Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas in Kingman

I just think the rock artwork on the overpasses is really cool.

The drive to Terri and Danny's was a pleasant one.  I listened to some CD's on the way as I am still trying to get them downloaded to my computer so I can then put them on my IPod. 
We had lots of food, fun, beer and wine to keep us entertained along with some Angry Birds.  Terri got an IPad for Christmas-she told me the only reason she wanted it was to play Angry Birds-well she introduced me to those little birds and I was hooked.  OMG way too much fun and we laughed so hard at times that Danny started laughing at us because we were out of control. 
Christmas eve we opened presents.

Christmas day Danny took us to Laughlin NV (aka The River) to the casino for a great Champagne brunch that had any kind of food you wanted.  The drink of the day was called an Island Flower, it is a mimosa with a splash of cranberry juice and it was delicious!  After lunch we hit the slots for a couple of hours.  I of course wasn't a Winner but Terri as always left with lots of dollars in her pockets. 
The next day Terri showed me how to make homemade bread using my bread machine that I have hauled across the country.  Only use the dough cycle and then bake it in the oven, the other secrets that she shared with me I can't reveal :)
A good time was had but I just wish Mark could have been here, maybe next year.

I have to included a photo of Danny's artwork.

                                                                      Happy Bush


On Wednesday after Christmas I went hiking with Judy and Richard that I met last week.  We hiked to the basin of the Superstitions. 

There was lots of people out hiking enjoying the pretty day after 2 weeks of cold temperatures.  You might think the two rocks below are small in size but don't let the picture fool you as they are actually huge!

Good job Richard.

                            Back on the trail heading to an elevation of 3100' with Judy in the lead.

On a sad note you may have seen on the news a report of a small plane crashing into the Superstitions on the 23rd Nov killing 3 kids and 3 adults.  The X in the above photo is where the plane crashed.  Very, very sad and our prayers go out to the family.

We met some folks on the trail that were returning, one was wounded.  He had a fight with a cholla cactus and lost, falling during the altercation.  I don't believe I would wear shorts while hiking as my middle name is Grace.  We were told to always carry a small comb as it is very helpful for removing spines.

                                                                         The Basin

Looking back at the valley.

If you are in the area this is a great hike that is moderate with wonderful views, it only took us 2 hours.

Mark is doing well dealing with stuff back home.  He reports that it is nice seeing family and friends but he is ready to return.  The trip has been good in one way as it has reassured him that we have done the right thing becoming fulltimers.

Thanks for following and see you next year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Keeping Busy While Mark is Away

We had tickets through the park to go on a bus ride and view the Christmas lights on a double decker bus.  I was able to sell Marks ticket and hooked up to go with my neighbors Ed & Jan English so I wouldn't be by myself.  They have adopted me while Mark has been gone, thank you.  The park had 2 buses that carried us to 3 different locations to view the lights complete with music and spiked hot chocolate.  Try putting some Irish Cream in your hot chocolate, very tasty! 

Me, Jan & Ed English

The first neighborhood was pretty good but OMG the second was awesome.  They parked the bus and we got out to walk through the blocked off street.  Every house was decorated to the max. 

The home owners had fires going in the driveways and welcomed you over to warm your hands.  The wash tub fire barrels were very popular.

At the end of the street the owners backyard was fabulous with a walk through Bethlehem, very impressive.

Next was the Mormon Temple.

Arizona is a great place to hike with trails all over the place.  The Lost Dutchman State Park has guided hikes that lead you into the Tonto National Forest.  The Superstition Mountains are in the Tonto National Forest and they are beautiful.  Let's take a hike...

The trails are well maintained and I asked about the snakes being out and about.  Well they along with the tarantulas are a sleep this time of the year, Thank God. 

This wren followed us singing all the way.

                                                                   Chain fruit Cholla
                                                                                The dark mass is desert mistletoe, below is a close up.

I thought these fences were pretty cool.  Humans can walk through them but large animals can't.

Superstition Mountains

I had a great time hiking.  I met 2 nice folks, Rick and Judy and we have made plans to hike next week.  We will go to the basin of the Superstitions.

Mark and I made plans to spend Christmas with Terri and Danny in Kingman but I will now be going by myself.  It will be the first time in 24 years that we won't be together for the holidays.  I never dreamed we would be on opposite coasts.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sad News Arrived Today

Mark's words:

My dad, Dr. Ernest Ray Williamson passed away this morning. He had a heart attack while returning from Florida at Hilton Head, SC. The doctors performed surgery and he hung on till 6:30 AM this ...morning.
My dad was tough but I loved him. He would sit up, rocking me all night when I was sick with asthma as a child. After chiropractic care helped my mom and I he moved us all to Davenport , Iowa and he, along with my mom and brothers help, made it through Chiropractic College.
My dad was a champion of Chiropractic care preaching it like the gospel. This was the 70's and people didn't know about Chiropractic care. I have seen him help many people and kids live a better life. He would take barter items so that the poor could get care. Nothing like actually having to clean a chicken for dinner and I was the one doing the cleaning. He would adjust people at any gathering to help spread the word. All the firemen loved when he would come to visit, doc I got a crick in my neck and he would sit them down and adjust them right at the station.
For a short time Ray was going to IRS Auctions and would get up before the auction and speak against the IRS having the right to confiscate peoples property and sell it off. He had to stop this because the IRS doesn't like to be missed with and sent two US Marshall's to our house and arrested him on some trumped up tax charges.
So from a young man from a farm in a small town in North Carolina, he taught me that if something is good tell people about it, if it is wrong speak up even if it means going to jail.
Good bye DAD
Dr. E. Ray Williamson, Chiropractor, Navy Veteran of WWII February 1928- December 2011

Plane tickets have been purchased and Mark flies home on Monday.  I won't be going as I will hold down the fort here and keep up our obligations.  Plus I am going home the end of March.  Mark will return on the 5th of January.  Our awesome friends back home are out of town and they have offered their home and car to Mark to use during this difficult time. 

Rest in peace Ray...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

More Exploring in Tonto National Forest

We were told of a nice short trip just North of Mesa in the Tonto Forest.  Bush Highway (87) leads you into the forest  and there are several recreation sites.  The weather the past two weeks hasn't been great with rain, cold temps and snow!  No it didn't snow in Mesa but the higher elevations sure got some.  I have learned that elevation is very important for warmer temps.  The higher you are the colder it is.  It has been warmer back home in Wilmington NC then it has been here!  Dang jet stream is messing up my good weather. 

You will see Red Mountain.  It wasn't very red in the morning but on the return trip with the afternoon sun it was clear how it got it's name.  The mountains out here are always changing.

In the summer months the Salt River is the place to be to stay cool by tubing down the river.  We drove in to the Goldfield recreation site to find all kinds of RVs set up right in the parking lot complete with a camp host.  It was a beautiful day and nobody was around as they were probably hiking or on 4 wheelers but it peaked our interest to find out more.

Next we came across Pebble Beach and again the same sight.  RVs boondocking in the parking lot.  This time there were folks around so we struck up a conversation with them and got the scoop.  Oct 15th - April 15th you can camp for  $6 a day.  There are no hookups so you have to boondock but there are toilets.  There are good sized shelters that you can use with picnic tables.  The folks we talked to had a wonderful outdoor living room set up complete with an above ground fire pit (no fires allowed on the ground).  They told us they have been camping there for the 4 past winters meeting up with friends and having a large time.  Cocktail hour starts around 3, dinner on the grill and then a campfire.  Oh how we miss having a fire.  When you become a senior the cost is $3 a day.  I believe they said the camp host has hookups.  They are only about 10 minutes from town and there is a gas station that provides sewer and water for $10.  We will definitely keep this info in our memory banks for the next time we are in the area. 

These 2 pictures are at Pebble Beach where the rafters will come through.  Of course the river is low at this time of the year but they did say there were people that metal detected along it so Mark may have to come back.  Not sure if we could kayak in this location as some parts of the river are very shallow right now.

Farther on up the road you will come to Saguaro Lake which is a popular location for fishing and water sports.  There is a marina and restaurant.

On the return trip we took Usery Road which leads you to Buckhorn Campground in Usery Mountain Regional Park.  This was a nice campground with water and electric.  They have 4 work campers and is probably a pretty good gig.  Again we will have to remember this park as well.  We drove through the whole park and at the last cul de sac Mark spotted Mr. Coyote.

It's he beautiful!

Leaving the park you will see the sign to Phoenix.  I am told they are there to help the pilots with navigation.

                                                                      Happy Trails

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Part 2 of the Apache Trail

This past week I have been sick in the bed with a sinus infection.  I try to be so careful when out in the public not touching door handles and using hand sanitizer but that didn't work this time.  I started felling bad Tuesday morning and the only thing I can figure is I caught the dreaded bug while at the museums last Sunday.  This Sunday I began to feel like a human again and needed to get out of the caravan so we decided to continue your trip on the Apache Trail.

The Superstition Mountain Lost Dutchman Museum was closed the last time we were on the Trail and wanted to check it out this time.  The museum has lots going on and in January they will have hiking trips in the Sonoran Desert which we will be attending.  Years ago it was know as the Apacheland Movie Ranch as several movies where filmed here.  There are reproductions of 19th Century businesses including Wells Fargo office, stage coach stop, Audie Murphy barn with stage coaches and lots of filming history. 

                  Trail leading to the 20 Mill Stamp with the Superstition Mountains in the background.
            This 20 Mill stamp ore crusher was state of the art technology for recovering gold in the 1800's.
The Elvis Memorial Chapel is also a museum showing all the movies that have been filmed at Apacheland Movie Ranch.  Probably the most famous was "Charro".  Today it can be reserved for weddings.

Outside of the Museum I found this wonderful garden and discovered Desert Lavender.  I had no idea that lavender grew in the desert and oh it smelled heavenly.


                                                     This is a map of the route that we took.

Back on the Trail it begins to bend sharply as the land becomes steeper, and passes along the shores of Canyon Lake, one of four formed by damming the Salt River, the course of which runs right through Phoenix but is dry for most of the year.

After Canyon Lake you will come to Tortilla Flat.

Tortilla Flat has a population of 6!  There is a Post Office, the Superstition Saloon and several other little shops.  We did eat in the Saloon and the food was OK but probably wouldn't eat there again.  A better idea is to pack a lunch and enjoy it outside at one of the several stops along the trail looking at all of the beautiful scenery.  But you do have to check out the Saloon as it is a real cool place.  The walls are wallpapered in dollar bills,

the bar stools are actual saddles,

and they have dancing girls in the bathroom!

A fun place to check out along the trail.

  Just a short distance past Tortilla Flat the pavement ends and you than travel 22 miles a on gravel road leading to Roosevelt Dam. 

There are no guard rails so you better pay attention!

The gravel road is a wash board in most spots.  You don't need a 4 wheel drive to travel on it, just drive slow and enjoy.  This section is the most scenic with views that will take your breath away.

 From this point, you'll drive down 1,500 feet in elevation in a very short distance.

Leaving Fish Creek Hill

Simply Awesome.  The mountains on my right are so tall. 
                                                 This photo is taken out of the sunroof.

Some fall color.

Leaving the bottom of Fish Creek Hill headed to Apache Lake.

Leaving Apache Lake

The road leads right on the edge of the lake, it is simply beautiful.

            We have been looking for an area to do some kayaking and this location would be perfect. 

Leaving 3 Mile Wash you are about 2 miles from the dam.

I am fascinated by the angles of the layers of rock in the mountains. 

                                               Back side of the dam and Roosevelt Lake.

 Roosevelt Lake was created in 1911 with the completion of the Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River. At the time, Roosevelt Dam was the world's tallest masonry dam at about 280 feet high and Roosevelt Lake was the largest man made lake in the world. In 1996, modification of the dam increased its height to 357 feet and expanded the lake's water storage capacity by 20%. The lake had a multi-purpose of flood control, generation of electricity and harnessing the water for irrigation. The dam, lake and its water distribution system turned the Arizona desert into fertile agricultural land.

So there you have the Apache Trail.  It is a must see and do when you are in the area.  We got a late start this morning and by the time we got to the dam it was 4:30.  Our route home was on 188 to Globe then 60 back to Mesa which would have been a nice ride during the day as elevations are above 4,000 ft.  You will pass by copper mines in Miami and other points of interest worth seeing but we will have to save that for another day. 

I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did!

Life is good.