What A Difference

As in life, what a difference a few days can make in the desert.

With about 22 thousand acres, and over 80 miles of trails here at McDowell Mountain Park, Bill and I love  getting out and hiking three to four days a week.

This first picture below was taken just last week when the desert was lush and green after the unusual amount of rain we had over the winter months.

However, summer is fast approaching, and today Bill and I noticed most of the lush green is turning brown and drying up as shown in this picture.

The dryness makes it easy to spot areas all around like this, where the grass is matted down due to what we think are places where some of our desert animals bed down for the night. But, I’m going to ask our park ranger if she agrees with that thought process or not..

There are still some signs of spring left to be found, like this blooming creosote bush. A pretty desert bush with yellow and white flowers.

I read up on the creosote bush on About Travel by Phil Persson, and here are some interesting things I found out. “Creosote leaves are coated with a resin to prevent water loss in the hot desert. The resin of the creosote bush also protests the plant from being eaten by most mammals and insects. It is believed that the bush produces a toxic substance to keep other nearby plants from growing thus ensuring its own survival. The creosote leaves give off a very unique and peculiar odor when it rains. Although some refer to the odor as heavenly essence of the desert, the Spanish word for the plant, hediondilla, means little stinker, signifying that not everyone considers the odor heavenly to the senses (I like the smell of the creosote plant). The plant was a virtual pharmacy for Native Americans. It was used in a tea to cure such things as flu, stomach cramps, cancer, coughs, colds, etc.”. Well, who knew all that could come out of one desert plant!

Bill and I don’t know what the little red berries on this thorny bush are, but we think they must not be edible or the birds, and other desert critters, wound have picked the bush clean by now. Another question we need to ask our park ranger. So much to see and learn here in our beautiful Arizona desert..

Our time here for this season is quickly winding down. Bill and I are leaving on April 26th to spend a month in Camp Verde Arizona, where we will just rest and relax until we head out to Oregon for the summer months. We will return to McDowell Mountain Park in October. We will be looking forward to another fun-filled hosting season, and reuniting with all the new friends we’ve made here.

Stay tuned for postings of our summer adventures!

Archery Lesson

I haven’t posted anything in a month because I have been real busy working on other current events that are very important to me and my family…

But today, I took time out to participate in something I’ve always found interesting… Archery, using a compound bow.

I wanted to document my lesson for our daughter, Shantel, and any of my family/friends that care to know.

Our Ranger, Amy, here at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, offered an introduction to archery to any of the park host, or park staff, that cared to participate…Well I was all over that offer!

This class was held just beyond the North Trail, and turned out to be the perfect space to get an idea of what archery, with a compound bow, is all about.

Amy is the perfect person to introduce newbies to this sport because she is so calm, has the patience of a saint, making the whole experience not only a learning experience, but also FUN!!!


Straight away Amy explained the 11 steps to archery success as outlined on the whiteboard below.


Once we understood the steps to success of archery, Amy went on to explain what the whistle commands are when participating in archery lessons…


Things like two whistle blows mean “get bow”, three whistle blows mean “go get arrows”… five whistle blows mean something is wrong, stop everything and get behind the starting line…


We also learned that you NEVER, EVER, “dry shoot” and that means you never, ever, pull the bow-string on a compound bow and release without an arrow…because that can really mess up the pulleys on a compound bow.


A member of our maintenance staff, John, pictured below, agreed to demonstrate the proper, stance, draw,

etc. dsc_00111


We learned there is also a proper way to remove your arrows from the target. You start at the top, putting one hand around the top arrow and the other hand under the arrow (both hands touching) and pull the arrow out, placing it on the ground, while you go on to collect your other arrows one at a time… Once all your arrows are removed from the target, and on the ground, you collect them all together, tap the tips on the top of the target, and walk back to the starting line with one hand covering the tips of your arrows…


Finally, it was my time to actually shoot the compound bow… I was so excited as I selected my bow from the rack


Once you have your bow out of the rack, you hold it upright with one end resting on your toe to keep it out of the dirt…


When it is your turn to put your arrow in the bow… you learn very quickly that there is a right and wrong way  to do that as well. But again, Amy is so good at explaining everything, and making you feel so comfortable…you just relax, and follow her instructions…


And the next thing you know you are taking aim,


And hitting your target… One of my arrows landed in the white section of the target, one in the black section, two in the red and one landed at the very top of the yellow section… OMG.. What FUN!!!


Then it was time for more practice for me, as my fellow host, Julie, (shown in the picture below this one in the pink), took her turn….


Julie, and all the other participants, did great too. And the main thing was that we all had fun which is what this was all about…


Big THANK-YOU to our McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Ranger Amy, for taking this time out of her busy day/week to share her knowledge of this fun sport, Archery!

Still Lovin this retirement life, and looking forward to many more years of happy, carefree, retirement travel.

Stay Tuned!

Conquering Lousley Hill Trail

I’ve been feeling under the weather for the past week and a half. That, and because of all the rain we’ve had over the past couple of weeks, kept me from getting out and hiking the trails here at the park for way too long.

Today is the first day that I’m finally starting to feel alive again, so of course, I was anxious to hit the trails and soak up some of the very welcomed sunshine we are experiencing once again.

Bill and I want to experience all the trails within the parks while we are here. Today we decided we would hike Lousley “Hill” Trail for the first time. It reads like an easy hike. In fact when I googled Lousley Hill Trail, the little blurb describing the hike read “nice easy stroll.” I was a little surprised then to see that the park trail map described the 1.2 mile hike as “Moderate.” I wasn’t too concerned because Bill and I are experienced hikers (we hike every week on our day’s off), so off we went…  The sign at the trailhead didn’t say anything about the hike, and the hill behind the sign is what I thought was Lousley Hill…


The hike started out nice and easy and fairly flat so I was beginning to think this was going to be a “nice easy stroll.”


The trail lead us through a wash where evidence of the recent rains can be seen in the deep ridges cut into the sand.


Part of the trail is flat and lined with rocks making it look like a lovely stroll. Right? Very deceiving as to what lies ahead..


Once you reach the end of the rock-lined trail you immediately begin the long, steep, climb up the “hill.”


And you climb, and you climb, and you climb way up high….


Until you reach a summit with a railing to keep you from falling right of the edge…


Thankfully, at this high point of the hike, you come upon a bench where you can catch your breath, and take a much-needed rest…


As a reward for making the steep journey you can add a rock to the rock pile started by other hikers that have gone before you.  Had we not climbed this “hill” we would never have known this rock pile was even there.


Then, as “they” say, “what goes up, must come down… so we began the long, steep, journey down the other side of the “hill.” It was at this point that I told Bill I wish he would have brought his hiking stick with him like I did because some areas of the decent were very steep and rocky. Bill said “yes, I wish I had my hiking stick too but right now I think I’d rather have a parachute.”


As we continued to make our way down the “hill”, I told Bill I was glad that this hike was only 1.2 miles long because my legs were shaking and I really didn’t think I could have done another steep mile today. Bill laughed and said “yeah, if this hike was any longer we would be sucking hind tit by the time we get back.” OMG, I laughed so hard I had to stop in place so I wouldn’t lose my footing and roll off the “hill”.


We finally reached the sandy wash that was the sure sign we were back on flat ground again and near the car.  Bill said it was our welcomed sandy beach without water.


Normally this hike would not have been so difficult for Bill or I. We usually take much longer hikes. I think part of it for me was that it was a bit much for day one after being sick. That, and the fact that because of all the recent rains, neither Bill or I have been hiking at all, and this was a very steep “hill.” Today, for me, this “hill” felt like McDowell Mountain Regional Park’s answer to San Tan Mountain Regional Park’s Goldmine Mountain Hike.

Now that we are back on track… who knows what “hills” we will conquer next!

Stay Tuned!


Let Justice Be Served

This is an update to my last post on 1/12/17, titled “Outraged” , where I documented the incident of our daughter, Shantel, being attacked in her apartment by some scum of the earth thug that broke into her home, hit her, knocking her to the ground, then tried to strangle her until he was scared off by her neighbors responding to her screams. He fled with her cell phone which he eventually threw away after he realized the phone had been locked and had a tracking system on it.

Shantel called me last night to tell me the detective handling her case called her at work yesterday to let her know they caught this thug, arrested him and put him in jail. The detective said that this thug admitted to everything he did to Shantel. As a result, he has been charged with four felony charges for what he did to Shantel, and he has been charged with parole violation, carrying a concealed weapon, and possession of narcotics.

The detective also told Shantel that they put a restraining order on him for Shantel, and that because he already admitted to everything he did, he will go to trail, but Shantel will not have to appear. She can instead have a victim advocate attend the trial on her behalf if she wants.

Bill and I are very thankful for the swift work of the detective and the police that are working Shantel’s case. It is because of their dedication, and hard work, this thug has been captured and taken off the streets so he can’t hurt anyone else.

I think it is always awful when anyone thinks they can impose their will on another person, but I think it takes a special kind of evil to attack a helpless disabled person. All I can say now is let justice be served on him.

Bill and I went to Shantel’s apartment and Bill reinforced the deadbolt lock on her door. Hopefully she will be safer now in her own home.

I want to thank all those who expressed their concern for Shantel and who have asked how she is doing now. Shantel is a very brave, independent, young woman. She said while she is a little scared over all of this, she continues to move past her fear and carry on with her life.

Of course, as her parents, Bill and I always worry about Shantel. But at the same time, Bill and I raised her to be strong, and independent, because we know we will not always be around. We are so proud of the way Shantel has learned to live on her own, taking her rightful place in this world, and how she never lets fear stop her from living her life on her own to the best of her ability. Stay strong Shantel. Papa and I love you so very much.

Stay Tuned!





As parents of a disabled adult child, Bill and I were confronted with our worst nightmare when our precious daughter, Shantel, called to tell us that last Saturday night, as she laid in her bed listening to a program on her phone, she thought she heard someone trying to get in her bedroom window. She immediately called 911 and reported what she thought was happening. The 911 operator told her they were sending help but did not keep her on the phone as they usually do.

Of course Shantel was scared, so she decided she would take her phone and go lock herself in her bathroom until the police arrived. However, as Shantel was leaving her bedroom and walking across the hall to the bathroom, she heard someone kick her front door in and before she could even get to the bathroom, some thug, said “Shantel its Damien”, and within minutes he had her by the throat and started choking her. She said she couldn’t breathe and thought she was going to die. She started trying to hit him and did everything she could to try to escape his grasp. She fought so hard that the intruder hit her in the face knocking her to the floor. Shantel began screaming so loud that her neighbors upstairs ( a brother and sister that share an apartment together, and who thankfully help her from time to time and check in on her to make sure she is alright) heard her screams and one of them started down the stairs to see what was happening while the other one called her cell phone which caused the intruder to grab her phone from her and run out of her apartment.

As the intruder was fleeing Shantel’s apartment, the brother and sister upstairs, and two other people saw him, and were able to identify him as a person that lived in the apartment complex in the past. They pulled him up on Facebook and showed his Facebook page to the police.

The police took Shantel to the police station and took pictures of her face and throat and Shantel said she was at the police station until 5:00 in the morning. However, Shantel did not call Bill and I until Sunday afternoon to tell us about all of this. I asked her why she didn’t call us Saturday night when she was at the police station and she said “I’m an adult now mom (23), and I didn’t want to worry you and Papa.” OMG, I told her “we are your parents and we want to know when you are in danger, or when something happens to you.”

I asked Shantel how she knew this intruder since he told her his name and she said he did live across the courtyard from her and he would say hi to her if she was walking to or from the laundry room, office, or mail box. She said he never came in her home and she really never had any conversation other than one day he was sitting on his patio and saw her as she passed by and said “hi, my name is Damien.” Then after that if he was out on his patio and she was walking by he would say Hi…

This whole thing of course has traumatized Shantel, and both Bill and I are just heart-sick about all of this.

I asked Shantel if she was scared to live there now and she said “a little, but I know I have to get past that because this is what I can afford, and my neighbors above do help me, and it is close to my best friend Jaz, and even if I moved mom, the same thing could happen…”

Of course as her parents, both Bill and I are OUTRAGED about all of this. It takes a special kind of scum of the earth to hurt a disabled blind person. I have to tell you as her mother, I would love to know who did this to my precious Shantel and if I ever came face to face to him… God forgive me, but I would do what ever I could to make sure that scum of the earth NEVER had an opportunity to do this again to anyone.

I am the mother of a disabled adult child, and I voted, and because of that, I have every right to voice my opinion, and my opinion is if you make fun of a disabled person, bully a disabled person, attack a disabled person, or support anyone that does… YOU are deplorable, and YOU are the scum of the earth, because then YOU helped set the stage for this to happen to my disabled daughter,  and if this post offends you, tough shit!!!

Stay Tuned!




Perfect Imperfection

With the New Year in full swing, I’m hearing a lot of talk of folks making resolutions, and/or setting new life goals to improve their life and/or improve themselves. Some folks want to lose weight, quit smoking, start a hobby or take up a new one. All of these things are good and healthy things to do to improve health and create a better lifestyle… Some folks are in search of discovering a way to make what they already have better or more perfect…

One of the most important life lessons I ever learned, I learned from our daughter, Shantel. Being totally blind, Shantel is not at all into anything being perfect. She is however very much into everything being functional. She always tells me that if she waited for things to be “perfect” in her world, she would never be able to function at all. She said “you just have to accept that not all things are going to be perfect, but they can still be beautiful, have purpose, and be functional”.

One of the reasons I love living in Arizona is because I feel so at home, and find such comfort, and beauty, in the Sonoran  Desert. I am most impressed with the beautiful and mighty saguaro cactus. I am always fascinated with the distinctive differences from one saguaro to the next.

Today, as I was out and about practicing with the camera my frissy loaned me, I decided to focus my photo session on the perfect imperfections of the mighty saguaro cactus. I thought about my daughter, Shantel, as I was capturing each and every one of these perfectly imperfect, but beautiful saguaro cactus. Take a look.

The saguaro in the center of the picture is beautiful and graceful standing tall and proud.


But not all saguaro’s look quite so graceful. This one looks to me like the old lady in the shoe who had so many children she didn’t know what to do…


OMG, this is one of my favorites just outside of the park. To me it looks like someone ridding piggy-back, and I can almost hear it saying “gitty-up, Go!


All I can say for a caption for this one is “stick a fork in me… I’m done”.


So many funny shapes and sizes… I could spend all day looking for more!


Use  your imagination on this one…


When I looked at this one as pictured, I thought it might be saying I surrender,,,


But when I took the picture from this angle, I immediately thought it should be named spirit woman. What do you think?


My caption for the next picture is Twins. What would your caption be?


All I can say is a big Thank-you to our daughter, Shantel, who taught me to see the beauty in imperfections…And, a BIG THANK-YOU to my Frissy for loaning me one of her camera’s, and teaching me to see the beauty in the unexpected, and in imperfections… I hope I did you proud Frissy…

Just like the beauty in nature is not always perfect… See the beautiful imperfections in everyone you meet that make them perfect, and don’t just walk by, and miss the beautiful imperfections in nature, or in the people you meet.

Thank-You Shantel, and Frissy, for showing me how to appreciate the beauty in perfect imperfections..

Stayed Tuned!


A New Friend!

Bill and I have met so many wonderful people since we have been here at McDowell Mountain Regional Park. All of the staff, and hosts, are so welcoming and friendly. But I want to dedicate this post to my new “huggie” girlfriend, Bonnie.

Bonnie, and her husband, Craig, have been hosts here for about 10 years. They are both very friendly and willing to help in any way they can. Craig always stops by the visitor center when Bill and I are working and asks if we need anything, and always tells us to call him if/when we do need anything. He is really a great guy and we appreciate all he does.

Bonnie is one of those people you meet, and immediately feel a connection, and just know it won’t be long before you become friends. Bonnie is beautiful inside and out, and she has a personality that just lights up any room she enters.

Bonnie trained me to make camping reservations and/or changes to reservations for our guests that visit our park. She has the patience of a saint and never seemed to mind the endless questions I had while I was being trained.

Bill and I were scheduled to work Christmas Eve. We didn’t mind because we are one of the new host couples here and we know we all need to “pay our dues” and take our turn working holiday’s… However, Bonnie knew Bill and I were going to spend Christmas Eve at our daughter, Shantel’s home, in Phoenix, and a big storm, with heavy rain, was predicted to arrive in our area within a few hours of the time we would finish our shift at 4:00. The problem with big storms with heavy rain in this area is that we have three washes to go through to get out of the park and make our way to the highway to get to Phoenix.

Bonnie and her husband were not planning to leave the park on Christmas Eve, they were going to have a little after hours gathering at the visitor center with some of the other park hosts. Bonnie had already worked her scheduled hours for the week. But, Bonnie knew Bill and I were a bit worried about getting out of the park before the heavy rains came that could flood the washes we needed to cross. So, Bonnie, being Bonnie, sent me a text around 11:30 yesterday morning letting me know that she was going to come in around 3:15 and take over so Bill and I could leave and get to Shantel’s home to start our Christmas celebration!

Both Bill and I were very happy to be getting off a little early. Now, imagine our surprise when Bonnie walks in at about 2:00 and said she had finished up the things she wanted to get done and decided she would just come on in and let us go even earlier!! OMG, both Bill and I were so surprised, happy, and very appreciative. We both hugged Bonnie, and told her how much we appreciate her, and wanted her to know what a great person we think she is. I mean how many folks do you know that would give up their Christmas Eve afternoon off to go and let people they just recently met get off early…? I’m sure there are a few folks out there like Bonnie that would do that, but let me just say, Bill and I have found that those kind of people are few, and sometimes hard to find… And when we meet people like Bonnie and become friends, we never for one minute that that friendship for granted!

So, a BIG shout out to my new girlfriend, Bonnie. THANK-YOU for being the beautiful, fun-loving, kind-hearted person you are. We were blessed the day we met you, and we look forward to many years of friendship.

Merry Christmas!

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