Spring has sprung!

There is a warmth in the air along with the delicious scent of jasmine. Looking around, I see signs that the cold winds of winter have left us. I see blooms and buds on my daily walks. Each day brings something new.

Purple lupine flowers growing through a crack in the concrete.
Purple flowers are finding their way through the concrete. I believe this is lupine.
Bright red cardinal
This cardinal hung outside our casita yesterday. We also have a gray brown female and their reddish brown juvenile. He will get redder as he matures. I read that female cardinals choose their mates based on the brilliance of their feathers. Bright red feathers means the cardinal is finding nutritious food.
Toumey's Century Plant.
I can’t wait for this agave known as a Century Plant to bloom. This one is in a neighbor’s front yard. It looks like it will be impressive.
hedgehodge cactus im bloom
A hedgehog cactus beginning to bloom. The color of the flowers are stunning.
Mule deer hanging out at a friend's house.
I spotted this mule deer next to a friend’s home because its ears moved.
I passed it on the start and end of my 45-minute walk.

What signs are telling you Spring is in the air? Do you see more birds? Blooming plants?

When guests know more than you

Saguaro cactus with arms
A saguaro we encountered on our hike in the preserve with guests. It must be at least 200 years old.

Leave it to out-of-town guests to show us what’s what in our new area. This past weekend we had friends, who are also former work associates of my husband’s, stay with us for the weekend. They insisted we go with them to the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM.)

This was after a big hike in our preserve and me preparing my spinach avocado quesadillas because we were famished.

Our guests wanted five hours in the museum. My husband said two hours tops. He thought he’d get bored and he couldn’t stand for much longer than that. It turned out to be amazing. It’s the number one attraction in the Phoenix area and one of the top 15 museums in the country. And I had never heard of it.

It turned out that in two hours we didn’t complete two galleries. My husband picked up a brochure to become members! We’ll be taking guests to MIM and spend countless hours there on our own. There is so much more to explore. Unfortunately, I left my phone at home, so I’ll put up some links instead of photos.

Here’s a short video showing the Artist Gallery that we spent the most time in. It gives a good idea of how the exhibits are set up.

You wear a headset and it automatically plays music when you stand in front of a screen at displays. For example, at Woodstock I listened to Joan Baez and Carlos Santana. The exhibits had original instruments played by the artists, gold records, grammy’s, costumes, hand written lyrics or music. Fascinating stuff.

A list of displays in the MIM Artist Gallery.
From the MIM website: a list of displays in the Artist Gallery.
This is from the visitor’s brochure to give you an idea of the exhibitis.

They also have concerts. I am so thrilled to learn of this place, even though my husband cut our visit short. At least we can go back whenever we want and it was our guests third or fourth visit there.

What are your favorite places to visit where you live? Have guests helped you explore your area? What artists on the list above are your favorites?

Happy Trails to You!

McDowell Sonoran Preserve trails.
It’s cool enough to hike at 6:30 am. so we hit the hiking trails by our house.

We haven’t been out hiking for months in the preserve by our house because of the summer heat. Finally, the weather is breaking and it felt wonderful to be out in nature at the gorgeous McDowell Sonoran Preserve once again.

We have a house guest, my sister-in-law, and it’s fun to show off our new town to her. She loved the hike, too and took some great photos of our desert life. I’m looking at things through her eyes and it’s inspiring to me.

prickly pear cactus
Prickly pears.
quail
Quail in our backyard.
saguaro cactus
A majestic saguaro.
cactus cookies
Cactus cookies that my husband’s sister made for us. She has a cookie business as one of her many endeavors.
saguaro growth chart
I found this chart helpful to learn about saguaros and how old they are.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again

Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then

Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?

Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather

Happy Trails Roy Rogers & Dale Evans

When you have a guest, what are some of the things you like to share or explore?

My love hate relationship…

….with my fitbit. I thought my fitbit was a game changer when I first got it. It was a Christmas present in 2019.

view of AZ desert
The hiking trails across the street from our new home.

I still like some of the things as much as I did when I first started using it. I like knowing when I reach my 10,000 steps a day. I like the gentle reminders to get up and move every hour.

It feels heavy on my wrist and sometimes I wake up up in the middle of the night and take it off. Then in the morning, I check how well I slept. If I take it off, then it misses a lot of the hours that I did sleep. Looking at a poor night of sleep changes how I feel during the day. Even if I leave it on all night, and I had a bad night’s sleep, the tiredness I feel is worse than it would have been without looking at the data.

The other thing I don’t like is I’ve been riding my bike a few mornings after I walk. I often forget to press the exercise button and scroll to the bike icon. So, I don’t get the satisfaction of having my bike rides recorded. I’ve tried to log into exercise for the day and add the ride in, but it won’t let me. Then I feel cheated. This morning, I stopped during my bike ride to start the fitbit, but I guess I did something wrong and the ride was not recorded.

I may try a few days without the fitbit and see if it feels better without it. Maybe it will be freeing. Or will I miss the little celebration when I hit 10,000 steps?

A view of Mt. San Jacinto from the Wellness Park on my morning walk when I lived in Palm Springs.

Do you use an exercise tracker like an Apple watch or fitbit? What are you feelings about it? Is it helpful or not?

Hail storm in July!

Hail storm

Friday we left for a two-hour drive to celebrate our anniversary in the cool mountain town of Flagstaff, Ariz. We were looking forward to getting out of the heat, exploring a new area, hiking, dining, and staying at our favorite hotel brand, Little America.

Halfway to Flagstaff, we were entranced with big dark clouds that had long threads of rain hanging from them. Then there was a thunderclap and it started to rain. The rain turned into hail within minutes. It sounded like our car was being hit by golf balls. I was scared out of my mind.

My husband asked me to turn on the hazard flashers. My hands shook so badly I couldn’t do it. I began praying the Hail Mary!

We saw cars pull over on the right shoulder of the two-lane highway. But there was a cliff on that side and the visibility was getting awful. We were in the left lane where there wasn’t room to pull over, just a ditch.

Visibility went to zero. My husband drove at one mile per hour, completely blind to what lie ahead. He said he didn’t want to stop in case someone barreled into us.

The hail turned back into rain and when we made it to Flagstaff it was sunny and close to 100 degrees. What a July.

At the hotel, shaken and exhausted, we inspected the car. It’s dented all over the hood, roof and trunk.

What type of freak weather have you experienced? I thought our snow when we first moved to Scottsdale was odd.

Favorite sights from the past days

gorgeous Arizona sunset
I walked up the street to find the best view of the sunset this past weekend.

I’ve had some interesting sights this week. The desert is bursting alive with blooms. Baby bunnies are everywhere. I had bright red cardinals in my trees. A red-headed woodpecker sucked all the red juice from the hummingbird feeder I hung out and he’s pecked holes to make nests in our saguaro (not our favorite bird.)

We went for a hike in the nature’s preserve across the street and decided to veer off the trails we know. I thought the trail Hawknest would save us time, but it added. It didn’t loop back but headed straight down the preserve away from our house. It’s unsettling to not know where you’ll end up, but finally we found a trail crossing that we knew would lead us back home. Next time, I’ll bring a paper map! The phone was not cutting it.

I was smiling before we veered off familiar trails.
Bouquet of May Day flowers
My husband surprised me with May Day flowers. I kept walking by where he had them placed. Finally he asked if I had dusted the living room. I was offended and thought “WHAT??? Why is he asking me about dusting of all things!” There they were, on a shelf.
peter cotton tail bunny
Bunny in the front yard.
bunny in the yard
Bunny in the back yard.

Our bobcat made an appearance mid-day waltzing through the yard like he owned the place. Sorry I didn’t capture a pic.

Saguaro with eight arms in the Sonoran Desert
A majestic saguaro we saw on our hike. It must be well over one hundred years old.
Quail hanging out at the pool bar.

What are some of the interesting sights you’ve seen this past week in your neighborhood?

I think we overdid it…

Standing next to saguaro with many arms
Standing next to a saguaro. They grow their first arms at around 100 years old.

My bones ache. My muscles are tired. I don’t know why it’s so hard to recover. Maybe we overdid it and got carried away. Every weekend we go for a hike. When we started out with life in Arizona, we explored new areas to hike, but no more than two or three miles a day.

A week ago Friday, we had a visit from my sorority big sister and her husband. Wonderful surprise to see them after many years — and to learn that they are buying a home a few miles away! We went for a five-mile hike with them on the nature’s preserve across the street. It was a gorgeous afternoon and so much fun to catch up on the past 10 years or so of our lives.

Then as we walked them out in the dusk to their car, we were showing them our yard — I tripped over a cactus and flew onto our brick walkway landing on both knees and hands. Hard! I was stunned and didn’t bounce back to my feet. My husband had to help me up and I felt like a fool. Our friends were worried about me and I assured them I was fine.

Ever since my knee surgery, I have to think about how to get up. It’s like I’ve fallen on a steep ski slope and I have to make sure I’m positioned perpendicular to the slope with my skis below me before I can push myself up. My physical therapist had to teach me how to get up after surgery and had me practice it. I have to put my knees below my butt, sitting on my side before I push myself up — just like getting up on the slopes. That’s why I was not bouncing up after tripping over the cactus. It’s a mental thing but also my knees and hands hurt.

Trail signs on the McDowell Sonaran preserve
The trails have great signs so it’s nearly impossible to get lost.

Fast forward to yesterday and I felt no pain in my knees and only my right hand still hurts, so we went for another hike. We brought a trail map with us and found a loop across the street from our house. It was on the hot side, but there was a nice breeze. I didn’t slip or fall and made it through the six miles of undulating trails through the Sonoran Desert without a hitch.

When we got home I felt tired. So did my husband. We took a cold water plunge and went waist high into our freezing cold pool to get our legs back under us. Then I luxuriated on a zero gravity lounge reading a novel for an hour. What a gorgeous, perfect Sunday.

The cold water plunge reminded me of my daughter during swim meets when she had prelims and finals with a few hour break between sessions. She’d fill the hotel tub with ice and water and soak in the freezing cold ice bath to recover.

Today I woke up and tried to stand up. Yikes. I’m sore and tired. Moving kind of slow for a Monday.

Backyard pool in Arizona
I took a plunge into this freezing pool to recover from our hike.

Do you find it harder to recover as you get older? Or, is everything still as easy as ever. Do you have any tips that make it easier?