Look what we found up the road

Bartlett Lake in Arizona
We found a lake!

My husband was helping a friend who lives nearby with some errands. He kept seeing trucks pulling boats on our main street. I’ve noticed the boat traffic, too. I didn’t give it much thought where they were headed. They are going north from our house. They certainly aren’t taking boats to the Grand Canyon, are they?

“There’s a lake 15 miles up the road,” our friend said.

WHAT???

swimming at Bartlett Lake
We’re going for a swim today or tomorrow.

Water in the middle of the desert. Who would have known? And the good news: it’s super close to us. It was crowded on Memorial Weekend with lots of campers and boats, but it’s a short drive for us to check out mid week. We explored during the busy weekend for future visits. And we bought a map and marked all our destinations, so my husband was a happy camper.

campground at Bartlett Lake
A view of one of the campgrounds.

Our plan is to head up to the lake after my husband is done working. It’s in the Tonto National Forest and the drive is breathtaking. We’ll take a pop-up tent for shade, beach chairs and a cooler full of water and a picnic dinner. The only problem will be the heat, but maybe it won’t be so bad after getting wet. It will be a nice change to enjoy a lake instead of the pool.

I was excited to find out we live so close to water! The lake has several campgrounds, two restaurants and a marina that rents kayaks, jet skis, pontoon and speed boats and stand up and paddle boards. I’m finally going to try SUP.

It’s a Carefree Kind of Day

Carefree Arizona fountain
A fountain in Carefree’s city center.

Today I went to the Farmer’s Market at the city center of Carefree, Ariz. Don’t you love that name? I do! The town is tiny and is literally a stone’s throw from our new home. I was surprised walking around the small market. Nobody was wearing masks! I didn’t see a single one anywhere. Not by the vendors, not by the shoppers. Two weeks ago I went to the Farmer’s Market and everyone was wearing masks.

I felt free. I could breathe. I was happy as I said hello to strangers and smiled and got smiles in return. Definitely a Carefree feeling.

Colorful art at Carefree Farmer's Market.
Colorful art at the Carefree Farmer’s Market.

Then I stopped at the grocery store to get a few things. I wore my mask inside because that’s been the rule. I asked the checker, who was wearing a mask, if masks were required in the store. I had noticed other shoppers weren’t wearing them. She said, “The signs came down a month ago. We’re required to wear them, but not you.”

I took off my mask and said, “Wonderful!”

She said, “Enjoy your oxygen! I’m jealous!”

The work of sculptor Arthur Norby, Stampede depicts a horse with a cowboy apparently trying to head off a herd of cattle. It was originally designed for Javelina Crossing in Indianapolis. It was installed in Carefree in March, 2008. It is bronze, listed as unique and 10 feet tall.l

What are the rules for wearing masks where you live? How does it make you feel?

My favorite views from last week…

View of Arizona back yard mountains and cactus.
View from my backyard.
colorful blue sky with rainbow sundog
I looked up from reading a book called “The Edge” and saw this. The Edge is a book written by one of my childhood best friend’s little brother. He used to follow me around when I was in junior high and he was around four or five. His nom do plume is Clark Douglas. The book is great with quirky original characters.
Pretty long haired cat sitting at the table
My beauty Olive was fascinated and sat at the kitchen counter as I prepared dinner Friday night.
I saw mule deer severals days in a row last week. Once five walked by.
Cat on top shelf in a closet
The top shelf is at least 8 feet high. Yet there she is.

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?

Watching the sunrise and birds

The past few days I’ve been treated to glorious sunrises, sunsets and a bounty of birds. I bought a bird feeder a few weeks ago and I’m delighted sitting at my desk glancing out the window. I got carried away and not only filled the bird feeder until it was overflowing, but I threw out cups of bird seed on the ground, too. That was for the quail who run through the fence. Yesterday we were visited by a huge roadrunner, a woodpecker and a bright red cardinal.

 

red cardinal on bird feeder

A brilliant red cardinal visited yesterday.

I was busy taking pictures of the cardinal when another visitor wooshed  onto the scene, forcing all the friendly birds to flee.

 

Hawk on fence

This giant landed on the fence before swooping through the yard to the rooftop.

The wildlife here at my new home can be intimidating. I’m terrified the cat will get out and everyone from realtors to friends have said cats last less than an hour outside. We even spotted bobcat tracks in our front yard after a rainy night.

Hawk on the roof

This was one of two hawks who scared away my birds.

My son works for a startup in San Francisco called Backerkit. I took this slogan off their website to explain what they do:

“We build software to help crowdfunding backers and creators connect, support each other, and get the most out of every campaign.”

My son said there’s a new product coming out that uses AI to identify birds. I’ll be first on the list when the product launches. So far, I’m going the old fashioned way with a bird book. Right now there are all these little boring brown birds in the yard, and I have no clue what they are.

Red sky sunrise

A wonder of a sunrise to start off a new month.

 

Is it a gas station, car wash or BBQ joint?

We discovered The Thumb in May 2018 — featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives — when we visited the Phoenix area with our daughter. She was going to graduate college in August and move to Arizona for a career in the financial world (which she despised.) Anyway, during our trip to Arizona, we discovered a gas station, car wash, gift shop, wine shop — that also serves the most unbelievable barbecue.

Yesterday, after a hike at Lake Pleasant, my husband and I were starving. Our car was filthy….so we remembered The Thumb. What a perfect way to top off a hike.

view from hike at Lake Pleasant AZ

Ready to hike Pipeline Canyon trail at Lake Pleasant.

I wrote this after discovering The Thumb in 2018:

peach cobbler sign at The Thumb Scottsdale AZ

Inside The Thumb gas station.

While spending the weekend in Arizona, our purpose was to check out where our daughter will start her career. While driving to dinner one evening, our car told us to get gas and directed us to the closest gas station. (I love that feature on our car because I get busy and don’t realize I’m close to running out of fuel.)

The car sent us to The Thumb. While my husband pumped gas, I noticed the two-story building that was unlike any gas station I’d ever seen before. I witnessed a stream of people leaving the building with white plastic bags with red lettering. Waving in the breeze were banners that said “BBQ.”

What kind of barbecue is found inside a gas station, I wondered.

Inside the Thumb Scottsdale AZ BBQ gas station

The BBQ counter next to the gift shop at The Thumb.

I left the car to check it out.

I was surprised to see a gift shop filled with all sorts of fun items, from Pug cha cha to lots of cactus cookie jars, shot glasses, cards and miscellaneous stuff.

There was a pretty extensive wine section plus a bakery that looked so mouthwatering. I should have tried the snickerdoodles or homemade pop tarts! They looked scrumptious. One side of the building had a huge chandelier with tables for those eating in, plus a patio with more tables for dining al fresco. A huge aquarium had several people entranced.

Then there was the barbecue. People were lined up to order and people were stocking up on the six flavors of sauce.

We ordered a pound of brisket, some coleslaw and tried a few sauces. We both decided the original was best. After getting our gas we headed back to the condo we were staying in and surprised our daughter with an amazing dinner from the gas station!

The Thumb’s website says it’s  “Just your average gas station…”
It’s been featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” on Food Network, too.

Inside dining at The Thumb Scottsdale AZ

The inside dining area of The Thumb.

If you happen to be driving through Scottsdale on the 101, I highly recommend a stop at the Thumb for a car wash, bakery, bottle of wine, barbecue, gifts — and oh yes, gas.

What unusual gas stations or diners have you discovered during your travels?

Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?

This year, I’ve decided to not make New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that they haven’t worked for me in the past, so long as I kept them small and not overwhelming. I view New Year’s Resolutions as a “don’t do this list” rather than “try something new.” Although that’s not totally accurate, it’s how I’m looking at it for 2021. Here’s the difference between resolutions and goals I found online:

Essentially, a resolution is something you will constantly be working toward, while a goal is specific and finite. Resolutions are made up of goals. While there is a difference between goals and resolutions, they are relevant and intertwined.


What’s the Difference Between Goals and Resolutions …

quail on patio

These entertaining guys hang outside my office.

I’ve decided that I’d rather make a list of goals, not resolutions. Mostly it’s learning new things, seeing new places. In my new home, I want to learn about the birds I’m seeing, the plants, the trails and mountains.

hiking trail Cave Creek AZ

One of our first hikes in AZ at Cave Creek Regional Park.

So, a few of my goals — besides getting my house unpacked and in order — are:

  1. Start birdwatching — I already put a bird feeder in the backyard.
  2. Learn about saguaro cactus and other species of native plants.
  3. Hike on a new trail each week.
  4. Experience more sunrises and sunsets.
  5. Explore areas like the Grand Canyon and Sedona.
  6. Take a photography class online.
  7. Sketch or paint some of my new scenery.
  8. Begin a new manuscript, in a genre new to me.

    sunset in AZ desert

    The sunset from our street.

    Do you have a list of New Year’s Resolutions or goals to share?