Arizona and California, January 21-February 5, 2015
Our trip to Mesa Arizona started out on a cold Minnesota morning with cloudy skies and icy roads. On the way to North Branch there were four cars in the ditch in one area with four police cars with flashing lights warning the rest of us of the danger of glare ice. It looked like the cars just slid into the ditch. Also, our plane needed de-icing before take off.
Lola and Dale picked us up at the airport and Lola took us to get a rental car in downtown Mesa, a new Nissan Altima.
The next day Lola and Joan headed to the sleeping bag making group. After lunch we all drove to Yuma, stayed at a casino there, ate a great supper, and tried our "luck" at the slots.
The next morning we drove to San Diego and met up with Rogerís youngest brother, Rick, picking him up at a mission church. We headed to Balboa Park where we ate and walked around seeing lovely orchids in the open-air conservatory there. That evening we went to see Dale and Lola's son, Mark, Elaine, and kids and went out to supper with them, staying in a motel nearby overnight.
Saturday morning we went back to Mark & Elaineís for a short visit and started back to Yuma in strong Santa Anna winds. Our car was buffeted around pretty strongly at the summit, and there was a large semi trailer truck that had been blown on its side along the highway.
In Yuma we stayed at the Cocopah Casino and actually had a little luck at the slots.
Sunday morning we went to the Flea Market in Yuma and headed back to Phoenix, eating lunch in Gila Bend. We spent part of the afternoon enjoying the warm sun on Lola and Daleís patio.
We headed to see the Superstition Mountain Museum. It was once part of a movie / TV western set. The barn, gallows, and church were the only buildings left after a massive fire. In the museum itself was the history of the Lost Dutchman mine including a display of De Grazia original oils, watercolors, and prints. We walked about a mile in the Lost Dutchman State Park seeing two coyotes on the way there.
Nearby was an excellent restaurant ďMinerís CampĒ where we had lunch. Back in Mesa we walked through two antique malls.
On Tuesday we had a leisurely morning enjoying the nice weather. After lunch we headed to Southern Mountain Park and went to see the Ramada viewpoint. The road to the higher views was blocked due to storm damage.
We did find a hiking trail that took us up and down an arroyo through the desert landscape. That night Lola and Joan went to an ice cream social in the village.
Dale had been pretty bad shape with his back, so on Wednesday Lola took him to the emergency room. He had an MRI, was hospitalized with a ruptured disc, and scheduled for surgery the next day.
We drove out to Usery Mt. Park and walked the Merkle Trail (about one mile) then headed into the Tonto National Forest to Saguaro Lake for a 90 minute cruise on the Desert Belle. It was a great cruise on a beautiful day.
There were lots of sheer cliffs, desert scenery, and good information about the area and its history. After the cruise we returned to the nature center at Usery and saw a desert tortoise, 3 snakes, a tarantula, and a scorpion and walked a short desert trail there.
For supper we ate at Organ Stop Pizza. It was an amazing place with a gigantic organ on a platform in one end. There were musical instruments and lights on the wall and ceiling that were controlled by the organist. He played requests and as each instrument was used it would be spotlighted. He was amazing and the pizza was good too! Lots of fun!
On Thursday we went for a walk at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve, seeing many ducks, a swan, and several hummingbirds. We then headed to an antique mall where we found a few things. Dale had surgery in the afternoon. We went out to eat in Mesa, and had a couple great shrimp meals. We headed to the hospital to visit Dale briefly in the evening.
The next day was rainy all day. Yes, Arizona, and we were rained out for two days! We visited Dale in the hospital and went antiquing in Apache Junction.
On Saturday we headed to Palm Springs in a light rain, stopping in Quartzite to eat lunch and look for rocks at a flea market. Near Palm Springs we went to the 1,000 Palms Oasis Preserve and walked at the site of the San Andreas Fault where water bubbles up from below. There were many big palm trees and ponds with tiny fish. We walked from our motel in Palm Springs to a Mexican restaurant for supper.
Sunday was clear and warm. We walked three trails in the Indian Canyons area. One of them led down to a waterfall and there were mud lines high up on the palm trees and cliffs from a 2013 flash flood that washed out the roads as well. We spotted quail, birds of many kinds, lizards, and hummingbirds.
After lunch at a small restaurant nearby we went to a small desert garden just a lot away from our motel. They had many very large trees and cacti. We bought a small cactus to take home. After walking through another antique store we ate a Mexican supper nearby. We did a Face Time call to Derekís family. There were lovely colorful clouds at sunset.
On Monday on the way back to Mesa we passes a terrible crash scene. One semi was totally burned and still smoking and another was crushed in at the back and torn open. Police lights were flashing and the traffic was backing up for over a mile. We found out later that both driverís escaped. A semi filled with frozen chicken had tried to pass one filled with bee hives and ended up hitting it. The bees were set free at the scene adding to the confusion and the chicken semi burned. It tied up traffic for hours as there was no other route.
We stopped in Quartzite for lunch and the Goodyear blimp flew right over the car. We saw the Met Life blimp in the distance. They were heading to California after the Super Bowl in Phoenix.
On the way back to Mesa we stopped at the White Tank Mt. Park and did a short hike. Roger tried taking another photo of the two of us, and wished his arm was a bit longer.
There was a lovely sunset and a full moon.
On Tuesday we went to the Phoenix Zoo and saw the Arizona exhibit and the tropical one. There were lots of snakes and birds including two California Condors and an aviary. One exhibit was like an aviary with spider monkeys loose in it. They were very close to the walkway and were very cute. We watched a volunteer feed a 75 year old tortoise.
It was a beautiful day in the upper 70ís. Time on Lola and Dale's deck with a glass of iced tea is a wonderful memory.
Wednesday we packed and enjoyed the lovely day (80 degrees). We returned the rental car. We went to supper with Patti and Lanie Simpson. Patti and Joan were best friends growing up, and she did a lot of things with Joan's family.
The next morning we headed to the airport and home to a cold 17 degrees and the reality of a Minnesota winter.