Saturday, August 28, 2010

With the Bournes in Osoyoos and Oliver

On Thursday afternoon we arrived in Osoyoos, BC. By a strange geographic anomoly Osoyoos' topography is that of the Sonora desert - the same desert that we just left behind in Arizona. It's actually considered part of the Sonora Desert. The ground is the same dry dusty scrub covered stuff with the exception that Osoyoos doesn't have the large cacti and desert animals. It does have rattle snakes and prickly pear cactus. There's a large interpretive center in Osoyoos explaining about the northern desert and its fragility. This is Canada's hot spot and only desert. Very interesting.

Osoyoos and Lake Osoyoos from one of the mountains surrounding the valley.
The mountains across the lake are planted halfway up in vineyards.

Mary and Greg live just outside Osoyoos in the town of Oliver. Oliver is famous as the wine capital of Canada. It is home to many orchards, vineyards and wineries. The whole area is a huge tourist resort.

The view from the patio of our B&B room. On the other side of that row of shrubs is a huge cliff at the bottom of which is the vineyard of our hosts. Lake Osoyoos in the background and more vineyards.

Lloyd and I and the Grandbabies, 2-year old Baron and 6-year old Layla

Mary, Greg and the kids

We had a lovely visit with Mary and Greg and our sweet grandkids, Layla and Baron. On Friday we all went golfing at the Sonora Dunes Golf Course which Mary and Greg manage.

Mary, checking for our tee-time.

The kids and I rode the golf carts while Lloyd, Mary and Greg golfed. Layla had her own set of clubs so she would get down from the cart every once in awhile and hit a ball or two. And Baron tried it too.

Both kids in the golf cart - neither one of them actually drove it.

Baron would rather play basketball.

A beautiful site for the golf course.

A fountain on one of the holes.

Layla, Mary and Lloyd with the Nk'Mip Resort in the background.

The rest of the day was spent at Mary and Greg's home where we had a birthday barbeque for Greg's 31st birthday and we watched the kids play while we visited. All in all, a great day.

Helping Daddy with his birthday cards. This one plays music!

Baron loves Chester, poor longsuffering Chester. What a good sport he is.

Friday, August 27, 2010

We left Arizona on Tuesday...haven't been missing the heat but sure have been missing the pool! Oh well. We took a different route home this time because we planned on going through BC and visit with daughter Mary, SiL Greg and grnadkids Layla and Baron. This made for an interesting trip.

First stop was Laughlin, NV. Lloyd had been there on a golf trip a couple of years ago and ever since then he's wanted to take me there. Laughlin is an interesting town, across the river from Bullhead City, AZ. It markets itself as the 'new Las Vegas. It's a beautiful little city built on the banks of the Colorado River.

This beautiful riverboat is actually the Colorado Belle casino. We stopped here for lunch at their buffet.

Of course, we had to walk through the casino to get to the restaurant. My eye was caught by a slot machine called Early Retirement. So, I put $20 in and decided to have some fun. Ten minutes later I quit, having doubled my money and made enough to pay for dinner. Not early retirement but a win anyway.

The Aquarius is where Lloyd and the guys stayed when they came for their golf trip.

The welcome to Laughlin park.

From Nevada we drove north through Utah and Idaho, stopping overnight at Beaver, UT. And on through Idaho and into Oregon and then Washington. I didn't take many pictures because we didn't stop very much. We travelled through beautiful country, mostly up and down mountains, but not sharp rocky mountains like we have in Alberta but softer, rounder, friendlier mountains with beautiful canyons and rivers. Lloyd did most of the driving because those edge-of-the-mountain roads were a bit scary for me and Lloyd handles them so much better than I could.

Finally I couldn't stand it any more and when Lloyd asked if I wanted to stop and take some pictures, I jumped at the chance, knowing that the pictures wouldn't do justice to the absolutely gorgeous scenery we were passing through.

This was just north of Moses Lake, WA. There's a beautiful chain of lakes up there that haven't been overdeveloped with vacation homes and camps. The one above is Blue Lake. I was impressed with the large house tucked in there.

Then, further along, there was this view point. This is the site of what was, thousands of years ago, the largest waterfall in the world. It was enormous. Just a bit of water remains in the basin.

Here's Lloyd standing on a lookout over it. It gave me butterflies in my stomach to go out there on that bridge...scary high.

Then, almost to BC, we came to the Chief Louis Dam on the Colorado River.

And then we were finally back in Canada. Osoyoos is just two miles from the border, and that's where we're staying. As much as we love travelling it's always a relief to be back home in Canada again. It's amazing driving through our two countries - the scenery changes mile by mile, as does the weather, and there's so very much to see. I'm glad to be able to see the part of the world that we live in.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Driving the Heat

Today, our last day here, Lloyd finally got his golf clubs out and we went to the driving range so he could hit a few balls while I sat on a bench in the shade and read. The set-up there is quite nice. The golfers are in the shade while they're hitting, although when it's 108F out there the shade isn't at all cool. See the mountains in the background? The Valley of the Sun is surrounded by them. Low and different from our Alberta Rockies, but very pretty and interesting.

The coolest thing though is something that we also saw at a couple restaurants that had patio service. The fans, like the one below that was facing Lloyd and a few feet higher than his club would hit,

were equipped with water sprayers. If you look carefully you can see the mist generated by the eight little water nozzles that produce a fine cooling mist without leaving you wet. A nice courtesy for the clients, although when it's 44C out there, a little mist, although nice, doesn't lower the temperature much. A nice touch though.

We've learned to drink water...lots of in the summer. It's the only beverage that does anything to quench your thirst. We've also learned that this is the monsoon sunny days with thunderstorms at night. And, it's not a dry heat during the monsoons. It's humid! I'm melting! It's great to be here though and get a feel for what it's like in the 'off' season.

Heading north tomorrow.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

AZ Favorites

In the almost two years that we've been coming to Surprise, AZ, we've done a bit of exploring in our little corner of this beautiful state. Here are my favorite places, so far.

Tombstone, where we saw a reenactment of the gunfight at the OK Corral

The Phoenix Zoo, with granddaughter Charlie riding a camel.

Lloyd's favorite place for buying golf paraphernalia and using the driving range.

Anyplace where we can buy See's chocolates...yum!

Kohl's, one of many, where we do a lot of shopping. Charlie, Elly and Max are often in Arizona with us.

The old goldmining town at the Superstition Mountains.

The Superstition Mountains on a clear day.

The amazing town of Jerome, up a winding mountain road, full of haunted buildings and peopled with artisans and craftsmen.

Sedona - beautiful resort town in the red hills. (Mickey and Charlie)

The Wilderness Park Zoo about a 5-minute drive from our place in Surprise. That's me with grandkids Elly, Charlie and Max

Montezuma's Castle in Camp Verde - the most peaceful place I've been.

White Tank Mountain - a 10 minute drive from home - where we walk the Waterfall trail. Thats my sister Wendy, and friend Mickey, taking a rest. Top picture is Lloyd with grandkids Charlie and Max at the base of the dry waterfall at the top of the trail.

Wickenberg - a restored gold mining town - lots to explore. Randy and Wendy went there with us when they came to visit.

The hockey arena in Glendale where we watched the Edmonton Oilers beat the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes are our second favorite NHL team, after the Oilers of course.

And our favorite place of all - our back yard and the pool where we've spent so many pleasant hours!

Tomorrow is our last full day in Surprise this trip. We're leaving Tuesday for the 2.5 day road trip to Oliver, BC to visit daughter Mary and SIL Greg and grandkids on our way home. We'll be sorry to leave this most peaceful relaxing vacation we've had in a long time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

First AZ Dinner Party

We had our first dinner party with our Arizona friends tonight. We usually go out to a restaurant with them at least once during every visit but this time we invited them to our home for dinner. It was so nice - so much easier to talk and visit when we're at home. We've been getting to know these lovely people for 2 years now but tonight was the first time I really felt I was getting to know their personalities and so much more about them. What a fun time - such crazy stories were told! I love these people.

Of course we had way too much food so Lloyd and I will be snacking until we head home on Tuesday. Just part of the fun.

Ron and Lisa, Penny and Les (she always tells us that together they're PennyLess), and Lloyd. Lisa and Les are brother and sister (Clyde's kids, for those of you who know Clyde).

Another reason for us to come down here as often as we can.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eating Out

When we're down here in Arizona we eat out a lot - not sure why, it just seems like the thing to do. Over the past two years since we've been coming here we've developed a few favorites. Here they are.

Macayos - great Mexican food, fun atmosphere.

Culvers - our newest discovery. Look what they advertise - ButterBurgers - they are absolutely delicious. Fast service, this restaurant also has great ice cream, hot dinners, fish and chips, chicken, etc. A great lunch stop.

Paradise Bakery and Cafe - my favorite lunch place - they have the most delicious sandwiches, salads and soup as well as freshly baked cookies. The salad I had yesterday was a mixture of lettuce, blueberries, strawberries, mandarins, pineapple and chicken with a poppy seed dressing. Delicious, and I had the half chicken walnut salad sandwich on rye.

Caramba! - shades of Bart Simpson - this is Lloyd's favorite Mexican diner. Their chicken enchiladas are awesome and the portions are very generous.

Old Country Buffet - besides the good food, the best thing about this buffet across the street from Arrowhead Mall is the music - great 60s and 70s music. I wonder why there's always a lot of seniors there :). We find it hard to do justice to a buffet so only go once in awhile, but this is our favorite.

Chipotle - this is my favorite Mexican diner. We have our own version of Chipotles in Edmonton now - Mucho Burrito and Burrito Libre. Burrito in a bowl - wonderful stuff.

As you can tell, our tastes are very unsophisticated. We've seen several places we want to try and over the next year or so I'm sure we'll get around to it. Bon appetit.