Rattlesnake in the Front Yard
There I was, exiting the house with Jack for an evening walk, Jack walks right by the above. Having received snake avoidance training, I was surprised there was no reaction but apparently, it's the sound of the rattle that kicks in the training and sure enough, once the snake initiated the rattle, Jack freaked out, so that's good. What provoked the snake to rattle???
Hiking & a Trip
Hey well guess what? For those of you who miss the hiking views and reports, we're headed to Lake Tahoe in a few days. No cycling, just hiking. A bunch of snow on the peaks and surrounding areas so won't know for sure which of the hikes we've researched are doable. Taking an extra pair of hiking shoes as I have read the transition areas between the snow and ground are pretty wet and of course a pair of cramp-ons. More to come.
The Last Days in Ohio
I probably cut 7-8 trees during my visit, removing the pieces and stacking them. And continued....
...clearing the annoying briars and some other undergrowth, mixing with branches and creating good fires.
Anthony and I did the putt-putt golf thing a couple of times. Somehow, he managed to make a "2" on every hole so won one match and lost, barely, the other.
He also attempted to distract me to enhance his advantage.
I challenged Anthony to a duel, ha, ha, using Nerf guns.
Lastly, challenging him to a soccer game, where if I stopped a kick, I got a $1 and if he got a kick by me, he got a $1. We called it even after the game, only because I was ahead. Had it been the other way, of course I'd have to pay. Well, back to beautiful southern AZ where we are experiencing a very mild late spring.
While driving to visit my 102 year old mother in Zanesville, I pass the abandoned Longaberger corporate HQ. Certainly a unique structure but a tough sell to any entity.
Grandson Anthony, 7 now, has developed into quite a skilled soccer player and enjoys the game. He had me kicking to the goal but he stopped most of them.
He had two goals in a recent championship game and allowed me to hold his 1st place trophy.
I was on my way to play golf with son Brett at Links at Echo Springs GC, following a route that took me over several roads on which I used to ride. When people in AZ ask what cycling is like in Ohio, they have no idea what is a marvelous network of lonely country roads that stitch communities and farms together. For 5-6 months out of the year, it doesn't get much better when you combine this awesome road quality with the myriad of routes, large and vibrant cycling community, hills, etc... I do miss the evening group rides and all the characters with whom I interacted. But, the other 6-7 months, yuck, lol.
Amy sent me a picture of Jack, sleeping on my pillow while I am absent. He misses me!
I was impressed by the quality of the course and the interesting layout. I enjoyed myself but....
....I lost my match by one shot. I actually played fairly decent given I now play only about once a year. I'm a far cry from the 2 handicap I once had but that's ok as cycling and hiking are better for me.
Back home, the desert cactus are blooming. I'll be home soon.
Denison U Biological Reserve Hike
For many years, I let nature take its course and so large swaths of my woods became practically impenetrable. And now, when I see a dead ash tree....
....I have to hack a path to it, clear around where I think the tree will fall and then burn the brush. Kind of time consuming and I'm clearing other areas to get rid of the over growth. I have trails throughout but want to clean it up. It's kind of back breaking work but I enjoy it.
One afternoon, I visit the Biological Reserve just north of Granville.
The Reserve has some of the finest examples I've ever seen on its 350 acres of Beech, Maple, Red Oak, Cherry but alas, the huge ash trees....
...have all fallen. Looking at the above image, you can see the cause. The Emerald Ash Borer, brought in on pallets from China, lays eggs in the bark. The emerging larvae travel in a serpentine path beneath the bark, feeding and cutting off water and sugars that move up and down the tree. They're damn effective at the job, unfortunately.
I pass a solar array that was installed in 2017. To be frank...
...it was highly annoying that well over 70, mature trees (yeah, I counted several times while walking by) were cut to make room for the panels.
The trail thankfully soon wanders back into the woods.
I pass an interesting stream and while most of the acreage is wooded....
....there are a couple of nice fields. A real gem of a hiking destination. Well, back to working in the woods and checking in with the grandchildren.
The Hummingbird and OHIO!!!
I was raking leaves and discovered this on our orange tree. I've never seen a hummingbird nest until now and look how solid it is! The pic makes it look larger than it is.That
That evening we made the short drive to Tanque Verde Ranch and after a drink at the bar....
....headed to their "Cottonwood" section for a wonderfully outfitted buffet. In season, 250-300 people attend but tonight, around 50. The selection and taste was great while we listen to a performer.
Then, it was off to the Tucson airport for a flight to Ohio. Looking at the Catalinas, Amy was out there doing a 40+ mile ride. I'm looking forward to seeing my 102 year old mother, 3 male grandchildren, 3 children, 3 acres of land where I will spend the majority of my time but it's tough to temporarily leave the Amster.
What the heck!!! We're paying $4.79 in southern AZ but only $3.55 in central Ohio.
Ohhh, then I go to the woods and visit the 3 acres having trees I planted about 30 years ago. Mostly, mighty red oaks but also cherry, maples, ash and other varieties. Love it in this preserve!
My first full day ends with watching Anthony in tryouts for an advanced soccer league. He'll make it, he's quite good.
The Cactus cycling club organizes 2-3 rides each week. The quantity of participants has taken a dramatic hit since the snow birds departed but there is still 10+ who attend. Above, Blackett's Ridge and Thimble Peak.
We did a 46 mile ride with a stop at a market/gas station. It's always curious to me why some cyclists lean their bikes against the few available places to sit. My average speed was 18.7mph so that was good and I am incrementally getting a wee bit stronger.
Of course, I had to take a picture of this sign.
Our ash tree was being battered by strong winds so we decided to give it some support. Got a good deal on a used post hole digger and went to work. I'll be in Ohio for a few days soon to visit family and work in the woods. After the last month of outdoor work, my body and back will be much better prepared than typical so that is good.
A New Tree!
Cutting down the mesquite tree left a significant gap in our landscaping so we visited a nearby nursery, were escorted around 27 acres via a golf cart, acquired a new tree, I dug a hole and.....
.....into it went a Raywood ash tree! Ironic since I cut many dozens of dead ash trees in Ohio, victims of the emerald ash borer. Out here, it should thrive.
Every plant is currently flowering.
Amy and I got in a hilly, 40 mile ride while admiring the great views.
I got out on a 41 mile solo effort which included passing Colossal Cave MP.
The Rincons in the distance where if you look closely, a rabbit was posing on the above driveway.
Return to Southern AZ
We made it through Phoenix without too much delay. I really dislike driving through there and can't imagine driving in the traffic every day. So, back on the bike to loosen my legs and encountered this fella while crossing the Wentworth Road wash. Of course, I had to stop and get just outside the strike range to take a pic.
He became tired of my presence and soon slithered away. I used to keep an Excel spreadsheet of all my rattlesnake encounters while hiking. I lost the file but am pretty sure I could recreate it from memory. So many close calls. It makes me shudder thinking about a few of them and how fortunate I never, so far, was bitten.
I finally broke up all the branches left from cutting the Mesquite tree, into small pieces and then burned them all in our outdoor fireplace. The black soot left on the front was easily washed and the appearance is back to normal. Glad that project is finished as we contemplate what type of tree to plant.
We've been getting in quality rides of 30-50 miles. I'm approaching a significant age milestone....ok, 65. That seems so old. But, I don't feel old...more like I'm 45 and I certainly don't.....
....act like I'm 65...more like 18. The upside to 65 is it puts me at the low end of age ranges for cycling events. You know, the "65-70" category when competing in cycling events. I may need to take advantage of that, or not, we'll see.
Ride Around Sedona
I found a ride of about 40 miles on "Ride with GPS". Good climbing, loop route which I much prefer over an out and back route. As always, great views.
Whoa, we got on the 89A and traffic was thick, made a right on Sedona Scenic Byway and traffic very heavy there too with lots of roundabouts. I had to scream at a driver who initially tried to cut in front of me across the bike lane. Very squirrely riding conditions but ok sure, more great views.
Then the crummy conditions passed at about mile 20. We entered Cornville, hung a right and wow, what a revelation! Several rolling miles through a valley while passing 4 wineries and a fish hatchery. We came back later to check out one of the wineries.
So, a good route other than the part through and out of Sedona.
Our route was to take us past this unusually situated house that requires access via an elevator but we opted not to include this. I include the image just as a point of interest.
Then on our final day, we stopped at a very cool shopping plaza.
A small courtyard had been created around this old tree.
Very interesting perspective. After shopping for awhile, we made the 4 hour drive back to Tucson.
The Birthing Cave
We stayed on maybe the west side of Sedona or the side closest to Cottonwood. There are many neat hiking destinations within a few miles of our hotel, including the Birthing Cave. It would be a short. flat hike of 2 miles.
We start with our reluctant hiking companion on the Long Canyon Trail. Our destination is not on this trail but from a spur trail off Long Canyon. Most people looking for the cave miss the turn and we encountered several who had made the mistake, today.
We find the spur trail, head steadily toward a rock wall, climb a kind of precarious set of switch backs and soon....
....we're taking a break in the cave. Looking around, I had no idea how it had acquired the name "Birthing" but maybe they ran out of interesting names as others had already been used, lol. Wow, what a....
....great view. A couple others joined us in the cave before we headed back. Before dropping the cave from our sight, we turned for a....
....final look. It's a worthwhile destination but way underwhelming compared to yesterday's hike.
The Subway Hike
We arrive at the trail head, expecting this popular hike to be crowded even on a Monday and it was, but not too bad. Boynton Canyon trail takes one to the end of the canyon but there is a spur trail, about 2 miles in, that would take us to "The Subway".
Amazing scenery as always.
The trail parallels a resort for about a mile but it's not too intrusive.
In addition to our friends Tom and Janet, we brought Jack the Dog. Jack is not a huge fan of hiking but he loves the attention he receives from other hikers and boy does he receive a lot of attention. We've arrived at the spur trail and begin a steady climb to....
....this steep notch, climb it, circle to our right and....
....wow, what an iconic image. Note the ledge on the opposite side of the Subway.
To access it, one need navigate kind of a steep wall.
Then slowly and carefully walk the ledge around a corner where we find the other significant attraction....
I go inside and take a picture of Amy, standing outside.
We descend an alternative route to the base of the aforementioned notch and head back. Gathering clouds indicate rain is on the way and we did receive a small amount of it.
I had gotten a little ahead of our group so ascended another spur trail to the above pinnacle. I climbed up that but the way down was a little "scary" so....
...these nice people stood below and guided my feet to unseen steps. Thanks whoever you were. Finished with 6 miles and a great memory.
Our Drive North
It was fun while it lasted, cutting the tree. It's thrown off lots of firewood so that's good. I dug a trench around the base so I could get the chainsaw as low as possible and then....
....yikes! A scorpion darted from between the rocks. A sting from that would be nasty. The trunk was cut and then....
....we packed and drove north to Sedona while passing a car that had been on fire.
The drive through Phoenix is dreadful so it's a relief to get north of that city.
Soon, we get on 89A and can see the Sedona area coming into view.
...beautiful Sedona! We'll be here with some friends to ride and hike. Much more to come....
A Dead Mesquite
Alas, a prominent mesquite in our front yard died, victim of a type of pest that bores beneath the tree bark. Very similar to the Emerald Ash Borer that took out so many of my Ohio ash trees. But, I get to rent a chain saw and get to work so that is the upside. Unfortunately, there are a lot of desirable plants around so I can't just drop it. It's more of a limb by limb project but had Amy to help guide the fall of each piece via a rope as I cut.
I rented a saw for 4 hours but was only able to get half of the tree cut, which also threw off thousands of small branches that had to be burned. The fire kind of got out of hand a couple of times. Next I'll rent the chain saw on the end of the pole to reach the higher branches. All in, I'll probably have $150+ into the project but certainly much lower than hiring someone and denying me the fun of wood cutting.
We rode to the end of Speedway via that awesome new pavement. The vehicles are overflow from the Douglas Springs trail head parking lot.
There's a famous dude ranch also at the end of the road and I wonder if they had some influence to have the road repaved.
We drove to Oro Valley to do a 47 mile ride with 2000'+ of climbing.
The views coupled with many colors of wildflowers are grand.
I finished the week with 135 miles again and am in good enough shape that I think I'll try something epic for the new week. I first rode out Speedway to loosen my legs. More to come...
And just like that! The Speedway Road repaving project is completed. Still have to put in the lines but east and west bound lanes are open and cyclists are flocking to check it out.
Weird. We have a type of cactus with too much lean to one side. Get this!!! I can chop off the most left leaning arm, lay it on the ground for 4-5 days to allow a scab to form over the cut end. Then insert it into the ground, stake it and roots will begin to grow. In the midwest, if air hits the roots, the plant is done but not with cactus.
I drove to Oro Valley to participate in a group ride but arriving, discovered I had forgotten my water bottles. Damn it! Returned home and planned to ride with Amy but then she discovered her rear tire was flat and all the gu that would have sealed the tire, gone. We had to go our separate ways, she to a bike shop and me on a 40 mile ride that included a stop at a high school having a scorpion on the roof.
The route was out and back with nice views of the surrounding mountains.
I finished my solo effort with a 17.7 mph average, not great but quite a bit faster than the last time I did the route. Making progress in small, no very small, incremental steps.
Jack and I walked around a nearby pond which has a large population of turtles. They all slide from their perches as we approach except for this one. On two consecutive days, he stubbornly refused to slink into the water as all his companions did.
A Long Ride
Amy and I now have matching jerseys from Neo Pro. Prices are very reasonable.
I happened to plant our Tombstone roses out of the automatic watering system so it requires manual watering. Hmmmm, those jeans don't fit so well, lol.
I joined a group of 21 cyclists for a 70 mile ride to Pinal Airpark, where airlines park their excess inventory. My first visit and at 70 miles, 25 miles longer than any ride I've done in the last 2 years.
It was a good route and the pavement was also very good!
The windows and doors are wrapped. This is the short term lot so some of these planes will be back in service.
Our group had a couple of stops to refuel. My average speed was 19.3mph for the ride and I felt pretty good about that. Many of these cyclists ride extraordinary distances each week and in terrific shape. I finished the week with 135 miles, also a high for the last couple of years. Amy finished with that plus 0.04 more so I lost the distance competition this week, ha, ha.
Out and About
Wanting to create some additional privacy, we planted two, Tombstone roses a couple of months ago. It's a prolific grower with nice flowers but some of the leaves are yellowing. A trip to the nursery and pouring fertilizer on the ground should take care of the issue.
Another windy day, so much so that dust is aloft and blurring the normal awesome views.
Streaks originating from the southeast. Not sure what to make of that.
My daily walk of Jack with an interesting root structure.
We walk around a fairly large pond that I am told, contains a good supply of bass and bluegill.
A variety of cactus are now in bloom.
I never thought I'd see the day but Speedway is being paved from Houghton, east to where it dead ends at Douglas Springs trail head.
Amazing how many roads on the east side are receiving this needed treatment. OK, not much to report today but more coming, ha, ha.
Say Hello to My Little Friend
Well, ok, Jack is my little friend as he watches me fill a fountain but not the little friend to which I reference in the title.
Amy and I go out on a hilly, 40 mile ride with her sister Tracy. The quality of the pavement we ride is very, very good.
We regroup a couple of times which allows us to admire our surroundings.
We include Territory Drive which has a 18% section. Beautiful day and then another system comes through, not with rain but with....
....wind as Jack's hair acts as a wind mill to show the direction from which the wind is coming.
It's welcome but all the sudden, several roads in crummy condition, are finally being repaved, including many miles of Speedway Road. Never thought I'd see the day. All the way from Houghton, past Freeman, beyond Wentworth to where the road dead ends at the base of the mountains. And then....
....I rented a chain saw which is at the end of a 12' pole. Say hello to my little friend...yeehaw!
We did some major tree branch removal. Dang, that thing is heavy but it worked great and the project is finished.
April 01st, 2023
Back to Oro Valley for a ride and snow still visible on Mount Lemmon.
Our route took us to the retirement community of Saddlebrook. From there, I see one of my favorite views. Love this perspective of Pusch Ridge on the left and additional mountain ranges farther to the southwest.
Wildflowers are in abundance.
The route was mostly uphill for the first half and then, for our return, we were blasted by strong, southwest winds. We were both knockered when we reached our SUV at mile 35.
My favorite wash is finally being cleaned of excess sand. Still a decent flow of snow melt so the road remains closed.
Amy had a conference in Phoenix so Jack and I were a couple of bachelors for this night. Jack loves action movies and a gun shot or explosion causes him to run to the TV stand and pounce.
I find a couple of surprises around the house. Peanut Butter Cups!
The Weather Improves
A late afternoon and the setting soon highlights Blackett's Ridge. I signed up for a group ride and it was great to not have to wear a jacket but a bolt fell from my cycling shoe and....
....the cleat would not disengage from the pedal. I had to quit the ride, ride home and then I had a heck of a time pulling my right foot from my shoe. My plant foot was my left and while leaning against it, I struggled to untie my right shoe. Finally did...whew.
Returning home...oh! There is the bolt.
The wash entertainment continues, lol.
With the return to normal temperatures, cycling is ramping up!
I was driving and encountered this sad scene. A motorcyclist was T-boned by a car.
This & That
The rain has spurred growth. Glad this is not my front yard but if I didn't stay after it, it would, ha, ha.
Check this out! For $49.00, highly rated and I can confirm it works well. There are numerous small branches nearby that I had been cutting into fire place lengths using a hand saw. Plus, we can take it camping so when I drag branches from the wilderness, I can easily cut them.
The washes remain a source of entertainment.
After our windy ride on Monday, we were beset by more wind and it just makes cycling less than enjoyable. If I was visiting for a week I'd ride because it's not unridable weather but the 70's and 80's delayed so far, will be upon us soon.
Well, ok, one of the days was kinda unridable as we hiked around Sabino Canyon, in a light rain.
And our strange winter/early spring gets stranger and stranger. A guy hiking in a hot dog costume, became lost and had to be rescued by SAR. What the heck?
Parking lots are full at our area hiking trail heads. I'm back at Sabino Canyon to do my favorite, 2 mile loop hike.
So much enjoy the views.
The light is just right that it illuminates a deeper portion of the mine. I carefully walk in, scanning the sides especially where a snake could be. Being alone, I can't talk a companion into probing deeper, lol.
Amy and I do a short, recovery ride through the 49er development. This is the development having the grand Halloween displays but only a few homes have decorated for St. Patrick's Day.
Dozens of cycling camps and clubs have arrived this month. Everyone wants a crack at Mount Lemmon. I wish the temperatures were warmer for them and us.
On Monday, winds were again unusually strong so we decided to head directly south into the head wind and then finally, at mile 20, reverse course and enjoy ferocious tail winds. That half of the ride was enjoyable.
The snow melt is slowing and the run-off is diminishing at my favorite wash crossing.
We experienced a week of normal weather and just like that, it was gone. Rain passed through just as the sun was setting, behind the largest Joshua trees I've seen in the area.
I've had a naive view of weeds in southern AZ. I assumed a combination of the climate and maybe landscape fabric kept them at bay but NO! They grow as vigorously as they do in the midwest, a shocking and unpleasant surprise. I don't know the names of the various varieties but a landscape guy told me one is called the "bottle rocket" because it shoots up. Unfortunately, I'm plagued with a bunch of them. Still, there is something satisfying when the weed is pulled with roots as I soldier on in my battle.
As system after system moves through southern CA, each may not bring rain as to CA but they all bring wind. If only we could appeal to someone to return our weather to normal, lol.
Post rain, the views are always incredible.
For entertainment purposes, I revisit a nearby wash to look for stuck vehicles but none were there today. So, what does one do on rainy days....
....be it in the midwest or in AZ, all floors and furniture need attended as Jack watches me work.