are in the planning stages of a trip to the Canadian Rockies, arriving there in mid to late August hoping to avoid some of the crowds, although I understand it’s still very crowded in September. I’ve gotten some ideas from a couple blogs so far and definitely want to spend time in Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks, but if anyone has campground recommendations or ideas for some less popular places we should visit please let us know.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Not How I Wanted to Start the New Year


After having a painful blood draw on December 20th for a couple of routine tests, my arm continued to stay sore for days. There was never any bleeding or bruising and in fact I could not even see where the needle went in. Five or six days later my entire forearm became sore, almost like I had pulled a muscle, and by New Years weekend it began to swell. By Tuesday January 2, the swelling and pain were worse so I called my primary care doctor’s office and they got me in that afternoon. I saw a different doctor who really wasn’t sure what was going on, but she wanted me to get an ultrasound. She said it was unlikely that I had a blood clot or compartment syndrome, but they needed to rule that out. They could not get me in until the following afternoon, when the tech spent almost an hour doing the ultrasound. I was becoming concerned that something serious was wrong but she told me I could leave, and that there was not a clot.

When I got home there was a message from the doctor who said I did not have any of the bad things they were checking for and “should we wait another week and see if it improves?” I found that to be a rather strange response so I emailed her back and asked what she thought was the cause and was there something I should or should not be doing. She said the swelling was due to bleeding which would take time to absorb and I should use ice, ibuprofen, rest and elevation and let her know if it didn’t get better. Luckily a few days later the swelling and pain began to subside. The ultrasound report was very vague and said that it was possibly caused by the venipuncture. Of course since I had no trauma to the arm other than getting stuck with a needle I am positive that was the cause. Despite being out hundreds of dollars, Jim and I are looking at this as a learning experience since in the future we will ask to have blood drawn from our non-dominant arms in the unlikely event something like this happens again.

I assumed the doctor meant for me to rest my arm, not my entire body, so two days after the ultrasound I joined friends Randy and Sunaree, Doug and Leslie (whom we met here last year) and 8 other people for the Friday fitness hike. This time it started at the Four Peaks trailhead in McDowell Mountain Park, where we did a 10 mile loop around the Escondido trail.





We’ve also been biking out on the trails, and Jim is really liking this new mountain bike. It has carbon wheels and tubeless tires and is much lighter than his old bike. That must explain why he’s been riding ahead of me even on the uphills, which he had never done before.

Here’s Jim waiting for me at a bench at the Lariat/Pemberton trail junction.


In cat news this week we have two new favorites. This is Paulie, whose previous owner neglected an ear infection, leaving him with a head tilt. It doesn’t seem to bother him and after treatment it’s not as severe as it was when he came in to Fearless Kitty. He is a real sweetheart, very playful and curious, and has the softest, shiniest black fur we’ve ever seen on a cat.


We just got to meet Cheeto this week since he’s been in one of the medical rooms recovering from stomatitis, a mouth, gum and tongue disease that causes painful ulcers. He had to have all of his teeth pulled and is feeling much better. The history is that he was abandoned by his owner and a neighbor had been feeding him for 7 years. The woman developed dementia and could no longer care for him but someone contacted Fearless Kitty to see if they could take him in, which they did. His fur was all matted so he had to be shaved, and he was thin and in pain due to his teeth and mouth. With much veterinary care he is now a happy, friendly senior cat (approximate age 10-12) and is up for adoption. His long fur is growing back and he is just beautiful. It’s tempting, but we are sticking to our policy of no cats in the RV ever again.