Sunday, 31 May 2015

Animal updates

We've been up to quite a lot in the last couple of weeks, but I've been feeling lazy about writing so I've decided to do it in little chunks.

First, a few things from back in Arizona. I have a pretty photo of a hummingbird from the feeder at the Dome in Sedona (thanks to Ute!):

I forgot to mention that one of the hummingbirds accidentally flew into the dome (we had a habit of leaving the patio door open). The poor thing was disoriented and went up to the skylight window and tried to get out there. The window was much too high for us to reach, so we put the feeder on a pole and tried to tempt it down with that....which didn't work. However, after a few minutes the bird was exhausted and landed on the ground. Chad carefully approached it to catch it and release it outside, but it recovered enough to fly out on its own.
Luke and I have seen countless hummingbirds in the last month. We must have been following them along their migration route. My favourite is when they sound like they are blowing tiny coach's whistles as they fly around. I also love watching them dive bomb. A couple took a particular interest in my bike too :)
Next is a sweet photo Luke took of Ute and Steveo when up on Mount Lemmon in Tucson:

On that same ride they saw a couple of gila monsters!!!! One of them pretended to start leaving, then turned around and hissed aggressively at Ute. So bad ass.

And the last photo is of the javelina that we finally saw (thanks to Steveo for the photo!)

One more animal story. When we were biking on Gooseberry Mesa we came across a diamondback rattle snake (a young one, without a rattle yet) on the trail. Luckily it was asleep. It was so asleep that I was worried it was dead, so Luke got a long stick and gently prodded it. It woke up and slithered off. I felt a bit bad for disturbing it, but since it was on the trail and sort of looked like a stick at least it wouldn't get run over.

Next time I'll finish off Utah.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

More Arizona and Utah

After we left Tucson we went north to Cave Creek and Carefree. They are both north of Scottsdale/Phoenix and are much nicer than Phoenix (which both Luke and I dislike very much). We went to a great coffee shop/bike shop where the barista was from Alberta and they sell coffee scented chain lube [that I bitterly regret not buying] The gal from Alberta told us Cave Creek attracts hippie types, but that rest of the area is mostly very conservative and that she avoids talking politics if at all possible. It was also the day that the Alberta provincial government went NDP.
We camped at a little sight close to Lake Pleasant (so pretty!) and listened to the cows and burros braying in the little valley across the road. It's always such a nice surprise to find such beauty after the uninspiring landscape of Phoenix.
We decided to ride the Cave Creek Cactus Classic so we started from the coffee shop and just as we arrived at the trailhead (about 10k in) I barfed up my lunch... I was actually feeling fine otherwise so I think I just didn't give myself enough time to digest my lunch. But regardless, my stomach seems to be against me more often than I would like. :(  Since there was 30km to go I turned around and went back to the truck. It was pretty frustrating because the scenery was gorgeous--hills of saguaro cacti with smallish rocky mountains in the background.  However, Luke said the trail was harder than he thought it would be, with annoying areas of chunder, so it's probably better that I didn't continue on.

It was pretty hot so we decided to go back to Flagstaff...and promptly got snowed on.  I've never ridden in Flagstaff so we planned to do a trail mid-day...and then it was too windy. I still love Flagstaff. I need to go back in the summer it seems.
We did see some nice footprints in the mud at our campsite in the morning though:

Elk hoof

Mountain Lion paws

More Mountain Lion

So we hopped in the car and drove to Hurricane Utah. There was a fair bit of rain and even some hail and snow (apparently the Grand Canyon got a dump of snow), but luckily after a day the weather turned nice. As we were approaching town an SUV behind us passed us just as a huge tumbleweed was blowing onto the highway. They drove right into it as they passed and we watched little bits of it coming off of the car for about 30 seconds before they pulled over to the side of the road--the tumbleweed was stuck on and was the size of the entire front of their SUV!

I have more additions to my Flowers of Walmart series. These are from the Walmart in Hurricane Utah.

We rode the Dino Cliffs trail, where there are dino footprints in one of the washes! I was ridiculously excited by that.

We stayed at a campground with a little lake and beach, that was full of huge RVs and ATVs. I don't really understand the appeal of driving ATVs in the sand. They are so noisy and you are just sitting there being inactive for the most part. Then again, I kind of hate driving so I guess it makes sense that I don't get it. To each his own I suppose.

The next day we went up to Gooseberry Mesa. We had a fantastic campsite that was at the edge of the mesa--we had fantastic views:



Funnel Spider Web

We rode the trails out to an amazing view point with a 360 degree view of the area. It was spectacular. I didn't take any photos, but photos wouldn't have done it justice. It goes out to a peak and even though you're on a fairly big slab of rock, the feeling of being that high up with so much space around was a bit hard for scared-of-heights me. But it was so worth it.
There's another view point a bit further back from there and there is a smashed jeep about 20 stories down that went off the edge.

Next time: more Hurricane and St.George!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Tucson and Utah

After leaving Sedona and the dome we drove to Tucson to continue the trip with Ute and Steveo. We had a casita rented in the Star Pass area--the casita was nice, but the dome is a hard act to follow. One of the perks however was access to their olympic sized heated swimming pool. We only went to the pool once, but it was so nice to do some swimming and Luke had fun getting into mischief with the wheelchair assistance lift that helps (normally disabled) people into the pool.
The other nice thing about the casita was that we finally saw a javelina!! There was much effort (mostly by Steveo) to put food out for them and go for late-night javelina searches, but in the end we saw one in the bushes right beside the casita mid-morning. Luke was the one who spotted it, but we all made it outside in time to see it.  It was awfully cute (they have a tiny snout and hoofs) and bigger than expected. They can be aggressive so we were lucky that it just wanted to be left alone.

We went to the Fantasy Island area for our first ride. The cacti are all blooming and blooming because of the rain so there was many photo ops. Here are some highlights:

Prickly Pear


Happy on my new bike

The polar bear licence plate is from the NWT


The next day I was shuttle bitch for the Lemmon Drop on Mount Lemmon. I dropped them off near the top and then slowly made my way down, doing hikes and geocaching as I descended. I found zero geocaches...and the bikers, who don't geocache, found one without even trying. Sigh.
Ute had a crash right near the beginning of the ride--she had some big scrapes on her jaw, shoulder, leg and arm and Luke had to retrieve her bike from about a story below the trail. But she kept on riding because she is awesome! Luke destroyed the bearing on his hub and it sounded like popcorn popping on the front of his bike for the 5 hour ride down.
Ute and Steveo had the brilliant idea of partly freezing the water in their camelbacks--I'm sure they weren't the first to think of that, but having refreshing cold water during the hot days on the trails was wonderful! The weather was mostly in the high 20s-mid 30s, which is hot for this northern girl.

I also shuttled them up to the top of Mt.Lemmon again so they could ride the CDO (CaƱada del Oro) trail, which is recommended not to be done solo. I dropped them off in the little ski village at the top named Summerhaven and it took me a full hour to drive back down. The road down is wonderfully scenic. Since I had a few hours to kill I went to my favourite Tucson store, Bookmans, and did a hike in Catalina State Park.
Meanwhile, the 8 hour bike ride descended about 7000 ft and went across rock formations along the ridge. Ute had two rattlesnake scares, they found flecks of gold in a stream, and they saw two gila monsters (I am SO JEALOUS). One started retreating, only to turn around and hiss loudly at them--such a bad ass! They have really beautiful markings--I don't have any photos, but if I get one from Ute I will post it.
They got to the bottom just as dusk was about to turn to dark. As I waited for them I saw many long-eared bunnies and a family of quails (the babies are ridiculously cute). I also learned that when a quail calls out it throws its head back, also ridiculously cute.

Our visit with Ute and Steveo ended too quickly! We hope to see them again soon :)

Thursday, 7 May 2015


We started the day out getting snowed on at our campsite in Flagstaff, so we made our way down to Sedona to get some chores done and to get some warmer weather. We got one of the tires repaired (there was a nail in it) and bought an air intake to replace our cracking one--the truck repairs continue, as per usual! We had to drive to Prescott to get the part, so we got to check it out along with Cottonwood. We now need to go back to ride the trails!

We had a geodesic dome rented for a few days in Sedona with our friends Steveo, Ute and Chad. Here's some photos of the dome and the views:

 Inside the Dome

 Lovely plant outside of Dome

A view from the Dome

There was also a hummingbird feeder and many many hummingbirds were seen. (none with my camera, but I can likely get a photo from someone who was more on the ball)

The first couple of days were surprisingly cloudy and rainy--which really just means you get rained on for a few minutes, a few times a day.
Here's some photos from the trails:

 View from a summit

Everywhere you look there is incredible beauty!

Here's some more photos from different trails:

Old rusted car 

I also went to the Devil's Kitchen sinkhole:

And here's an agave plant:

Can you spot the agave?

Once the agave plant blooms, the plant dies. Hopefully this one will have many offspring!

Since it was raining a fair bit, many of the cacti were in bloom!

Prickly Pear starting to bloom

We also saw the fellow who is spending his retirement traveling in a van, riding his mountain bike--R U Nuts Adventures--at the Bike and Bean. We saw him in Spokane WA last year too.

Next blog post: Tucson!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Flagstaff and missed photos

It's been a good couple of weeks! First off, I fished these previously forgotten photos off my phone from the first half of our trip:

This first bunch was from the Ojito wilderness, at the White Mesa bike trails in Albuquerque. It's a really interesting area!

 Me with my very first geocache

 Somewhere out there the largest seismosaurus fossil was found

 Luke, with his first geocache. And antlers.

These next few are from our travels in Texas.

 Dino showdown, somewhere in Texas

 Luke with Pancho, the dog who loves him.
Pancho would jump into Luke's arms for a cuddle whenever he could.
How much longer until we have a trail dog I wonder?

Badass Dino mural in a Texas rest stop bathroom.
Texas knows how to do it.

Sooo, now back to our more recent travels. We went back to Santa Fe for a day (too short!). We spent the night at the Big Tesuque National Forest Campground, where there was still snow.

So the next day we went back down to ride the Windsor trail from the bottom, sans snow.
I didn't make it as far as Luke, so I missed the interesting encounter he had further up the trail:
At one of the trail intersections Luke ran into a fellow hiking who was having trouble figuring out how to get back to his vehicle. Luke gave him the instructions on how to get back and went off to bike a loop off the trail. As he returned to the same intersection the same fellow was coming off of a different trail to the same spot. The hiker had gotten turned around again, and since Luke was going in the same direction he walked with the fellow to make sure he got to the right spot this time. They got to talking and Luke learned he had been out there for hours....and that he was the curator for an Ansel Adams museum in California! So they got to talk photography and Luke has an invite to the museum :)
Afterwards, we were talking with our friend Laurie from Albuquerque and she told us lots of people go missing in that it's possible Luke saved his life! Recently an older woman, who knows the trails, was mushroom picking with her husband there and went off the trail for a few minutes and hasn't been seen since. Scary stuff.

We spent a couple of days in Albuquerque, and spent a night at our favourite Walmart parking lot in town. In a previous post from November I had a photo of the pretty flowers in the parking lot, and now this tree was in bloom in the same spot:

I went geocaching with Laurie and more than doubled the amount of geocaches I found (which wasn't hard, since I'm a very unambitious geocacher and only had 15). We then went to a geocaching event (at a bar, involving beer) and met some great people. One fellow retired at 44 from working with nuclear weapons at Sandia labs and is an anarchist pacifist that has been traveling the world for almost 30 years...which made for some interesting conversations!

We then made our way over to Flagstaff.  Man, I love Flagstaff. It's kind of the perfect town for me. It has mountains and pine trees and trails and everything feels like a lovely small town. It has a fantastic yarn shop, and when the weather is too cold you can pop down to Sedona.
We camped in a free camping area for a couple of nights, and got snowed on a few times. So then we went down to Sedona for some warmer weather--and to meet up with friends at the geodesic dome!  More on that next time....