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A Hot Hot Birthday

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

We slept in a bit as it was a traveling day. Driving from Cottonwood to Phoenix should only take us 2 hours. I was hoping more sleep would help Larry and his Bronchitis. We had the second night of sweats and a soaking bed to wake up in. First thing on my list to do in Phoenix is washing the bedding!

Larry did all the driving because I needed to call around for a place to camp for a week. Surprisingly enough, this was the hardest place to find rv camping. Not because it wasn’t available but most of it was already booked. I came to find out that this is where the majority of Snowbirds spend the winter. Of the places that I did find that were open, they had age minimums...I was too young! Lol I finally found a place for 4 nights in Mesa. It was the most expensive place we had ever stayed and not even close to the best place for that kind of money. It was Monte Vista Village Resort. It had over 1900 spots with the majority being for mobile homes. They would squeeze campers/trailers in between the mobile homes. Interesting set up. I did have to lie and tell them I was over 55 year old….I was close. Only 3 more days.

We got all settled by 2pm. I immediately found the laundry room and got busy there. I sat outside and worked on a story while Larry explored the Resort. The showers and bathrooms close to our spot were closed for remodeling. We had to drive to the other side of the Resort! Not very convenient. I just went to the pool closest to us as they had outside showers and did my best over there. We were right by a dog park…...I guess that would have been great if we had a dog. We made the best of our stay here. It was a home base while we did activities and saw my daughter Jill and handsome Riley.

I texted Jill when I got to Mesa. She said we were only 10 minutes from her apartment. That’s great! She said she and Riley would come over for dinner and what was I making? Lol I whipped together a tasty vegetarian taco salad that satisfied everyone and we had a few beers. I got to hug and squeeze my beautiful daughter and I was happy. They only stayed about an hour and a half….perfect! She is working as a flight instructor close by and is still at Arizona State University finishing her degree. She’s super busy and I am grateful for any time she has for me right now.

Riley suggested a good hike for us to do the next day. We went to Tonto National Park and hiked to the Wind Cave. It was a great hike. It was only 3.2 miles out and back. The elevation gain was about 800 feet. It was pretty steep in some areas but the views were spectacular. It was a bit hazy looking to Phoenix but the mountains were great! Along the way Larry almost stepped on a tarantula! This was our second one of the trip so far and equally exciting! I think spiders are starting to grow on Larry….LOL. He’ll be a spider lover in no time. After a photo shoot we finished climbing the trail. Chatted with a nice gal at the top and headed back down.

Riley was at the apartment and told us to come by after to use the pool. The place they live is fantastic. We spent the rest of the afternoon poolside. Larry was so happy in the sun!! It was 85 degrees. I believe we are finally out of the cold weather and since we head to Mexico after Phoenix, I think we will avoid any more encounters with Snow! Jill stopped at the pool when she was done with work. Riley and her brought more beer and some burgers to grill on the BBQ. We had the pool to ourselves until after 5pm. School day and work day for most folks.

In the evening, we spent some time at the apartment. We showered and talked about going out for dinner. I gave Riley and Jill their Hague Saskatchewan soft matching t shirts! They loved them! I made them wear them right away too. I also gave them the really cool gift that I made for them back in Hague the last day before we left. I had lots of help from Larry’s family. First his brother Darryl helped with the tree. When Jill and Riley visited in August, we went to Darryl’s cabin on Rhona Lake for a day of boating fun. Darryl let (helped) Riley chop down a dead poplar tree. It was funny to watch and I thought that was the end of the tree until Darryl came by a week before we left with some long limbs from the tree. Darryl also had a chainsaw and asked if I wanted to cut the limbs into fireplace size logs. Me use a Chainsaw???!! Hell ya!!! He gave me instructions and I was a bit nervous! I told him I needed to go put shoes on but he insisted that wouldn’t be necessary. I cut the limbs into little logs and didn’t drop the chainsaw on my feet!! Super big Win! Later that night Larry asked if I wanted to split the logs with his new splitting ax. Well….don’t be dumb….YES!!! So I practiced a bit and now I’m a seasoned wood splitter! The split logs were pretty cool. Larry said maybe I should write something on one or make a sign. That was a great idea! I would make a gift for Jill and Riley. The next day Alex and Amanda (Larry’s Daughter) were coming over for a goodbye get together. They had a dremel set and brought it over for me to use. Both Alex and Amanda were helpful giving my tips for using it but they said you just gotta try it yourself. What I wanted to write was, “Riley + Jill Rhona Lake 8/19”. I was so happy when I finished that it came out how I pictured it in my mind...that rarely happens with art projects for me. Then Larry said he’d finish it. He brought out a torch and carefully burnt the log so the writing from the dremel was lighter. It was beautiful!! I was so excited to give this gift to Riley and Jill. They seemed to like it a bunch and put it on the TV stand. After the gift giving, we went out to dinner. We stopped by a cute pub for a tasty microbrew for me...mainly. Jill and Riley had a party to go to the next night so I would see them again on my birthday.

I looked around for a nice lake in the area so we could take out the kayak one day. We went to Lake Saguaro inside of Tonto National Forest It was only 40 minutes away and a beautiful drive. It cost $10 to launch and get a day pass. Cheap! We rowed across the lake to the other side where there was a cool canyon. Unfortunately we were headed into the wind the whole time. It was a lot of work. Larry wasn’t feeling 100% yet but I think the fever and the sweats were the beginning of the end of the month + long cold he had. We trolled around for a while on the other side. We met some other kayakers and chatted with them. It seemed that after about 2pm the lake got busier with speed boats and big boat tours. When we started to row back across the lake, the wind had changed so we were headed against the wind again. Larry got grumpy and I told him that I would row us across. He let me. He actually took a 20 minute nap where I was doing All the Work! Oh well. We laid on the beach with some ducks and had our picnic lunch and some beer. It was a great lake and I will definitely come back here again.

November 2 2019!!! It’s my birthday today! We are going to hike up Piestewa Peak Summit Trail . Larry and I did this hike last year at Thanksgiving time when we visited Jill and Riley. I invited Jill both times and she has declined each time. Jill and I climbed in in 2014 when we visited Embry-Riddle during her search for a college. She has not hiked it since! It’s a challenging out and back hike to the peak where you get a 360 degree view. It is well worth the climb. It’s best to start early as there are not many trees and it’s roasting hot. It’s only a 2.2 miles round trip but it's almost straight up the whole time. Lots and lots of stairs! OMG!!! It was a busy trail this day. I even saw one guy running it….at least 3 times because he passed us that many times. It wasn’t too much of a struggle but the elevation gain of 1151 feet. We were pretty sweaty at the top! We spent the rest of the afternoon at our Resort pool.

We went to Jill’s apartment because we were going to make lasagna for dinner. No one seemed very interested in putting together the meal so around 6pm we opted to go out for Thai food. It was tasty and I got a carrot cake for my birthday desert. Yum! It was a great birthday! Thanks Jill and Riley. I also got a new IPhone as mine wouldn’t hold a charge anymore. Riley did the transfer for me and it’s amazing!

We moved campsites on sunday November 3rd for our last 2 nights in the area. We had found Mcdowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills and would have stayed there the whole time but it was full. It was a 30 minute drive and very nice. I figured that I might not see Jill or Riley again before we left. The Regional Park was very nice with showers close by and super cheap!! Only $40 for 2 nights. I was happy about that and we were on top of the mountain with great views. We drove into Gilbert to see Jill and Riley one more time. I did another load of laundry at her place. Score!

We had really only one day to explore this area. There was this really cute town called Fountain Hills. Which has this huge fountain that goes off for 15 minutes every hour from 9am to 9pm. At one time it was the highest fountain. It’s in the center of town and we spent the afternoon there on our last day. We watched a lot of birds while we were waiting and even saw peregrine falcon catch a pigeon mid air and devour it! Exciting stuff!

We stopped by the Ranger station to find a short hike in the area. They had a great reptile display with a few kinds of rattlesnakes. The volunteer was extremely helpful and gave us directions to Granite Mountain Loop not too far from us. It was a 5.1 mile loop trail in the desert with lots of amazing giant granite rocks. We hiked a little over an hour and decided to head back down. It was a good trail but my interests were waning. On the way down we got a big treat! We saw a rattlesnake about 5 feet long going across the trail!! It’s my lucky day! Larry wanted to get a closer look against my better judgement. I stayed back and took pictures. All the snake did was slither into the low bushes. He never got aggressive. No hissing no rattling. He just wanted to get away from Larry! A Falcon and a rattlesnake. What a great day! We even took a little bike ride around our campground and played at the kids playground. We did as much as we could in a day and a half. Tomorrow we are heading to Tucson and closer to the Mexican/US border!

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