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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.