Saturday, January 20, 2018

More From McDowell and Some Exciting News


We are still hanging out at McDowell Mountain Park in Fountain Hills, AZ. It’s been a really fun, busy and social winter here so far. My arm is finally back to normal but I don’t intend to let anyone draw blood from me anytime soon.

Jim is still loving his new mountain bike. We guess it’s because it actually fits him well and is lighter than any bike he’s had in the past, but he is flying up the hills and riding more than ever. I am biking a lot, too, but also doing the Friday Fitness hikes. Last week I joined a dozen others for a very nice hike of almost 12 miles on multiple trails, through a wash and around some interesting rock formations.

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The wash was hidden behind these rocks, so we had a bit of scrambling to get there.

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That is Kevin in the front who leads these hikes.

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This was my birthday week, and I feel like we celebrated for days. Had dinner with camp hosts John and Sandy one evening at La Mai, an excellent Thai restaurant in Fountain Hills, happy hour at the visitor center with the volunteers and other campers the next night, and movie day (The Post) followed by dinner at La Botana, a new restaurant just across from Fountain Park.

Leslie, Doug, Alex, Ellen, Jim, and Susan.

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What a great view from their patio.

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And we really liked the food and giant margaritas.

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On my actual birthday we did a bike ride, followed by Black Forest cake made by Sunaree. I should have taken a photo because it was a beautiful cake but it got cut and eaten very quickly. It was vegan and had chia seeds in it, which made it healthy, right?

Randy, Ellen, Jim, and new friends Gary and Patty.

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And now for our big news. As some of you know we put our name on the wait list at Jojoba Hills Escapees Park back in September 2016. We moved to number one on the list last month but turned down a lot since we knew it would be a few months before we would even get there, and we were hoping for a more desirable site. Last week we got another call, this time for site 821, which is on the Rim Road and has no neighbors in the back or on one side. We decided to become members, so when we leave here next month we will head to southern California.

Terry and LuAnn were kind enough to take some pictures for us.

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What a treat to have a shed to store bikes and other stuff.

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It will be strange but nice to have a place to call home after over 9 years on the road. During the past couple of years we’ve grown tired of moving around so much but don’t feel ready to commit to buying a house or condo, or even renting, so we decided this would be a way to have a place we can go whenever we want for as long as we want, and still travel. Having a secure place to leave the Lazy Daze, we are even hoping to do some non-RV travel for a change of pace.

Bring a co-op park, members are expected to volunteer in some capacity, something we are actually looking forward to. Especially Jim, since he is getting tired of cleaning up after cats at Fearless Kitty.

And speaking of cats, sweet Pauly with the head tilt got adopted this week, and Cheeto had a meet-and-greet yesterday so we’re hoping he also found a home. We took care of a room with four crazy kittens this week but it was hard to get photos since they move so fast.

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Cute and very vocal Pinta would not leave Jim alone.

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We are in the planning stages of a trip to the Canadian Rockies, arriving there in mid to late August hoping to avoid some of the crowds, although I understand it’s still very crowded in September. I’ve gotten some ideas from a couple blogs so far and definitely want to spend time in Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks, but if anyone has campground recommendations or ideas for some less popular places we should visit please let us know.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Not How I Wanted to Start the New Year


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After having a painful blood draw on December 20th for a couple of routine tests, my arm continued to stay sore for days. There was never any bleeding or bruising and in fact I could not even see where the needle went in. Five or six days later my entire forearm became sore, almost like I had pulled a muscle, and by New Years weekend it began to swell. By Tuesday January 2, the swelling and pain were worse so I called my primary care doctor’s office and they got me in that afternoon. I saw a different doctor who really wasn’t sure what was going on, but she wanted me to get an ultrasound. She said it was unlikely that I had a blood clot or compartment syndrome, but they needed to rule that out. They could not get me in until the following afternoon, when the tech spent almost an hour doing the ultrasound. I was becoming concerned that something serious was wrong but she told me I could leave, and that there was not a clot.

When I got home there was a message from the doctor who said I did not have any of the bad things they were checking for and “should we wait another week and see if it improves?” I found that to be a rather strange response so I emailed her back and asked what she thought was the cause and was there something I should or should not be doing. She said the swelling was due to bleeding which would take time to absorb and I should use ice, ibuprofen, rest and elevation and let her know if it didn’t get better. Luckily a few days later the swelling and pain began to subside. The ultrasound report was very vague and said that it was possibly caused by the venipuncture. Of course since I had no trauma to the arm other than getting stuck with a needle I am positive that was the cause. Despite being out hundreds of dollars, Jim and I are looking at this as a learning experience since in the future we will ask to have blood drawn from our non-dominant arms in the unlikely event something like this happens again.

I assumed the doctor meant for me to rest my arm, not my entire body, so two days after the ultrasound I joined friends Randy and Sunaree, Doug and Leslie (whom we met here last year) and 8 other people for the Friday fitness hike. This time it started at the Four Peaks trailhead in McDowell Mountain Park, where we did a 10 mile loop around the Escondido trail.

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We’ve also been biking out on the trails, and Jim is really liking this new mountain bike. It has carbon wheels and tubeless tires and is much lighter than his old bike. That must explain why he’s been riding ahead of me even on the uphills, which he had never done before.

Here’s Jim waiting for me at a bench at the Lariat/Pemberton trail junction.

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In cat news this week we have two new favorites. This is Paulie, whose previous owner neglected an ear infection, leaving him with a head tilt. It doesn’t seem to bother him and after treatment it’s not as severe as it was when he came in to Fearless Kitty. He is a real sweetheart, very playful and curious, and has the softest, shiniest black fur we’ve ever seen on a cat.

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We just got to meet Cheeto this week since he’s been in one of the medical rooms recovering from stomatitis, a mouth, gum and tongue disease that causes painful ulcers. He had to have all of his teeth pulled and is feeling much better. The history is that he was abandoned by his owner and a neighbor had been feeding him for 7 years. The woman developed dementia and could no longer care for him but someone contacted Fearless Kitty to see if they could take him in, which they did. His fur was all matted so he had to be shaved, and he was thin and in pain due to his teeth and mouth. With much veterinary care he is now a happy, friendly senior cat (approximate age 10-12) and is up for adoption. His long fur is growing back and he is just beautiful. It’s tempting, but we are sticking to our policy of no cats in the RV ever again.

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Backup Camera Install & First Impressions


We were finally able to test out our new backup camera, something we should have installed years ago but it was one of those things we just never got around to. Had Tadi Brothers not reached out to us offering a camera for an honest review it would probably still be on our list.

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We decided to go with a wireless camera since it would have been a lot more complicated to run video cable from the monitor that is attached to the rearview mirror to the back of the RV where the camera is mounted. The camera, transmitters and monitor still need to be tied into power.

The easiest place to mount the camera with access to 12 volt wiring was just below the center marker light. As is generally the case with Lazy Daze the clearance light was secured with more polyurethane caulk than you could imagine. In fact, the base had to come off in pieces but luckily we had a spare.

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We had the system professionally installed although someone much handier than I am could do it themselves. Here is Scott drilling a big hole in the back of our Lazy Daze, OMG, no. Seriously, Scott does great work. You would be amazed to see what he has installed in his own motorhome and how neatly it was done.

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We chose this 180 degree heavy duty waterproof camera with full color and military grade night vision.

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There is a nightlight switch under the cabinet above the bed, so Scott was able to wire the transmitter and camera into that.

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Transmitter neatly installed and not in the way of the clothes we store in this cabinet.

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Up next, he is finding a power source and a route for the wiring for the 9” monitor. We decided to power it from the 12v switch for the TV antenna amplifier. That turned out to be the one that cuts off when the engine is started but he found an easy way to disable that feature.

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All of Scott’s work is nicely protected with wiring loom. The stray wire you see is something I did. Figures, doesn’t it. This is the transmitter for the monitor which is normally hidden by the TV. The transmitters are supposed to have a 95’ range.

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Scott went out to adjust the camera angle while we watched him on the monitor.

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The two images that follow give a good impression of what it looks like. The camera provides a 180 degree view. When we were parked I thought that might be too much, although Scott had installed one with a 170 degree view in his RV which he liked. After driving with it I really do like it. That said, objects are definitely closer than they appear. Since the LD roof is curved in the rear, the white at the bottom of the screen is actually the rear of the rig. Lower in the center you see a bike rack.

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The image looks a little grainy and washed out at times depending on the sun, but since we have nothing to compare it to that may be normal for all of these cameras. It was great to have when I backed into our new site last week. I was able to see the curb on both sides and the concrete berms at the back of the site.

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As you can see below the 9” LCD monitor clips to the rearview mirror, which was nearly useless anyway. I was worried that it was going to be too big and be an annoyance but in our test drives it proved not to be the case. If it were an issue I would probably glue the mirror higher up on the windshield. We will see.

In the limited short distance driving we have done the monitor hasn’t vibrated much on the mount. It really does feel as though it weighs nothing. The mirror is much heavier by itself.

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When we are getting ready to pull out we have to turn on the nightlight switch in the bedroom, be sure the antenna switch is on up in the entertainment center, and press the power button to the monitor. We intend to run it on all the time when driving. The camera has infrared capability for night viewing which comes on automatically. A plus for the 180 degree view is we should see any aircraft overhead should that be important. Seriously, it should help with lane changes keeping in mind objects are closer…

Regarding Tadi Brothers, we were fortunate that they contacted us. When we got the email I passed it along to Scott and it turns out that is who he has used and I trust his advice. They were very helpful and worked with us on what we wanted and on how we needed it shipped.

Here is the equipment list:

9" Monitor

180 degree camera

Wireless Transmitter/Receiver

All TadiBrothers products have a 30 day 100% money back guarantee and a 1 year warranty. They also have a 24 hour tech team hotline for any questions or problems you might have.

So far we really like having this addition to the Lazy Daze but we’ll get a better feel for it once we get back on the road next month.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Another Year Passes


Hard to believe 2017 is almost over. Here is a quick wrap up of our past couple weeks at McDowell Mountain Park.

They can’t see in for the window tint but they know we’re in there.

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The feeders continue to get lots of visitors.

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One of many lovely sunsets.

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That is Randy and Sunaree’s Airstream in the next site up from us.

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It was my turn for annual doctor appointments and all is well. Just need an eye exam and I will be good to go until next year, I hope.

We’ve been doing some hiking in between biking, as usual. This is Sunaree, Ellen and Jim on the Granite trail.

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Randy, Ellen, Sunaree and Jim on the Bluff.

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Before Randy got back from his month long job in Georgia, Sunaree and I did another early Friday Fitness Hike. This time we went out of the park to Spur Cross Conservation Area north of Cave Creek for a hike to Skull Mesa. Kevin, who leads these hikes, and his wife Marilyn, had room for us in their car so we hitched a ride to the trailhead. Turned out only one other person showed up, but not surprising given that it was the Friday before Christmas.

It looks warm but was only 40 when we started, still better than the 29 degree temperature when I got up that morning.

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Our lofty goal was Skull Mesa in the Tonto National Forest, almost 2,000’ higher than we started. It doesn’t look that far in the photos but it was over 5 miles to get there, and that was with a shortcut.

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Being uphill most of the way with bright sunshine we warmed up quickly, although the highs only got into the 50s that day. It wasn’t long before we were all shedding layers and gloves.

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Pam, I thought of you when we came across this elaborate crested saguaro.

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Also found some petroglyphs as this area was home to the Verde Hohokam around 800 years ago.

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From this sign we were still 1.1 miles and 1,100 feet to the top of the mesa.

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Getting closer.

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That last mile was a challenge, with narrow, steep, rocky switchbacks to the top.

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Finally up on the mesa it was surprising to see a mostly flat grassland.

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It was still a bit of a walk to the edge, but worth the effort for the views.

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Mitra, Sunaree and me.

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Coming back down was trickier than going up, as the rocks wanted to slide out from under our feet, but we all made it unscathed other than having to pull out some cactus spines.

We then returned on a different trail through Cottonwood Canyon, where we spotted another crested saguaro.

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Fall colors in the canyon.

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Can’t believe we were just up there. It was a great hike, and we plan to join Kevin again one of these Friday mornings.

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While we were off on our 7 hour hike, Jim was busy babysitting Randy and Sunaree’s dog Beau. He is a sweet French bulldog and very low maintenance. Jim didn’t pay close attention to Sunaree’s instructions and he thought she said whenever Beau stares at you he needs to go out. Jim said he stared at him most of the day but would never go to the bathroom when he let him out. What a face!

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Before dinner we had a nice Christmas morning with cats.

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Jim was very taken with Elton, and vice versa, although the white cat hair all over our clothes negated any desire to adopt him.

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We saved the kitten room for last, as we knew we would spend a lot of time in there. There are five of them and they just crawled all over us. It’s almost impossible to get photos as they are in constant motion.

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One of them kept sneezing so I was trying to figure out which one by their bio pictures. You can see I had plenty of help.

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They are just adorable.

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Jim ended up buying another mountain bike, a used Giant that’s kind of beat up but has better components, carbon wheels with tubeless tires, and is lighter and actually fits him better than the old one. He really liked his first ride on it, since he’s been missing getting out on the trails here. The recumbent is now for sale as we can’t carry three bikes. Besides, riding it was bothering his neck, and he missed having suspension. Live and learn.

Tonight we’re having dinner with friends and will no doubt be in bed long before midnight.

This was our last sunrise of 2017. Happy New Year to all!

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