Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Rolling the Dice

We've been trying to balance historical weather averages. Wanted to stick around for Mother's Day but I wanted to avoid 100+ degree weather as much as possible. We've only had a few days of hot weather so it looks like that roll of the dice is working.

Our daughter and son-in-law took us to the Olive Mill in Queen Creek to celebrate Mother's Day.

In addition to their olive oils and other olive products, they are also well known for their fast casual restaurant. They had a special Mother's Day brunch menu that was very popular. The order line moved quickly although they warned us that it would be about an hour before our order would be ready.

Outside, they had lots of tables under a variety of shade shelters and patios with misters running to nicely manage the temperatures. The crowds were shifting enough that we were able to snag a table as other folks left and had a very enjoyable time.
After brunch we stopped by the world famous (or at least locally famous) Pork Shop for some last minute supplies.

We hit the road Monday morning for points north, rolling the dice once again on the weather. It turned out to be just cool enough that we could be cheapskates and park in a casino parking lot in Laughlin. And the Yahtzee didn't cost us anything, either!

Looks like we're going to hit the jackpot on weather for our couple days at Valley of Fire near Lake Mead. I was afraid it was going to be too hot.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Movin' On

We had a chance to wander around Lost Dutchman State Park one morning last month. The flowers were in bloom and it was a classic, beautiful spring day.

Miles of yellow stretched to the horizon,

and in a few places other colors popped as well.

In my mind, the best part of spring is the sunrises. Unfortunately, as the sunrises get earlier, the days get hotter. We've now 'enjoyed' our first triple digits days.

Which means it's time to be thinking of roads headed north. Looks like this year we're going to spend some time wandering around parts of Utah that we've typically ignored before heading further north. Should be fun.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Outwitting the Minion

I rarely do geocaching art. BJ and I did a simple one north of Las Vegas 18 months ago but I usually find them boring. I usually don't pay too much attention to my Difficulty/Terrain rating grid either, but last summer I realized it was getting nearer completion so I started watching out for caches that would fill one of the grid slots. There are 81 spaces in the grid. Our second trip to Globe a couple weeks ago was in part because of a cache that would fill a slot, leaving me with just two slots left to fill.

I recently realized that there was one spot in the state that has caches that could fill both empty slots. Seems that there were three caches in the Minion series east of Tucson that had high difficulty and terrain ratings, including the two pair of ratings I was lacking.

Given the near 100 degree daytime temps, I figured I would get in position and then do the 2 mile hike to the caches in the predawn darkness.

I got in position before sundown and decided to do the hike in the waning light instead of waiting. I picked up a few of the caches on my way in so that I'd know what I was likely looking for and so that I would have a nice round caches found number when I finally got to the primary target.

I found the first one that filled a slot as the light totally disappeared. There wasn't any moon but the starlight was enough to be able to stay on the trail in the smooth parts without any artificial light.

After picking up #80 and another cache, I headed toward the one that will fill the 81st slot in the grid. My calculations of where it should be were apparently off slightly but I found it once I opened up my search radius.

I love nights in the desert which made this trip even more special. I headed back to the truck and settled in for the night.

As the eastern sky started to glow early the next morning, it backlit the sliver of moon that was just getting around to rising.

I went out again, this time looking for the one and only letterbox type cache in this series, serenaded by a Peregrine falcon sitting on a power pole hunting for breakfast.

With the sunrise creating long shadows I made my last hike back to the truck. I'd toyed with driving in for this cache but the road was very deep sand AND more importantly, narrow enough that I would have ended up with Arizona pin-striping on the truck. 'Sides that, I need the exercise.

I'm sure glad that I'm not trying to make a living as a rancher leasing this state land. On most of it, all I saw was creosote and prickly pear. At least in this one spot there was some dry grass to add interest.

I added a few smilies to the map and got the caches that I really cared about.

The grid is full and it's one more thing I can ignore now but I'm glad it was the impetus for a fun night hike!