Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Montezuma's Castle

We spent a lovely day today travelling through the mountains (small by Alberta standards) to the cliff dwellings called Montezuma's Castle - a misnomer since Montezuma never got this far north and it really isn't a castle. But it was spectacular anyway. That's it way up where that cave in the cliff is.

Wendy and Randy standing by a sign on the trail. It was the most beautifully arranged monument I've ever seen - very quiet, peaceful and natural with a hushed, reverent feeling about it. The actual cliff dwelling is fragile now so people aren't allowed to climb up to it.

At the base of the cliff there's an expanse where the cliff dwellers used to farm, with this river, Beaver River, running by the edge of it.

There were lots of beautiful white trees, Arizona Sycamore, that had smooth white bark with mottled patterns.

A small grove of Arizona sycamores.

Lloyd and Randy resting against the sycamores

I'm sitting here on the lower ledge of the cliff dwelling of "the people next door". It isn't in as good condition as Montezuma's Castle but it shows where the second group of people used to live.

This is part of their wall with windows built into the front.

Now here's three more shots of Montezuma's Castle. We really missed having Mickey on this little expedition. At one time or another each one of us mentioned how much she would have loved it there, with so many pictures to take. Next time you're down here Mickey, we go there for sure.

This last one is a picture of a diarama that had been built to show a cut-away of the interior of the dwelling, explaining what each area was used for. Quite ingenious people back then. No one knows what happened to the ancients who lived there for over 300 years, or why they deserted their home. The cliff homes were warm in the winter and cool in the summer, although I'd hate to have to raise kids up there.

I'd recommend it as a 'must-see' to everyone within a half day's drive of Camp Verde, Arizona.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Ever since I first saw a picture of the LDS Mesa Temple back when I was a young girl, I've wanted to go and see it for myself. Today, with Mesa only an hour away, I finally went to see it.

It was as beautiful as any pictures I'd ever seen. Because it wasn't open today there we had the area to ourselves to walk around and take pictures. That's Wendy and Randy in the picture.

Another picture of Wendy and Randy, this time standing among the beautiful cacti in the cactus garden. They were very large and very old (the cacti, not W&R!)

Wendy and I were able to get up close and personal with the huge beavertail cactus, which wasn't prickly at all.

Lloyd and I are standing in front of a huge piece of a petrified tree which the sign says predates Adam and Eve. There were several of these petrified pieces on the temple grounds.

And, last but not least, here's Randy with a grapefruit he stole...er...picked from a grapefruit tree just outside the gates of the temple.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Today has been the first day in a long time we've had to just relax. We went to church at 10 and then drove Wendy and Randy around Sun City to see houses for sale and for Randy to pick an orange from Cath and Clyde's tree - that's becoming a pilgrimage we take all our visitors from the north on! Then, while Randy and Lloyd spent the afternoon on the golf course, Wendy and I just stayed home for a change. Wendy read and I did some scrapbooking and both of us even slept a bit. When the guys got home we went out for dinner and now we're home again and although it's not even 10:00 yet everyone's heading to bed.

I've only done three scrapbook layouts since I've been here. They're very simple ones because I don't have all my stash of supplies down here with me so I'm limited to using the few I've purchased here. It's also more challenging because the album I'm using is 8.5 x 11 inches instead of the 12 x 12 that I've been using for so long now. I'll get used to it though. So, keeping that in mind, here are the layouts I've done so far. I'll probably add some finishing touches to them when I get home.

Elly is featured in this Water Baby layout. She loved floating in the pool in her baby floatie.

I loved this picture of the oranges so featured it on this layout. I journalled around the border.

Max and the oranges.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

No Pictures

Wendy and I have been busy these past few days. Our days are falling into a nice routine. Every morning Lloyd and Randy go off golfing while Wendy and I go shopping and/or exploring. We eat lunch out, come home, swim, have dinner, read or watch movies, and go to bed.

Last night we watched Mamma Mia - the third time for some of us, but it's such a fun movie. Tonight we're going to watch Grease...one of my all time favorites. Lloyd and I were astounded to learn last night that Wendy and Randy have never seen it! I couldn't believe it - it's such a classic. Wendy bought a copy today when we were out. They are in for a treat! Who doesn't love Grease??

Wendy is a serious chocoholic. The other day we went to See's and each bought a one-pound box of their famous chocolates - it's so neat to be able to pick and choose your favorite candy to fill the box with, and it really is delicious. Today we found a new chocolatier - Chocolate Surprise - right here in Surprise. What a wonderful shop! and the chocolate is exquisite. We bought a few pieces there to add to our stash.

Today we happened across an Arts and Crafts fair at the Peoria stadium. Lots of interesting stuff there. I bought earrings and necklaces and special 'scrapping' t-shirts. And watched a girl prepare fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade for us...delicious.

Speaking of drinks, the very best ones we've found are at Sonic - their fresh lime slush. It is so good, with three quarters of lime in the cup when you're finished. The best thirst quencher in Arizona.

We only have one more week of this idyllic lifestyle left. I hate the thought of returing to the cold, snow, and real life of Edmonton. But we'll make the most of our week, and do some real sight-seeing if we can tear the guys away from the golf courses long enough.

We were so upset to hear from Mickey after she got home. Her laptop, which was in her carry-on luggage, was stolen at security in the Phoenix Airport. She's doing everything she can to recover it, but she was told that it's an ongoing problem at the Phoenix Airport. It really spoiled the trip for her.

Other than that, it's been a wonderful vacation so far. I'd do it again in a minute!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


It continues to be a treat to see so many trees down here laden down with oranges, grapefruit, and lemons. We're lucky enough to have friends with mature orange trees in their back yard. We've gone over several times to pick some of the beautiful and delicious oranges.

It's amazing how may oranges grow on a single tree. We all enjoyed picking them.

When we got home with our treasure, Mickey wasted no time preparing some fresh-from-the-tree orange juice.

I love the bright gold color of the oranges.

Here's to you, Mickey.


Mickey had to go home today after an 8-day stay. We had so much fun - I'll miss her.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Randy Redeems Himself

OK. I took some razzing for daring to splash Randy and deride him for not being brave enough to get into the cold water with us, just because he's an extrodinary guy who does windows. Today, with Lloyd home from a quick trip to Edmonton, he redeemed himself by cannonballing into the pool.

Here's the big launch, complete with nose holding! Randy's on the left, Lloyd on the right.

The take off - both brave men are airborne.

Not much of a cannonball jump, but they're both in the water!

With twin splashes to prove it. Our men....aren't they wonderful....so brave....so bold....so daring

Oh, did I mention that the water temperature today was 85F. It was like swimming in a bathtub!

The boys got the giant turtle back in the pool

and Randy thought he'd make a nice sun hat! Trying to stay cool in that warm pool I guess.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Work and Play

After a busy day of shopping Wendy, Mickey and I could hardly wait to get home for our daily swim. I had turned the heat on in the pool early in the day so expected the water to be a comfortable balmy swimming temperature. Unfortunately, the heater wasn't turned on properly so it was a tad cold - quite very cold in fact. But being strong northern women who don't need heated bathtub water to swim in, we bravely and enthusiastically (mostly) dove into the water anyway. After all, the air temperature was in the high 70sF, hot summer weather in Edmonton and Winnipeg!

And here's proof of our strength and courage!

...as opposed to Randy's not so toughness and courage ;) And yes, I'm splashing him in an effort to enourage him to join us in the pool.

This was as far as he would come. I call this picture "the babes and the chicken". (Randy is used to my teasing and is very good natured, in case you think I'm injuring his sensibilities)

So we let him go back to washing windows while we frolicked in the sun !!!

Actually he's the type who needs to be kept busy, and since our windows haven't been cleaned since we bought the house last spring, he was pleased to volunteer to do them. What a guy! Thanks Randy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Historic Wickenburg

We spent most of the day in the frontier town of Wickenburg, AZ, 54 miles northwest of Surprise. Lloyd and I had stayed overnight here on one of our drives down but arrived too late and left too early the next day to really see the sights. I determined then and there that we needed to go back and do the tourist thing. It's a very interesting town - close enough for a lovely day trip. We didn't stay long enough to tour the ghost town and gold mine - we'll save that for another day.

This is Randy and Wendy outside the western museum. The name of this sculpture is "Thank you for the rain".

We have a northerner's fascination with cacti. There are so many different varieties and they're such interesting plants to learn about. The giant saguaro which are so prevalent here don't get their first 'arms' until they're between 50 - 100 years old! It takes them a long time to reach this impressive height. That's Wendy and Randy standing in front of one of them.

These beautiful specimens were just begging to be photographed.

Looks real doesn't he? Sculptures like this one of the burrow and prospector are common in the downtown part of Wickenburg. Beside each one there's a button to push to hear the story of the sculpture - very entertaining.

That beavertail cactus (or maybe it's prickly pear) is growing out of the trunk of the palm tree - very unusual.

Oops! the rain prayer statue again, this time with three beauties sitting in front. In case you don't recognize us, it's Mickey, me and Wendy.

Another thing that scares the bejeebers out of unwary tourists are things like gila monsters, rattle snakes, road runners and giant spiders on the sidewalks - all made of metal and secured in place of course. You should have seen Wendy jump when I pointed out the black widow spider a couple of inches away from her feet!!!

In the early days of Wickenburg they didn't have a jail. Instead, when someone needed incarceration, he was handcuffed and chained to the jail tree, where he sat until he was satisfactorily dealt with.

So that's just a taste of our day. I'm going to go post the rest of my pictures on Facebook.

Oh yes, and for those of you who asked, this is how the back of my hair looks now.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Today was Wendy and Randy's first day here. Lloyd had to leave for Edmonton this afternoon, coming back on Thursday, so he had booked an early tee-time for himself and Randy. Golf is a major event with them and Randy plans to check out some new courses while Lloyd is away. While they were out golfing, Wendy, Mickey and I went to Arrowhead Mall to shop. The first thing I did while there was get my hair cut - it had been bugging me ever since we got here.

When we got home just after 3:30, Lloyd and Randy were already in the pool, so we joined them for half an hour until Lloyd had to get ready to leave. While Randy was taking him to the airport, Wendy read while Mickey and I finally started working with the new scrapbook stuff we bought in Mesa the other day...a nice relaxing time.

It was challenging working without all of our tools and stash here but we managed to improvise and make do with what we had. I'll post our finished products tomorrow...maybe. We finished the day off sitting at the kitchen table playing games while Mickey worked on her album beside us.

It was a very exciting day here in Arizona. The underdog Cardinals (football team) won their semi-final game and are now going to the Super Bowl. Football is huge here and everyone was talking about the game. At the restaurant where we had lunch the piped in music was interrupted to give the patrons updates on the game. We've adopted the Arizona teams as our second-favorite, next to the Alberta ones of course. I love being down here.