Sunday, June 21, 2020

Time Still Passes Quickly

June 11-20, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona

Although we both grew up in the desert, neither of us are fans of the heat. At 4500', Tombstone "normally" enjoys mild seasons year 'round. Well we know where Normal went this year. Another planet. 

With record high temps throughout the Northern Hemisphere many other places are hotter as well. Vermont is in the 90's this week with 40% humidity :-( We can at least take comfort in our 10%! 

Our plan is to get more landscaping done, but we quickly lose motivation as the thermostat moves past 95. The fairly new AC works great, and we spend much of our days enjoying its comfort. Ezra has plenty of games and toys and manages to engage us in his imagination. Brian and Jeff both have work, and Shalise gets to be a kindergarten teacher each day. With three different diets, I do more cooking than usual. And of course there's the weekly trips to pick up groceries curbside. There's little change.

Yet time still passes quickly. June is already 2/3 past, while Easter was just yesterday! For the first time since I retired I'm anxious for a year to be over. I don't know why we're programmed to feel like when the calendar year changes somehow circumstances will change. Like the 12 month period has been cursed, and once we change those numbers it will be lifted. But alas I think we're all hoping, praying, pleading, believing that getting 2020 behind us will be a good thing. Fingers crossed! (Although sooner than that would be even better.)

Brian and Shalise are in escrow for a home in SoCal, and she has OB appointments there, so they have to make that 18 hour round trip a couple times during their time here. They're able to do it with minimal contact with others, but of course it's exhausting :-( Still, we're all happy that most of their time can be spent here with more isolation and more space for everyone. Once the house is theirs, they'll move back permanently. It will be too soon no matter when it happens.

They love to make each other laugh.

Tessa has security backup.
Another rock collecting trip takes us back into the Dragoons. No campers this time, it's hot even in the trees. A nice breeze keeps us comfortable most of the day, and Bill, Jeff and I bring back small rocks for our river bed and large ones for our tree ring. It's a beautiful area and we stay out of the big boulders to avoid snakes.

Our home on the hill gives us a lot of joy with the ever-changing skies and the bird families coming to visit. Not liking the heat doesn't mean we aren't loving our desert home!

We now have four different Quail families, at least two Finch families, and single Thrasher and Northern Cardinal families that come for food and water each day.

They're so tiny! Sadly they don't all survive and we see their numbers drop quickly. Most coveys start out with 12-20 and by the time their top knots are visible they're down to 4-8. Nesting on the ground or in low brush, they are easy prey to snakes and roadrunners.
We get about a half hour of rain one day - it's heavenly!

The sun washes the Burros with light.

Rain continues to fall in the setting sun over the Whetstones to the west.

We never tire of the magic of Mother Nature.

Ocotillo in the gloaming.

We have decisions to make about our one pending travel plan for September, and I'm beginning to look at routes for 2021 Spring/Summer. I'm amazed by the number of RV parks and campgrounds filling up this season, and yet it makes sense as families figure out how to vacation while practicing social distancing. Airports and hotels continue to be "only in an emergency" options for most. When we're able to continue our travels hopefully there will be room for us!

Summer Solstice is the perfect night to enjoy a fire to celebrate the waning of the light. The stars are bright and plentiful, and we're all happy to have this opportunity to see so many overhead. Ezra has a couple roasted marshmallows and is excited by his first sparklers. 


So yummy.

"It fills my whole mouth!"

Solstice Blessings. May Summer bring us all many good things.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Life Goes On

June 2-10, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona

It's hard to believe (how many sentences have you started like that in the last few months??) that we have been in Tombstone now for over nine months! We moved into our house eight months ago. Even with the unexpected changes in all our lives, that time has flown by. Although we would have had to do so in March, we had already decided in February to cancel our summer travels so we could see what the weather and life in general is like here year-round. 

Without unlimited funds to spend on the property, we wanted to see if anything needed to be done to make it more comfortable during the hot months. So far, new windows seem to be the priority as our old, thin, single panes rattle in the wind and fail to keep out extreme temps. Of course the more time we spend here, the more ideas we come up with for both inside and out. Plenty to keep us busy - now we just need to win the Lottery!

So although we planned to be here, not having the option to do otherwise is a very different reality. Still hoping we can hit the road in September for some shorter travels :-)

But while we're here......

Not unlike how we most like to spend our days on the road, day trips out in nature are our favorite. Now we get to add collecting rocks for landscaping our yard. After years of showing restraint in bringing rocks home to the RV, we can now bring back as many as we want!

We have a large variety of areas to explore.
Each rock has unique colors and shapes. The best finds are the two large weathered logs that Bill found in a wash.

More fun than a box of rocks!
Our Spring lasted about five minutes and temps in the 90's arrived in mid-May. We have had a few cooler days in between, with some cloudy and smelling of rain. Unfortunately we've only had a few minutes of light sprinkles. But oh that smell!! There's nothing else like petrichor in the desert. 

Those cloudy days give us the most spectacular sunsets as well. We are blessed to be treated to such beauty from Mother Nature.

So what's Tessa been up to? Other than wondering why we landed somewhere with zero grass, she's happy to have lots of space to run around inside and out. And more family means more belly rubs and snuggles!

Even before I was safely able to get her groomed, she loves to lie in the sun until her panting sends her back to the shade for short breaks.

Happier with shorter hair, milking the cute.

Guarding the bird feeder. They have gotten used to her, note the quail on the ground close by.
Our two RV sites have 50 amp service and water, but no sewer hookup. After Jeff's two week quarantine it was time to dump the black tank. A good reason to get the tires turning on the RV, sort of stretch her "legs" after being stationary for months. Slides in, jacks up, and me trying to remember how everything works! One of the local RV parks allows use of their dump for $20 so we made our way into our little town and took care of that chore. It seems a bit steep, but I'm all for helping local businesses stay open.

30 minutes later we're back in the spot. Jacks down, slides. Zip, nada, no movement or sign of life. Exactly same issue we had in September that brought us back early. Since we can't get to the fuse box with the bedroom slide in, we have no choice but to head to the shop. Jeff moves into the house with the clothes on his back as his clothes are behind the slide :-(. Two days later Bill and I head for Camping World. 

It's the hottest day so far, and Tucson is always at least 10 degrees higher. It's gross and we spend the day driving around in the air conditioning because of course we can't go hang out anywhere. The highlight is a slow drive through Saguaro National Park where it's very dry and most of the blooms have already faded. We only see three other people although there are a few cars parked at the trailheads (it's so hot?). We always enjoy the variety of cactus, and the long vistas.

Cholla camouflaged as entrails.

Dry, but still lots of green here.

So different from our desert.

Javalina Rocks, likely providing shelter to lots of snakes.
Clusters of Teddy Bear Cholla
Not a teddy bear anyone wants to cuddle up with!
I make a quick stop at Trader Joes for a couple yummy salads. Bill finds us a perfect city park with a table in the shade to enjoy our lunch. And Tessa is excited to find some grass!!


Not thick and healthy, but the grass gets a smile.
We love our Camping World, and four hours after dropping it off, we're picking up the RV with slide issue fixed. Turned out to be a "wrongly aligned" fuse. Human error that could have been us, and they agree it could have been them in October, but the good news is it wasn't a serious problem and we can head home.

Even better is that it's 19 degrees cooler when we get here!

There are some images that will always remind me of "these times" of shutdowns and shortages. While we never came close to running out of anything, it was disconcerting to see shelves completely empty of paper products and certain food items. Today there's plenty of most everything except disinfecting wipes!

Just because I didn't need it, doesn't mean I wasn't happy to see it return!
A new addition at the groomers - zero contact drop off.

The reality of shopping from home......
Ezra and his folks will be back in a few days, Jeff is keeping busy with work and friends online in between visits with us, and Bill and I are talking about more projects than we're working on. Life goes on. Everyone here is healthy and safe. 

I hope all of you are able to say the same!

Saturday, June 6, 2020

An Unintentional Hiatus

From then (mid April) to now (already June)
Tombstone, Arizona

In mid-April there was hope that the curve of the pandemic could flatten, and life would once again return to normal over the summer. Today the curve is more of a roller coaster, reacting to inconsistent strategies and individual beliefs. As we enter into June, normal seems ever further away as the murder of George Floyd has flamed the already blistering embers of fear and frustration. Ugly times for sure.

So without ever intending to do so, I stopped blogging - even reading my friends has been put on hold for a few weeks now. I write this blog to keep a record of our travels and adventures, and to stay in touch with friends old and new. Even though we've continued to see and do enjoyable things, and we're very happy in our desert home, the over-arching theme of "bad times" has quelled my enthusiasm :-(

Alas I will regret not capturing our fun with Ezra, lovely sunsets, progress with the yard, interesting Jeep drives, Jeff's arrival, and the blessing of having this safe and peaceful place.

I'd like to share photos of the over 20 birds visiting our property, but have only managed to capture a handful so far. I have enormous respect for those of you who consistently post beautiful and diverse bird photos!!

These Ring Necks are one of three species of Dove living here. 

By far the flashiest of our neighbors are the Northern Cardinal. We also have Desert Cardinals.

Second only to our House Finch population, we have lots of Gambel Quail. 

The Chihuachuan Raven has a smaller body and larger beak than the Common Raven. We have both.

A young Curved Bill Thrasher, the most aggressive bird in the community. Adults have more pronounced curves.
Our first Quail babies arrived in mid May, a covey of ten. They are now juveniles but there are only four from this family. Several more have joined us, over 25 in a couple covies!

Mama Quail take dust baths. This one really dug in and covered herself!

Road Runners are loners amd we only see them on the outskirts of the yard.
White Winged Dove
House Finch are abundant and talkative. They have a couple nests we can see, and we've watched the babies grow into their colors as they learn to feed themselves at our feeders.
We have some very colorful orioles (2 species), Goldfinches, Ladderback Woodpeckers and even one Lazuli Bunting, but I've not captured them yet. More common Cowbirds, Canyon Towhees and Black Throated Sparrows (a favorite) frequent the feeders, but never when I have my camera. Bewicks Wrens eat the moths and other bugs from the rafters on our front porch, a pair of Cassens Kingbirds have a nest in our Sycamore, and we've just recently started seeing Barn Swallows flying over. There are more too, and it seems like we add a new one every couple weeks. And boy can they eat!!! Bird feed has become a new staple on the grocery list.

Our winter Mule Deer population moved to the mountains as the temps rose and now it is just the occasional small herd we see. Their colors have changed with the season as well, looking much more brown than gray now. Cottontails have new family members, and every day we have big and small making a visit.

Looking well groomed.

So precious.

We see you!
Out gathering weathered wood and unique rocks for our cactus garden we came upon these newborn chipmunks. They were about the size of Bill's thumb. We left so mom could come back and put them safely back in their burrow.

The Dragoon Mountains to our northeast have several beautiful drives. In 25 miles we go from desert plains into forested mountains. The rock formations and creek beds provide unique views and make for great day trips. And of course we rarely see anyone else. 

Hmmmm, wonder what's in there?
Tall inside, but too dark (thankfully).

Getting to share our safe and beautiful home with family has been the best part of this unexpected season. At four years old, Ezra is full of questions and giggles, high energy and soft cuddles. Seeing the birds and cactus and sunsets and critters through his eyes makes everything even more special. Making it easier for his dad to work, and his mom to attend school, makes us feel like we're doing something positive in difficult times. 

Watering an Ocotillo transplant.

Being four.

Launching the car into the dinosaur.


Meeting his first Horned Toad.

He named it Bronco

Learning why we can't keep Bronco and saying good-bye.
Fire in the sky!

A drive north along the San Pedro River took us through beautiful blooming cactus and old horse paddocks. We turned around when we reached the Saguaros.

Where the river cut deep.

We have a lot of open range, and it's amazing to me the variety of cattle. One day trip took us through a herd of very beautiful and healthy animals. All were curious and calm. Tessa is always enamored with them, and they with her. Maybe we should get her a playmate??

Jeff (my youngest, our number four) lost his job and has been hunkered down in Seattle doing freelance writing and editing while seeking other employment for a couple months. With no end in sight to the uncertainty, he decided to move here for a bit. We've been wanting him here so it was great news for us! With the motorhome hooked up with 50 amp and water there's plenty of space for all of us. It also gave him a safe place to quarantine for two weeks.

Ezra helping get Jeff's place ready.
Our short Spring brought bright Ocotillo blooms.

And a burst of Bunny Ear flowers.
So we've been just fine, and have kept busy enjoying family and our lovely desert. Seeing the world turn upside down is unsettling, and it's hard to feel like it will ever be the same again. In many ways we have the opportunity to make it better, we can only hope. We are blessed to be where we are and have what we have. 

I'm committed to getting caught up with all my blogging buddies, I do want to know what you've all been up to! I'd like to say I'll stay current on my own blog, but we'll see :-))))