Back to AZ
I'm sure you're wondering, "what is the purpose of the above image"? It was the only day among 12 that I could sit in the woods, resting while not being rewarded with a soaked rear end.
Beneath the long stretch of cloudy days were some beautiful scenes. I'll return in late September/early October when it just has to be dry weather. I mean statistically, it has to be!
I upgraded to a window seat and there too enjoyed some good scenery. Must be the Rocky Mountains. After 4 hours of flying, the plane banked and descended....
....into Phoenix with Camelback Mountain in the distance. Hundreds of people climb that every day. It was so good to see the mountains again. I miss them when I am away the way some people miss the ocean I suppose. Got in a 25 mile bike ride with the awesome Amy and it is so, so good to be home. Lots of things coming including trips to CO, WY, Sedona, St. Thomas and elsewhere including area hikes.
Meantime in AZ
In Amy's portico, after capturing a lizard, a rattlesnake heads under a piece of furniture!!! How long has it been living there, who knows, how many times have Amy and Jack the Dog walked by that furniture if the snake has been under there?. The fire department has been called for removal.
Just STOP Raining!!!!
Overall, the visit has been slightly less than satisfying. So far, I've cut about 15 dead trees, cut them into fire place length pieces and stacked them for splitting when I return in 4-5 months. I've burned a lot of brush and with the morning temps, used the fires for warmth too but that rain, practically every day, really sucks. However.....
....it's not just about working in the woods, I visited my soon to be 102 year-old mother who still lives an independent life other than daily visits by "Meals on Wheels", saw two children and three grandchildren, including the soccer star, jealously.....
....looked at my son-in-law's enormous wood pile and wished I could experience the satisfying feeling of striking the above cherry pieces. Usually, cherry splits easily and quick work can be made of it. That's osage orange in the background and that is difficult to split. It burns hot and I hear a cord of that sells for around $1000.
By the end of a day, not being accustomed to upper body work, I'm really tired so opt not to see old friends but had to make an exception for Kenda's Janet and Paul, at the Mellow Mushroom. It was great getting caught up and discussing the possibility they will spend 3 months in Oro Valley early next year. Southern AZ is so, so different from where they usually "winter" in FL. We'll see. Upon exiting the restaurant....
...it was of course raining, lol. Wow, New Albany has become a boom town for tech companies. Every corner has an Amgen, Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc.. gigantic building on it and now, Intel is coming. They acquired 3000+ acres, paying farmers $56,000+ per acre. A $25 billion investment to build a new chip factory. I hope all the employees enjoy rain.
My flight descends toward Columbus and the color green is kind of a shock to the eyes after months of the wonderful colors of southern AZ. Don't get me wrong, I like green, but it is an abrupt change. I also like blue and the sky was cloudless! Two days ago the forecast was 7 consecutive dry days so that too was grand.
After working in the woods for a couple of hours, doing all kinds of pulling, yanking, shoving type work, I needed a break. I opened the door of the rental and in hopped Stella. We hit Wendys and shared a grilled chicken sandwich. My first day was a good, enjoyable day working in my woods. The next day....
....it rained lightly most of the day, including while I went to watch my grandson, Anthony play. Standing under an umbrella for an hour isn't much fun and only 4 members of the team came out but hey, I did enjoy watching Anthony run around.
I have paths in the woods but they were severely overgrown in places so I cut back the brush, pulled it into the paths and....
....got a fire going after dousing the wet wood with gasoline a couple of times. Once the fire gets large enough and hot enough, I rake in the brush. It's a long process but meantime, I.....
....manage to cut down the first tree. Not very large in diameter but very tall. That evening, Thursday....
....severe storms roll through and in the morning, still raining. As I drove Tuesday from the airport, I was reminded of what a fantastic network of lonely country roads exists in Ohio, most stitching together small communities. One could ride every day for a year and never ride the same route, especially when you throw in the gravel roads. So many "monster" climbs like Reynolds, Snortin Ridge, Chickencoop, Savage, Revenge (all real road names) and on and on. I miss the variety for cycling but the weather??? I'm really good with southern AZ.
Yard Work & Other Things
I'm headed to Ohio in a few days, for, as usual, working in my woods, visiting my 101 year-old mother, visit grandchildren but mostly working in the woods. I love working and walking around the mainly oak trees. I took a field, planted 2 year-old seedlings, watered them during a rare Ohio drought, sprinkled them with urea nitrogen to spur a second spurt of growth in the springs and now, a real forest exists. Anyway, Amy's sister bought a home and asked me to clean up the front and back yards.
Above is the after picture. I enjoyed working some of the same muscles I'll be using in Ohio so it was a good prep for my visit. In addition to cleaning up the trees, which had become bushes, I removed all the prickly pear cactus and cholla cactus. Yikes, so many cactus spines I had to pull from my hands and arms.
Still cycling quite a bit, getting in 100 miles a week. I found Sunset Road in Marana to have several steep climbs. But HEY! Don't fret as I will be hiking again soon and posting more awesome images. On Sunday....
...Amy and I, with hiking buddy Katheryn and her husband Jim, drove into the sticks, found a good hill as a background and practiced shooting. All legal in the great state of AZ. Above, they posed, duplicating some movie scene. To be fair, if I had to rate accuracy, Jim was the best, followed by Amy with Katheryn and I tied for last. Amy suggested we pick some grapefruits from her tree and bring them along for target practice. If I had a shotgun I maybe would have hit the fruit but with a hand gun, nope.
On the return to Tucson/Oro Valley we stopped at Charron Vineyard where we had a glass of wine and enjoyed the views. Great day.
We tried out the new "Fork & Fire" restaurant in Oro Valley Marketplace. The food was good, the views were better. I love looking at the mountains when the sun is setting. The next day....
....Amy and I visited our friend, Katheryn who lives about as high up the mountains as is allowed and provides great views too. We had arranged for a snake avoidance lesson which began.....
....with placing a rattlesnake skin in front of Jack. He got several good sniffs and with that.....
....a rattlesnake was placed in several locations. As Jack approached, a mild shock was given and rather quickly......
.....Jack and Kathryn's dog Sam, wanted nothing to do with a rattlesnake. Part of the lesson included....
....learning to avoid Colorado River Frogs. Licking one of these will at least make a dog sick and often causes death. Until last year's monsoon, I'd never seen one of these frogs but they were a common siting during last year's monsoon. For each dog, the combination of snake and frog training only took about 20 minutes.