"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Lots of "Surprises" in AZ

Surprise, Arizona
Happy Trails RV Resort

While we spent our February in Surprise, AZ as usual, we finally got out and saw some surprisingly new things we haven't in the past few years.  We're usually very busy taking care of Steve's step-mom and rarely get out much on our own.

Our usual spot when we're here.  We backup to the golf course.
Another "surprise", I got a new bike.  It wasn't an easy choice as I LOVED my old bike.  At 10 years old it was beginning to fall apart though and many of the gears weren't working.  Not a huge fan of the bright colors, but that's all they had. 
                                               Interesting twisted cactus I ride by each day.
Steve's step-mom, Bunny.  We really do enjoy the time we have with her.  At 85 she is doing quite well.  We do as much for her as we can in our February and October visits.

Steve was busy working but when I found out Ron and Rene, of R 'N R On The Road, would be nearby, Hurley and I met up with them for a hike in the White Tanks.
We chose the Waterfall Trail.  We doubt there will be much, if any water, but we'll see.  It's one of the more popular trails but since it was mid week, it wasn't bad.
It's so hot out even the cactus shed its layers!
Many pictographs on the rocks.
Another surprise!  There was water at the falls.  Hurley and Benjy enjoyed a quick splash.
You can see the small amount of water coming over the rocks on the far right.
After our hike we all cleaned up and we all went out for dinner.  It was nice to meet up with you guys again!

One other hike we did on a weekend was the Westwing Trail.  It's a short 3 mile trail just outside of the town of Surprise.  Guess which way we chose to hike?
The trail has climbs out of a neighborhood and zig-zags up to the top.  The steep part is around back.
There were a few geocaches along the way and one at the top somewhere.  I could not find it and it had steep dropoffs so I didn't look too hard.
The view from up top after a steep scramble.

John & Tina's rig.
John & Tina's rig.
Our friends, John and Tina, were also passing through so I met up with her while John was doing some work and we hiked some of the trails in Skyline Regional Park where they were camped at.  It's a small park but  a very nice spot to stay when passing through to do a little bit of hiking.  Most sites are very large.
Me & Tina.  It was another hot day and very windy out.

Tina finding a geocache on one of the trails.
These yellow wildflowers were blooming everywhere!  I think they are Heleniums?  Part of the Aster family.  Anyone know for sure?

We had heard about Pieology but never ventured in until one opened up in Surprise.  It's kind of like Subway, but for pizza.  They come in one size, sort of between small and large and are thin crust.  They have one called thick but we couldn't tell the difference.  Oh, and we tried the cauliflower crust and it was delicious!  You choose your crust, sauce, meats, veggies and cheeses.  The top one is the thicker crust with regular red sauce, all the meats and veggies and cheeses on top.  The bottom one is the cauliflower crust with garlicky white sauce, chicken, tomatoes, arugula, red onion, Kalamata olives and feta cheese on top.  Both so good!  We'll definitely eat here again.

Bunny's son, Robert, and Mary (visiting from Canada) were up for some exploring so we booked a tour at the Mystery Castle.  It is located in the city of Phoenix, in the foothills of South Mountain Park. The castle was built in the 1930s by Boyce Luther Gulley for his daughter. The tour is $10

So much fun, quirky stuff here.

Steve looking out the dining room windows at Phoenix below.
Old kitchen ovens.
One of the many hidey-holes.

The Castle is said to be held together by a combination of mortar, cement and goats milk, and built from a wide range of materials including stone, adobe, automobile parts, salvaged rail tracks and telephone poles. It has 18 rooms and 13 fireplaces.  Until recently, the castle had no running water or electricity.

There is a hidden basement under the alligator.
Me, Mary, Steve & Robert.
I love cemeteries and I love old churches. So much history, architecture and beautiful stained glass.
St. Mary's Basilica is the oldest Catholic Church serving the Phoenix area built in 1881.
Looking up.
Looking back from the alter towards the doors you can see the huge pipes of the organ above.
Pope John Paul II visited here in 1987.

We walked around downtown Phoenix and found a street with so many bronze statues.  Mary tried to copy one of them.  We stopped in for some Tai food at Tom Yum.  Very good!

Last up was a visit to the Japanese Friendship Garden.
At $10 per person it wasn't really worth it as it ended up being very small and didn't have many of the trees, plants and flowers that I've seen at other gardens.  It was still a nice visit though.

Shachi - A mythical fish which guards against disaster.

I really loved the texture and bright color of this plant.
It was nice to see some of the lesser-known sites in Phoenix this trip.

We had a great month in Surprise and now it's time to head back to California for the birth of our first grandchild! The best surprise yet!
One HUGE flag that flies along I-10.
Those yellow flowers blanketed the scenery on our trip back.

Either way ya can't lose!