Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, totally worn out, shouting "Wow...What a Ride!"

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Winding Up Our Valley of the Sun Winter

March 9-25, 2018

Of course the fun times continue, how could it not when you've got family and friends spread all around the area. Grab a drink, we've been busy so this will be a long post.

The Hikes

We met up with MonaLiza and Steve of Lowes Travels while they were staying just up the road for few days. We enjoy hiking with them, MonaLiza and Dave do the photography stuff and Steve and I graciously pose when they want us to, or we keep hiking knowing they will catch up to us. Less than 2 miles from their park is part of the Black Canyon Trail, which we've done other parts of this winter. A great hike with good friends, Dave and MonaLiza enjoyed playing with their cameras, Steve and I indulged them.

Of course every good hike is followed by an even better meal. MonaLiza made us some delicious Filipino pork bbq skewers.

We first heard about the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Trail from friends Steve and Debbie. On June 28, 2013 a wildfire started near Yarnell AZ, by June 30 it overran and killed a group of 19 city of Prescott firefighters known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots. The Yarnell Hill Fire as it's become known was the deadliest fire involving firefighters since 9/11. In late 2016 AZ State Parks opened a memorial hike to the fatality site,  The Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Trail. Along the 7+ mile hike are 19 plaques,  dedicated to the each one of the fallen Hotshots. A well done poignant tribute to fallen heroes.

We asked our friends Curt and Glenda to share this hike with us,on a windy March day we tackled the 1700' elevation gain 7+ mile round trip hike. 

We met this hotshot firefighter on the trail as he was returning from ground zero. He had been with the Granite Mountain Hotshots just days beforehand on another fire. He was out that day, hiking in memory of his fallen friends, carrying all the things they would have carried on that fatal day. 

A sobering hike where evidence still shows from the fire that fateful day. 

But after every hike, no matter how sobering, we need to refuel. El Ranchero in Wickenburg AZ has some great Mexican food, we had been there 2 years ago and it was still as good this year. 
No we didn't let him drink them all

Our next hike took us back to Wickenburg where we found Sophie's Flat Trail. While it was a great hike that was suppose to be about 6 miles we ended up hiking 9+ miles. Lack of signage was the culprit but we made it and that's what counts. We had the trail to ourselves, never met another hiker, only saw 2 folks on ATV's on one of the off road stretches.

To say I was beat at the end of the hike is an understatement. Lots of steps, miles and elevation helped with my weekly goal of 49 miles but once home I sure didn't move too much.
 Lunch at El Ranchero certainly helped to revive my energy.

We took one last hike at the Sonoran Desert Preserve, there was one last trail there we hadn't been on. The Ridgeback and Apache Wash Loop a nice 4.5 mile trail with some elevation gain. The Sonoran Desert Preserve has been our go to spot for hikes when we don't want to travel far. It's always a busy place, especially on the weekends, where you never get away from views of homes but it sure beats walking around the rv park. There was evidence of cactus starting to bloom and a few wildflowers have begun to bloom.

Doing the Tourist Thing

With our friends DuWayne and Jackie in town there were a few tourist things that needed to done.

DuWayne's cousin is a vendor at the Aloha Festival in Tempe AZ so bright and early one Saturday morning we picked DuWayne and Jackie up. We had heard the parking garages would fill up early, we wanted to get in the one closest to the festival which we did. Lots of food vendors and of course there were all things Hawaiian, the only thing I never saw were macadamia nuts which was the one thing I really wanted. We watched a few of the shows, ate some of the food and when it got really crowded it was time to go.

Some of the blooming flowers at the entrance to Tempe Beach Park. Since it's been so dry the last 8 months we haven't seen any wildflowers or cactus blooming, this was a nice treat for the eyes.

There were some great choices for eating, which we of course did.

Since we've known DuWayne he's been stealing olives out of Dave's drinks. With that in mind late one morning we headed to Queen Creek Olive Mill where we had a great lunch, took the tour   and enjoyed a treat afterwards.

For our last visit with DuWayne and Jackie we decided to do a scenic drive. We left our place, headed to Prescott so we could take AZ 89A through the Prescott National Forest, Jerome and then on to Sedona. AZ 89A is a wonderful scenic ride as long as your under 50', there are a few scenic turnouts. In Sedona we took the Red Rock Loop Rd and found a great place to take pictures.

It was a fun day with great friends who we won't see again until November when we arrive in TX for our 2.5 month stay there. Thanks again DuWayne and Jackie for a great day and a great visit, see you soon on the beach.

Family Time

Our daughter in law Laura sister and nephew came for a visit, while in the area they were interested meeting us and seeing how we lived. Think we may have future rv'ers in the making as they were pleasantly surprised out how spacious our home is.
With Laura's school work and David's surgery our visits with them usually center around going out to dinner. Earlier this season we had visited a Lebanese grill, while most of the food was great they had overcooked the Kibbeh Balls. Since the kids like the restraint so much Dave wanted to give them another chance. This time perfection, if you're in the Avondale and have a hankering for Authentic Lebanese/Mediterranean Cuisine give Zeta's Grill a try. 

Our last visit with David and Laura was to celebrate our "other" son Jim's birthday. We've know Jim since he was in 3rd grade, he and his folks are part of our extended family. We all met up at the Cornish Pasty in Scottsdale. No pictures of the main course but then the desserts came out, between the 5 of us we polished them all off.

David, Laura, Faye, Dave & Jim
RV'ers seem to know about good food. Our friends Ingrid and Al gifted us some ground Elk meat, it sure made for some tasty burgers.

We've certainly enjoyed some great food in the Phoenix area, so for lunch on our last day in town we headed back to Chino Bandido. We were last here the first evening we arrived here in Phoenix, we thought it appropriate to go there as an end to our stay. It sure doesn't look like much from the outside but they do have some really good Mexican Chinese dishes.

By happenstance another Grand Design RV couple stayed in our park recently. We had met Andrea and Charlie twice in the past few years but had never had the opportunity to get to know them. When we found out they were here in our park we made plans for a rib dinner. What a great time it was getting to know them better. During the course of conversation we got talking about pizza, what else do those from areas that were influenced by pizzerias near New York city do but compare notes on where we can find good pizza. We grew up on thin crust pizza that when folded the grease dripped off, can't find pizza like that anymore. We mentioned our favorite pizza place, Gio's in Anthem, was just up the road. Besides great pizza they have the best cannoli's, filled to order so the shell is still crisp. After a great rib dinner we headed up to Gio's for cannoli's. They were all we expected them to be, I think Andrea and Charlie enjoyed theirs. 

The reservation process for FL has begun in earnest: we've secured sites at Topsail State Park, a Broward County Park near Ft Lauderdale, a city of Orlando park and Hillsborough State Park.   When we have them all in place I'll post where and when we'll be next winter.

The Arizona sunsets never cease to amaze us with their beauty. We won't be west next winter so we're soaking in the beauty of the AZ sunsets as much as we can.

We've had an awesome winter here and look forward to returning in a few years.

Tomorrow morning we head north to Page AZ where we'll spend 2 nights at Wahweap Campground on Lake Powell before heading to boondock near Lone Rock with friends Ingrid and Al. Weather will dictate how long we stay there, we'll be in Durango CO by 4/15 to start our summer host jobs at Alpen Rose RV Park.

Until next time....