Tuesday, January 29, 2019

An Easy Decision

View of the McDowell Mountains

Last week the air conditioner in the Subaru stopped working as the temperatures were getting back into the 70s. Coincidentally Jim already had an appointment set up to take it into SubiWorx for inspection, since we had it in last year and they found a pinpoint size refrigerant leak that we were told could go a long time before causing a problem. Not only had it lost refrigerant, but there was also a leaky seal on the timing chain cover and a cracked PCV line, and several other things that would need attention over the coming months. Since the AC repair would take 5 hours labor due to having to disassemble the dash, they did not have time to fix it Friday, and there was no opening before we plan to leave on February 7th. Jim did call the Subaru dealer and got an appointment for Wednesday to get it fixed there, although at a higher cost.

Harris hawks looking for a meal.

On Saturday morning we headed out early to do laundry in Mesa, with a stop for breakfast along the way. We got to talking about how we are both sick of driving a car with manual transmission, and how much it would cost for the repairs and normal maintenance items that will soon need replacing on the Subaru, like brakes, tires, and battery. The dilemma is we want a lighter weight SUV type tow vehicle, of which the Honda CR-V, 2014 and older is the only one that can be flat towed in an automatic. I searched for 2014 CR-Vs for sale in the Phoenix area and found a silver one at Autonation Subaru in Scottsdale with 38,000 miles on it. After laundry and grocery shopping we headed there to take a look.

Same hummingbird in both photos. It is amazing how different they look depending on the light.

By 6:30 that evening we were having a much needed beer at OHSO Brewery just down the road from the Subaru dealer, and were the proud owners of a used 2014 Honda CR-V. 

I loved the bathroom sink at OSHO.

So far we love driving an automatic again, and it is loaded with features that were not on the 2011 Subaru, like bluetooth connectivity and a backup camera. The only downside is it doesn't have quite as much ground clearance as the Subaru. Plus we feel like we got a very fair trade-in for the Subaru considering it was not in the best of shape. AutoNation does not haggle on price, and we had done enough research to know we got a good deal, so we are happy. It was the most stress-free car buying experience we've ever had.

Our current site at McDowell Mtn Park

Although we love the car, now we have to put a hitch on it so we can carry our bikes, and get a baseplate installed so we can tow it behind the Lazy Daze. Not sure this will all get done before we leave but Jim has ordered a hitch which he can install with a bit of help from a friend. The towing hardware may have to wait until we get back to Jojoba but we are still working on that.
I’m glad we went ahead and made the decision to trade in the car that day because I’m sure Jim would have changed his mind had we given ourselves some time to think about it.

This mockingbird spends many hours making noise just outside our door.

In other news, George and Tina from Hemet, CA arrived a few days ago, as did Mark and Bobbie (Box Canyon Blog), and Chris got here yesterday afternoon. So far we've done a couple fun bike rides and happy hours with them.

Bobbie, Tina, George, and Mark

Chris, Jim, George, Bobbie, Tina and me

We worked at Fearless Kitty on Sunday and Jim was still really smitten with Troy. I told Paula, the manager, that she needed to get Troy adopted before our next shift on Wednesday because I was afraid Jim would want to bring him home. I got a text from her this afternoon along with a photo of Troy with his new mom, another volunteer. I am happy to know he is going to a good home and that it isn't ours.

Have a good life, Troy!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Birthday Week

Decided to see if Open Live Writer would let me post since I’ve seen some other bloggers having issues again but it won't, so I'm back to Blogger, which I dislike but may just have to get used to. It's not that it's hard to do but it's more time consuming loading photos to Blogger than it is using Open Live Writer and Picassa, and it's harder to get the spacing the way I want it.
Andre and Rose(The Road In Between) arrived on Monday for a few nights on their way to Mexico for their first RV caravan. They helped me celebrate with a bike ride and dinner at La Botana in Fountain Hills.

Besides the four of us there were several other people at the picnic shelter. It was a perfect day for a ride.

Andre and Jim taking a breather.

We coaxed Andre to get some air but he didn’t want to risk injury.

Another break on the Pemberton.

Soon after we started down the Lariat I spotted Andre stopped on the trail in front of me. This could have been a disaster when his left crank came off, staying attached to his shoe by the pedal. We looked back a little way for a broken screw or bolt but didn’t find it. He was able to push the crank back in but had to take it easy on the way back and cut the ride short. We’ve never seen that happen before. Good excuse for a new bike.

The sky on our way to dinner that evening.

Good margaritas, food and company at La Botana. Rose and Andre.

Birthday girl and Jim. Without divulging my age let's just say I’m excited that I have only one more year until Medicare.😉

The next day we took a drive into downtown Phoenix to meet up with Iowa friends Chuck and Carla, and Debbie, for lunch at Mother Bunch Brewery. Although we saw Debbie last week we haven’t seen Chuck and Carla since we were in Canada together last September. They are spending a week at Lake Pleasant Regional Park on the northwest side of Phoenix, so we all had about the same distance to drive. Traffic was crazy as usual but the brewery and laughs were worth it.    

Carla, this is for you!

Carla, Chuck, Debbie, me and Jim, seated on old church pews. The milk stout on nitro was very good, as were the IPAs I tried. Everyone like their meals. too. We would definitely go back there again if we were in the neighborhood. Our waitress was a good sport about having to take our picture with three different cameras.

It’s hard to believe we’re down to our last two and a half weeks here at McDowell Mountain. More visits from friends are coming up, and of course we’ll be back taking care of these guys at Fearless Kitty Rescue several more times.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Time Does Fly

20190113_112031                                                                          Going nowhere fast

It was my intention to blog more often after we got to McDowell Mountain but we’ve had so much going on I just haven’t found the time. I must admit it’s been a nice break, and I’m finding it hard to get motivated to do this post, but I want to document our time here so here goes.

It was cold and rainy over the New Years holiday and the park asked everyone to let their faucets drip, as temps dropped into the upper 20s. We had a nice stalagmite the next morning, and it didn’t melt the entire day.


Managed to get in a cold and dreary New Years Eve hike before the rain.



Following the rain the mountains were covered with snow for a couple days.


We’ve been out biking the trails on the warmer days. The Pemberton trail picnic shelter skeleton is sporting a new outfit.


A local bike shop installed a pump, tools, and a mailbox containing tire tubes. The note says if you need a tube just bring one back to replace it, or stop by the shop in Fountain Hills and buy one, which they will replace for you. Nice service.


Due to other obligations I’ve only been able to join the Friday Fitness Hike group once so far, 9 miles on and off trails through McDowell Mountain Park. It was a beautiful clear day but only in the mid-30s when we started at 8 AM, too cold and early for Jim.

Part of our hike went through an interesting wash where we came upon three owls that kept flying ahead of us.


I managed to get a bad photo of one before it flew away. We think they were long-eared owls. If you want to hear a fascinating story about owls listen to the first 10 minutes or so of this podcast although the entire show is worth a listen. Animal Instincts.


There are some remnants of an old ranch, and we came upon what must have been where they dumped their trash. Amazingly none of the jars were broken.



With winter rains being plentiful there was quite a bit of water in this tank, which the wildlife must appreciate.


We do all of our annual medical checks at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, which has kept us busy over the past couple weeks. Jim also saw an orthopedist about his knee pain and is now going to physical therapy twice a week for the next month. So far it seems to be helping, and the good thing is the doctor told him there was no need to stop hiking, biking and playing pickleball.

The following are just random cactus photos. Barrel cactus.


Teddy bear cholla.


My favorite, the saguaro. I find them so fascinating I end up taking photos of the same ones every time we’re here. Each one is unique.




Last week we met our friend Debbie in Chandler at the Phoenix Premium Outlet Mall. Jim has been looking for a replacement wind breaker jacket for a couple years now but had no luck. We did buy a couple things at the Columbia Outlet since they had a good sale going on. After our shopping spree we stopped for lunch at Mellow Mushroom Pizza, one of our favorites.


We’ve also been filling in at Fearless Kitty two or three times a week. I really miss having cats so this is a great way to enjoy some kitty time without the responsibility of ownership. My favorite is Marius, on the lower left. He was a stray found in Fountain Hills last year and tested positive for feline leukemia. He isn’t sick but it weakens the immune system and can be contagious to other cats so he has to be kept in a room by himself, or with other feline leukemia positive cats, of which there are no others at the shelter. I hope someone will come along and adopt him since he’s such a sweetie.

For you cat lovers out there, here is a link to the webcam where you can spy on the cats in the big adoption room and maybe see a volunteer at work. https://www.maddiesfund.org/maddiecam-fearless-kitty-rescue.htm

McDowell Mountain Dec 2018, Jan,Feb 2019

We can still see ourselves living in this area some day, so we checked out a new apartment complex in downtown Fountain Hills, right across from Fearless Kitty. It’s a great location but the apartments just didn’t do it for us. We also plan to look at some condos this week but most likely will not do anything, as usual. One of these days…