And the road goes on forever...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's Elementary Dear Watson

With Marc gone and before the temperatures got too hot for being outdoors, I accomplished some needed painting. Now everything that should be blue is back to being that way, looking fresh and clean.
Feeling creative lately (more in a moment) and looking for additional space to hang earrings, I inserted some trim into a picture frame and hung it on my vanity wall. Yes, I noticed I hung it crooked—where’s a man when you need one? Crooked or not, it works fabulously for very little cost since the frame is a thrift store find.
Readers know by now about my newly found interest in rockhounding. Alas, it’s a hobby that can only be pursued about six months of the year in the desert, so I was looking for something new to occupy myself during the lonely indoor days of summer. I know lots of ladies who bead so I got to doing a little research on jewelry making in general. I read about it, bought books, looked at websites until I was cross-eyed and sleepy, and wandered up and down the bead aisles at Joann’s and Michael’s, our only local sources. 

Finally, in the past few days I committed myself to trying my hand at it, figuring at the very least it probably would be fun. I figure eventually if I get to the point of being able to polish and use my own rocks in pieces I make, it will be like completing the circle. Let me tell you, it takes quite a few supplies and for a novice with no training, it can also involve quite a few mistakes. Somehow, despite having some of the wrong type supplies for what I was attempting to do, I muddled through my first day’s fun, ending up with the following three pair of earrings. They are quite rudimentary and hopefully they won’t fall apart before I’ve had a chance to wear them and show them off awhile, but I’m sure it’s all part of the learning curve. The main thing is I did prove myself right: this is way fun!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Nuances of Neighborhood

Marc has left again, headed to Concord, CA for another remodel; I am back to my now solitary walks through my people-less neighborhood. Vestiges of winter’s bloom and caring hands that sculpted flower gardens are scattered throughout the streets like confetti dotting various lots; now vacant of their snowbirds and their RVs. Even my little cactus in its rock garden spot has decided to wear a halo of blooms. I walk at dawn to keep the keen sun from shining in my eyes and when the temperatures are much cooler.
As if by magic upon a certain day, I note that the neighborhood is suddenly filled with agave plant stalks. Some tower twenty feet above the mother plant. Agaves are monocarpic, meaning they die after flowering. So, many of these plants, which have been nursed along for a decade or more, are now about to enter their death throes under the killing Yuma summer sun. It seems appropriate somehow. The stalk is a means of reproduction that when finished, takes the life of the parent, much as does a salmon spawning.
There have been a few brave souls committing to building upon their lots as numerous casitas and homes have gone up. Even better, some houses which sported a For Sale sign for at least the past year have suddenly appeared wearing a Sold sign instead. I’ve even noted a few lots that have recently sold—a great sign here in the Foothills about a re-emerging economy, albeit very slowly, but providing some hope of a reawakening.
Yuma Foothills is entering the somnolent season when soon the only things I will share walks with are the cottontail bunnies, roadrunners darting down the middle of the streets, and searing El Sol.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

View from the Edge

Monday starts off all wrong, with Marc feeling the effects of another sleepless night as he starts calling in search of a C-pap mask. It turns out even the masks require a prescription form, which adds another impediment to the process. He finally finds his scanned copy of his prescription in a file on his computer, good in perpetuity or for 99 years, which the medical supply houses in Cottonwood seem to have a problem with. He decides to try in person so leaves on a couple hour sojourn where he does return successfully but by then it is nearly 11 a.m. before we can break camp and go. The place where he purchased the mask insists on making an account for him, despite his saying that he is just traveling through, paying cash, and then to add insult to injury further insisted upon having his social security number. He argued the point but they weren’t relenting so he acquiesced and gave them a social security number—just not his! Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer. 

We decide to take the longer scenic route back to Yuma via Prescott and out the western side on Hwy. 89. Prescott is blowing and cold, around 52 degrees when we arrive and very hectic. We pull over for lunch in the Lowe’s parking lot and decide to not waste our time staying when it will be too cold to enjoy and has the possibility of frozen pipes for morning. Our drop back to the desert becomes twisty immediately on curvy Hwy. 89 which quickly loses the pines and has us back in scrub brush and Pinions. This is ranching country and the small burgs are few and far between and very tiny. Yarnell appears out of the farm fields with its few cute antique stores and the countryside suddenly sports huge boulders, looking like a child’s dream playground. Suddenly we start a one-way road decent that clings to a mountainside and affords spectacular views over the desert valley ahead. The views must extend west for a hundred miles.
Starting to search in earnest now for our evening’s boondock, we pause in tiny Wendon, while Marc fuels the Freightliner from the saddle tank. It’s a godforsaken, ramshackle place on the flat plains of desert agriculture fields but the proprietor of the Outback obviously has a sense of humor with his sign that reads: “Hot beer, Lousy food, Bad service, Welcome” .
We aren’t that far from Quartzsite but it is getting beyond our usual time for stopping so when a dirt road directly opposite from Brenda’s Black Rock RV Park appears we make the turn and hasten down the dusty dirt road to a gravel site. This becomes camp for the night where we enjoy a nice barbecued steak dinner. It’s quiet and we retire very early because Marc finally has his mask and can get more than three hours of sleep for a change.
Too soon Tuesday, we arrive back in Yuma, noting on the two hour drive south from Quartzsite that we are being passed by RV after RV, headed north. They are swarming out of Yuma like locust and with my appetite just barely whetted by this mini-road trip, I silently yearn after them. The trip ended too soon with too many things left undone. I didn’t get my Sedona hiking, I didn’t get to just chill out and read and relax, and I didn’t get to explore Prescott’s historical frontier old town saloons. But I did get to see new to me country, and we did get to officially meet new RV friends so overall the trip away was a balm to the senses and emotions.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Ruinous Day

Despite Marc’s lack of sleep, we say goodbye to Mark & Bobbie after a slow Sunday morning of getting ready to leave our boondocking spot. We plan on heading to Montezuma’s Castle National Monument, just down the road apiece, and also thence north to Cottonwood and the Tuzigoot ruins. Both were built by the Sinagua people in the ancient past; around the 1100-1300 time period. Montezuma’s Castle is a cliff dwelling, much like the much more famous Mesa Verde National Park ruins in Colorado, but on a simpler and smaller scale; it is estimated only 35 people lived here. Although it’s nice to see, it’s not something we were overwhelmed with and it occupied us for a mere 30 minutes. However, this park will forever be etched in my memory as the place where I picked up one of the best deals about growing older: the Golden Age Pass which allows seniors (and up to three people with them) free lifetime access to all national parks, monuments, wildlife and BLM facilities for only the $10 onetime fee. My money will stay at Montezuma’s Castle since whatever park receives the payment gets it for improvements.
We wandered towards Cottonwood, another 15 miles north of Montezuma’s with the idea of settling in for a night of paid camping at Dead Horse State Park. There were no non-electric sites so we ended up with a water and electric pull through site. As an aside, Marc seemed to have difficulty in negotiating the correct loop road to access the pull through spot we had been assigned, which required two entire trips around full circle. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when we returned later in the day from further touring he again picked the wrong loop road which put the Freightliner at the back of the rig instead of the front, requiring yet another tour around the entire one-way loop. As we pulled in I told him if this time he wasn’t correct to let me out; that I was too embarrassed to ride around the loop anymore with him… as if he were showing off the truck and looking like total newbie’s! I finished up by laughing and quipping “You don’t even know how to negotiate a campground!” We stay in one so seldom—if it doesn’t involve dirt roads, ruts, and crossing washes and gullies, he’s lost his touch! 

Early afternoon found us touring Tuzigoot, a larger ruin of approximately 235 people built in late 1300’s on a small hill overlooking the very scenic Verde Valley just east of Clarkdale. Looming over us on the western flank of the Mingus Mountains was a large copper smelter which long ago spewed yellow tailings over this entire area which created a decidedly unhealthy and dusty experience for ruin visitors. Since, the company was required to do cleanup by placing dirt over the tailings and planting native vegetation so there is only a faint trace of yellow left to the soil. Wild burros graze on it today.
Tuzigoot has a small loop trail which allows visitors to circle the ruins, with one section of wide stairways which accesses an interior room, highly reconstructed, and access to the roof which affords 360 degree expansive views. We find it slightly more interesting than Montezuma’s Castle and the views of the countryside are engaging as the smoggy air has finally cleared due to the high winds we’re having.
From the ruins we decide to walk the streets of the charming historical district of Cottonwood, dating from the 1930’s. It is surprisingly filled with many wine tasting establishments, funky shops, and antique stores mixed in with civic offices. Marc can’t help himself from a stop at the candy store where we indulge in a pound of taffy, although it is not the coastal “salt water” kind we are used to. Even Marc is captivated by Larry’s Antiques, which boasts over 2 acres of antiques and seems to fulfill that billing with a mix of various rooms, buildings, nooks and crannies and outdoor areas. I found prices to be quite reasonable and offer up several items which particularly caught my eye.
Our day ends quietly in the campground after I had made a final purchase at a rock store of an additional book I have been wanting , The Gem Trails of Arizona. Although we didn’t plan on any rockhounding this trip and didn’t bring our tools, this reading will supply me with new ideas and locales for future trips. No time soon however—it’s just about time for the rattlesnakes to emerge.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Tucked into what one could mistakenly think is Tuscany, Italy, among towering and now leafless Arizona sycamore trees, is a shopping center like none other. Crowded with people this fine 75 degree Saturday in Sedona, we too mingle with the others and gawk and photograph our way through woven alleyways spilling into numerous courtyards filled with colorful tile, magnificent artwork, and fountains.
People stroll and take their time, marveling at the boutique shops or sit sipping wine and dining al fresco at the numerous restaurants. Some of the shops are Hansel and Gretel quaint, like Red Rock Candle & Gift and others feel like an open air marketplace in Europe with wares like exotic rugs on display. We ourselves all eat at the Oak Creek Brewery and Grill and enjoy a fine meal. Musicians are set up scattered throughout playing soft background music, selling CDs of new age jazz.
Being a fountain connoisseur, my heart is happy as I encounter a new temptation in every plaza or courtyard. They are relaxing and beautiful. Gosh, I get to thinking, I could live here it is so enchanting.
For those who enjoy artwork, there are myriad galleries and all sorts of patio artwork on display. It’s a not-to-be-missed experience if one is visiting Sedona.