Walter and Sara on the road to who knows where


I hope that this finds you all safe and well. March has definitely been a wild ride for just about everyone.

The month began like any other March here in Arizona, with a gorgeous sunset. It began with color to the east and to the south.


And then things lit up off to the west.


The color deepened.  


And it finished off quickly with a glorious rosy blast.


Walter got an Instant Pot for Christmas and he made this great Tamale Pie (with a little 6” spring form pan bought just for this recipe).

Instant Pot Tamale Pie

The filling was pork Carne Asada. Rich and juicy.

Walter Cooke Tamale Pie

And he was very happy with the results.

March 4th we unloaded yet another firing of our kiln at the Rancho Resort Clay Club.

Kiln load of pottery

Luminaria #5 came out all glazed and shiny. This was first truly successful luminaria in the series. And I’m very pleased with it.

Luminaria #5

In late February I made a half height luminaria to test cutting the pattern BEFORE assembly of the pieces. That worked so well that all the others since have been made that way. In addition, I liked the look of this shorter version so well I’ve now made 6 more. But here’s Short Luminaria #1.  

Short Luminaria #1

This load also had a strange little box that I made to demonstrate 5 of our texture mats and 5 of our semi-transparent glazes.
Texture Box Texture Box
And last but no least, the most important thing of all. An appeasement of the Kiln Gods. This was an attempt at multi-color sgraffito. I shan’t do it again since it was supposed to be the same color with different colored letters. And instead the colors underneath bled through creating an interesting un-intended effect.

May the Kiln Gods Be Kind  
This is what you get from watching too many YouTube videos!

Thursday March 5th, we took the drive up to the east section of Saguaro National Park (on the east side of Tucson) over near the Rincon Mountains.

Saguaro NP East

We took the Cactus Forest Drive (the only road in the park) and then took a 2 mile hike by making the loop formed by the Mica View Trail and part of the Cactus Forest Trail.

Saguaro cactus

There are lots of old grand daddy saguaros here along with many young ones too.

This is Tanque Verde Ridge viewed from the Cactus Forest Drive.  

Tanque Verde Ridge

As we started out on the Mica View Trail I spied some Coulter’s Lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus) in bloom.

Coulter’s Lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus)

There weren’t that many lupine in bloom yet but there were lots of California Gila (Gilia achilleifolia).

California Gila (Gilia achilleifolia)

And the first of the Desert Marigolds (Baileya multiradiata) were in bloom too.

Desert Marigolds (Baileya multiradiata)

As I was stumbling around getting photos of these flowers I came across these little itty bitty daisies: Plains Blackfoot (Melampodium leucanthum).

Plains Blackfoot (Melampodium leucanthum)

The Mica View Trail is a hard-surface trail that is wheel-chair accessible. There were lots of Cane Cholla (the thin-canned purple thing in the foreground) in among the standard Chain Fruit Cholla (the big guys in the background).


Here’s a view of the Rincon Mountains with saguaros and a HUGE Chain Fruit Cholla.

Saguaro NP East

Here and there we spied a few Fishhook Pincushion Cacti. They look soft and fuzzy but believe me, they’re not.   

Fishhook Pincushion Cacti

As we made our way back up the Cactus Forest Trail, we spied this big old Saguaro. To have this many arms, this guy has got to be at least 125 years old. They can live to 200 so it might actually be that old. They don’t produce their first arms until they’re about 100.

Big old saguaro cactus

Coming back up the wash towards the trailhead I spied a few California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica) in bloom in the shade of a Palo Verde. We had seen a lot of them in the median strips in town but very few out in the park.  

California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica)

We had our lunch at the picnic area at the trail head and then drove on around the loop road to the park entry. Just as we were leaving I stopped to get a photo of the Rincon Mountains off in the distance.

Saguaro NP East

March 12th we unloaded the Rancho Resort kiln once again. I’d taught a class on vase making on March 2nd and the results of that class filled the kiln up pretty fast since most of then were at least 8” tall and there were 6 of them.  

Kiln load of pottery

The 6th of my tall luminarias came out of its glaze firing. This one was the best to date. I’d finally figured out not only how to cut the pattern before assembly but also to wait until the clay was completely leather hard before assembly.

Luminaria #6

And the second of the short luminaria came out pretty well too.

Short Luminaria #2

March 12th was also the beginning of the impact of Covid-19 on our lives here at Rancho Resort. Management decided to cancel all the large gatherings so that all the meetings, dances and large classes were shut down. They allowed the clubs to decide whether they wished to continue to meet and a small number of the members of the Clay Club decided they’d continue to meet as long as we could space out 6 feet apart.

March 14th, I set out my latest luminaria and lit up the 8 finished ones.

Lit luminarias

March 15th it was warm enough to have the front door open and I heard the wonderful noises of Gamble’s Quail outside. I looked out our office window and sure enough there was a flock of about 6 of them making their way across our front yard.

Gamble's Quail

The males are fancier of course.

Gamble's Quail

They pecked their way under the bushes and then hopped the wall and were gone.

Gamble's Quail

We have a dove who likes to sit on the wall that divides the front from the side yard and he was cooing away too.


Monday March 16th, I got a phone call at about noon that the Rancho Resort management was going to shut the club house down that day at 5 pm. So we had our last Clay Club Meeting (4 people came by but only 2 of us spent any time there) and stowed away all the supplies and covered the shelves with things waiting to be fired with plastic and closed the door.

I have 3 short luminaria sitting on those shelves. One has been glazed and it awaiting it’s final firing.

Short luminaria #3

And two are awaiting their first bisque firing.

This is short luminaria #4.  

Short Luminaria #4

And this is short luminaria #5. It was the test of actually carving a whole design rather than using punches or hole drills. I had a few issues but it came out okay.

Short Luminaria #5

That weekend I had just finished the large version of this same design: Luminaria #7.

Luminaria #7

It will spend the summer safely stored in our garage and then be fired in the fall when I get back since we all know that the Club House won’t be open again before Walter and I migrate up to Show Low on May 1st.

I took home another 12 pounds of clay that afternoon and over the next two weeks I made the last 2 short luminaria to complete the series of 14 (7 tall and 7 short luminaria) that I set out to make for the posts on our front wall.

This is short luminaria #6

Short Luminaria #6

And this is the last in the series, short luminaria #7.

Short Luminaria #7

I promise that once these babies have been fired and glazed and fired again, I will take photos of them all lit up.

The other thing that happened on March 16th was that we got a call that our long-awaited Park Model was nearly done and would be ready for our final Walk-Through on Monday March 23rd. If we could get ourselves up to Goodyear on Monday, they would then drive it up to Show Low on March 24th for final delivery! Wow. We ordered it back in late June 2019 and at the time, they said it would be ready in late March. But the dealer said that meant it would really be ready in April or early May. So while they had said it was on the schedule for March when I talked to them in early January, we weren’t counting on it. Now just as all our activities here in Sahuarita were shut down, presto we had a new focus: a new house!

We had rain on Wednesday March 18th and late in the afternoon, a rainbow appeared across the street.


It was only the day after St. Patrick’s Day and it made me wonder if there were leprechauns in the backyard across the way.

Then the real gold appeared. I got an email saying that the park model was finished and we could do the walk-through on Thursday, Friday or Monday. With things shutting down fast and our focus on getting the house delivered and set up in Show Low, we jumped on it and drove to Goodyear early on Thursday morning to do our walk-through.

The house was sitting out in parking area (surrounded by other houses) waiting for us.

Park Model

And aside from a few very minor things (some missing caulk on the kitchen and bathroom sinks and a splash of paint here and there) all was as we had ordered.

Here’s the living room. These windows will look out on the lake and the 15th hole of the golf course.

Park Model Living Room

Here’s another view of the living room side windows. And yes, there’s a ceiling fan in the living room and another in the bedroom.

Park Model Living Room

There’s a built in entertainment system (complete with radio and speakers up in the ceiling) and a place to hook up the TV on the wall above.

Entertainment Center and kitchen

Here you can see the kitchen and all the way down the hall to the bedroom.


This gives you a view of the sliding glass door, the little dining area (which will become the doorway into our 300 sq ft addition) and the refrigerator.

Sliding Glass Door wall

Here’s a view of the kitchen. Four drawers! That’s up from 3 in the trailer. And look at all those cabinets too. Yes, this place is smaller than our house here in Sahuarita but it’s HUGE in comparison to living in the Airstream which is under 200 sq feet.


Here’s the rest of the kitchen from another angle. Yes, that’s a little dishwasher too.  


There’s a desk area just past the refrigerator that provides a place for the cable modem and our printer plus more drawers and cabinets. We haven’t had desk drawers for years. What a concept!

Desk area park model

The bathroom has a full shower in addition to the toilet and vanity (with drawers too).

The bedroom has a mirrored closet.    
Bedroom closet

And a built in chest of drawers.

Bedroom chest of drawers

Then we have built in reading lights and bedside tables too.


Not bad for 400 sq feet!

Here’s a tour around the outside. This is the sliding glass door, which will open out onto a covered deck when everything is finished.

Outside Park Model

This is the rear and far side. The rear will have a 11’ x 11’ shed that mates up to it with the same roof line. The side has access to the water heater and the electric panel. The A/C unit gets installed on this side too.

Far side of Park Model

Having finished our walk-through and paid for the house, we turned around and headed home again. We stopped at a Rest Area on I-10 to have our lunch.

Rest area on I-10

The dog walking area was full of Desert Marigolds (Baileya multiradiata) in bloom.

Desert Marigolds (Baileya multiradiata)

We spent the weekend holding our breath, hoping that things would hold together long enough here in Arizona for us to have the house delivered up in Show Low on Tuesday. We watched as the west coast went into lock down. They closed the schools in all of Arizona and then restaurants, bars and casinos in each county as cases were confirmed. The first case of Covid-19 appeared in Navajo County (where Show Low is located) that weekend so we knew then we’d need to take food with us. The first cases in the county were in the Navajo Nation up in Kayenta near the Utah border. There are still no confirmed cases in the Show Low area as I write to you, but testing is so slow up there (it’s been taking 2 weeks to get results), who knows really. There are now 2 confirmed cases in Snowflake (not far north of Show Low) so it won’t be long, I’m sure.

Meanwhile, the grocery stores everywhere were wiped out but I did manage to find us groceries (and I had toilet paper already).

Monday March 23rd, the Banks Rose in our side yard was in FULL bloom.

Banks Rose in bloom

When we moved in she hardly put out any flowers at all. But once I discovered that she had no irrigation and added some, she’s been doing better and better. And this year she’s put on a great show.

Banks Rose

Early in the morning of Tuesday, March 24th, we hit the road for the 4 ½ hour drive to Show Low. There were lots of flowers along the way. The hillsides were full of brittlebush in bloom.

Brittlebush on hillsides

There wasn’t much traffic (there rarely is on this route) so Walter slowed down for me to take photos of the poppies along the verge at one point.  

Roadside flowers

There were lupine too but they don’t seem to have showed up.

Roadside flowers

We arrived a little before 1 pm and managed to have our lunch before the truck hauling our new house arrived at the front gate of Juniper Ridge Resort.

Park Model arriving

We took a few minutes to do a quick walk around to make sure it hadn’t been damaged in transit.

Park Model

And it looked great.  

Park Model

They pulled out the posts in the front gate fence and drove right on in. We followed along through the resort.

Park Model driving

They took it around the long way around the lake so the driver could see what he was doing when he backed it in. It was so exciting to see it pull up in front of our lot.

Park Model arriving

And boy oh boy, did the driver know what he was doing or what? He just pulled forward, got out and took a look and then backed her in.

Park Model being parked

We’d been a little worried about those pipes sticking up out of the concrete. But we didn’t need to worry. He backed the house in nearly perfectly the first try.

Park Model being parked

Then he pulled it forward a bit, and straightened her out and backed her back in.

Park Model being parked

And our contractor said, it was good to go.

Park Model all parked

The truck had the ability to do fine adjustments and then they did a few inches-worth the next day as they put it up on its pilings. That way the skirting that goes around the bottom will line up perfectly with the edge of the concrete pad.

We spent some time visiting with our next door neighbors (6 feet apart of course) and then went into town to spend the night at the brand new Motel 6. It served the purpose but was more than odd. The rooms don’t have carpeting. It’s high end vinyl. But hey, it wasn’t expensive and the bed was comfortable.

We got up the next morning to the sound of heavy traffic through town. Clearly Show Low was still hopping even with the schools closed. We had breakfast in our room and then headed on back homeward. We stopped to switch drivers just outside of Globe, AZ and I had to take photos of the mass of Coulter’s Lupine (Lupinus-sparsiflorus) in bloom along the roadside.

Coulter’s Lupine (Lupinus-sparsiflorus)

There were a few Lobed Fleabane (Erigeron lobatus) too.
Lobed Fleabane (Erigeron lobatus)

And lots and lots of Silverpuffs (Uropappus lindleyi) which will look like masses of big dandelion puffs in a few weeks.

Silverpuffs (Uropappus lindleyi)

The installation crew arrived at the park model that morning and our neighbor sent a photo of them hard at work hooking things up. The shiny angled brackets tie the house to the concrete pad.

Park Model being installed

They kept us posted as the A/C was installed the next day. And then another friend stopped by on Sunday and sent photos of the final installation all ready for the building inspector.

Park Model all installed

The stairs are temporary but they will serve the purpose for the inspection and our initial move in (if we actually get to do that soon).

Here’s the view from the rear where you can see the A/C unit installed and ready.

Park Model with A/C unit in

So now we wait for the building inspector to come and issue the occupancy permit. The County is still doing inspections, though their office is being manned remotely. We are hoping that the inspection will get done in the next few days so that we can drive up again and do the final walk through making sure that the place is level and that the doors and windows all open properly and that the appliances work now that they’re hooked up to power.

Arizona has a rather weak Stay at Home order that is meant mostly to keep large gatherings from happening. This past weekend there was a big party up at U of A and the Mayor of Tucson was not amused. The governor in response took his initial listing of what was considered essential and non-essential and added a please stay close to home statement to it. It didn’t create any more closures (pretty much all stores are still open here) so we think that we can make the drive to Show Low okay since we have no intention of interacting with the world.

Walter has been staying out of stores and keeping his distance from other humans since he is over 80. I turned 69 on March 24th and got a house for my birthday! So I am also being careful. I do our shopping. I stay clear of people. I wash my hands often and well. I find I enjoy singing ‘Home Home on the Range’ while I wash my hands rather than ‘Happy Birthday’.

We are well stocked for food and have plenty to do. I’ve been getting the Airstream all cleaned and shiny so that we can sell her now that we have a house to move into for the summer. We had hoped to sell her in April but with things shut down as they are I don’t think that will happen. I’d not be that happy showing someone it at this point—it’s too close quarters. So we will take it up to Show Low with us and hope to sell it this summer. If you know someone who would like to buy a well-cared for 2014 Airstream Flying Cloud FB25 let us know.

Most days we go for a walk somewhere here at Rancho Resort and wave to the neighbors from afar. On Monday March 30th, we walked up the hill from our house and I spied this bit of frivolity in someone’s front yard. We all have rocks for mulch and there in the middle of all those rocks was a 1 foot square of fake grass.

Stay Off the Grass

The cacti are starting to bloom too. I don’t know what kind this is but she sure is pretty. She’s some kind of hedgehog cactus I suspect.

Hedgehog cactus

I hope this finds you all safe and well. We will all make it through the next few months. It will be a challenge. We all may get a bit stir crazy but hey them’s the breaks. We will stay home as much as possible ourselves. And we will social distance everywhere we can when we’re not home—sometimes the grocery store can be a challenge I’ve found but it was better this past week now that the initial panic seems to have passed.