Scenic Trollstigen Route – Norway 9/26

As Norse legend tells it, the first rays of sunlight can turn the mythical trolls into stone (if they don’t hide in time!) so we will explore where trolls have been in the mountains.
Our first stop was at the Gudbrandsjuvet Gorge.
The Valldøla River has cut large potholes and intricate formations into the rock.
Another interesting viewing area with fun art/architecture to experience the  Gudbrandsjuvet Gorge.
Sign outside the Gudbrandsjuvet: the cinnamon buns were awesome! Still warm from the oven they fortified us for the troll search.
From the Trollstigen plateau, rising above the Isterdalen Valley are the three peaks: Bishop, King, Queen (Bispen, Kongen, Dronninga). which led us to debate if the bishop or queen had the most power…
We passed over the glacial moraines with some snow still left in the upper valleys (where the trolls live?). We arrived at the Trollstigen Visitor Center.
The Trollstigen cafe is undergoing repairs from an avalanche this winter but we could still appreciate the design and the location.
We followed the water cascading to the first Viewpoint.
We detoured from the paved path to follow these Sherpa stairs 1km for a private view point.
What a stairmaster!
Great view of the valley!
And we were able to see the next cantilevered Trollstigen Viewpoint.
And a take my picture balcony with The Bishop and The Queen.
The Trolls Ladder (mostly one-lane) was completed in 1936 after 8 years – an engineering marvel. Imagine working in this valley carved out by the glacier, roaring rivers and multiple waterfalls!
A better view of the waterfall through the vertigo inducing glass railing.
An offer to take our picture resulted in this fun shot pointing to the future!
Our GPS pretty much shows the same curves we have just photographed on this one-lane road. We are here in the morning so have missed dodging the tour buses.
Ready or Not. We will probably regenerate many kilometers on the battery of our EV.
At the end of the valley is another Troll spot: Trollveggen Visitor Center. We recharged the car while we ate a picnic lunch in this beautiful setting (cafe closed for the season).
Europe’s highest vertical mountain wall has several climbing routes.
We could browse for a book in this converted telephone booth lending library.
Ramsdalen Valley: the route following the River Rauma has been named Europe’s most beautiful railway line. Filmed around here is the latest Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One

8/8: Mojave to Vermillion Cliffs

We are getting our kicks on Route 66!
We parked for the night at BLM’s Amboy Crater and hiked to the caldera in the morning. The other side of those mountains is Twenty Nine Palms, where my Dad was stationed when he brought his young bride to California on Rt 66.
We are headed to these mountains across the train tracks into the Mojave National Preserve.
We found a nice site at Hole In the Wall campground. Is there a hole in the wall to continue our hike?
Really is there a hole in the wall?
Well what do you know. Jungle Gym rings to pull yourself up the slot.
Gorgeous cactus and vistas along the trail.
Beauty in the details.
We motored through Las Vegas and followed the Virgin River into the Gold Buttes National Monument established in 2016. Another new monument on BLM land!
We enjoyed the sunset and solitude. We will have to come back to explore more of this park.
Marble Canyon area on east side of Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. We stopped at Grand Staircase Escalante Visitor Center and received a wealth of information to keep us busy for several weeks. Providing of course the monument doesn’t shrink again.
We drove through some Vermilion Cliffs to Lees Ferry. Many changes have come this way with paved roads, pullouts, parking lots, and dedicated campground.
Channeling Wesley Powell: A fabulous day on the Colorado River! This is part of the Grand Canyon National Park and where rafting trips to the canyon begin.
This is another release site for California condors – we were lucky to see a pair fly over the canyon.
We looked through a sun telescope as there were some astronomers holding a special event. The Navajo Bridge leads you to Glen Canyon Recreation Area. We have come full circle on our trip.

Water in Sabino Creek

Morning fog in Sabino Canyon after a night of heavy rain.
This fog bank is soon to overtake us as we watched it move from the creek up the side of the canyon.
We read that Sabino Creek was dry for 154 days – very unusual for the winter months. I am very happy to see it full of water this morning. This is the only photo in this posting taken with the phone.
Eight of the Nine dam/bridges had water on them. We have spent many hours clearing these bridges of vegetation and debris.
These stonework wonders are interesting engineering as they are designed for the high waters to flow over, but to act as dams by creating recreation pools during lower water levels.
The up stream side of a bridge has a quiet reflecting pond, even while the water is pouring over on the other side of the road.
The water had bubbles and was dark with tannins like an exquisite root-beer.
We checked out Anderson Dam area for trash…we did find some floating debris but mainly just enjoyed the beauty of the waterfall.
We also pulled some of the grasses and weeds from the 3.7 island we had planted earlier in the season. So much easier to pull from wet soil!
It seemed like a good day to improve this little corner of the park. We shoveled out the base of the sign, moved some cobblestones and placed on the slope, backfilled with dirt and will wait for the rain to push the dirt between the rocks and clean things up. We will check on it next weekend…

Working days on Mt Lemmon

We are doing maintenance in the parking areas and pullouts on the Catalina Highway. With all the cigarette butts, we are amazed there is not a fire every day. Smokey Bear must be watching over us.
Lots of cyclists working hard for 23 mile climb to enjoy the tuck back down to Tucson. A Sky Island is an isolated Eco system: this is the equivalent of going from Mexico to Canada with the change in plants as the elevation increases.
Gorgeous scenery along the way. Photos from a non-working day
Picnic lunch at Rose Canyon Reservoir to appreciate the scenery.
Complete with ducks begging for scraps.
Taking in the view south from Windy Vista with the road winding its way back to the valley.
Sabino Creek starts on Mt Lemmon. Sabino Canyon National Rec Area is at the base of the mountain – contiguous with the Santa Catalina National Forest for hiking but you have to drive through part of Tucson to get to it by car.
It is great to see other people out enjoying this beautiful day!

We deserve a bit of a break after raking the picnic areas and cleaning out the grilles. Great placement of this table!

January 2018 at Sabino Canyon, AZ

Ready to Celebrate Happy New Year 2018!
What a beautiful New Year Eve Sunset
A view of our picnic area. Ready for some errands in Tucson.
Along East Bear Creek Trail – an easy 3 mile loop we walk from our camp.
Looking down on the island at 3.7 miles on the road from Phoneline Trail.
This is 3.7 island and the end of the road for the trams. This a little garden area we have adopted by adding an occatillo last year, and this year a staghorn cholla, a barrel cactus, as well as an agave (at my feet). We pruned the beautiful hop bush and left a few other interesting plants. Many people touch the rock as an achievement for running or walking to this point so we made it a bit more accessible. We make weekly trips to water and keep the weedy grass from regrowing.
Another beautiful sunset in the canyon from our camp!
A hike to 7 Falls — no water at all in any of the stream crossing. And no water falls but a beautiful reflection pond is still retaining some water.
One of the many art shots we took while appreciating how the reflection was more scenic because of heightened contrast.
A really nice spot to hang out and contemplate before our 4-mile walk back to camp.
The Canyon during the three day government shutdown: the parking lots and visitor center were closed, creating work for law enforcement.
We spent a day at Catalina State Park with Joan and Jim – we hiked some of the trail to Romero Pools, enjoyed a picnic lunch together, wine o’clock at their camp followed by Joan’s delicious beef stew. Nice day.
Back on the job, we refinished 4 teak benches at the visitor center. Lots of sanding, bending over, and 2 coats of linseed oil.
Two of the larger benches that get more sun damage.
Oh but they feel sooooo nice. Such a good job~!
Couldn’t resist a detail shot!
Storm clouds but still no rain. It is extremely dry — very different from last January!  But enjoying another beautiful sunset.
And the full super blue blood moon rise.
We enjoyed one night from our camp site and the other at Saguaro National Park West with the native flute music.
A wonderful way to end this January 2018.

Heading to Sabino Canyon, Arizona

Retracing our steps, we picked up the MINI in Denver, the Travato in Kansas, and returned to Lake Meredith to catch up on sleep.
We revisited White Sands NM for a beautiful hike on the dunes.
We camped near by on this picturesque pond.
Near Las Cruces, we enjoyed this spot in the Organ Mountains NM for a few nights – meeting up with an architecture friend for a Rotary event. First time here in the Travato
Back at our site #2 in Sabino Canyon, enjoying happy hour with Site #1 friends, co-volunteers. Last time we saw them:
The sunsets are memorable looking east with the saguaros in the foreground. Pictures from a year ago
A coworker made this awesome flan for the holiday party! We had to try three servings just to make sure it was as good as it looked!
A Merry Christmas to You Saguaro Nativity.
Sabino Creek is very low with no water flowing, just a few little reflection pools.
This coati was hanging around one of the little pools with 4 other family members – we sure enjoyed watching them forage!
Some incredibly nice fall color as we started our work routine up the canyon.
Hiking on another day we found this pop up art installation of balanced rocks.
This must take a lot of patience but it was very fun to come across it. A peaceful way to start 2018.

April in Sabino Canyon, AZ

The Brittle Bush blooms were amazing – we missed the height when we were in Florida.
One of my favorite locations with the Palo Verde in bloom. The canyon is so green!
Ocatillos in bloom as well.
The Gila Monsters are out of hibernation. How cool is this!
We got a hike in to Hutches Pools – a very hot day but still nice water in the creek.
Looking the other direction into a little canyon.
Gorgeous cactus blooms!
And a nice spot for a picnic lunch.
The hike is 8 mile roundtrip from Shuttle Stop #9.
The Cholla in bloom – there was quite a variety of colors.
This is “our” saguaro, taken from the Winnebago Travato in early morning.
A close up of a cactus wren and the flowers of the saguaro.
This one was even more prolific! What a sight to see.
We feel really lucky to have spent the winter here and to be able to appreciate all these lovely views. We trimmed some branches at this site.
An end of season pizza party – make your own and bake on the grille.
Group shot of the winter maintenance team – employees and volunteers.
We are “hot stuff” with our matching socks!
The parting shot as the neighboring 5th wheel has headed towards home a day before us…

Sun City, Phoenix, AZ — Family Reunion

My “rich” uncle rented a three bedroom home and this was our family meet-up.
It was on this nice little lake, complete with blue herons, night herons, swans, Canada geese, bunnies, quails…
…and sunsets!
My parents were also there and we posed them for anniversary photos next to this Joshua tree on the other side of the lake.
Hers and His – retirement life on the golf course.
My aunt, Mom, Betty Homemaker and me in the 1960 Sun City Museum Model Home kitchen. Mom still has the Pyrex bowls and her canisters are stainless rather than pink. It was fun to tour and watch the original promotional video.
We made it to White Tank Mountain Park to hike a bit of the Mesquite Canyon Trail.
The wildflowers were looking quite spectacular.
Our hiking companions – this was a more challenging trail than last years waterfall trail.
The size of the California poppies were amazing. Lupins also in bloom.
My “rich” Dad treated us to their celebration dinner at Arrowhead Grille – half of us had fish and half had steaks – YUM!
And this incredible desert with 6 spoons.
We played 9 holes of golf – MINI, that is.
But oh! The concentration. Do you win with the high score? Ha
A full moon in the morning – we were all up to watch it set. Very picturesque.