Tag Archives: Arizona

I’m Back–No More Silence!

I realized I was quiet the month of September.  It is unusual for me to be quiet.  No thoughts, no words, no memories.  It was a hard month.  I was so desperately tired of politics, and it seemed to be in my face.  I was still at our Missouri home with a sales contract that was about to expire.  I was not going places like the past because of Covid-19.  It was just a hard month.  

Life, as we knew it, has not been the same since early March of this year.  We sheltered in place in Arizona.  We washed all our packages from the grocery store.  We were washing or hands every other minute.  All I could think about was getting back to Missouri to see our children and hope they were healthy.  

We weren’t sure how to get there in the midst of a pandemic, and having a three day trip where we didn’t want to stay in hotels or eat in restaurants (if any were even open).  Then Dennis got a stroke of genius.  He decided what would work is to purchase a travel trailer that was small enough that his car could pull it.  The only stops we had to make were for gas, and RV parks along the way.  If the RV parks were full, we could boondock in a Walmart parking lot.  

We found a trailer in April, and asked the dealership if they could hold it for a month so we could just pick it up when we were ready to leave for Missouri.  It was quite an adventure.  Our trailer was small, but had a love seat that fold down to a queen size bed, table with two reclining chairs, and a full bathroom, although a small one!  It had a ton of storage, so we were good to go.  We did find that the 2 recliners were pretty useless—first the bolts fell out of them on our first few hundred miles of driving, and the seats were too low for the table.  We have since replaced them with 2 regular chairs, and it was a perfect solution.

We made our way to Missouri, and parked the trailer in front of our home—our home is in the country, so there are no rules about parking a travel trailer.  We made a couple trips into the St. Louis area, and stayed several days at an RV park.  We could visit family without having to stay anywhere but our own place.

Things weren’t much different in Missouri than Arizona.  While Covid-19 was raging through the state of Arizona, it had not yet hit hard the middle of the state of Missouri.  Because it hit hard in the city of St. Louis, visiting our kids was limited.  They were wearing masks 24/7 outside their homes.  They were wary of us coming from the hot spot of Arizona.  

My grandkids ended their school year doing online classes.  My grandson who was a freshman at the University of Missouri, moved back home to finish his classes.  The university was refunding a good portion of their housing money if they moved out.  By June, Jack and his cousin, Niki, were tired of being confined in their parents’ homes, and they ventured their way to mid-Missouri where they stayed with us for almost three weeks.  It was so much fun to have them there.

But, that was not even easy.  A week after we arrived in Missouri, Dennis got sick.  I mean he got, “I cannot breathe sick.”  It was scary.  The really odd thing is that for three doctors’ visits no one suggested he get a Covid test.  Finally, we asked for one and was approved to get it to day the grandkids were to arrive.  I quickly called them and told them to not come until we got the results of the test.  Fortunately, Dennis got the results in 4 hours, and he was negative.  So, I called the kids, and they didn’t want to wait for the next day—they drove out that evening.  I think they really needed a change of scenery.

Their visit was not like previous visits where we went places and out to eat.  We were confined at our home.  The pool was used a lot, they took walks in our wooded neighborhood, an we played a lot of games.  It was a good break for all of us.  Then they went back home, and I needed things to keep me busy.  I started making quilt tops.  I became a sewing fool, but it kept me optimistic, and productive.  I am a project person, and I always need something to keep me going.  

As the summer moved on, the political world heated up.  There were demonstrations, okay, the most of them turned out to be riots.  Cities were burned, people were being nasty to their loved ones for not agreeing on things.  It was ugly.  It made me buy more fabric and limit my use of social media.

I was fortunate to make a couple trips. In July, I flew to the east coast to visit my sister. To my surprise, the airport in Washington D.C. was a ghost town. I had a great time visiting with her and her east coast kids and grandkids. Early September Dennis I drove to northern Georgia to visit dear friends/family. Their mountain home was a great retreat for us. The rest of  September was the low point.  I realized we didn’t see our kids as much as we wanted.  We didn’t see friends and extended family hardly at all.  Our contract on the house was about to expire, and I just wanted to go “home” to Arizona.  We planned our escape back for the first week in October.  It was time to go.  

Our house is back on the market, and we are getting really excellent showings and interest.  It is looking positive.  We packed up the whole house.  There is nothing left but furniture and a few cleaning products.  We traveled back with our trailer and stayed at the same RV parks we used going east.  When we pulled up to our Arizona home, I felt like I was truly home.  That was a good feeling.  We unpacked our trailer and took a couple days to unpack boxes and find new homes for the last of our Missouri belongings.  It feels good to be here.  We haven’t seen any Arizona family yet.  We are still finding our new normal.

The other day Dennis took the trailer back to the place we purchased it for a minor repair.  He said the lot was empty.  We bought our trailer before the everyone decided that was how to travel this year.  The lot was loaded with trailers of all sizes.   A friend of ours was thinking about purchasing a trailer, and when she priced them, they have doubled in price from when we bought ours!  Everyone is on the road with their RV!

So, here we are in Arizona.  Yesterday I took four of my quilt tops to a long arm quilting lady.  No, her arm isn’t super long—but her machine is!  I will continue sewing to keep me sane, and hopefully soon I will get to visit with my Arizona relatives.

Until then—I am back.  We are good.  We are happy to be back home.  Because we are still officially permanent Missouri residents, we voted at the city hall before we left.  Now I can ignore all the hoopla of the elections, and watch for the results on November 3.

Arizona Treasures

IMG_1144Are you coming to Arizona for a visit, or do you live in Arizona and need a new place to see?  This past week we had more guests at our home.  We have had pretty much non-stop guests since Thanksgiving.  We are still new to this city and state and don’t know all the great places to take guests.  One place that is always on our list, is a hike at the trails of the San Tan Mountain Regional Park.  The park is a five minute (if that long) drive from our home.  This hike gets our guests directly in the middle of the desert, and surrounded by cactus of all sizes and types.  We took our guests on an almost five mile hike.  We stopped at various benches along the trail, so one could catch their breath, and also time to take in the amazing views.IMG_1163IMG_1153

One of the new found places we went was the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale.  I had never been there, and had no idea what to expect.  I am not a very musical person, IMG_1100knowing very little about musical instruments, so I expected to be quickly bored, and ready to move on.  How wrong I was.  This is a most fascinating museum.  It is divided by continents of the world and the instruments from those area.  We are given a headset when we pay our admission. As we go to a display, one can see the instruments, some printed information, and then on a monitor is an individual or group playing these particular instruments, and the sound comes through the headsets.  As I moved from area to area, the headsets pick up the music of whatever I am standing and looking at.  At one point, I IMG_1099did not have my headset on, and I realized how silent the space was.  No one is talking much, and they are moving about listening through their own headsets to the music.

I will need to return as one cannot do this museum in one day.  There is so much to see and to hear.  Some of the instruments are very unique, and show ingenuity of the people of a region who may not have the technology to make what we would consider a modern musical instrument, but music seems to be universal, and they find a way to make an IMG_1104instrument that plays music to their ears.  I enjoyed seeing instruments from countries where my ancestors were from, finding some countries a bit more musical than others.

I spent most of my time in the U.S./Canada room, and Europe.  I need to return to get the other continents fully.  I loved the two rooms where I spent the most time.  I could have stood at the European classical music section for hours, had they had recordings for that long!   The instruments were so diverse, and some even puzzling and hard to believe.  One of the most interesting type instruments were ones that reminded me of bagpipes, but were made from animal carcasses.  The strangest was the “Ziqq” from Malta.  The instrument is a calf carcass, although I sure thought it looked like the neighbor’s dog!  A horn was attached to where I suppose the neck of the animal was, with a reed of some type to blow in to at front foot.  Just so odd and strange.  Unfortunately, the video did not show anyone playing it, so I have no idea what it sounded like.

There were five of us together, although we wandered throughout the galleries alone to our own pace.  At one point I received a phone call to meet downstairs in their restaurant for quick lunch.  It was a nice break.  Having just recovered from the flu, my ears were aching with the constant music—I guess I wasn’t yet totally healed.  For some of us, it felt like a musical overload.  Even so, it was a wonderful experience.  I plan to return soon to wander the galleries and marvel at the ingenuity of humankind around the world to find ways to make music to “calm the savage soul.”  It truly is a discovery of what all mankind has in common, the ability to create, as we are made in the image of God, who is the ultimate creator.

Another great place to explore was the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  I am not sure what I expected this place to be.  I think I thought I would walk through some fields and look at trees, and plants, and in an hour be out of there.  That was also a wrong assumption.  This place is located in the southern most part of the Tonto National Forest in Superior, AZ, just east of Phoenix.  The path through the arboretum wound around the mountain.  There was a small lake, and then, winding paths with rock walls.  The plants and trees were exquisite.  It is another place where I need to return and just go ever so slowly and take in everything.  It also was sensory overload of God’s beautiful and unique creation.

I saw trees that I have never seen before, and cannot imagine what a forest of them would look like!  It looked like many of the plants were getting ready for a bloom I the next month, and a return visit is going to have to be on my calendar.  This  very odd looking tree reminds me of artwork in a Dr. Suess children’s book.  I missed getting its name and any history of the tree.  I must go back, if just to learn more about this tree.

Last but not least, who would think a pizza joint would be a must see destination, but we IMG_1139had dinner one evening at a place called Organ Stop Pizza.  (Bring cash—they don’t take plastic).  The pizza is actually good, and the entertainment is unusual and really fun.  Center front of the dining room is a huge ornate theater pipe organ.  The pipes are all around the front walls, along with percussion instruments, that are electronically connected to what the organist is playing.  He plays a variety of music and takes requests.  People are eating a rows of tables, and some are singing along, or clapping, or cheering.  The little ones may be in the aisle dancing along.  This place is tasty and fun for those from one year to 100 years.  It is the last thing you expect when you go to a pizza restaurant, and definitely a must see for anyone visiting Phoenix.

Now, I am resting up from the two full months of our revolving door visitors.  I wouldn’t have traded these weeks for anything.  All of them were so much fun, and we loved showing them our new city.  As we stay longer, we will learn of other great places to visit.  So, you all come!  Get away from the snow and ice that is hitting the midwest and east coast.  Make yourself a plane reservation, and come enjoy the sights and sounds of the southwest.  By the time you come, I may have found some other great stops for you to visit!IMG_1283

Movin’ On

I will be back in Missouri in two weeks.  That sounds so odd today.  We have been at our home in Arizona since the end of December.  When we first got here I tried to find a IMG_0166rhythm to my life.  The setting was different, and I wasn’t sure what I would be doing with my days.

My days quickly got filled. Mostly Dennis and I would go to the mountain behind our home and hike approximately 4 miles, sometimes more.  Now the hiking is getting tough because the temperatures have gone to an uncomfortable HOT.  We have to go out earlier in the morning which is such a change for me.  I don’t like getting out and about that early in the day. 

Arizona weather is to my liking. Most days are sunny, and it is hot.  I am solar, so having the sun shining just brings warmth to my soul.

Now May is approaching, and our plan is to have our car loaded on and on the road for Missouri on May 9.  We will be back next winter.  I don’t want to leave.  I love it here, and I don’t feel like I have done all I want to do here.

The reality is that we have a house in Missouri.  It has not yet sold.  I know what faces me when I arrive.  First is cleaning all the decks and screened in porch.  Spring has come to the Midwest, and the pollen will be thick on all the surfaces.  I will have to hose and wash down the decks and porch.  

IMG_7990Then comes the flowers. I have been spoiled in Arizona.  When they landscape in Arizona, they put in a dripper system, that drips water on the each plant and tree, and I don’t have to go outside and water anything.  Unfortunately, that is not the case in Missouri.  I need to purchase the summer plants, and clean out the flower pots all over the pool deck and replant flowers.  In the meantime, Dennis will be cutting grass, or maybe baling hay if there has been a lot of growth.  That’s a joke—he won’t be baling hay.  We will re-mulch all the plant areas, and make everything look new and summer-happy!

I know I will find my rhythm once I arrive.  I will fall back into the pattern established living there the last five years.  As I will enjoy being back, I will have part of my heart at this home in Arizona.

There is something special about the Arizona home.  Maybe it is because Dennis and I bought it together.  We decorated it together.  This home is truly the house we both selected and made ours.  It is so comfortable.  It is small enough to be easy to maintain, and large enough to have loved ones visit.  It is peaceful in our little corner of the desert.

IMG_8846I don’t know what this year will bring.  Will our Missouri home go to a new family who want to make new memories there?  Where will we decide to live when we sell the home?  So many things are up in the air.  Maybe that is why I like staying in Arizona.  Everything here is settled.  This is my corner of the world.  Missouri is a big question mark.  Will we be home owners there for a while, short time or long time?  When we will be able to move on?

There is much I do love about Missouri.  You cannot beat the rolling hills of green trees.  The state is beautiful.  One half of my children live in Missouri, and the majority of my grandchildren are there.  This is what makes me happy about returning.  I can attend school plays and concerts and enjoy the presence of the grandkids.  I have many friends in Missouri, and hopefully, I can spend my summer reconnecting with them.  I look forward to the summer pool parties with family and friends.

I am leaving my car in Arizona.  It will make it easy if during the summer or the autumn, we want to drop in our desert home, we can take a quick flight out, and have transportation awaiting us.

feet in 2 statesI now have a foot in two states.  We are committed to Missouri as long as Dennis’ mom is with us.  She turned 100 last November, and she is quite healthy for her age.  I do know that we will try to find really good hiking areas when we get back.  We are so used to really working it on road trip2these long hikes, that we don’t want to lose that momentum that we have made.

As we get ready to button up this house for a bit, I am sure we will have some new adventures waiting for us back at our other place.  So, I have less than two weeks here, and I plan to make the most of it.  We will be hiking a lot, and we will be meeting up with friends before we go, and then I will put my traveling shoes on for the next adventure going back the the Show Me State.

Views Of My Arizona Mountain

I have to admit that I love living in Arizona.  My husband and I arrived here three days after Christmas, and we are going back to Missouri after the first week of May.  I missed the major snow storms in Missouri this winter—by missed, I mean I wasn’t there to see them—not I wish I had been there to see them.  Our home is at the foot of the San Tan Mountains.

I had a total hip replacement 6 weeks before coming to Arizona.  The first day we went to the San Tan Mountain to hike, I did an almost 3 mile hike on fairly level ground.  Over the months I have worked hard to build my strength in the hip that was replaced, and img_0015-1committed to hiking.  Dennis, my husband is almost addicted to this mountain!  He loves hiking all over it.  He loves the solitude of being on the mountain.

This mountain is a desert mountain.  It is not terribly high, compared to the Rocky Mountains.  It doesn’t have lakes and streams, or tall evergreen trees everywhere.  It is a desert.  It has cactus and strange looking trees and unique flowers.  It doesn’t look like the trees and flowers of Missouri.  There are hikers on the trails, and there are folks on bicycles and horses.  We all make room for each other.

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The rocky and sandy Terrain of the trails on San Tan Mountain

The other day we took a 6.18 mile hike, with an elevation gain during the hike of 581 feet.  The path is sandy and rocky.  I find that when I hike I have to watch the ground.  Otherwise, there is a good tendency that I could trip and fall on the trails.  Because of that, I stop every so often to look at my surroundings.  Everyday they look different.  Either new flowers are blooming, or dying.  Birds don’t sound like Missouri birds, and little lizards run across theRattlesnake 1 path so fast it is hard to see them well or take their photo.  There are even snakes, although we haven’t encountered many.  Of course, seeing one rattlesnake fairly close up is enough!

I stop and take a lot of photos on our hikes.  I have always marveled what an amazing artist is our God.  The colors, the terrain, the hills, even the snakes are all part of this natural wonder.  Over the time we have been here, the colors are ever changing depending on the rainfall and the sunshine.

We got pretty good at the hiking thing the few months we have been here.  When we first started out, we would take a bottle or two of water.  As we got more experienced on the trails, and as the weather began to warm up, we started hiking longer distances.  We brought water packs to wear on our backs to give us sufficient water while we are hiking.

IMG_9997This blog isn’t about anything profound, unless you think God’s creation is profound (which I do).  There are no lessons from my life or my family’s history.  I just wanted to share with you the beauty that we have encountered here in Arizona these few months.

I am sure my Facebook friends are growing weary of my postings with all the photos. What I realized was that my blogging friends were not seeing these photos.  So, I wanted to share them with you.

Arizona is a great place to winter.  It is not anything like Florida.  It has no oceans or waterways to brag about, but it has sunshine galore.  It is both tropical and desert.  The temperature in the winter is so lovely.  

I love that we live very close to Phoenix so I can actually shop at my favorite places.  Where I live in Missouri is quite a distance from any large cities, and shopping is not as much of a pleasure.  Okay, confession—I don’t like shopping.  That is why I can live in my small town in Missouri because I don’t need to be near a lot of shopping.  But, when I do img_9394want or need to shop, I want to be near many choices to make my purchases.  I also love that we live far enough out of the Phoenix area that my family who has lived here for years thinks we live way out in the sticks!  

I love we live at a foot of the San Tan Mountains, and we can see it from our back yard.  I love that we have some really sweet neighbors who keeps an eye on our home when we are back in Missouri.  I love that we get together with my cousins here who I rarely saw when I am in Missouri.  I actually have 12 first cousins in the Phoenix area.

So, as my weeks are winding down, I am thinking fondly of this wonderful winter we have spent in Arizona.  I am more physically active because of the great weather and the location we chose to make our home here.  I will also love going back to Missouri.  Summer and autumn in Missouri are great.  I love warm weather, so that works for me.  

All these photos were taken on my iPhone.  I carry on every hike just so I can take photos along the way.  Enjoy these photos of our hikes in Arizona.  Maybe one day we will meet you on the trails.

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Hiking With A New Hip

When we arrived in Arizona at the end of December, the weather (for Arizona) was cold with freeze warnings.  The locals said this was the worst winter they have seen.  The weather has been approximately 20 degrees below their normal, and there has been a lot of rain.  That is good news for this state because it has been in a drought state for years.

The mountain next to our home (San Tan Mountains) loomed over our home calling us out to explore.  Having just had a hip replacement two months prior, I was a little worried about hitting the trails.  At my last doctor’s appointment in December before leaving Missouri, I was told I could do anything I wanted as long as it didn’t hurt, and then that statement ended, very emphatically with, “Whatever you do, don’t fall.”  On January 5, Dennis and I decided to give it a try.  We looked at the map of the trails and selected a rather easy one.  It was a three mile distance. I have walked that distance before, but not for a long time since my hip was becoming a major problem.  This would be my first walk of any distance since months before surgery. 

Celebrating the completion of my 3 mile hike.

Walking this trail was not hard as long because it was fairly level, but there were several places of washes where we had to walk down and back up.  I didn’t feel steady on my feet yet, so I would hold on to Dennis’ hand to manage these minor ups and downs.  As we chatted with some other hikers, it was suggested I purchase hiking stick to help me.  I did complete the three mile trek, and was very proud that I could do so shortly after my surgery.

I was not terribly comfortable on the trails, and didn’t feel strong enough, so while Dennis is out hiking hours on end, I hiked 2/3 of a mile down the street to our local community center and worked out in their fitness center.  I used the treadmill, some of the machines for strengthening my legs and arms, and ended on the bike, and then took the long walk around the neighborhood to home which added another 1 1/2 miles to the walk.  

Finally last week, we decided that I might be strong enough to tackle the mountain.  Dennis had been hiking several paths so he had a good idea of what I could handle.  We chose a scenic path that went up the back side of the mountain.  The total hike was 3.99 miles with an elevation gain of 515 feet.  I was proud of myself for be able to manage these trails.  Hiking sticks in hand helped on the decline as that seems to be the hardest to get a footing around the loose rocks.  The trail we were on is called the Dynamite Trail, and the views were spectacular.

This week I asked Dennis to take me on a trail that would challenge me, but would still be workable.  I would love to do the Goldmine Trail, but Dennis said it is too steep.  He was concerned I may not be strong enough to handle the inclines and especially the downhill parts at this time.  We actually did take part of the Goldmine trail, but then veered off to Dynamite before we hit the big inclines.  Our hike was on a steady incline up the mountain.  This circle we took from the front side of the mountain was a total of 7.72 miles with an elevation gain of 768 feet.  It took us 3 hours and 47 minutes to complete the hike.  Granted we stopped a time or two at the benches located (usually at the top of the large incline) and ate our lunch of hard boiled eggs and apple, but we did not take long breaks because we needed to get off the mountain before it got dark and the big critters come out and eat us.  Okay, that wasn’t the case.  We just wanted to continue our hike to the end.  Hydrating is also necessary.  Dennis has a camel pack which is a small backpack filled with water and has a hose to suck to get the water.  We also attached several bottles of water for me.  I plan to purchase a camel pack for myself.

The last half hour was spent with my complaining that I could not see the flag—the first thing in the distance that tells me we are back at the park entrance.  I was feeling every muscle in my legs, not hurting but tight.  “Where is the flag?”  I kept saying, and finally it was in the distance, the size of a postage stamp, but I could tell we were getting there.  

It was a longer walk back from the Dynamite trail, but Dennis said it was a more level walk back.  Every time, I saw an incline, no matter how low, I groaned as my muscles were groaning!  I looked forward to finding a bench although they are spaced quite a distance apart.  These benches apparently were donated in the memory of someone who loved the park, and their name with birth and death date were posted.  My joke was that the benches scattered throughout the park was located on the spot that person actually died hiking this mountain.  I would say if I fall down and die here, be sure to get a bench with my name on it!

The beauty of the desert is different than the beauty of the ocean, or the Rocky Mountains.  I have never been in a place on earth that I didn’t think was beautiful in some way.  Just like people, everyone looks different, but are all beautiful.  Many folks back in Missouri are surprised to see that Phoenix is surrounded by mountains.  They are not as high as the Rockies, and they are mostly desert, but oh, how amazing they are.  The flowers are just beginning to bloom.  When we first arrived, everything seemed to be brown. When the ran came, the mountain woke up.  All of a sudden the mountain went from brown to green.  It is not green like a Missouri field, nor does it have any trees like the trees in Missouri. 

Back to the trail . . . We have only hiked on the trails at the San Tan Regional Park.  There are trails on all the other mountains surrounding the Phoenix area, and I am sure sometime we will hike some of them.  The San Tan Mountains are at our back door.  We have a view on one from our patio.  The other night we sat outside with the view of the dark mountain and looked at the stars.  Yes, we can see stars from our back yard.  There are street lights around our neighborhood, but I noticed they are all dim lights, and they do not block out the view of the stars.  

I will miss these mountains when we go back to Missouri.  Of course, we are going back when Arizona starts heating up to oven temperatures!  We will be back in Missouri where everything will be green and only nearly oven temps!  If our house isn’t sold by then, we will have the pool and lake to enjoy.  

I feel blessed that for now I have the best of both worlds geographically.  Who knew?  How did this girl, who struggled so hard just to keep her head above water, be blessed to have two places to live, have a husband who treats her so kindly, and can actually be retired and enjoy life.  Life is good!  God is good!  I am blessed!

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