Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Queen Valley RV Park

The traveling Shaws have finally settled down for a few weeks!  We are in a delightful little RV Park nestled along the edge of the Superstition Mountains - and we will stay here till into the first week of March (it is nice to slow down - Barry has driven close to 30,000 km since we left home).  Queen Valley is about a 30 - 45  minute drive East of Apache Junction and Mesa - where we go for our grocery supply run etc.  The park is perched on a bit of a ridge overlooking the village of Queen Valley - which also has a lovely 18 hole golf course.  the attraction here is the scenery and the quietness -  all we can hear at night are the coyotes howling.  Bobcats hang around the fringe of the park and there are also Javelinas (wild pigs) but we have not seen either - although our neighbor had a bobcat on her porch the other morning - looking in the window at her cat!

The park is small - only about 200 sites compared to larger parks of 1000 - 2000 sites in the urban centers.  The people in this park are attracted to the remoteness and accessibility to a variety of activities including walking, hiking, biking, ATVing and off-roading (jeeps) etc.  We have joined a hiking group and so far have been able to keep up and have not fallen off the trail! There are also a variety of less physical activities including quilting, crafting, computer club, rock hounds, cards, aqua size (more exercise) zumba and yoga - etc.  The list goes on.  Everyone is busy!

Queen Valley RV Park nestled along a ridge of the Superstition Mountains.  The park is surrounded by State Land, so we can hike, bike or ride along any number of trails.

The main street entering the park.  The park models and RVs are along several different elevations and most with a view of the hills and mountains.

We are along this street along with Mori and Sheilah.  Our site is smaller than we'd like, but we'll manage for this year.

We plan to come back to this park for next season and have chosen a larger site that is available and with a view that we kind of like.

Another angle of the view that we'll have from the window side and door/patio of our site next year.

Mule Skinner Sandra.  One of the fellows in the park has a mule outfitting business up in Montana.  He brought 7 of his mules down for a pack trip into the mountains.  While he was waiting for his Son and family to arrive he offered free rides to anyone willing to go.

Sandra was a wee bit nervous at first and especially since her mule was the largest but the only one with stirrups that could be shortened enough!  What an awesome way to get a different view of the dessert.  Wasn't even stiff afterwards!

Apache Days in Apache Jct.  Good idea to wrap the cholla cactus in warning ribbon.  Barry had first hand experience with driving a cactus thorn into his toe, not once but twice - while walking Buddy.  The cholla barbs are very clingy and literally seem to jump out at you.

At Apache Days.  Superstition Mnt. in the background.  This is the AZ centennial - so there were many events to choose from every week.

Another view of the Mnt.

Hiking day - first we drove along this 'road' (???) in 4 wheel of course and at about 3 mph. to arrive at out staging area.  Big Blue now has a few AZ pinstripes!

Elephant Butte

Hiker Barry - we are thankful for our diamond willow walking sticks.  Many people have Saguaro rib walking sticks - also very effective.  The die hard hikers have much more gear than we do including the the water back packs - and GPS to guide them (someone experienced leads the hike and another experienced one is the tail gunner to make sure we don't loose anyone). 

Part of the trail along Elephant Butte.  A 'wash' actually - parts with large boulders and other parts with coarse to fine sand.  Definitely gives one a work out.

Pausing to rest on the trail

Lots of pretty country back in the hills.

Break time!

The trail led up to an area called 'dripping springs' and there was this wee stream that led out of the area.  This is open range land and every once in awhile we'd see Black Angus cattle off in the shrubbery - keeping a close eye on us.  Sure a good thing they are not an aggressive breed!

Trail Head of another hike up to the Petroglyphs - we're not sure they are authentic or the work of more recent graffiti - the hike was great at any rate.

Winding along the narrow trail over boulders and ridges. 

We made it - and had an awesome view down into the valley!
A group of people with musical skills hold a jam session occasionally on a Friday night.  The rest of us less talented folk can wander over to the club house and applaud the music.  We've also participated in a dinner featuring the cuisine of the central Northern States - and boy did they go all out - Decorations/pamphlets advertising their part of the country including foods and preserves native to their area.  Then they had a ticket draw to give away a variety of products and Barry won some pincherry jelly.  We were on a waiting list for tickets to a Premiere dinner this Wed. and managed to get on.  Apparently they have 3 premiere dinners per season - which always includes a feature entertainer for the evening.   The park seems to have an excellent group of volunteers who manage all the activities like clockwork.  Every Monday is park coffee with a bit of a program advertising the coming weeks activities and happenings - and this session is well attended as there is a feature speaker of interest at each one.

Our trip is quickly winding down.  In 6 weeks or so we will be starting the trek home.  It has been a great journey!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Disneyland - January 2012

We spent a glorious 5 days in the Anaheim area with Sandra's Daughter Dayna, Son in Law Ronan and delightful Granddaughters Victoria (age 11) and Bella (age 6) - perfect ages for visiting DL.  We wondered if we old folk could keep up to the young folk or not - but we seemed to manage OK (we went on practically every ride with the kids)  - but we did need a day or two to rest up and catch our breath!  We would do it again in a heartbeat!

A few pictures need to be scanned into our files - those purchased from some of the wild rides and one from the Medieval Dinner - eating only with your fingers while a horse/jousting show was in progress.  Bella wasn't totally sold on this exercise!  We all had fun - kids again!

Fortunately our good friends the Andersons from our old park kept Buddy while we were away - and that was a good thing as we spent long days not only at Disneyland but touring down to San Diego to visit Sea World and the Zoo.  The girls were real little troupers and had big grins plastered on their face the whole time.  We really enjoyed sharing this special time with them.  The pictures can tell the story.

Disneyland here we come!

Two happy and very excited little girls!

Carousel happiness!

It's a Small World!  We were fortunate to enjoy the Christmas trappings and ambiance at DL without the crowds.  This was the girls special Christmas present/surprise.  The girls opened their gifts on Christmas morning at the same time - one got a Mickey and the other a Minnie - which also included their Passports and precious spending money - which they had fun spending - but oh such hard decisions where to spend the precious dollars!  They did really really well!


Have to have a picture in front of Mickey!  Note - Vicky is catching up the Grandma in height really really fast!

A happy Grandma with Victoria and Bella in front of Walt Disney and Mickey - Mickey was born on Nov. 18, 1928 when Walt was sharing a dream with his Granddaughter of such a glorious park to entertain children!

Had to get a picture with Mickey!


Gracious acrobats!

San Diego Zoo - what a wonderful zoo - well worth a visit!

We spent the better part of a day here - could have spent longer!

Love this picture - the girls are soooo sweet!

Posing with a Baby Polar Bear

Soooo Cute!

We watched the Polar Bear for a long time.  He seemed to know we were watching and posed beautifully a couple of times

We were treated to the Princess Breakfast - and loved watching the girls meet their Fairy Tale Princess's.  Here they are being greeted by Ariel.  It has been 31 years since Sandra has been at DL - and it is interesting to see the new additions and innovations - the park keeps re-inventing itself - very interesting.

With Victoria's favorite Princess - Snow White

With Bella's favorite Princess - Belle

We survived California Screaming!  Bravo!

Grandma was quick to offer to sit out with Bella (she was too short - Bella not Grandma!) while the rest braved California Screaming!  We have some other shots of the wild rides but need to scan them in order to include them.  It was a HOOT!

Waiting for the World of Color light show - unfortunately those pictures do not do the show justice.  It was absolutely awesome and almost upstaged the fireworks.  We had a front row seat at our RV Park for the Fireworks however, and got to enjoy the fireworks every evening from our trailer.  We were a 15 minute walk from the gates of DL and the kids were at their hotel just across the street from DL.  Perfect!

The lit up Mickey on the Ferris Wheel in California Adventure with California Screaming roller coaster in the background at night.  Only Disney can do this!

Texas to AZ

Wow, 2 months have passed very quickly since our last post.  We spent the first half of December 2011 in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.  It was amazing that even though we were about 60 miles from the Gulf, we could feel the higher humidity.  Big Band music is all the rage in this area, so we took in a couple of Jam Sessions - which were very good.  Great music.

We left Texas in time to get to AZ for Christmas.  Sandra's Son Damon's Mother in Law was visiting a friend and we were invited to share Christmas with them - which was very thoughtful.  We had a lovely visit and enjoyed a wonderful meal.

(The following pictures are a bit out of sequence - and Sandra has not figured out yet how to correct this - so bear with me!)

A South Texas version of a 7 Eleven.  We thought it was a former car wash turned into a convenience store - then noticed that they are everywhere - even in the country - and new ones were being built in this style.  We did not shop here but found it interesting that there were always cars driving through to pick up supplies.

Barry securing the luggage load in the "Billy Goat".  We were so pleased to be able to be a shuttle for the kids.  Ronan was happy I think not to have to drive in the crazy traffic in the LA / Anaheim area - we just hope Barry's driving wasn't too scary when he had to torque Big Blue up to navigate the traffic!

Surprise - Dayna and Ronan knew we'd be at the airport to meet them on January 3 but the girls did not.  They were surprised and at first thought we just 'happened to be there" - then another surprise - Grandma and Barry are going to enjoy Disneyland with them too.  What a special time!

Have to have a picture of Big John at the John Wayne Airport in Orange County!

Beautiful rolling hills (Mnts) en route to the LA metropolitan area and Anaheim

En route to Anaheim we passed through Quartzite where you say many rigs like this or toy haulers - hauling the 'toys' to play in the dessert or in the sand dunes!

Christmas / New Years - Happy Holidays!

California - we've now been in close to 25 States

The I 10 passes through this valley just West of Palm Springs - do you think it might be a bit windy??  We don't like high winds - so will likely avoid this area.

More Windmills

While in the Mesa / Tempe area for Christmas - we stayed in this lovely park - Val Del Oro - the only place in the US that we've encountered that has designated recycling bins for more than just aluminum!  We just cannot believe how much recyclable material goes into the garbage and landfills generally down here.  Maybe this Park is an indication that things are slowly changing.

As we crossed into AZ from New Mexico this dramatic skyline greeted us.  We were travelling cross country on a good 2 lane highway into hilly/mountainous countryside.

The cotton has been harvested and is waiting for pick up for processing.  We thought these were bales, but apparently they are called 'modules'.

We only passed through New Mexico on this journey but hope to return in future to explore some of the Northern parts which are quite beautiful and interesting we've been told.

The USA/Mexico Border Fence.  As were were leaving El Paso Texas we had a good view over the fence into Mexico.  It seemed kind of eerie - seeing this fence!

Moving Day!  During our travels we have encountered many of these 'moving' vehicles.  We were always a little nervous about how secure or not these loads might be!

Anne Frank - while in El Paso, TX we visited the Holocaust Museum - originally started by a Holocaust survivor.  We wondered at the location down here in the South for such a museum - but this particular gentleman made El Paso his home and had the support of a very sympathetic and supportive Philanthropist.  The Museum was very well done and discrete, respectful and  tasteful - if one can call such a museum 'tasteful'.

A map depicting the concentration (Ghettos) and Death camps in Europe prior to WWII and during.  We learned details that we did not know and were appalled at the numbers!

While in El Paso we toured along the Mission Trail through three of the oldest communities in TX.  Three of the missions are still standing and active.  People are leaving the worship service here at the El Salizar Mission.

Patron Saint of the Sorocco Mission.  The Missions were built originally in the 1600's - and suffered some damage over the years from floods and fires - but have always been restored.  The story has it that this statue was being transported up from Mexico in the late 1600's when the wagon became mired in the mud - a sign that the statue was to remain in this area!

Sorocco Mission

A  beautiful mural of the Missions on an overpass embankment along the Mission trail in El Paso, TX

Ysleta Mission

This area of Texas was occupied first by Spain, then Mexico and then the US.  The Pueblo Indians still live in the area and are keeping alive the rich history and culture of the area.

The journey from San Antonio Texas to El Paso was long and desolate.  It was a day and a half of steady driving to get to the El Paso area.  From San Antonio to the Mesa area is close to 1000 miles.  An alternate route to the South is apparently more scenic and interesting.

Some section of the I 10 were interesting and somewhat pretty en route to El Paso

An example of efforts to beautify the route of I 10 between San Antonio and El Paso

A Pueblo Indian Art Quilt - Depicting the story of their people over the years

Another scenic section of that long long Interstate 10 between Texas and New Mexico/ Arizona

And more - it looks like they literally cut the road through these rocky outcroppings

The side view of the South Texas version of a 7 Eleven!
New Years was spent in our old RV Park in Casa Grande - reconnecting with our old friends there before heading over to California for a special rendezvous with Sandra's Daughter Dayna and Family.  More about this special time in the next post.  Meanwhile a few pictures to round off the end of 2011.