A day with Jim and Bonny

Well at least it wasn’t raining when we got up this morning. In fact, the sun was shining through the clouds. And while it certainly wasn’t warm outside, it wasn’t as cold as yesterday either.

We had breakfast with Jim and Bonny and discussed options for the day. We’d pretty much decided on a hike in the Boyce Thompson park but when Jim and I drove to Bashas to pick up bread and sandwich meat and saw the L-O-N-G lineup of busses heading east on the 60 — well, we changed our mind. Why sit in bumper to bumper traffic when we can just go for a little hike up Silly Mountain right here. So that’s what we did.

As long as the clouds didn’t hide the sun it was nice and warm outside. We made a quick circuit on our little ‘silly’ hill and then went back home for lunch. Sue was feeling really crappy (literally) and so she went for a nap after lunch. The rest of us sat around, eventually finding a spot in the sun in our backyard. We were going to go out for supper, but because Sue didn’t really feel well and not at all hungry, we decided to go pick something up and have supper here at the house. We were watching curling on TV and when that was over we changed our mind once again — Jim and Bonny and I would go across the road to the Hitching Post for supper while Sue would stay back and have another snooze. So that’s what we did.

Jim and Bonny had a chance to enjoy the fine ‘live’ entertainment offered nightly at the Hitching Post — a ‘real’ taste of life in Gold Canyon. When we’d finished our meal and the singer was finished singing along with Side A of his karaoke tape we headed back to our house (well, by ‘we’ I mean Jim, Bonny, and I — not the ‘singer’). We watched some more curling and at some point Sue came back out from her hibernation and joined us. Around 10:30 that was done and now the rest of us did like Sue and went to bed.

Goodbye, Farewell, Auf wiedersehen, Adieu

And just like that, it’s time to say goodbye. We’re about to be abandoned here in G.C.

I got up and made a coffee. JP was up for a while already. I poured my coffee into my handy travel mug and Jim and I took his Honda out to the car wash across the road for a rinse before breakfast. Breakfast for me, not for JP. Jim and Bonny left us this morning at 9:30. They were heading out to the Good Wife Trailer Park to go for breakfast with half the Grace Church from Steinbach (they’ll see the other half when they get to Palm Springs later this afternoon). Sue, who had a better night than last night but was still a little nervous about eating, cut up some fruit and made toast.

I listened to some music and Sue read. I was going to work on sorting out our Danube photos but then I got another idea. The sun was shining and the forecast was for slightly warmer temperatures. I hadn’t golfed since last Saturday — not even gone to the driving range. I sent Ed Peters a text asking if he was golfing today. Yep. Ed called the Gold Canyon golf course and changed his tee time to 12:15 for the two of us. So I aborted my plans and hurried out to the course. Sue was happy to stay home and play with her iPad and recuperate.

I had a hotdog at the course and took a few swings on the driving range — and then we were off. Sidewinder course. Just the two of us. We’ll hit from the blue tees. We had to wait a few minutes for the group ahead, but overall, the pace of play was today was right on. Unfortunately for me, the 4 or 5 long straight drives I took on the driving range did NOT translate to good shots on the course (but what else is new!). Ed had golfed this course yesterday as well, but today would be his last round until sometime this spring or summer back in Manitoba — he and Val are leaving Gold Canyon tomorrow.

Ed at SidewinderWe had some good shots and some not as good. The temperature seemed to get warmer in the late afternoon; at least the cool wind let up a bit. The dreaded Hole #15 (which ‘features’ water with ‘ball magnets’ in it) once again reared its ugly head at me, and on the final hole I had to invoke the mercy rule (not marking more than a ’10’). But it will take more than that for Sidewinder to ‘beat me’ — I’ll be back.

When I got home from golfing Sue was skyping with Max. Ed Peters brought a ‘care package’ of assorted leftover libations to our place and said goodbye. And then it was time for Sue and me to get back into our routine. I queued up a few episodes of ‘Suits’ while Sue warmed up supper. We took our positions in front of the TV and watched a few episodes of Suits until 10 o’clock. Then we switched to PBS for a pretty good musical special and at eleven it was time for the CBC National. And that was it for Wednesday, March 4, here in Gold Canyon.

Thursday: Busy doing nothing.

After breakfast my financial advisor had me do a bit of housekeeping with our banking. And since it seems that I’m also in charge of remembering all the usernames and passwords for the online banking sites she sometimes likes to visit, I spent quite some time reorganizing the bookmarks on her iPad browser and resetting various passwords. So that basically shot the morning.

After lunch I took the van into Apache Junction for service. I had to get rid of that ‘Service Engine’ warning light. I noticed that there was a big strip of goop on the windshield, and some eggshell next to the van — either someone is trying to send us a message or one of those excited birds lost part of her load as she flew over our driveway. In any case, it was time to take the van to the carwash. Twice. The first time through didn’t wash the baked-on egg off the van. Neither did the second go round. So, after hitting a thousand balls at the driving range I parked on the driveway, got a big pail of warm soapy water, and ‘scoured’ that crap off the windshield and the top of the van.

So it took no time at all to have wasted away a whole day and read NOT ONE WORD in the big book I’m reading or CAPTION ONE PHOTO in my Danube photos project. Good thing I’m retired and have all the time in the world.

Sue got supper going (even though she’s not at all hungry — that flu bug isn’t quite done with her yet) and we watched a few more episodes of ‘Suits’. Quite a few more episodes. We took a break to watch the CBC News but then got right back to it. We’ve got 8 episodes left — and then we can switch to one of the other series on our list. It’s becoming quite clear that we will not finish all the books, tv shows, movies, golf games, hikes, excursions, etc that we thought we’d get to during this winter. Less than a month to go. Gotta get busy.

Not even a walk

Well, Sue is still on the road to recovery. She doesn’t feel like eating, she doesn’t trust herself to go for a ride, we don’t even go for a walk. It was a quiet Friday at home today.

I worked on some web stuff all morning. Sue copied all the numbers from our ‘budget’ app on our phone and ipad into her little scribbler and added things up with her calculator. Huh? That just hurts a computer guy like me to see that. After lunch Sue went to sit at the pool and read. I forgot to mention that she finished reading her massive book yesterday — “The Time In Between” by Maria Duenas. So now she’s on to her next bookclub book. My big book sits here on the coffee table, undisturbed. I spent a couple of hours going through our Danube photos, deleting about a quarter of them. Then I went to the driving range and hit balls for an hour. Wow, I’m sure getting a lot of distance on my drives — or maybe it was that huge tailwind I had today.

When we got home I made a couple of G&Ts and Sue cut up some sausage and cheese and we had happy hour while we watched a few episodes of ‘Suits’. Then at around 6pm the wind let up and we decided to go up our hill to watch the sunset. Good move.

Sue made a stir-fry for supper. No ‘Friday Night Pizza’ tonight — Sue took inventory of our fridge today. Holy cow! we have enough meat stockpiled in there to last us until mid-June! And no more visitors until we leave at the end of this month. We had a FaceTime call with the kids and a Skype call with the parents. At around 7:30 we were all settled back at our stations, ready for another marathon night of ‘Suits’. Oh, oh, what’s with that spinning beachball on our AppleTV? No internet. Shoot! Can’t watch ‘Suits’ tonight. Can’t even watch any of the queued up shows on “my list” on Netflix. Whoa! Can’t even check to see if anyone wants to be ‘friends’ with us on ‘our’ Facebook. What can we do? I unplugged all devices, restarted, and restarted again, all to no avail. Hmmm… I guess we’ll have to watch curling on TV. We did that for a while, finally switched to Anthony Bourdain on CNN. Sue took one of those Gravol pills and went to bed. I woke up on the couch at midnight and dragged my weary ass there too. All this doing nothing all day plumb tuckers a guy out.

Saturday’s Playlist

Saturday morning. Oh, all you faithful readers, you know what that means — bacon and eggs! Speaking of faithful readers, I can’t wait to stop writing this drivel! I started this when we first headed south, partly as a way to document what we are doing FOR OURSELVES and partly as a way to stay in touch with family. And I know that others are reading this, and sometimes it’s fun to write for that audience too. I also know that I need to do this every day, and that if I miss a day I will soon miss several days and then I’ll stop doing this altogether. (It’s a bit like my stint on the treadmill was — either do it daily or don’t even start.) But really! MOST of the time we don’t DO anything. Reading about how lazy we are, or how great the weather is, or how bad my golfing is, has got to be the most UNINTERESTING reading in the world! Pain and suffering makes for interesting reading; living the good life in a sunshiny country club does not.

Now that we are on our own here, I’m once again playing music from my humungous iTunes library all day every day. Today’s ‘genius playlist’ is based on Steve Earle’s “Remember Me”. What a great playlist! Speaking of Steve Earle, if you really want to read good writing, listen to Steve Earle’s music. He’s been in jail for heroin possession, and he just divorced his seventh wife. Hello! Talk about pain and suffering! And he’s got a new album out, Terrapin, and it’s a blues album, and it’s good. Steve Earle can tell a GREAT story in a 3-minute song.

While Sue read I worked on my computer. Sue was feeling a bit better today, although not a hundred percent yet. So for lunch she made noodle soup and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. That’s what we have when one of us feels poorly. Yum! almost makes you wanna be sick.

Sue at Mountain Brook GolfIt was HOT here today (oh boy, now he’s going to talk about the nice weather again!). I called Mountain Brook Golf Club and booked a 3:45 tee time — hoping it might have cooled off a bit by then. But it was still quite warm when we pulled into the parking lot. And as Sue went in to pay I put together our pull carts and loaded our clubs. Oh no! I forgot my driver and all my hybrids in the garage after my last visit to the driving range. What now? Okay, I’ll golf with what I’ve brought. So no nice long drives today, right? Wrong. I reverted to my old fairway wood and was pleasantly surprised when I smacked that ball almost as far as I can hit my driver. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that cool when I dinged the ball off the roof of a house on the eighth hole, but I quickly pounded a second ball straight down the fairway and was careful NOT to look at the homeowner as I made my way down to the green.

After golf we decided to (finally!) check out the Fairway Grille, out on Highway 60. We’d not been there yet this winter — and every time we go by the parking lot is packed. So we waited for a break in the parade of cars coming back from the Renaissance Festival just down the road and then crawled the quarter mile to the restaurant. Parking lot was full again. Upon entering the crowded restaurant we were immediately bathed in the overwhelming aroma of deep-fried everything. The restaurant reminded me of the Hitching Post and the smell reminded me of the good old Pioneer Inn in Steinbach. We got a table for two. All around us, enormous old people were overflowing their chairs while stuffing their faces with the broasted chicken and fried fish dinner special. We ordered a couple of draft beers. (I could go on about the joys of American “Lite” beer here, but this is already too long an entry.) I ordered the fish, Sue had sweet potato fries. The big fat guy sitting behind his laptop in the corner was entertaining the crowd by singing along with Waylon and Willie karaoke soundtracks. How is this considered ‘live’ music? At one point he was singing a chorus that sounded like “I don’t want to get older” — I was considering helping him achieve that! The highlight was when a drunk Mexican guy got up and started dancing along with the soundtrack for a couple of songs. While the huge people all around us were chomping on their greasy drumsticks and texting their grandchildren all about it, Sue picked at her fries. Not that good. Neither was the fish fry, but I gave it my best shot. When we were done we had to get out of that parking lot, back onto the 60, to get back home. I edged the van into the solid lanes of traffic kind of like how we crossed the motorcycle-clogged roads in Vietnam years ago — just close your eyes and start moving into the traffic and the sea of cars will part for you. Made it.

Back at home, we opened all the doors and cranked up the ceiling fan to help cool down the place (and to air out our greasy clothes). The internet was working again — and we made one more push to finish watching the final season of ‘Suits’. We didn’t quite finish — I think we have 3 episodes left. By eleven o’clock we were in bed. Thank goodness we won’t lose any sleep to Daylight Savings Time like people at home will — they don’t do that here in Arizona.

An extra hour?

Some of our electronic clocks automatically adjust the time. They needn’t have. There is no Daylight Savings Time in Arizona. So I actually had to put our alarm clock and the clock in the van into a different timezone today, just to make them show the correct time.

We had French toast today while we watched Fareed on CNN. We switched to golf on the Golf Channel after that. I went to the driving range for a while, and when I got home it was time for lunch. And then we headed into Mesa. First we went to Van’s Golf shop to look at putters. We looked, but didn’t buy. Then we went across Hwy #60 to the Superstition Springs Golf Club. We’d been there once before. This morning I got an email blast from them, advertising cheap golf, so I’d booked us a 3 o’clock tee time for $25 each. We got there a little early and were able to head to the first tee early, just the two of us. Cool! Well, actually we had to wait for the foursome ahead. At every hole. So we only got about 14 holes in before it got too dark to continue.

Rudy at Superstition Springs Golf CourseWe were on the ninth hole when my phone started buzzing. It was Alex and Max, FaceTiming us. Max got to see us golfing, and chasing some ducks and geese around on the course. That was great.

We stopped at a Fry’s grocery store to pick up bread and eggs before heading home. Lots of traffic on the #60 again — it had been a slow crawl out of Gold Canyon on the way TO the course, and there was a long stream of headlights coming from the Renaissance Festival again when we were on our way home. When we got home I barbecued a couple of cheeseburgers and Sue made a salad. We watched the last 2 episodes of “Suits” — at least THAT’S an accomplishment!

Well, that extra hour of sleep that we may or may not have had last night doesn’t mean we’re going to bed any later than usual today.

Watch This

After breakfast (scrambled eggs) we decided that today might be a day for a bike ride, but if so, we’d need get going either before or after the middle of the day — because the weather forecast was for HOT. Actually, that’s the forecast for the next couple of weeks.

Well, my calendar popped up with an alert that at 10am I should watch the Live Coverage from today’s Apple Event. So that’s what I did for 2 hours this morning. More details about the upcoming release of Apple Watch. Prices too. So really, not all that much ‘new’ — I’d seen most of the videos for the watch before. It’s highly unlikely I’ll ever get one of those watches — I don’t wear a watch (or a ring) and I’m not going to start now. Except you never know — it IS an Apple product…

After the Apple event I read my big book for an hour before lunch. After lunch I read some more. At around 3pm I went across the road to the driving range. When I got back at 4:30 we had ‘happy hour’ before going for a quick brisk walk just before sunset (when the temperature was beginning to cool down a bit).

I’d “discovered” this morning that actually there are SIXTEEN episodes of ‘Suits’ in Season 4 — so actually yesterday when we watched episode 10 it was NOT the last one. Oh, oh. So found and downloaded the final six in the series, and tonight we watched those. One before supper, and then a marathon of five 45-minute episodes tonight. We finally finished for real just before 11pm. Just enough time to watch a bit of the CBC News before going to bed.

A Royal Good Time at Queen Valley GC

weather forecast in gold canyonThe weather here is hot. And it’s going to be hot for the foreseeable future. So what are we going to do about it? We’ll do our ‘exercise’ activity BEFORE the hottest part of the day. (And I know the Steinbach forecast is for a high of 17 next Sunday — I just don’t think forecasts are any more useful — or accurate — than horoscopes.)

Sue cycling on Don Donnely in GCWe went for our long talked-about bike ride 9:30ish. First, a LONG stop at the Wells-Fargo bank where Sue put in more money (what else is new?). Then ‘our loop’, with a ride past our old haunts at Las Animas Trail — yep, the big red truck is on the driveway at Jill’s house — whew! at least they’re using their house — makes us feel a bit better. We cycled around 30kms and came home just in time for lunch. Well, just in time for ‘MY’ lunch — Sue thought we should wait a bit until she was hungry too.

I called Mountain Brook to see if I could get a tee time — not today, how about tomorrow at 3:45? Okay, book it. I was waiting for Sue to finish her second load of laundry so I started up the Netflix — and began watching this cool documentary about the singer Paul Williams. Wow! It’s a pretty good movie! (I sang a Paul Williams song to Sue at our wedding — and I remember buying his albums and seeing him on TV — and in the movie “Phantom of the Paradise”) and it even has stuff about WINNIPEG in it (see the first 5 minutes of the documentary just to check that out — it’s called “Paul Williams Still Alive”). Well, anyway, we watched about half of it and then I got this idea that we shouldn’t be sitting around inside all day, and why don’t we go check out a couple of golf courses with the word ‘Queen’ in the name. So that’s what we did.

We got into the bake-oven that is our van sitting on our driving, and headed down to Queen Valley Golf Course. It’s about 35 minutes southeast of our place. We pulled into the parking lot — all full — and went into the clubhouse. Any chance the two of us can golf here this aft? Nope, all booked. How much would it cost to golf here? $38 each, but you need to call ahead. Well, actually, we’ve golfed here a few years ago — the front nine is outright DANGEROUS, with fairways lined up parallel to each other — you can get your teeth knocked out by golfers on the next hole! Okay, we’re outta here.

I punched in ‘Golf Courses -> Queen’ into our Honda GPS. Queen Creek Golf Course is 35 minutes from here. Let’s go check it out.

Which we did. And the nice man in the clubhouse didn’t laugh us back into our car. I’ll book the two of you at the 3:30 price, but you can get on right after these women who are lined up at the first tee. Cool! Well, let’s have a cool Amber Bock draft while we wait for the tee.

Sue at the tees at Queen Creek GCWe get paired up with Paul, a single guy who is walking with a pull-cart. And we stand at the first tee and wait for the group ahead. And wait. And wait. And then we see a cart and golfer coming down TOWARDS us on the first fairway — he’s missed the ninth fairway and is playing AT us on the first. He lines up his shot. He swings. Sue, who is standing on the tee, squints into the sun to see if she can see his ball coming in our direction. She can’t see it. The guy we’re golfing with throws his golf ball so it lands right at Sue’s feet. She JUMPS! Hey, that guy almost hit me! She’s pissed off! Paul and I are killing ourselves laughing. All good.

Sue and Rudy selfie at Queen Creek Golf ClubWell, not ALL good. We wait FOREVER at the second tee. These ladies in the groups ahead of us are TERRIBLE and S – L – O – W. Sue is getting very upset. We should go ask for our money back! Calm down. It’ll be alright. But we are NOT really golfing — after one hour we are still waiting at the second tee! But once we get moving things seem to be going a bit better. The course has no bunkers, but quite a lot of water. And those water magnets get me at the second hole. Finally, after we’ve played the first five holes, the course marshall comes around and invites us to follow her to the 10th tee — we’ll play the back nine first and not have to wait at every hole. Which we do.

Sue on the fairway at Queen Creek Golf CourseAnd that makes all the difference! Now we’re golfing! Hardly any wait for the next hour and a half! Not only that, I’m hitting the ball well — nearly 300 yards on one par 5 hole — and I finish the back nine with a couple of birdies and a score of 40. Yes! We’ll come back here again.

We went home and had happy hour while Sue prepared supper. I barbecued chicken to go with the scalloped potatoes, corn, and brussel sprouts Sue made. What a nice evening tonight! Looks like all our neighbours are barbecuing in their backyards too.

After supper we finished the Netflix movie about Paul Williams that we started before we went golfing. Good show! And we followed that up with another documentary about a washed-up musician from the eighties: Harry Nilsson. That was okay too.

By now it was almost eleven o’clock — time to watch the Daily Show. And we’d better get to bed early — we have an early appointment with the dentist tomorrow.



All smiles in Gold Canyon

Whoa! we’re not used to this! The alarm woke me up this morning — seven o’clock — hurry, hurry, hurry. We’ve got dentist appointments today. Gotta be at the dentist by 8.

We cashed in on the “$39 New Patient Special” today. Dental checkup, including X-rays and cleaning. Right here in Gold Canyon. In fact, the dentist’s offices look out over the No.4 green at Mountain Brook Golf Course. So I watched the regular mens league guys (with their own private pimped-up golf carts — that’s how I knew they were regulars) putt while I waited for the bad news from the dentist. More caps, more fillings for Sue. Well, SOMEONE has to pay for all those photography, hunting, and fishing trips to Northern Manitoba that are pictured on all the walls in the office! In fact, Mr Dentist spent more time showing me maps and photos from his trip to the Northwest Territories on his big Samsung phone than he did looking at my crooked teeth.

Rudy reading his big bookAfter all the hubbub and rushing to get TO the dentist, we had a LONG morning to ourselves. Time to sit on that nice patio furniture and read a bit. And then lunch, also on the patio. More reading. Cloudy but quite warm here today. Sue kept warning that it would be too hot to walk nine holes on the golf course this afternoon. I kept reassuring her that we’d be okay.

At 3:30 we headed back to Mountain Brook. We checked in, and went to putt for a while until we were called to the tee. Kaboom! I blasted my first shot 30 yards past the 150 marker. Kaboom! Pitching wedge to within a few feet of the pin. Settled for a par. (Don’t worry, I won’t describe EVERY shot I took.)

We had to wait for the groups ahead of us for a long time at each hole — too long. So after Sue parred the second hole and the line-up at Hole 3 looked too long for a couple of golfers eager to play through, I called the pro shop. I explained to Kurt that there was no one on the eighth green and no one on the ninth hole — could we jump to number nine? “Have at ‘er,” he says. Nice.

Sue on the 16th greenWe both played well. From the ninth green we wheeled our pull carts across the road to the tenth tees. No one ahead, no one behind us. A beautiful afternoon for golf. We finally caught up with a group on the 14th hole. But we managed to finish before 6:30 — still plenty of light to see the ball — well, the way I was blasting my drives I could only guess at the last 100 yards of ball flight, but since they were all going long and straight… (Insert “Eigenlob stinkt” comment from my mom and dad here.)

How do you top something like that? Well, you barbecue hotdogs! After supper I watched the CBC National while Sue cleaned up the kitchen. Then we watched some more Netflix documentaries. First, “The Overnighters”, a long and depressing story of a Lutheran pastor who helps provide shelter to the hundreds (thousands?) of drifters who come to Williston, in western North Dakota, looking for work in the oil boom. Sue and I had driven through this area a couple of years ago on our way back from Palm Desert.

I skimmed through a couple of scenes from that Muscle Shoals movie for Sue — she’d not watched it yet. So that was at least a little uplifting. We started watching another documentary about a musician, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, but put that on pause when we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore, around midnight. We’ll continue tomorrow.

We Zooma through Yuma

Milky Way Dairy 'Farm'
Milky Way Dairy ‘Farm’

We woke up early again today. No plans. A ‘day off’. What should we do? Maybe we should take a drive to Yuma. It’s supposed to be hot, but cloudy — might be a good day to drive. Okay, let’s do that. Sue suggests that we be gone by 9am.

And so the day begins. I quickly shower, put on one of my golf shirts, throw my golf shoes into the van with our clubs. Maybe we’ll find a nice golf course in Yuma and get a bit of golf in. I also look up the address for that humungous feedlot in Maricopa, and the “Milky Way” dairy operation that my friend Ed Peters said was even bigger than the big feedlot.

Another view of the "Milky Way" dairy lot
Another view of the “Milky Way” dairy lot

We drive down to Maricopa first. We can smell the dairy farm long before we see it, thanks to a strong west wind. Of course, we can’t really drive IN to the farm — so we stop on the road and I try to take a couple of photos. The photos don’t really put the size of this operation into perspective.

We continued our drive to the southwest corner of Arizona. We passed acres of solar mirrors at Gina Bend. Around 2000 acres! Sue grabbed the camera to take a photo. Click, click, click, click. Stop it! One photo is enough. I’ll have to delete about 20 of those…

I kept ‘the best’ photos — you may be able to make out the solar farm in one of those photos. I’m not sure how many pictures of the armrest and Sue’s right knee I need to keep.

As we neared our destination, signs for services appeared along the road. It was 12 noon, time for lunch. Hey, how about we stop at McDonalds and make this into a ‘real’ road trip? Oh no, we should go to one of the golf courses Sue listed on her notepaper and eat at the clubhouse. Okay. So it was probably 12:45 when we stopped at the first course on our way into Zuma. Apparently it was a course designed by Arnold Palmer. Really? We park in the parking lot. There are golf carts lined up waiting for golfers. The clubhouse has a few people sitting at tables. I check with the pro behind the counter. Yes, you can golf here. How about at 1:30? $35 for 18 holes, $25 for 9. Well, how about that? I’ll check with Sue when she gets back from using the washroom. Sue says we should eat first.

When the lady working in the ‘kitchen’ makes her appearance, Sue asks if they have anything to eat. Well, we have hotdogs or I can make you a sandwich. Rudy: I’ll have a hotdog and one of those Amber Bocks on tap. Sue, who is becoming a bit of a food snob and will not eat ‘processed’ pig parts, doesn’t want a sandwich now either, and opts for a more ‘healthy’ choice. We sit down at one of the tables and eat our lunch. Sue explains to me what the purpose of this trip is. We didn’t come here to golf! We want to get an ‘overview’ of Yuma — go to all the golf courses, get a scorecard from each, maybe look at holes one and eighteen, just to get an impression. No golf. I finish my hotdog. Sue’s finished her Snickers bar. On our way out Sue stops to talk to the golf pro to find out where we might find other courses. And she picks up a scorecard.

And so we’re right back in the van. Driving into Yuma. Hundreds upon hundreds of RV and Trailer parks, separated by the occasional RV parts store. Oh, and big baptist mega-churches and Navajo casinos — and it’s not always easy to tell the two apart. Our GPS leads us from one golf course to the next. At each one Sue goes in for a scorecard while I look at the parking lot. The rates are very affordable, but the courses all look a bit tired. Few trees, fairways flat and boring, not very green. And all of them can get us a tee time ‘right now’! But we didn’t come here to golf.

We check off each course on our list (and one extra one, when the GPS leads us down almost into Mexico to a dilapidated nine-hole course) and then it’s time to head back home. We got what we came for. Yuma is one giant trailer park with about half a dozen ‘cheap’ golf courses!

It’s close to 6:30 by the time we stop at our corner Chinese restaurant, The Great Wall, to pick up the supper we ordered enroute. We ordered ‘extra spicy’ — and today it is EXTRA spicy. But good.

After supper we begin yet another of our TV series we have in ‘our list’ — the third season of “House of Cards” is now on Netflix. We begin watching Chapter One. It’s a little confusing — Sue notes that two of the characters in the show ‘died’ last season — what are they doing back in the show? Eventually we realize that we’re watching the ORIGINAL chapter 1 from Season One! Click, click, click, the remote. Back to the main menu. Select other seasons > Season 3. The first chapter is now Chapter 27. Okay, this makes more sense. We watch a couple of chapters and then Sue wants to switch to the “At Issue” panel on the CBC News. So that’s what we do.

After another “Daily Show”, Sue is off to bed. I’ll join her after I’ve written my journal.

On Friday We Go Golfing

Sue-at-Apache-Creek-3This morning we went for a long walk. We hadn’t done that for a while. We went to Mountain Brook Golf, and then did a little extra loop through the neighbourhood before coming back home for lunch. The drive to Yuma yesterday left my van window and grille full of dead bugs — so I cleaned that off (new trick: I used a wet Bounce dryer sheet to scrub off the bugs.) Sue went to the pool to read for an hour. I trimmed a few dead branches off the Bougainvillea plant in the front yard.

After lunch I went to the driving range for a bit of a warm-up. It still amazes me that everything goes far and straight at the driving range but not so when it really counts. When I got back it was time to head out to Apache Creek Golf Course for our 2:52 tee time. Another hot day today. We teed off right behind 4 old guys, and had no one behind us for most of the afternoon. In fact, the guys ahead let us play through on hole 11, probably because they were getting tired of hearing my drives bounce on the fairway not too far behind them. So of course I hit two tee shots off to the right, into the water, while the four of them watched. But we had a lovely afternoon, in spite of our poor scoring (101 for me, 104 for Sue).

Sue at The Ledge at Dinosaur Mountain
Sue wasn’t impressed when we had to wait quite a long time for our drinks to arrive

We went home, had a nice tall G&T to cool off, showered and changed. It was about 7:30 when we walked across the road to the Gold Canyon Golf Course for supper. We sat outside on the patio. The evening was still warm, especially when they lit the patio heaters and the big fireplace. We ordered drinks and shared a pizza.

Back home, we felt a bit of pressure to keep going on our “House of Cards” schedule. We watched 3 more episodes, although I only saw about one and a half. I’ll need to re-watch them tomorrow sometime. Too much fun for one day — Sue admitted that she too had drifted off for most of the last show. Off to bed.


It was another special day here in Gold Canyon — Pi Day! We started our day with some round eggs fried in a round pan. Of course, we added bacon, toast, and peanut butter to make it even better.

After breakfast we visited with Max and Alex via Facetime. They’re enjoying some REALLY nice weather in Steinbach. Well, so are we. Sue and I went for a walk after that. We got a little side-tracked because there were garage sales advertised in the Fairway Views development. It’s a gated community that is normally not accessible to non-residents, but today the gates were wide open. So we walked around the community, not looking at the garage sales, but sure looking at the properties. Very nice homes in there!

After we got back to the house Sue read and talked on the phone with Alex. When she got off the phone we had lunch outside in the back patio. It was getting pretty hot in the sun. I sat inside at my computer and downloaded a new album by Mark Knopfler and listened to that. Then I went to the driving range and smacked about an hour’s worth of balls with my fairway wood.

Meanwhile, Sue went to Bashas to pick up some groceries. Then she went for a haircut. When I got back from the driving range I showered and we had happy hour at around 5 o’clock. We watched another “House of Cards” episode before supper. Sue warmed up some spring rolls and the leftover Chinese from Thursday and once again we cleared out our sinuses with some ‘eksa spysee’ kung pao shrimp. After supper we were back to our “House of Cards” marathon.

Sue's got a pieWe took a little break from all the White House shenanigans with some PIE, in honor of Pi Day. Sue had picked up a nice peach pie at Bashas. Pi Day - with ice creamShe cut across the diameter of said pie, and then made plate-sized wedges by cutting from the center to the edge, creating a radius. We squared that radius and multiplied that by today’s date in order to accurately calculate how many scoops of vanilla ice cream we needed to make it a SUPER dessert. And then we ate it. Happy Pi Day.

The Ides of March

Beware the Ides of March. So said the soothsayer to Julius Caesar on this day 2059 years ago today. Not a good day for JC.

Our Sunday morning routine is back on track. We watched the CBS Sunday Morning show and had french toast with fruit for breakfast. We even watched Fareed — who had a special on futuristic endeavours in science and technology. So it was a lazy morning here, just the way I like it. We had the Valspar golf tournament (which we went to watch live last year when we were in Florida) on TV. We had a late lunch. After lunch we skyped with Tim and Carmen. At 2 o’clock we were out the door, heading to the Painted Mountain Golf Course.

Hole #1 at Painted MountainWe were early for our tee time — the traffic on the #60 was no issue today! — so we chipped and putted for a while. We could have started earlier, but they were out of carts! When enough carts had come in we were off. We were paired with an older couple, but the lady claimed that she was just learning how to golf and would just as soon let us play ahead, so we were off as a twosome. We’d played this course once before. The first hole is a par 5 dogleg right, with water along the right side. Last time my first shot went into the water, and my second shot went into a bunker on the left. I think both Sue and I had a TEN  on that hole last time. Today we both shot our tee shots toward the bunker, and then had some good shots down the fairway. First hole, first par!

Ah, but golf isn’t that easy. For all the putting practice I’d had before the game, I still can’t sink a 3-foot putt when it counts. So at the end of nine holes, in spite of 3 pars and 3 birdies, I was 10 over par.

The threesome ahead of us lost a player at the turn, and the couple invited us to join them on the back nine. They were very good golfers, originally from Minnesota, now living in Watertown, SD. I played the back nine from the blue tees with Ron; Sue and Sharon played from the reds. I think our level of play improved too. But we ran out of daylight, and did not play the last two holes.

Ron and Sharon invited us to join them for a beer after the game. We sat on the outdoor patio at the clubhouse and had supper together. Some interesting talk — Ron is an enthusiastic hunter and fisher. He’s fished in Grand Rapids, Manitoba every year for the last 35 years. He also has an amazing collection of African trophies hanging in his ‘Africa’ room from his four years of going to hunt there.

When we got home it was around 9. We were going to finish watching “House of Cards” tonight — but I couldn’t find episode 40. I was sure we had 8 shows left, but after a bit of investigation I discovered that there are 13 episodes each season, and we had in fact watched to the end of Season 3 last night! Yikes! So now we have to wait until next year to find out what happens next.

So we watched a bit of a TV special about the tsunami of 2004. Then at around 10pm we watched “Labor Day”, a movie on Netflix. It was around midnight when we finally went to bed. We not only survived the Ides of March this year — we’d had a GREAT day.

Things are heating up…

Literally. It’s too hot to go for a bike ride. It’s too hot to go for a hike up Silly Mountain. It’s too hot to walk nine holes at Mountain Brook. It’s too hot to sit at the pool and read (okay, I wouldn’t do that anyway).

After breakfast we went for a walk in the morning, along the #60 and back through Mountain Brook. When we got back I was starving. I made myself a HUGE vegetable platter and washed that down with a cold IPA, while Sue was on the phone with Angie.

Sue doing a crosswordIn the afternoon I stayed inside. Sue read and worked on a crossword puzzle outside for a bit, but then came in and joined me in front of the TV. And we (finally!) turned on the AC. We watched an episode of Frontline, and then started watching the 8-part series we’ve seen pieces of on CBC, “The Honorable Woman”. In between episodes we had a lovely salmon and rice supper and we skyped with Max.

The weather forecast says it’s going to continue to be hot like this for the foreseeable future. I guess we shouldn’t complain; in two weeks we’re heading back to the Great White North.

Gold Canyon Turns Green

Happy St Patty’s Day. Another hot one here in Gold Canyon; at least the desert vegetation is ‘playing the game’ and wearing the right color for this holiday. We’ve NEVER seen it so lush and green and blooming and alive.

Sue on her bicycle We got on our bicycles this morning at around 9 o’clock — hoping to get at least 20kms in before it got too hot to ride. All along our ‘loop’, I couldn’t help but notice how green everything is. And I don’t mean only the blooming desert — no, even the walkers and cyclists and golfers were all wearing green today. We almost had to stop at the bridge overlooking holes 3, 4, and 5 on Sidewinder to watch green golfers making putts on green greens.

When we got back to the house Sue headed out to the pool for an hour of reading before lunch. I took a look at a couple of posts I made here exactly 3 years ago. Wow! what a boring life we live! It’s almost creepy how similar things were here in 2012 (and at home — the temperature in Steinbach for March 17, 2012 was 17 degrees!). (Here’s what we did March 14 (Pi Day), 15 (Ides of March), 17 (St. Patrick’s Day) — but NOT 18! in 2012).

Rudy golfingAfter lunch I took the leaf-blower to our putting green. We both showered and got into our finest GREEN clothes. A few clouds rolled across the sky. We decided to high-tail it out to Apache Creek for some cheap golf (and a cart to ride in so we’d be in the shade).

We got there just before 3pm. No, they would not guarantee that we’d get in 18 holes; we’d have to have the cart back by 6:30. No problem. We’ll see how far we get.

We won’t get very far if that first hole is any indication: two shots into the water! I marked down a NINE. But I parred the next hole. And the scattered clouds kept the heat manageable. We watched the pair ahead of us — grandpa and his young grand-daughter, who only hit the ball a few times, despite at least a hundred swings at it.

The back nine was better than the front; the young lady had plum-tuckered herself out swinging that club. A cool Amber Bock helped quench our thirst. And we started to hit the ball better too.

We caught up with an annoying foursome ahead and things slowed down a bit again. But the sun setting and coloring Superstition Mountain as it went down made the waits at each tee box okay. And we actually finished 18 holes, although the last chip shot was onto a green where the flag had already been taken away. I finished with 3 pars and 9 bogeys — not a great score, but a work in progress.

After throwing our clubs back into the van, we zipped over to the In-N-Out Burger on Signal Butte. Is this St Patty’s Day turning into a ‘red-letter’ day, or what? Yum!

Back at the ranch a little after eight. We check our email and then back in front of the TV. We finished watching the last 3 episodes of “The Honorable Woman”. Good show. No problem staying awake today! It’s almost midnight and we’re both still awake. Now if only I had a cold Guinness in the fridge, I’d drink one more toast to St. Patrick. Until next year…

The Circle of Life

Dead BunnyWhat a shock when we opened the blinds to our patio this morning! Oh, oh, I hope they don’t cancel Easter because of this — there on our putting green was what little was left of the Easter bunny. Maybe that explains the commotion I thought I heard last night when I went to bed. After I made Sue and me a good cup of coffee, I sat down and considered my options. I had to clean up that mess. My first thought was to spray the remains with some of Sue’s hair spray. (It claims to restore life to dead hair.) But all that was left for us to work with were a couple of ears, two little legs, a clump of bloody intestines, and what looked like the brain. By the time we’d eaten breakfast part of the clean-up was done for me: a bird had made off with the brain, and a cat (a cat? where did she come from?) ambled across the yard, stopping to pick at the bunny guts. I put the rest in a plastic bag and threw it in the trash bin.

Cloudy and a bit cooler today — that was good for a hike up and down Silly Mountain. Wow, it’s just SO green and colorful! We don’t recall it ever looking so alive.

When we got home it was time for lunch. Watched “Holmes on Homes” while we ate our sandwich and oatmeal today — that was our routine in November and December, and it felt like ‘old times’.

After lunch Sue went to sit at the pool and read. I watched another home renovation project on TV, did a bit of work on the computer, and went to the driving range. The wind was picking up, and there was the odd raindrop. Cool. Great for me — and great for the few golfers who were enjoying no wait times at each tee.

Back at home, Sue was reading. We had happy hour and watched some of the Arnold Palmer specials on TV. Then we barbecued pork tenderloin for supper. By now there was a very gentle rain outside.

After supper we watched TV — some news, a special celebrating the 50th anniversary of the movie “The Sound of Music”, and then switched to a couple of Netflix movies. We started, but did not finish, the movie “Frank”; then we watched “Thanks for Sharing”. A little pie and ice cream for snack. The end of (another) perfect day in paradise.

Walking the Front Nine

Made some nice coffees again this morning. I got the new Van Morrison (Duets) album and we listened to that on our ‘stereo’. After breakfast Sue and I went for a long walk. I mean L-O-N-G. Through some of the neighbourhoods out behind our place where we’ve rarely, if ever, been before. We got back to the house at noon — just in time for lunch.

Sue read outside for a while, then came inside because “it’s too hot in the sun and too cool in the shade.” Day one of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament in Florida was on the Golf Channel all afternoon. At around 2pm I went to the driving range again. I had a great time. I used to hate the driving range; thought it was a complete waste of time. Now I can easily spend an hour and even two hours there — just hitting the ball. I could have hit my driver all afternoon, but I also worked on my #4 hybrid, and it felt like I made some progress there. Then I went to the chipping green and practiced short shots with my lob wedge. When I got back to the house Sue was sitting there, all ready to go. Yikes! I’m almost late!

We got to Mountain Brook, hoping we might once again get to play the back nine. No, not today. The course is too busy. Okay, we’ll just play the front nine then. There were two ladies ahead — they were okay golfers, but they had to wait for the foursome ahead of them. So we waited at most tees. And we played ‘okay’ — but only ‘okay’. But we had fun. And the day was fantastic. We again had a little FaceTime call from Max while we were waiting to tee off at the fifth hole. Cool.

Back at home, we had a delicious supper after G&Ts on the patio (what else is new?). And at around 7:30 we were all set to see what’s on TV tonight. We started one of the movies on my Netflix list — but soon realized we’d seen that movie before. So we switched to one of the series on the list — “Hinterland”, an English mini-series. We watched the first of 4 parts. We need popcorn to help us stay awake for the 90 minutes. When the episode was over we switched to CBC The National and the At Issue panel. Tired, we went to bed.

Spring Is Here

It’s 8:30 and already we’ve had two exciting events today: garbage day, and scrambled eggs for breakfast! I turn on my computer and my handy-dandy calendar app tells me today is the first day of Spring! Well how about that? How shall we celebrate?

Sue had a bike ride on today’s activity list. So be it.

Before we left I scouted out route options on Google Maps. How about if we go up towards the Mining Camp Restaurant, near the entrance to the Lost Dutchman State Park? I figure it’s about a 16km trip each way. Okay, let’s do that.

I pumped up the front tires on both bikes and off we were. It was about 10:30 — if all goes according to plan we should be there in time for lunch!

View of Superstition Mountain
View of Superstition Mountain from one of our ‘dead ends’ on the trail

Well, that shortcut through the Silly Mountain parking lot was okay, but after about an hour of cycling we were stuck. Google Maps — on my CRACKED! iPhone screen — didn’t notice the two big cracks until this morning; that must have happened yesterday when I dropped it on the cart path at the golf course. Shoot! But I digress — says there’s a road where now we find a rough gravel driveway with lots of ‘No Trespassing’ signs posted all around it. We won’t be easily put off, especially when the sun is high in the sky, we’re hot and sweaty and thirsty, and there’s supposed to be a lunch just a few kilometers from where we are! We cycle back and forth, try various ‘dead ends’, end up CYCLING halfway up Superstition, only to have to turn around and come back down. Finally we flag down one of the few vehicles we meet on this gravel road and ask the old lady driver for directions. Oh no, that road that Google is showing us so clearly was shut down quite a few years ago, and she should know — she’s lived here for 43 years. She feels bad for us, but the only way to get to the restaurant is to cycle back a bit, and then a long way around on a TERRIBLE road, up to the highway, and then back down to the restaurant. Really? Do we want to do that? Or should we just cycle back home? Sue says we’ve already cycled 25 kms.

Sue on bicycle, cycling the gravel trailI make the call — we’re going to the Mining Camp Restaurant. So we do. And yes, that road really is TERRIBLE. Serious washboard, especially on the downhills, where our teeth do a drumroll. And then a kilometre on the highway — lots of traffic and the road has no shoulder and a chewed up edge that forces us to share the lane with motorhomes and over-sized 4×4 trucks towing trailers loaded with ATVs. Not fun. We arrive at the turnoff with only our nerves a little worse for wear. Another kilometre to the restaurant.

There’s hardly anyone at the restaurant. The large parking lot is empty. It’s dark inside, a couple of big rooms with long tables. It’s rustic. It smells like smoke. The posters on the wall advertise upcoming ‘tribute’ shows and ‘past-their-prime’ entertainers. Sue is NOT impressed.

Sue on her bike on the restaurant parking lotBut the local dark IPA was tasty and refreshing, and so was the pulled-pork sandwich and sweet potato fries lunch. And the soft booth bench was a welcome relief to our tired and ‘shook-up’ biking-butts.

But we were only halfway on our adventure — we still had a long ride back. We bypassed the washboard and took the slightly longer but quite-a-bit smoother road back to our house. It was 2:30 when we got home. Total trip: 46kms. Whew!

After a brief refreshment break and a shower, Sue went grocery shopping and picked up a couple of movies at Walgreens. We read until it was time for happy hour. Max skyped us with an update from the home front: he’s putting puzzles together faster than Oma Helga can find replacements from the Thrift Store. The sky here got REALLY dark, and thunder rolled for about an hour. Only a small series of showers, but we saw quite a few flashes of lightning and for a while there was a very cool rainbow over Superstition Mountain.

Since we’d had chips and salsa for happy hour we decided to defer supper until AFTER one of our movies. We watched “The Drop” first. Sue called in our pizza order to Rosati’s, the pizza place on Hwy 60. We’d actually NEVER ordered from there before, and this was likely our last time. After our movie I drove down there to pick up our order — and waited another 25 minutes for our little pizza.

After pizza I put in the other Redbox rental: St Vincent, with Bill Murray. Not bad. It was almost eleven by the time we were “movied out”. A bit of news and then to bed.


Saturday in GC

Bacon and eggs. Read the latest news on SteinbachOnline and the National Post. Read my ebook. Sue was on the phone for most of the morning. I went across the road to the driving range and worked on my hybrid 4. It’s coming.

After lunch I tuned in the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament on TV. And promptly fell asleep on the couch. I woke up at 2, just in time to hurry off to the golf course at Apache Creek. We have a 2:45 tee time. What if there’s lots of Renaissance Festival traffic…

Got there in time, no problem. We’re on right after the threesome that’s on the tee right now. Cool. Just the two of us. Not a lot of waiting at each tee. And I parred the 376-yard par 4 first hole, with a wicked drive that must have had a bit of help from the cart path and ended up about 50 yards short of the hole. Three pars on the front 9, and by the time we finished (which was about 6:35) I’d shot 3 pars on the front nine, and a final score of 93. Not great, but not bad — and lots of fun. Sue’s putting wasn’t quite what she’s used to, but she still shot a 102.

After golf we drove to the Gold Canyon Golf Resort for supper. Out on the patio. Sunset in the west. Lanterns lit, the big fireplace burning too. A beautiful Saturday here in Gold Canyon. We ordered one of those big salads and a fish and shrimp taco dish. Very nice.

We were back at the house by around 8. Another glass of wine, and some rice krispy squares, while we watched another episode of Hinterland on Netflix.

Sunday we WATCH golf

We woke up early today — just after 6. We started watching ‘our Sunday shows’ — Fareed and CBS Sunday Morning, etc. Suzette made crepes. We went for a walk to Walgreens to return the 2 DVDs that we forgot to return yesterday. It was 9am and already quite warm outside. When we got home I started watching the Arnold Palmer golf tournament on TV. We watched it right to the end — but because it was in Florida the time difference meant it was over by 2 o’clock our time.It was an exciting finish: Matt Every won it for the second straight year, making an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole to beat Henrik Stenson.

I was downloading another TV series and spent a bit of time ‘cleaning’ up my files for iTunes. I went to the driving range for an hour in the afternoon — not very many golfers there by 3 o’clock. When I got back we had a plate of crackers and cheese with our happy hour drinks. We started watching more of our queued up list of TV shows. We took a break to watch 60 Minutes. Sue made a delicious supper. More of our series, then at 9pm we switched to The National followed by the Fifth Estate. And THAT was our Sunday!

The Countdown Begins

It’s our last week here. You’d think that would mean we’d try to pack as much fun as possible into our remaining days. Not quite!

We went for a walk in the morning. After lunch we went into town, first to Van’s Golf shop to buy me a new putter (we’ll see if that makes any difference to my game), and then to the Santan Village Shopping Center. Sue bought a bunch of stuff. I did too. Mostly I ran around in the stores, looking for Sue. We really know better than to go shopping together, but every once in a while we need a little ‘refresher course’ just to get us back on track.

We barbecued cheeseburgers for supper and watched TV after that. No photos today. No lengthy play-by-play write-up about my golf game. But it’s snowing at home, and at least it’s NOT snowing here.

Golf Lessons, or rather, Lessons from Golf

Went for our daily walk in the morning — Sue stopped at ‘our bank’ to put in a few more of those lousy Canadian dollars so we can keep on buy things with our American debit card. It was quite warm even though it was still early morning, and when I suggested we check out a ‘shortcut’ from the road, going over Vista Point hill by way of a ‘path’ that soon disappeared and left us picking our way over cacti and prickly bushes up one side and down the other — well, that only got us ‘warmer’.

Sue was on the phone for part of the morning — and I took a few clubs, including my new putter, across the road to the driving range. Man, everything just plain ‘works’ at the driving range, and I just can’t wait to head out to the golf course and make every shot. So, after lunch we did just that. Back out to Apache Creek, where we got on the course at around 2:40 for the $29 twilight rate. We joined a single, a guy from here in Mesa who could really hit the ball and was playing from the black tees. We had to wait for the group ahead at every tee, but I guess that’s just ‘par for the course’ at this time of year. And although I was playing ‘okay’, it wasn’t quite the same as I had envisioned it earlier on the driving range. But, as I keep saying (especially when my score isn’t very good), we were having fun. I finished the front nine with a 47.

Sue at the golf cartAt the turn we were joined by one of the guys from the group behind us — the rest of his group had quit for the day. So now we were four. And we had a great time. This guy was from Alberta, had just retired and bought a home right here in Apache Junction, and really enjoyed playing golf. He maintained that although his game wasn’t what it used to be, in large part because of the damage years of playing almost pro hockey had done to his hips, he just loved to play golf. Over the years he’d been partnered up with many golfers and he had never met a golfer who wasn’t a good person. So here we were, golfing with one guy who was incredibly skilled at golf, and another who was an example of how to be gracious and positive even when the game wasn’t going that well. And, just because it is GOLF, I finished the back nine with an 8, a couple of 7s, and a final score of 99. BUT, I parred the final hole, and Sue shot a 43 on the back nine! And we had a marvellous afternoon. And we’ll go golfing again!

The sun was setting and we actually played the final two holes with the flags already taken away. We drove home and Sue got supper ready while I skyped with Ed P. After supper we were going to watch our shows, but got a little sidetracked by what was on TV. First, an ‘Independent Lens’ special on PBS, and then a CNN special. I guess all the sunshine and exercise caught up with me and I missed the conclusion of the CNN show. But I revived and watched a couple of late night talk shows over the noise of the dishwasher while I wrote my journal.

Getting bored in Gold Canyon

My mother sent us an email this morning, encouraging us to trade in our ‘boring’ life in Arizona for the exciting change of seasons in Manitoba. Boring? I must be giving the wrong impression. So, after a breakfast of scrambled eggs (what?!?) and toast and fruit, I asked Sue what we had planned for today. Anything fun? All she had in our schedule was a bike ride. Well, I guess that’s SOMETHING. But first, I checked my handy-dandy weather app on my phone just to see the forecast. And then, just for comparison sake, I checked the forecast for Steinbach.

Hmmm… Then I looked at SteinbachOnline.com to see how they were celebrating the first week of Spring. Oh boy!

Yikes! You’d need quite the sense of humour to think that’s ‘fun’. I’ll take our ‘boring’ life here any day.

Back to OUR bike ride:

By now we know that the desert is NOT just sand dunes and cacti, and so I took a few (what?!?) photos of some of the flora we see here in Gold Canyon. Wow! If you thought the desert is just brown and grey and hot and boring, take a look at these photos. Okay, if you’re too busy shovelling snow or waiting for the tow truck, you can come back to these later. Or maybe you’re so used to winter white-outs that all that colour is too hard on your eyes. If so, you don’t have to look at them all in one sitting — go and shovel for a while.

After lunch I posted the photos from our morning bike ride. Sue got out the chicken that we want to BBQ (NOT kidding!) for supper tonight. Then I went to the driving range to enjoy a bit of exercise in the sunshine. After I’d hit about a hundred good shots I decided I might as well take it to the golf course. I drove down to Mountain Brook and asked if I could walk 9 holes. Hmm… there’s a few groups ahead of you. Okay, how about the back nine? There’s no one on eight, no one on nine. Hmm… let me see. Sure! Go ahead. Yes!

my golf cart sitting at hole #16 at Mountain BrookSo I walked the back nine, all by myself. I even had to take my own photos! It was 3:45 when I started. No waiting. No one ahead. Also, no one to help me spot the ball — so I’d better hit it straight. Which I did. I played two balls, a yellow one for me, and a white one for Sue. And we both played very well. It was close all the way, but lucky for me the yellow ball won, beating white 45 to 48. I walked back to the van at 5:30. Still lots of daylight left.

When I got home Sue was sitting in the back, typing away on her little iPad. I made myself a G&T and tried hard not to give Sue the whole play-by-play of my golf game. Then it was time for supper. Sue had everything ready to go. I barbecued chicken breasts while Sue fried vegetables and cooked pasta. Yum. By 7 o’clock we were done — dishes cleaned up, ready for some TV.

If it’s Thursday, it must be Robert’s birthday

Yeah, that’s what popped up on my calendar this morning. Happy birthday, Robert. Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking, into the future…

After breakfast I worked on a web project for a bit. Then I went outside and weeded the yard. I booked a tee time for myself for the afternoon. Sue and I did a bit of personal hygiene — Sue now has stunning toenails and my facial hair is trimmed so I look neat and tidy.

Sue made a spectacular (the usual) lunch. I watched Holmes on Holmes ‘do it right’ to an old house on TV. Sue tied up the phone for most of the day, trying to get MTS to schedule reconnects at our house for when we get home in a week from today. Dealing with MTS — that is an opportunity to practice patience and grace.

Around 2:10 Sue woke me up — I’d had a little snooze while Mike Holmes had completely redone the electrical, plumbing, and heating system in some poor lady’s house! And now it was high time for me to get to my golf tee time at Apache Creek. Sue was going to stay home and clean out the kitchen cupboards while I went golfing ‘by myself’.

Mark and Lee from MinnesotaI got the course at about quarter to three. Went to putt a bit, but quickly joined a couple of ‘Minne-sodans’ who were set to tee off. Mark and Lee were both pretty good golfers. Lee teed off from the blue tees. Mark, who had had his knee replaced just before Christmas, joined me at the white tees.

Hole #1: I drive the ball straight and far (a good combination) but fail to capitalize and finish the hole with 3 putts — a six. Hole #2: Second shot into the bunker, from where I bash at it 3 times in a row before it finally jumps out onto the green — a seven. Hole #3: 3 putts for a seven. Hole #4: under bushes and over trees — a seven! At this rate I’ll shoot a 63 on the front nine!

Rudy at Apache CreekBut I bear down and get things under control. I finish the front nine with a par and a birdie, for a score of 47. Not good, but not horrible.

I improve on the back nine. I par the first two holes, bogey the next two. I finish the back nine with FIVE PARS! for a score of 41. Total score is 88! That’s GREAT for me! (Anytime I break a hundred is good for me.)

I’m home by 6:45. The sun is setting — it’s all pink and purple on Superstition Mountain. Sue is sitting outside on the patio, Skyping with Alex.

After (another super delicious!) supper, it’s time to watch a bit more TV — tonight we’ll make sure to watch the ‘At Issue’ panel on the CBC National. We’ve got to get all caught up for our imminent re-entry into the Canadian lifestyle.

Second Water Trail

Scrambled eggs for breakfast again! What have I been doing right?

Second Water Trail - 01Rick and Irene, our neighbours across the road, are leaving today. I said goodbye this morning and arranged to push their trash bin back to the garage after today. Then it was time to get our hiking boots on and head out for our morning’s adventure. One of the guys I golfed with yesterday mentioned an interesting hike he’d done in the morning, out in the Superstition Wilderness. I forgot the name of the trail he’d followed, but I looked some of the trails up online today and decided we’d tackle the Second Water Trail. It was rated as a ‘moderate’ 7.2 mile hike on one of the websites. That should be manageable.

Panorama of Second Water Trail

Weaver's Needle on the horizonWe drove out to just north of Lost Dutchman State Park entrance, and then followed a gravel road for about 2 and a half miles to a small parking lot at the First Water Trailhead. We parked the van, took a bottle of water and a walking stick, and set out on the trail. The trail started out quite wide and flat — an easy walk. But it soon got a bit more rugged as it narrowed and twisted its way across a wash and then up a short, rugged climb through a canyon that led into Garden Valley. The vegetation included teddy bear cholla, ocotillo and barrel cactus. Jumping Cholla in Rudy's legIn fact, I got a bit too close to those jumping cholla — and we had to stop for a while and carefully poke away at them with the walking stick to keep the needles from working their way deeper into my leg. But that’s about as exciting as it got on this walk — we saw birds, squirrels, gophers, and lots of lizards, but we did not see the coyotes or the rattlesnakes we were looking for. (Okay, we HEARD lots of rattlesnakes, but whenever we stopped to look for them in the bushes beside the trail all we saw were gophers and lizards.) We passed a couple of hikers, but otherwise were on our own all the way to the floor of Boulder Canyon. At points along the walk we saw the famous Four Peaks to the northeast, and Weaver’s Needle (we’d hiked the Peralta Trail with Dave and Marylou earlier this year, and got a better view of Weaver’s Needle on that hike) poking a hole in the horizon to the southeast.

It took us nearly 2 hours to hike the 6.4kms to the floor of Boulder Canyon. The trail was longer, more up-and-down, and narrower than we expected. The temperature was 32 degrees, but felt a bit cooler when we got a breeze near the top of the hills, and quite a bit hotter when we were down in the black rocks in the valleys. Our one bottle of water was nearly empty, and we had to climb back up the way we came! Maybe we’d bitten off more than we could handle?

Rudy at the sign at the end of the trailBut we made it. Fewer photo stops on the way back resulted in a 1.5 hour return hike to the parking lot. We were HOT, thirsty, and tired when we got into the bake oven that was our ride home.

Major rehydration and showers when we got home. Sue made lunch. We turned on the TV to the golf channel.

Sue read for a while. She did two loads of laundry and then cycled to the bank to close our account. So that’s the end of our debit card — it’ll be U.S. dollars for the rest of this ‘trip’. Meanwhile, I got my Oak Leaf hat on and drove the van to Mountain Brook. Gotta get another 9-holes in, even if my feet are killing me.

I’m on right away. Playing yellow ball vs white ball again. This is great! No waiting. It’s still mighty hot, but I can get used to this. My drives are mostly long and straight. If only my putting…

Rudy at the 8th tee at Mountain Brook Golf
Obligatory golf selfie on the 8th tee at Mountain Brook

By the time I’m at the ninth tee the new golf pro (Alex) has caught up with me. So now I get a ‘free’ playing lesson. We spend extra time on the tees, extra time in the bunker, extra balls on the fringe and on the green. Alex is very helpful (and he’s a great golfer — he shot par on the front nine, even as he was demonstrating how to draw and how to fade an iron shot!).

When I got home (my yellow ball shot a 41) Sue was sitting outside, having a glass of wine. Then we had a Facetime call with the kids — had to show Max how ‘Opa’ got attacked by another jumping cholla cactus! All good. We got Tim’s computer all fixed up, too.

Then it was time to head across the road to the Kokopelli Restaurant — it’s ‘Friday Night Pizza’ one last time on the patio. The sunset was almost done for the day — just a bit of orange and navy out in the west. But the blues guitarist was still playing, the bartender was still pouring, and the pizza was just what we needed after a long hot day of walking, walking walking. We were back at our stations in front of the TV by 8:45, tired and happy. Two days left here in paradise.

Last Round (@ Sidewinder)

Woke up at 6. Rolled out of bed at 7. Made coffee. Checked email. Read the news. Had bacon and eggs for breakfast.

Sue cleaned the fridge and started ‘organizing’ the kitchen, getting ready for Monday’s departure. I watched some golf on TV and fussed around the house. Then Suzy Homemaker started REALLY cleaning up — and I had no choice but to get caught up in the tornado. Cleaning bathrooms, cleaning outdoor furniture, disassembling bikes so they’re ready to load into the van, sorting through closets, cleaning up the garage. Whew! (What are we going to do tomorrow?)

After lunch we got ourselves ready for an afternoon of golf. We drove across the road to the Gold Canyon Resort — had a tee time for 1:36 at Sidewinder. As soon as I’d paid the starter offered that we could start right away — just the two of us. Well, now we didn’t even have any time on the driving range, but how could we say no. It looked like we’d have a great afternoon, the course to ourselves!

How wrong! The group ahead was slow because the group ahead of them was slow. The marshall came around and warned us: this would be a very long and frustrating afternoon. Oh no! Well, how bad could it be? The sun was shining, a gentle breeze was blowing, the scenery was spectacular. What’s to complain about?

But it got worse. A couple of times on the front nine the marshall came and offered that we might want to jump to hole 11 or 12 — because there were 5 groups, all of them incredibly slow, ahead of us. But we declined.

Suffice to say that today’s “game” took just over FIVE HOURS. And I won’t say what our score was because Sue said I didn’t have to. So I won’t.

Back at our house, we had our happy hour — chips and salsa, G&Ts — sat outside and looked at the sunset changing the color of Superstition Mountain. It almost took away the sting of today’s round. But not quite.

Wouldn’t you know it, our internet is down. Now what? The final few Netflix movies I had on “My List” will just stay there. I guess we could watch Curling, or an NHL hockey game, or worse, a ‘final four’ basketball game, or — hey isn’t that Lloyd Robertson? I thought he was dead! Is this an old W5 or is that show still being made? Let’s watch it.

Supper was a ‘concoction’ of leftover stuff from the fridge that Sue declared included wieners, although I was hard-pressed to find them in all those onions and peppers mixed in with the pork and beans… Really? Really?

We tuned in a replay of this afternoon’s golf tournament on TV. The fridge is more or less empty. The kitchen counters are lined up with jars and appliances that will need to find a place in the van for the ride home. It looks like we’re having an “estate sale” here. Sue and I took turns drifting off. At around 10:30 I had some chocolate pudding with ice cream. An hour later we’d decided that we’d pretended to be watching TV long enough — time for bed.

Last day in GC

French toast for breakfast. A long facetime call from Max — who wanted to see a cactus and hear about how I touched a pokey one. We watched our shows — CBS Sunday Morning, Fareed, and then switched to the Golf Channel for the final day of the Valero tournament from San Antonio.

Without much ado, we started packing and cleaning, big time. I took the bikes apart and started loading the van. Sue was packing kitchen stuff and clothing. We vacuumed. We dusted. We leaf-blowered the putting green. We swept out the garage. We took apart my computer corner and my TV sound system. We had lunch somewhere in there.

After the end of the golf tournament I decided to head on out to Mountain Brook Golf Course for one last walk around the front nine. And I did. Gregg was back behind the counter — we said goodbye. I kept thinking about what the other pro, Alex, had said to me a couple of days ago. Turn your hips, and you’ll get more distance. So that’s what I did. And it worked! I though I was hitting the ball well, but now I was getting another 10 or 20 yards out of my drives. I was on the par 4 greens with my second shot, and on the par 5s with my third. So that’s what I’ll take away from our winter of golfing in Gold Canyon: my drives are WAY better, my long irons are getting better, my short irons continue to work well for me, and my putting is WORSE THAN EVER! That’ll be my project this summer.

I got home from the course and Sue was all ready to finish packing the van. So now I could put MY clubs in there too, and a couple of crappy $5.00 pull carts and even that  cheap useless stroller we hauled down here for when Max came. And it all fits. Amazing. Okay, it looks like we’re the Beverly Hillbillies, but at least we won’t feel bad about not picking up any hitchhikers along the way.

After we’d packed the van I showered and Sue threw one last load of clothes into the laundry. I sat and watched 60 Minutes and had a couple of G&Ts and listened to the dryer clanking away.

And then it was time for supper. So at around 7:30 we headed out with our packed-to-the-roof van to the Outback Steakhouse on Power Road. It’s going to be my ‘birthday supper’. Tomorrow I’ll be turning 59! That’s pretty old for a young guy like me. And I’ll be on the road all day, trying to make it to somewhere around Colorado Springs. (So, if you want to wish me a happy birthday, why not wait until I get home and you can buy me one of those great Canadian beers that they serve on tap at Smitty’s.)

When we got home we finished up the little bit of packing left to do — and watched a bit of TV, and left some notes for the Bishops (who are arriving here Tuesday night).

It’s been a great 5 months here. We’ve really come to appreciate the house and the location. Lots of positives. And the weather and the vegetation here is about as good as it can get right now — we’ll miss that a lot.


Homeward Bound

The alarm (yes, ALARM) went off early this morning. Sue’s stated goal was for us to be on the road by 6am and she first had to wash and dry the sheets. Actual departure time was 6:30. The van was ‘level full’ from the back to the front. But no squeaks and rattles as we turned east down Hwy #60. We took the same gorgeous road out as we did coming here five months ago — through Globe and Show Low, then through the Gila and El Malpais National Forests of New Mexico on the way to Albuquerque. The plan was to get to Colorado Springs, a 12-hour drive according to Google Maps.

The Road HomeThe first half of the drive was absolutely a joy — NO traffic, and great scenery, lots of twists and turns, a cloudy sky that kept the morning sun out of my eyes.

We got to Albuquerque at around 1pm, time for more fuel and lunch. Double filet-o-fish and a strawberry milkshake. And after refuelling the van, Sue got into the driver’s seat. I tuned in the ipod to play some old favorites and even had a little snooze while Sue headed north on the I-25. The scenery was behind us — now all we saw was big fancy casinos. Lots of them. New Mexico is just one big Indian reservation with massive casinos at regular intervals.

IMG_1702But it gets worse. When I awoke from my nap I looked out the window and saw — gray fields with an occasional plastic bag to break the monotony, stark bare trees, junky farmyards, dirty salted potholed roads, and even filthier cars and trucks driving on that road. We passed (another!) for sale sign and Sue asked, “Who would WANT to live here?” Right.

But the driving was great, especially when I think about the ride home from Florida last year. The eastern state highways were bumper to bumper all the way home. The road here was way less busy. When we hit the Colorado border things looked a bit better again — at least there were the Rockies in the west to distract us from the greyness in the east.

We’d listened to Steve Earle, a pretty good Elton John album, and a good smattering of Dire Straits, when Sue asked whatever happened to “those really nice Leonard Cohen and Adam Cohen CDs we listened to on our drive down to Arizona.” I clicked around on the ipod to find that playlist. When a familiar Leonard Cohen song started playing, Sue leans forward and looks at the radio and says, “Hi Leonard” in a loving voice that I’ve only heard from her on those rare ‘special’ Friday nights! And with Leonard crooning and croaking away on the stereo, Sue was able to stay in the driver’s seat all the way to our hotel!

We checked in, then zipped around to the gas station to fill-up so we’re ready for tomorrow, had a little happy hour in the room, and then walked over to the Hilton next door for supper. It was after 8pm.

Back in the room I looked over our possible routes for tomorrow and wrote my journal. By 11 it was lights out. And THAT’s how I spent my birthday!

Another long driving day

We got up early and were on the road by 7am. Our hotel was on the east side of Colorado Springs, near the airport, so I thought we’d have a quick escape and not get caught up in the morning rush hour. And, for the most part, that worked. Still, it wasn’t exactly ‘easy’ getting back on track. The morning sun more or less blinded me as I headed out on the east side. No problem, I’ll just close my eyes and listen to instructions from the GPS. Well, that won’t work either — our Honda GPS was DETERMINED to point me back west, up to Denver, and then come back east on the big interstate. I thought I might ‘test’ the GPS and see for how long it would prompt me to ‘make a U-turn’ and try to lead me back to where I’d come from. Well, I blinked first. That GPS didn’t realize my intentions for at least half an hour. Finally, Sue plugged in our old Garmin — and then we had TWO naggers trying to convince me to take the LONGER route. We even played with the “easier, faster, shorter” settings to see if that would straighten things out — but no-sir-ee.

When that GPS finally shut up and started to cooperate, we hit road construction! A quick way to cancel whatever time advantage we’d had by taking this ‘back road’. Once we were through that it was more or less clear sailing. Not a lot of traffic (I guess all the locals knew the perils of taking this route at this time) and by now the sun was high enough in the sky that our sun visors actually proved to be useful.

So what do you do when you’re sitting side by side in a packed van for the second long driving day in a row? Well, as I believe I’ve opined before, you grow closer to your travelling companion. You ‘TALK’. Really, there’s not much else you CAN do. Can’t be busy in the kitchen, can’t be sitting at your computer, can’t check up on Margaret Daley’s Facebook status, can’t even pretend to be busy in the other room — so you’re stuck with your loved one, ‘talking’ — mostly complaining about what the other person is doing wrong. And all that monkeying around with the GPS resulted in a frank discussion about something that was bugging Sue: Why do I (Rudy) always tell other people that Sue is USELESS at navigating? And I today I learned that Sue feels that I’m saying that in a demeaning way. Well, okay, point taken. And if our two GPS units can’t even agree on how to get home from here, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on someone who is “navigationally challenged” (new, politically-correct way to say USELESS — just kidding). So I take it back: Sue is a GREAT travelling companion and I’m happy sitting this close to her for the entire day.

Speaking of which, once again Sue took the wheel and drove the second half of today’s trip. And once we got close to our destination (Sioux Falls), things were going so well (and the sun was still shining in the west) that we decided to add another 45 minutes to the trip and flitz right on by Sioux Falls and go up to Brookings, thereby missing tomorrow morning’s rush hour traffic and cutting down tomorrow’s driving time to about 6 hours.

Sue did her best to find a “pet-free” room — Man, that is just SO discouraging — the whole world revolves around PETS these days. We settled for a ‘mostly’ pet free room on the second floor of the Super 8. Before we even peeked into the room we headed across the street to the Applebee’s for some “fine dining”. That double-cheeseburger at McDonald’s only took me so far — it was pretty close to 8 o’clock and we were HUNGRY. We ran into some Steinbachers in the booth across the aisle from us and said hello and swapped ‘vacation’ stories. Then we walked back to our room, had a chocolate bar from the vending machine to go with our second glass of wine. Sue got her iPad Scrabble fix in, I wrote this ‘bericht‘, we watched some late night TV, and waited for one last driving day to begin.

Home Again, Home Again, Dancing a Jig

Got out of bed at around 7am. Showered. Got ready for the last leg of our trip home. But first we had “breakfast” at the Super8. That means a very tidy yellow omelette that probably wasn’t real egg, but at least it had some processed cheese in it. And, of course, waffles out of one of those ‘flip-it-over’ waffle irons. Sue even tried the ‘sugar-free’ maple syrup (I know, that doesn’t make ANY sense!) but ended up pouring ‘real’ syrup over her peanut-buttered waffle. Anyway, we were in the car by 9am. Filled up gas and zipped out onto the I-29. BIG TAIL WIND today. Gas mileage will be huge — even at 80 m.p.h. my Honda is showing the green ‘ECO’ light and cruising along on 3 cylinders. I drove while Sue finished reading her 900-page Michael Jackson biography on the Kindle. We had lunch and filled up gas one last time in Grand Forks at around 1:00. Then I did my best to get that Honda GPS to take us home via Tolstoi — but the ONLY way I could do that is to make the Clark gas station in Lancaster, Minnesota my destination. Which I did. And once we passed through customs, which we did at Tolstoi without incident, I set the GPS to Home — and it wanted me to go back down into the States and head back to the I-29 and come up to Winnipeg and then east to the #12 Hwy. Seriously!

We were home just after 3:00pm. Backed the van into the garage and started unloading. We did that, but did NOT unpack or put bikes together or anything like that. No, we showered and high-tailed it to Tim and Alex’s for supper at 5. What a treat. Little Max was very excited to see us — he now talks a mile a minute and wanted to show us all his toys and activities — and we were very happy to see him again.

And now we’re back at home — it’s 11:00PM. I’m signing off. That’s it for this chapter. It’s been ‘a trip’, literally, but I’m happy to take a break. I’ll probably be back, sometime, somewhere, maybe next time I go on another trip. So for now, if you’ve been following along occasionally, thanks for your interest.

That’s all, folks!