Winding Down

Lots of things are starting to wind down in our world right now.

Our time here at McDowell Mountain Regional Park is winding down. We only have two more weeks until we head out to spend a week in Cottonwood at my brother, Danny’s place, before we make our way to South Dakota, where we will host in Visitor Centers in Custer State Park. Neither Bill nor I have ever been to South Dakota, so we are super excited to find out what all that state has to offer. We will be there from May through September, so we will have plenty of time to get out and hike, fish, and explore… all the things Bill and I love to do.

A few weeks ago I posted pictures of all the beautiful wildflowers that were in full bloom throughout the park,

but even they are starting to wind down in anticipation of the upcoming hot summer months.

And sadly, our time we get to spend with our precious daughter (baby girl) Shantel, is winding down as well. With her work schedule and ours, we really only get to see her every other Sunday while we are here from October through April. So with only one more  Sunday (Easter Sunday) left to spend time with her, we decided to bring her out to the park today to meet any of the hosts and friends that were home, and take her on a little hike to find out if any wild flowers were still blooming in abundance within the park. Even though Shantel can’t see, she still loves to go out on hikes, and enjoys having me be her sighted guide to explain what I’m seeing as we hike the trails.

We weren’t far into the hike before we discovered that the wildflowers were not near as abundant as they were a few weeks ago, but the various cactus were in various stages of bloom.

 

I asked Bill and Shantel to stand in front of this Ocotillo plant for a picture. They stood there looking at me and never smiled until I said “ready, set, now look like you love each other” , then they busted out laughing, and I got a great picture. Did you know the Ocotillo plant is not a cactus? No, it is a desert shrub. But, shhhhh, it doesn’t know that it isn’t a cactus…

As I said, we didn’t find an abundance of beautiful wildflowers on our hike, but I stopped to take a picture of this cactus skeleton just because I found it interesting to look at.

Just like I found the contrast of this dead tree, with a flowering bush blooming beneath it ,interesting to look at.

We didn’t do the full hike we intended because Shantel said she was getting too hot. I said “I thought you loved to hike” and she said “I do mom, but not when it’s this hot out at 9:30 in the morning. So we made a plan to go for early morning hikes when we come back next season.

After our short hike, we took Shantel out to lunch, then made our way back to Phoenix to take her home. In the car on the way to take her home, Shantel said she was surprised at how long a drive it is from her home to the park(this being the first time she has been to our park and it is an hour from her house to the park and back), and said she felt like she was back in dail-a-ride mode because it takes at least two hours to get from place to place with dail-a-ride when she is trying to get to work. I told her it is a long drive, but papa and I don’t mind it at all as long as we get to spend time with her. She smiled that beautiful smile at me that always lets me know she feels well-loved when she is with us.

We love you Shantel, and are looking forward to our traditional Easter lunch at Joe’s Crab Shack.

Stay Tuned!

 

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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!

 

 

 

Canyonlands And Arches National Parks

Yesterday our son, Pat, and daughter-in-law, Celina, took us to visit Canyonlands National Park, and Arches National Park in Utah.

We left Fruita, Colorado and took a beautiful scenic drive to Moab.

For our daughter, Shantel, I will do my best to describe the beautiful scenery we saw. The scenic drive took us through an amazing canyon that follows the Colorado river. The mountain colors are almost beyond what I have words for, because they have multiple shades of color. Shades of red, blue, white and hues of everything in between. And, in some areas, they stand majestic against the deep blue sky, green grass, and trees that surround them.

 

From Moab, we made our way to Canyonlands National Park. The information we received when we entered this National Park says “Canyonlands National Park preserves 337,598 acres of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires in the heart of southeast desert. Water and gravity have been the prime architects of this land, sculpting layers of rock into the rugged landscape it is today”. It reminded me a lot of our Grand Canyon in Arizona, but on a smaller scale.

Pat, Celina, and Papa like to stand on rocks too near the edge for my taste. But they don’t have a fear of heights like I do… 🙂

At one stop, while we were at a very high point in our visit of the park, Pat pointed out a dirt road below us that goes around a mountain. He told me we were going to go on that road when we left the area we were at. I looked down at what looked like a one lane dirt road to me, looked back at Pat and said “we are?” But I was thinking to myself “not this girl, I’ll stay right here and you can pick me up on the way back.” Then Pat laughed and said no, that road was only for the off-road vehicles. Well better them than me!

One of the things that always amazes me when I visit areas like this, is how some trees seem to be growing right out of solid rocks. I captured a picture of a tree that was doing just that. There is a huge rock/cliff and a tree is growing right out of the rock. These particular trees don’t seem to need much soil to grow, and they are beautiful.

As we made our way around the scenic drive of Canyonlands National Park, each stop we made to take in the view was more spectacular than the last. It was truly hard to say what part of the park was my favorite. The next picture shows high spires that start wide at the bottom of the canyon we were looking down into, and they taper off into pillar shapes at the top.

We didn’t go all the way through the park, because Pat and Celina also wanted to show us as much of Arches National Park as we had time for. They needed to get back home at a reasonable time and get the kids from the sitter. So we left Canyonlands National Park, went to lunch at the brewery in Moab (thanks for the tip Mary) and made our way to Arches National Park.

One of the first things we saw as we entered Arches National Park was the courthouse towers, which are tall stone columns that in this case, look like what would be on the front entrance of a real courthouse.. Just amazing.

There are hundreds of unique rock formations throughout the park. Some of them form walls, while others look like balancing rocks,

and still others have windows, or arches, carved into them from years of wind carving holes into the rock.

As time was running short, we didn’t get to go through all of Arches National Park either. Pat said we went through about half of both Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park, but it was enough for us to get a good idea of what both parks offer. Both parks are amazingly beautiful while being very different.

We did get to see on of the larger arches or windows, and Celina and I did climb up and into the hole that makes the arch or window.

Then we made our way down from that arch, and on to the next one that had one large arch or window and another much smaller one carved out of the same rock.

The next arch formation had a rock sitting to the side of it at the entrance of the arch, and that rock had three other rocks on it that to me made it look like people who might be the gatekeepers of that arch.

As we made our way back to the parking lot, from a distance, you can see several more arches carved into a huge rock formation making it look the entrance to several caves.

And just to the side of that was one last rock formation with two small arches or windows, but to papa and I, the large rock formation looked like two big elephants. One laying down with its trunk up in the air, and one standing behind that one with its trunk pointed down towards the ground.

It was a beautiful fun-filled day, and we so appreciate Pat and Celina spending the day showing us around these two amazing National Parks.

Stay Tuned!

Devils Canyon Trail

This morning Papa/Bill and I visited the McInnis Canyons National Conservation, Kodels and Devils Canyon area. Today we hiked the Devils Canyon Trail. A beautiful hike filled with amazing views around every curve.

This was the perfect hike for us today, because I had already taken my two-mile morning walk, so I wasn’t looking for a long, strenuous hike.

The hike started out with luscious green shade trees at the beginning of the trail.

Then, the further you went along the trail, the more you are drawn in towards the amazing huge rock formations.

Some people love to watch clouds and see what they remind them of, we love looking at unique rock formations and try to decide what figures, faces, or scenes, they look like to us. And even if you don’t see any faces, figures, or scenes, the beautiful multi-colors within the rocks are amazing.

If you look closely, almost every rock tells its own story. Some look like they have eyes or faces watching you.

Papa/Bill named this rock “the village people” because of the long white strips it has flowing down, formed by years of wind and water. He said it looks to him like a bunch of people, and I agreed.

This rock formation Papa/Bill named “the whole village”.  He said it looks like it would be where the village people lived…

We  didn’t come up with a name for this next rock formation, but we both thought it was very cool looking with its multi-layers at the top. It sort of looks like the top of the rock collapsed down on itself creating four separate levels.

But my absolute favorite rock formation of the day, was this one that I named “rock horse”. It looks to me like the side view of a horse in a sitting position. It’s head is bent down, I can see one of its eyes, and at the top of its head, I see an ear. I just think it is the coolest rock formation I’ve seen yet!

Just another fabulous day, in our temporary neighborhood, here in Fruita, Colorado.

Stay Tuned!

A Day of Hope

On Friday’s our ten-year old granddaughter, Hope, doesn’t have school. So yesterday morning, we picked her up around seven(ish), took her out to breakfast, then brought her back to our RV Park so she and I could take a nice long morning walk while we waited for the pool to open so she could go swimming.

 

After a nice long time in the pool showing us her gymnastic skills, and having us judge her efforts, she was ready to move on to the little playground behind the pool area.

 

This little play area really only had two swings and a small slide.

But while we were there, we got to see this beautiful butterfly that came to visit the area.

Then Hope told us about a much bigger park that was not too far away from where we are staying.  So off we went to get ready to go visit that park. Hope was really excited, and ran ahead of us with her butterfly pretend “super hero” cape flying in the breeze.

The John Leane Canyon View Park Playground was really everything Hope said it would be.

The playground has everything you can imagine to swing on.

It even has a little zipline for the kids to enjoy.

And Hope really seemed to love this little seat that spins around and makes you dizzy… She was really tickled that grandpa was so happy to push it for her to make it spin faster.

Then, after she played on everything that moves, and that she could climb on,

it was time to leave this nice park and take her to lunch. She wanted to go to McDonald’s, so McDonald’s it was!

After lunch, we came home and played dominoes, and several rounds of crazy eights. Hope got so tickled when she beat her grandpa. She laughed so hard, she had grandpa and I laughing to the point of tears.

And when it was time to take her home, I would say it’s clear to see, this little girl had a full day,

and we had a delightful, fun-filled day of Hope!

Stay Tuned!

Colorado National Monument

Yesterday, our daughter, Katie Roden, and her family, gave us a guided tour of the Colorado National Monument. They have lived here for a long time and have visited the Monument several times and know a lot of information about it. We had never been there, but it just happens to be right down the road from the RV Park where we are staying in Fruita, Colorado, so there was no way we were going to miss visiting it while we are here.

The information booklet we received when we went through the entrance says “Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grandest landscapes of the American West. Bold, big, and brilliantly colored, this plateau-and-canyon country with its towering masses of naturally sculpted rock embraces 32 square miles of rugged terrain. Here you can contemplate the glorious views that stretch to distant horizons, discover solitude deep in a remote canyon, and delight in wild country that has roaming desert bighorns and soaring golden eagles.” I can say that definitely describes what we saw and felt while we were there.

 

Right out of the gate we saw wildlife just grazing along side of the road.

 

The beautiful rock formations are breathtaking.

The weather was perfect for sightseeing.

Around every curve in the road is another spectacular view.

 

 

We learned that ” the many sheer-walled canyons were carved primarily by the erosive force of floodwaters flowing over the plateau for millions of years.”

Vertical cliff walls and great natural rock sculptures tower over deep canyons.

The domed rocks in this next picture are called “coke ovens” A series of colorful rock domes created by the natural sculpting forces of water, ice, and wind.

I thought this looked like someone carved a statue into the wall.

And then, you almost always come across someone that has to try to be a show-off, and take unnecessary risks. The rock that looks like it is balancing on the end of the bigger rock in this picture, had a grown man squatting down making the peace sign with his hands as he posed for a picture that was taken by others in his group. I didn’t even want to take his picture while he was out there because that, to me, would be like condoning his, in my opinion, bad behavior.

It was a fun-filled day on the Colorado National Monument with our daughter and her family. After the guided tour, we went to their house for a delicious lunch.

Thank you Katie, Josh, and Emma, for sharing your knowledge of the Colorado National Monument. We love you and enjoyed our time together.

Stay Tuned!

Target Practice

Today Bill/Papa and I went target practicing.

 

We bought a package of reactive targets,

and a box of 525 Remington 22 long rifle shells,

and drove out to a free state shooting range just outside of Kremmling, Colorado.

They have designated areas here for folks shooting rifles, clay pigeons, and hand guns like what we were going to shoot. I like the fact that most of the shooting areas have shade, and they are blocked off by high dirt walls from other folks shooting.

I had never loaded a gun in my life, and in fact, I had only shot a gun once or twice, when I was very young, and my dad took my brothers and I out target practicing with a rifle that kicked so hard it knocked me to the ground, and that immediately ended my desire to ever shoot a rifle again… But I loaded my own gun today, after Bill/Papa showed me the proper way to load and handle a gun.

That allowed Bill/Papa to just worry about loading his own gun, and not have to worry about helping me…

When our guns were loaded, Bill/Papa and I walked together to the spot where we would shoot at our target. Then I took aim,

and shot all my bullets, and missed the whole target all but once. This is my first target after my first try.

Then Bill/Papa took aim,

and put all his bullets into the target. This is one of Bill’s first targets.

 

After I made more than several attempts to try and get more than one bullet into my target, Bill/Papa showed me how to shoot by cocking the hammer, so I wouldn’t pull the trigger so hard, which was making my hand move all around, causing me to miss the whole target almost every time. What a difference that made. By the way, Bill/Papa had a trophy from the Army given to him for expert marksman. He said he was the top marksman in his company. Who better to teach me how to shoot! This is one of my targets after Bill/Papa showed me the better way for me to shoot! I got all but one bullet into the target and one is even touching the center bull’s-eye. 🙂 I believe I like this kind of shooting…

After several rounds of hitting my target where we were, we decided to move over to a spot that had a seat and table to use that I suppose is designed to help you have better control and aim… That didn’t work out at all for me because the target was much too far away. But I did give it a good try. As I was taking aim, I was reminded of a quote I saw that showed a picture of a big male lion charging after it’s prey, and above the lion it read “you get what you focus on, so make sure you focus on what you want”. Well, I was focused on hitting that target, but it sure didn’t help any when in the middle of my full attempt at concentrating on my aim, a train went past right behind me, and of course, had to blow that loud whistle…

Bill/Papa sat down, and of course, he hit seven out of nine times from 90 feet away. Great job!

After a couple of hours of fun target practice, we walked around and picked up empty shells,

and trash, and put it in a bag to carry out with us because we always try to leave places we visit a little better than we found it.

Then we packed up our gear, and headed home for lunch. It was a really great time and we will for sure be back to do it again… 🙂

Thank you Bill/Papa for showing me how to load and properly handle a gun, and especially for showing me how to shoot better, by cocking the hammer before I shoot, and then like you said”gently squeeze the trigger”.

Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

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