Thursday, 10 January 2019

Dec 12 - 16 Sam comes to Arizona!!

Dec 12
We are up early today and excited to drive to Sky Harbour Airport in Phoenix to pick up Leslie's daughter Sam (aka Samantha) for a long weekend visit. She's flying from Edmonton out of the cold and nasty Canadian winter to a nice warm Arizona winter. Leslie got busy cleaning and did one more load of laundry so she won't need to do any while Sam is here. We left for Phoenix just before 11am and she is supposed to land at 12:30. I dropped Leslie at the arrivals terminal 4 and drove to the "cellphone" lot. Never used this before but it is free parking with a loop road back to the terminals and is meant for short stays while the flight arrives and they call you when they arrive. Great idea. Sam's flight was actually a little early so before long Leslie texted for me to come back. With a big hug I said hi to Sam and we pulled out of the airport to drive south to Casa Grande. Everyone is hungry so we decided to take Sam to Thirsty Donkey in Casa Grande and show her the many taps. It's way past noon and she has been up a long time lol.
All smiles.
The super nice server explained the taps and the arm bands to Leslie and Sam so they could get started. I'm driving so I'll pass on the arm band. They grabbed the 5 ounce glasses and started sampling.
Pictures by the taps.

One of Sam's picks

One of Leslie's choices.
Proof that we ate too.
With full bellies we did a quick tour through Casa Grande and headed home. The tough part about flying from Edmonton is you have to get up really early to get to the airport 2-3 hours early for security. The flight is only 3 1/2 hours but Sam didn't get much of a nap on the plane either. We toured her around the park to show her all the amenities and we introduced her to a couple people we ran across. Back at the rig we had a couple drinks and talked lots to get caught up. By supper time we could see Sam powering down so she ended up napping on the couch while Les and I made supper. We woke her up to eat and we all watched a little TV and then off to bed. Pretty sure Sam was already sleeping on the couch before we shut off the TV lol.
Dec 13
We got up at a decent hour and had breakfast. Sam feels better after a good nights sleep so we'll try a hike today. Casa Grande Mountain is just a few minutes away so we loaded some packs and off we go, Margaret too. 

Ready to go for a walk.
We decided on a combination of the Ridge Trail & Spine trail for a total of about 5k/ 3mi. Lots of hills and rocks but a decent trail for sure. Gives Sam a taste of desert hiking and most important, no snakes!! She did gather a few choice quartz rocks though, sshh don't tell anybody.
Looks like a cactus.

Ooh we both look like cactus lol.

Les really likes this pic.

The daughter/Mom selfie !
We finished the hike and drove back to the Park. We grabbed our pickleball gear and walked over to the court to show Sam how to play.
This sign is on the way to pickleball courts.
When we got there Luckie and Hilda (Hilda & husband Dana are from Madden, Ab) were playing a singles game. They are both good teachers as well so when they finished Luckie gave Sam the same lessons as he gave us but condensed and then we got right into playing. She learned quickly, of course, and she did pretty good for her first games. We played for a little over an hour and then chatted with Luckie and Hilda until it was time to head home for happy hour.
Luckie, me, Leslie, Hilda & Sam.

Pickleball selfie.
We cleaned up a little and then grabbed our chairs to join Karen, Wayne, John & Sandy outside for happy hour. They are such great hosts and their yard is dog fenced so Margaret and Tux can play without leashes. Again we left our phones at home so not one happy hour picture. Unbelievable that we didn't get any happy hour pics, we were there more than once ;) . Well as it sometimes happens there ended up to be a big gathering at their house. Some other friends of theirs are flying out tomorrow to Alaska for the Iron Dog Snowmobile Race that they help organize. They stopped by with their son to visit before they leave. It was quite a crowd. We headed home for supper and some TV before bed time.
Dec 14
Bit of a slow morning today but we got ready to go by about 11:00. We plan to check out Casa Grande National Monument and then a visit to Queen Creek Olive Mill for lunch and some shopping. If we still feel like it then we want to see Bohemian Rhapsody at the theatre in Casa Grande. Big day so away we go. First stop is the National Monument. Again our National Park Pass paid for all of us to check out the ruins.

The national monument consists of the ruins of multiple structures surrounded by a compound wall constructed by the ancient people of the Hohokam period, who farmed the Gila Valley in the early 13th century. "Archeologists have discovered evidence that the ancient Sonoran Desert people who built the Casa Grande also developed wide-scale irrigation farming and extensive trade connections which lasted over a thousand years until about 1450 C.E."[6]

Visitor Center sign.

Sign explaining the mystery of Casa Grande.
We went inside and checked when the next video started which is about 15minutes so we checked out some of the exhibits inside.
Site map

Some of the pottery.
We went in for the short video and then it was time to go out and walk the site. It is amazing how long these walls have been here. All built by hand with local material and they had to dig ditches from the river to get water to the site. I guess when you don't have an internet connection you might as well work all day ;)

"Casa Grande" is Spanish for "big house" (SiwaƱ Wa'a Ki: in O'odham); these names refer to the largest structure on the site, which is what remains of a four-story structure that may have been abandoned by 1450. The structure is made of caliche, and has managed to survive the extreme weather conditions for about seven centuries. The large house consists of outer rooms surrounding an inner structure. The outer rooms are all three stories high, while the inner structure is four stories high. The structures were constructed using traditional adobe processes. The wet adobe is thicker at the base and adds significant strength. Noticeable horizontal cracks define the breaks between courses on the thick outer walls.[7] The process consisted of using damp adobe to form the walls and then waiting for it to dry, and then building it up with more adobe. Casa Grande contained a ball court much like that found at Pueblo Grande de Nevada. Father Eusebio Kino was the first European to view the Hohokam complex in November 1694 and named it Casa Grande.[8] Graffiti from 19th-century passers-by is scratched into its walls; though this is now illegal. Casa Grande now has a distinctive modern roof covering built in 1932.

Metal roof originally put up in 1932 to protect the site.

Of course the selfie.
We toured the site for about an hour and then back in the truck for the drive to Queen Creek Olive Mill. Leslie and I came here several years ago when we were just visiting the Phoenix area and we try to come out every time. Great food and of course really good olive oil! 
Ok lots of selfies.

Merry Christmas !

Lunch, the garlic fries are sooo good.
It is a really nice place and well worth a visit if you are in Phoenix. We enjoyed a really nice lunch and then back in the truck to return to Chapparal and drop Margaret off. We didn't have a bunch of time before we wanted to be at the theatre for the 6:15 movie. We all really liked the movie and of course we knew the songs. Go see it if you like Queen's music. You will enjoy the show. 
Dec 15
We're trying to jam in lots of stuff for Sam's short visit so we're up and out fairly early. The weather is not hot but it's okay and should make for a good hiking day. We are going to do part of Hunter Trail at Picacho State Park again so Sam gets a look. Leslie will go up as high as she feels comfortable and I will take Sam to the base of the front rock face where the turn is. 
This is the rock face where Sam & I turned around, on her finger.

Mom and daughter

Got this one from Sam where we turned around.
We got back in the truck and drove to the Sunset Vista Trail on the west side of the park. Plan is to go as far as we want and then turn again. Unlikely we will make the 3.2 miles to the cables today. The sun had come out and it was a great hike.
We took a lot of selfies, looking west towards our park.

Okay i'll explain below.
When we got to the area where we decided to turn around, we stopped for a snack and some water. Of course Sam was looking around for rocks and stuff and spotted this short saguaro cactus and wondered if she could jump over it! Yeah she has some different ideas at times lol. Of course Leslie and I thought it was a bad idea but she was determined to try. We compromised and she jumped in the air beside it and Les took this picture. She probably would have cleared the cactus but oh man if she didn't.... haha. Great picture Leslie!
Well of course after all the hiking we are starving! There is usually a taco truck parked by I10 at the truck stop so we are going to try one each on the way to Buffalo Wild Wings in CG.
We all want to be in every picture!!
There's some healthy nutrition...tacos, wings and beer! We got a really nice girl server and she brought over a box with little samples of a bunch of different wing sauces, 21 different sauces I think. We chose our faves and ordered.
A healthy supper.
That's about all we can fit in for this visit. Unfortunately Sam is heading home tomorrow :(  Oh but wait there's more.... we stopped for coffee cream at Safeway and brought home half a pecan pie and brownies for back at the rig. So much for the calories burned all day. We have had lots of fun and laughs for a few days but it's back to the cold, snow and that nasty four letter word..... work. We drove back to High Chapparal and Southern Arizona gave her a beautiful sunset to say farewell.
Nice :)
Dec 16
We left the rig by 9 so that Sam would have lots of time for security and check in. Our friends Barry & Ailsa are in town this week and we made plans to meet them for brunch in Tempe at Thirsty Lion. The calories just keep on comin'. After a sad good bye with Sam we drove over to Tempe Market and wandered around for a little until it was time to meet.
Monster poinsettias outside The Lion

Leslie in front of the Thirsty Lion in Tempe.
We didn't wait very long and Barry & Ailsa texted that they we here. We haven't seen them since the race in September so it was great to get together again. We had a great brunch and talked for a while afterwards.
Barry, Leslie, Ailsa & me 
They have moved into their rental house near Cave Creek for their winter days off so we will certainly see more of them this month. Leslie and I will be moving to an RV Park near them and we will be in the same half marathon in January. So good to hang out with these guys! With hugs and handshakes we said see ya later to Barry & Ailsa and we drove back to Chapparal. A quick stop in CG at Safeway for some groceries and then home for a quiet afternoon and evening. We're tired but it was an awesome few days. Visiting family and friends is the only thing missing when we are so far away but it's awesome when the two come together. Trust me we're not complaining.


  1. Nice to have our daughter there for a quick visit. I know we sure enjoyed it when Kristi came to visit. It shows the family your "real life" on the road that is hard to convey with pictures and telephone calls.

    1. Absolutely right. We had a fun and tiring few days while she was here. She enjoys our new life and didn't want to go back to work ;)

  2. What a great visit with Sam! Looks like everyone had a good time and I bet it was nice for her to escape the cold for a few days.

    1. It wasn't super hot while she was here but she likes Arizona weather better! We had lots of laughs and showed her as much as we could in a short window.

  3. Looks like you guys got some quality time in with Sam and took her to some of our favourite spots. Still no happy hour pics of the guys are slipping! Great post.

    1. It's embarrassing that we have no happy hour pics !! I know we both had our phones at times but just didn't take a pic. What's up with that? Sam wanted to keep going on Hunter Trail but maybe next time. Didn't want to leave Leslie alone.

  4. Lots of things to see and do in that area. We'll have to put it on our list.
    Nice to be able to share with family.

    1. You're absolutely right, there is lots to do and we stayed pretty close to home. Definitely put High Chapparal RV on your stay list. Great park.