Week Six @ BTA

Sunday December 26th, 2021

Sunday, just before noon and I just had to give up, watching what was suppose to be a golf tournament, but ended up being a pep rally for an injured, self destructive golfer. The tournament was won by John Daly and his son, a very deserving team, as they played well, and John’s son looks like he will be a force to be dealt with in the future, as he is just in college now, it’s just a shame their win will always be clouded by the mediocre to poor tournament coverage.

So instead today I headed into the arboretum to explore some of the hiking trails around the arboretum, and so here are a few of todays sights, as I wandered through “The African Desert Loop” one of the loops in the newly opened Wallace garden section of the arboretum.

Our afternoon ended up being a relaxed few hours, sitting in the sunshine, enjoying a cocktail with Tom & Kathleen some of the host volunteers, we traded stories, experiences and thoughts on this lifestyle choice. This was a great day, and while I didn’t get done reading my book today as I had planned, but there is always tomorrow, or the day after.

Monday, and we are off to Saguaro Lake in the Tonto National Forest for another day of kayaking with the Savino’s, there was much of the lake that we never got to explore the last time out. But after todays trip, we know realize that there is still a lot more to explore than even what we seen today, We entered the water at the Butcher Jones recreation area around noon and paddled up river till we found “ship rock” and explored the immediate area, Miss Laurie managed to snap over eighty photos, but the days are short, and although it was 70°F (20°C) today, in the shadows it was still quite cool, we had lunch on the water and thankfully the motorboat traffic was lighter today and there was little to no breeze on the water.

Ship rock is circled

Pictured above is google view of Saguaro Lake, this is a lake created by a dam on the Salt River, there are a several dams as you follow Salt River from where it starts from the merging of the Black River and the White River higher in the White Mountains. And is directly down river from Canyon Lake that we kayaked in March of 2020, and hope to again in the new year, while it had great views it also had much heavier motorboat traffic which can be a concern for kayakers. We like to explore the smaller areas where most boaters try to avoid.

Today there was limited wild life along our route, although I did see glimpse of a mountain goat, on one of the peaks, but it was way beyond camera view, but binoculars brought it into view for a moment, lots of water foul along the shorelines, and a few hawks scouring the area looking for lunch, again beautiful to watch, but too far away for photos. This area will never have a lot of wildlife as the Butcher Jones Trail makes its way through the valleys and meanders its way over to view Ship Rock, and many hikers just walk the trails and never take the time to realize that there is so much wildlife and nature surrounding them. We made it back to the beach around four o’clock and were packed up and back on the road by four thirty, and with a quick stop for supplies we made it back to the coach by six.

Tuesday, and today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and yes I know every day is twenty four hours, so let me reword this. Today has the least daylight hours with less that ten hours from sunrise to sunset, nine hours and fifty some minutes here in Arizona.

So today we are going to have the Savino’s coming to visit us at the Arboretum, maybe have a walk through the gardens followed by a dinner that Miss Laurie has been wanting to try, and who better to try a new dish on, than friends, actually I have been hearing about this lemon shrimp linguine dish for a couple of weeks and can’t wait to try it, but Miss Laurie was waiting for guests to roll it out.

Well no walk in the garden, but a wonderful afternoon catching up, and planning some more adventures for the winter, while we were sitting enjoying some snacks our supervisor Lynnea stopped by and we learned a little more about the arboretum, as she has been here 28 years, and therefore has seen lots of changes over time. While we lovingly refer to her as a tornado, because of how people scurry when she is around, but she is also very caring of her staff and will back them up in tough situations, which goes a long way in my books.

Dinner was as great as I had anticipated, and there are even some leftovers which is always ok as well, desert was a cheesecake brownie topped with whipped cream, it just doesn’t get much better than that. The day had been overcast, so it worked out well, warm but no direct sunshine to make sitting on our patio uncomfortable warm, we had dinner on the picnic table in the common area, and it was a memorable day with very dear friends. Our evening was quiet with a little television including an Adel / Oprah concert from Hollywood, before turning in for the night, but feeling it had been a day to remember.

Wednesday, started with an amazing sunrise show as the sun climbed over the mountain range to our east, there are no real plans for today, I still have a book to finish off, I have video footage from our kayaking to put together into a video from Saguaro Lake, I will also be making attempt number two to get some video of the hummingbirds at our feeder (as yesterdays attempt failed)

Miss Laurie and I went for a stroll through the arboretum, and believe it or not Laurie only took a hundred photos on our little walk, we wandered through areas that we had never seen before. I was trying again today for some hummingbird video but again today I have failed to get any footage, the problem is we have two small action cameras and nothing is even close to the same between the two, so I’m going to have to stop and take a few moments to get this correct.

It was a much sunnier day today and we did kick back and suck in some Arizona sunshine this afternoon, we had some guests over for happy hour, and Kathleen rolled out a new cocktail, they called it a whiskey sour but it was unlike any whiskey sour I had, but this was as easy as 1,2,3 … 1oz maple syrup, 2oz fresh squeezed lemon juice, and 3oz of Canadian Whiskey and we only had one as I’m pretty sure two could have been a bit of a butt-kicker before dinner … jus’saying.

After dinner, we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” a good old Christmas movie favorite, as Christmas day is closing in fast, I have managed to finish off my book, and as dry and boring as everyone said it was, I found it very informative and loaded with dates, when major changes were taking place at the arboretum, but I can see where some would think of it as more of a text book than a novel.

Thursday, which is our Monday, but because Saturday is Christmas Day and we are off that day, we decided to stretch out our day a bit today starting an hour earlier and working an hour later. It was a beautiful day in Arizona today 73°F (23°C) which is much warmer that normal, the flow of guests to the arboretum was different today, they came in large family outings not the normal which is singles, couples and parties of 3 or 4, today there was multiple families I would say a dozen or more, I sure for some it was a regular yearly outing but we also had lots of new visitors to the arboretum. So by days end we were at a normal admittance level for a Thursday.

As evening sets in, there are dark clouds to the north, there is lots of rain in the holiday forecast, with lots of snow anticipated at elevation. We have been watching the local weather and almost all of November was warmer than normal, and December has more days over normal temperatures than under, but they say that will change. Because of rain in the forecast we are barbecuing burgers tonight, and then are planning on watching “Christmas Vacation” another classic as we near Christmas. We also tried to catch up on some of the folks that we follow on YouTube, there are a number of YouTuber’s that we have watched for a number of years, that seem to be heading off in directions that do not interest us as much anymore, so we are down to a smaller core group that we watch faithfully. And many seem to be struggling to gather content for their videos, so some videos are just bad, I think the time of year has some effect, so they should just take some time off for the holidays, instead of producing crap.

Friday, Christmas Eve, the arboretum is only open till three with the last admission at two, todays staff obviously drew the short straw for days to work. Rain started in the wee hours this morning and is forecast to last the whole day, rain is always wanted in the desert areas, and is needed, as most of the American southwest is in drought conditions so there is a feeling of jubilance for a forecast of rain through the holiday season.

We have mixed feelings about the rain, we had hopped to have a beverage or two this afternoon with the other host volunteers that have not left for the holidays, and that will not happen now, but we may get to see water flowing in Queen Creek and a chance of seeing water flowing in the Silver King wash that dumps into Queen Creek in the arboretum, and Laurie and I were walking in the wash just the other day. As with many places, there are no bridges over washes, as the flow will start and stop quickly.

Well it was a rainy day and the arboretum remained empty, we had very few visitors to take in a rainy Arizona day. And it happened, with a heavy continuing rain the staff had to start closing trails, as Queen Creek started to flow, and later Silver King started to flow as well. It was a short work day with an early closing for Christmas Eve, and in Arizona style we had sunshine by four o’clock, here are a few of todays photos.

After a walk through the water puddles, around the arboretum, it was amazing how fresh and clean everything looked and a little gust of would bring rain water off the tree leaves, it was an experience that we may never get a chance to relive, so it was a must do. Tonight’s Christmas movie was Scrooged with Bill Murray and we had the left over shrimp from Tuesday, and of course to bed early in case Santa was in the area, I hope he found all of your homes.

Saturday, December 25th Christmas Day, and for many of you this is a day with family, and too much food and too much rushing from spot to spot, the same life that we had for years, trying to get to all the family get togethers in the correct order, plus all those dinners, all jammed into just a couple of days. Now our Christmas days are more laid back, in fact they are pretty much like every other day, because we are not near family there will be no visiting, but there will be texts, calls, and most likely a facetime or two, to wish everyone seasons greetings. It was a decision we knew would be difficult five years ago, but has proven not to be as difficult as we had imagined and with Christmas mornings on a beach or in shorts and a tee shirt in the warmth, it seems to have not been that difficult at all, and spending some of the Christmas’s with friends has proven to be wonderful. And then throw in a barbequed something for dinner, it just opens up all sorts of possibilities.

So this Christmas day we are at the Arboretum and it is one of the only three day each year that it is closed, so it was ours to explore and enjoy, so we walked through the arboretum this morning, it was kind of a neat feeling being the only people in this big park, we have been texting, and have video chatted with people and then I decided to play with the drone while there was no one here today to complain or tattle on me, I think I got enough footage to put together a nice little video of the area. So Miss Laurie has saved some roasted turkey that we will be enjoying for our Christmas dinner, and as of yet no movie has been chosen, although Elf was mentioned the other day and it is one of Miss Laurie’s favorites.

Sunday, Boxing Day for my Canadian friends and it is my scheduled publishing day and while the last few Sundays were a bit of a mad dash to get it all pulled together this week I’m on top of this (I think). I just have to review the blog this morning and hit the publish button!

It is 6:15 and I’m doing my final edit from top to bottom, trying to find all the spelling mistakes and correct the real bad grammar, and then look at the flow. Lots of times it jumps from one thought to another, and in reality that is kind of how it happens, as I take a break, I will try to capture a thought and when I start writing again, we’ll my thought could have changed. Well it’s now 7:00 the first edit complete, and of course lots of changes, now i switch from my iPad to my laptop to display the blog as you will see it, and here I can view it as a desktop, tablet, or by phone. Ok its now 7:25 and I’m now happy with the appearance of the blog, I edited the map picture to place a red circle around “Ship Rock” to show its location, and centered a couple of things, now to publish and see what kind of feedback we get. I will tell you it looks and reads better on a desktop as some features don’t work on tablets or phones. So no more writing this morning now it’s just reading … bye till next week.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

4 thoughts on “Week Six @ BTA

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