Monday, February 28, 2011

Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well

On Friday the 25th we visited Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well.  Both were misnamed by early explorers who believed the Castle and Well were once Aztec dwellings.  This area was actually home to the Sinagua culture who lived and farmed here till around the year 1400.  

Montezuma Castle

IMG_3200 Montezuma Castle

Montezuma Castle had been repaired numerous times over the years to stabilize the structure, therefore, it did not have the older appearance of other cliff dwellings that we had visited over the years.  The path past the cliff dwelling wraps around to take you past the fast running Beaver Creek.


The dominant tree in this area is the Arizona Sycamore.  These trees are very similar to the Midwestern sycamore, but seem to have thicker trunks and branches and a whiter color to the bark.

Arizona Sycamore

Several miles away and much more interesting is Montezuma Well.  Montezuma Well is a natural sinkhole with cliffs that tower 70 feet above the waters surface.  Everyday 3 large underwater vents pump 1.5 million gallons of warm water (74 degree) into the Well.  The water exits underground through a cave under the cliffs into an irrigation ditch that watered the fields.  

Montezuma Well

In the cliffs around the Well you can see the remains of several dwellings.


Only pictures approvable by Association of Lady RVers  are used in this blog so no pictures from behind showing anything below the waist have been included!

Montezuma Well

Notice the dwelling in the upper left corner of the picture below.


Climbing up out of the well and over the rim you descend to Beaver Creek.  If you follow the path you will walk along a rebuilt irrigation channel that runs along the banks of Beaver Creek.

IMG_3252 IMG_3253

The source can not be seen because it comes up under the rocks at the end of the trail.  The water is warm as there are places here where you can put your hand in the water to feel it.  Also, plants can be seen growing above and below the surface of the water.


Another beautiful sunset over Distant Drums RV Park.



Saturday, February 26, 2011

It’s a Boy!

Introducing our first grandbaby!



Isn’t it amazing how adorable he is 4 1/2 months before it’s time to be born!

This is week 21.

Trevor and Leah called as soon as they returned from Leah’s appointment today and this picture was on my phone minutes later, along with another with obvious proof of gender!





It was wonderful to hear how excited Trevor was as he told me about being able to see the little guy rub his eye and suck his thumb.

The doctor says that Leah and the baby are both doing very well and all the little details they checked out looking around on him were just fine.

Technology is really something!

Of course, Grandpa Kenny told Trev to tell Leah she ‘done good’ getting him a grandson and then then Grandpa and Daddy were immediately on the phone talking about how tall he might be and what position he’d play in basketball, baseball and, of course, football. 

For me it’s definitely love at first sight!! I just can’t wait until July when I can start to spoil him rotten!


Grandma C

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tucson, AZ to Camp Verde, AZ

(Camp Verde, AZ)  Wednesday evening, I had salmon out for dinner but then Ken decided we needed one more outing to our new favorite Mexican restaurant, Los Nopales, before leaving Tucson. 

I’m especially glad we decided to venture out, since, on our way out of the campground, we were surprised to see the German friends we’d met a few days earlier.   You see there is a story here.  Several nights earlier when we were returning to the campground after dark, we were flagged down by a couple standing by the campground office.  As it turns out, it was a couple from Germany, Guido and Esther, who had just arrived at the campground and were confused by the notes on self check-in posted on the office door. 

We were surprised that this couple was travelling by themselves in a 35 foot Hurricane motorhome that they picked up in El Paso.  They had never driven anything like this and were brand new to the whole RVing experience.  I stayed at the office with Esther while Ken took Guido in the jeep to check out sites in the dark, knowing that options were limited for motorhomes.   After they filled out the registration, we went on to our rig and then Ken walked over to be sure they could get backed in to their site in the dark, something even he, as an experienced motorhome driver,  has trouble doing.

We found out from our time talking with them that Guido’s father had moved to the US and runs an RV park in El Paso and apparently also rents out motorhomes.  He  invited them to come visit and then turned a rig over to them telling  them to have fun exploring for a week or so.  These two brave young folk were on there way to Las Vegas the next day.

I know how timid Ken and I were when we first got the motorhome.  We really limited  our travels until we had a chance to learn all the complexities of these houses on wheels, I can’t even fathom having our maiden voyage in a motorhome in a foreign country!!

When we got up the next morning our new German friends had already vacated their site, so, sadly, we figured this was yet another interesting couple we meet on the road that we’d probably never see again.

Then, lo and behold, Wednesday evening, there was the Hurricane again, parked three sites down from us!  Seeing us drive by, Guido and Esther hopped out, waving, and happy to see us as well.  We invited them to come eat with us but unfortunately they’d just finished,.  So, instead they said they hoped we might get together for a beer when we returned.

Sure enough they came over and we had an absolutely wonderful evening getting to know each other.  They had some really cool weather around Las Vegas and so had some back because they really liked it here in Tucson, especially since it was warmer and they had been having intermittent issues with electricity and heat in the rig.  

I love meeting new people, but its extra special when its a couple that is so obviously out for  fun and adventure, and excited to try new things.


Esther and Guido, if you are reading this, we hope you have really safe travels back to Hamburg.  Be sure to let us know when you are coming back to the US because it is always a fun time when Germans and Americans can get together with Mexican beer!!  We will be sure to have plenty of cold Dos Equis!

Thursday morning, we waved our good-byes to Esther and Guido as we headed out of Tucson Mountain Park at about 9 am. 

This park has only 30 amp electric and no water or sewer hookups,  no shower house, and a 7 day stay limit.  We turned off our water pump and limited our use of our fresh water tank to showers. With regular trips to the water spigot  and judicious recycling and distribution of our grey water we made it comfortably for a week without water or sewer.  We’ve made it 10 days boondocking in the desert on our tanks but then we were really limiting showers, cooking and dishwashing. This time we followed more of a regular routine, knowing ,worst case, we could pull up the jacks, pull in the slides and drive the two blocks to the park dump station. I’m glad to know that we can do electric-only sites for a week without giving up our normal lifestyle.

About 1/2 hour in to our trip, Ken brought the trip computer to my attention.  The good news was that we were getting 13.5 mpg. 


The bad news was that we were headed in to the mountains so we ended up with 10.5 by the end of the trip.

Once again we enjoyed 200 miles of awesome scenery.




Ken was glad to finally get past the Phoenix traffic and the 6% grades and pull in to the office of the Distant Drums RV Park.


When I called all the Passport America sites were taken until Saturday.  Instead we are going for next best which is a weekly rate of $195. 

We’re very happy with the site we were given since it’s on a corner with a view of the mountains.


The two shots below are from our patio.



We’d read on RVParkReviews that the casino across the highway had great meals for $10 and so that was our travel day dinner.  Once again the reviews were spot on. Ken and I both had  a great garlic chicken chowder followed by very tasty pasta dishes and garlic toast for less than $20 with the players card discount.

It’s suppose to get below freezing tonight here so we have our electric heaters on and are snuggled in for the night.

Hugs, C

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Could it Be? We Are Actually Slowing Down!

(Tucson, AZ)  We are often told that we are in vacation mode compared to full-time RV mode because we move a lot and are usually sightseeing.  We are seeing that we are finally slowing down and just having some ‘normal’ days at ‘home’ after 2 months on the road.

Monday we spent a quiet day around the rig  while I caught up on some work I needed to attend to via the laptop.

We drove over to Valencia drive, about 10 miles, to visit the nearest Walmart for a few sundries and items for our planned evening barbeque.

JoAnn and Doug, and Sandy and John, arrived at 5pm.

We had set up to eat outside.   I guess we are still in Illinois mode because it felt quite comfortable to us outside but everyone else seemed chilled at mid-50 degrees so we picked up and moved indoors.  This was probably a good idea since everyone was able to comfortably enjoy a delicious spread and spend plenty of time with after-dinner shooting-the-breeze that might have been shorter outside as the night-time desert cold dropped in.

Ken provided his signature chicken breasts with Monterey jack cheese  and peppers topping.   I added cheesy red potatoes.  Sandy brought a macaroni salad and broccoli salad.  JoAnn added a fruit salad and homemade chocolate cheesecake.

You’ll notice that blur in the middle of the picture below…






It’s Sox who decides to temporarily give up her cushy spot cuddling with Sandy to see if she and Ditka might look just needy enough to get some goodies from JoAnn. 

Of course, Fillmore’s mom knows that its a big no-no for furkids to have chocolate, no matter how cute they try to be.




We had a really enjoyable visit and then said our ‘see ya down the road’s since we expected to head out Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, Ken packed up outside while I checked out our next stop up toward the Sedona area, and created some documents to send to the Tucson Staples for printing.  Doing some quick internet searches, I laid out a lunchtime outing, Staples stop and Trader Joe’s stop all on North Campbell Drive.

Again the online reviews from Tripadvisor, Urbanspoon and Yelp sent us the right direction when it comes to great eating.




Opa! is a very nice Greek restaurant directly in front of Staples on North Campbell.

Ken and I both like Greek and haven’t been to a Greek restaurant since before we left Quincy.

While you are going to spend about $10 -$13per meal here plus drink, which is a bit more than we normally do at lunch it was definitely worth it.

Both Ken and I were particularly impressed with the freshness, flavor and quantity of vegetables as well as the seasoning.

I have been watching carbs lately and picked this cafe because they feature low carb selections.  I had the filet mignon low carb plate which was absolutely awesome!


Tuesday evening when we watched the local weather we got an unexpected surprise.  Winds were suppose to be very gusty on Wednesday afternoon.  Wouldn’t you know it—windy the one day of the week we were planning our drive.

Since we were in no hurry we decided to postpone our departure one more day. Although Ken had everything packed up outdoors, we really didn’t have to unpack just to stay on more day.  We had laundry to do and thought it might be a good idea to get the furkids in for some general maintenance (bath, ears, teeth, nails) so we had plenty to occupy ourselves for one more day.

So, yes, we are definitely slowing down!

In fact, our next stop is Distant Drums RV Park, in Camp Verde, AZ.  We know we want to stay at least 4 nights so I’m thinking we might as well take advantage of the much better weekly rate.  

Hugs, C

Monday, February 21, 2011

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

(Tucson, AZ)

We had an absolutely wonderful day on Sunday. The Desert Museum is our kind of attraction. 

The cost is $14.50 and worth every penny.  I’m sure they would have to charge more if it weren’t for the number of volunteer docents who spend months in training to provide a wonderful learning experience for the visitors.


We were there at 10:00 a.m. and took an orientation tour where the tour guide filled us in on interesting facts about the plants and animals during our  a one hour walk and gave us tips on how to make the most of the rest of our day.


It was really helpful that all the varieties of vegetation were labeled.

Desert Museum - easy way to learn the names of the plants

There were cactus such as this cholla, where we knew it was a cholla but now get a better understanding of all the different variations, like this buckhorn cholla that we had seen often in our hikes but could now put a name to.


There were also the rarer cactus we’d never encountered like these Boojum which is usually only found in the Baja.


There were well-known little critters like this squirrel skittering about


and desert animals like this coati that Ken and I had never heard of before.




There were desert dwellers  that we had seen but hadn’t before been able to photograph  like this bighorn






and the prairie dogs.


We have regularly been hearing coyotes late at night both in California and here. Just yesterday saw one at the campground but these beauties we sought out at the museum seemed more willing to stay in range for a shot.



So many of our RV friend mention having javalina right in their campground but Ken and I have never seen these guys live and up close before.  We were told that these animals are much more social creatures than pigs and seem to stay in herds, take care of each other and, as you can see, even like to cuddle together at naptime.



These Mexican wolves could have given those javelinas quite a wakeup call, I’m thinking!


And there were certainly some animals native to this desert that I’m very glad we didn’t happen upon in our hikes, like this gila monster


And, we’d even been told that there were mountain lion sitings around Why and the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument trails.


That mountain lion is one magnificently noble creature but I’m still glad his relatives didn’t decide to hike with us.

Ken and I took a break and did a late lunch at the Ocotillo Cafe, sitting outside and enjoying the perfect weather and good food for this kind of venue.  There is also a full service restaurant onsite that is suppose to be good but a little pricey for us for lunchtime.


After lunch we took in the raptor free flight demonstration where they had a family of five Harris hawks flying out in the open.



The keeper explained how the families hunt as a team to track prey and surround it.  It just so happened that they honed in on a packrat when we were watching.

To the left is a juvenile, identifiable because of the speckling under the wings. The younger in the family must stay back and wait while the higher ranking family members get first shot at the food.






There was this black necked stilt hunting the shallow pools.








They have a great aviary with a variety of colorful and melodious birds.






There is a wonderful little home for hummingbirds where you can sit and watch as they swoop all around you.  The gentleman next to me referred to this little guy as an Anna’s hummingbird, but I’m not sure that’s right since he has a dark neck.



This tiny little hummer had an equally tiny nest.  A Costa’s hummingbird, maybe?


There was a docent in the hummer house.  I wish now we would have asked her the names.  There were at least a dozen different types of hummers swooping about.  One little pair actually took to wrestling under a push near us.  These little guys can be really nasty to each other!

(Any of you birders who can name these birds for us, we’d love to hear from you!)

Of course, we’re sure of the name of the one below, the barn owl.  This majestic bird can turn its head 270 degrees and studied us as we studied him.   This owl lives on every continent except Antartica.  I know it can be a bit creepy to be out in the woods at night and suddenly find that face staring back at you!


At around 4pm, Ken and I were beginning to wear down after 6 hours of trodding the museum pathways.  We covered all the major parts of the outdoor park.  We could have easily spent more time here.  I would definitely be a member of the museum if I lived nearby because its the kind of place you could come back to again and again.

As we drove the short distance back to the rig in Tucson Mountain Park, it was easy to see the rain headed our way across the mountains to the west.


Hugs, C