Thursday, March 5, 2015

Crested Saguaros, Stanton, Birthday and More Cactus

It was another sunny but cool day in the Arizona desert yesterday.  We were on a mission to show Jill and Terry some crested saguaros and we did indeed find a few out near Stanton.

DSCN0448DSCN0452DSCN0449Emmi hiding from Dad or Dad hiding from Emmi??

Terry is very interested in gold panning and purchased some supplies while here—needless to say he isn’t quitting his day job!  We did stop in Stanton and check out the old buildings—Jill and I thought we would pass on this job opportunity!!

DSCN0457DSCN0455DSCN0456DSCN0459

Yesterday was a milestone birthday for Larry—Jill and Terry treated us all to dinner at Nichols West in Congress last night.  Congress is not the community where you would expect to find a five star restaurant but Nichols West is just that!  The owner and his wife had a restaurant in New York City, tired of the rat race, moved to this tiny community, bought and renovated a small building and Nichols West was born.  Back at North Ranch we all crammed into our “no slide” motorhome and enjoyed cake and ice cream. 

A much warmer day greeted us on Jill and Terry’s last day—we took a nice walk out into the desert, had lunch in downtown Wickenburg and toured the most awesome cactus garden—WOW!!!  Al and Kelly had visited this desert oasis a couple weeks ago—it is well worth a stop.  Amazing spotless grounds and strange cactus you won’t see anywhere else! 

DSCN0466DSCN0499Back at home we toured some property with Linda Stevens, the realtor of choice in North Ranch before enjoying happy hour sitting in the sun out behind our rig.  DSCN0505

DSCN0511DSCN0513

DSCN0467DSCN0468

DSCN0515A Lifesaver Cactus—that lifesaver looking thing is a blossom!! 

DSCN0489DSCN0517

DSCN0514Some of the strangest looking cactus, certainly not your normal desert varieties!! 

We’ll take Jill and Terry to the airport tomorrow—we’ve tried to convince them to stay—it seems as if they just arrived!!  It was a great visit with great friends!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

And The Rains Came

Holy, moly did it ever rain around here Monday!!  The Hassayampa River is running and things are mighty soggy in the desert which will make for beautiful blooming cactus!  Any type of outdoor activity was not on the agenda yesterday but a big pot of Smoky Beef and Bacon Chili hit the spot:

Smoky Beef and Bacon Chili

2 slices thick-cut bacon, finely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 &1/2 lbs. ground beef

1 TBSP plus 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder

1 1/2 tsp EACH ground cumin and sweet smoked Spanish paprika

1/2 to 1 & 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

About 1 tsp. salt

1 can (14.5 oz) crushed fire roasted tomatoes or regular crushed tomatoes (I used what I had on hand, diced tomatoes)

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

1 cup flavorful, medium bodied beer--I used Sierra Nevada

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 can (14.5oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Sour cream, sliced green onions, and/or coarsely shredded cheese for topping.

1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat, cook bacon, stirring, until it just begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add onion, lower heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 4-7 minutes. Uncover pan, stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute.

2. Increase heat to medium high and add beef; break up with a spook and cook, stirring gently until it loses its raw color, about 7 minutes. Stir in spices and 1 tsp salt (I left out the salt until the chili was cooked to see if it needed it) and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, beer and Worcestershire; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, partly cover and cook 30 minutes.

3. Add beans and cook 10 minutes, uncovered. Season to taste with salt. Serve warm with toppings on the side.

Serves 6

I have Marty and Roz to thank for reminding me of this great chili recipe—not long ago they left a comment on the blog regarding the great chili recipe I had at one time posted.  Well, I love recipes and much to the cowboy’s dismay try way too many new ones—sometimes really good ones are forgotten in the excitement of trying new ones—so thanks Marty and Roz—that is a GREAT chili recipe!!  We also tried Angela’s Mexican cornbread recipe with the chili—awesome!!

After lunch the gang loaded into the jeep and we drove over to Wickenburg—Jill and I managed a little shopping while the guys found a mining equipment store—the sun came out and we enjoyed a little warmth and this beautiful rainbow before the deluge started again.

DSCN0444Pizza from the Congress Junction was on the agenda last night for dinner but when calling to order I was told they were “out of pizza!!!!”  The people who own this business in Congress are not spring chickens and work very, very hard—I think the success of their restaurant catches them off guard.  So, I put on my thinking cap, pulled some cheese ravioli out of the freezer and opened a jar of pasta sauce—instant, great dinner!  I never use bottled pasta sauce preferring instead to make my own.  When we were in the Tucson Costco a while back we noticed a two pack of White Linen Collection by Victoria Marinara Sauce—a fellow shopper told me she loved this pasta sauce and we decided to give it a try—absolutely delicious!!!

Today we had sun/clouds/snow/rain/sun/clouds---Jill and I left the guys to their gold panning and ATV riding while we headed up the hill to Yarnell where we met up with a little snow shower.  The exciting part—on the way up the hill we began to see orange caution cones and a sign which said “right lane closed.”  A huge--as in jeep sized boulder had rolled off the hill, across the south/down lanes of the highway taking out the upper guard rail and landing in the driving lane of the north/up lanes of the Yarnell hill highway.  It is going to take one huge loader to move that boulder!! 

Back home Jill and I opened a bottle of wine we purchased while in Wickenburg--

DSCN0446Where do wineries come up with these names??  It was a good wine which we sampled while waiting for the guys to return on the ATVs.    We enjoyed another great dinner and good conversation before Jill and Terry headed off up the hill to their little park model. 

Life is good in the Arizona desert and we should have lots of sun tomorrow!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Park Entertainment

OK, let’s get caught up before my brain forgets what we have been doing!  Yesterday morning I made biscuits—I never make biscuits—and believe it or not we had biscuits, not hockey pucks with our scrambled eggs and bacon!!  Michael and I are breakfast eaters but we eat yogurt, cereal, fruit or just scrambled eggs—so yesterday’s breakfast was a treat especially when the biscuit turned out so well!!

North Ranch hosted an event Saturday—La Fiesta with a parade:

DSCN0390DSCN0394

DSCN0398a “softball” tournament using bean bags:

DSCN0414Yep, that’s our star LarryDSCN0419Our other star Tom and last but not least our star Mike:

DSCN0420There was a craft show where Jill found a beautiful cross pendant and a lunch which we avoided—we had just eaten that huge breakfast!

After all the events we headed out into the desert for a nice walk with Ms. Emmi.

DSCN0427I am sure that’s a gold nugget!! 

Jill’s cousin Ty is a partner in one of the largest roping arenas in this area—Rancho Rio.  We stopped by yesterday but Ty was out on a cattle buying mission.  Lots and lots of cowboys and horses!

DSCN0432Wickenburg provided us with a little afternoon entertainment walking the downtown streets before heading back to North Ranch.  Saturday was Terry’s birthday and we grilled steaks served with Pioneer Woman smashed potatoes and fresh asparagus.  I baked Terry a chocolate birthday cake—a recipe from Patchwork Times which uses coffee as one of the liquids—delicious!!

And the rains came—a soggy morning greeted us and we decided a drive might be in order.  We started out planning late breakfast/early lunch in Yarnell and ended up having late lunch in Bagdad.  Although the weather was crummy it was a nice drive.  Tomorrow the forecast is for “heavy rain” but Tuesday is to be sunny—let’s hope!!

  DSCN0430Emmi has been getting lots of attention lately—remember the skin infection she had and our visit to the Colorado School of Veterinary Medicine?  She had all those nasty infection filled blisters on her back—when they finally healed she had bald spots.  Now her hair has all grown back in—black, much darker than her other hair giving her this spotted look—people are always asking about our “spotted dog” and is she a special breed! Smile Yes, we think she is special!!

DSCN0438

Friday, February 27, 2015

Montana Friends

The yellow jeep headed out of North Ranch about 10:30 Friday morning headed for the airport over in Mesa—Gateway to retrieve some friends looking for sunshine and warmth—Terry and Jill.  The cowboy and I were married in Terry and Jill’s house almost 21 years ago and we’ve had many, many good times together—it’s a pleasure to have them come join us in our winter travels. 

DSCN0369After Allegiant Airlines finally decided to off load baggage we headed for Scottsdale and a soon to be gone iconic spot—Greasewood Flats—an outdoor, quirky, legendary Scottsdale spot.  The heirs of the founder of Greasewood Flats were forced to sell the property last year to pay estate taxes and other expenses of the estate—43 acres of Scottsdale sold for $8 million!!!!  Still searching for a new spot to house the restaurant and bar the heirs are finding that type of property difficult to locate! 

DSCN0371DSCN0373DSCN0380You can take the cowboys out of Montana……..

After our delicious hamburgers we headed back out to North Ranch retrieving Emmi from Larry and Geri.  When we drove up Emmi was sitting in Larry’s lap helping him have happy hour!  Jill and Terry are staying in a little park model just up the street from us and after getting settled we walked around the park.  Before they headed off to their little abode for the night we enjoyed a happy hour of our own as none of us was hungry for dinner after those huge hamburgers!!

The weather may or may not deteriorate—depends on which weather forecast you read—we will hope for the best for our Montana friends!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I Get Philosophical

Not really—Nina writes such beautiful philosophical blogs but I’m afraid that’s beyond my writing capabilities—I write as I see it, as my day goes.  But today I discovered something—saguaros make me happy, those majestic skyward reaching cactus, especially when you are in a virtual forest of saguaros—feed my soul as Nina would say!  I feel peaceful and the smile won’t leave my face.IMG_1133IMG_1134

Larry and Geri suggested to the gang we go over south of Wickenburg and ride out behind Vulture Peak.  We left North Ranch just after 9am and trailered ATVs to the Wickenburg city park.  Nancy and Fred, Tom and Sandy plus Dell and his friend Terry joined us for a perfect ATV riding day, not too hot, not too cold!!!

IMG_1122Fred and NancyIMG_1124Geri thinking about taking a siesta again!

IMG_1120Geri and LarryIMG_1128

Larry and Geri were the only ones who had ridden in this area and it had been a couple years since they had been on these trails—we did just a touch of back tracking but I would say their memories were quite good or their GPS was right on track?? Smile

Some of the riding was a touch challenging—made even more challenging by our leader Geri stopping right in front of me in the middle of a tough spot to take a photo of ME riding across the tough area—I might or might not have told her to “move it” in no uncertain terms!!!  SmileSmile

IMG_1131IMG_1142And our leader Geri pointed out a Jojoba plant----

IMG_1145

“Jojoba is grown for the liquid wax (commonly called jojoba oil) in its seeds. This oil is rare in that it's an extremely long (C36–C46) straight-chain wax ester and not a triglyceride, making jojoba and its derivative jojoba esters more similar to human sebum and whale oil than to traditional vegetable oils.

Jojoba oil is interesting for the industry because it is odorless and it has a viscosity which is temperature-independent. Applications vary from engine lubricating oil to cooking oil. Jojoba wax is used predominantly for pharmaceutical compounds, specially for skin products. After polymerization factice can be used for rubber production. The use as biodiesel fuel is becoming more and more important………..”Wikipedia

IMG_1150IMG_1144IMG_1152This photo doesn’t show well but the yellow poppy like flowers were blooming everywhere—gorgeous!!

The McDonald’s in Wickenburg sits along the Hassayampa River wash—the ride today took us up the river bed so on the way back our ATVs magically wandered into the McDonald’s parking lot for ice cream—imagine that!  As we were standing around eating our ice cream I happened to check the temperature on my phone—it was 7 degrees in McLeod, Montana and 68 degrees in Wickenburg!! 

And another great day in the Arizona desert!!

On another note, my family back in Arkansas has been experiencing more snow/ice than normal.  Vicky, my sister-in-law has always loved photography and received a new camera for Christmas—she took some great snow photos yesterday.  This particular shot was featured on their local ABC news station in Little Rock tonight.