Gold Canyon, Az

Gold Canyon, Az
New Years Day 2015, Gold Canyon, AZ

Friday, January 4, 2019

Hello Gold Canyon, but first....

On Dec 31 we left Lazydays KOA in Tucson and made the short 2 hour drive up to Gold Canyon.  We stayed off the Interstate and took Hwy 77 out of Tucson and then joined Hwy 79 through Florence until getting onto I60 just outside of Gold Canyon.  Highway 77 and 79 are secondary highways but both are good roads and, unlike the interstate, we were very close to the desert scenery which made for a very pretty and relaxing drive.  

Gold Canyon RV and Golf resort has become our base camp for our travels south.  Driving in and seeing the lush greenery, fountains and palm trees always gives us a feeling of having arrived home.  We have spent this week getting settled, planning our weekly activities and as happens every year, wondering whether a park model is in our future.  We do this every year however so far we have decided we have made our bed, literally and figuratively, with our truck and trailer combo.  

So far we have not had the best weather on our trip.  Tucson was a bit better, at least for the first 2 weeks, but the last 10 days has been cold, mid 50s during the day and freezing temperatures at night.  I know, I know, not -35 like at home but we didn't drive 3000 miles to wear jackets.  

We thought our furnace problem had been fixed but after 3 days of heat it stopped working again.  The same fellow came to take a look at it and wouldn't you know it the furnace worked fine when he was there.  He figured it could be the sail switch and gave me the part number should the furnace stop working agin.  That was just before Christmas and he was taking a few days off so I decided to purchase a new sail switch myself, cost of $10, just in case it stopped working over the Christmas break.  Wouldn't you know it a few days later no heat.  Between my limited skills and You Tube, a couple trips to Home Depot I got the new switch installed and we have had a functioning furnace ever since.  

Between the truck being in the shop for the first week and the inclement weather we didn't get as many activities in as we had hoped however we did manage a couple more hikes.  The first one was back to Catalina State Park to visit some of the pools up in the canyons.  The second was back up to Mount Lemon on Dec 24.  That was the last day of nice weather before the cold snap was supposed to hit and since its 20 degrees colder on the mountain than it is down in Tucson we thought we had better get up there.  Good thing cause a few days later they had had a couple of days of snow with an accumulation of about 2 feet and the roads were closed going up the mountain. 

Our plan for Catalina was to take the Romero Canyon trail up to the Montrose Pools and then on from there up to the Romero Pools.  We achieved the first part of the plan finding the Montrose Pools after a mile walk on a fairly level trail.  The second 1.7 miles to the Romero Pools proved elusive as the trail became much steeper and rockier and with the heat of the day being in full force we didn't quite make it.  I kept telling Lori it was just around the next bend (a lie, or as they say down here, alternative facts) but she was wise to me and we turned back about half way up.  We committed to trying it again on a cooler day however that day will have to be on a future trip to Tucson.  

That was the path up to the Romero Pools.
Beautiful scenery. 

The Montrose Pools consist of a small creek running through the canyon.
Lots of water in the creek given all the recent rains. 

Lori asking for divine help.
No Charli this trip as dogs are not permitted on this trail.

December 24 we headed up to Mount Lemon and ended up trying a couple of different trials plus venturing out on a lookout point.  What a difference 6000 feet in elevation makes in the scenery.  Gone is the desert.  Hello Spruce,Pine and Cedar.

The first trail we tried, Butterfly trail, was on the north side of the mountain and at 8,000 feet proved to be covered in snow and ice.  We made an attempt but studded hiking boots were needed.  The second trail, a little further down the mountain and on the south face, proved to be more doable.  This trail was called Mount Bigelow Trail and was 1.7 miles in length with a 577ft elevation gain.  It provided beautiful views with a series of buildings at the top housing a communication array.  

From the top of Mt Bigelow.

We stopped at one of the lookouts.
Spotted all these wild animals climbing the rocks.
They were everywhere. 

Saw this guy on the trail up to Mount Bigelow.
Did a lot of Google searches before we figured out what it was.
Not the best of pics but it had a long nose with a long furry tail that
aided him in climbing up trees and hanging from branches.
Here is the Wikipedia description. 
The coati, also known as the coatimundi (/koʊˌɑːtɪˈmʌndi/), is a member of the raccoon family (Procyonidae) in the genera Nasua and Nasuella. It is a diurnal mammal native to South America, Central America, and southwestern North America.
We feel somewhat fortunate to have spotted such an unusual looking creature. 

All bundled up and ready for adventure.
Till we hit the snow and ice on the trail.

Tucson is down there somewhere, off to the right. 

This little rock provided some practice for a number of climbers. 

Often one gets so entranced by the scenery that one can forget to watch where one is walking.
That could prove to be not a good thing. 

The ice and snow on the trail.
Lori got on a slopped spot and started sliding towards the edge.
Thats when we decided to try another trail further down the mountain. 

Another shot of the Coati.
You can really see the tail and snout in this pic.  

Lori and Charli having a conversation after our attempt on Butterfly Trail.
Lori: "That trail was just too icy.  We need to find a different trail"
Charli: "That trail wasn't so bad.  I could help you out with the rest of that sandwich."

Thats it for Tucson.  Will report back in next week after we have some activities under our belt here in GC.

Till then.  Take care and a Happy New Year. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Catalina State Park

On Friday we headed to Catalina State Park for some hiking.  Most of the trails are dog friendly so Charli accompanied us.  First hike in almost 2 years so we picked a trail without too much of an elevation change.  Hopefully we both remain healthy this year and there will be many more hikes to document.  I recorded our hike in All Trails, a hiking app, however I haven't been able to figure out how to get a map of our hike out of the All Trails program and into my blog.  I know its possible as I have seen other blogs that have done that.   I will have to do some research and it may be that I will have to purchase the Pro version.  I did get it into Facebook so some of you may have seen it there.

Here are the stats from our hike.  We took the Canyon Loop trail up to the point where dogs were not allowed and then branched over to the Sutherland trail, again up to the point where no dogs were allowed.  While the trails are dog friendly within the park many of the trials extend outside the park itself into something called Big Horn Sheep Management Area.  No dogs are allowed there.  Our hike was 3.3 miles with an elevation change of 325'.  Our moving time was 1hr36min and the total time was 2hr19min.  Lots of gawking and picture taking.   A couple times Lori had to come back and find me as I wandered off the trail and down to the creek bed.

We have been to Catalina State Park before and as we traversed the trails some of the scenery was familiar.  Daily admission is $7. and we decided to buy an annual membership for $75.   Between here and the Phoenix area we will probably get in enough hikes to make it worthwhile.

Must have had lots of rain here this fall as the hills are very green. 
Much of the hike was along a creek bed.
I love the water shots.  Such a nice contrast with the dry desert. 
This guy was traveling along side us.
He dove into the bushes a couple of times looking for dinner but came up empty.  

A Saguaro forest. 

Some nice contrasting colours with the leaves turning

Deserted bird nest
New camera lens gets down to 24mm so the low wide shots are pretty neat. 

Lots of green creeping up the mountainside. 
Often Saguaro's have one or two arms.
Most of these were like an octopus. 

A few more low and wide shots.  

Bought a couple Camel Back packs a couple of years ago.
Carry lots of water and plenty of room for extra clothes, lunch and,
most importantly, extra camera equipment. 

Following the hike we made a stop at Total Wine.  Its kind of like a Costco for liquor but without a membership requirement.  Our inventory of Merlot and Zinfandel was running dry and there is no shortage of choices at this store.   I keep trying different wines and if I can narrow it down to one I may pick up a case and bring it home.  Will have to pay duty but it will still be cheaper.  About the only thing thats cheaper down here is liquor, gas and certain foods.  Given a 35% exchange rate the day of buying cheap in the US is long gone.   Even with the $ at par many items are priced the same here and at home.

We have been having problems with the furnace in the RV and had arranged with an RV repair service to diagnose the problem.  He arrived at 5:00 and within about 30 minutes had figured out we needed a new Limit switch.  He didn't have one in his inventory as he said these switches very seldom go.  Just our luck.  He was out of town on another service call on Saturday so I went to a nearby RV parts store and purchased the switch.  He came over to our place on Sunday and within half an hour we had a functioning furnace.  $90. for his service call plus $25. for the part and we have heat.  I'm hoping that this will solve the problem.  We do have an electric fireplace and an electric space heater however at .13 cents a KWH its a bit expensive to run them.  Although the Propane furnace is a beast when it comes to using propane and also uses electricity to run the fan.  Propane is about 50% more expensive down here than at home so I'm not sure which is the most cost efficient to run.  Overall its not a big cost as we usually only need heat for an hour of so in the morning till the sun heats up the skin of the trailer and perhaps a bit at night when we are watching TV.  

The last few days I have been up on the roof of the trailer washing and repairing some separating seams.  By noon its a bit warm up there so I probably have another morning to apply the UV treatment for the rubber roof and then clean the roof of the slides.  Then its time to wash and wax the sides.  Its $3-400 to pay someone to do this so we will see if my commitment to doing it myself remains or if I make a phone call.

We have also been to a few movies the past week or so and those on Facebook have seen that I have learned how to "check-in".  So far Fantastic Beasts gets 3 stars, The Mule gets 4 and Bohemian Rhapsody gets 5 out of 5.  Lori's ratings may differ.   We finally hit Texas Roadhouse for dinner after many recommendations from friends and it certainly lived up to its billing.

Thats it for now.  We are planning a few more hikes before Christmas and will be taking Mark & Jan to the airport as they are flying back to Utah for Christmas.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Mount Lemon - Its the journey, not the destination.

Wednesday, Dec 12 we took a drive up to Mount Lemon.  At an elevation of 9157 feet we wound our way up the mountain side almost 7000 ft above Tucson.  We left the desert behind and were soon surrounded by Pine and Spruce.  The views were spectacular.  When we left the desert floor the temperatures were in the mid-sixties and by the time we got to Summerhaven, about 1000 feet below the peak of Mount Lemon, the temperature had dropped to a refreshing 45 degrees.  Summerhaven is a small ski town with a permanent population of 40.  There are numerous chalet type residences hanging off the mountain side and I'm sure once the ski season begins there is a little more activity than what we experienced.  We had a nice lunch at the Sawmill Run restaurant and then headed back down.  There is a Sky Center observatory a little higher up the mountain however the day we were there the gate was closed.  I have since discovered that they do have Astronomer Sky Nights but tickets have to be purchased in advance and at $75. per person we will probably pass.  On the drive up we passed numerous pullouts, picnic areas and hiking trailheads.  Lori and I will probably return to check out some of the hiking trails but as far as another trip to Summerhaven, I think we'll pass.   

A winding road with sheer drop-offs however its got a nice wide shoulder and a guardrail.

Not a bad view.  

Definitely engage the parking brake.  

Not a very big resort.  No skiing yet and no evidence of snow making equipment.
Must be a very short season. 

As the song says: you can see for miles and miles and miles.
A few days earlier we had placed an Amazon order and on Wednesday our new steps arrived.  Our factory stairs only have 3 steps with about a 9 or 10" rise.  They are suspended from the frame of the trailer and are not grounded so they bounce a bit when you walk up and down.  That slight vibration plays havoc with my knees and ever since I saw the aftermarket steps that Morryde makes they have been on my wish list.  With 4 steps the rise is only 8" which is much closer to the residential standard of 7.5" and with the legs resting on the ground they are very stable.  They aren't cheap but $311. delivered is the best price I have seen.  

The instructions and u-tube video that I watched said that they can be installed in about 20 minutes.  I set aside the whole day fully expecting things not to go well with numerous trips to Home Depot required.  To my delight, unlike many of my projects, everything went as outlined in the video and we now have sturdy new steps. 

Our old steps.  Very bouncy and wiggly.
A nightmare for an old man with wonky knees. 
Nice and sturdy.  They fold up into the doorway during travel.
Easy as pie.  
Got the 4 paws approval rating. 
Next up we are off to Catalina State Park for a hike.