Walter and Sara on the road to who knows where
We awoke on the first day of 2019 to snow! We’d had rain followed by about 1 inch of snow on New Year’s morning. I’d wrapped blankets around my newly installed plants and everything made it okay—with just a bit of frost burn when the temps got down into the 20’s the last week in December.

Snow on New Years Day

With the sun out the snow melted pretty quickly—no snow shovels needed here.

Snow front yard

But the Buddha in the side yard was well frosted.

Snow topped Buddha

As were the solar lanterns.

Snow topped lantern

It warmed up into the 50’s and I went out and took down the Christmas lights on our outer wall. As I was coming back in I spied a bobcat across the street trotting towards the entry to the wash. I ran into the house and got my camera and he was nice enough to pause for a moment while he peered out through the fence into the wash.  

bobcat in Rancho Resort

Another little storm came in that night and we had rain followed by wet snow again on January 2nd.

Snow topped quail

We’re at just under 3000 feet so snow isn’t that unusual but most of the folks here say it’ll be another 5 years before it does it again.

snow topped cairn

The good news is that the Silver Torch cactus is from Chile and is hardy down into the minus teens. So it doesn’t mind having a snowy hat at all.

snow topped Silver Torch Cactus

On January 10th we had a stupendous sunset. It started out orange.

Orange sunset

And then deepened a bit.

Orange sunset

Off to the east it lit the mountains up and painted the sky pink.

pink sunset

And then finished up to the west in deep rose.   
fiery sunset

On January 11th I dug up the last of the oleanders!!!! It had taken me 2 months but with persistence I managed to dig all 22 of them out. The remaining bush is a dwarf so it will stay.

back wall without oleanders

You may notice that one of the panels of the fence appears to be a different color. We hadn’t noticed it when there were bushes in front of it but it turns out that a number of years ago the neighbor across the street (you can see their roof line) backed into the wall and knocked that section down. When they repaired it they painted the new bricks the same color as the outside of the fence so it didn’t match. To make matters worse you can see that along the soil line it was missing paint entirely. It turns out that when they put in the retaining wall and waterfall they re-graded the entire back area and pulled the soil away from the wall.

When I went up to have a look at the situation, I discovered that it wasn’t just covered with efflorescence but that the calcium chloride in the soil had eaten the surface of the bricks away. Oh goodie! With much foot dragging, I decided that the only solution was to paint the whole wall. It looked like the original paint on most of the wall and it was faded different colors depending on how much sun it got.

Priming and painting it took over a week but it looks so much better now that it’s done. It’s the same color as our house and it matches the concrete blocks of the retaining wall too.  

repainted back wall

However, like all home improvement projects it’s created yet another slippery slope. Now I need to paint the side yard’s wall too. (No, it’s not tilted like that in real life. Somehow it got wonky looking in creating the panorama shot).

side wall to be painted

And I noticed that the bamboo fence over by the waterfall which looked great when we moved in a year ago, now needs to be re-stained too.

bamboo fence

With luck I’ll have both of those projects done by the end of February when it’s time to plant the shrubs along the back wall to replace the oleanders.

January 16th, I was restless and needing an outing after spending so much of my time and energy digging up oleanders. So we took a drive to Arivaca to re-visit Arivaca Lake—a place where we camped back in February 2015.

It was a pretty day in the 60’s.   

Arivaca Lake

We didn’t see many birds besides the mud hens in the lake. But we had a nice hike along the edge of the lake on the west side.

From there you get a nice view of the interesting formations off to the east.

East side of Arivaca Lake

On closer inspection you can see that the rocks appear yellow—they have yellow lichen growing on them.

Rock formations at Arivaca Lake

Walter turned back after a while (he hadn’t brought his hiking stick) and I continued on. Off to the west there were hoodoos.

Hoodoos at Arivaca Lake

The trail began to peter out and I turned back when at last I came upon one lone flower in bloom—a Goodings Verbena (Verbena gooddingii).

 Goodings Verbena (Verbena gooddingii)

I passed a large patch of beavertail cactus with a clump of aloe growing near it. The aloe is native to Africa so clearly it had been introduced here.

Aloe and beavertail cactus

We hung out at the lake for a while and had lunch before we headed homeward again.

Here’s a nice view of the mountains to the east of Arivaca late in the afternoon.  

Mountains outside of Arivaca AZ

That evening we had a pale pink sunset only to the east.


Late one afternoon, I spied a javelina in the wash by our driveway. This inspired Walter to buy a Game Camera to hang in the mesquite trees in the wash. The first day he cut up two sweet potatoes and left them in an open area. The camera is battery operated and has an infrared flash on it (which is pretty darned bright) so you get photos of nighttime visitors too.

Our first visitor was a rabbit.  

game camera rabbit

Early that evening, a single javelina came to check things out.

game camera javellina

We went out and added a few more sweet potatoes to the pile the next day. And then really hit the jackpot the next evening.

First, there was a family with a couple of youngsters (one that was really little).  

game camera javelina

Then we had a PARTY. There are 8 of them here.

8 javelina game camera

A moment later we caught a sweet moment with the baby nuzzling mom.

game camera javelina

And within half an hour we were back down to one single javelina.

game caera javelina

Later that evening a bobcat trotted by.

game camera bobcat

We’ve put the camera back out again now and maybe if we’re lucky we’ll have more photos for you next month. We plan to hang it out when we’re camping in hopes of getting more interesting wildlife sightings.

Sunday January 20th, we had a few wispy clouds as the super full moon rose.    

full moon rising

It cleared off enough so I got a pretty decent shot of the full lunar eclipse. And as a bonus, I didn’t trip and fall wandering around in the dark in the front yard either.

lunar eclipse

Friday January 25th, we attended the Rancho Resort Annual Variety Show. The Silver Strummers were performing as a group and then as various subgroups (they accounted for over 1/3 of the program) so we went to cheer them on. It was great fun—lots of laughs and lots of encouragement for the brave souls who got up and performed. After seeing that this particular show is more about providing entertainment than perfection we’ll no doubt participate next year. I took videos at the sound check which is where this photo is from.  

Silver Strummers Variety Show

January 29th, we had a brief sunset that I caught just as it was finishing up.


And then on January 31st I stepped out onto the patio as the sky lit up from east to west.


Then after I’d put the salmon burgers on the barbeque, I climbed up to the top of the waterfall as the sky to the west turned rose.


We’ve had a great winter thus far—a little bit of everything and mostly lots of sunshine. Our trailer is still in the shop since the last parts that arrived were damaged and had to be reordered. After 3 months I admit that my patience is beginning to wear thin. But hopefully it will be done soon. The great news is that we’re enjoying having a house again and the yard has been keeping me busy this year.