A Lovely Day For A Hike

And it was made even better with the beautiful wildflowers that can be found everywhere now in the park.

We are starting to get a lot of calls, when we work in the Visitor Center at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, asking us if the wildflowers are blooming within the park. With the recent rains, we thought we would have a spectacular wildflower season, but then we were hit with eight inches of snow on the desert floor throughout the park, and our fear was that the wildflowers might not survive that degree of cold. So today, Bill and I took a lovely hike out on the Granite, Bluff, and Stoneman Wash trails in search of wildflowers in bloom. I posted a few pictures in my last blog post showing some wildflowers that were scattered here and there around our campsite, but today, we wanted to see for ourselves, if there were plenty of wildflowers to be seen throughout the park so we can make the right recommendations to visitors that want to know what trails they can hike to find the most wildflowers.

We started out on the Granite trail and immediately began to see Mexican poppies in bloom.

As we made our way out along the Bluff trail, of course there are always plenty of the mighty Saguaro cactus, and Palo Verde trees to see. Sadly, we lost a lot of Palo Verde tress, and several Saguaro’s, when we had the snow in the park.

The further we went along the trails, and into Stoneman Wash, the more wildflowers we saw,

as well as trees that look to be dead at first glance, but as you get closer, you can see signs of new growth within it. Like this interesting tree, that creates an arch over the trail, within the Stoneman Wash.

The desert floor is lush with colors of green and purple,

as well as the brilliant reds and golds from the poppies that we found in large patches along our hike today, but I don’t think they are as abundant as they will be over the next week or so…

Even the cactus are showing pretty little buds, with the promise of future blooms.

It was a fun-filled way to spend the morning, and we enjoyed exploring the trails in search of wildflowers. Now we can give our visitors several options of trails to hike when they are looking to see some wildflowers over the next few weeks.

Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

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Signs Of Spring

At McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

Two weeks ago, I posted about a very unusual event that happened here in McDowell Mountain Regional Park, six to eight inches of snow! I’ve lived in Arizona since 1952, and I’ve never seen anything, but a light dusting of snow on the ground, here in the Valley of the Sun. Since I’m not a fan of cold weather, which is why I live in the Valley of the SUN…, I for sure, am not a fan of six to eight inches of snow on the desert floor where I live… But, apparently, many folks love, love, love the snow, and folks came from all around to see the snow in McDowell Mountain Park, thus proving that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder… 🙂

The only bright spot I found during the two days of snow in the park, was this pretty red Cardinal sitting in one of the trees that fell to the ground due to the weight of the snow.

But today, all that happened two weeks ago, is just a distant memory. Today, I found lots of signs of spring all over our beautiful Park. Purple Desert Lupine Wildflowers are in bloom all over the park,

as well as splashes of yellow from many different kinds of plants,

But the real eye catcher for me, is the Mexican Gold Poppies. They are a real show stopper in my opinion.

These desert poppies, create a stark contrast between the harsh, dry, sometimes dead, desert environment, offering a glimpse of hope for continued new growth and beauty.

Even the desert wild grasses offer a hint of colorful hues.

So given the choice, I will always choose this version of the Arizona desert, with the beautiful poppies, and other wild flowers, over snow any day.

Stay Tuned!

What Happened To My Desert

Thursday, 2/21/19, will stay in my memory book forever.. That is the day I woke up to six inches of snow right here in our campsite at McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

When I went to bed Wednesday night, it was cold and raining, but nothing like what I hadn’t seen before. But that all changed during the night when at approximately just 1700 feet elevation, it snowed! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got up at 5:00 a.m. and looked out our bathroom window. I yelled at Bill to get up, and look outside, because there was snow everywhere. The next picture is of our steps leading out of our motor home.

Well, you have to know I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures like a wild woman. I was so excited, but confused as well.

The whole park was covered in show.

Here is what the road through the campground looked like as we were making our way to work at the Visitor Center.

Then we started noticing several of our beautiful Palo Verde trees that were down due to the weight of all the snow.

The two Palo Verde trees in front of our Visitor Center were toppled over from the snow, and even the trunks of those trees were split down the middle.

One for the trees at the Visitor Center was so badly damaged, it had to be cut completely down.

This was the scene looking out over the picnic area beside the Visitor Center.

 

And this is looking out the back window of the Visitor Center where the critter pond is.

This is the tree where all the humming birds come to get drinks from our humming-bird feeder. The branch holding the humming-bird feeder was laying over on the snow-covered ground.

To protect the trails within the park, all the trails were closed to mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Only hikers were allowed out on the trails. And people came all day long, from all around the valley, to see the snow at McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

Here is a picture on Friday (day two of snow in the park), of the McDowell Mountains taken from the front of the Visitor Center. By now the snow had started to melt somewhat, but it was still cold enough outside to keep it around until Sunday on the ground, and it is still covering the McDowell, and surrounding Mountains.

If you know me, or follow my blog, you know I am NOT a cold weather girl. NO, I do NOT tolerate cold weather well at all. I LOVE my dry, warm, desert and lots of sunshine. So while I was excited, and confused, to see all the snow here in our desert park, I found myself feeling kind of down, and anxious, by the second day of the gray skies and snow on the ground.

This beautiful little Cardinal stopped by to say hello, and that was a bright spot in one of my day’s.

Now I know lots, and lots, of folks love, love, love, cold weather and lots of snow… They go on and on about how beautiful it is and how much fun it is to play in… Yeah, well, I’m just NOT that girl… No, give me lots of sunshine, and dry warm days…

And keep the snow, way over there, in the high mountains, where, in my opinion, I think it belongs… 🙂

Stay Tuned!

Looking For Customer Service

What ever happened to the days when people went to work, and did the job they were paid to do regardless if it is your dream job, or a job you are doing until you find your dream job? What happened to showing up to work everyday and providing the best customer service you can provide, because you signed on to give your best when you took the job you have now?

If you follow my blog, you know my husband, Bill, and I, have a daughter, Shantel, that is totally blind, but she has never let that get in the way of her living her life to the best of her ability each and everyday. She has a job in a call center, that just so happens to be in the customer service field, and she shows up everyday anxious to do her best to provide the best service she can for each and every call she takes.

The past two weeks Shantel has been working a lot of overtime, because the main call center for the company she works for is located back east, and they have been hit with extreme cold weather, that caused a lot of folks to not be able to make it into their jobs. So, all the east coast calls were rerouted to the Phoenix based call center where Shantel works. This caused Shantel to have to work ten-hour days, then deal with the two-hour Dial-a-Ride ride service two and from work. Dial-a-Ride is another whole nightmare story, in regards to customer service, but that will have to wait for another blog posting.

When I talked to Shantel today, she told me that last night she decided to treat herself when she finally got home from work, and use Uber Eats, to order her food and have it delivered to her.  I Googled Uber Eats and found the following information. “Uber Eats is a food delivery platform that makes getting great food from your favorite local restaurants as easy as requesting a ride. Uber Eats is the easy way to get the food you love delivered” Shantel has used Uber Eats several times in the past with no problems. So, because she was tired, and just wanted to order her food, eat, take a shower, and go to bed so she could get up and do her job well again the next day, she called Uber Eats and placed her order. She told me she always tells them she is visually impaired, and needs to have her order delivered to her door. In the past, this has never been a problem. However, last night, the driver called her when she was in the parking lot of Shantel’s apartment complex, and told her she didn’t want to walk to Shantel’s door with the food because it was too dark… She told Shantel she would leave her food order in the parking lot and left!! There is no way Shantel could have ever found her food order in the parking lot, and there is no way she should ever have to do that. Shantel called and made a complaint to the Uber Eats customer service line but they just told her “they will look into it”. I am beyond appalled at the lack of not only customer service by Uber Eats, but also the lack of common decency, for our fellow human beings ,by the Uber Eats delivery driver that told Shantel she would leave her food order in the parking lot and left, even though she knew Shantel is blind. If that woman was afraid to deliver the food order to Shantel’s door in the dark, perhaps she shouldn’t be working for a delivery service at night!

Shantel has also used Grubhub, which is another food deliver service, and found them to have excellent door delivery service. However, Grubhub doesn’t deliver from some of Shantel’s favorite restaurants.

Of course as her mother, I’m always upset when I hear about some of the obstacles Shantel has to deal with in her daily life. I know we all face obstacles in our lives, but sometimes I just think Shantel gets her share, and then some… However, being the beautiful, old soul ,that she is, Shantel never lets any of it get her down. She just keeps on going ,and makes the very best of what she has to work with… I asked her what she did for dinner last night since it was late, and her food order (that was already paid for) was left somewhere in the parking lot, and it was too late to start cooking dinner…? She laughed, and said “lucky for me, I found a can of soup in the cupboard”.

That’s our girl! We love you Shantel.

Stay Tuned!

 

 

Unmarked

I’m not one to visit gravesites of the deceased. I don’t believe they are there in the grave so I see no reason to visit the gravesite. When my father died in 2006, I took my mother to visit his grave, and she would always take flowers to place on the grave. When my mother died, in 2016, and the graveside service was over, I never went back to visit her gravesite again. Again, I don’t believe she is there so what is the purpose of visiting the gravesite…? However, for the past few months, I’ve had a nagging feeling urging me to go and visit my mother’s gravesite. I shared my feeling with my husband, Bill, but again I reminded him that I don’t believe in visiting the gravesites of the deceased because they are not there…  But today, Bill, suggested we take a ride to the cemetery to visit my mother’s grave. I agreed, and off we went.

Before my parents died, they made arrangements for all their cemetery needs, from the gravesite to the grave markers, and everything was pre-paid in full. When my father died there was no problem getting his grave marker installed in a timely manner. His name and proper dates were all correctly installed on his grave marker, and there was a blank space at the bottom of his grave marker where my mother’s name and dates were to be installed…

 

When my mother died on 3/10/2016, and we met with the folks at the cemetery office, they assured us that everything was in order, and pre-paid, for my mother’s information to be installed in her space of the grave marker she would share with my father. They were both buried in the same grave as a double-decker type of grave…

Well, imagine my surprise when we arrived at the gravesite of my parents, and my mother’s information was not on the grave marker, three years after she has been dead!

 

You can see the holes in the stone where the information marker is to be placed, but no marker is there. So off we go to the office to find out what happened. Why was my mother’s information not on her gravesite stone?

After talking to the “family service counselor” on duty and explaining that my mother has been dead almost three years, and there is still no name or dates on her gravesite stone, and that all of that was pre-paid and was supposed to have been taken care of within weeks after she died… we were asked to wait in a room while the “family service counselor” went to speak with her manager. A short while later the manager came into the room and tried to tell me that the gravesite marker had never been ordered and had not been paid for. By now I’m doing all I can to try to keep some zen in my voice as I explain to him that everything had been pre-paid, and I was witness to when my parents paid for everything. I told him I could go home and get my papers (I never thought I would need to take them with me today because I never thought in my wildest dreams that her gravesite marker wouldn’t have been installed). I described the man that we met with, and the manager told us that man was no longer employed there, and there was a reason why he was no longer employed there. I continued to insist that the gravesite marker for my mother had been paid for, and at that point the manager said he was going to go back and reread the original contract and excused himself from the room. When he came back, he looked at me and asked if I’m a patient person? I mustered up a smile and said yes, but I wanted to scream I can be, but your making it very difficult!!! Then the manager said he found in the original contract where everything was pre-paid and it was their mistake and he just couldn’t be more sorry…

The manager showed us on the paperwork where the person (that was no longer working at the cemetery office) wrote on the paperwork when we met with him the day after my mother died which was 3/11/2016, “pre-paid final date (shown in the middle of the next photo. The manager said perhaps he was waiting for the final date to put on the gravesite marker.. Well I might not be the sharpest tool in the toolbox, but I know that the final date would be the date of death which for my mother was 3/10/2016, which is also listed on the paperwork. So instead of anyone picking up the phone to call and clarify, they just did nothing, and so my mother’s gravesite has gone unmarked for three years and counting… Had Bill and I not gone to visit the gravesite today, her gravesite might have stayed unmarked forever!

After a lame attempt to try to explain what might have happened, the manager looked at me, and most likely saw I was not buying any of it so he finally said “there is no excuse, this is entirely our fault, and we are going to order the gravesite marker with your mother’s information today. We will email you the proof for you to approve, and we will install it as soon as it comes back to us. He even offered to give us a memorial inscription free. I told him I wasn’t looking for anything free, I just wanted them to make her gravesite marker as we agreed upon in the first place which was to have her name, date of birth, date of death, and a cross to match my father’s marker.

So now we wait… it can take a couple of weeks to get the proof to approve, then 8-10 weeks to get the gravesite marker back and installed on her grave. That will put Bill and I into our time to leave Arizona, and make our way to South Dakota. So, because I have been reminded yet again that we have to follow-up on everything, and leave nothing to chance ,and hope good, quality, customer service will prevail… I asked them to take a picture of the gravesite marker when it is installed on my mother’s grave, and email it to me so I know it actually got properly installed this time.

When we left the cemetery, it was lunch time so we went to one of our favorite places, to get great, fast, food, Pei Wei. The next photo shows what my fortune cookie said…

 

I guess we will just have to wait and see…

Stay Tuned!

Home At Last

In my last post, I wrote about taking our motorhome into the shop to have carpet replaced in the bedroom and on one of the slide-outs (dining area). The rest of our rig has tile. We were told when we first made the arrangements to have this project done that it would take two days to complete the job. However, as with most home improvement projects, we’ve learned to hope for the best, and expect the worst… While it wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened with our home improvement projects, our two-day commitment to complete the job, quickly started turning into three days. I thought this posting would be a good time to let you know what we did for two and a half days without our home, after we spent the first trying to get our laundry done.

On day two, we decided we would go see the movie The Mule, staring Clint Eastwood. Both Bill and I enjoyed the movie and it gave us a couple of hours to sit and relax, and it took our minds off of thinking about when we were going to get our motor home back. We really were not too worried at that point because we knew we still had another day  off before we need to go back to our hosting jobs at the Visitor Center at McDowell Mountain Regional Park. After the movie, we enjoyed a lovely lunch at PF Chang’s. Then off we went back to our room at the hotel still thinking all is going well with our carpet replacement project. We decided we would make a call to get a status on where they are in regards to getting our carpet replacement completed. That’s when we were told that it was not going to be ready until Thursday,  the day we needed to go back to work.  That was NOT the answer we wanted to hear. If we would have been able to get our motor home back on Wednesday, it would have given us time to get it set up, and put back all of our belongings that we had to store in order for them to take the bed and dining area booths out to replace the carpet. In addition, we had to get our bed made up again, and get groceries for the upcoming week. We were both scheduled to work our half shift day Thursday. Now, this put us into putting the plan (B) in place. I am a big believer in always having a plan (B). Plan (B) was that I would drop Bill off at RV Renovators the next morning at 7 A.M. and I would go on to open the Visitor Center at 8:00. We were hoping  that Bill would be able to take possession of our home first thing that morning, get it back to the park and set up, and come to relieve me from the Visitor Center by 12:00 noon so I could go get the groceries (we had to really limit, and store the few groceries we had, because we knew we would be unplugged for the time our motorhome was in the shop) and try to put our home back together again so we can live comfortably once again…

On the morning of day three, we notified the morning desk clerk, at La Quinta Inn, of our situation and asked if we reserve our room for another night, and we get notified our motor home is ready, can we cancel without fees. She assured us we had until 6:00 P.M. to cancel without a fee. Good news to us. So in an effort to pass more time, and take our minds off our current situation, we went back to the movies, and saw Ben Is Back staring Julia Roberts. Seems like we had a little drug theme movie thing going on… Again, we both thought that was a good movie. Julia Roberts always delivers a great performance in my opinion.

When we returned to our hotel around 2:00 that afternoon, and were “patiently” waiting in the lobby of our hotel for our room to be cleaned, we received a call from RV Renovators letting us know our motorhome was ready. We were very excited to know we would be back in our home that day, but as a result, it cost us $50.00 to cancel the room we reserved earlier in the day. We would not have had a problem with that except for the fact that in the morning, before we went out to the movie, we told the girl at the front desk about our situation. We  explained that we are full-time RV, that we were having our motorhome carpet replaced, and that we were not sure if it would be done later that day or if we would need to stay another night. She assured us if we reserved our room that morning , for another night, we would have until 6:00 P.M. to cancel without any cancellation fees…However, when the call came in at about 2::00 p.m.  (check-in is 3:00 P.M.) and we told by the new, change of shift person at the front desk, that we needed to cancel our room for that night, we were told it was too late to cancel ,and we needed to pay for the night. We explained what the morning person told us, and were told to wait while this afternoon person checked with her manager… Finally, she came back and told us we wound need to pay $50.00 even though we never even stayed in that room at all… We just chalked it up to another case of the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing…

In the end, both Bill and I are very happy with how our carpet replacement looks, and we are VERY happy to have our home back, because there really is no place like home…

 

As a final thought, I have to say, through all of this home improvement “adventure”, both Bill and I were able to laugh, and keep our spirits up. Bill and I contribute that to some very positive changes we’ve made in our lives this year that are working very well for us.

Stay Tuned!

Where’s The Heat?

I’m an Arizona desert rat through and through, and it’s no secret that I do not like to be cold. So imagine my surprise when I heard on the news that our usually sunny, warm, Arizona winter temperatures were going to dip down to an overnight low of 28 degrees! I know it’s much colder in many other parts of the country, but those folks must like, and be able to tolerate bitter cold weather better than I. Then when I woke up and looked out our window, I see snow on the surrounding mountains…

 

What’s happening here, and who turned off the heat? I heard on the news it was warmer in Anchorage Alaska yesterday than it was in some areas of Arizona. What’s up with that?

I need to get bundled up and go for my daily walk, but ” baby, it’s cold outside…” I’ve been told I need to dress in layers when it’s cold… I don’t think there are enough layers for me to put on to get warm enough to venture out in this cold. It’s so cold, I’d rather stay inside and do the ironing until it warms up again… That’s how much I do not like to be cold.

I hope if you love cold weather you are having fun and continue to enjoy many winter activities… I, on the other hand, just want to know… where’s the HEAT… Ha! 🙂 🙂

Previous Older Entries

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On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

The Brantley Blog

In the eyes of the law, we reach adulthood the day we turn 18 years old. God help anyone who actually believes that.

the next few years

family life..with a unique perspective of motherhood

Gotham Girl Chronicles

a mixture of random musings...life in NYC...travel...photography...cycling

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Living An Active Full Life

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