Mid March 2023 Update

Well we have made it to the middle of March, and yes March has roared in like a Lion with a winter storm that dumped another couple of inches of snow on us here at the Arboretum. But I have quit complaining as the the warm sunny weather is literally just a few days away, and the desert is already coming to life despite the cold weather, blooms are starting and the overnight temperatures are now up into the 50’sF (10’sC)

The Arboretum is in a near state of kayos as we prepare for the spring plant sale!

The spring plant sale is a real money making event that keeps so much of this arboretum funded, so it being successful is very important to everyone here. Plants are brought in for the sale by the tractor trailer load, so when one of these big trucks pulls in, it is all hands on deck to unload three or four levels of plants, all by hand. Plus there are many plant that are propagated and grown right here at the arboretum in their green houses, they all have to be moved, labeled and prepared for the sale as well, this is all happening with the help of even less staff than was on site last year. So Miss Laurie and myself have been working a few extra hours to help out where needed.

We are starting into a couple of real busy months as we are now rolling into the peak tourist season, as the temperature warms up, and the desert starts to bloom and the creature come to life. We have never seen a greener Arizona, in all of our visits, and all of this rain should make for one of the most beautiful spring blooms we have ever seen, which should make for some nice blog photos.

Another trip around the main trail of the Arboretum, but today I decided to venture up onto the “high trail“. The high trail is not one of the Arboretum’s best features, and while the hiking trail is certainly more rugged a then the rest of the arboretum paths, it is just too far away from the beauty of the actual park. But here are a few photos from the high trail, I even a long distant shot of Thunder.

This trail has been closed for much of this year as it has been open. The trail is located on the north side of the ridge, so is usually is shadowed allowing for sections to remain icy, muddy, and very slippery. And in a “litigious” society like America, the risk of someone that is ill prepared or equipped for this hike, slipping and getting injured, is just way too high. The arboretum should not be a destination for hiking, while we have a couple of short more rugged hiking areas, the majority of the paths are more designed for walking and viewing the plants.

Well the Arizona desert is starting to warm up!

And while we may not get to eighty degree mark before this blog is published, we are getting closer, and while we are warming up we are also hearing about and watching all the storms now pushing through the area north of us (like they normally do) and then heading to my friends in the northeast.

It has been a wacky winter season, with all this moisture in the desert. But the drought reports are changing on a weekly basis, and Arizona’s report has improved drastically this winter, with northern Arizona having near record snow fall. And now northern California has been dumped on with huge snow falls and unfathomable amounts of rain, which has led to people being trapped by snow, roofs collapsing because of the wet snow load, and then all the flooding that is doing so much damage.

Today we are headed to San Carlos, now San Carlos is a small village on the Native American reservation which is located about 30 minutes east of Globe on US-70. We are being guided today by Lynnea & Chris, you will remember that Lynnea is our supervisor at the Arboretum, and Chris is her husband, they have lived in the Globe area for a number of years, and offered to guide us to some of the best areas for the poppy bloom in Arizona. The area has become so popular that there is now a charge of $10/couple to explore the native lands. And while visible from the highway, being smack dab in the middle of them, offered up some amazing photos, here are a few I snapped with my iPhone.

After an excellent afternoon, admiring the beauty of the California poppies (the official flower for the State of California), we went back to Globe where we enjoyed dinner at one of Lynnea’s favorite restaurants, am authentic Mexican restaurant in down town Globe.

Well last Friday was the members first crack at all the plants that the arboretum has be able to propagate, or purchase in preparation for this spring plant sale. And I guess the crowd of members that were lined up at the gate on Friday morning, approved because the stall and volunteers were kept busy cashing out all the members. We were told that the sales numbers were as good or better than management had anticipated. During this sale members receive a 20% discount on plants and get a days head start on everyone else, just one of the perks of being a member of the arboretum.

Well it was a busy weekend at the arboretum, with the weather making it warm and more like the Arizona we know, the plant sale lasts for around ten days and there were lots of plants heading to new homes. But by Sunday afternoon, I had got all my hours in so I headed back to the coach to watch the golf tournament at TPC at Sawgrass in Florida. And I would be amiss if I didn’t take a few lines to tell about our latest update on our internet streaming issues.

So since we got to the arboretum at the end of December last year, we have had difficulty streaming our YouTube TV television programming. And at first it seemed easy just to blame our internet provider. Because we were streaming with T-Mobile last year, but we are on the AT&T network this year, so it seemed easy just to blame our new internet provider. But having struggled through a number of weeks, we had just resolved to watching movies on the bedroom television on the really bad streaming nights. So when I finally got around to checking out what I could do to improve the internet service, such as adding and external antenna for the hotspot and while doing my research on which one, and then for some reason I thought I would just switch the bedroom television over to our American streaming service and found that it streaming much better than our main television. Now let’s start by saying that both of our television are from our sticks & bricks house, and were both old when we started on the road, our main television in the coach was from Canadian Tire, a 32″ RCA, that we had used in our bedroom at the house. We had purchased it new and that was before “Smart” TVs even existed. And the television in the coach bedroom was a 20” Samsung that I had used as a monitor in my office, again not a “Smart” TV, but when we were using the “Dish satellite” service as our program provider and they both worked just fine. But we have progressed to streaming our programming over the internet which meant either replacing the televisions with “Smart” TVs or adding a device to allow us to stream. So because we already used Amazon, and they just happened to have their “Firestick” on sale, that was where we started, so for around $30 Canadian during an Amazon days sale, we now were able to stream our programming to our dumb television, and it worked well, or at least as good as what was allowed by the internet providers. So during COVID when Amazon days came around again, I purchased a “Fire Box” which is a major step up from the “Firestick” and we then moved the “Firestick” to the bedroom television and added the “Fire Box” to the main television and both had been working well.

Heavens to Betsy, this has turned into whole very long, very sad, mess of my ramblings, so to shorten an obvious long story up, lets just say we now have a new 43″ 4K, “Smart Fire TV” from Amazon and the picture is great and there is no longer a streaming issue while watching our favorite television shows. Because there is nothing worse then trying to watch golf on a buffering streaming service.

We finished the weekend off with a happy hour with Tom & Kathleen and were joined by Lynnea & Chris, which allowed us to learn some history of the Arboretum. While Lynnea is our supervisor, she is actually the visitor center manager and has been at the arboretum for close to thirty years, and when the State of Arizona was involved with the arboretum, her husband Chris did a lot of maintenance at the arboretum, so we learned some unknown arboretum history, as well as heard some entertaining stories about happenings at the arboretum as well as with years of “Work Campers“, We will leave it at that and lets just say I’m glad I did not have to drive home that night.

So its Monday and we are going kayaking with Ray & Karen, we had originally planned to kayak on Canyon Lake, but because of the day being a bit windy, we settled on a run down the Salt River. Now last year this run down the Salt river was a slow meandering voyage, but this year Arizona has had rain, and a fair bit of snow at elevation so most of the dams designed to control the flow of water are near the full mark and with the weather warming up, water is being released to make room for the expected snow melt. our normal entrance point was well back from where we normally got in and while we had checked upstream further the Salt river was not flowing very fast, but right at our point of entry the Verde River dumps into the Salt River and it was flowing fast. So as I made my way to our normal route where I was turned around by a 20 foot long log heading down the river, but by now I was also caught up in the current and forced in a different direction, and that direction took me through some rapid water and pushed me against a boulder which turned the kayak upside down dumping me and all my contents into the fast moving water. So as I’m scrambling to collect belongings and trying to keep hold of my kayak, I’m sure it was quite a site to be seen. I eventually got to shore so that I could empty the water from the kayak and assess the damages.

So I lost my new prescription glasses, my five year old water bottle, I managed to catch my “Tilley” hat, my dry bag with my snacks and my “GoPro” camera, I was soaked from being in the water, my iPhone was in my pocket (thank goodness the i12 phone is water resistant), I was muddy, but everything other then my ego was in good shape. This is normally a couple of hour kayaking journey, with a fair bit of paddling, but today it was much quicker with just enough paddling to keep the kayak straight with the current. It was a tough trip for me, unable to see, no sunglasses, and wet enough to get chilled by the breeze. But I held in there, finished the journey, even went for dinner with Ray & Karen (where someone had to read me the menu), then off to Costco to order up some new glasses (which Miss Laurie tells me look OK), pick up some supplies, then back to the coach to hunt up an old prescription pair of glasses to watch the “Voice” on my new television.

That brings us today π day or 3.14 or March 14th, which is all well and good, but I don’t think I’m getting any pie today, but it certainly has me graving a big old chunk of blueberry or maybe a piece my buddy Jake’s favorite chocolate pie. But so far I have had a fried cheese omelet for breakfast with a wee touch of the Irish blessing in my coffee, then an Arnold Palmer for lunch with a plate of veggies, crackers and cheese, and I’m pretty sure I seen some porkchops thawing in the galley sink that may be dinner, but I haven’t seen or smelt any pie. or at least not yet. So today was spent unload the kayaks, drying out the life jackets (that I was wearing), Laurie has done laundry, vacuumed the coach, and I have charged the weedwhacker battery and trimmed all the spring growth of weeds at around our site. Normally the heat would have kept them under control but with all the rain this year, it has the desert looking really green

Well it is the 15th of March, and it is a cloudy start to the day in Arizona this morning, as odd as it will sound the nights are much warmer when it is cloudy, as it traps in the ground heat, so today we have already seen the days high temperature and as the rain pushes in from the west the temperatures will drop throughout the day. It is obvious that spring break has started in as the arboretum is much busier than it has been, with the parking requiring some supervision to get people in and out.

You may have noticed that I made no comment about daylight saving time, and there is a simple reason for that, it’s because Arizona has opted out of this foolishness some years ago. So there is no need for drama here twice a year, and I for one think it is the best solution for the rest of the continent.

It’s Spring next week!

Blog 474

Day 1990

February 2023 Update

On the morning of February 26 this was the view from the admissions booth window, and yes it was beautiful in its own way, but so very ugly in another way. Heck I couldn’t even see Picket Post mountain which was covered in fresh snow and obscured by low level clouds, and I know everyone back up there in Ontario is thinking suck it up and just quite complaining…

But we sat out and enjoyed happy hour in my shorts and shirtsleeves just the afternoon before with 70°F (21°C) temperatures, and today’s forecast high is 48°F (9°C)!

So the first hour of being open this Sunday morning netted only 3 visitors, and it was almost ten o’clock before we managed our way to double digits of visitors. But the phone calls kept me amused, in fact I think I could write a whole blog on the questions that we get on the phone on a daily basis.

One of the most popular questions I got today was (is it raining?) and of course I had to answer NO, because at the time it was snowing. And another popular one (are you open?) and of course we were, with only a half an inch of snow, there would be no reason to be closed. Or (will I be safe to drive here?) my answer was maybe, I watch the Phoenix news every morning and there are dozens of accidents on a clear dry day, so on a wet snowy day, I’m sure it would be considered high risk at least.

But the good news was that by eleven o’clock most of the snow was gone, and just a few scattered rain showers were the norm, till near one o’clock, and then in true Arizona desert fashion the clouds started to break up and Miss Laurie was able to snap some great desert sunset pictures.

Other than the weather, which has restricted most of the adventures that we would have liked to do, we have enjoyed the company of some visitors that, have stopped by. We also have met Tom and Kathleen’s daughter, her son and her significant other. Lincoln (the gardener from Boyce Thompson that we stopped to visit up in Portland way back in October) flew in from Portland, Rhonda (whom we had met at the Beaver Rally back in 2020) was down escaping the Wyoming winter, Randy & Deb (who were part of our Mexico caravan) from Vancouver Island stopped by, as well as Corrine, Kathy, & Mary from Country Maples Resort, from back in British Columbia.

Rooster Cogburn’s Farm, was our only real adventure this month, and the term adventure is kind of a stretch. But it was an entertaining morning as we drove south to near Tucson, then we were allowed to pay to feed their animals, it was was entertaining at least, and I can see it being a great day for some one with children. There were miniature donkey, deer, goats, ostriches, ducks, rabbits, tortoise, sting rays, budgies, and lorikeets. Located in Picacho Arizona, this was an ostrich farm that added a location to stop and see and feed the ostrich, now it has grown into a feeding zoo attraction, and realistically speaking the $15 charge included enough feed to enjoy all the creatures as well as feeding squid to the sting rays. the most entertaining area was the lorikeets as you would take the container with the “nectar” into the cage, hold it in your hand like an ice cream cone, the lorikeets land on your arm, take the lid off of the container then proceed to drink the nectar while on your arm.

And yes winter has hung with us throughout the rest of February, I’ve had the Clam collapsed this month more than it has been up, because of both the snow and 70 mph (120 kmph) winds. So it just seemed prudent to batten down everything that could become airborne, and even the rocks that we had on the camp rugs moved and the rugs were all folded up and jammed under the coach.

Here is where I spend most of my time, while I’m putting in my volunteer hours, there are two admissions windows, but during slower times only one is open, the second window is to try and expedite member into the arboretum, another perk of membership.

As we look ahead at the March forecast, it looks like March will be coming in like a Lion, which should mean that it will go out like a Lamb, and there appears to be lots of warm weather in our near future.

With spring just three weeks away, I’m only thinking of spring flowers!

Blog 473

Day 1974