One final hurrah

It’s 6 in the morning. I’m finished sleeping. That’s what I get for going to sleep at 9:30. Oh well, might as well make some coffee. Max and Alex will be up at quarter to seven. I have a few minutes to upload my photos from yesterday.

It’s not raining today, but I’m still a little concerned about our A/C unit outside. It’s completely frosted up and it’s running full time. After breakfast I get out the garden hose and give it a good hosing down to clear off the ice. Then I turn off the furnace so that while we go on our morning hike out to Silly Mountain, the unit can dry off and hopefully get back on track.

Tim watches over things at home while the rest of us drive out to Silly Mountain. Sue and Alex go hiking up to the top while Max and I stay at the base and wander around the ‘cactus walk’. I decide to take some photos for Max to look at once he’s home. He’s so good at identifying the different varieties — maybe he can look at some photos and recall the names. I didn’t get a photo of the ‘Elephant Ear Cactus’, but I got most of the other ones that Max has come to know.

After the hike we stopped at Bashas so the girls could pick up some groceries. While they did that Max rode his Strider bike around the parking lot.

After lunch back at the house, I called the golf course to see if we were still on for our 1:00 tee time. Oh no — two and a half hour delay because the big frost last night! Well, that way we won’t even get our game finished before dark! What to do? We decided to go to the course at one and hit some balls on the driving range. Maybe there would be some cancellations and we’d still get on.

Tim at SidewinderWhen we to the course we were welcomed by the crew. And yes, if we were ready, we could head out to number one tee right away — before anyone else showed up. Okay! We zipped out to the tee — there was a foursome ahead of us but no one behind us. And the sun was shining. It was cold, but we felt lucky to get one last game in.

And what a start we had. I parred four of the first five holes, and could have easily had a couple more! Tim shot a 45 on the front nine, I shot a 43.

Rudy at SidewinderThings fell apart for me on the back nine. Tim finished with a 49 on the back nine, but a couple of eights and a nine (and a seven and two sixes!) wrecked what might have been my best round ever. Still, when we bogeyed the final hole at around 5:30, with a big red sun sinking in the west and a nearly full moon rising in the east, we felt great about the afternoon.

Tim and Alex bought a couple of pizzas from the Hitching Post for our supper. Great! Last meal together. Max entertained himself (and all of us) by playing with his toys on the carpet in the living room. At around 8 o’clock Tim gave him his bath and read him his bedtime story. He came and gave us each a big goodnight hug. We’re supposed to be up tomorrow at six, ready to take them to the airport.

A bit of champagne and some sweet snacks for the rest of us.

Leaving on a Jet Plane…

Max and an Elephant-ear Cactus
One last cactus photo — this ‘Elephant-ear Cactus’ was at the airport.

I woke up at 5 a.m. Finished sleeping. Lay in bed waiting for 6 a.m. Time to get up. The kids want to be at the airport by 7:20 for their flight to Fargo. Max is up a little earlier than usual, but the smile on his face this morning is as big as ever. He’s just a happy kid. He’ll eat some toast and cheerios while we have our coffee and toast. I start the van a bit before we need to leave so it will warm up. We load in the suitcases and we’re off. One last drive through our neighbourhood narrated by Max. “Opa? Opa? Opa? What are you doing? I saw two cactuses!”

Leaving on a Jet PlaneWe get to the airport in no time. Unload. Park the van. Go in — there’s no waiting at the check-in. Max’s car seat, which has been buckled into our van for the last 2 weeks, is now getting checked in as oversize luggage. We head to the gate. One last photo of Max next to a big cactus. Then it’s time for them to go through security. Hugs. Tears. Goodbyes. We’re happy and we’re sad.

Now what? Sue has a shopping list. Groceries, Costco, etc. It’s a bit early, but we find a Fry’s Grocery store not far from the airport and fill up a cart. Then down to Santan Village –first to a coffee shop for a muffin and coffee, then to TotalWine and then to Costco. It seems that we always come home with more than what was on our list. No exception today. I’ve missed having a decent sound system to play my music at the house so I’ve bought a soundbar which I will connect to our TV.

We’re back at the house by around 11:00. Sue puts away the groceries. I check my emails — a few from Dave Driedger. What’s up? Wanna go golfing? He comes by on his bike to say hello. We decide to join him and Marylou for nine holes at Mountain Brook this afternoon. It’s cool, but the sun is making it ‘feel’ warmer than it is.

After lunch we have to hurry to get ready for our golf game. Sue decides she’ll leave the laundry and clean up for tomorrow. I have a quick shower and then the Driedgers are here. We load the clubs into the van and go to the golf course. Four golfers walking nine holes. Just like old times. It’s a fine Saturday afternoon. The golfing is fun — Sue hasn’t golfed at all since before the kids came two weeks ago; Marylou hasn’t golfed since the four of us golfed at Buffalo Point this summer! We finish our round at 5:00. The Driedgers are off to meet friends for supper. We go home to our ’empty’ house.

We watch the last quarter of the NFL Wildcard game — where the Panthers easily defeat the Arizona Cardinals. No surprise there. Then I Skype with my parents for a bit. Just before supper the kids Face-time — they are home, safe and warm and happy. They had to boost their car in Fargo, but otherwise had an easy ride home. It’s VERY cold there now. They’ll have tomorrow to rest from their vacation, and then it’s back to work for them.

We have leftovers for supper and watch the second NFL playoff game. Sue goes to bed before the Ravens win their game against the Steelers. She didn’t sleep very well last night.

Tomorrow is Sunday. It will be a ‘normal’ Sunday morning. It will be quiet in the house. We’ll watch our morning news shows and drink some good coffee — alone. And we’ll miss the ‘busyness’ and the happy ‘hubbub’ of the last couple of weeks.

Cleaning Day at G.C

Today is Sunday. That means we watch CBS Sunday Morning. And NFL Sunday. And Fareed Zakaria. And football. But first…

French toastFrench toast for breakfast! And freshly ground coffee.

Sue did six loads of laundry. There were 2 NFL Wild Card Playoff games on TV today. I watched the Colts beat the Bengals. Then the Lions lost to the Cowboys.

In between, Sue and I went for a walk to Ed and Val’s house and back —  to return some table games we’d borrowed from them. The day was bright and sunny and considerably warmer than it’s been for the past two weeks — and we’re happy for that, although it would have been nice to have this weather for when ‘the kids’ were here.

Full MoonAfter the Dallas game I took the van to the car wash — just to rinse off some mud splashes. There was a nearly full moon peeking out over the top of Superstition Mountain but by the time I’d parked the van and got my camera out it was already up above the mountaintops. But the red sky in the west was worth a photo.Sunset in the western sky

Back at the house Sue had cheeseburgers ready for supper. We watched 60 Minutes and then switched to our schedule of downloaded TV shows and watched another episode of ‘Suits’. Then we caught the premiere of season five of Downton Abbey. And the News. And soon it was time for bed.

Warm weather returns to G.C.

Worked on a website all morning. Sue went to the pool and read. I wanted to go to the driving range for a bit but I got sidetracked when the new neighbour across the street introduced himself, etc.

Sue-at-MtnBrkSue and I went to Mountain Brook for a 3:15 tee time. It was busy; we were stuck behind 4 ladies who insisted that they were NOT slow — but the old guys ahead of THEM were walking very slow. Well, it took us nearly an hour to finish 3 holes! And those ladies ahead of us were taking up to 5 ‘strikes’ at the ball and missing it every time! When I hit the ball onto the green AHEAD of them they got the hint and let us play through. Things sped up a little after that, enough so that we actually finished nine holes before sundown.

Rudy-at-MtnBrkSome nice views of Superstition by the time we got to number 9. I parred 3 holes and bogeyed 6 — for a 41 on the front nine. Probably my best nine so far.

When we got home Sue made us each a G&T before supper. Leftovers. A couple of episodes of ‘Suits’ before we watched a depressing documentary on PBS. Went to bed after 11:30.

Chores and Errands

I got up at around 6 and made a good cup of coffee. Sue joined me an hour later. After breakfast, at around 10, we got into the van and did a bunch of errands — banking, fruit market, Walmart, etc. Got back in time for ‘Holmes on Homes’ and lunch.

I worked on a website all afternoon, and listened to iTunes on my (new) sound system. Fun. Sue went back to Wells Fargo on her bike and then scouted out a haircut place. It was around 23 degrees today — nice and warm. I was getting tired of all the bird shit on our driveway near the garage — birds are finding a nice perch on the satellite cable that is stapled under the eaves. So I spent almost an hour moving that wire — up on the step ladder with pliers and a screwdriver. After I cleaned up the mess Sue and I headed across the street to the driving range. I hit a couple of buckets with my fairway wood; Sue whacked a few balls with her wedge.

When we got home we put on our cycling shorts and went for a spin around the loop. We met Marylou cycling home on her bike and arranged to stop by for a drink on our way back — which we did. Dave had been at baseball practice and had some tales to tell. We cycled home in the cool of the long shadows of the evening sunset at around 6:00.

Sue made a nice supper, I barbecued some sausage. After supper we watched a few episodes of ‘Suits’ before ‘Frontline’ started at 10pm.

Wednesday at Sidewinder

I don’t know what’s wrong with me — I just can’t seem to get into the proper timezone. Every evening I fall asleep watching TV on the couch until Sue sends me to bed, and then in the morning I wake up just before 6 and I’m wide awake, ready for the day. Why can’t I just shift everything ahead by a couple of hours? Ah, but then my 11:30am lunch would only get to the table at 1:30pm, and that would be disaster!

I worked on my web project all morning. Sue gave up on her book and has now downloaded a new one to her Kindle. It was a warm sunny day again — good day for golfing. We went to hit some balls on the driving range at Gold Canyon and met Dave D. there. The three of us teed off (the boys played from the blue tees because we’re so good!) at 1:17pm. It sure was a busy day at the course today. By the 5th hole the guy behind us asked to join us. He was hitting from the gold tees, way back behind us. He said his drives were around 330 yards, that his longest was 377! I impressed him when I birdied hole #5, chipping my second shot to within 3 feet of the pin! Too bad I couldn’t keep that up! I held it together okay for the front nine (45) but fell apart on the back nine, ending up with a 99. (Sue, on the other hand, continued to play well, getting a birdie 3 on the second last hole!) It was slow-going; we were waiting for the groups ahead of us on every hole. We barely finished before dusk.

After G&Ts, Sue made delicious chicken stir-fry for supper. We thought we’d watch a couple more ‘Suits’ episodes, but Sue ended up on the phone with Alex for a while, and after that we watched the CBC News at 8. Big story today: Paris Newspaper Shooting — 12 Dead. Crazy. We watched John Stewart after the news and then Sue went to bed while I spent another hour working on my project.

Hiking the Peralta Trail

Sue went to Bashas this morning to pick up bread. When she got back she made bacon and eggs! I’m not sure why, but it was a nice surprise. Maybe she thought it would fortify us for our big adventure today…

Peralta PanoramaAt 11:00 Dave and Marylou picked us up and we drove out to the parking lot near the starting point of the Peralta Trail Hike. The road there starts just a couple of kilometers from our place, but once we turned of Hwy 60 it soon turned to a winding gravel track through the desert. After about 7 miles we found the parking lot — we were not the first and not the only ones who thought the clouds and the slightly cooler temperatures would make for ideal hiking conditions.

Superstition Wilderness Map
Superstition Wilderness Map

There is a big board with a map at the entrance to the hike. There are also washrooms at the parking lot. And there is a ‘sign-in/sign-out’ sheet where Marylou registered us. And so began our hike.

We must have missed a turn early on — not surprising, since it seemed to me there was an awful lot of visiting going on at the front of the ‘group’. Soon we were following a dried out river bed, doing our best not to slip off the big rocks and trying to avoid getting our legs (like true novices, we were all wearing shorts for this!) from getting completely scratched up by the thorns and branches that were making the ‘trail’ narrower as we went along.

Finally it seemed we were stuck. Then we heard voices, up above, somewhere behind the brittle bush and cactus vegetation. Are we lost? Is there a trail up there? We finally managed to scramble up through thick brush and found the wide, clearly marked path that would take us through the Peralta Canyon to our destination.

And so that’s how we continued — about 5kms winding up and down through some interesting vegetation and rock formations. We were following the creek, so occasionally we heard a babbling brook or ducked through overhanging green ‘rain-forest’ as we gradually ascended into the Superstition Wilderness. On either side we had towering volcanic rock ‘needles’ pointing up to the cloudy sky.

Freemont Saddle
Freemont Saddle

After hiking 3 or 4 kms we could see Fremont Saddle. We recognized it because it looks like a saddle. There are many ‘balancing rocks’ along the hillside here, but this one is prominent, jutting out in the middle of the canyon.

We continued on, zig-zagging our way along the trail, always aiming for that lowest part of the ‘V’ on the horizon. We’d hiked about 5kms when we came to that crest. When we got there we got a fantastic view of Weavers Needle. And behind, and all around it, was a huge canyon. We could see Superstition Mountain and even the Four Peaks way out in the distance.

Weavers Needle
Group photo at the ‘summit’

And, we had lunch! It was around one o’clock, way past a proper lunch time. But after hiking for a couple of hours those little sandwiches sure tasted good. We got another hiker to take a group photo of us before heading back down into the canyon. Although the return is mostly downhill and quite a bit easier, you still have to watch where you step and make sure you stay on the trail. And going downhill can be hard on your knees, and on your toes!

We managed to get back to the parking lot safely, and by around 3:30 we were back at the house. The Driedgers stopped by for happy hour.

Sue made supper and I had a long skype call from Werner — hadn’t talked to him in a long time. Things back at school are about the same as ever and he’s working far too hard and not getting nearly enough credit or appreciation for it. After supper Sue made a bunch of phone calls. I showered and worked on the computer. By the time the CBC National was over at 9pm I was having trouble keeping awake. I managed to find ‘The Daily Show’ on TV but I may have to watch the rerun in the morning if I want to know what it was about.

The Imitation Game

I got up early and made coffee. The usual. Worked on my web project all morning, although I was distracted by CNN’s constant updates about the shootings in Paris (today they caught and killed 3 of the 4 killers). Susie Homemaker baked another big batch of ‘monster’ cookies.

I have a couple of blogs that show up in my daily morning newsfeed — and today one of them mentioned a new ‘top-secret’ food that will change everything. I’ve been enjoying ‘imitation’ crab for a few years now, although Sue only lets me buy it as a special treat. I think it tastes as good as ‘real’ crab. Well, if what this article says is true, I may one day switch to ‘imitation’ hamburgers!

After lunch we picked up Dave and Marylou and drove out to Superstition Springs on Power Road. We went to see the new movie “The Imitation Game” — it’s getting lots of good reviews and it’s one of the few movies that the Driedgers haven’t already seen. We left a little early because the last time the Driedgers had gone to see it there was a line-up and they couldn’t get in. Still, we figured we had plenty of time and so we stopped by Vans Golf Shop so I could look for a driver — I’ve been using Sue’s driver for the past month and Sue thinks I’m wrecking it. I found a couple of used clubs that Dave thought would work for me — we’ll see how that turns out next time we go golfing.

We were glad we got to the Harkins theater early because by the time the previews started pretty well all the seats were filled — mostly ‘seniors’ like us who can’t stay awake for an evening movie so we go to the matinees. The movie was good, although not riveting enough to keep the elderly couple sitting next to Sue (no, not the Driedgers — they were on the OTHER side) from snoring loudly through the last 20 minutes of the film.

After the movie we headed back into Apache Junction for supper. Dave suggested we go for what may be the best hamburgers in the valley at the Handlebar Pub & Grill, a nondescipt little building we’ve driven by many times, not far from Gold Canyon. The place was busy. No seats inside. We sat outside at the bar watching the cook flip burgers on the outdoor grill while we waited for a table to open up inside. After about half an hour we took our drinks inside and ordered our meals. Nine ounce hamburgers, the ‘real’ kind. Craft beers. And live music.

By 8:30 we were back home. Too full of burgers and beer. Too tired to watch TV. Seniors!

Feels like Sunday

I woke up just before 5am. I guess that’s not surprising — who needs more than 8 hours of sleep? At this rate, by the time we go back home in April I’ll have worked my way around the clock and be back to ‘normal’. Just in time.

Bacon and eggs for breakfast. It’s Saturday. Officially. Why am I writing in sentence fragments? It’s supposed to be sunny but it’s not. But the temperature is just fine for going out to the driving range and hitting a bucket of balls. So that’s what we do before lunch. I need to try out my ‘new’ clubs. The driver feels good in my hands, hits the ball pretty far, but it’s slicing a bit. I’ll need to either figure out exactly where to tee up the ball, or maybe all those fancy adjustments on the club head can fix this. I’ll have to ‘google’ that when I get home.

Sue makes lunch while I putt outside. And off and on I sit down at my computer and continue to work on my web project. Sue hops on the bike and leaves for her hair appointment. A few minutes after she leaves I hear a strange noise outside. What’s that? Rain. I go outside. Not lots of drops, but still, maybe I should hop in the van and give Sue a ride. But I don’t. It’s not that bad. And after 15 minutes it stops anyway.

And now it’s time to watch some NFL. Two games today, so I might as well make myself comfortable on the couch. I didn’t really expect either game to be all that close, but before I had all my snacks and drinks all arranged on the coffee table the Ravens had surprised the Patriots with two quick touchdowns. Holy cow! Maybe I should pay attention. Lucky for Tom Brady (and for Jim and Bonny), I was cheering for the Ravens. So my record is intact.

Sue got home with her new hair-do just in time to see the bitter end of the first game. And CTV didn’t miss a beat — just ‘cross-faded’ from one game to the next. There was hardly even time for a washroom break in between. We ate our hotdogs with beans and beer while watching the second game: the Panthers at the Seahawks. Again, there were glimmers of hope for the Panthers early on, but in the end (and by ‘the end’ I mean just before the late news!) the Seahawks were the better team.

A whole live-long day of football — no wonder it felt like Sunday! And the good news is tomorrow we get to do it all over again. Bonus day!

Golden Days in Gold Canyon

Woke up at 5 again. I made my coffee and checked my email. I always do that — although I NEVER have email waiting for me in the morning. Except today. Someone named ‘naughtygirl’ wants to get physical with me. What!? How did that get through?

We watch our Sunday morning shows although (once again) Fareed on CNN is pre-empted for coverage of the big anti-terror march in Paris. Two big play-off NFL games on today. Before the first one starts at 11am Sue and I go for a morning walk — all the way to Mountain Brook clubhouse and back. A bit cloudy, but nice temperature. Lots of geezers pass us in their big shiny cars, either going to or coming back from church (there are 4 big churches within walking distance of our place). Friendly waves. The clubhouse restaurant and the Hitching Post parking lots are packed too — Sunday brunch. When we get back I take my new driver and cycle across the road to the driving range. I’m going to see if I can ‘adjust’ some of the adjustable settings on it to keep it from slicing. Which I do. And after whacking balls until my back is sore, I’m satisfied that I can hit the ball straight and far at will. Can’t wait to take this baby out on the course.

Back at the cabin I find Sue watching some infomercial — and NOT the Cowboys/Packers game. I’d missed the first quarter — and what’s this? The Cowboys are out-playing and out-scoring Green Bay. It’s actually a pretty good game — which Green Bay ultimately wins after trailing all game. Next up: Colts at Denver.

Rudy and Sue at Mtn BrookSue and I skip the first half of the second game and drive back to Mountain Brook to walk the front nine at 3 o’clock. I gotta try out that driver for real. We are rushed out on the course ahead of a ‘big group’. That’s good. First shot: straight up and down. Huh? At least my new rescue club gets the ball close to the green from there. Bogey. Second hole is short; no chance to use the driver. On the third hole my drive barely clears the wash. This sucks! What happened? We both end up with a score of 50. I don’t need new clubs to do that!

We finished nine holes in record time and are home around 4:30. The third quarter of the Colts/Broncos game has just started. And look at this! The Colts are beating the Denver. Easily. Sue picked up supper from the Great Wall. Delicious. All that club-swinging has me starved.

We watched 60 Minutes and then switched to the Golden Globes. Some nice ‘dresses’ on some of those movie stars! I’m just glad that I’m on this side of the TV; I wouldn’t know where to look if I had to stand next to them on the stage. Like one of the presenters said, I get why they call it the ‘Golden Globes’!

We switched to PBS to watch the second episode of this season’s Downton Abbey. Hmmm… Seems like not much is happening in that series this year — Boring. Back to the Golden Globes. We managed to stay up late enough to have ice cream ‘night snack’ while we watched a Fifth Estate documentary about Russia’s Putin. In bed by 10:30.

Broke and Unbroken

I was going to work on my computer project all day today; it needs to be ‘completed’ by Friday. When I got up the road was wet — it must have rained a bit last night — and the sunrise was obscured by clouds. A good day to stay home and get a lot done. I was well into my code when I had a surprise visit from my accountant. No, now is not really a good time, but then when IS a good time? Better deal with this right away. Okay, let’s go over the Mastercard bill line by line. What did you buy here? What is this charge for? Are you billing for these charges or are WE paying for them? Exactly what kind of ‘system’ do you have for keeping track of these expenses? Hmmm… One of THOSE days! And so I put away my project and worked on my defence. And sure enough, when I looked closer at some of the invoices I noticed there were some ‘new’ charges that I should take care of. And if you’ve ever been on the phone with MTS so-called ‘support’ you have some idea of what it’s like to talk to computer and internet companies. So there went my morning! And if I don’t count MY time as having any value, I made out okay. I got a $5 refund from my internet hosting company and a promise of a nearly $15 charge reversal from Amazon. So we’re “richer than we think”.

After lunch I got back to work on my website. Sue was itching to go for some ‘exercise’, but most of her suggestions involved getting me out of my chair, and that wasn’t happening today. Finally at mid-afternoon we got into the van and drove down to Signal Butte to the movie theatre to see “Unbroken”. We weren’t expecting a great movie and so that way we were not disappointed. We both enjoyed the book a lot but figured it might be impossible to tell such a long and incredible story in a two-hour movie. Still, after reading the list of nominees for the Golden Globes yesterday, we really need to buckle down and start working our way through all the movies we want to see. And so far this winter we have seen only a few.

We got back home for a late supper — leftover Chinese. I phoned my parents and Sue phoned Irmy. That was another half hour. Finally we sat down at our stations and watched another two episodes of ‘Suits’. Midway through Season 2. I think it’s getting better. Then the news. And to bed at 10:30.

Up the creek…

After sitting at my computer in the early morning darkness for about an hour, I got up to open the blinds. What kind of day will it be? Looks cloudy — almost like it might rain! I suggested that possibility to Sue, who was busy checking her weather apps on her iPad. Last night when I called my parents my dad asked me a few times how the weather was — and I told him that really the weather is ALWAYS nice! I told him that we never have to first check the weather before deciding on if we should go for a walk, or a bike ride, or golfing. It’s just always nice. In spite of that, Sue still checks her weather app a couple times a day and reports her findings. Today Yahoo tells her there’s a 30% chance of showers at around 3:00 in the afternoon.

Since we hadn’t been to the gym (we have a free membership at the Silly Mountain gym) for nearly a week, we decided to do a quick one-hour hike, stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things, and be back home in time for lunch.

Creek shitWe parked the van on Bashas’ parking lot and set out on our hike to the mountain. Still cloudy, but nice temperature. We crossed a dried-out creek bed where I noticed fresh turds. Can’t be dog do-do — people here who have pets (and that means EVERYBODY except us) walk around with one or two of those little blue pooper-scooper bags in their hands. I’d seen a big coyote (or maybe it was a wolf!) slowly ambling by the wall in our back yard yesterday morning. Maybe we’d see some wild animals out here on our walk today!

Raining on Silly MountainWe were nearly at the top of the hill when we had a few splashes of rain on our face. Huh? We started down one of the trails. The rain came harder. I thought it wasn’t supposed to rain? I took out my iPhone just to check — yep, there were lots of big drops splashing on the screen. That proves it: it’s raining. We got soaked. So much for all my bragging to Dad last night!

An hour later we were back at Bashas. I sat in the van while Sue, looking like a wet rat, went in to pick up groceries. I guess we’re not going to the driving range today. I pulled the van up to the front entrance so Sue could escape the downpour.

After lunch I worked on my website. Sue read her book, “The Finkler Question”, on the Kindle. We left around 3:30 to go see a movie at the Harkins at Superstition Springs. “Wild”, starring Reese Witherspoon. Now THAT is a good movie! Sure, it’s just about a long hike, but I think it’s cool how the director can make a story like that into a film. Good acting, good music, good story-telling. At one point in the movie the woman encounters a rattlesnake — and just at that moment my phone starts vibrating in my pocket. I jumped! Sue returned Alex’s call in the van on the way home. Just calling to chat.

While Sue was frying up the fish she’d bought at Bashas today, I turned on the TV. A new sitcom by Eugene Levy was premiering on CBC. Schitt’s Creek. Really? They can name a TV show that? I watched the first of the two episodes they were airing. Hmmm… More ‘Schitt’ than ‘Creek’. But maybe I was too hard on it, after the movie we’d just seen. Anyway, we enjoyed our supper and then watched THREE episodes of ‘Suits’ before going to bed.

Golfing Sidewinder

Sidewinder CartsSue started making supper right after breakfast. That way it would be ready for when we got home from golfing Sidewinder this afternoon with the Driedgers. We went to the golf course at around 12:30, even though our tee time was for 1:36pm. We hit a few balls on the driving range and Sue practiced her putting before we headed off to the first tee. Long wait there. The group ahead was waiting for the group ahead was waiting for the group ahead. I guess yesterday’s rain got lots of people to postpone their games to today.

All that waiting must have negated whatever ‘warm-up’ I got on the driving range. First tee shot ends up on the green of the hole BESIDE our fairway. I managed to salvage the hole but was scrambling for most of the game. Once again, the ONLY hole where water comes into play on the entire course swallowed up a couple of my Titleists. I always say that as long as I have a couple of good shots I’ll keep coming back to the game, but it sure feels like I’m going backwards! Meanwhile, Dave shot ten pars, Sue had only good drives, and Marylou made all the long putts.

Marylou, Rudy, and SueIt was getting close to 6pm by the time we got to the final hole. There were a few groups behind us, and we were still waiting for the groups ahead. Everybody was ‘pushing’ to finish their game. As we were waiting for the people ahead to move on up to the green, one of the golfers behind us hit a tee shot that hit the roof of our cart and landed ahead of us. Yikes! This could get dangerous.

We were cold and tired by the time we took the bags off the carts and headed back across the road to our house. The four of us sat around our table eating chips and drinking G&Ts before Sue served up her delicious pasta dish. That, and the nice bottle of wine Dave brought along, warmed us up. After dinner we moved to the living room for more visiting and dessert. By 10:30 I was having trouble keeping my eyelids up. (I should have had one of those coffees I made for Marylou — it seemed to work for her!) Not long after the Driedgers car left the driveway I was deep in a coma in my bed. What else is new?

What did we do Thursday?

After breakfast I got out the vacuum cleaner and while Sue dusted and tidied things up, I vacuumed the house. I cleaned up the garage and remembered that I had a flat rear tire on one of the Bishops’ bikes. So I took it apart and put a patch on it. Hope it holds. I monkeyed around on the garage door — the opener gets confused at certain times of the day (usually when it’s most inconvenient and we’re in a hurry) when the sun shines on the safety sensors — and prevents the door from closing. So I’ve made several cardboard ‘sun shields’ to keep the sun off the sensors and every time I think I have it fixed until the next time we’re in a hurry to leave. I made a new box-shield — we’ll see if this one will do it. It was a nice day again today. Sue and I pulled a few weeds out of the gravel that is our front yard — don’t want to have the neighbours complaining about us!

After lunch Sue went to the pool to read and I worked on my computer. Crunch time — the website is supposed to be done by tomorrow. Maybe I’ll have to pull an all-nighter. Around 3:00 I took a few clubs and hopped on my bike to go across the road to the driving range. Success. What else is new? Everything works on the driving range; it just doesn’t seem to ‘stick’ when I get on the course. When I got back Sue and I went for our walk to the Mountain Brook clubhouse and back. A lovely afternoon.

Back home we had happy hour. I showered while Sue made supper. After supper we watched one of the movies on my ‘must-see’ list. The Oscar nominations came out today and that puts some pressure on us. Tonight we watched “The Sniper” with Bradley Cooper. Good performance by Cooper. The movie is just ‘okay’. After the movie we watched a couple more episodes of ‘Suits’. Popcorn and ice cream. It seems that eating is the ONLY way for me to stay awake in the evening! The obligatory CBC News, with Thursday’s “At Issue” panel, completed our Thursday.

Friday Night in GC: Cold Pizza and String Quartets

Started working on my website shortly after 6 in the morning when I got up. It’s supposed to be ‘done’ today. We’ll see. Around 11am the Bishops arrived. They came to pick up their car, their golf clubs, and some clothes. Turns out they are staying here (at a friend’s house) for the next month! Well, the car didn’t start. They called CAA and within half an hour the service truck was here. The guy tried to pick the lock on the car but finally resorted to breaking in ‘the old fashioned’ way — using a long ‘coat-hanger’ style rod to unlock the door. Popped open the hood, put the charger on the battery, and voila! the car started. We all had a drink in the back yard while the car ‘charged’ up. When they left Sue made us a sandwich and we had our lunch. It was 1:30, two hours AFTER ‘official’ lunch time. I did my best to finish up the website and finally signed off on it at around 4pm. Then Sue and I went for a quick walk to Walgreen’s to pick up some lipstick (I’m almost out!) and to get our exercise. Rudy and Sue at the Hitching PostWe got home, showered, and then had to hurry across the road to the Hitching Post where we met the Driedgers and the Neufelds (Hans and Chris) for pizza. That place was hopping tonight! And under-staffed! I guess the pizzas we finally got had been properly aged (and cooled) on the serving counter. Not bad pizza for Saturday morning, but not so hot for Friday supper. But we got to watch (another) great sunset from our table. Marylou and Hans got a bit camera-happy. The Driedgers and Neufelds were off to see a concert at the Methodist Church — the ‘Carpe Diem’ String Quartet. Well, we’re IN. No matter that the boys were more interested in watching the Jets on TV — tonight we were in for a ‘cultural’ experience. And so while the Driedgers pedalled and the Neufelds burned some fossil fuel, the Nikkels marched as fast as they could down to the big church (“OUR” church; we’ve been there before — a couple of years ago, to see an ORGAN concert!). Made it just in time. And a good thing that we hurried; it looked like all the front row seats were gone. The group included 4 players: first and second violin, a viola, and a cello. A mix of jazz, classical, and country. ‘Something for everybody.’ Even an intermission! The Neufelds gave us a ride back to our main gate. Cool evening. Lots of stars. Still lots of cars at the Hitching Post — I guess that ‘guy and girl singing along with a karaoke soundtrack’ band really got the old fogeys hopping tonight — it’s WAY past their bedtime! Not us, though. We’ll watch the CBC News and have a bowl of chocolate-peanut-butter ice cream for night-snack. And THEN we’ll go to bed. Party Animals!

Busy Saturday

Bacon and eggs for breakfast. Skyped with Alex and Max — Max was golfing and riding his Strider and shooting baskets in the basement. He looked to be enjoying a whole day at home with Mom and Dad. I decided that because we have so many movies cued up ready for us to watch, we would watch one of them this morning. “Big Eyes” isn’t up for any Academy Awards, but it was nominated for 3 Golden Globes and Amy Adams won one for Best Actress in a musical or comedy movie. We watched it this morning — and enjoyed it. Later in the morning Sue and I went for a bike ride — rode around the loop to Bashas where Sue picked up groceries while I ordered a sandwich at the Subway restaurant. We ate at the outdoor tables and then cycled back home. I took a few clubs and cycled across to the driving range — still working on the hybrids.

Hans and Dave and MarylouI got home just in time to have a quick shower and then head right back out to the Mountain Brook Golf Course. We had a 3 o’clock tee time with the Driedgers. We walked nine holes on a beautiful Saturday afternoon — no waiting for the group ahead, no pressure from a group behind. Now all I would need to make it a better afternoon is to actually be able to shoot a golf ball. But not this afternoon. I played TERRIBLE. We finished by 5pm and headed back home.

Hans and Dave and MarylouAfter a quick stop at our place we went out again — invited to Dave and Marylou’s for supper. Hans and Chris were there too. Dave and Marylou made spaghetti and salad for supper. We watched the sunset from the deck and then spent the next 3 hours around the supper table. Good food, good conversations. Home around 9pm. A bit of TV and off to bed.

Championship Sunday

Crepes and bacon for breakfast. Max would have ‘wuuved’ it. I know I did. Morning shows, and today we once again got to watch Fareed on CNN — no world crisis to interrupt regular programming today.

Sue’s been hounding me to find a replacement recipe app for the iPad ever since her ‘Bento’ program quit working. So I downloaded one today (Paprika) and we played with that a bit. It’s easy to add recipes from most of the major recipe sites online but it will be a challenge to export Sue’s existing database and import into the new app. I spent much of the morning working on ‘massaging’ the data so it would import without error.

Two big NFL games on today to decide who goes to the Superbowl in two weeks. Of course none of ‘my’ teams are involved, so I’m down to cheering AGAINST teams just like all those Montreal Canadien haters do. It’s not all that satisfying. I shouldn’t really even watch football the way my luck is going — but just like the Tour de France kept suckering me into watching it year after doping-scandal year, I can’t stay away from football weekends even after my teams are out of it. So once again, here I sit in front of the TV, snacking away, cheering like an idiot. First game: Packers at Seattle. I hate both those teams. Okay, I’ll cheer for the underdog Packers. I figure they’ll be in touch with Rodgers gimpy and the crazy ’12th man’ fans in Seattle. But the game is a big surprise! The Packers jump ahead early and in spite of a couple of consolation field goals when they can’t get in from the one-yard line, Green Bay is ahead 16-0 at the half. Clearly the better team. Go Packers!

But much to the chagrin of my good friends in Randolph, I have jinxed this game. Once again, the team I cheer for makes a couple of critical errors and lets the opponent back into the game. With a little more than 2 minutes remaining, the Seahawks come back to overtake the Packers. The Packers are in shock, but kick a field goal with 14 seconds left to tie up the game. And then they lose it in overtime!

Sue tried a new recipe (why not?) and made fish tacos for supper while we watched the second game: Colts at New England. I KNEW what I was supposed to do. If I could only have brought myself to cheer for the ‘Brady Bunch’ I’d have assured that Andrew Luck and the Colts would be coming here to Phoenix to play in the Superbowl in two weeks. But I — just — couldn’t — do — it. And neither could the Colts. It was a Patriot blow-out win and even I was looking forward to 8 o’clock when we could switch the channel and watch the third episode of Downton Abbey. Which we did. It’s getting better.

Sunday night CBC News. Bye bye!

Blue Monday?

Since I went to bed so early, I got up early too. I make a couple of good coffees and sit down to read the news online. SteinbachOnline says “Today is Blue Monday. Some people say the third Monday of January is the saddest day of the year.” Shoot! and I was feeling so good! Sun is shining streams of light in through the blinds, birds are singing loudly outside, coffee tastes as good as it smells. We must be doing something wrong.

Since I can’t stay awake to watch my movies in the evening, I’ll try watching them in the morning. So this morning, after breakfast, we watched “Birdman”. Very cool. I’ll look for it in the theatre and go see it again just for the cinematography. We’d just finished the movie when there was a knock at the door. The Bishops are here to spray for bugs. Okay, we’ll go for our walk and they can spray and we’ll come back when they’re done. Which is what we do. We got home at 1:00 and Sue made lunch. We both showered and then took the van to go shopping. First to the fruit market, then to Santan for wine and beer. I dropped my bike off at the Santan bike shop — it still has that ‘clunk’ in the bottom bracket — they’ll call me in a day or two. Sue found ‘her wine’ at TotalWine and I found 2 boxes of Pilsner Urquell. We’re done. Sue drops me off at the driving range on the way home. I work on my driver and my hybrid club for about 40 minutes and then walk home. Happy hour. It’s nice and warm today and we sit outside on the patio. Then Sue makes supper and we watch one episode of ‘Suits’. We follow that up with another of my movies, “CAKE”, starring Jennifer Aniston. Meh, what’s all the hype? News is next. I go back to work at my computer, working my way through the 350 recipes I need to somehow import into Sue’s iPad recipe program. If I was Werner I’d have written a quick little ‘regex’ script and had this done in 5 minutes. I’m not Werner. I do it the ‘manual’ way, and it takes me a few hours. But I finish it, hook up the iPad, and voila! it works. Happy times in Sue’s kitchen ahead!

It’s midnight! We’re both still awake! And we’ve had a fun day! So much for ‘Blue Monday’!

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall…

Sue did laundry in the morning, then went to Bashas to get groceries. I hooked up our old printer and printed out the Oscar Ballot sheet and checked off all the films we’ve seen and circled the ones we still need to see. Then I went to the driving range and worked on my hybrid club. After lunch Sue went to pool and read the book she borrowed from Marylou, “All the Light We Cannot See”. I worked on re-doing my iTunes playlist — not a small job, with over 33,000 tunes!

Sue golfing at Mountain Brook
Looking just fine after the fall!

We’d booked a tee time for 3:30 at Mountain Brook. We got on the course just about right on time, but then had to wait at EVERY tee for the  v – e – r – y   s – l – o – w  couple ahead of us. The stood in the middle of the fairway, posing for selfies. They circled the greens a couple of times, presumably looking for their lost ball. They parked their cart and then BOTH walked halfway down the fairway to take a shot with the clubs they shared, then sauntered back to the cart. YIKES! On the second tee we could see that it would be at least 15 minutes before we could take our shot, so we sat down on the old fence beside the tee blocks. KABOOM! The fence broke and there was Sue, lying flat on her back, her bare legs all scraped up and even a bit of bleeding! And both of us had mighty sore shoulders and necks from the jolt. Well, you’d think that would be enough to dissuade us from continuing this round. Oh no, not us. We adjusted attitudes and decided to just enjoy the lovely afternoon. And we did. Sue’s putts weren’t anywhere near as good as her drives, but we both had okay games. And that’s an improvement for me! And although we were both sore, no serious damage was done.

We got home just before six. Sue made another delicious supper (chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, tomato and avocado salad) — what else is new? Then we settled down to watch more ‘Suits’. I guess all my finagling with my iTunes screwed up the system — we had several ‘stalls’ in the video and I had to restart a few times. Oh well, what else do we have to do with our time? Eventually we finished the last 3 episodes of Season 2. No movies tonight. Daily Show and CBC News, and finally (after 10:30!! — hey, maybe having a nice strong coffee after supper is the secret to staying up after 8pm!) off to bed.

The Janzens Arrive

This morning when I got up and made my coffees I tried to get on my blog. And, as has happened several times before, I couldn’t get onto my website. I don’t know what it is but it seems like my site gets blocked by our Internet provider Mediacom. So I had to use my phone as a hotspot and write my blog that way.

After breakfast Sue and I went for a walk to Mountainbrook and back. The weather was nice– not cold and not too hot. When we got home it was 11:30 and time for lunch. After lunch Sue went to the pool to read and I took a few clubs across to the driving range and hit balls for an hour.

Around 5 o’clock we left for Santan Village where I picked up my bike. They’ve tightened up the bottom bracket so I hope the clunk is gone. Then Sue and I went across the road to In-N-Out Burger for supper. We had some clouds and even a few drops of rain on our way to the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. We got to the airport just about the time that Ron and Noreen’s WestJet flight landed. I had to circle the terminal a couple of times while they waited for their luggage. It was almost 9 by the time we got home. Sue put out cold cuts and cheese and dessert and fruit and we sat around the table and visited for a while. By 10:30 we were all tired enough to say good night and go to bed.

These boots are made for walkin’…

I guess the coffee grinder woke up the visitors. Oh well, it was 7:30 and time to get out of bed. At breakfast it was decided that we’d be hiking the Hieroglyphic Trail today. But first! new hiking shorts for Noreen. No problem. Sue and Noreen baisled off to Ross for some morning shopping. Ron and I decided to go for a walk — first up our little ‘Vista Point’ to get a bird’s eye view of the neighbourhood, and then down to the Walgreens corner for a coffee at the ‘Common Ground Cafe’. We had a leisurely coffee and a leisurely walk back home, and got home just in time to see the girls all decked out in new outfits! And then it was time for lunch.

After lunch I went to the driving range for almost an hour, just to annoy myself. When I got home the gang was sitting in the warmth of the sunshine — in the garage. I changed into my hiking boots and we were off!

It was sunny but a bit of a cool wind — just right for hiking. We actually passed a number of slower hikers on our way up. A few photos. More water than we’ve ever seen before in the pools — thanks to the recent rainy days, I guess.

When we got home we had snacks and drinks. We watched the news while Sue cooked the salmon dinner. After dinner we went back to the living room to watch a movie. “Whiplash” is an intense movie about an intense band teacher. I thought it was very good. Sue was a bit too ‘mad’ at the characters to give the movie any credit. Well, at least the music (and the drum solo) was impressive. Five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

We finished off the evening with a dish of ice cream and fruit and the CBC News, including the At Issue panel — lots of talk about our 80-cent dollar. Oh well, how about that $1.72/gallon price of gas?


After breakfast we all piled into the van and off we went to downtown Phoenix. Noreen had made a list of places to visit here in Arizona and a strip known as ‘Roosevelt Row’ was on the list. It was not quite an hour drive from GC.

Ron on the fat tire bikeWhen we got there it appeared that we’d arrived a bit too early — by about 12 hours! Most of the shops and galleries were still closed. We walked around the block a few times and finally sat down at a coffee shop to decide what to do next. A couple whose bikes were parked near our outdoor table came by and explained that most people in this neighbourhood kept “vampire hours”, so although things seemed quiet now, wait until tonight and the streets would come alive. So, while Ron took the guy’s ‘fat tire’ bike for a spin, the woman told us about a great Mexican restaurant a few blocks away. And that’s where we went for lunch.

We drove back to the house. The Janzens went for a bike ride and I went to the driving range. After happy hour the Janzens took the van and went out for supper. Sue and I walked across the road to the Hitching Post. Man, that place was packed! And loud! We were lucky to get a table and yelled our pizza order to our waitress.

The so-called live entertainment tonight featured a singer with a guitar and a girl who clapped along to the recorded karaoke track. Wow! Another amazing band! Brass section and backup choirs and drums and percussion– but only one guy with an acoustic guitar and a girl clapping along! No matter. The crowd of boisterous old-timers, most of whom were most of the way through their bucket of beers, encouraged ‘the band’ enthusiastically. It did not take us an hour to finish our ‘cowboy’ pizza.

Back at home we watched The Fifth Estate and the news. The Janzens came home and showed off their purchases from the shoe store. Ice cream for night snack. In bed by eleven.

Back on course

Bacon and eggs for breakfast. So, what’s on tap for today? Well, I’ve got a golf game with Dave Driedger, tee time at 1:30 at Poston Butte. Sue and Noreen want to go sit at the pool for a while, and then go to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum Park in the afternoon. Ron will see how far he can ride one of our ‘town’ bikes. And that’s what we do.

After breakfast I get a Facetime call from Alex and Max. It’s great! I’m outside in the backyard and showing Max the familiar landmarks. He notices the singing birds. He reminds me of the ‘pokey cactus’ that Oma sat on. He says he misses me.

Ron says he wants to go on a 3 hour bike ride. He’ll do more than that, heading out almost all the way to Tortilla Flats and back. And it’s a windy day for a bike ride.

Noreen and Sue at the ArboretumSue makes me a quick sandwich for lunch. Dave is by shortly after noon to pick me up. The ride out to the golf course takes just over half an hour — it’s near Florence. When we get there we hit a few balls on the driving range first. We’re paired up with a couple from Wisconsin who are renting a home in the area. Charlie and Lindy are pretty good golfers. So are we. I manage to play mostly bogey golf — and although my putting is atrocious my drives and fairway shots are better than they’ve been for a while. It’s a good time. It’s a very fun course, challenging, but fair. The pace of play is a bit slow, but according to our partners that is not the norm here. We finish just before 6pm.

Noreen at the ArboretumBack at the house, Sue’s got supper going. Marylou has bicycled here. We have a drink and then I barbecue the burgers. After supper Ron shows us some photos from his recent trip to the Middle East and tells a few stories of the people he met there. Sue serves up her freshly-baked apple pie and ice cream.

The Driedgers say goodnight at around 10:30. Ron soon does the same. Sue and Noreen watch a bit of TV after cleaning up the dishes. I sit down to write my entry before going to bed too.

Cycling and golfing with the Janzens

Sunday morning. We turned on the TV. Sue made French toast for breakfast. I called Mountain Brook and booked a tee time for four for around 3 o’clock. It was supposed to be a great day, weather-wise.

After breakfast we all got our shorts on and went for a bike ride. Ron, who had ridden more than a hundred kilometres up and down hills yesterday, was a good sport about putting his butt on the bike seat again. We looped around the back acres of Gold Canyon, then around the loop, through Mountain Brook Village, and home again. I was interrupted by my phone ringing while I was peddling — Max was calling to show me how he could ride HIS bike in his basement. He was having a great morning of his own!

Back at the ranch Sue made lunch. Everyone sat around for a while. Sue started making our supper so it would be ready after golf. I divided up the golf clubs so we’d have 3 sets. Then I went to the driving range and hit a few balls. Sue, Ron, and Noreen came by with the van to pick me up at around 2:30.

Golfing at Mountain BrookWe got on to the first tee at Mountain Brook as soon as we arrived. A two-some ahead, no one behind. Noreen ‘caddied’ for us — kept score and oohed and aahed at our shots. Well, actually, it was Ron who surprised us all. He doesn’t golf a lot. Now, using someone else’s clubs, and without even a warm-up swing or a putt, he was swinging the club and hitting the ball far and straight, EVERY hole! We had a very fun round, walking the front nine holes. On the final par 5, Ron blasted his tee shot farther than I’ve ever seen anyone hit it, and finish it up with a fine putt.

When we got home Sue made us G&Ts for our happy hour. At around 5:30 we took a quick little walk up the hill behind our place, Vista Point, to watch the sunset. Unfortunately it was quite cloudy in the west, so we didn’t get to see the pink and golden rays lighting up Superstition Mountain. But the view from up there is great, and we sat around and listened to Noreen’s stories while the sun sank into the horizon.

We had Sue’s pasta casserole and salad for supper. The Janzens were interested in seeing a movie while they were here, and their first choice, “Birdman” was playing at the Harkins at Superstition Springs at 8 o’clock. So we had to hurry. Sue decided to stay home and watch TV instead of coming along. We had seen the movie a few days ago on our TV — I thought I’d like to see it on a ‘real’ screen.

When we got back from the movie I had a little peanut butter ice cream snack. We watched the news — and went to bed.

Pinnacle Peak

When we got up this morning the big news was that it was NOT going to rain today. Not here. Cloudy, a bit cooler, but not raining. So it was decided that we would go for a hike. Where to? Silly Mountain? No, we’ve all done that. How about Camelback, in Phoenix? Okay. But when Sue phoned Dave Driedger to find out more about it, she learned that the Driedgers have never hiked Camelback! But Dave recommended Pinnacle Peak, in the northeastern corner of Scottsdale. So we punched that into the van’s GPS and off we were.

When we got there we found a parking spot in the parking lot — but it was clear we were not the only ones who were hiking this mountain today. We put on our hiking boots and started up. I thought we’d be going up to that ‘pinnacle peak’ — and that looked like quite a serious climb. But no, that peak is for ‘climbers’, not ‘hikers’. The wide well-maintained and marked trail led us AROUND the peak, and then down and around, and then back up again, and then down again! There were signs marking our progress every 100 feet. There were signs pointing out the names and characteristics of the desert plants along the trail.

Sue, Noreen, and Ron, coming down the path
Sue, Noreen, and Ron, coming down the path

There were quite a few hikers coming BACK on the trail, and their red complexions and sweaty jerseys said the way ahead would likely be a bit tougher than what we started on. But the scenery was excellent — long highways heading out for as far as we could see across the flat desert, rooftops in the residential sprawl going out in all directions too. And wrapping around the two mountains of our hike was a spectacular golf course. With no golfers. Well, 3 women and their caddies were golfing — and I speculated that they were professional golfers prepping for the tournament later in the week. I bet the course was closed to the public this week. As we hiked our way around we got to look down into the back and front yards of the many luxury homes (estates!) that lined the fairways and greens of the golf course.

Marker 92
The reward at the end of the trail

When we got to marker 92, which represented the 9200-foot point on the hike, we knew we’d reached the end of the Pinnacle Peak hike and it was time to turn around. All that climbing and huffing and puffing for this? What would my mom think of this! And I knew that all the ‘easy’ downhill sections would now be UPHILL climbs — so the return trip would take exactly as much effort as the trek so far. Oh well, the weather was just right and I was getting hungry.

We got back to the van around 1:00pm and decided that we might look for a hamburger place and then go to the Kierland Commons Shopping Plaza in Scottsdale. As we headed into Scottsdale we spotted a roadside sign that directed us to “Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers” with an arrow pointing left. Whoa! Why look further? We turned into the parking lot, parked the van, and sat down at an outdoor table on the patio of the Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers sports bar. Noticing the size of the burgers that were being served to other guests, Sue announced that she could make FOUR burgers out those half-pound burgers — and that she and I would be SHARING a burger. And so it we did. And I ordered a pretty good beer off the 6-million-brand list the waitress put in front of me to go with it.

After lunch we headed down to the shopping centre. The girls announced that they would meet us back at the van at 4:30 and promptly disappeared into the first clothing store. Ron and I stood and stared at the ‘directory map’ for a while and then tried to find that big Barnes & Noble bookstore. Closed. Now what? Coffee at the Starbucks. Sat in comfy chairs and read the news for the next couple of hours.

We whizzed by most of the rush-hour traffic by staying in the far-left HOV lane, and got home in just over an hour. We watched the U.S. news and sat around for a while. No one was hungry because of the late (big) lunch. Finally at around 7pm Sue started to regret that she hadn’t gone 50/50 on that burger and fries because she was now getting hungry. So we put on our jackets and found the flashlight and headed out to the Hitching Post. Hey, what’s this? Raindrops! Again!

Even at 7pm on a Monday night, that place is ROCKING! We were lucky to get a table! And, as usual, the diners were enthusiastically enjoying the live entertainment. And today it really was ‘live’ entertainment — the young lady with the acoustic guitar was singing ‘Ring of Fire’ WITHOUT a karaoke soundtrack. We ordered two pizzas to go with the drinks. The poor waitress was doing her best to keep everyone happy, and for the most part she was just barely keeping up. We got our pizzas — over-orderd! we took home two half-pizzas for our lunch tomorrow — and at 8pm the singer announced that she’d sung her last song for the night and packed up her guitar. And with that, the diners packed up too. And so did we.

A few more raindrops fell on our way back home. The pizza was put away and I got the TV set up to watch another of my movies, “Selma”. We did our best to stay awake, but finally surrendered at the halfway point and went to bed. After all, it’s ON THE COMPUTER! and we can continue this tomorrow when we’re all able to stay awake.

Farewell to the Janzens

It’s the last day here for Ron and Noreen. By midnight they’ll be back in Winnipeg, sleeping in their own beds again. The weather report says that the temperature in Winnipeg is not that far off from what we’ve got here. In fact, this morning it was RAINING here. Again. But by breakfast it had stopped.

After breakfast we all sat down to watch the second half of the movie ‘Selma’ — we were too tired to watch it to the end last night. Not bad — a good story even if the telling of it was a bit “Oprah-ish”. Then the girls went for a walk to the Mountain Brook clubhouse and back. Ron went looking for a barber. I sat at my computer and worked away at another website. We all met for lunch again — leftover pizza from last night. Then I went back on the computer while the rest of the gang went to the pool. The sun peeked out and warmed things up a bit for a while. Ron sat in the hot tub. By coffee break they were back at the house. Packing. Sue got a platter of cheese and crackers out and we sat around the table and had our last ‘happy hour’ together. At 5 o’clock we put the luggage in the van and headed out to the Sky Harbour Airport. I was expecting a bit of rush-hour traffic but we actually arrived at the airport at around 5:40. Plenty of time to spare. The Janzens’ flight is supposed to leave at 8pm.

After saying goodbye Sue and I drove down to the Arizona Mills Mall, just a couple of miles south of the airport. We’d never been there before but Dave D said he’d found good deals on shoes and golf clothing there. It took us nearly as long to drive down there as it had to get to the airport — now we were in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Once there we wandered through the big mall looking for the golf clothing stores. We found them, but not the things we were looking for. The only pants that were long enough were much to wide for me. We didn’t hang around there very long and soon were back on the 60 heading for home.

Sue made a quick supper and then we sat down to watch TV. We tried to watch another of my movie downloads but the sound was so bad we gave up and switched to Season 3 of ‘Suits’. After 2 episodes and a little bit of the CBC News Sue went to bed. I went back to the computer and coded away until nearly 1:00am before joining her.

Golf at Superstition Springs GC

Sue did a few loads of laundry today after breakfast. I spent an hour or two replacing all the FAKE text and google images with the REAL info and photos on that website I worked on all yesterday. Sheesh. Why don’t they send me the info in the first place — it takes as long to do fake pages as it does to do real pages.

Don, Dave, and RudyI spent a few minutes at the driving range again, before coming home for a quick lunch. Then at 1:00 we picked up Dave and drove out to Power Road to the Superstition Springs Golf Course for our 2 o’clock tee time.

Don Hoeppner met us at the course. We teed off at 2 and played a bit of a slow round — waiting for the players ahead of us on every hole. None of us played particularly good, probably because it was hard to stay focussed when we had such long waits between shots. Sue had good drives and some good putts too. I actually parred a couple of holes on the back nine, but my putting continues to be my downfall.Dave, Sue, and Don

We finished a little after 6 o’clock, almost too dark to golf, really. Then we drove back to Gold Canyon, dropped Dave off at the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant while Sue and I went home to shower and change. We picked Dave up and went to the Driedgers’, where we joined Hans, Chris, and Marylou for supper. Lots of food, but most of it got eaten! We decided that all of us except Chris would take off bright and early tomorrow morning and go to the Waste Management Open Golf Championship in Scottsdale.

Sue and I got home at around 9:30. I wrote my journal and Sue read for a while. Then a bit of news on TV and off to bed.

Day 1 of the Phoenix Open

We got up at 7. Sue made scrambled eggs for breakfast. Then we were out the door and at the Driedger house by shortly after 8 to pick up Dave and Marylou and Hans. Off to the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale.

The drive up to Scottsdale was no problem, but things slowed down a bit once we turned off the freeway and made our way to the parking lots. S – L – O – W. We parked the van and decided to leave our jackets in behind — although it was cloudy and not hot, the day was supposed to be warm and no rain. Not so for tomorrow and Saturday — the forecast is for rain. So today was THE day to go watch the golfers. And we were not the only ones who were thinking along those lines. No, the LINES of people waiting to get onto one of the many free shuttle buses that would take us to the gates at the golf course were very long, and getting longer. We were given clear plastic bags to put our stuff into as we went through the security check stop. In fact, no cameras, no backpacks, no firearms were allowed in so we had to leave that behind in the van.

The bus driver needed a little navigational help from the passengers to get us to the gates, which were about a mile straight west of the parking lot. (I guess the organizers had to scramble a bit to find drivers and other services for the expected record-breaking crowd at this event.) Once we got there we quickly bought our entry tickets ($30 each), walked through the big tent of souvenir shops and golf merchandise, and there we were at the 18th hole. We agreed to meet back there at 3:30 and then we were off.

Sue and I ended up going past the big noisy ‘arena’ that is the famous 16th hole (no chance of getting into there — the balconies were already full (and boisterous), and the long line-ups to get in seemed to be not moving at all. We ended up on a grassy knoll from where we could see holes 6, 7, 8, and 12. We were too late to see Mickelson who had teed off at 8, but we DID see lots of big-name golfers, including Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson. Tiger was already at +3 by the time he putted out on hole #6, but there was an enormous crowd following him around the course. By the time he got to the 10th hole, which finished just below the giant stadium around the 16th, crowds were so thick that it was actually hot! People were fanning themselves with their programs. The poor old guys whose job it was to hold up the ‘QUIET’ signs when the golfers were putting or teeing off looked hopelessly ridiculous. There was no ‘quiet’ on this golf course! The only places where it wasn’t crowded on the course were downwind from those big fat cigar smokers with their big fat cigars. This was more of an ‘event’ than a ‘golf’ tournament. It was more about the ‘audience’ than about the golfers. And WE were part of the story — WE were part of the record-breaking 118,461 attendees.

We met back at the 18th hole at 3:30 and decided to avoid the long lineups for shuttle buses and WALK back to the parking lot. We got into the van and wound our way back onto the freeway, joining the parade of cars crawling south on the 202. There had been a few very light sprinkles of rain in the afternoon, but not enough to dampen our spirits or our programs. Now, as I did my best to finagle my way into the far left ‘HOV’ lane, the rain started to come down more seriously. Good timing. We made the right call.

We got back to Gold Canyon at around 5:30 — not too bad. We dropped off Hans and the Driedgers and went home. Sue made supper. I switched on the Golf Channel and watched highlights of the day. Alex and Max skyped with us for a bit. After supper Sue and I watched a few more episodes of ‘Suits’ before going to bed.

Downpour in the Desert

It rained today. It rained all day, and it rained hard. Maybe a record rainfall. The dry gully across the street is now a lake. My putting green is a quarter under water. We turned on the Golf Channel just to see if the Phoenix Open was even on today — yep, those guys are playing in the rain. Well, as it turned out, not ALL the guys were playing — Tiger had his worst score EVER today, shooting an 82! That had the commentators talking all day.

Sue went grocery shopping in the morning — to Bashas and the Fruit Market. I tried sorting out our photos from our Danube cycling trip — Sue is on my case to put them online for posterity. I got a bit distracted when I started looking for downloadable movies that are still on our Oscar list.

Sue came home and put away a van full of groceries. Then, after lunch, we watched the first of 3 movies today, all with subtitles. First we saw Ida, a Polish movie nominated for Best Foreign Film and Cinematography. It’s a black and white movie, quiet, no shooting, about a Jewish nun. Pretty good. After the movie we switched back to the Golf Channel to see all the news about Tiger’s debacle, and even Mickelson missed the cut.

Sue made a fantastic curry dish for supper while we watched the news. Then we watched “Two Days, One Night”, a Belgian-Italian-French film starring Marion Cotillard, who is nominated for Best Actress. It’s a good performance, but I can see why it wouldn’t be a big hit in theatres — it’s another slow drama with subtitles. We followed that up with the movie “Tangerines” from Estonia, also nominated for Best Foreign Film. It’s in Russian, so once again we were reading along with the dialogue. But it was a good story and we had no trouble staying awake for it (especially once Sue made popcorn and later coffee and ice cream for us to enjoy during the movie).

At ten o’clock we watched the news. The rain had stopped, at least for now. Sue’s iPad says a 60% chance of rain tomorrow.

Saturday Matinee

Saturday. Cloudy and looks like more rain. Coffee and bacon and eggs for breakfast. Sue wanted to finish her book today. I wanted to go to the driving range. Neither of us managed to attain our goals.

I worked on trying to build a dynamic photo gallery and having PHP extract the geo EXIF data from the file so I could plot the photo on a map. I didn’t finish that project either, but I had fun trying. That is, AFTER I thought I’d fried my drive and would need to buy another one — but I was able to restore to a previous backup and (so far) I’ve not had an issue since.

After lunch the Bishops stopped by — they are leaving for home two weeks ahead of schedule due to a grandmother’s illness. So I guess the car will be back in our garage. We watched a bit of the Phoenix Open on TV before heading out to the Superstition Mall to catch a movie at the ‘cheap’ theatre. “Nightcrawler”, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is nominated for Best Original Screenplay. It was enjoyable — funny and violent in a ‘Coen brothers’ kind of way.

We came home and Sue made supper. Then we watched “Virunga” on Netflix. It’s about the efforts to protect mountain gorillas in Eastern Congo, and is nominated for Best Documentary. We were going to go to bed after the movie, but I clicked on another Netflix ‘suggestion’ and we ended up watching another documentary — “Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father” — about a child custody battle in Newfoundland that was won by the father’s ex-girlfriend and accused killer. It was heart-breaking and very well made. And so it was midnight when the timer on the dishwasher finally kicked in and I shut down.