Fall in Colorado

Fall in Colorado
Fall in Colorado

Monday, February 23, 2015

Last week at Canyon Vistas...route planned

It's hard to believe that we've been here at Canyon Vistas RV Resort in Gold Canyon, AZ for almost 4 months. Time flies when you're having fun and we sure have had some fun. There have been so many things to do here. Hiking, Pickleball, Line Dancing, Happy Hours, Dances and making some great friends. As I said in another recent post, we've reserved 4 months next winter from Nov. 1 to Feb 1. I feel strongly that we could one day settle here in AZ, in Gold Canyon and Canyon Vistas. Of course we have many more places to go and things to see and do but this certainly feels good here.

This week will be filled with packing up. checking systems, re arranging and finalizing our tentative route east and north. In addition to that, our younger daughter, Sommer, is coming to visit just before we leave. We're looking forward to spending some time with her and her girlfriend from Indiana. What she calls a girls vacation. With our son, Chris, living in Mesa, she'll have a place to stay and someone to show her around the area after we are on our way to Kartchner Cavern SP.

It's hard to leave a place where you've made so many friends and had so much fun but that's why they put wheels on our rig. Time to move on and see some new places and meet old and new friends. The weather today was somewhat cloudy, some rain and wind. Sort of strange for this time of year here and the weather forecast is for rain on Sunday when we leave. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we can make our get away between showers.

Our plan is to stay at as many State Parks, Army COE parks as we can and do some CAMPING along with some RV parks. We will be hugging the gulf coast through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and the panhandle of Florida until mid April after making our way out of AZ and through New Mexico. We hope that the weather up north will moderate enough to begin moving north to IL and back in Bloomington/ Normal by the end of April. That's what's so great about this lifestyle, it's flexible. Ok, on with the adventure.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dollie Steamboat Ride with friends on Canyon Lake

We've been here for 3 1/2 months now and have heard so much about the Dollie Steamboat Ride on Canyon Lake. We had been over at our Canadian friends, Ron and Patsy Chase, from British Columbia playing cards a few nights ago and they mentioned that they were interested in checking out the boat ride. We decided to go this last Wednesday. Canyon Lake is about 15 miles from Apache Junction on Route 88 past Tortilla Flats. We got tickets for the 2 pm tour and arrived about 1:15 pm and got in line to get our tickets that we ordered online.



We got our tickets and sat down on a bench waiting for the Dollie to come in from the previous tour. after about 30 minutes we could see the Dollie coming into the dock. An announcement on the loudspeaker said that boarding would start with ticket numbers 1 - 25. We had 12 and 13 so we were able to get a good seat with Ron and Patsy in the upper deck in front of the boat inside.


 
 
I got a great shot of Patsy and Glenda as we headed out and Glenda took a photo of me and Ron.
 


 
Once the rest of the passengers were called onboard and we were off. We headed into a canyon that lead to the Salt River. The Salt River empties into Canyon Lake from a dam that separates Apache Lake further up the river from Canyon Lake. The mountains around the lake are really beautiful.




There were a number of pleasure boats on the water as well. Some out for a cruise. others were fishing along with some kayakers.



 
 
 
As we made our way up the river the boat captain would occasionally give some information about the lake and the surrounding area. Then as he was talking he started to go closer to shore and told us if we would look up and to the left on the side of the mountain we could see a group of desert sheep. Of course they were pretty far up the mountain so I used as much telephoto lens as I could. (Enlarge the photos for a better look)
 



 
 
We could see some adult and young sheep. It was definitely the highlight of the tour. We continued up the river about 3 miles an then turned around for the return trip to the marina. The rock structures were very unique. The captain showed us some circles in the rock at one point and indicated that they were petrified logs on end that had been in the rock for millions of years.
 
 
 
We continued to see rock formations, vistas and views that held our attention. Something I still can't get enough of. Here are a few more photos as we headed back to shore. There was so much to see and so many photos to take I didn't sit down the whole 1 1/2 hours of the tour. Paradise in the desert.
 






Once we landed I got a nice shot of the Dollie after everyone had disembarked. We had a great time with Ron and Patsy and to end the day we went to a local Mexican Restaurant for happy hour and a great meal. We're so glad we had the opportunity to share this time with them. We're looking forward to seeing them again next winter. Of course we plan to get together at least one more time before we leave the park next week.



 



Sunday, February 15, 2015

New awning sun shade

Ever since we got to Canyon Vistas I have been saying that I wanted to get an awning sun shade. Our rig on the awning side faces the west so the afternoon sun can be a little hot by mid afternoon. We have neighbors all around us that have them and, of course, love them. They provide privacy along with shading from the sun. Well, last week our neighbor just two sites away was putting up a new sun shade on his rig. He had one but it wasn't quite the right size. His old one was too short and not wide enough. I went over to take a look as he installed it and asked a few questions. He told me he ordered off Amazon and got it pretty quickly. The brand is Vista Shade and comes in two pieces a 6' body and 2' insert to allow for easy reach to zip it on and off for traveling and when the wind kicks up enough that the awing needs to be retracted. It has an open-weave fabric that cuts approximately 85% of light to keep you cool and comfortable. It's the only RV awning shade made specifically for 12V Electric RV Awnings, Fits scissor-arm truss style awnings like Carefree Eclipse and Travel'r and Grommets and ground stakes  are included. The great thing is the shade can be ordered in different lengths and widths to accommodate any size awning.

 
 
I started by measuring the length of my awning tube and then the height from the awning tube to the ground. My awning length is 17 feet and the height of the awning to the ground is 8 feet. So I ordered the 15 foot wide by 8 foot long shade. This way I have some space from the end of the awning tube on each side so when the awning is rolled up there won't be any shade material hanging out. Also with the zipper, you can unzip the lower portion and leave the upper part attached to the roller tube and with less material the awning will completely close at the top. No problem with the awning possibly opening while going down the road because it's not completely closed. I ordered the shade on Wednesday, Feb 11th with an estimated delivery date of Feb 18 - 22. However to my surprise on Friday afternoon, the 13th, the UPS truck stopped at our site and delivered a package with the shade in it. What a good surprise. We decided to wait to put it up so we could go the flea market and get some different stakes to drive into the gravel surface at our site to hold the shade in place at the bottom. We found exactly what we needed. There was an RV supply booth that had some 10 in. Steel Nail Tent Stakes. $1.00 each
 
I bought 5 stakes
 
This morning after I had my oatmeal and coffee, I went outside to begin the installation process. It just so happened while I was getting prepared, our friend Ron Chase came by to invite us over to there home in the afternoon to discuss plans for next week. Ron helped me as I inserted the top lead end of the shade into the roller tube and fed it across to the other end. Then we zipped on the bottom half and pounded the stakes into the gravel to hold the shade out some for additional clearance inside. Here is the finished product from the outside and from the inside.
 


This should provide the shade we need and the privacy with plenty of room. Even though we only have 2 more weeks here, it will get plenty of use as we start our travels to the east and north and beyond. The neighbors like it too. :-) Thank you to Al and Barb for sharing their idea and information. So glad we did this. Another project complete.



Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentines Day... Under the Sea Dance last night

I hope everyone had a Happy Valentines Day with your sweetheart. We spent the day with me playing some Pickleball, Glenda getting her walk in, lunch at Native Grill and Wings Restaurant, then at the Mesa Flea Market and  some grocery shopping. Native Grill and Wings is also known as Native New Yorker in Mesa, AZ. I had the Club Sandwich and Glenda had the Fish Sliders. Both had fries and were very tasty. We then headed home are relaxing this evening.

Last night however, we attended the RV resort Valentines Dance. The theme was "Under the Sea". Like the dances we used to attend back in high school......many years ago. :-)  The decorations were incredible. Due to the lighting my photos I wasn't able to show how detailed and colorful the decorations were.

Very colorful

Prop at the candy bar

This motorized shark hovered over the dance floor
 
The band played the type 60's and 70's music and folks were doing the twist, the stroll and even some tried to do some line dancing to the music. It was a BYOB dance for those that wanted some alcohol but they did provide popcorn and soda along with all the candy at the candy bar. Of course there were all my favorites - licorice, Good and Plenty, Reese's peanut butter cups, Mike and Ike, Jolly Ranchers and other treats. I did my part in consuming the treats.
 
I typically don't do much dancing since I have two left feet but I did my best in keeping up with Glenda. She has great rhythm and looks so good on the dance floor. We had a great time.
 
They had the typical area for having photos taken so I asked one of the workampers to help us out. He did a good job and my Valentine looks so great. I am a lucky guy.
 
Can't believe it been 43 years of marriage
 
We've made so many good friends since we've been here and last night we sat with Bob and Judy. Bob and Judy are full-timer's too and doing some workamping as they travel.
 
 
Bob is a lot like me in regard to dancing and Judy is a lot like Glenda. Bob and I did our best to keep up. At the end of the night our wives were very pleased with our efforts. Two more weeks here at Canyon Vistas and then off to Kartchner Caverns SP. We plan to get in as much fun and activity as we can until then. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and be safe. 



Monday, February 9, 2015

Flat Iron Mountain Challenge Hike....I made it to the top of the world

As I mentioned in my last post, I planned to attempt the challenge hike up Flat Iron Mountain. Flat Iron is the upper most part of the mountain we can see out the back window of the RV each morning.

 
The hike began at a trailhead in Apache Junction, just next to the Lost Ming Camp Restaurant, that leads to Siphon Draw then continues beyond to the top of Flat Iron. Wikipedia states that a draw is a terrain feature formed by two parallel ridges or spurs with low ground in between them. The area of low ground itself is the draw. At the top of the draw is a sheet of rock, called the Bowling Alley where water run off from the top of the mountain filters down the draw. To get to Siphon Draw there is a steady uphill climb from the trailhead.

After Wednesdays hike of Apache Overlook with some mild elevation gain of 800 feet, I wasn't sure I could get to the top of Flat Iron Mountain, this past Friday, with an elevation gain of 2800 feet and sitting at 4800 feet above sea level. I didn't get much sleep the night the night before thinking about this challenge but decided I would at least attempt it. The lower portion of the hike takes us up through Siphon Draw. Wikipedia defines a DRAW as a terrain feature formed by two parallel
 
Enlarge the photos for better viewing


The trail leading up to the draw

Flat Iron in the upper middle
Closer view of Flat Iron... yes I'm going up there

Siphon Draw

The Bowling Alley

OK, I made it this far. At this point I wasn't sure I wanted to continue as I looked up to where we had to go to make it to the top of Flat Iron. Fortunately, another hiker, Brian, indicated that he wasn't sure he wanted to continue but said if I was willing so was he. So we made a pact that we would continue together at a slightly slower pace than the rest of the group and on we went. We all stashed our hiking poles behind some bushes after we got past the bowling alley portion of Siphon Draw and continued our climb. It got very rocky and we had to climb over some pretty tough terrain.

Large boulders

Some areas were almost straight up
 
So far we had climbed for about an hour or so and we still had along way to go. Up and up we went and I continued to wonder if I would be able to make it, but Brian and I made our way slowly. As we got to one section of difficult climbing I asked how much further it was to the top and one of the hikers said, "Oh, we're almost there, we only have about another 1/2 hour of climbing"....What? I said. Then he said, "We've climbing for about 2 1/2 hours so we're almost there". OK, I can't give up now.
Looking back down near the top

Finally at the saddle leading to Flat Iron
 
 
Sure enough after about another 30 minutes we reached the saddle that lead to Flat Iron. We followed a trail across the saddle and out we came, actually not very far behind the rest of the group. There was a slight incline to the edge of Flat Iron and then the view. What we came here for. It was like being on top of the world. It was the top of the world to me. I MADE IT after 3 1/2 hours of climbing a steep, steep canyon I was on top of Flat Iron and it was worth every bit of sweat, blood, aching legs and burning lungs.
 
This photo does not do the view justice

Layers of mountains

The valley below

I was in the clouds

On the edge
 
That V shaped area in the middle is our RV park
 
The feeling I had is indescribable. I was so tired but so jazzed up too. We sat on the rocks taking in the views and nourishing ourselves with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, apples, trail mix, water, Cliff Bars, water, more water. We took photos of each other, we congratulated each other and we smiled. After some time of relaxing, nourishing and re-hydrating, someone said well now we have to finish by climbing up to the Hoodoos. What? I thought this was the top. No, I found out, the really top is another 350 feet up to the Hoodoos.
 
Yup, those Hoodoos, up there.
 
So we strapped on our gear and up the hoodoos we climbed. 350 more feet. For a different perspective of Flat Iron.
 
View from the hoodoos

Yes, that's Flat Iron below

A close up view...see the people?
 
When we got to the top of the hoodoos we could see the other side of the mountain. Across from us were 5057(Superstition Mountain) and Weavers Needle. I was as high as 5057 and I was now looking DOWN on Weavers Needle instead of looking across at it like the Fremont Saddle hike.
 
5057 in the distant middle

Weavers Needle
 
It was very cool to see these other sights from a different perspective. After a short while we knew we better be on our way back down. Going down such a steep incline takes some time and care in negotiating. We helped each other as we traversed the boulders and loose rocks. It was slow going at the top but we made our way. We did hear from another hiker that a woman had fallen about 15 feet at the top and hit her head. They had been able to get cell service and had called rescue. Not much we could do from our vantage point on our way down. The quadriceps were aching from the jarring from each step down. Jello would describe my legs. However the views below were spectacular as we descended.
 





 
I continued to look back in amazement at what we had all accomplished and that we all had made it back down without injury after hearing of the woman's fall above us. I realize that some may be tiring of my hiking posts but to me they are accomplishments that I need to record for the future. I hope that you get some enjoyment from my experiences. We've only begun our adventure so I plan

to record many different experiences as we move around the country not just hiking. There is no doubt that we made the right decision to go fulltime RVing at this time. Enjoying every minute of it. Only 3 more weeks and we are on the move.
 
P.S.... we got an email from our RV friends Steve and Debbie from Down the Road and they informed us that they got a reservation at Pancho Villa SP in New Mexico the same time we will be there. Very excited to be able to see them again, compare notes of our adventures so far, catch up and relax. Until next time.