Walter and Sara on the road to who knows where
Saturday October 20th, it was sunny and in the mid 60’s in Show Low AZ. But it was Saturday and Walter wanted to watch College Football so I left him home to watch the UW Huskies beat Colorado and instead drove a few miles to the White Mountain Rd Trailhead for a little hike.

Show Low pond

The little creek continues on across a cow/horse pasture and there were folks fishing along its length. The pavement ends shortly after the bridge and there were two little dirt trails leading down the hill and then along the side of the pasture. I followed that trail the full length of the fields and just before I would have arrived at the parking lot of the nearby Hilton I took a trail steeply UP the hill through the pines to the top of the ridge. You could still hear (and see off through the trees) White Mountain Rd but you were also up among the rocks and the trees. And nestled in among all that there were Disc Golf targets.

Disc golf target in pines

I had seen nary a trail sign since I’d left the parking area and then up on the ridge here was a sign telling me that at least I was pointed the right direction to get back to the truck.

Ridge Trail sign

The trail was wide and clear at times and at others it disappeared in the scatter of rocks only to reappear after another Disc Golf goal or tee (concrete squares you stand on to throw the disc/Frisbee).

The terrain was mixed ponderosa pines and Utah and Alligator Junipers with a few oaks here and there and LOTS of rocks.  

Ridge Trail Show Low AZ

As I made my way back I could see the truck off and on in the distance and at one point the trees framed a nice view of the bridge.

Ridge Trail bridge Show Low

There were lots of little spur trails leading back down to the open field but I stuck with the main trail which took me right to the spot where the paved trail ended. As I walked back to the parking area I stopped to talk to a couple of bird watchers and they pointed out the Arizona Mountain Blue Birds that were perching on the fence posts between trips out into the pasture next door.

This is an immature female.  

Arizona Mountain Blue Bird

As is this one.

Arizona Mountain Blue Bird

This one who has almost no blue at all is also an immature female.

Arizona Mountain Blue Bird

The males have LOTS more blue and are much flashier but none of them stayed still long enough for me to get a photo of them.

I got back to the trailer in time to hear that the Huskies had beaten Colorado and all was well in the Husky Nation.

Sunday October 21st, it was partly cloudy and breezy so we packed a lunch and drove a few miles west to Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area. This a relatively new state park with really nice electric and water and full hook up campgrounds with fully paved sites. We drove all the roads in the park, checked out the campgrounds and had a look at the lake.

Here’s a view from the shallow end of the lake on the way to the campgrounds.

Fool Hollow Lake

And here’s a view of an arm of the lake from one of the campsites.

Fool Hollow Lake

The best view of the lake was from a small parking area next to the boat launch near the campgrounds. The sky was really strange. To the south it was super dark and ominous but to the north it was mostly blue sky.

Fool Hollow Lake

It was still early when we finished exploring the park so we decided to continue our drive west on Hwy 260 along the Mogollon Rim. This geological feature runs 200 miles from the Prescott area all the way to the border with New Mexico. It’s basically the edge of the Colorado Plateau. It runs along from about 6200 feet to about 6500 feet with stands of ponderosa interspersed with junipers and open pastures. The ponderosa in this area between Show Low and the town of Heber weren’t very healthy. The area was logged years ago and then grazed and with fire suppression the stands of trees are too close together and the trees are stressed. There’s a program underway to thin the forest along the rim but it’s a slow process and they’ve started on the west end over by Prescott rather than on this end.

We stopped and had lunch in a county park (with some healthy ponderosas) in Heber and then turned back towards home. The clouds were incredibly dark to the south but we didn’t get a drop of rain. We learned later that there were huge thunderstorms down in Sahuarita where they had hail and 2.75 to 3.25 inches of rain that afternoon and early evening!

That evening we had a lovely sunset off to the east.

Show Low sunset

It was nice to the west too but there were too many telephone wires to make a nice photo.

Monday October 22nd, we did grocery shopping at the nearby Safeway. It was the easiest shopping expedition I’ve done in a very long time. They had everything I was looking for and none of it was hidden in some unlikely place. It’s a very nice store and we’ll be happy shopping there next summer while we spend 4 months here.

That afternoon it was breezy and in the mid 60’s. I was restless so I took off and walked the 1/2 mile to Show Low Park which has a nice 1.1 paved walking/jogging trail that loops through the ponderosas and the park to give me a nice 2 plus mile walk by the time I got home.

Tuesday October 23rd, we drove back out to Juniper Ridge to take another look at the hook ups at the site we rented for next summer and to talk to the folks in the office about the procedure when we arrive next May. No buyers remorse. We’re both still glad we rented it.

Wednesday October 24th, it was foggy and we decided we’d just stay home and do some chores in the trailer. We had a couple of successes and a couple of strike outs and when the sun came out we took a little walk around the RV park just to stretch our legs.

Thursday October 25th, it was sunny from the get go. We packed a lunch and headed east on Hwy 60 through miles and miles of juniper forest. In time we hit a pass (about 7200 feet) and when we came down the other side we were in grassland.

Hwy 60 AZ

We drove through this sort of terrain for another 10 miles or so to the town of Springville where we began to see the White Mountains to the south.

White Mts from Springville AZ

The highway turns south here through the town of Eagar where we missed the turn onto Hwy 260 which would take us back to Show Low. In the process of turning around (and switching drivers) we spied this ferocious bear under a tree in someone’s yard.

Yard bear Eagar AZ

Hwy 260 climbs steadily into the mountains in the Apache National Forest. The aspens had turned golden yellow and painted the mountainsides at every turn.

Hwy 260 AZ fall color

After a while you leave the National Forest and enter the White Mountain Apache Reservation. At one turn out we could see snow coating the ski runs at Sunrise Park Ski Resort.

Sunrise Park Ski Resort

At this point we were up at 9,000 feet! That ski resort must be pretty darned high.

The fall color got better and better.

Hwy 260 AZ fall color

Every time there was a turn out I’d pull over and take another set of what seemed at the moment a breath-taking view.

Hwy 260 AZ fall color

There were even a few aspens next to the road with ponderosas mixed in.

Hwy 260 AZ fall color

I took a panorama shot looking southeast.

Hwy 260 AZ fall color

We continued on to the town of Hon Dah where they have a casino and a big RV park and then shortly thereafter left the reservation and were in Pinetop-Lakeside. With a bit of hemming and hawing we ended up at Rainbow Lake in Lakeside for lunch.

Rainbow Lake Pinetop AZ

The fall color on the other side of the lake was very nice.

The fall color on the other side of the lake was very nice.

There were ducks out on the edge of the lake.

Ducks at Rainbow Lake

And when I strolled out onto the dock they came towards me a great speed.  

Ducks swimming fast

Clearly they’re well trained to associate people with FOOD. They turned tail as soon as I headed back up the dock. I’m sure I was a great disappointment.

Friday October 26th was another lovely sunny day with highs in the low 60’s. We had a couple of errands to run that took us south through Show Low and when we were done we headed to the Mogollon (pronounced Muggy-own since it was the name of a Spanish explorer) Rim Trail just before you reach Pinetop-Lakeside. This is an Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest interpretive trail. It’s about a mile long and basically flat. It takes you through some lovely old growth ponderosa forest.

The Gambel Oaks in the understory of the ponderosas were putting on a fall color show.  

Gambel oaks fall color

There were both Utah (shaggy bark) junipers and Alligator junipers distributed through the forest. This old gnarly alligator juniper caught my eye. This is an OLD tree.

old alligator juniper

The trail takes you out to a great view across the Mogollon Rim. Here you can see just a part of the longest continuous stand of ponderosa pines in the world!

Mogollon Rim Trail view

The rocks had lichens on them and were surrounded by manzanita.

rocks and manzanita

This was a super pleasant little hike. The temperature was perfect. The forest was healthy and happy. And we had a bit of fall color too. Here’s another Gambel oak.

Gambel oak fall color

The last bit of the trail wandered once again through the stand of big old ponderosas.

old ponderosas

Saturday was another clear warm day with highs in the low 70’s! Walter watched football and I got caught up on my computer tasks and then SHOCK I washed the trailer’s windows on the outside. Wow, we can see out again. What a concept.

Sunday October 28th was another glorious sunny day. We drove south into Pinetop-Lakeside to the Woodland Lake Park so we could stroll the trail around the lake. There wasn’t much water in the lake (there’s been a looooooong drought here in the SW) but it was better than folks reported it to be back in June when it was entirely empty.

There’s a cute little covered bridge that takes you over what is now a dry arm of the lake.    

Covered bridge Woodland Lake Park

There are tons of benches along the trail most of them with a view of the area where the lake should be. They’re so close together that Walter would have been hard pressed to test them all. But we did stop at a few to enjoy the sunshine (it was in the low 70’s) and watch the wildlife.

Bench at Woodland Lake Park

Here’s the view from one of the benches on the west end of the lake. There were 12 Canada geese (6 pairs) over along the leg to the left.  

Woodland Lake Park

A couple came down to the water on the far side of the lake and began to toss grain around. And the ducks and geese swarmed them.

Feeding ducks

Talk about thick on the ground.

Feeding the ducks

Once the food was gone the critters took to the water again.

Woodland Lake Park

All the yellow fall color came from Gambel oaks.

Yellow Gambel Oak leaves

Our last bench gave us a view from the south side of the lake looking back to the dock (which actually was afloat—back in June folks reported that it was in the mud).

Woodland Lake Park

This park has tons of trails and also has picnic gazebos and ball fields. It could absorb a whole lot of people. There were folks out but not that many.

Monday October 29th was another sunny day. It wasn’t quite as warm but it was still lovely even with the breezy weather. We did the grocery shopping and some other errands and then just hung out that afternoon.

Tuesday October 30th, it was cooler and partly cloudy. As the morning progressed it got windier and windier. The tall Utah junipers next to our site started throwing juniper berries at our roof. They’re about the size of a blueberry and really hard. So it sounded like we had scattered hail going on.

We did chores around home that day getting ready to break camp the next morning. It sure was nice not to have to move for a couple of weeks! I think we will enjoy staying put next summer a great deal.

It was cold that night and got down to 38 degrees in the early morning. We were both glad we had done the water-based things we needed to do the day before so there wasn’t any hose wrangling to do as we broke camp at 46 degrees. We drove west on Hwy 60/77 along the rim. The road goes down and up and down and up and down and up as you make your way through canyon after canyon.  

Hwy 60 view

Each canyon is better than the last.

Hwy 60 view

Things get more wondrous with each undulation.

Hwy 60

Until you make your way through Salt Creek Canyon which is the best of the lot.  
Salt Creek Canyon

Eventually you come out north of Tucson and there are mountains and saguaros. Everything was very green this year because the summer monsoon included LOTS of tropical moisture from storms that came through from the Pacific.

We made it to Green Valley by early afternoon and set up camp at Green Valley RV Resort just a few miles south of our house in Sahuarita. After a late lunch, we drove over to the house to do the things we needed to do to ‘wake the house back up’ so we could move back in. Our house watcher had kept the leaves cleared and the yard clean for us. But our big tree in the front (a willow acacia) had grown tremendously and now was weeping down over the front walk so you could barely make it to the front door! And the oleanders in the back yard had doubled in height in the 6 months since I’d trimmed them. Our pond which was empty when we left, was entirely full from the rains and it was very icky.

But the inside the house was perfect with hardly even any dust! We turned on the water, water heater, water softener and the refrigerator, ran the dust mop over the floors and drained the pond. We reconnected the garage door opener and had a bit of a scare when it didn’t work to start with but after manually opening the door and re-engaging the mechanism it worked fine. Whew.

We went home happy to know all would be just fine for us to move in the next morning.

The next morning, we did the first steps of winterizing the trailer and then drove the trailer over to the house and spent HOURS unloading everything and then putting it all away in the house. It was a long day but by the end it was all unloaded, the laundry was done and everything had been put away too. AND the internet was back on and working. Meanwhile, Walter had finished winterizing the trailer.

Friday November 2nd, we got up early and took the trailer to Oasis RV Center up in Tucson to have the repair done on the damage we did to her back in late August when we hit a shed trying to turn around. We came home from that and I got out the ladder and pruned the willow acacia to clear the way to the front door. YES.

Our house watcher came by to get his check and informed us that our irrigation had sprung a leak a couple of months ago and the neighbors had called him (good thing one of them knew who he was) to fix it. He’d had to replace the plumbing at the control box. Sheesh. So needless to say we paid him extra for that and were REALLY grateful that we’d had him on duty so that he could do the repairs rather than having someone shut off the irrigation and have our landscape die.

We have a long list of things to get done in November from doctors appointments to landscaping issues. But we intend to take it easy and make sure we have fun too.

I’ll try to write once a month to keep you up to date. It just might not be real exciting for a while!