Sunday, March 19, 2017

Hikes, jewelry, shows and more, much more

Life remains good, but very hot in the desert since we last visited. Temperatures are unusually high for this time of year and we have just gone through a stretch of consecutive 90-degree days that promise to continue into the first of this coming week.
On top of Mt. Wrightson

We have enjoyed another wonderful concert, “Mr. Boogie Woogie” (feel free to Google Mr. Boogie Woogie) which was a tribute to Fats Domino and several other artists. Next year’s lineup appears to be just as good so we have reserved our same seats for next year.

Some of the older residents in the park are not thrilled with some of the shows as they would prefer more Lawrence Welk type music, but such is the challenge of the activity office in trying to please a population that ranges from 55 to 95.

I have been teaching the Thursday night coed Bible class for the past three weeks as the park chaplain has had his hands full with a wife recovering from hip surgery. He comes to the class and helps, but has asked me to take the lead. It has been a lot of fun and very instructive as well.

Joan continues her volunteer work at the health clinic at the resort and I continue to schlep tables and chairs as needed in the ballroom. As a result of that we were both treated to a free lunch for volunteers on March 15 and then we get a special dinner on the 23rd because of my service with the setup crew.
Summit sign

On Saturday, March 12, we got up early and headed to Madera Canyon for some bird watching. Madera Canyon is home to hundreds of bird species and many of them you can only see there in Arizona. We got there about 7 a.m. and sat at the Santa Rita Lodge bird feeding station for a while watching birds. We took a short hike on a nearby nature trail, but heard a lot more birds that we actually saw. Then we drove down to Proctor Road in the park where we walked a mile loop to see if we could see more birds, which we did, but the human traffic on the trail seems to limit the birds.
It's a trip we’ll do again.

Because I’m a veteran I signed up for a “Tribute” card at the Desert Diamond Casino. I don’t gamble, but Joan dabbles in it for fun. As a “Tribute” member I get 12 free nights in the hotel a year and just for something to do away from the resort I booked two nights for us to stay there. It is nice because we can spread out a little and our shower is only 20-feet away instead of a short walk in the resort to the shower house. It’s a nice break and we have one more night booked before we leave.

Desert Diamond also has a nice eating place, “Agave Restaurant” that has a Prime Rib for two dinner on Sunday night for $29 so we usually take advantage of that as well.

Joan continues her polymer clay jewelry class and has made a couple more beautiful pieces she can wear.

Resort church was excellent Sunday (March 12) as a string quartet from the Arizona Symphony Orchestra came and accompanied the choir and then did a few numbers on their own. I love a good string quartet and this was a very good string quartet.
My truck is parked way down at the bottom

Another thing we did during the current time was attend the “One Act Plays” performance of the Voyager Theater Group. At least one of the plays was written by a park resident and all were performed by park residents. All very entertaining, but sitting on a hard, folding chair for two hours leaves my butt frozen.

Last Monday, we led a group of about 14 people, which included a number of friends of Marcia and Jerry to the Meet Me at Maynard’s event in downtown Tucson. About half of them had never been to Meet Me at Maynard’s and I think most of them had a good time. We all ate at “Fired Pie” 

afterwards. Fired Pie, if you don’t recall, is the place that makes individual pizzas and salads and they have an array of toppings for both. It is only $7.99 per person and with the Meet Me at Maynard’s discount we save 10 percent on top of that.

We’re all about the discounts.

I have done a couple great hikes since last we met. One of them is a repeat and that was to Josephine Saddle in Madera Canyon. Actually, this was the third time (the fourth we’ll talk about in a minute) I had been up this trail this season as I had done this hike with Mahlon, our friend from Michigan, when they were here in January.

The Tuesday hike group headed up there and while we initially had plans for some of us to continue up to Mt. Wrightson, those plans fizzled when a number of folks had to bail out for more mundane issues like doctor appointments and closing on a house in the park.
Snow on the trail near the summit

The hike to Mt. Wrightson for those who wanted to go to the summit was rescheduled to Thursday (March 16) but I had Bible study obligations in the morning so I couldn’t go.

So I decided to get up early on Friday and head up there myself. I tried to find someone to go with me, but that didn’t work out either. The trail is pretty well traveled so I was not worried about going alone. If you crash and burn on the trail you are never more than 20 minutes from someone coming by.

I arrived back at Madera Canyon about 7 a.m. at the trailhead and made a bad decision to take the Super Trail to the top instead of the Old Baldy Trail which I have always used. Someone told me that Super Trail to the top is more scenic (which is correct) but it is also three miles longer which may not seem like much but those three miles make this a 14-mile hike instead of a 10.5-mile hike which by the end of the day is a lot.

Looking towards Mexico
The Old Baldy Trail is steeper with lots of switchbacks but it cuts about two hours off the hike time from the Super Trail. Also, the Super Trail has not been maintained for a while so my legs got scratched up for the overgrowth of sticker bushes that grow on both sides. A number of large trees have fallen over the trail as well and those you can’t walk around you have to climb over, which gets tiring.

Toward the top of the trail I encountered snow left over from the early season’s snowfall, but it wasn’t icy and not an obstacle.

After the long slog to the top I finally arrived at the summit along with a few other folks, including quite coincidentally a couple from the Voyager RV resort. Dave and Deb also hike with the Tuesday group and like me decided to make up the hike on Friday. They were excited because they were going to go down the mountain on the Super Trail and asked if I might go with them. I declined, as I didn’t want to add another three miles to what had already been a long hike. So I went down the Old Baldy Trail and beat them back to the parking lot.

It took 4 ½-hours to get to the summit (9,453 feet) from the trailhead which is at 4,500-feet but only 2 ½-hours to get down to the parking lot. I arrived back at my car at 2:43 p.m. and immediately let Joan know I was down and safe.

I took two quarts of water up with me, but with the high temperatures that was barely enough. I drained my last bottle of water about a mile from the parking lot and then headed to a convenience store where I bought a bottle of apple juice and a large 20-ounce bottle of water and downed them as well just to start the re-hydration process.
Dancing in the courtyard for Frank's 90th

Once home I showered and took Joan to dinner in the resort at the restaurant. They had a St. Patrick’s Day special of corned beef and cabbage which she loves. Not being Irish I settled for a fat juicy steak and potato dinner.

On Saturday I helped set up the Catalina Room for an author book signing (see below) and then later helped set up a 90th birthday party for fellow hiker (yes, he hikes very well at 90) Frank who hails from Elko, Nevada.

The temperatures were in the mid-90s, but in the shade where we set up the tables it was very comfortable. The dancing went on into the wee (well, wee hours as defined in a 55 and over park) and I got the chairs and tables cleaned up and stored by 8 p.m.

Author J. A. Jance was the best selling author that we set the room up for and I picked up two autographed books for the Family Literacy Center auction.

In my last newsletter I mentioned that we had lost our space at the storage lot. Susan called and said a space had opened so we got our spot back. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s closer to Tucson and it has been very convenient so we snapped it up and that’s where we will be in two weeks.

Well, I did a little better in keeping you up to date this time and there will probably be just one more posting before we leave here in two weeks. I’ll try to post as we head to California and then home.

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