Sunday, April 10, 2011

Escape the Snow?? Time to get ‘Back on the Road’ - again;-)

Well - here it is a SNOW day (April 9!) in sunny, warm Sedona, Arizona.  

Are you sure this is Sedona?

So, it’s a ‘snuggle-in’/watch the Masters kind of day - which provides time to get a blog posting done since we have now been gone a month and everyone keeps asking “are you going to do blog postings this trip?”.
March 8 - The skies cleared and stopped snowing for one day to allow us to pack Magic.  Then we were on our way with the usual stop in Las Vegas with warm weather and golf and dinner with friends.
March 12 - Lemoore NAS and three days filled with lots of time with daughter Heather and the grandkids, Haley and Joseph.  In fact - granddaughter Haley had her first sleep over ever - and first sleep over in Magic!!  We enjoyed Marry Poppins, stories and a bed just for her.

Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious movie with Gramma & Gramps

Night-night?  I'm not sure I have enough stuffed animals!!

Breakfast as soon as we finish this book.

A trip to the zoo, gymnastics class and Joseph’s academic award ceremony were also on the agenda.

Look gramps, there's a Camel.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  Yuuuummmmm!
Would you like some hay?
Can I brush you now?
a 5. 6. 7. 8!

Congrats Joseph on your academic performance!!

March 16 - Now the WORK begins.  We arrive in Santa Clarita and the task for the next 12 days is to get Gary’s Mother’s house ready to sell.  After three days of “Estate Sale”, EVERYTHING was sold and the house was empty.  In the next six days the house received its facelift - cleaned, painted, re-carpeted, tiled and cleaned again - ready for sale.  Now all it needs is that interested buyer;-)  
In between the chores, we had breakfasts, lunches, coffees and dinners with ‘old’ friends.  One always needs to make time for those faces and discussions that bring back memories and just make us happy;-)  Oh yes - we also made time for the triple overtime Laker game with Phoenix!!
March 27 - Off to Phoenix to have niece Deme join us in Magic for her Spring break.  After loading her into Magic on Sunday night, we were off to Catalina State Park on Monday morning.  This state park sits at the base of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains, just north of Tucson, and is a haven for wildlife and desert plants including nearly 5,000 saguaros.  We all learned a lot about the mighty saguaro on this trip.  Did you know that they don’t begin to grow arms until they are 25-50 years old?  And, they live more than 200 years?
After checking into the Catalina State campground (site no. 23 - picked by Deme) and setting up, we were off on our first hike - the Canyon Loop Trail - in search of water and shade to keep us cool.  

Which way do we go now?

Cooling off.

Along the way we looked like the Three Amigos in the desert!

Shadowy characters seen on the trail.

A busy day of travel and hiking earned us a hearty dinner at our wonderful campsite in the beautiful Catalina desert campground.

Appetizers before a well deserved dinner.

Sabino Canyon, in the eastern foothills of the Santa Catalina mountains, called early on Tuesday morning.  It is a world away in terms of climate, vegetation, and wildlife and beckons with towering cliffs, waterfalls and swimming holes.  The tram (no cars allowed) took us to the upper canyon where we began our hiking.  First up - in order to get a good look at the canyon.

High above Sabino Canyon.

Then it was time to find one of those good swimming holes where we could take our shoes off, wade in the water, climb on the rocks and enjoy our PB&J sandwiches in some shade with fantastic views.  

A little water left in the Sabino Creek.

Can't beat PB&J - and shade - on a hike!

Look Mom, no shoes, no net!

After this full day, we were exhausted and hit the bed early.  Especially because we had a VERY early day on Wednesday.  Today it was Kartchner Caverns State Park that called.  Discovered in 1974 by Gary and Randy, the caves were not opened to the public until 1999.  Kartchner Caverns SP contains an extraordinary display of colorful speleotherms.  Formations - some of the tiniest, most delicate growths, as well as the tallest column in Arizona - provide evidence of the role water plays in the creation of caves.  (Unfortunately, we have no pictures of this activity, as NO cameras were allowed in the caverns in order to prevent the introduction of ‘alien’ particles into the caves.)
After Kartchner, Deme’s request was the Tucson Reid Park Zoo.  This little zoo was quite wonderful - and enjoyed by all!  Just as Haley enjoyed feeding the giraffe’s at the Fresno zoo, so did Deme at the Tucson zoo;-)

I like carrots, are there any more?

March 31 - Finally time to return to Scottsdale - where we celebrated birthdays;-)  First, it was Gary’s turn as he turned 64!!  (Again, no pictures as the photographer was the subject and no one else picked up the camera;-(!!)  Then, mother’s friend, Nat, turned 92 - and we celebrated at Magic.

Happy 92nd, Nat.

April 4 - Our stay in Scottsdale came to an end and we packed up and moved to a beautiful spot in Sedona - Rancho Sedona RV Park.  

Great spot on the creek in Sedona.

Our campground was also home to several crane couples who were ‘nesting’ in the tops of the trees that surrounded us.  These birds are so prehistoric and yet so graceful when they fly.  We sat and watched for hours at a time.

Two cranes canoodling above their nest.

We shared part of our time here with our friends - the Stinsons.  Our first excursion was Montezuma Castle - a five-story, 20-room dwelling that the Southern Sinagua (Spanish for “without water”) farmers began building early in the 1100s.  It stands in a cliff recess 100 feet above the valley and reached its maximum size in the 1300s.  It was occupied for another century, when the Southern Sinagua mysteriously abandoned their pueblos. Early settlers marveled at the structure and assumed that it was Aztec in origin, hence the name Montezuma Castle.

Montezuma Castle
Linda & Jim at the Castle.

On the way back to Sedona we stopped at the Chapel of the Holy Cross - a striking, slender building built into a red rock butte with a 90-foot cross as an integral part of the structure.  And, a well known landmark of Sedona.

A view from the Chapel of Holy Cross.

Like it sprung from the Red Rock.

Golf courses were now calling - so we spent the next two days golfing - AND CELEBRATING GARY’S 64th;-)))))!!  And our timing was perfect.  A whopper storm moved in on Friday and dumped several inches of snow in Sedona and about a foot in the Flagstaff area - our next stop.  Because of the storm we extended our stay in Sedona, as we did not want to be on the roads during the ‘dump’.  However, watching the tree branches falling all around us in the campground was not fun either!!  (The staff here said it was the worst storm this winter;-(  )

Glad these two branches missed the bus!

Well - that is our first month on the road.  As you can probably tell, we are now into the National Parks with a little golf mixed in.  (Another reason to stay in Sedona an extra day as we were not sure the NP’s we planned to visit would be open on Sunday when we got there!!)  We are now off to Williams and perhaps a visit to the Grand Canyon.  A quick stop in Laughlin for golf will break up our drive to Death Valley.  More on all of this later.
Hope all is well with all of you - Elizabeth & Gary from Magic

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