Thursday, May 24, 2012

Misc. Happenings

Ha - surprised you with another blog so soon, didn't I?  Don't expect it too often.  :-)

I covered our hiking on the last update so I wanted to show the things we've been doing besides hiking.

Queen Creek Olive Mill  - If you like Olive Oil and are in the Phoenix area this is a must see.  We took a tour of the mill and then sampled the wonderful oils and olives.  They also have a wonderful patio area to enjoy a glass of wine, local beer or fresh brewed coffee along with yummy sandwiches and munchies.

Relaxing at the Mill enjoying coffe (Tom, of course!) and wine (me, of course!) with the olive trees behind us
Taite's (my newphew) graduation from pre-school (yes, you read that correctly - pre-school.  :-) )
I believe I only had a graduation from high school and college but things are a little different these days.  We were fortunate enough to be in town for his first graduation!
Taite's first graduation certificate!

Taite and his friend in their classroom

Jax's (my newphew) 1st b-day party - we planned this trip perfectly (by chance) as we got to enjoy the graduation AND b-day party back-to-back.
me with Chef Rob (Michael's brother-in-law) and Chef Michael (my brother)

the feast!  doesn't look like your normal 1year old b-day food, does it?  wonderful!

the happy birthday boy - Jax

Taite, Meghan, Jax and Michael

I think he liked his cupcake!

Relaxing at Michael & Meghan's house - For as long as I've known Michael they have been moving around (I could fill an address book with all of their locations!).  Then we sell our house to get on the road and they settle down and buy a beautiful home in Phoenix.  How things change!  We truly enjoyed our time hanging out with them in their little slice of heaven.
the backyard with the close-up view of South Mountain

cooking in the brick oven in the backyard

a fine dining location in their backyard

and of course a wonderful waterfall with pond and a great place to relax by it

Taite and Jax playing

Wildfire - on our drive from Phoenix to Cottonwood (20 miles south of Sedona) we were able to get a close view of the smoke rising from one of the several wildfires in AZ.  We see the smoke in the distance most days and have only smelled it one day from our campground.  We understand it is approx. 40 miles south of us so we seem to be out of the path for the time being.

Solar Eclipse - in this area we had a great view of the solar eclipse (unfortunately back east you were unable to see it).  We spent a whopping $2.50 on a welder's lens so we could look directly at it for brief periods of time.  What a sight!
taken with the welder's lens in front of the camera

taken without the welder's lens in front of the camera

Pickleball!  Of course we couldn't forget to talk about pickleball.  This is a bad habit of ours.  When there is pickleball we tend to get in less hikes.  We're addicted!  We meet so many wonderful people and enjoy the exercise as well.  It's fun to talk with people who know people we played with in FL over the winter.  It's a little p-ball community.  And there's not only the playing of pickleball there's lots of socializing - happy hour before the solar eclipse...
the Verde Valley pickleball crew...

and the crazier pickleball crew

Marilyn & Jack playing against...

Tony & Sue - what a match!

Airport Mesa Hike - I had to add in one hike!  We thought how good can a hike be around the Sedona airport but we heard it was a good one so we tried it with our pickleball friends, Tony & Marilyn.  What a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and red rocks at Sedona.

Tuzigoot National Monument - This was in our Reader's Digest "Off The Beaten Path" book and just down the road so we had to check it out.  We are starting to get the feel for these dwellings of the past.  What a way to live.

Our campground hummingbirds - We always enjoyed the friends we had visit our feeder at home so we've carried that along with us to attract new friends along the way.  We've had some spectacular birds here with purple heads as well as red heads (not the ruby throated we are used to back east).

Til next time...Happy Trails!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happiest When Hiking

"Happiest when hiking" was Tom's comment to me after I thanked him for a hike we did.  You know, I think he might be right.  What's not to be happy about when out in the middle of pure wilderness soaking it all in...the sights, sounds, smells.

We've continued our wonderful (and somewhat crazy) hikes the past few weeks.  So I'll get right to it and show you the pictures.  I've heard many comment that they only look at the pictures so I might keep the writing shorter and try to get more pictures posted (and hopefully more often).  Give us feedback if you feel otherwise.  We love to hear from you.

Tabletop Trail - this is a hike you first have to drive 11 miles off-road (in a high clearance vehicle - thankfully the Jeep is high enough) to get to the trailhead.  The drive gets you set for the beautiful hike ahead.

Yikes!  The sign we see mile 1 of the 11 mile off-road drive to the trailhead.

The summit - it took a little searching to find this one tucked away

hillside full of Saguaro cactus
Saguaro National Park - although this was a relatively easy and flat hike, it still had lots of beautiful scenery, especially cactus...

Tonto National Forest

look closely - cliff dwellings in these cave looking areas

from inside the cliff dwellings

imagine this as your home!

the view out their "front door"

chillin' after our hike

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - we learned that the Organ Pipe Cactus is only found as far north as this park in southern AZ (actually just north of the Mexico border).

Dust devil - these are seen often in AZ

Organ Pipe Cactus

Do you know the difference between a National Monument and a National Park?  Since we're visiting so many places we wanted to know.  From the National Park Service:  "The difference between a National Monument and a National Park is the way they are created.  National Parks require Congressional approval but National Monuments are established by Executive Order of the President."

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument 

Becky, my nephew Corey, my sister Jo Ann, my nephew Timmy and of course, hubby Tom

a dust storm rolling in

stuck at the monument in the middle of the dust storm

Til next time...Happy Trails!