Archives for December 2014

Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014 – New Year’s Eve

Took a quick run out to fill up our propane tank, which we’ve been going through like crazy with extremely cold nights every night this week (in the 20’s, quite unusual for Tucson). Got caught in a little rainstorm on the way back from the Shell station, managed to throw a cover over the last bale and a half of alfalfa we have left before it got too wet, then settled down to a cold and rainy day and evening.

Tuesday, Dec. 30. 2014 – Fun Day at Old Tucson Studios – 5th Year Anniversary!!

December 30, 2009 was the first day we hit the road "full-time." We had no idea then that we would still be doing it 5 years later, but no regrets, and no plans to quit any time soon! Still having a great time! Today was the warmest day scheduled, so we had made plans to go to the Old Tucson studio, a must-see when you're in Tucson, especially if you like old Western movies and TV series (which we do!) We left here a bit after 10:00, not realizing that activities start at the amusement park from the time they open at 10:00, so we missed an activity or two by the time we arrived. There was plenty to do, though, so we got busy. We saw a couple of shows at the Palace Theatre (strictly amateur, but entertaining in a student/community theatre sort of way), visited the old haunted mine, took the train around the perimeter, took a stage coach ride, saw the bank robber gun fight and the stunt demonstration, and had a great time walking around and soaking in the atmosphere. The walking tour was interesting too, with lots of trivia about the programs and movies made there. We stayed until just before closing at 5:00, have had a thoroughly enjoyable day. Still managed to get back by late dusk, so we still had some daylight by the time we fed the horses and got settled in for the night. What a great way to celebrate our 5th Travel Anniversary!!

Monday, Dec. 29, 2014 – Another Ride Day on the Flats

Decided to take another ride today, this time heading out northward on the east side of the valley, along the bottom of the mountains. We did our best to stay out of the washes and on the firmer trails today, and some of it was an easement road under the utilities lines, and another road to a gorgeous hacienda with beautiful grounds and a huge but empty stable. We followed along the mountain line as much as we could, then continued northward, somewhat past the place where we turned around yesterday, passed a number of other riders again, and finally headed back south through the middle of the valley, eventually picking up the same trail we came back on yesterday, though with a little variation at the end. Another no drama day, very relaxing ride. It may be our last here, depending on when we decide to leave. We keep looking at the weather, and are leaning toward a Saturday or Sunday departure, which should give us clear skies all the way to Dripping Springs, albeit the nights will probably be cold. I guess we can't avoid that at this time of the year, especially in the desert!

Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014 – Ride Day on the Flats at Catalina State Park

Had our usual Sunday morning blueberry pancake breakfast (well, more like at brunch-time), then saddled up the horses so that we could explore the flats to the northwest of the campground. From my previous walks with Billy, I found a number of trails that seemed to interweave nicely, so we headed out on the first trail that headed west, which we followed as far west as we could before turning northward. We spent more time on the wash than we would have liked, but eventually we hooked up with some of the firmer trails that we liked better. We hit a fence after a while, where we turned east. Once we reached the middle, and ran into several other riders as well, we headed south again, back toward camp. The footing was perfect, so we hadn't even put boots on, and everyone was completely relaxed, and we all enjoyed ourselves. A great, no drama ride!

Friday, Dec. 26, 2014 – Shopping

Took a quick run out to Walmart for a few essentials (and ran into Delford reading a Western Horseman magazine there!), got some gas for the generator, and paid up for another week of camping. Continuing to feel lazy, so again, we spent the rest of the day just hanging out.

Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014 – Ran Into Mule Skinner from New Mexico

Took a long walk with Billy today, since we’ve been to lazy the last few days to go, and I wanted to check out trails going in the other direction, and that are not on the map, so I headed northwest out of the campground and started following hoofprints. About a mile out, I passed a guy on a mule, and oddly, he looked familiar to me. I thought maybe he was the mule wrangler from the Grand Canyon we met several years ago, but he had much bushier facial hair, so I let it go and kept walking. Love the look of these trails here on the flats, boots won’t be necessary, and though it may not be overly interesting, the trails do seem to weave around in a complex network that would at least create some variety. According to my GPS, the walk ended up being 1.87 miles, a lot farther than I thought I’d been walking, though this one was definitely longer than most others. Just before arriving back at the camp, I ran into the same mule and rider, who had stopped at the entrance to the camp. He looked at me and asked, “You don’t remember me, do you?” I told him that he looked familiar, just that I couldn’t place him. He reminded me that his name was Delford, and we had met in the Pecos Wilderness in New Mexico earlier this summer. We had a nice chat, and I invited him over to the trailer to say hello to Hubby, and to get his phone number. He’s staying at a ranch on the other side of the flats, sounds pretty good, water and electric for $17/night. If they kick us out of here for overstaying our 14 day limit, we may have to move over there for a few days! Evidently, after leaving here in March, he’s planning on going to Dripping Springs, TX, exactly where we’ll be heading after the first of the year! Crazy, small horse world, twice in two days!

Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014 – Relaxing Day

Christmas Eve, so we took the day to relax, watch movies, and just chill out today! Had another couple move in to the camp, and amazingly, they live near Bellingham, WA, right where we kept the horses during our Alaska trip this summer! When I showed her on Google Earth where the barn was, she said that her horse had been trained right in the round pen that we were parked next to!! Crazy, small world! Had a nice chat with her, Linda, and her husband, Dave. They came over and we spent some time on the computer showing her various places we’ve been and answering questions they had. An enjoyable evening, a nice way to spend Christmas Eve in a horse camp!

Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014 – Rocky Ride Day at Saguaro National Park

Because we had some errands to do nearby, we decided to trailer the horses over to the Saguaro National Park, the unit west of Tucson, but from a trailhead on the east side. After stops at an RV dealer where we had found a very good price on a used portable holding tank (one of those things we've managed to live without, but will make life much easier by the having!), and at a feed store, we swung over to the trailhead. It had quite a small parking lot, and fortunately only a few cars, making it possible for me to swing around, otherwise it would have been quite a challenge. A longer rig would really have trouble. I gather this is mainly a hiking trailhead, though I had called and confirmed that horses were allowed on almost all of the trails, so I knew we were good on that rule. We saddled and booted and headed north. I had a plan in my GPS for a 9 mile ride, but we got such a late start, and there were several shorter loops, we opened ourselves up to the possibility of cutting it short. The vistas here are quite striking, as is most of Arizona, but this was like riding in a rock and cactus garden! I never saw so many different kinds of cactus! Saguaro, of course, but lots of others, some that looked like trees, others like pineapple bushes, just an amazing array. Unfortunately, some were quite close to the trail, so if you have chaps, I would wear them! We got several Cling-ons that grabbed us as we were passing. The trail itself had only a few sections where we liked the footing, the rest was quite rocky, at least until we got down to the Picture Rocks Wash, which reverted, naturally, to sand. Along this stretch we found the rock wall that obviously gave the wash its name, with still quite visible pictographs, of a couple of hands, a bird that looked like a road runner, and some others we couldn't figure out. Amazing that they could even be seen after all these millennium. That was some paint! Since it was so late, and the trail was so rocky for the most part, we decided to cut the ride short, so I cut two corners from the ride, and got us headed back. Missed one trail marker at the end of a wash, we reached a point where it would have been about a three to four foot leap, just after squeezing by a large tilted wall, so we turned around to see how we could get around. Turned out there was a small "Trail" sign, but it was hard too see because of a cactus that had become overgrown there. Back on the trail, we continued without incident, finishing our short loop and then taking the last half mile or so on the trail back to the parking lot. An enjoyable ride, but somewhat less so because of how rocky the trails were, and a rather strong cool north wind that kept the temps in the mid-50's. Made one last stop at Tractor Supply to pick up a couple more items we needed, and arrived back in camp just after the sun went down and the temps started dropping even further. Got the horses in their corrals with their warm blankets, since it's going down into the 30's tonight. Settled down for the evening, though we had to watch recorded shows, because the satellite dish had been moved, probably because of the wind.

Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014 – Relaxing Day

Watched football, missed our morning shows because evidently a dispute between Dish and Fox has pulled our normal channels off the air. Not sure how Hubby’s going to handle it, he has Fox News on half the day. Fox wants people to switch to Direct, Dish says they’re just trying to keep costs down and Fox is trying to force them to take more channels they don’t want. I’m not about to switch to Direct, since it means new equipment that I’m not prepared to invest in right now. Hopefully, they’ll get it resolved soon (and frankly, I’m happy not to have the news channel on all day long anyway, I’m sure I’ll get more writing done this way!

Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014 – Rest Day

Pretty tired from yesterday’s long ride, plus the trails are obviously really busy today, with lots of hikers, riders and cyclists, so we sat the day out. I did move the horses out into another corral that was a bit dryer, and raked out their corrals a couple of times to try to get them dried out, which helped somewhat. Clio’s was almost dry by the time I got done, but Apollo’s still had a few pockets of mud. No more rain in the forecast, though, so hopefully it will get better. Good news is that Clio seems to be eating this hay much better, but she’s still pushing her nose into it and sorting through it, so I suspect some of it is getting pushed down her trough into Apollo’s reach, and he’s actually finishing it off. Just keeping an eye on her weight, for sure.