Winter In Phoenix travel blog

Golf mid January, a great egret by the water. Fairways and greens...

Another beautiful day for golf, the Canada Geese have finally arrived

Mike getting his telescope set up to see the Super Blood Wolf...

A house finch enjoys some refreshment at our hummingbird feeder, the only...

Just before sunset, the moon, Mars & Venus

The Quail family running through our spot, fun to watch them run

Sunset that night, a real pretty one down our street. Smoke in...

Darlene's prebirthday campfire. Our bus in the background, ropelights strung between the...

The view of Phoenix from our table at Roosters for the birthday...

The visitors arrive. This is pretty much what Michelle saw, just a...

Breakfast at the market to fortify us for all the walking and...

Aaron hiking up the local hill, with his cowboy hat that Nana...

Nana and Niki with Aaron on our hike up the hill

The RV park from the top of the hill. If you enlarge...

Mike set up the telescope to get a picture of us on...

Aaron's last night of sleeping on his made up bed in Arizona

The start of our drive to Tortilla Flats, skinny roads, 15mph signs...

The first bridge, should have realized it wouldn't get better

A stagecoach statue in Tortilla Flats, a tribute to being a stagecoach...

Mike walks the flooded road at the edge of Tortilla Flats, an...

Another shot of the flooded road

On the Apache Trail, saw quite a few of these signs

Looking back on the way we came

Yes Mike, that is the way you are heading

Again, yes, that is the way you are going Mike!

More beautiful scenery, and yes that is the curb for most of...

Our destination, the Roosevelt Dam, an amazing structure

40 room cliff dwellings, built in 1300 AD, in Tonto National Forest,...


In our last post, we had just returned from our Christmas holiday back in Ottawa… I know it may seem strange for us to say we went on a holiday, when we live in a camper and travel all the time, but it was nice to see the family so we took a holiday from our holiday.

Now that we have been back a while, it’s time to get you all caught up again on our lifestyle: it didn’t take long for us to hit the pools and hot tubs, umbrella drinks in hand (Michelle with her MudSlides and Mike with his Margaritas); the usual routine was pedal our bikes for groceries on Monday’s, golf with our respective leagues on Tues, Wednesdays were either a rest day or a hike day, Thursdays we both golfed again with the other league we're in, Fridays were again pedal for groceries or rest, and we golf with each other on one of weekend days; late afternoons we found ourselves sitting in the sun and the occasional sitting with the neighbours for Happy Hour while Mike would sing and play his guitar for the group. Michelle was busy trying to finish knitting the socks she was making for Mitch and Aaron, while Mike dabbled again with some oil paintings. We took a short hike with the local group, to the Lower Salt River Trail, just north of our park, afterwards we figured it would be a good place to bring the kids when they came in February, an easy fairly flat hike.

Friends of ours from our old area back in Kenmore picked us up one day and we went out and saw the movie Green Book together, we enjoyed the music, history lessons and company. We plan to go curling with them as well at a Bonspiel in March here in Phoenix, the Spring Training Bonspiel at the Coyote Curling Club.

One evening was spent with a larger group of neighbours from around our camp spot at a dinner music show at the Silver Star Theater where the Rhythm Cats played for 3 hours – a great deal for $39 as the buffet was great and we all enjoyed the music, singing along to every song! We won't talk about when one of the lead singers came down to croon and dance with Michelle…George Strait’s ’I Just Want To Dance With You’ now has special significance.

Michelle did another glass fusion class, making a wire ring Tree of Life, with the fusion piece being the moon, which started out as a square piece of glass. Amazing how heating up glass will make a square into a circle. Michelle also got her sewing machine repaired by a person who comes to the park a couple times a season, and then she made a slip cover for Mike’s recliner. It seems that after 4 years of Mike rocking himself to sleep each night in front of the TV, he has started to wear the fabric of his chair just a little.

Another night out was to celebrate a neighbour’s birthday, at a hilltop restaurant called Roosters… Quite the view of the city as the sun set and inside it was all pure country motifs like only Phoenix can bring on. I'm sure Darlene's glad her birthday is over: they are parked behind us and every time Mike heard someone pull up to wish her happy birthday he ran out with his ukulele to sing again.

The Lunar eclipse was just a bit too cloudy for any good telescope shots, but Mike was still able to set up and have the neighbours come around and see things on his laptop screen. It was so much easier to look at the computer screen thanks to a video connection Mike had made, than through the tiny eyepiece. But Mike wasn’t really happy with the quality of the shots so he is already looking for ways to get better video (Michelle sees $$$ with this statement).

We each played 15 rounds of golf between returning from Christmas and the kids’ visit and the golf game is slowly coming back. Playing so much really does improve your play, Michelle isn’t liking how it lowers her handicap though, Mike has won the last two times we played each other! By the way, the 18 hole course here is not long, but the greens are lightning fast and the fear of hitting a ball over the trees into someone’s front window and having them chase you through the park keeps you on your toes.

The first week of February our daughter, son-in-law and grandson arrived. We rented a van to pick up the kids at the airport and since it was the first time we had wheels here we did some exploring and got a bunch of our errands done. As a group we ventured off one morning to the Mesa Market which is a massive set of tents with over 1600 stalls of vendors selling everything you could imagine. We took an easy hike into the desert which due to the short legs of the grandson took two hours but the last little bit went quicker with him on our shoulders. At least he got to experience the cactus and desert world, we even saw some wild horses out on the range. The kids took the chance while they were here to go horseback riding and another time they took little Aaron to LEGOLAND… he now is a believer. Watching Aaron (the grandson) was, for both of us, a great treat, watching as he took in all the new things like picking growing oranges from the tree on our camp spot for breakfast every morning and touching the needles of a cactus on our hike. Even though he was only 3 on New Year’s Eve, he took the changes in his environment all in stride… don’t think he missed the snow. This time the kids slept on the pull out couch (last time they visited we slept on the couch, so it was their turn!) and Aaron slept on an air mattress on a piece of plywood between the front seats, it fit him perfectly! Thanks to Alix & Norm, our Kenmore friends, and Darlene & Jerry, our Viewpoint neighbours, for their loans of air mattress, plywood, stroller and blankets! It was all used and very much appreciated! Despite not having really warm weather, we think the kids enjoyed the respite from the snow, as well as missing a huge storm.

After the visitors it was time for us to do some exploring in the van. The day after they left we took the van for a short 3 hour drive into the desert, first visiting Tortilla Flats (population 6), a stop on the original stage coach route to Phoenix. A cute stop with lots of tourists, we had lunch at the only restaurant in town, listened to some live music out in the corral, and marveled at the number of motorcycles that had come up for the drive. We continued along Highway 88, also called the Apache Trail… (at this point start humming of the tune for Gilligan's Island). What should have been a 3 hour tour, ended up being over 6hrs to complete a 55 mile drive (88km)… 22 miles of which is a one lane gravel road, in many places cut into the side of large hills and cliffs and a speed limit of 15mph (you couldn’t go faster if you tried). A road with spots where you have mountain streams crossing that you need to ford, switchbacks so tight that Mike was glad he was in the rental van and not the RV because the RV would not have fit and hairpin turns that were both inside and outside so at times you didn’t see what was comin' round the mountain from the other direction. Now we understood why the motorcycles stopped at Tortilla Flats, it was their turn around spot! The road was originally made in the 1930’s to support the construction of dams of the Salt River, which this trail follows for the most part, but this trail was also the path taken long ago by the Apache natives between the Lake Roosevelt area and Apache Junction – the outskirts of what is now part of Phoenix. The exhausting gravel road eventually turned into pavement at the Roosevelt Dam… interesting tidbits here, construction of the dam began in 1905, and it is the largest brick dam in the world. At the time the dam created the world’s largest man-made lake. The drive from Roosevelt Dam - home was reasonably quick, into the setting Arizona sun flanked by shadows of giant saguaro cactus, after the day we had, this part of the bad drive was a welcomed relief.

I don’t want to belabour the point but in the reading about the Apache Trail, after we had done it, we discovered some warnings and dangers that this scenic 3 hour tour entails. “If there is rain in the forecast don’t go, Flash Floods can occur at any time, No Cell Reception, tow trucks won’t get you if you break down along this trail, the road has a steep 1500’ drop in less than a mile, many narrow one lane bridges, going one direction may be scarier than going the other so once you start you don’t want to turn around… that’s if you can find a place to turn around, if you stop to take pictures be careful getting out of the vehicle so that you don't fall off the road and there are not many places you can stop to get out”. These are just some of the warnings that are posted by various groups for the tour. (Let me remind you this was not a guided tour, this was a “self directed” – lots of giggles and wows one minute and screams of WTF the next - type of tour). Good thing we didn’t look up any of that before leaving… really, what could have gone wrong? Good news it was a rental van that needed a really good cleaning when we brought it back. Are you still humming the theme to Gilligan’s Island? 3 Hour tour, RIGHT.

Results from our weekly golfing activities are working in our favour, Mike won a few honours in the different league championships he played in… no, not what you’re thinking… not the nastiest farts or the longest beard, but he should have gotten something for those too. For our golfing friends, he came in second with low gross in his class and first in low net of his class of the other league. Michelle is still awaiting the results of the ladies club championship, but she won the lowest putts and longest drive for her flight in different weekly games, and placed in others. The extra golf is starting to pay off!

You may recall that before we left for our Christmas holiday, we tried unsuccessfully to start the RV (this is something you should do every few weeks because everyone says so). Yesterday morning Michelle was able to arrange for a mobile mechanic to come by and look at what could be wrong. Turns out it was a loose and corroded connection on the starter motor. Mike chatted with the mechanic as he worked (as only Mike can) and talked about the trip we’d done last weekend. It turns out the mechanic’s father and grandfather had bulldozed about 75% of the Apache Trail. Once they finished their chats, our problem was fixed! Now there appears to be no excuse for us to keep making plans as if we were never leaving here (insert very sad face!)

Today it is pouring rain, no little desert dusting of moisture today, warnings all over about flash floods (don't worry, we're high and dry) and schools have closed at higher elevations due to snow. We'd be soaked if we pedaled our bikes anywhere. So we've hunkered down in the bus, did some reading, Mike made some beef jerky (finally found some cheap roasts!) and Michelle fixed the shade next to Mike's chair, so he doesn't have to use a clip to keep it open any more, he's happy now.

In 6 weeks it’ll be time to pull in our slides, pull up our jacks (and remember to unplug the electric and water) and start on our way home. Before that though, we’ve got that curling bonspiel, an overnight trip to Sedona and Verde Canyon that Michelle is planning, lots more golf and hopefully more swimming in the pool and sitting out with the neighbours. Hate to say it, but the forecast is starting to look promising :-)



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