Tuesday, December 31, 2013

McDowell Mountain Regional Park–Day 2


First light in the morning today, and the dogs needed out to do their business.  The sun was up over the south-eastern mountains, so I took this shot with the sun behind this desert bush.  Don’t know if I will be up early enough for a sunrise…we will see.

1b     1c

The morning is still young to the north where the sun’s rays are just lighting things up.  The views here at McDowell Mountain Regional Park are just plain awesome.


Last night Marcia and I drove over to our friend Joyce’s house, where we were met later by her daughter Laurie.  After a bit of a visit we all went over to “Charr Burger Bar”, where we had a great meal.  The menu has, of course, lots of different burgers on it, along with salads, sandwiches, fish and even ribs.  Marcia had the fish and chips and she loved them.  I had a Charr Burger with bacon and swiss cheese, while the other ladies had other burgers.  The burgers are served on a Garlic Knot Bun, which was remarkable.  Joyce eats here a lot, and the manager had a homemade tiramisu which was to die for.  One large slice, four spoons, and it was gone fairly quickly.


For lunch today Marcia, Joyce and I went to Aiello’s Salumeria, an East Coast Italian Deli, which includes Isa's Pizza within the same building.  In fact, the Aiellos own both of these, and Charr’s, where we ate last night.  We went here for lunch because the manager at Charr’s promised us fresh Sfogliatelle, which are shell-shaped filled pastries native to Italian cuisine.  It was hard to decide what to have since the menu has so many different items on it….and the pizza, which we can easily see on the next counter, looked so good.  So we each had a pasta dish, and Marcia and I split a “White Pizza” slice.  It was good, but the atmosphere lacked…but I guess most delis do, and we walked out with three Sfogliatelle for later.

Marcia and I both agree that we don’t do much traveling on New Year’s Eve, especially after 4 pm.  She calls it “Amateur Night”.  So we left Joyce’s for our 30 mile drive, which takes an hour with traffic, back to McDowell Park.  After a quick stop at a grocery store, we got back to the motorhome around 4:45….just in time for some sunset shots.


With the sun dropping below the McDowell Mountain Range…

2b   2c
 2e   2f

The mountains to the south, north and east just glow.  It sure gives you a good idea of the scenery ones gets to see around here.


Every hour the fountain of Fountain Hills, spews water over 562 feet high once per hour.  It is the worlds fourth largest fountain, and the event last for 10-15 minutes.  This shot was taken around 5:10, and the fountain is over five miles away from us.

And this shot is for Sandy and Arny… they miss you, but I think they miss the grass more.Smile

That is it from McDowell Park for this New Year’s Eve.  Although the park if full, the space between each site is very large and we almost feel alone.  It will surly be the quietest New Year’s Eve we have had in a long time.  We hope that you all have a wonderful new year.


Monday, December 30, 2013

McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Phoenix Area


We left Prescott at 10 am, clear skies, slight wind, very brisk morning with temps around 35….it was around 25 last night, perhaps colder.


Not far after we turned south on I-17 there is a rest area, with a great view of the desert with this western panoramic view.


But the desert comes with its own warning…although in the winter we are less likely to see any of these creatures.


Very quickly as we continue south along I-17 we hit the 3,000 foot level (Prescott is at 5,400 ft), and we start to see the Saguaro Cactus.  There are thousands upon thousands of them just along this stretch to Phoenix.  We stop at Flying J in Phoenix for gas and propane.  Our propane had gotten down to 10%, otherwise we would have waited until we left for both.  Thank goodness, the Flying J was not real busy, so it worked out just fine…except for the extra miles we traveled.


So here we are at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, which has come highly recommended by fellow bloggers, especially Technomadia who stayed here about a month ago.  And they are right, the views are great, and we are only 30 miles from our friend Joyce’s house.  Funny thing, had she not moved a few years ago, we would have been about 10 minutes away….but this view is a killer, that’s for sure.  And for $108 for four nights, that’s a very decent price here in the Phoenix area.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Prescott, Arizona


Our drive this morning from Yucca to Prescott was much prettier than yesterday morning’s drive through Central California.  Hardly a cloud in the sky, and a striking image of the mountains meeting the blue sky.


Before we turned onto highway 89 down to Prescott, we got a good look at the San Francisco Peaks mountain range near Flagstaff…some 60 miles away.


This is our spot at Point of Rocks RV Campground in Prescott.  It is a Good Sam park, we are staying one night, and it cost us $28.  Not too bad. 

3a     3b
3c     3d

Here are just a few of the 90+ sites in the park, with about half of them up against the “Rocks”.  It is a peaceful park, even Skruffy didn’t bark as her, Bubba and I walked around half the park and encountered three different dogs.  I just kept telling her to be a good girl, and she was!  I know it won’t last long, however….I think she is just trying to earn points hoping we will take them back to Arny and Sandy’s house, and for another visit with Grandma and Papa. 


Here there are after a “hard days travel”, as if they had to do anything but sleep during the drive anyway.  Beyond Skruffy, between the two seats, you can see Bubba lying there, with a close up of that below.


We are here to visit with my friend Roger, who we visited last year too.  He and I started at the Pine Bluff Library on the very same day, January 7, 1991 if I have my dates right.  After a little over two years of working under the Boss from, ummm, I think you get the picture, Roger moved on to Fort Smith to work at their Public Library for a number of years.  About 10 years ago he moved his family to Prescott where he was the Assistant Library Director, until last summer when he was named Library Director.  Lucky for me the guy who hired us was asked to leave in August, 1993....and I took his place and was the director for the next 19 years until I retired last year.

We had dinner with Roger, his wife Sue, tonight at the Prescott Brewing Company across the street from the County Court House. 

The County Courthouse is all decked out for Christmas, this is just a portion of the entire block which surrounds the courthouse.

Tomorrow we move on to Phoenix where we will fill up with gas, get Propane, and then mover to McDowell Mountain Regional Park, site 43, for four nights.  It will be a nice place to stay while visiting Joyce, and a safe hide out during the wild New Year's Eve celebration.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Madera, Ca to Yucca, Az


As we drove down the Central Valley from Madera to Bakersfield, we could not get a picture even “if” there was something to take a picture of.  The Fog/Smog (25% fog to 75% smog in my opinion) was just terrible.  The shot above is about 15 miles east of Bakersfield.  You should be able to see larger hills and even a bit of mountains beyond…but you can see how bad it is.


Another 8 miles or so, and it is still real bad….


As we got closer to Tehatchapi, it starts clearing up even more.


And finally into the Western edge of the Mojave Desert, and things had cleared up considerably.  And somewhere out there in the Mojave Desert, we stop at a eastbound rest area, right across from the west bound rest area we stopped overnight at last year on our way to California.  Can’t you just imagine the conversation this year, after last year’s comment…..


"Who stole the #*%*@&* grass?"



“Bubba, I don’t like this…..remember those trees way over there?  That was the only “green” we saw over there…. there’s still no #*%*@&* grass here!  Look, I’ll distract dad, you get on his cell phone and call Uncle Arny, he’ll come and rescue us.”

Poor little fur children…. however, Bubba did find just a little bit of green growing out of the base of those nearest trees…they are amply watered now.


We thought about staying at that rest area, but decided it was just too early, and still 300+ miles away from Prescott….we would rather be a bit closer than that.  As we headed on, the sun was getting low in the south-western sky….leaving a magic glow on these mountains to our north-east.


As we got to the last rest area in California, there was only a slight glow to the south-west as the sun had disappeared into the smoggy western skies.

If I had any complaint about our camera, it is that night pictures are not its forte…. or is it that it is just the photographer?  Anyway, we are tucked safely away in a rest area by Yucca, Az.  We have an end spot, and since it is an ADA spot, it is wide, and the truck next to us is so far to our front that we will have a hard time hearing its engine if it is on…but since it is going to be around 40 tonight, I think we will have our generator on for much of the night anyway…. which drowns out much of the other noise.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Tearful Goodbye to Family

We spent much of Thursday getting everything ready for Friday’s departure.  Somehow, we did get away by 11:30 a.m. after many hugs and tears.  Bubba and Skruffy gave Aunt Sandy and Uncle Arny a “We are going to miss you…” card Thursday night.  Says something like, “Counting the days till we see you again…”, and when you open it, “…there are too many freakin days”.  Had a picture of a squirrel or raccoon on the cover.  That, of course, got the tears flowing just a bit.  One of those missed picture opportunities was when Bubba runs out of the motorhome right before we are ready to pull out of the backyard and refused to get in until Arny picked him up and took him to the doorway.  After a big hug and kiss for mom, hug for dad, another hug and kiss for mom (after getting the car hooked up and everything pointed in the right direction…), and off we went.  Six months, with a few short excursions, and our visit is over.  We will be back in ten months….which helps.


So here we are stuck between other RV’s which seem to be long-term campers of some sort, at Country Living Mobilehome & RV, in Madera California.  Madera is, how do you say it nicely, well….I guess there is no nice way to say it.  In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s it was a lumber town.  A long water flume carried lumber from the mountains to Madera for shipping by train.  Today Madera has a population of over 60,000, with over 75% being Hispanic.  Yet Madera is represented in the State Legislature by a Republican Senator, Republican Assemblyman, and in Washington DC, a Republican member of the House. It is surrounded by farm land, as shown in the pictures below.

2A     2B

Currently with an unemployment rate of 14%, Madera’s long term outlook is good with job growth of nearly 25% over then next ten years.  Geographically, it is near the exact center of the State of California.  One thing that might be driving those figures is the high speed rail coming through the area.

View Going to Phoenix in a larger map

This map I published over a week ago does not have us stopping in Madera.  We were going to stay at a COE park east of US 99, but when I saw that it was going to be 22 miles from 99, and 22 miles back, I just figured it wasn’t worth it.  So here we are, but we will gone by mid-morning.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Very Merry Christmas

1a     1b

Two days before we leave, and I “FINALLY” get a decent picture of one of the large woodpeckers that is in the neighborhood. (Remember, click on pictures for larger image)  From my research, with the red near the beak, this is a male Northern Flicker Woodpecker.  Merry Christmas to me, my first Flicker.

1d   1e

Did I mention that on Monday I groomed the dogs again?  With the southern sun, it was best to move the patio table over by the motorhome for electricity and sun…did not even think about how I was right under the hummingbird feeder.  Suddenly I hear this humming and thumping of wings and I look up and think, “Oh, if I only had my camera.”  Well, today I sat under the feeder, and got these two shots.  Should have thought about this angle much earlier…although it is a hard shot to get.

1f     1g

While there, the squirrel shouted out to me, “Hey, what about me?”  So I took some pictures of one of the many squirrels that feed at the squirrel feeder.


This was our third Christmas together.  The first Christmas we had just bought our American Eagle, and pretty much considered that our present to each other.  Last year, coming off our first major trip where we visited some 22 states and drove around 10,000+ miles, we decided to forego giving each other anything.  This year we first agreed upon doing the same….but then Marcia let me know about ten days ago that she had found something that “I” really needed, and although I was not expected to get her anything, she was getting me something.  Ok, put on the thinking cap Dave, because this just ain’t going to cut it.  What is a good gift, something which can be used in the motorhome and in the condo?
How about a Creative ZiiSound D3x Bluetooth Wireless Speaker System?  Bluetooth, so there is no wire connection to the laptop.  She can take the speaker into the bedroom, plug it in, turn on her iTunes on her computer, BAM, she has nice music in the bedroom to take her nap by.  Reading reviews, I knew the sound would be good….but I did not know it would be that good.  It is Great.  Toss in the perfect Christmas Card which I found…yep, I am a Christmas Hero!!!
What did she get me?  An 18-Piece Complete BBQ Set with Aluminum Storage Case.  With our outdoor BBQ that attaches to the motorhome, well, this will be perfect.  When done, clean it up, close up the case, put it away until the next BBQ.  WHAT?  No card…shame on you Marcia….lol   (she told me I needed to remove that part, so I did….hero no longer….LOL)


The rest of the day was full of family, food, more family, more food, opening of family gift giving (each person draws a name, but we knew we were in for it when my sister Sandy was going around the room handing out little “Santa Gifts” singing, “My house, my rules”….so the sisters gave Santa gifts to go with the one individual gift.)  Heard from each of my children.  This is the first time in 24 Christmases that the three kids were not together for Christmas.  Pretty hard on their mother, who is in Salt Lake City with the two older kids, while Ryan is still in Arkansas due to work commitments on the 24th and 26th.  So YES, it has been a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS.  Hope you all had a nice day too.