Monday, December 25, 2017

Tucson/Saguaro National Park --- home

Look!!!!! A Huge Saguaro!

Roger here...  On our final day with Jim and Sue we spent an afternoon at Saguaro National Park - East, just a few miles from our RV site.

The photo below was taken at the visitor center where Dianne added another stamp to her National Park Passport.

Saguaro cactus were visible in the thousands.  We took many photos, but were forced to focus on the most impressive for this post.  This saguaro was amazing.

Check out its size with a perspective of Dianne and me at another giant below.

"Look!  There's Another One!"

Dianne here:  Roger was in rare form that day...the photo above is actually an action shot of me giving him an elbow.

This is what it looks like from below.  Wow.

As Jim drove us along the roadway, we saw so many views.  We often stopped to take a closer look.

Cactus fruit...

... wrinkled paddle cactus.

As Jim continued to drive along the road we discovered the Javelina Rocks.  OMG.  Rocks to climb!

It was such a difficult climb!

Below is a close-up view of a saguaro before we moved on.

Movin' On...

After promises to Jim and Sue to meet again, it was time to resume the trek to our home in Mission, Texas.

Our next overnight stop was in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  The views from the local KOA were nice.

It grew quite chilly overnight in Las Cruces.  Dianne took this "telling" photo.

The next stop was Fort Stockton, Texas  (warmer) --- followed by our favorite overnight stop at Buckhorn Lakes RV Resort near Kerrville, Texas (warmer, yet).

Home tomorrow... where it is forecast to be 80 degrees.

It is time for the blog to go on another hiatus until we take off on other adventures.  This has likely been our most emotional trip.  

For the pet picture of the day, here is a short video of Tequila being playful with Bandido at the doggie park at the KOA near Las Cruces:

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Tucson with Friends!

Desert Cactus at Saguaro National Park East

Roger here...  As I mentioned in the previous post, we had a five-day travel delay in Tucson, Arizona.  Actually, it was a little more than a delay.  We reconnected with former Retama Village friends, Jim and Sue, who sold their house at Retama in order to buy another house in Duluth, Minnesota near their family (including grandkids).  Since it is probably 20 below zero in Duluth right now :-), they are wintering at the Rincon Country East RV Park.  We managed, with Sue's help, to get a spot right next to them for five days.  

Reunion Time (the walks) ....  The nice thing about reconnecting with old friends is that it is simple to renew old activities right away.  Jim and Sue, mainly Sue, have always forced us away from our computers in the morning for marathon 4 mile+ walks with the dogs.  The pack is back!

Bandido, Dianne, Klick, Jim, Tequila, Sue, Gabe

Every morning, except the last (which was a travel day), we plunged into the desert washes with our dogs for long and invigorating hikes.  Dianne and I miss this.

The desert hikes were accessible from the campground.  We were actually surrounded by the city; HOWEVER, as you can see below, we were in the desert.  Nice!

Rollin' (walking), rollin' (walking), rollin' (walking)..... Keep those dogies (doggies) rollin' (walking).

We really were in an isolated area (in the city).  We walked to the top of these interesting cliffs... 

... But, before doing so we observed an oval ATV path (note the tracks in the picture above).

This picture below shows the other side of the oval.

It was rainy on one morning, so we postponed our walk until the afternoon.  That was the day that we saw several hawks.  This is a Harris Hawk, or so I've been told :-).

The Diner...  One evening for dinner a local diner was recommended.  Wowsa!  Little Anthony's Diner was so-o-o good.  A blast from the past.  

You could get vertigo going in at the entrance.  My burger and fries was so good (and unhealthy).  I need to get back to home where I can re-establish discipline.  My old-fashioned chocolate soda was good, too --- not the best we've ever had, but good.
(Dianne here:  The best chocolate soda award is still held by Iowana Ice Cream shop in Bettendorf, Iowa.  This was in 1973, so it's probably no longer there.)

Happy Hour...   Former :-) Retama Village residents and wonderful friends, Barb and Greg drove down from Oro Valley to join us for a happy hour and a grilled chicken dinner.  It was so much fun for the six of us to reconnect.  

Izzy, Barb, Roger, Bandido, Sue, Greg, Tequila, Jim
Barb, inattentive Roger. Greg, Bandido Dianne, Sue

Sonoita Winery...  Jim and Sue know us pretty well.  On one of the days of our visit, we took a road trip to Sonoita (south of Tucson), for a wine-tasting.  Oh boy!

The Lane from the Roadway to the Winery

What a gobsmacking view this was (private joke).

This is the family-owned  (Sonoita) winery that awaited us at the top of the lane.  We all did a wine-tasting, orchestrated by the granddaughter of the winery's founder.  The wines were good.  We bought three bottles.  We also bought two hooded sweatshirts.  The owners were fun and genuine.  This was a good experience.  

Rare photo of the four of us without a single dog! -- D.
After the tasting we enjoyed a pre-packed picnic outside.  One of the owners took the photo.

This is a better picture that Dianne took, without the shadows.  

Patagonia... Ice Cream!

From the Sonoita Winery, Jim drove us to the nearby small town of Patagonia for ice cream.  This interesting and authentic little town near the Mexican border was tranquil.  

These shots are from what we think was at one time a church.  Church or not, this totem was both beautiful and interesting.  

My ice cream, btw, from the local store was coffee mocha.

We still have another day in Tucson, before we pick up stakes and head for home.  Stay tuned for Saguaro National Park and points east.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Travel --- Time to Leave Indian Wells

A Very Empty Looking Miramonte Green (site of the Hindu ceremony)

Roger here....  The above view of Miramonte Green is very bittersweet.  All the happiness from the day before is now a memory, but what a memory it is.

After Dianne and I dropped Amanda and Kaia off at the Palm Springs Airport, we returned to our villa to get ready for the last official wedding event --- the Farewell Breakfast on the second- floor terrace of the hotel.  Dianne and I sat with Jay, Nancy, Dick, Pam, Matt, Charlie, and Leslie. 
 Robyn and Atul were at a table next to us and circulating among the guests.

We again forgot to take photos, but we found this one on Instagram at #RobynAndAtul.  The guests at the breakfast were encouraged to fill out certificates to be presented to "outstanding" wedding participants.  This photo shows Atul presenting a certificate to Dave for being the party starter.  Dave is quite the dancer.  I talked with Dave at the breakfast --- nice guy.  (Dianne here:   I actually assumed he was a professional dancer until we asked him at breakfast -- he was one of those who never left the dance floor all evening, and boy, can he ever dance!  I saw another guy actually do the splits while dancing and another did a break dance; wish we had them on film because they were sure fun to watch!)

We said goodbye to Jay, Nancy, Charlie and Leslie immediately after the breakfast.  Dianne and I were to spend another night at Miramont, as were Dick, Pam and Matt.  

We spent the afternoon by the pool and hot tub enjoying the desert weather.  Rashmi and her fiancĂ©, Finn, joined us for a while. 

That evening Robyn joined the five of us at a local Italian restaurant for dinner while Atul spent some time with his extended family from India.  

The sunset at the Miramonte Resort provided a nice view during our last evening in Indian Wells.

Dick, Pam and Matt caught an early flight the following morning.  Dianne and I had breakfast at the resort with Atul and Robyn.  It was time to say goodbye.  I just about lost it when Atul asked if he could call us mom and dad.  I know we will see them again soon.  

Back to the Chronological Post :-) ...

After breakfast, we loaded up the car and headed back to the motorhome in the nearby Emerald Desert RV Resort.  As soon as we could empty the car and make it dog-ready, we picked up Bandido and Tequila from the Barkingham Pet Hotel.

The freshly-bathed dogs enjoyed the RV site while Dianne and I "worked like dogs" getting things ready for the long drive back to Texas. That journey began the next morning.

The Next Day...

Where do you think we spent our first night back on the road?  The mineral in my hand might give RVers a clue.  

Our first leg of the trip back to Texas ended at Quartzite, Arizona.

Quartzite is somewhat of a mecca in the RV world.  Every winter, thousands of RVers descend on this isolated Arizona desert town near the California Border.  Bureau of Land Management acreage abounds in the area, which means free parking.  You do not get water, electricity, or sewer, but you can park wherever you wish.  Off-road driving in our motor home is not an issue on this flat, hard-packed surface.  We had water in our fresh-water tank and the reasonable assurance that our house batteries would be in good shape for a one-night stay without being charged.  They were.

Our Spacious Site

This is our third time to spend a night here.  There is a quiet peace that exists that doesn't enter our lives often.  This is a great place for Dianne to do a sudoku and for me to read a book, or look for interesting rocks.

Here is another view of Dianne.  :-).

In January this "town" will be packed.  A gigantic tent will be erected that will be full of vendors. But for now the relative isolation is a comfort.  

Dianne noticed our view out the front windshield was of this Arco sign near the highway.   Singh is our daughter's
new last name.  We seem to be blessed every day with memories of the wedding.

Those of you who read our posts have probably figured out that I truly enjoy sunsets.   All sunsets are wonderful.  Desert sunsets are hard to beat.  Imagine me wandering around this isolated area taking pictures of this progression.

The journey back to Texas will be delayed for five nights for a special stop near Tucson.  More about that the next time.

Pet Picture of the Day...

We have somewhat neglected pictures of our pets during the wedding (since we were not with them).   Here are a couple shots of Bandido and Tequila at Quartzite.

Lookin' for lizards....