Gold Canyon IV

My fourth extended stay in Gold Canyon (March – April 2018)

Davey D is here

Got up a bit late again this morning. Since I’d fallen asleep watching Frontline last night I took the opportunity to ‘re-watch’ it online this morning. Then I  went downstairs and had a grapefruit. I was going to cycle to Bashas’ for breakfast, but then I found the cherry fritter I brought home yesterday in the fridge. so instead I made a coffee and warmed up the fritter for my breakfast. Then I got on my bike and cycled down to Bashas’.

I bought a nice fresh kaiser bun and some shaved Black Forest ham and an avocado. I cycled back home (UP the hill) and made a couple of fine sandwiches for Dave and me. At a little before eleven I drove to the Phoenix Sky Harbour Airport to wait for Dave’s arrival. 

I waited in the cell-waiting area but the sign kept saying that Dave’s flight from Vancouver was ‘en route’ — even though my phone apps told me it had landed. It turns out that the plane HAD landed but was on the tarmac for an extra 45 minutes while they waited for crew to help bring the plane in to the terminal. Eventually I got a text from Dave that said he had landed. I picked him up a few minutes later and we were back on the road, heading east back to Gold Canyon.

I decided that we might as well get our first golf game in, and since the Western Skies golf course had been so much fun a few days ago (and not busy) we turned off the 60 and headed south to the Western Skies golf course. 

In a matter of minutes we were on the first tee and ready to play a round. My game wasn’t quite as good as it had been a few days ago, but for the most part Dave and I had a pretty good round. After the game we sent a text to Robert and Arlene, who had made the trip from Palm Desert to Gold Canyon today — they were all set up in their RV campground and hoping we could have dinner together tonight. 

They arrived at the house not long after Dave and I did. The Dycks brought steaks and potatoes and salad and asparagus. Robert barbecued the steaks so they were PERFECT and we sat around our outdoor patio table and enjoyed a very delicious meal together. 

We sat around the outdoor table for the evening and reminisced about the ‘good old days’. The Dycks went home at around 10:00pm. Dave and I watched a bit of Colbert and then called it a night. 

Tomorrow we have a reservation for a tee time at the Las Sendas Golf Club for just after 2 o’clock. Looking forward to it.

‘Blown away’ by a golf game at Las Sendas

After “sleeping in” until about 7:30, Dave and I went for a little ‘cruise’ around the neighbourhood on bicycle this morning. We cycled to Bashas’ and had a pastry and coffee. Then we biked through Mountain Brook and around some of the back roads behind King’s Ranch Road. We stopped in at the restaurant Wahoo’s to see if they would be showing the Jets game on their sports bar TVs tomorrow afternoon. (The guy we talked to ‘thought so’.) 

Back at the house we showered and got ready for this afternoon’s golf game. We had a sandwich for lunch. Then, just before we headed out, we FaceTimed my dad and sang Happy Birthday to him. 

We got a bit ‘lost’ in one of the RV parks across the road from Gold Canyon, looking for Robert and Arlene’s motorhome. It turned out we were in the WRONG RV park. Once we fixed that we put their golf clubs into the back of the van and set off for the Las Sendas Golf Course. It turned quite a bit windier than it was during our morning bike ride. The desert dust was creating some visibility problems on our drive, and gusts of up to 50 miles an hour was going to make the golf game a bit more challenging than it might have otherwise been.

We hit a few balls on the driving range before doing it ‘for real’ at the first tee at 2:20. The course was as tough as it was picturesque. Our round was not a quick round — we waited for the groups ahead of us at every tee. It was 7:00 by the time we finally finished (and I use that term loosely) the 18th hole and found a table inside at the restaurant for dinner. I think Dave broke a hundred on his round, and I scored around 115. Although the wind didn’t help our scores, it DID help to make us hungry and thirsty after the long afternoon. 

I drove the 20 minute ride back and dropped Robert and Arlene off at their Motorhome. Then Dave and I stopped at Wahoo’s again, just to make sure they were able to get the Stanley Cup playoff games on their TVs. Looks like we’ll be watching the Jets there tomorrow night.

Back at the house we had a drink and a bit of chocolate and tried to stay awake to watch Colbert. Not easy. By eleven it was goodnight and lights out and we were in bed. Forecast for tomorrow is similar — not as hot as it’s been for the past number of weeks, and still lots of wind. We have a morning tee time booked at Mountain Brook.

 

Jets win, Jets win

No bike ride this morning. I got up at 6 and had a shower. Went downstairs and started the coffee. We had no milk for the coffee so as soon as Dave got his butt downstairs I went to Bashas’ to get some milk for the coffee and some bread for the toast. 

When I got back I got the bacon and eggs going. I fried the bacon on the barbecue burner outside so I wouldn’t stink up the house. The eggs didn’t turn out as well as the bacon did but all was edible so that’s how we took care of it. 

I had to hurry a bit to make it to Mountain Brook for our 10:20 tee time, but we made it. Robert and Arlene met us there. We bashed away at a bucket of balls just to prove that we could hit long and straight before we actually teed off. Then things fell apart for some of us. Well, with all thoughts of a ‘great’ round shattered by the time we reached the second tee we had “nothin’ left to lose”, to which Kris Kristofferson says, “Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free”. “Free” is good with me.

So we continued on that trajectory. And after nine holes the whole day so far was redeemed by a very fine hot dog from the Mountain Brook clubhouse kitchen, along with a draft of Kiltlifter. So all was not lost. We persevered and continued on. Things improved. The temperature was a bit cooler than yesterday and the wind was still gusting pretty good, but we were putting up a valiant defence and would not be denied two days in a row. By the time we reached the eighteenth green Dave and I were golfing scores that were more in line with our abilities. I, at least, was happy for the improvement. Still, the final score was not worth mentioning, so I won’t. 

We went home at around 2:30, a couple of hours before todays’ crucial (second) Stanley Cup playoff game against the Minnesota Wild.

The Dycks stopped by for ‘happy hour’ before it was time for the ‘O Canada’ from the game. We sat around drinking our gin and tonics and refused  to touch the chips and salsa that the gracious host (me) put out before us. Then we hopped into Robert and Arlene’s Honda and zipped over to Wahoo’s, hoping that they would still be showing the game on at least one of their TVs even though the Rogers’ deluxe NHL online package was letting us down. And sure enough, the first TV we spotted inside the bar was already showing Winnipeg’s “white out” fans going wild outside the MTS Bell Centre. It only took Dave a minute or two to spot his wife MaryLou right there in the middle of all those crazy fans, cheering on the Jets.

We quickly ‘reserved’ a table with a front-row seat for the game and began the task of cheering on the Jets. Vigorously.The guys sitting at the bar who kept giving us ‘dirty looks’ every time we got a bit loud ultimately decided to leave rather than to confront us. The poor Minnesotans sitting in front of the TV next to us didn’t have a chance against us rabid Winnipeggers tonight. We out-cheered them. Our Jets would not be denied tonight.

By the time we’d washed down our taco pizza with a few Kilt-lifters the Jets had not only out-shot the opposition, they had out-scored them too. Good thing! I don’t think we could have handled anything but a win.

We boys nominated Arlene to drive us back to the house, where we continued the celebration by finishing off the two ice cream bars in the freezer and the two leftover partial bottles of port. All was right with the world. The Jets are up 2-zip. 

The celebration continued for a little while at our house. Although it was still relatively early in the evening, by nine o’clock our guests had had enough and it was time to say good-night. We will meet again tomorrow afternoon at Sidewinder for one more golf game. 

I still had to write my journal entry for today. I opened my laptop and began writing my journal.

It was after eleven when I awoke. Dave had gone to bed. The TV was on. My computer was open on my lap. The last paragraph I’d written was incomprehensible. I turned out the lights and went upstairs to my bedroom. Took out my contact lenses. Deleted the last few paragraphs of jibberish from my blog. Uploaded the photos I’d taken on the 16th tee box today. Done. 

Tomorrow is my last day here in Gold Canyon. One more day and one more night. My time here has gone quickly. It’s been fun. But now it’s time to go to sleep.

Last day in Gold Canyon

Well, my month here is coming to an end. Tomorrow morning Dave and I will begin our road trip back home. 

I woke up early. Dave slept for another hour or so. I made coffee and had some fruit. I started gathering things to pack. At around 9 o’clock I went for one last bike ride — up and down the hill on Don Donnelly twice. I guess it will be a while until I ride it again. And it sure is pretty here in the desert now — so many desert plants are blooming. Dave went on a bike ride after I got back. I took the bikes apart so they are ready to pack into the van. 

After my shower I put a load of laundry in. While that was going I packed my clothes into my big suitcase. At lunch time Dave and I made sandwiches with whatever was still in the fridge. Then Dave had a nap on the couch while I continued to pack. 

At around 2pm we drove to the Gold Canyon Golf Resort. Robert and Arlene were already there, waiting for us. Their clubs were in my van! We registered and were at the tees about 20 minutes BEFORE our 2:38 tee time. 

I golfed better than I often do. Dave, on the other hand, was having a tough day on the course. The conditions were perfect. The temperature was a comfortable 24 degrees, there was a light breeze, and we never had to wait for the group ahead. And as the afternoon turned to evening, the shadows added to the spectacular views. 

After our round we drove into Apache Junction to visit the Handlebar Pub & Grill. It was on Dave’s ‘to-do’ list, and Robert and Arlene had never been there before. We waited outside for about half an hour and then got a table near the band. We ordered hamburgers and listened to two guys on guitar singing familiar songs. 

After our meal it was time to say goodbye. Robert and Arlene were getting up VERY early tomorrow morning for a flight to Calgary — they have a meeting there but will fly back on Tuesday and then drive their motorhome back home beginning on Wednesday. It’s been good to have their company here at the beginning and at the end of my stay here.

Dave and I stopped in at Walmart and then at a gas station to fill up so we’re ready to leave early tomorrow. Our plan is to stop at Bashas’ for morning coffee and pastry, then head down the #60 through Globe on our way to either Albuquerque or Santa Fe, New Mexico. We may try to get one more round of golf in, perhaps in Show Low. 

When we got home I packed the bikes and clubs into the van. I watched Saturday Night Live and then shut it down for one last night here on Hidden Treasure Lane. Good-night.

Roadtrip home, Day 1 – golf, Jets game, Santa Fe

Got up at 6. Packed up and were in the van, heading to Bashas’ by 7. Fresh pastry from the bakery with a Starbucks dark roast. Ready for the road. Dave took the wheel. Heading east, into the rising sun. Up through Globe, heading to Show Low. Elevation is over 6,000 feet. The scenery is inspiring.

Show Low has a number of golf courses. We pick a random one, entered it into the GPS. About 12 miles off the road that we’re on. But it’s a golf course, and it has greenish fairways, and it’s open, and it’s got cars on the parking lot. Good to go. Parked the van. Restaurant is busy. Register at the pro shop. $40 with cart. Tee off right now, if you like. 

The course was okay — not great. The greens had been cored recently so putting wasn’t ANYTHING like on Sidewinder. The fairways looked easier than they were. We had a fine round. No waiting (a few players let us play through). The weather was PERFECT golfing weather — 21 degrees and a very light breeze. We made some pars and we lost (and found) a few balls. So that was about ‘par’ for the course. 

After the round it was about 12:30, (high) time for lunch. We went in and sat down at a table. Ordered. Not bad. Dave’s clubhouse was too big to finish. My chicken tenders were more crispy than tender. But it did the job. We left feeling well-fed. 

Back on the road. I drove for much of the afternoon. Again, the scenery was the highlight. At times, wide open spaces with desert plants. The some big buttes come into view. Especially once we got closer to the El Malpais National Monument. Dave tried taking a few photos through the van window as we whizzed by — without too much success!

We got into Albuquerque at around 6:30. The fuel gauge on the van was dinging — 30kms and we are DRY! No problem; Dave has found a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant just off the highway. We make it. Hurry into the restaurant. Yes, there is at least one of their TVs showing the Jets game. We get a table in front of that TV. The score midway through the second period is 3-2 Minnesota. Yes! With Dave and me cheering them on, the Jets should be able to turn this sip around.

We order drinks and a ‘sampler’ plate of food. But the game isn’t going according the plan. Boom. It’s 4-2 Minnesota. Then 5-2. Oh no. By the middle of the third period it is quite clear how this is going to turn out. And that’s what it does. It’s very disappointing.

Dave and I discuss options. There are LOTS of hotels within walking distance from where we’re parked. But what are we going to do from now (around 7pm) until bedtime? What if we decide to drive on for a way? What’s coming up next for us?

Looks Like the road out of here leads through Santa Fe, about an hour north. Let’s check that out. So we do. Dave drives into Santa Fe, and finds the hotel we should stay in almost right away. We check into the Santa Fe Suites. Park the van. Dave goes to the Albertson’s grocery store across the parking lot to get us some ice cream. I unpack some of our stuff and put the drinks into the fridge. We have just enough to make about 2 gin and tonics. Our little ‘kitchenette’ has a fridge and there ice in the ice tray. Dave comes back with the ice cream.

We have a nice evening, watching TV, me writing my blog, and Dave working on the New York Times Sunday crossword before calling it a day.

End of Day 1, roadtrip edition.

Roadtrip home, Day 2 – Santa Fe, NM to North Platte, NE

Dave with the NYT crossword in front of our breakfast cafe in Limon
Dave with the NYT crossword in front of our breakfast cafe in Trinidad, New Mexico

Woke up around 6am. Showered and put on my long pants and socks and shoes. Packed my shorts and sandals away. It’s supposed to be a lot nicer in Steinbach than it has been for the past month, but I’m afraid I won’t be wearing sandals for a while yet. We picked up a coffee at the Starbucks in the big grocery store next to our motel and then hit the road. Dave took the first turn at the wheel. He suggested that we stop for ‘brunch’ sometime later in the morning and that’s what we did. As we drove through Trinidad, Colorado we passed a lovely cafe. We parked the van and had a very nice wrap that doubled as breakfast and lunch for us. Dave worked on his New York Times Sunday crossword and finished it on the road a while later while I drove a stretch.

We drove north, heading for North Platte, Nebraska. It was a 2-lane road most of the way. Not too many trucks. Thousands of big windmills. Increasing amounts of snow in the ‘ditches’ and white salt residue on the highway. We stopped for gas (the gauge showed we had about 35kms worth of fuel left) and ice cream in Limon, Colorado. Dave drove from there to North Platte. We pulled into North Platte at around 6:00pm local time (we lost another hour due to the timezone today). Dave parked on a Starbucks parking lot and logged onto the wifi there. He booked a Motel 6 room for us and we drove across the road to check in.

The motel was newly renovated but wifi was an extra charge. Nope, not me — charging for wifi seems petty and I will take a moral stand against it and do without tonight. We called the front desk and got info about a local movie theatre and list of shows and show times. The theatre was more or less across the street from our motel — so we walked there. “A Quiet Place” was getting great reviews. We sat through ads for the first 15 minutes and previews for another 15 after that. Then the movie. It was over at 9:30. We walked out into a dark empty parking lot. It was cold outside! We hurried across a few streets to a Chinese restaurant that featured an all-you-can-eat buffet. Just in time! They were closing at 10:00 and quite a few of the food trays were already empty. But we managed to fill up our plates a couple of times and called it supper. After our meal we logged on to the restaurant’s wi-fi and deleted all our new spam. I sent Alex a text that we might well be home late tomorrow night so she would know to turn on the water and heat in my house. Got an immediate reply: all done. My kids are marvellous!

Roadtrip home, Day 3 – North Platte, NE to Winnipeg and home.

It was just after 5:00am when I woke up in our Motel 6 room. Dave was ‘fossicking‘ around in the dark. Time to get up. I had a quick shower and off we were. The GPS led us down the road, a quick U-turn, drive-thru at the McDonalds for a coffee to go, and north up Hwy 83 which would take us into South Dakota. We drove and watched the sunrise. The highway was an undivided two-lane but there was no traffic and we made good time. I kept watching the gas gauge — and was cutting it pretty fine in between fuel stops. Not too many towns along this route today! Several times on this drive home we were down to about 35kms of fuel left when we finally pulled into a gas station. And so it was when we pulled into Casey’s General Store and Gas in Valentine, Nebraska, just south of the South Dakota state line. Whew! Made it. After feeding the van we went across the street to the Bunkhouse Restaurant and Saloon for a big hearty breakfast.

This is near Valentine, Nebraska. We were surprised to see snow on the ground. It got MUCH whiter once we crossed into South Dakota!

The scenery on our drive was ‘other-worldly’ today. I guess that big snowstorm that almost cancelled the Jets hockey game in Minneapolis on Sunday night must have dumped a LOT of snow across South Dakota and northern Nebraska. The gently rolling hills, mostly ranch land, was covered with the white fluffy stuff. The small towns we drove through had huge snowbanks on the side of the streets. We also saw a lot of deer and pronghorns, as well as big colourful wild turkeys, and ducks and geese along our route today.

We took Interstate 90 east to Sioux Falls and then turned north on the I-29 which would take us all the way up to Winnipeg. We again tested the Honda’s “estimated range” calculator and coasted into the town of Brookings on gas fumes. Filled up the tank and stopped in at the Dairy Queen for a burger and milkshake before heading back on the road.

We filled up once more in Grand Forks. It was around 4:30pm. If we hurried Dave might still get to watch most of the Jets game tonight. There were about 5 vehicles ahead of us at the border, but when we pulled up to the window the customs guy asked us where we’d been and for how long and waved us through. Lickety-split. Welcome to Canada. Welcome home.

As soon as we were across the border Dave was on his cell phone, programming his PVR to record the Jets, Raptors, and Blue Jays games. He was going to do some serious ‘catching up’ tonight! Then he was FaceTiming with MaryLou. Supper would be waiting for him when he got home. Which he did, at around 7:30. I dropped him off at the entrance to his condo building and we said goodbye. It was very kind of Dave to join me in Phoenix and then to drive home with me. He is, as he likes to say, ‘a professional driver’. It was fun sharing the driving duties these last couple of days. But more importantly, Dave is a true friend. I have really enjoyed hanging out with him this past week.

When I got home the mail was all neatly sorted on the kitchen counter. A note from Alex welcomed me home. She had bought fresh fruit, bread, cheese, and sandwich meat for me. Nice!

I decided I would unpack the van tomorrow. I made myself a sandwich, opened up a Goose Island IPA, and turned on my TV. Oops! No Jets channel. I quickly logged onto the BellMTS website and subscribed to the sports channels. Boom! middle of the second period. One-nothing Jets. Great!

That’s it for another trip! A good one. Everything worked out so well. I won’t be golfing in the next few days, but I’m hoping that I don’t have to wait too long, and that when I DO get out there my game will just get better! It’s been fun ‘blogging’ for another month, but I’m happy to take another break. So, until next time, thanks for following along with me on my ‘adventure’.

Auf Wiedersehen.