Friday, December 9, 2011

Adventures in Christmas decorating

I haven't been in a holiday mood this year. With Mike away, its hard to feel enthusiastic about anything. But its extremely important to me that we have Christmas together. I get him back a few short days before Santa arrives. I had a conned a friend to go tree shopping with me.

Wandering through a parking lot at Home Depot to pick a tree is wrong. In everyway. I miss meandering through a field to see a tree still growing, still alive. I miss picking that perfect specimen and cutting it myself. You don't particularly get that experience in southern Arizona. So Home Depot it was.

I came home with a 9 foot tree. Without Mandi, it would still be in the truck. Without Mandi, I would have had to re-light the entire tree. With Mandi, I had the whole tree decorated quickly.

The house smells amazing. The tree has personality. The only thing missing is my husband.

Oh and I love my new camera. Santa came early....more like I opened my gift early. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beer Dogs

So Mike has been eyeing a home brew kit for a few months now. He's even been saving beer bottles. Even though he's in El Paso and won't be home until Christmas, I thought it would be nice for him to know he has his birthday present here waiting.

Best. Wife. Ever.

Anyone in AZ have pop off top beer bottles, let me know. I'll take them off your hands.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Life a bit slower

Things have slowed down considerably. The last few weeks Mike and I spent the time prepping for him to leave. He is off in El Paso at K9 school until Christmas. So I'm a single, working "mom" to my four legged kids. Just working and entertaining them.

The weather has improved by leaps and bounds and it kills me that my adventure partner is off in another state. Fall has finally hit. It has rained several times. I have promised the dogs a hike in the mountains once a week. But that is the limit of my adventures for the meantime.

So until our next foray into the great outdoors, I leave you with a double rainbow...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bartlett Lake

Camping again? Of course. This time, along side water.

The Beard's bought a new-to-them pop up camper and wanted to try it out. So why not spend the weekend at Bartlett Lake? Only a mere 1.5 hours from Casa Grande. They left Friday, but Mike and I had to work so we didn't leave til Saturday.

Which meant that we got lost. We made it to Carefree but missed our turn towards the lake. We drove about 10 miles down Seven Springs Road before we realized it. It was a happy accident though because we now know that we must return to take that road through the Tonto National Forest all the way to Bloody Basin. Why? Because its an excellent forest road through the mountains. So be on the lookout for a blog about that in the future.

Anyway, an hour or so later, we finally hit Bartlett Lake.

It was hot. Hotter than Casa Grande. And there were speed boats? It is probably the smallest lake I've ever seen and people were driving speed boats on it. Jerks they were, creating all sorts of wake for the smaller slower vessels. There were quite a few campers too.

The worst part about camping on a lake? Other people.

But being on water, meant Rommel was in HEAVEN.
Yep, my dog treads water while waiting for his ball to be thrown. We also managed to get Meeka in the water. She wasn't so graceful and it took her a while to get the hang of swimming.
Elly stayed relatively dry on Saturday. Meeka, did not.
Yes, proof that we camp with more than just dogs.
After a good romp in the water we went back to camp where the four legged campers relaxed.

Dinner was cooked. A fire was started and smores were enjoyed.
The kids were put down and the adults relaxed by the fire. Cooler air moved in, and the moon rose very late over the mountains. It was a good day.

The dogs actually put us to bed. They begged and pestered until we turned in.

Sleep. Hmmn. Hard to do when jerks are out and about in there speed boats before the sun rises. Like several hours before the sun rises. Again, people are the bane of my existence.

Mandy made us breakfast burritos and we opted for a walk before the heat arrived. Since it was Sunday, a lot of people had already gone, opening up quite a few beaches. We weren't exactly camped on a beach, more like a steep slope down to enough space to fish, or toss the dogs into the water.
Oh it was fun. And it got hot. We had a long walk back in the sun and the dogs were done. After lunch, it was time for the two legged campers to get into the cold water. This time we were able to get Elly into the water because both Mike and I were swimming. Meeka was pooped and didn't swim. Rommel enjoyed his last foray in the lake.

Unfortunately we had to leave. Time wasn't on our side. Pete had to work mids tonight, and many chores awaited us in Casa Grande.

The worst part about camping? Going home. Granted I loved the shower I took this evening, but being home means chores, work and responsibility. I've read several blogs and stories about people who packed up shop and traveled the country or the world and I'm jealous. We only had 24 hours of outside glory.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day Ride - Superior/Globe

11 hours, 260 miles (140 of those miles on dirt) and 168 pictures later and we're home....

At 6:00AM, Mike B. met us at our place and we headed out for another epic adventure to Superior. The weather has finally gone down into the 90's and the bikes are ready to go outside. After an excellent McDonald's breakfast, we motored our way through Coolidge and onto the Florence/Kelvin Highway towards Superior.

Today was all about winging it. Once the bikes were topped off in Superior, we jumped on US60 towards dirt road glory. A short ways down, we found what we believe was the old road - pre US60. It was a beat up, single lane road that wound its way around a mountain.

And then it stopped. Abruptly. The 60 consumed our road. The boys walked to the top of the hill to see if it continued after, but no luck. At this point, our road was within feet of the 60 and we could see traffic.  A helmetless Harley rider glanced up and gave us a quizzical look...a la, wtf are you doing up there in helmets?

We wound our way back to the 60 and found another turn off that promised a longer ride. A much longer ride. Mike has as tendency to just follow his GPS and hope that those little roads still exist.  Not too far into our next venture, we were again met with a dead end - ranch hell.

 Jerks. Back around, another turn, and another locked gate. Strike three.

Back around again, another turn and oh, this time we get to keep going!

We stopped to see an old mine. We'll the boys wanted to see the mine.

A potty break before taking off again consisted of Mike screaming like a girl when midstream he realized he was peeing on a rattlesnake. Poor snake.

Motoring on the road kept degrading. Full on road to two track, to jeep trail, to ATV trail to ....does the road still exist?

We wound our way to a wash.

Oh look, a rock filled wash. Joy. Mike just loves to wrestle the Space Shuttle through this crap. The road - if you can call it that - wound in and out of this mess until we ended up in someone's ranch. The woman seemed more surprised than annoyed that we were there and graciously gave us directions towards Globe.

At this point its noonish, hot and I'm getting tired. I know Mike is sore and done, and Mike B. has to work a midnight shift tonight. But no, lets detour up to Pinal Peak. Hell we rode this far, what's a five mile detour?

The temperature dropped and I got to smell the pine trees. 7900 feet is nice..

20 miles later, we made it back to the slab, hit Globe and got much needed lunch at Jerry's Restaurant.

A long and grueling ride back to Casa Grande put us home at 5:00 PM. My butt has seen better days, my head is pounding, but the ride was fantastic.

Fall is approaching, so I envision much more riding in our future..

Click here for the entire photographic journey on my SmugMug account.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Camping in Payson

We have fallen in love with camping on the bike. Unfortunately, camping on the bike precludes us from bringing the dogs along. So, since our return from Utah, we have decided to put money into the truck to set it up for camping with the dogs. We are not trailer people; camping trailers restrict the places where you can go. We camp for rest and food, not to sit around on a couch all day long. So everything is modular.

We really want a roof top tent. The end goal is to buy one when we have money to spare. For now, we have the bed rolls and tent packed in a tote that goes in the bed of the truck.

I have a kitchen box. It is a tool box bought from Lowe's with a sealing lid to keep dust out.
I love my kitchen box. It might not seem like much, but I have everything i need in it. Cutting board, grill, coffee press, two camping cook sets (GSI MicroDualist and GSI Pinnacle Camper), two knives, sporks, foil, paper towels, folding cooking utensils, sponge, soap, kitchen towel, scraper, seasonings, extendable grill utensils, Clorox wipes, can opener, sugar and coffee. No one seems to get as excited about it as I do.

We splurged on a camping refrigerator. It certainly made this weekend so convenient. I didn't have to worry about melting ice ruining my food. And it holds quite a bit. It was a worthy investment.

This weekend we were able to test out our new kitchen box, fridge and tote boxes. The Casa Grande 4 Wheelers were heading out to Payson to run some trails. The hubby and a few guys from work wanted to go. The other two families were going to cram into a camp trailer for the weekend. We didn't particularly need to utilize the kitchen, but wanted to test it all out this weekend.

So six adults, four children, and four dogs (Bear stayed with a friend) traveled up Route 87 from the heat of Phoenix to the cool weather of Payson. Camp was hastily set up before dark, dinner was cooked, smores were enjoyed by the fire and we all turned in for the night. 

The next morning, the boys all loaded into rock crawlers for a day of being boys, and the ladies stayed at camp, entertaining dogs and kids alike. 

One mom turned in for a nap and another took off on a short hike with myself, the kids and dogs. I don't care for sitting around all day, and the woods needed exploring. Many a tree was devoid of a marking and Rommel was intent on fixing that. 
Elly was encouraging the boys on while Meeka was leading the pack.  It was a good hike. It was a great day weather wise. It is still in the high 90's in Casa Grande, so to be hiking in jeans in the mid-low 80's was incredible.

Brats and hotdogs were grilled, then commenced the lounging. The greatest part about introducing a gaggle of children to nature is that they easily entertain themselves. The greatest part about hiking with your dogs is that they lounge for the remainder of the day. 



Meeka (friend's dog)
All at rest. 

The boys finally returned from adventuring (and had a blast). Carne asada was cooked over the grill, ice cream was had and a final fire was made.

Elly, the 65lb lap dog, cuddled with her pop before napping on the ground.

All in all, it was an extremely relaxing weekend. Every person enjoyed nature in their own way and came away happy. Our little orange tent provided ample shelter and comfort, much to the surprise of the ladies of the camper trailers. We're thrilled with our camping set up and can not wait to add our roof top tent.