No Hockey – Day 2

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Phew!  Survived Day2!!

How did I manage?  Am I some kind of super hero?  Nope I’m not.

I channeled my inner Doris Domestic and did laundry.  Yup, it was special and so so rewarding!  I didn’t watch Big Brother, Survivor or The Bachelor.  I didn’t watch shows about cooking, or house reno’s.  I didn’t watch Discovery, Nat Geo or History Channel.  I didn’t break out a 1000 piece puzzle, learn to play bridge, or make a quilt.

Funny enough the world did not come to an end… I managed to survive ok.  Well alright, I admit it, I watched yesterdays Tim and Sid on PVR  and while I was at it I PVR’d today’s episode.

I visited with other Canadian friends who are here in Arizona with us and we lamented the demise of hockey AND all the other sports that we follow.  But then our conversation turned to the serious topic of Covid19.  We discussed how to distance ourselves from crowds and how to stay safe and healthy.  Are we safe from it?  Can we stay healthy by self-isolating ourselves and avoiding crowds and crowded areas?  We can certainly avoid movie theatres, casino’s, bus trips, any gatherings and that type of thing.  Will it be enough?  Sounds like it should.  We will do just that.  We will keep to ourselves here in the Arizona sunshine until we head home in a couple of weeks.  We can only take it one day at a time!

See you soon Canada!

No Hockey – Day1

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So now what?  If you are a huge hockey fan like myself you may have asked yourself this today.  So now what?

No hockey.  No hockey of any kind.  I would normally fill my tv watching time with Sportsnet, TSN, Tim and Sid, Hockey Central.. you get the idea.  I’m either watching hockey or listening about yesterday’s hockey or today’s hockey or tomorrow’s hockey.  This is my favorite time of year for hockey.  Playoffs looming.  The perfect time of year to “hockey”.  Now it’s gone for a few weeks? or months? or all summer?  I guess we have to wait and see.  No football, baseball, golf, car racing, rugby, soccer, basketball (notice these are in the order of my preference of viewing).

What will I do with my time?  No sports of any kind.

  1.  I can always catch up on my dusting – that’s special and so rewarding.
  2. I can watch Big Brother, Survivor, The Bachelor – that’s also special and so rewarding.
  3. I can watch shows about cooking and house reno’s – that’s special and so rewarding.
  4. I can tune to Discovery, Nat Geo and History – that’s special and so rewarding but would improve my overall knowledge of the world.
  5. I can break out a 1000 piece puzzle.  Learn to play bridge.  Make a quilt.  – All hobbies and games that are special and rewarding.

Although the above things may be special and rewarding –  I’m not prepared to launch into action just yet.  I can: Read.  Bake.  Take Pictures. Sit in the Sun.  Watch the world go by.  All these things ARE special AND rewarding to me.  If that fails I will go to plan B and plan C.

B – Booze

C – Camera

Plants and Sourdough

Growing up we always had a garden and a house full of plants.  We grew our own vegetables which required all the weeding and watering that you have to do if you want your fresh veggies to make it to your plate.  Mom had house plants of every variety and they hung, sat or stood where there was space.  Most of my family have green thumbs as a result.  Me?  Not so much.  I’ve tried to maintain house plants.  I had a terrarium at one time (I grew a delicious looking mold in there) and subsequently my plants all died.  Over the years I’ve either taught my plants to swim or I’ve taught them desert survival tactics..  I’ve seen horror on the faces of the staff at all the plant stores when I walk in.  When they ask if they can help me, I say “yes you can, I’m here to buy new victims for my house”.  The last plant I had lasted 6 months on our road trip across Canada and the USA.  Ironically it wasn’t too much or too little water that killed it..

It was pepper..

Yup, I dropped the pepper shaker on it and broke it in half and that was the end of the poor thing.

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Have you ever wanted to make sourdough bread?  I have!  I make normal bread all the time, but I have never had the opportunity to get the “starter” that you need to make sourdough bread.  A couple of days ago I was given a starter.  It came in a cute little glass jar.  I was told I should feed it and if I wasn’t going to use it right away it could go in the fridge until I was ready to bake.  Sounds easy!  Ok.  First step is to “feed it”.  I carefully measure water and flour, stir it in vigorously as per the instructions, place it in a bigger jar and I’m good to go.  I wake up in the morning and no surprise.  My starter is DEAD.  I think I just set a killing record.

Did I over water it?  Did I under water it as per my pre-established history?  But I was being so careful!  I followed the instructions precisely!  How is it possible to kill it in less than 24 hours?

I am so confused..

How can I admit to my friend that I killed her gift?

Overnight?

What is wrong with me?

I peer in to the jar to make sure I’m seeing what I’m seeing.  Yup, it’s flat as the Saskatchewan Prairies.  Wait a minute.  What is that smell?  Sniff sniff… that smells like pickles..

I guess using a freshly washed pickle jar wasn’t the best choice I could have made for a new sterile environment for my sourdough starter. Poor thing!.

A happy cheerful pickle throwing his fists up in excitement

There is J0Y in the world.. and that is good!

kids in crosswalk

I stopped at a crosswalk the other day to let a herd of kids and the 2 adults that were with them to cross the street.  The kids were probably 5 years old…

they marched..

they hopped..

they skipped..

they danced..

they waved their arms..

they touched the lines..

they didn’t touch the cracks..

they hurried to keep up with their mates..

they dawdled along knowing they wouldn’t get left behind..

One little girl jubilantly waved at me with all her being, with the biggest widest smile.

The joy, the innocence, the happiness!

I totally needed to see that, I needed to be reminded there is joy in this world!

 

Hornby Island – May 10-12, 2019

I finally made it over to Hornby Island with my camera after all these years of living on Vancouver Island.  My sister and I were there probably 20 years ago.  We did a quick trip over to Tribune Bay on Hornby, a quick stop at some pottery shops on Denman Island and called it a day.

This trip was different.  Our camera club members stayed at Hornby Island Dive Lodge for 2 nights and spent 3 days photographing the Island.  We photographed Ford Cove & Marina.  Helliwell Provincial Park.  Grassy Point.  Tribune Bay.  Jeffrey Rubinoff Sculpture Park.  Tim Biggins Anvil.  Heron Rocks.  There were spots we missed of course, but these are the ones we made it to.  The weather was dry and sunny, the weekend was awesome!  Here are my photo’s.

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Heron Rocks 9415

 

 

Pub to Pub Trail – May 5-2019

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This is a link to a group of photo’s on Flickr which I took while on the Pub to Pub Trail here in Campbell River.  It’s called the pub to pub trail because at either end of the walk (45-60minutes) was a pub.  BUT, now there are no pubs.  Salmon Pt Pub burnt down recently and The Fishermans pub closed down last year.  Regardless, there are scads of people out there every day enjoying the scenery.  The walk takes you along the Oyster River thru Old Growth Forest and then along the Ocean where the trail ends at Salmon Pt RV Resort.  The walk is mostly level, but beware of roots!  I’ve seen people pushing strollers and wheelchairs, so it can be done.

“Drunk Me”

Disclaimer: I have an eye infection.

Result: I am trying to be super vigilant about having clean hands.

After a few beers and wine at Happy Hour, followed by more wine around the fire pit at the trailer… we head inside. I wash my hands in smoking hot water, shut the hot water off and proceed to make a snack for dinner. It’s now 9:30 PM.

Make a snack (which results in a blow up in the microwave).

Clean microwave.  Eat snack.

Decide it’s time for bed. Get off the couch and discover wet rugs, pooling COLD water EVERYWHERE!!

What the hell? Confusion reigns!

ahhhh, the bathroom sink still has the plug in it and although I shut the HOT water off awhile ago, “drunk me” left the cold water tap ON…

Result: bath towels used for clean up are now soaking wet, bath mat is soaking wet, and carpet runner is soaking wet. All are outside and should be dry by mid day tomorrow. And Drunk Me is telling her tale so all may snort, laugh and have a good chuckle to end/start a new day!

I’ve met some new friends and I think they are trying to kill me!

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We are spending the winter in Arizona at a RV Resort.  Lots of activities to keep you busy.  You wanna play crib?  Cross crib?  2500? Bridge? Majohng? Poker? well do you?

I’m not much of a card player so to insert myself into the group here and get to know some of the fine people that surround me I decide to join some of the more physical activities that are offered here.

Pickle Ball?

 I’ve played badminton in my younger years, I can hit a ball with a paddle, I’m pretty sure of that..  Off I go and sure enough I can hold my own out there with the others.  What else can I join?

Billiards?

  I’ve played some billiards in my younger years, I can hit a ball with a cue, I’m pretty sure of that… Off I go and sure enough I can hold my own in there with the others.  What else can I join?

Hiking?

I can walk a mile or two or three, I’m pretty sure of that.  It’s the desert, it might be kind of warm out, but we are leaving early.  I’ll wear shorts and bring a couple bottles of water.  I’ll be fine… Off I go…

Me and 12 of my new friends meet at the clubhouse at 8AM.  They look innocent enough, they have white hair, grey hair, dark hair and are a cross section of your typical winter snowbirds.  Tall, short, medium, stout, skinny, wood walking sticks, titanium walking sticks, fanny packs, bright orange hiking shirts, durable footwear, smiles everywhere.  Looks harmless… right?

My assumption is that we are going to all go to the site of our hike and then break into our “easy” and “arduous” hiking groups and all will be good.  One group jumps into a van and off they go.  The rest of us separate in to 3 trucks and away we go.  We drive in the direction of The Wild Burro Trailhead in Marano, Arizona.  When we arrive the 3 trucks park and we disembark.

‘Where are the people in the van?’ I ask..

I am told: “They went on the “easy” hike on Casa Grande Mountain.  But don’t worry you’ll be fine!”

We begin our walk along a flat trail.  It’s beautiful.  My new friends point out different flora, fauna and cute little sing song birds that we can hear and see all around us.  We walk for 15 minutes and stop at the kiosk.  The kiosk is where you sign in to the trail system ( I found out later it’s so they know how many bodies they may need to retrieve if you fail to survive the Wild Burro Trail…).

We casually continue our walk along the wash towards the Tortolita Mountains and pass the lovely Ritz Carlton Hotel and Dove Mountain which you can see up the rise and off to our left after walking about a mile.  I’m having a great time, I’m seeing chain fruit chollas, saguaros, ocotillos, ironwoods, agaves and jojobas.  This is fantastic!

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We have now reached the end of the wash and my new friends have stopped for a break, we drink some water, discuss the hawks, bunnies and birds that we’ve seen so far.  Then our fearless leader points to the purple sign post that says “Wild Burro Trail” and the climb begins..  Are we really going UP THAT MOUNTAIN? … well yes we are.. OMG and before I know it, the 7 brightly colored orange shirts are off and climbing with ease.. It doesn’t take long before me and one other skinny guy wearing jeans are bringing up the rear.  My new friends are being pretty polite, they holler down the trail to ask if I’m ok… I weakly wave and give a thumbs up that yes, I’m OK.. (can’t they hear me and Mr. Jeans gasping for breath from where they are?).. This torture continues for at least an hour as we climb, stop and gather our breath, climb, stop, climb, stop, stop..  We finally arrive at our intended lunch break spot at the basin of the Wild Burro Trail.  We have a beautiful view of Marana and the valley.  There’s an old ranch site, stone walls and round depressions in the rocks called morteros.  They are thousands of years old and it is hard to imagine how many years of grinding it took to wear an 18 inch deep hole in a granite rock.  Were they grinding acorns? nuts? beans? Maybe all of those things?  Archaeologists aren’t really sure.

After catching our breath, battling the little gnats and flies while eating our lunch, we begin our return trip.  I’m relieved when I find out that we are taking an easier route back to the truck.  Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you I’m thinking.. then away they go.  We begin to climb a little more (I’m officially horrified to learn that we have to climb around this little mountain before we begin our descent).  The view was incredible, there was a nice cool breeze, and we saw a batch of colorful flowers along the trail.

The name of the return trail is called… wait for it.. The Alamo Loop.. (you know what happened to the guys at the Alamo right?).  But there’s not much I can do now, here we go.. down, down down, switchbacks, rocks, ledges, head down watching every step, don’t trip, don’t fall, don’t grab a cactus for support (Mr. Jeans learned that on the way up when I stopped suddenly and he had no choice but to grasp at the nearest thing to support himself).. poor guy, I felt bad for him.

We safely negotiate our exit, arrive back at the wash and trudge our way back to the safety of our vehicles.  All in all our hike lasted 5 HOURS and our distance travelled was 7 MILES.  I had survivor’s euphoria when it was completed.

 All in all, I enjoyed my hike, it was longer than I thought it was going to be, it was more exercise than I thought it was going to be, but my new friends were very supportive, made sure I had water, didn’t leave me behind and didn’t manage to kill me or Mr. Jeans.  I will definitely join them on another day!

 

The desert isn’t always Flat and Dry.

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One of many Saguero Cactus near Mesa, Arizona.

We’ve been in the desert now since Christmas.  We’ve been in Mesa where we visited my Uncle Al and Aunt Jean.  We travelled on freeways and other state roads and seen roadrunners, coyotes, and a bobcat.  Different types of cactus appear as you go up in elevation and disappear and change as you descend.

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Along the Salt River near Mesa, Arizona.

 

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Along the Salt River in Arizona.

There are mountains here, more than you would expect.  They have cool names:  The Superstition Mountains (Mesa), Picacho Mountain (Casa Grande), Black Mountains (Oatman) and the Chocolate Mountains (Parker).  There are 194 mountain ranges in the state.  There are lakes created by dams along the Colorado and Salt Rivers.  We’ve seen boats in marina’s along the lakes and rivers and we know there are places to fish in the summer here.

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Mammoth in the rock along Canyon Lake, Arizona.

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Canyon Lake, Arizona.

 

We haven’t done a huge number of tourist attractions (and there are many here).  I guess we are kind of “touristed out” after all our travelling.  We have been to Oatman and seen the burro’s, taken the Dolly boat ride on Canyon Lake, driven to Tortilla Flats and saw the fountain shoot over 500feet in Fountain Hills, and visited The Pima Air & Space Museum all while in Arizona.  There is lots to do here and it sure is nice to be warm and dry.  I miss the green and blues of Campbell River, but I don’t miss the grey winter rain.  We will be home on Vancouver Island in 30 days.  Hard to believe our circle is almost complete!

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at Tortilla Flats, Arizona.

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The Fountain in Fountain Hills, Arizona.

Making a Bee-Line to Arizona

It’s hard to believe that it’s time to leave Florida now.

Bye bye beach fishing for pompano, black drum, red drum, whitings and blue runners.  I’m going to miss waiting for you to hit my line.

Bye bye white squeaky sand beaches that stretch for miles and miles.

Bye bye to all the “southerners” (real and transplanted), we loved how friendly you were, what courteous drivers you are and how polite everyone is.

We are making a bee-line to Mesa, Arizona so that we can spend Christmas with my Aunt and Uncle.  We spent 6 weeks in Texas a few years ago, we were in Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Austin so will basically make a couple of pit stops on our way north and west to Arizona.

First stop was Biloxi, Mississippi.  It is a beautiful small city that has been hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and is still recovering.  I saw lots of damaged piers and empty lots along the sea shore and beach highway.  I found The Old Brick House and gravitated towards this MASSIVE oak tree in the back yard.  It was amazing.  Majestic.  Historic in it’s own way.  How old it must be.  Who used you for shade?  Who climbed on you?  What conversations took place under your limbs, leaves and branches?

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I parked down by the Visitors Centre, walked the beach, strolled thru Lighthouse Park and listened to the kids playing on the swings.  Watched the traffic on the Beach Highway negotiate around the Lighthouse that was there long before the road was built.

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Lighthouse in the middle of the beach highway in Biloxi.

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Statue of French Canadian Explorer Pierre d’Iberville outside the Visitors Centre in Biloxi.

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A storm damaged pier in Biloxi.

 

After leaving Biloxi we pointed the nose of the truck towards San Antonio and we were off.

We overnighted in Beaux Bridge, Louisianna and went for dinner at Crawfish USA.  We ate everything “Cajun” on the menu:  oysters, catfish, crawfish, frog legs, crab, shrimp, bread pudding.  I also stopped at the market there and bought cracklins and supplies to make gumbo.

Next evening we landed in Beaumont, Texas.  Didn’t think we were going to make it there safely as we drove thru a thunderstorm that wiped out our visibility and slowed freeway speeds from 75MPH to 45MPG.  I left permanent imprints of my hands and fingernails on the steering wheel.  Not much fun.  It continued to rain thru the night with temperatures in the 40’s F.

Get ready to be entertained:  Now remember it’s been pelting rain and lightening and thundering for the last hour.  2 ladies in a 4 door truck pulling a 30ft travel trailer pulled in beside us.  Lady #1 is unhooking the trailer, putting down jacks etc.  It’s still raining lightly.  Lady #2 opens the door of the truck and this BIG DOG jumps out of the truck, takes 4 steps thru the puddle and jumps back in the truck.

Lady #2 Opens back passenger door (bpd)

Dog jumps in to front passenger seat.

Lady #2 closes bpd – opens fpd.

Dog jumps  in to back passenger seat.

Lady closes fpd and opens bpd

Dog jumps in to front passenger seat

Lady outsmarts the dog (finally) by leaving BOTH doors open.

Dog jumps over to the drivers side of the truck.

Dog 1 – Lady 0.

Lady #1 arrives to help with dog extraction.

Dog bounces back and forth a few more times until he gets too close to Lady #1 who yards him out of the truck by his collar for the win!!

It continued to rain thru the night with temperatures in the 40’s F.  We got up in the morning and continued our trek towards San Antonio.  We drove thru rain all day, but not as heavy as the day before and successfully negotiated 7 lanes of traffic thru Houston, stopped in Schulenberg, Texas for the night.  We were only 100 miles to San Antonio but we are in no hurry to get there (The Riverwalk isn’t going anywhere..)  As we approached San Antonio we got caught up in a 2 hour traffic jam because a car-hauler broke in half and scattered cars all over the highway.

Not everyone has the patience to sit in traffic for that long.  We saw a young Texan who looked like he decided to drive thru a ditch / median and on to an adjacent highway.  Well, he ditched his truck in the weeds and caused lots of damage to his front end.  Not sure how he’s going to explain that to his insurance company!  The temperatures remained cool and well I might as well use the word COLD – it freakn snowed in the late evening.  YES!  SNOWED!.   Very unusual, but it does happen occasionally.

We’ve been to San Antonio before so we didn’t visit the Alamo this time, but we did go down to the Riverwalk in the evening and took the Christmas Light Tour on one of the boats that go back and forth on the Riverwalk.  Very festive.

We have 2 more days of driving to get to Carlsbad, New Mexico.  We will break the trip in half with an overnight stay in Fort Stockton, Texas.  This is one big State, that’s for certain.  We already miss the southern hospitality.  Texans are not near as friendly as their neighbours to the south and they certainly drive more aggressively too.  I feel like I’m back in red-neck country.

We visited Carlsbad Caverns more than 20 years ago and we were so impressed by it that we decided to stop in for another visit on this trip.  When we walked in I was impressed and in awe all over again.  It is amazing, beautiful, the size of the caverns, the different formations, your eyes travel around, up and over.  You have to go there, you just have to add it to your list of things to see if you are in that corner of New Mexico.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

Next stop:  Mesa, Arizona.  Get to spend time with the relatives.. YAY!!